IN A PINCH

  SHE2016©

SHE2016©

There are bad pinches and there are good pinches.  It is much like salt.  Too much of it can ruin a dish.  But I happen to know that just a pinch of salt can make the flavor of something pop.

A pinch doesn’t always make one feel warm and fuzzy, though.  

As a little girl, there were two different kinds of pinches I remember: the kind that was wonderful, like the kind my grandfather would gently give me right on the tip of my nose after he would kiss me hello.  And then there was the one that would leave a sting on the back of my arm or hi-nee from my parent when I would misbehave in public.

Some pinches can hit ya right in the feels.  Like the moments that pinch your heart.  

I can remember the very second each of my children were born.  I can remember how my heart felt like it would explode because I was overwhelmed with joy as they took their first breath of life (and screamed their bloody heads off).  I could literally feel a lovely wrench in my chest.  It is the kind of pinch I will never forget and always hold with me.

Then there was the moment someone I loved passed away.  The pinch I felt in my heart was there, but much different from that of the joy I knew from life being given.  I distinctly remember standing where I was for what seemed like forever, thinking how much I was going to miss them; how I thought the terrible, achy pinch in my heart would never go away.  And I must say, though it has eased up some, the scar from that particular pinch is still there.

I’ve been in many a precarious position in my life.  Sometimes I put myself there, and sometimes it was merely the circumstances.  But either way, I wound up in a pinch.  

When I was a teenager, I made the conscious decision to go into a store with someone I knew was going to shoplift.  I didn’t take anything.  Well actually, I was GOING TO.  But at the last second I chickened out.  I was questioned when she got caught because I was with her.  Luckily the cameras showed I had not taken anything but simply because I was with her I found myself in quite a pinch!  (For the benefit of the reader needing an ending to that particular story, I did NOT end up in the slammer.)

Back when I was a young, single mom of two small children, my tire blew out on the highway. I had never changed a tire before, let alone on a busy road.  (I sure did learn FAST!!)  Even though that was something out of my control, I was most DEFINITELY in a pinch!  (No worries, Folks.  As you can see that one turned out all right, for I am writing this many years later.)

I used to always wonder what a pinch-hitter was when I heard the term used in baseball, until someone explained to me it was a substitute batter – someone to replace the batter when the team is in a pinch.  

I married my Pinch Hitter.  He is definitely my substitute batter when I find myself in a pinch.  Example:  the other day I had a catering gig that called for – wait for it……SIX-HUNDRED cake ball truffles.  Now these beauts cannot be stacked on top of one another or their gorgeous candy coatings and lovely decorations will crack and break.  I was going to have to make several trips back and forth in order to get the beloved cake ball truffles to their destination with no harm to befall them!  But my Pinch Hitter got me out of the pinch in the coolest way possible.

It’s too hard for my non-engineer-way-of-thinking brain to explain, but essentially, he took some cardboard and wine bottles we use for projects (not the hardest part of my job, emptying those bottles......wink!) from the garage, and did this:

  SHE2016©

SHE2016©

Hence, it took one trip, and all the truffles were unscathed.

Think about the pinches – the bad ones and the good ones.  Some of them hurt and can leave a sting or even a scar.  Some of them are wonderful and make you remember the joy life can bring.  Think of the pinch hitters in your life that have helped you make it through something unscathed.  Or perhaps you were that pinch hitter a time or two.  Either way, with every pinch comes growth in our lives – like the pinch of salt that can make the flavor of something pop.  

 

(Oil) Pull My Finger

 Photo Source: Fat Girl Kitchen via educatedhomemaker.com

Photo Source: Fat Girl Kitchen via educatedhomemaker.com

In this great and intricate world, it never ceases to amaze me how things work down to every single detail.  

Recently, there has been a bandwagon that a lot of people are jumping on for oil pulling.  Oil pulling is when you take organic oil - typically coconut for its anti-microbial properties - and swish it around in your mouth for between five-to-twenty minutes and it magically cleans your mouth, heals gum disease, detoxes your body, and whitens your teeth.  Oil.  In your mouth.  OIL......AND IT WORKS.  We were oil pulling in my household before oil pulling was cool.  (IS it cool?)  It cured - yes, CURED - two cavities I had.  Truly a healthy pull.

I've discovered there are a LOT of things that have the 'pull' factor.  Let's take thyme, for example.  (Ain't nobody got THYME fo' dat!) Yes, the herb.  Most people take it from the bottom and pull it from there to get that fragrant lemony and woodsy flavor into their food.  That's already a good pull factor.  Did you know if you hold it from the top and pull, the part of the stick that you can still use and cook will automatically come off?  So this is a win-win pull!

What about pork?  We don't eat a lot of it in my home, so when we do, it's a real treat.  And pork (especially BACON!) is just GOOD.  So what could possibly make pork taste even more delicious?  PULLED pork, of course!  That's a porky pull!

One of my favorite pulls?  Wine cork from the bottle.  Funny how that works.  Now, there has been a time or two when I have had to push that sucker INTO the bottle, but it sure isn't as good.  I had to struggle to get the wine to pour because the cork kept getting in the way, not to mention the tiny bits and pieces of cork I kept sipping into my mouth.  Bleh.  But when pulled, it makes a slight pop-sound (music to my ears), and the aroma of the wine can even be breathed in from the cork itself.  Pure delight of a pull!

Another one of life's great pulls is to pull someone's leg......but only when it's all in good fun and you keep your hands to yourself.  Yankin' yer chain pull.  

If you're among the lucky ones, you can pull strings.  Pulling strings has been done since the dawn of time, and can most definitely be a help in times of need.  This pull means you've actually got "pull"!

But above all pulls, I love and appreciate the finger pull.  I happen to have two boys, a son-in-law, AND The Hubster.  (And not only boys do the finger pull.  The Daughts has been known to make this request a time or two in her younger years!)  I've been asked to pull more fingers than I can shake a stick at.  But whether I ever follow through on the request or not, it's the funny kind of pull that brings a smile to my face, regardless of the end, uh - RESULT.  And that smile is a good thing!  Especially if you participate in the oil pulling - those smiling teeth are bright and shiny!

What kind of pull keeps your mind, body, and spirit in balance in your life?  Whether it’s the kind of pull that helps keep your body healthy, or one that brings a smile to your face for emotional well-being, or perhaps a spiritual pull that you can't (or shouldn't) ignore, life is chocked full of the kind of intricate pulls that won't be pushed around.

Go Bananas!

 Photo Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_hat#/media/File:Carmen_Miranda_in_The_Gang%27s_All_Here_trailer_cropped.jpg

Photo Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_hat#/media/File:Carmen_Miranda_in_The_Gang%27s_All_Here_trailer_cropped.jpg

I know this is going to come as a shock to anyone reading this so brace yourself: Most people think I'm crazy.  I know, I know - SHOCKING!  Now I don't think that means incapacitated-crazy, or lobotomy-crazy (well, perhaps), but extremely eccentric-crazy, or largely unconventional...and they are right!  Oddly enough, I am very old-fashioned and nostalgic to antiques and history and the things that give them (and me!) character as well.  I know those two things don't always connect, but it's what makes me, me.

With my history comes the fact that I did not grow up affluent; in fact, we were raised to accept and appreciate hand-me-down clothing, sharing a room, and liver and onions for dinner because it was cheap.  My favorite lunch when my parents were out working was to smear ketchup on a piece of bread.  To me, that was a rare delicacy, and even if I was hungry, I would painstakingly chew every bite until it melted in my mouth because it tasted so good.  I suppose I was a foodie before my time!

That history makes up who I am today.  Though I am quite certain my palette is much more refined (organic ketchup on rice bread?), I still have a little panic button if I see that the "staples" of the pantry are dwindling.  I am one of the most frugal people I know.  It is part gift, part skill.  I can shop for all the healthy food that will restock my pantry without paying a mortgage to do so.  And I do.  I also don't like to waste.  Not anything. So I will freeze just about everything; leftovers, bread, tortillas... I don't know if that is the frugal side of me or the unconventional side of me, but either way, it has saved us from a pinch a time or two!

So!  Where is this frugal / unconventional She history lesson headed, you ask?

BANANAS.  Yep.  Bananas.  Not like me-being-crazy bananas, but real, wholesome, packed-full-of-potassium bananas.  Most people love them.  I do.  The downfall of bananas is that they go black QUICK.  Now, that doesn't mean they're bad to eat, necessarily, depending on how mushy or firm you like your banana, but it does mean fruit flies or gnats, or sticky counters or bowls.   Every grocery trip, I buy organic as-green-as-I-can-get-em bananas.  But rest-assured, they turn yellow and then black before we can eat them all.  What to do with the bananas so that the history in me doesn't let them go to waste?

At the risk of sounding like Bubba Gump, there are LOTS of things you can do with bananas!  Banana bread, banana cookies, banana pancakes, banana smoothies.  But the question is: do we want that every day of our lives just to keep the bananas from going South?  Of course not!  The solution?  FREEZE THEM.  That's right.   "She must be crazy" you're saying to yourself.  Well, I established that early on in the post so you can't say I didn't warn you.

I put my bananas in the freezer to keep.  They turn black almost immediately, but trust me, they are still usable for a very long period of time.  I devote the entire top shelf of my freezer to leftover bananas.  They don't go to waste and they are there for healthy, delicious snacks or recipes.  I posted a couple of my favorite below, so if you're a banana-lover, feel free to indulge.  I even included one strictly for serendipitous purposes and the nostalgic sake of the story above - banana ketchup!!

Our past makes us who we are for our future.  My living legacy is as important to me as the one I leave behind; that not only means my faith or how I treat people, but the little things in life that make me rich...REALLY rich.  I don't have to have a lot of money to tell you I'm one of the richest people I know - even if I AM bananas!

THREE-INGREDIENT HEALTHY BANANA COOKIES (quick, easy, healthy and DELICIOUS!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup of uncooked Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Mix the mashed bananas and oats in a bowl. Fold in the chocolate chips. Using a spoon, scoop up the batter and place on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.

ROASTED BANANAS WITH BROWN SUGAR WALNUT GLAZE (Good for a side dish or a dessert!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice $
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 large firm ripe bananas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl, and set aside.
  • Cut bananas in half lengthwise. Place banana halves, cut sides up, on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 4 minutes. Drizzle sugar mixture evenly over banana halves, and sprinkle with toasted walnuts. Bake an additional 3 minutes. Cut each banana piece into thirds crosswise. Serve bananas with frozen yogurt; drizzle with any remaining sugar mixture.

BANANA KETCHUP (I love to baste my chicken with this stuff before grilling!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño from (about 1 small jalapeño)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large bananas)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • Water, as needed

Directions:

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have softened. Add garlic, jalapeno, ginger, turmeric, and allspice and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in bananas, vinegar, honey, rum, tomato paste, soy sauce, and salt; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.  Transfer ketchup to a food processor or blender (processor is better if you have one) and process until smooth. Thin out with water as needed to reach a ketchup-like consistency. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Button Up!

 Photo Source: http://www.public-domain-image.com/free-images/objects/sewing-buttons/attachment/sewing-buttons

Photo Source: http://www.public-domain-image.com/free-images/objects/sewing-buttons/attachment/sewing-buttons

I have a ton of jewelry.  Some of it is antique or vintage, but most of it is costume, eccentric, and / or tacky.  That’s just how I like it; in fact, that’s who I am – vintage, eccentric, and / or tacky.  I’m 42 and still working on getting better.   

I found myself somewhat frustrated some time ago, because I am a bit obsessive-compulsive and was finding it hard to keep up with all my jewelry pieces, and I like to take care of them. 

At first, The Hubster (we’ll call him Adrian since that’s actually his name), lent a hand.  He, too, is OCD and for his own empathy’s sake wanted to see it organized.  (He ain’t just purty)  He took a piece of his fishing tackle box and cut it down to fit my stand-up jewelry box that didn’t have dividers – just deep drawers.  I put all my earrings in the compartments.  I hung all my necklaces up with adorable hooks and got quirky baskets for all my rings and bracelets, but felt pretty cool about how he had engineered earring compartments. 

But I still found myself hunting and rifling through the partitions he had put together for me.  I could always find one earring and would have to hunt the rest of the compartments for the other because they would somehow split up when I would put them away.  It is like when I am certain I put two socks in the washer, but somehow only one comes out of the dryer!

I always hook my loops together.  My jy-normous earrings I don’t ever have to worry about because I don’t tend to lose them as often – because they’re jy-normous.  But the ones that are posts, or dangly ones without loops to hook one another to…… I had no idea what to do with them.  So I started to clean the jewelry box out in hopes of coming up with an idea as I organized.  At the bottom of the jewelry box, I found a button.  I remember getting an adorable jacket at Goodwill (read back on the post: Goodwill Toward Men) and found an extra button in the pocket.  I remember putting it in the jewelry box thinking I had to find a place for the extra buttons I had, too.  And then……it came to me.  The idea that would take care of stray earrings AND extra buttons!

I took different-sized buttons out of my sewing kit – some people still sew!  I took extra buttons out of Cameron’s room.  I searched the house high and low for anywhere I thought I would find extra buttons.  I had buttons of all sizes, shapes and colors.  It was a button-fest!  The only extra button not being used was my belly button!  And here’s what I did:

  These images are © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

These images are © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

So remember: when you think there is no place for something, before you toss it aside, think about what other uses it may hold.  If you feel out-of-sorts and unorganized and find yourself rifling through the day, just stop – compartmentalize, and think about the things that are important; about the ways you can display the friendships of the people in your life so that those relationships can become vintage and well-cared for.  Search high and low for the love you have in your life of all different shapes, sizes, and colors.  And how do you keep them warm in your heart?  Just be sure to BUTTON UP!

I Scream, You Scream

iscreamyouscream

Life is short and it is fleeting.  It is the human nature in us that makes us wish our life away.  What do I mean?  “I can’t WAIT ‘til Friday!”  Or “I wish it was next week already!”  It’s what we do when there is something exciting or better waiting for us.  And we push away the bad times that exists if we can help it in an effort to get to the better time.  But each moment that is given to us is still part of the life we have.  Not every second of my 41-and-three-quarter years on this earth have been all cheese and lollipops, BELIEVE ME.  But I don’t regret one bit of it.  I have learned to embrace the times that are not-so-good or the things we deem as bad – even sickness and death.

There are people we don’t get along with, either.  You know the ones.  When you've done everything you can to be positive and have a smiley, ooey-gooey kind of day, and in one fell swoop the person you have to be around (sometimes there are several, but there’s always at least one) who is actually at their happiest being miserable, comes along and with one comment – ruins it.

This person could even be someone you love.  Most times they aren't, but there are things that can happen with some of the most important people in your life that can bring you down.  We don’t all get along with our parents or spouses every single moment of the day, do we?  Arguments and disagreements can happen.  There have been times I've had actual screaming matches with my children.   (insert diabolical-I-can’t-believe-it music here)  I remember one where my daughter, Chelsea, and I were both screaming so loudly at the same time … and we would stop at the same time, and start up again at the same time.  The memory of it is funny now, but wasn't so at the time – luckily, she is one of my best friends now.  Not that the kids wanted me to be upset or they enjoyed being upset, but it didn't make for a warm, fuzzy time in our lives when we argued or had screaming matches.  But they are grown now and I wouldn't trade any of those arguments for anything.  It’s what my legacy for them will be built from and what taught them (and me) life lessons.

I believe God allows us to have those moments – or even suffer – to bring opportunity to us: opportunity to learn, opportunity to set an example, opportunity to be there for one another, and opportunity to lean on Him and draw closer.  I also believe God allowed good things for the same reason…like ICE CREAM.  I believe God created ice cream to ease the pain like no medicine can.

The other day, I was really mistreated by someone … so much so that they brought (hard-core) me to tears.  I was in an almost-panic attack.  My chest hurt, my ears were ringing, and there was nothing I could do about it in this particular situation.  Now this someone was not someone close to me or in my immediate family, but they are still in my life, and they are one of those miserable people I mentioned earlier.  It was awful.  But I also have a friend, Deborah, who knows about God’s wonderful elixir that is the creamed ice.  She went into action like some superhero from an ice cream comic book.  (In fact, typing this story, I see her with her hands on her hips, and her beautiful multi-colored sundae cape flying behind her in the wind.)  She simply walked up to me and said, “Come on, we’re gonna go for a ride.  It’ll only take fifteen minutes.”  Sweeter words were never spoken.  She took me to a wonderful, God-inspired, nectar in a sugar cone.  She even took into consideration that I am an organic girl and made certain what I was eating was all right – not that it mattered, to be honest.  Ice cream is ice cream, and there is no bad ice cream.  With one lick of that soft cloud of vanilla goodness, all the bad feelings started to melt away.  By the time I had finished the cone, I felt like a new woman.  I think about what made me sad to begin with and it doesn't feel good.  But I don’t regret the bad part, because without it, I never would have been brought closer to a friend who did what it took to make me feel better, and I never would have gotten the ICE CREAM!!

I have attached a home-made ice cream recipe below so that you can always have this amazing tool at arm’s length so that when you've had a bad day because of hard times, or a miserable person, or even screaming matches with the ones you love the most.

Yes, life is short and fleeting.  Do your best to NOT be that person that people think are miserable or that makes people miserable.  It’s the legacy you create while you’re alive, and the legacy you leave when you go.  Remember the good things in life, even when bad things happen.  It’s been this way since the dawn of time, and we've always screamed for the goodness when sometimes it’s right in front of us; screamed for the bad things to go away; screamed for God to get us through those times.  I've screamed.  You've screamed.  I pray you get some ice cream.

Homemade Organic Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker

Ingredients:

1 cup organic whole milk

1 tsp organic vanilla extract

2 tbsp organic sugar

6 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed in a plastic baggie with flat side of a meat pounder – this ALSO helps with

anxiety or anger :-)) My fave brand of organic chocolate sandwich cookie is Late July

1/2 cup organic ice cream salt

Ice

1 gallon-size Ziploc baggie

1 quart-size Ziploc baggie

Directions:

Fill the large plastic bag with ice and ice cream salt. Carefully (maybe use a small funnel?) fill the smaller bag with the

milk, vanilla and sugar. Seal the small bag tight – MAKE SURE IT’S CLOSED.

Place the small bag inside the large ice-filled bag and seal large bag tightly.

Shake bag up and down for 10 minutes, putting some serious “elbow grease” into the shake, shake, shake.)

until ice cream has formed!

Scoop out ice cream and combine with crushed cookies, or topping of choice. (Obviously, you don’t have to use organic

ingredients, it’s just how I do it for my own family.  Either way, ENJOY!!)

 

Finger Prints on My Heart

 Photo Source: http://4vector.com/free-vector/heart-fingerprint-132936

Photo Source: http://4vector.com/free-vector/heart-fingerprint-132936

Fingerprints are unique.  There are no two sets of fingerprints alike.  It’s amazing to me how precise they are, too.  Sometimes I forget how intricate God is.  That’s how I feel about fingerprints in a spiritual way.

Then there’s the practical, everyday way I feel about fingerprints.  They stick in my craw.  They also stick to everything in the house!  From windows to a stainless steel refrigerator, I spend much of my time trying to remove fingerprints from surfaces in an effort to clean my home. 

I have a 19-year-old young man still living at home.  Though I don’t really see him that often, I know he’s been there – ESPECIALLY in the fridge.  Fingerprints all over it.  I’m not mad at the fingerprints I find on the fridge; in fact, I feel a little lump rise in my throat because I know he will be leaving soon and I will not get to see those fingerprints as often.  But what’s baffling to me is it almost seems as though he doesn’t even BOTHER to use the handle that is connected to the refrigerator…it’s as though he paws at it with both hands until it opens.

It’s no secret I try not to use chemicals for cleaning.  But my trusty vinegar, lemon, and water just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the fridge fingerprints.  It leaves streaks and makes the stainless steel pretty dull.

So I did my research.  You will never guess what I found!!  Extra virgin olive oil!  (Talk about “elbow grease’!)  It removes the fingerprints AND shines it up for quite some time!  I know this sounds strange and almost opposite to the point, but I now swear by it because it truly works! 

So here’s what ya do:

Paper towel or soft cloth in one hand.  Extra virgin olive oil in the other.  Pour a small amount (maybe a quarter size at a time – remember: you can always add, but it’s much harder to take (rub) away) in small, circular motions, start from the top (in case you happen to have too much on the cloth and it drips, it drips downward for you to rub it in!)  and massage oil in, working your way down the door of the fridge, rubbing the oil in fully.  If you put too much oil, it can turn rancid and start to stink…found THAT out the hard way!   Then use other side or cleaner, drier side of towel or cloth and work your way back up the door of the fridge.  BAM!!  Clean, shiny and au naturale! 

before
  These images are © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

These images are © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

What do the fingerprints you find around your house remind you of?  Don’t take them for granted as you clean them away……know they are unique and fleeting.  Allow them to massage your heart with the oil of their reminiscence and as you rub them away from the surface, make sure to keep them locked away in your memories.   They’re intricate and the person they came from is VERY special......especially if they’re yours.

It's Greek to Me

 Photo Source: http://www.aveleyman.com/FilmCredit.aspx?FilmID=13443 John Belushi John "Bluto" Blutarsky Copyright 1978

Photo Source: http://www.aveleyman.com/FilmCredit.aspx?FilmID=13443 John Belushi John "Bluto" Blutarsky Copyright 1978

It's no secret I love a good leftover.  I mean, there are certain foods that just taste better after you've put them in the fridge and the flavors have married and set.  Fried chicken; pizza; spaghetti??  Oh, man.  SO GOOD.  Hot OR cold!  But who wants to eat spaghetti or fried chicken the same way over and over?  In our house, I will make it for dinner, and then again for Adrian's lunch.  So if we ate the same thing as a leftover, he would have it for dinner, for lunch, and for dinner again.  Not the most favorite thing in the world. 

On the other hand, it is also no secret I am extremely frugal.  I cannot stand to throw away anything - ESPECIALLY food.  I grew up with meager means and I know how many hungry people there are in the world.  It's just not okay to throw food away simply because you don't want to eat the same thing too many times in a row.

Sometimes, I will freeze the leftovers if there are a ton.  If I make chili or soup or some kind of pasta meal that goes a long way, I will make Adrian's lunch and then freeze the rest.  We will defrost it and warm it up to eat a week or two later when the shelves are becoming bare and there is no time for a grocery store run.

But a lot of times - I reclaim it.  I know that's not a proper culinary term, but it works for furniture.  When you say you have "reclaimed" wood or furniture, it means it was originally used for one purpose,  but was re-used for another.  And when you use that term, you're using a word that makes hand-me-downs or leftovers sound trendy and relevant.  So in order to make my food that is leftover at home sound trendy and relevant, I call it reclaimed food.

The kids have always teased me about it...although now that they are older, the teasing is more light ribbing with a side of respect and awe at the reclaimed culinary abilities I have honed as a skill in my home.  They've always said, "Mom, you take Italian one night and turn it into Chinese the next!"

Well this time, I made Mexican and turned it into Greek!  SO YUM. 

Our friends, Micah and Ben Hester, came and had dinner with us.  It was a nice little dinner of chicken and cheese quesadillas (made from leftover smoked chicken, by the way!) and Mexican rice.  It was delicious and we followed it by a great game of Cranium (we're pretty sure the guys cheated, but the girls won), a sleepover, and an awesome breakfast.  Lovely time and can't wait to do it again.

But there was quite a bit of chicken and rice leftover.  So I froze it.  A week later, I had no idea what to make for dinner and had no time to run by the grocery store.  I was searching my freezer for something to defrost before I walked out the door for work.  I took out the chicken and rice and noticed I had some phyllo dough in there I had forgotten about, too.  So I thought about that all day, and here's what I came up with:

Mexi-Greek Burrito-kopita

Leftover Mexican rice

Leftover chicken

Pistachios (I had a half uneaten bag so they were leftovers, too!), shelled and chopped coursely

One container feta cheese

Oregano, fresh or dried

Frozen spinach (organic, of course!)

1/2 cup wine

Organic grape or cherry tomatoes

Salt, pepper to taste

Chop the chicken up finely and add to leftover rice.  Add pistachios, oregano, and feta (in this case, I had tomato basil feta in the fridge but any feta will do).  At this point, you can add olives or mushrooms if you like!  Mix together well.  Defrost phyllo dough and gently lay out on counter.  Pull one sheet out at a time, covering the rest until you need each sheet.  Spray the phyllo sheet with cooking spray (I use organic extra virgin olive oil spray) and fold in half length-wise.  Place 1/2 cup of the mixture at the bottom, fold a triangle of phyllo over the mixture and then continue to fold up over and over until the triangle completely uses up the phyllo.  Place your traingles on a baking sheet and spray tops with cooking spray lightly.  I sprinkled a tiny bit of kosher salt and cracked black pepper on top and baked for fifteen minutes until it was a beautiful, golden brown.

Put two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in pan over medium heat.  Meanwhile, sqeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as possible and place in heated pan.  Half the tomatoes and toss into pan and add the wine and cook until absorbed by the spinach, about two minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  When heated through, place on plate and top with Mexi-Greek Burrito-kopita.  Top with a dollup of Greek yogurt, if desired.  I did. 

What is sitting on your shelves that you put away and forgot about?  Is it one thing that you can re-purpose for another?  What about the shelves in your heart, full of memories?  What can you re-purpose or reclaim that you can turn into part of the legacy you leave for your kids or the people you love so that in the face of it, they can respect and stand in awe of your ability to do so?  Look around for inspiration and serve it with a nice glass of wine......whether it's your leftover food or your leftover life, it makes a great recipe for success.

  This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used. 

Fire in the Hole

 free download:  Video Game    /    Prime World     Wallpaper - submitted by torinoGT - ID 326501

free download:Video Game / Prime World Wallpaper - submitted by torinoGT - ID 326501

This is the time of year I watch my roses bloom bigger than my FACE, I smell my gigantic honeysuckle every time I step out my back door, and I get to plant all my seasonal veggies from seed.  

So a few weeks ago I went out to the garden to till and get those seeds planted.  I noticed a TON of fire ants along the entire line of the above ground garden Adrian built for me last year.  They were in between the soil and the wood that surrounds the garden itself...and they were just about as 'happy' to see me as I was to see them.  As I was crouched down trying to assess the damage, I felt a far-too familiar burn on the top of my foot.  I looked down and saw three ants curled up and chowing down.  OUCH!!  So then I end up standing there (five feet away) for ten minutes scratching the spots that were stinging, rubbing the top of my foot on the back of the opposite leg, smacking the whelps, and cursing the ants straight to the fiery pits from whence they came.

Of course, I wanted to run straight to the garage and grab the chemical-ridden ant killer that Adrian purchased last Spring.  As I stood there scratching, I started to day dream about coming out of the garage in the style of the movie 300 - in slow motion, of course - wielding and waving the open bag of fire ant killer over my head, it spilling all over the place, and every ant coughing, gasping for their last breath, falling on their backs and dramatically dying.  I then drop the empty bag to the ground - still in slow motion because that's awesome - put my hands on my (much smaller) hips (it's MY day dream, I can have little hips if I want!), and let out a scream of honor and satisfaction, knowing I had saved my garden - and the world, obviously - from the diabolical evil of the Fire Ant Kingdom.

Back home on earth, I came to and realized I had to do something ELSE.  I pride myself on a total organic garden; that includes soil, seeds...everything.  I peruse every soil I buy, checking for metals, chemicals, or anything that doesn't match the organic label.  (Yes, believe it or not, America, the FDA allows the label even if it's not completely and entirely organic...GASP!)  The last thing I wanted to do was sprinkle chemical ant killer on the plants and seeds, and then feed them to my family or ingest them myself!  So what the heck was I supposed to do??

(You guessed it.  I put it in the "Googla") I Googled for a while, really wanting to compare notes, websites, and suggestions.  "Kill the ants in my garden naturally."   I decided to try a few of them out.  So I put another ant mound I found out back to the test.  On it, I put sugar.  (I used organic, of course, for testing-purposes).  This was supposed to kill them AND make your fruits and vegetables sweeter as they grew.  Sounded like a fine side effect to me.  They ATTACKED the sugar.  Oh, yes, My Pretties...eat, EAT!!  This was to take three days.  I patiently checked every day, fully expecting the mound to be inactive.  It was three times bigger by the third day.  Apparently, organic sugar is like steroids for those little boogers.  

Next - grits.  This was supposed to be carried by the ants down below (to the evil lair that holds the wicked queen) and then literally blow them up because the grits cannot be digested.  Sounds like another day dream waiting to happen.  So I searched for organic grits.  If I purchased regular and any of the grits were left on the soil, then it would be processed yuk growing into my cherished organics.  Finally, I found some.  Way too expensive to purchase just to sprinkle on ants.  So even though I wanted to hang out and watch them blow up, I couldn't justify the pricey purchase.

 

Third time's a charm!  COFFEE GROUNDS.  This is the easiest, best, and least expensive way to get rid of those vile creatures - especially if you already drink coffee!  I buy the store-brand organic coffee for us to drink so as soon as was done making coffee (we don't have a fancy-schmancy kuerig coffee maker), I let the grounds cool and took them out to the garden.  I sprinkled them around the entire perimeter of the garden and then throughout with whatever was left.  It didn't even take a lot.  Not only did it kill the fire ants (death by caffeine, perhaps?) it acted as a natural growth agent for the veggies!  (New compost item!!)  

When you have something biting you over and over again - slowly destroying the things that nurture you, and you're tired of the pain and heartache, you must ask yourself what its worth to you.  If quick fixes are only addressing the symptoms, it could be poison.  Stay at it - naturally, organically.  In the end, you'll overcome...and the best part is, you will see the growth in you because of it.