Feb 5, 2015

40 (re-do)


I am 40 years old.
For the first 39 years of my life, I have been known as many things...
  • The Mischievous Daughter
  • The Annoying Sister
  • The Sub-Par Student
  • The Dependable Employee
  • The Fat Girl
  • The Mother-Hen Friend.
  • The Gullible Girlfriend
  • The House-is-Too-Messy Wife
  • The Worry-Wart Mom
  • The Self-Depreciating Blogger
  • The Good Cook
  • The Wanna-Be Homesteader
  • The Optimistic Business Owner
I played each of these "Life-Rolls" with varying degrees of success.
As the 40 year old me looks back on my first 39 years, I find myself confused and also a little ashamed.

When I was very young, I was the little girl who found normal every day life quite boring.
This lead me to "express" myself in quite creative ways...
I was the story teller Liar.

I had the entire congregation at our church convinced that my Mom and dad were going to adopt a baby.
The sweet new baby would sleep in my room and I would take care of it. Imagine my parents surprise when the head deacon congratulated them on Sunday!

My school bus passed derailed circus box cars, and I would report the hilarious stories about the escaped animals when I reached home.

You see, my stories lies were relatively harmless, they were never told to get someone in trouble, and they were usually not to keep me out of trouble...
They were to make life more interesting...
They gave me a captivated audience...
I loved it.

There were snowball fights, paper routes, home-made cookies, a Pretty Blue Canopy bed, an awesome record player, sleep-overs, Girl Scout camp outs, Atari, Lemonade stands, & Jungle gyms

I also had some "heavier" things to deal with when I was a young child..

My parents divorced.
My mom re-married.
My new step-grandparents made it very clear to me that I was dumb, ugly, and unacceptable.
My baby brother was born, and died several months later due to a heart defect.
My sister was born the following year.
My big brother Dan and I were physically abused by our step father.
I had the added bonus of sexual abuse at that age as well.

For some reason I didn't tell...
I didn't tell my friends.
I didn't tell my teachers.
I didn't tell my brother.
I didn't even tell my mother whom I trust 100%.
I don't even remember thinking of it as a "Big Secret",
It was just something I knew I didn't like,
I knew I wanted it to stop...
But (until a few months ago) I never told...
...anyone.

I don't know if I was ashamed, or if I thought it was "normal", or if I thought, with my well-known liar status, no one would believe me...
No matter the reason...
No one knew...
Because I never thought to tell them.

Life went on...

In Jr High a lot changed...

We moved to North Carolina without the evil step-father.
We shared a split-level house with my grand-parents.
I met my first boyfriend. He and I became life-long friends.

Weekends were filled with long walks and long talks with my big brother Dan, swinging on vines over the creek, sneaking into the Country Club pool, Hot Fire Jolly Rancher candy sticks were enjoyed with small glass bottles of real Coke, & there were ghost stories around the backyard fire.
I was very involved in a wonderful church youth program.
I had lots of friends.
Nights were filled with games of Flashlight-Tag and a living room full of teens watching movies and talking late into the night.
I went to my first formal dance.
I was a Candy Striper at Duke University Hospital.
I got my first "real" job at Baskin Robbins.
I dated some really great boys as I was maturing into a young woman.

My head & heart shared all those amazing memories with some horrific & life-changing ones too.

My grandparents began quietly trying to shake my faith in my mother, well... they tried to shake my faith in anyone other than them!
I had my first broken heart.
My brother, Dan, was hit by a car on one of his nightly walks.
He lived for 23 hours after the accident... And then he was just gone.
I lost what tiny bit of interest I had in school and failed the 8th grade.
My grandparents didn't know how they would ever "Hold their heads up at church ever again." because I was such a disappointment for failing that school year.


My mother, realizing that living with my grandparents was no longer good for any of us, re-married and we headed for Texas.


Like most young women in  High School,, I had all sorts of grand plans.
I was going to be a strong independent woman.
I was going to conquer  the World.

But at the same time I was dreaming up these plans, something inside me began to change.

I became sort of withdrawn,
Unless I was at work, playing the customer service super-star, I was no longer the talkative popular one,
I was that girl in school who everyone saw daily, but no one knew her name.
I was battling with major insecurities..
Was I thin enough?
Pretty Enough?
Smart enough?
my answer was always a resounding NO.

I was haunted by one massive question.
Why had God taken my brother?
He was the "Good" one...
He was the smart one.
He was the popular one.
He was the handsome one.
He was Honest.
He was a better Christian.
He did everything "right", and I felt like everything I did was.... WRONG.


He was the better...
...everything.


This never-ending burning question affected everything I did & everything I believed.
If I got into trouble for getting a bad grade, I was certain it was because my mother wished I had died instead of Dan.
If a boy I liked, didn't like me, I knew it was a punishment for being the "wrong" one left alive.
My mother never ever said anything or did anything to make me think those things..
They were feelings that, for whatever reason, came from within me.

I did have one very close girlfriend in High School, we were inseparable.
She was my life-saver.  She is my best friend to this day.
She was the wild one. She helped draw me out of my solitude, and I helped keep her feet on the ground. We were a good team.  I was the "Mother-Hen" friend... I held back the hair after a party, I was the designated driver, the bad boy chaser-offer, the excuse-to-parents-maker-upper. The "Cool" head in a crisis friend.

I began to date.
I was always drawn to the "Bad Boys".
The bad boys who I would walk in and find in bed with some random girl.
The ones who would get physical when angry.
The ones who, basically,  treated me like crap.

Once again, I kept quiet.
When I would catch them with another girl, or with hickies on their necks, I would never say anything about it, I pretended it didn't even happen, then I would go home and cry, but act like everything was fine the next day.
I would hide bruises, and accept apologies too quickly.
I don't know if I didn't think I was "worth" anything better?
Or if I thought they would change when they saw that I would stick beside them no matter what...

But, I didn't say anything...
...again.

I became very skilled at putting on a show.
I played a strong and confident woman, when inside I was unsure of everything.

Before too long, I found myself 20 years old, and a single mother.
Once again, I didn't say much of anything.
I didn't ask for child support.
I didn't demand help.
I didn't want to "bother" or inconvenience him.

One footstep in front of the other, (and with LOTS of help and support from my mother)
 Life went on...

I met the man who would become my husband.
He was a good guy.
It wasn't a passionate affair by ANY stretch of the word.
But I was confident he would be a good husband, & a good father.
We were married and had 2 more children together.
During the marriage I felt taken for granted,
My wants and needs were treated as an afterthought.

And, just like always, I didn't say anything.
I didn't demand respect.
I didn't scream for honesty.
I didn't ask for tenderness.
I didn't request kindness.
I believed the countless empty promises.
I hoped things would change.
They did not...
When I noticed it was affecting my children,
 I decided to end the marriage.

Unexpectedly I soon met, fell in love with, and married the "Man-of-My-Dreams"
He made me feel cherished, He made me feel special, He made me feel lucky!.
I fall more in love with him every day.

As I got older I started realizing that I didn't really know "who" I was.
I was Mom & Wife & Daughter & Friend, I knew these rolls well.
But...  I didn't know who "Dana" was.
I don't know if I ever really did.

When I turned 40 it's like a switch flipped.
Gone was the girl who kept her mouth shut.
Gone was the woman who would fiercely protect those she loved while doing nothing to protect herself.
Gone was the woman who let people walk all over her.
Once I opened my mouth, I didn't stop.

I feel comfortable in my own skin,.
I feel confident in who I am.
I am smart.
I am competent.
I am Worth It!

But...  I still have one burning question...
Why did it take 40 years  for me to share my secrets?
Why did it take 40 years for me to realize I was worthy of being happy?
Why did it take 40 years for me to realize I deserved respect?
Why did I keep my mouth shut for so long?

I was never alone.
I have a very strong woman as my roll model, I have always trusted her 100%.
I had a very protective big brother.
Why didn't I tell them?
They would have listened.
They would have helped.
They would have protected me.

Why didn't I say something... anything?

No..  I don't have the answer to share with you today.
But... I can promise you.
That quiet, doormat of a woman is dead.

Hang on to your hats.
My next 40 years are gonna rock!


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Mom Wisdom.





Logic - "Because I said so! Thats why!"
Farm-Life  -  "Your room looks like a Pig Pen!"
Envy  -  "There are million's of less fortunate children in this world who would LOVE to have broccoli for dinner  like you do!"
Anticipation  -  "Just you wait till your father gets home!"
Value of Education  -  "If you don't do well in school, you'll end up living under a bridge!"
Medical Science  -  "If you keep making that face, it will stick like that!"
Time Travel  -  "I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"
Foresight  -  "Wear clean underwear, what if you're in an accident?"
Hypocricy  -  "If I told you once, I've told you a million times..."
To Think Ahead  -  "If you don't pass your spelling test, you'll never get a good job!"
Receiving  -  "You are going to get it when you get home!"
Wisdom  -  "When you are my age, you'll understand."
Ophthalmology  -  "If you sit that close to the TV you'll go blind!"
More Logic  -  "If you fall out of that tree and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."
ESP -  "Put your mittens on! I know when your cold!"
Take On a Challenge  -  "What were you thinking? Answer me when I talk to you! Don't talk back to me!"
Sex  -  “How do you think you got here?”
Adulthood  -  "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."
Appreciate a Job Well-Done  -  "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside - I just cleaned!"
Humor  -  "When that lawn mower cuts off your feet, don't come running to me!"
Osmosis  -  "Shut your mouth and eat your supper!"
Religion  -  "You better pray that will come out of the carpet!"
Weather  -  "Look at this room!! It looks like a Tornado went through here!"
Irony  -  "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about!"
Roots  -  "Shut the Door!! Do you think you were born in a barn?"
Contortionism  -  "Will you look at that dirt behind your ears!"
Behavior Modification  -  "Stop acting like your father!"
JUSTICE  -  "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!"


I didn't come up with all of these on my own, several are widely spread online, so I don't know where they originated.









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Aug 12, 2014

Redneck Wine!!


I have never claimed to be a very sophisticated kinda gal....
Gourmet, I am not.....
When it comes to food I like good ole homemade stick-to-your-ribs comfort food.
When it comes to drink I like good old fashioned sweet tea, coffee, Chai Tea and Diet Coke.
(whenever I can make it into the city of course its Starbucks, Mocha Frappuccino, caramel macchiato, pumpkin spice Latte, sooo many yummy fattening drinks from there!)

And wine? well .. lets just say I'm a cheap wino. Now, don't get me wrong, I drink alcohol occasionally, like maybe once a month or so. I don't like beer, Mixed drinks are ok, but give me a glass of wine and I'm happy. Try as I might, I just don't like the "good stuff" The extra-dry expensive wines are wasted on me. Give me a good ole $6 bottle of sweet wine with a twist-off top and I'm good to go!

Even better than any store bought wine is homemade wine!! And today.. I'm gonna tell you how I make it! I started making wine 2 years ago. I bought all the books and all the "stuff" you need to make homemade wine and Homemade Mead. But I still found the whole thing pretty complicated, you had to add yeasts, and rennet tablets etc....

Then I stumbled upon what they call "Prison Wine" Prison Wine... that sounds easy enough! It sounded cheap.... I knew it had great potential. There are only three ingredients in Prison wine.

Fruit
sugar
water

That's it!
Anybody can do that!!!
Here we go.

Homemade Wine 101...

Take a large (holds MORE than a gallon) container (I prefer Glass) with a snug lid (doesn't have to be air-tight as a matter of fact I like it NOT to be air tight, more on why later)

1 gallon water (I like to use 1 gallon cheap bottled drinking water)
6 Cups sugar
6 heaping cups prepared fruit
(prepared = picked through, washed, and cut into chunks, berries can be left whole)

***IMPORTANT!!*** you Must make sure your container is clean!! I wash it thoroughly then pour in one Teaspoon of bleach... fill it up with hot water and drain.
  • Dump 6 cups of sugar into your container.
  • Pour almost all of the gallon of water into the container.
  • Stir till sugar is dissolved.
  • Dump in your fruit chunks.
  • Wrap your lid/container in plastic wrap to keep out those pesky fruit flies!
  • Set your container on the counter, or wherever you won't forget about it. (NOT in direct sunlight or it'll wash out any color and get it too hot)
  • Stir and/or Swirl every day for 3o days (a little longer is fine its very forgiving just NO less than 30 days)
  • discard your fruit pulp and strain your wine (I use several layers of cheesecloth or a jelly bag).
  • Bottle or "Rack" your wine into CLEAN bottles, and let it set for at least 6 months in a cool dark place... this will make approx 6 bottles of wine.
  • Enjoy your homemade wine!!
***TIPS***
The reason I don't use air-tight lids is the fact that your wine-in-the-making will be fizzy while it "cooks" and build up pressure. But the plastic wrap is very important!! Or you'll have to throw away your batch when fruit flies invade! (don't ask me how I know this)
There will come a time during the fermentation process when you stir/swirl it it will be fizzy and bubble up quite a bit.. this is why you want your container to be bigger than you think you need or it might make a BIG sticky mess (don't ask me how I know this!).
If you rack it too soon you'll have "sparkling" wine. I like sparkling wine.. but sometimes it makes your corks Pop out and fly across the room. So, if it's too bubbly, let it go a little bit longer and store those filled bottles sitting upright and NOT on their side or you could have a mess! (don't ask me how I know this)
Do NOT I mean NOT mess with the ratio of fruit/sugar thinking you'll make it better/dryer/sweeter. It wont work. (don't ask me how I know this)
You do NOT want to eat the fruit that comes out of the wine it does NOT taste good..... All the good stuff is now in the wine. BUT if you have pigs.. give it to them... Ever seen a drunk pig?? Its worth making the wine just to see that!! (don't ask me how I know this)

I have used quart canning jars when I ran out of bottles... works great and adds to the redneckish properties of homemade wine

You do NOT have to be picky cutting your fruit. It breaks down during the process anyway. I cut my big strawberries in half.. apples and peaches & watermelon into large chunks, blueberries were left whole. (in the pic I am ready to rack my new batch of Strawberry wine)

I bought my purdy blue and green bottles on Ebay!

I have use this recipe/technique with several fruits....

Apple = first batch was WAY sour. don't know what I did to it. 2nd time was very very yummy!

Peach = yummm! even better after it aged a year!!

Watermelon = made a very pretty pale pink wine!
Blueberry= Amazing!! (that's what is in the glass in the picture)
and the all-time winner of my poll of friends/family is....
Strawberry!! it was a little fizzy/sparkling, sweet but not way too sweet, perfect!!

any questions? feel free to ask!!

Go Forth And Make Wine!!
Your friends will thank you!!


**Hiccup**
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Dec 21, 2012

BEST Christmas Cookie in the World EVER!!

I've had my share of cookies in my lifetime.
And Ding DING DING!!!
I think we have a WINNER!!!
These may possibly be the BEST cookie I have ever had!!

The picture says it all...
Rich, Decadent, Soft chocolate cookie.
Topped with a cherry and smooth-as-silk frosting.
Whats not to love??


Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
!!

Ingre
dients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2  cup butter, room temperature
  • 1  cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons vanilla
  • 1  (10 ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained, reserve juice  
  • 1  (6-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2  cup sweetened condensed milk



  • Directions:

     In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and soda, blending well; set aside.
     1. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter or margarine and sugar on low speed until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture; beat until smooth and well blended.  

    2. With hands, shape dough into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheet. Press down center of dough with thumb. 

     3. Drain Maraschino cherries well, reserving juice. Place a cherry in the center indention of each cookie.

     4. In small saucepan combine chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk; heat over low heat until chocolate is melted. Stir in 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the reserved cherry juice. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the topping over each cherry, spreading to cover cherry. If frosting seems too thick, thin with a little more cherry juice.
     **I was worried that I read my original recipe wrong when it told me to put the frosting on BEFORE baking. I thought it would melt and run all over. But I did as it said and it is amazing! this super-silky chocolate frosting does not melt or run anywhere! it seals in the cherry beautifully!** 

     5. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes, or until done. Remove to wire rack to cool. Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies.
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