Monday, April 23, 2012

Smiling through the tears

Tonight I sit here lost deep in thought with a heavy heart. I woke up this morning (more accurately it was afternoon) to a text message from my daddy. All it said was "Aunt Wanda passed away this morning". The only thing that escaped my mouth was "Oh, no"... twice... AJ sleepily asked me what was wrong, and I told him the news we'd been waiting to hear but dreading all the same.

My Aunt Wanda was one of the funniest women I've ever met in my life. She was technically my dad's great aunt--my great grandma's little sister. She was in her early 80's when she passed today, and she was like an "extra" grandma to me growing up. Her kids/grandkids live in California and Arizona, and she lived out west with them and in Oklahoma with us off and on throughout my life. The times she was with her immediate family I missed having her around, but then again I knew that she was with the ones she loved the most. When I was in middle school, it was one of the times she was living here, and my parents had just divorced and her husband passed away, so my dad moved in with her; therefore, every other weekend not only did I spend the weekends with my dad, but also, my Aunt Wanda. I guess she was in her late 60's/early 70's at the time, and she had more energy than women half her age. I loved the time spent with her. She would cook us dinner--before she retired she was the head of the nutrition department for a large school district in California. I loved when she cooked for us. She's the only person in our family with a culinary background, maybe that's where I get my love to cook and love for my job. She tried to teach me to sew, now I wish I had learned. She used to threaten to beat my brother or dad with her shoe, I believed she'd do it. She was inappropriate and wonderful. She cussed like a sailor and no matter how badly my parents didn't want her to in front of us, she did it anyway. She was the epitome of the idea that when you get old you can say or do anything because you've earned the right. She never pretended to be anyone but herself. I loved that most about her.

 (Aunt Wanda and Colt Wesson September 2011)

She got frail and sick with age and moved back to Oklahoma a little less than a year ago. I think she knew her time was coming so she came back here to rest in peace where her husband of so many years passed away as well. She had my grandma here to help take care of her. She had my dad and his sisters too. I'm glad she knew she was loved here. I'm glad she got to meet AJ. I'm glad she really liked him. I'm glad she got to meet my sweet nephew Colt (her great, great, great nephew). I'm sad my future children will never get the pleasure of knowing her. I'm sad I didn't take the time to go to the nursing home to tell her I loved her just one last time. I'm sad that it takes situations like this for my WHOLE family to come together again for the funeral.  I'm sad that her granddaughter that she raised won't be able to make it for the funeral because of selfish decisions. I'm hurt by selfishness, but I'm hurt the most from the loss of a woman that truly broke the mold. I strive to be as bold as she was in her life. I strive to be a strong woman like her. I strive to keep her strength alive by remembering her.

Today was not a good day for me, but as I sit here now and remember, I can smile through the tears because I know she's not in pain anymore. I also know that the world lost a great woman today...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tie Dye Cupcakes

I made some baked goodies for a bake sale my friend had a couple weeks ago. She is raising money to go on a mission trip to Haiti this summer. Among these things, I made some Tie Dyed Cupcakes, and they turned out wonderful. I hope you enjoy them too.

I used a white box cake mix per the instructions and split it up into 5 different bowls with 5 different food coloring like this:

Then I poured the batter one scoop of each color into cupcake lined muffin tins until all 5 colored batters are in the the cups.

Then bake for recommended time according to the box. Let cool and ice and top with sprinkles...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Choosing My Battles

A life lesson I have not thought much about in the past is "choosing my battles". I am one of those people that practices this valuable caution, but I'd never really thought about the importance of it until recently; it seems like every time I turn around lately I want to look so many people in the face and scream "Choose your battles! This is not worth it!"

It all started a couple weeks ago on facebook. I am a very firm believer in keeping drama out of social media sites. I also think that some things honestly are not the business of the world and shouldn't be shared so publicly. A "friend" on facebook (I use quotes because she's an acquaintance) decided that her status was the best place to discuss her relationship issues. Someone pointed out (nicely in my opinion) that facebook wasn't the place to discuss such a private issue--the war was on! It turned into a giant issue between everyone posting comments as it will do on social media sites. Everyone was either defending the boyfriend or defending her and bashing the boyfriend or telling her that facebook wasn't the place to address it.

This situation made me realize that I have way more respect for AJ than that. I strongly believe that if you have an issue with your "other half" then it should remain between the two of you. Whether it's venting to a friend, mentioning to my mom an issue I have with him, or putting him on blast on facebook-it is not for me. I realize that I love him so much that even though I may be frustrated with him at the time, but I will forgive him. We will be okay because I love him, but my friends/family will always have the thoughts in the back of their minds of when he hurt me. Even if I'm over it, it may change their view of him, and that is not my desire. I also have more respect for him as a man to not put something that I think he "did wrong" all over facebook. He, as the love of my life, does not deserve to be treated that way by anyone--especially me.

The next situation that taught me this important lesson was my employees. It seems like the story of my life at work is choosing my battles. I realize that my staff is not perfect and there are thousands of little things I might do differently or would change about the way things happen, but that does not mean that every single thing every single time will get pointed out by me. I've realized that there is "more than one way to skin at cat" and as long as they are properly doing their job there are a few things that can be overlooked in order to keep up morale. So, I choose carefully which battles I choose to fight... which I as the manager will win. haha.

Just a little rambling that's been on my mind lately...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Kristen's Chicken

I've really been wanting to add some of my recipes on my blog, but I always forget to take pictures of my food before it gets devoured so I never do. Today when I made my homemade chicken nuggets I finally remembered to take some pictures so I can share this yummy recipe with you.

These are HOMEMADE breaded chicken nuggets and breaded fried squash.

First, I made a breading station using 3 pie plates.

The first and third plates include the same ingredients.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion power
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. Lawry's Seasoning Salt

The middle plate had an egg mixture containing 3 large eggs and approximately 2 Tbsp. of cold water.

I had 10 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins. I cut them into 1" cubes. I first put about half of the cubed chicken into the first flour mixture to cover, then I shake off the excess flour and put it into the egg mixture and move the chicken around in the egg to cover. With a fork I pick up the chicken so the excess egg can drain off. Then, I put chicken into the third pan containing the flour mixture and coat it. I put the coated chicken into a separate plate, and continue with the second half of the chicken through the same process.

 (It's a little messy, but so worth it)

I then fry the chicken in 360 degree vegetable oil in my deep fryer for approximately 4 minutes per batch (do not overcrowd oil so chicken will come out crispy and will not stick together). When I pull the chicken out of the oil I place it on a paper towel lined plate, and I sprinkle salt on chicken as soon as it comes out of the fryer.

This same process can be used with whole chicken strips instead of nuggets, but will need to cook for 5-6 minutes.

**I use the exact same process for squash and zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes. If I make it at the same time as the chicken, I bread the zucchini first to avoid cross contamination with the raw chicken.**

I serve this with Ketchup or Ranch Dressing. I make homemade ranch with 1 Buttermilk Recipe Hidden Valley Packet, 1 cup real Mayo, and 1 cup of buttermilk. I wisk it all together, then let it sit in the refrigerator covered for at least 30 minutes before serving.

It's my favorite! I hope you ENJOY! :-)