My Love Affair With Writing

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I was in third grade when I won my first award for writing.  I do not remember what I wrote about, but I know it was a poem.  I remember feeling like I was the greatest writer in the history of the world!  Well, in the history of my elementary school.

In the sixth grade, I had an English teacher named Mrs. Thompson.  I recall her stern demeanor and her no-nonsense approach to discipline in her classroom.  I was a pretty cocky English student since my award win a few years prior.  I wrote a paper for her once.  I thought was an incredible writer; she quickly told me told me it was less than amazing.  I distinctly remember her saying to me, “Just because you won one writing award, doesn’t make you an expert.  Try again.”  I recall being hurt and put off by what she said, but she quickly became my favorite teacher and she, at my 8th grade graduation ceremony, awarded me with the English award.  I was on my way!

High school writing began to take an emotional turn for me.  I was in honors English courses, eventually ending up in Advance Placement by my senior year.  I was on the yearbook staff as well as our school’s literary publication staff.  I wrote a lot in those four years, in and out of school. Teenage angst influenced my subject matter.  Love poems, break-up poems, hate poems, family poems – I had one for them all.  I attempted to write stories, essays and vowed that I would be a published author before I died, and even if no one buys my book, I would be happy I did it.

Writing continued to be a cathartic experience for me through my late teens and into my mid-twenties.  Family strife, depression and long-lost loves were topics then.  I struggled with self-expression without judgement and ridicule outside of my writing notebooks, so I wrote about it in them.  I wrote about my life and how unfair it was in a journal; how I was always someone’s option when I made them a priority (sorry for that cliché statement).  Writing about it helped me walk around with a smile on my face.

Then, my future husband came home from the Navy and the next phase of my life began.  That is when I stopped writing.

I didn’t journal, I didn’t write poetry, I even stopped reading.  There is no blame being placed on my husband, or my life situations, I just stopped.  The longer I went without putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), the more difficult it was to pick it up.  I missed it and thought about it all the time, but I never made the effort to continue toward my goal of being published.

Fast forward through seventeen years of life, and I am here in Virginia, starting to write again.  There is no angst or strife in my life, no anger or heartbreak.  I decided that reading and writing was important and I needed to cultivate and nourish that part of me.  I love it and need it in my life.

It was through the examination of myself and my desire to live a more positive life that I realized that I compromised who I was without even realizing it.  Almost two decades later, I am sitting in front of a monitor writing my about my love affair with words, and I feel our relationship has been rejuvenated.  It was not because I no longer wished to write, it was life that gets in the way of some loves.  I do not dare call it a hobby; it is so engrained in me that saying that would be an insult.

So I am 39yrs old, married for almost 15 years and have a 13 year old son, and I write.  I write this blog, I connect with feelings, I give recipes and DIY tips.  My coup de plume is coming, and it will be published.

I will be proud, even if no one reads it.

 

Mistakes I’ve Made – Part 1

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In order for me to remain a positive person, I have had to acknowledge the things that I’ve done that are not positive at all.  Just because I am practicing a positive life, and write about ways others can as well, doesn’t mean that I believe I am perfect.  “You have to know better, to do better”, I once heard Oprah say on her talk show, and I agree.  Sometimes experience through making mistakes is the best way to learn.

I am a very honest and blunt person, to the point sometimes of, inadvertently, hurting people’s feelings.  Sometimes I make an off-color joke that is taken to heart, or make statements without realizing who is around me.  There are many times that I have been made aware that I have done something like this, and each and every time I feel horrible.  But, by people bringing it to my attention, it has made me watch what comes out of my mouth.

For instance:

  •  I was at a birthday party for my nephew.  My son was having a difficult time sharing toys that day and it ended up in him having a meltdown.  After taking him to the outside hallway to cool off and get his senses about him, I took him back inside.  I sat back down at the table, I exclaimed, “Thank God I didn’t have a girl!”.  I thought I was cracking a joke to alleviate an embarrassing situation, when in actuality, I offended my niece who was sitting right next to me.  I have been told that later on my niece asked my sister-in-law, “What did Aunt Dawn mean about not having a girl?  Does that mean she doesn’t love me?”  In no way did I intend to hurt anyone’s feelings, especially my niece’s. That broke my heart when I found out.  I tried to alleviate embarrassment of my situation with my son, and instead hurt someone else’s feelings.  The lesson: sometimes it’s better to leave a situation as it is and not try to joke or explain it away.  Also, be careful what you say.

  • My step father had surgery to remove a tumor on his lung.  My parents and I were not getting along at the time, but I made sure that I went to see him after his surgery.  My mother, who is a smoker, was sitting my his bedside and we were talking.  It was difficult to see him like that, and I couldn’t help but think that this may be my mother’s fate sooner rather than later.  So I said to her, “I hope you quit soon.  I don’t want to have to go through this with you!”  My intention was to express my want to, sincerely, not go through that with her.  To not have to watch my mother go through this same ordeal, for her sake and mine.  I was told later that was pretty insensitive of me to say, and I actually agreed with my mom when she told me.  I chose my words incorrectly, and expressed them even worse.  I should have seen the present situation for what it was: my mother sitting at her husband’s bedside, worrying about his well-being and health.  I should have been more sensitive to that.  Instead, I said what I thought at the time and made her feel worse.  No matter how our relationship was suffering at the time, that was not a good thing to do.  Lesson again, watch what I say.

 

 

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Those are only two examples of the many times I have been told that I needed to watch what I say.  I have lost friends, bruised family relationships and even hurt myself with some of the things that I said.  So, what am I doing to change?

  • I am consciously reminding myself about the gravity of a situation at hand.  Does what I have to say add to a conversation or situation in a positive way, or is it in line with what is happening around me?  If no, I do not speak.
  • I no longer allude to things that are negative in a conversation in order to steer a conversation in a negative direction.  I am infamous for the one liners that make people say, “Did she just say what I thought she just said?”  Instead of being passive-aggressive, I am learning how to express that I am hurt/angry/upset in a way that is more constructive.  It is something I have to remind myself of daily and certainly a process I will work for the rest of my life.
  • I try to remain honest, in a more structured way.  I am trying not to be so blunt, as the off-the-wall comments I’m known for making do no one any good, and are not positive.
  • I try to live in the present and not read into what other people are saying/doing.  I have to remind myself that not everything is about/because of/result of me.  Again, I remind myself DAILY.

 

Now, I know that some people are thinking, “You cannot please everyone all the time”, and that I both agree with  understand.  Someone, someplace, no matter how hard I try to change, is always going to instigate me or be offended by my honesty, in any fashion.  That is all right.  I agree that those things will happen.  The point to this is that I become conscious of those situations that ARE under my control.  Change starts with me, and I intend on making positive interactions with those I love and care for, instead of causing bruised feelings.  The relationships I have are important to me, so I am trying to cultivate them.

Can you relate to choosing your words wisely?  Have you had something like this happen as well?  How did you deal with or change your situation?

 

Pinned It, Did It, Wednesday: Cleaning A Glass Stove Top

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Yes, that’s right.  Hours and hours (sometimes concurrently) do I pin.  I love getting ideas about things that I didn’t know I needed an idea for! (Did that make sense? lol)  I’ve said it before and I will again” how did anyone know how to do anything before Pinterest?

I own a glass, electric stove.  For 95% of my life I have cooked with a gas stove.  When we moved to Virginia, I had to adapt to electric cooking because our apartment came with an electric stove.  It was difficult and I did a lot of research about temperature and cooking time differences prior to our move.  I didn’t do too bad with it; I think to date I have two to three meal casualties.  When we bought out home, the appliances came with it and, as you can guess, it came with my electric range.  This time there was another new element to me: the glass cooking stove top.  I love the look and the ease of it, and I never thought I would hear myself say that.  This particular range has great control in temperature than my apartment stove, and the stove top does not get hot when you are using the oven!  I love it!  The issue was cleaning the stove top.

Even if you have no spill over while cooking, you will have cooking marks on the stove top.  It is inevitable and unavoidable.  I took to Pinterest to see what I can do to take care of the marks.   I could have purchased a glass top cleaner from the store, but it was smelly, expensive and would be yet another cleaner to grace my already cluttered cleaning cabinet.  I was excited to find a pin that told me to use baking soda and vinegar!  You can

 ===> find the original post I found on Pinterest HERE! <===

I wanted to try this particular way to clean because it uses two things that I always have in my cabinet: baking soda and white vinegar!  All I had to do was purchase an empty spray bottle to spray the vinegar and away I went!

I sprinkled my stove top with baking soda, then sprayed white vinegar on it.  It fizzed like peroxide would.  In fact, my son walked through asking two questions: (1) What’s that smell?! (obviously the vinegar!) and (2) What is that sound?! (the fizzing of the baking soda) 

I let it sit on there for ten minutes before wiping it off.

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This is that the back burner looked like after I washed it.  It was the cleanest to begin with, so let me show you the most impressive result!

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This burner is my go-to burner.  Don’t we all have that one we go to first?  This one has two settings – one for the small part of the circle, and one for the outer part of the circle, for larger pans and pots.  The picture to the left does not do the marks that were on there prior to adding the cleaner any justice.  It was much darker!  I used a small amount of elbow grease and used the cloth in small circles when wiping the paste of baking soda and vinegar off the stove, removing the marks.  The pic to the right shows how shiny and clean it was when it was done!

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Here is the entire stove top completely clean using the method:

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It is shiny, and those two ingredients are the only ones I used.  I will ALWAYS use this method to clean my stove top!

THANK YOU PINTEREST!!

If you do this, share with me your results!  I would love to hear from you!

Jalapeno Popper Corn Fritters – Recipe Try!

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Since I started blogging here on WordPress, I have been fortunate enough to begin following some very talented bloggers.  I follow some for laughs, some for inspiration, and others for their yummy recipe shares.  I saw this recipe posted from Connie, a German/American blogger who posts some wonderful recipes from each origin.  I highly recommend you taking a look at her blog:

===> you can do so here! <===

There are a number of recipes that Connie has posted that I am definitely going to try, but this one fit into the prior grilling weekend.  I saw the recipe for her Jalapeno Corn Fritters and knew my guys would love them!  I decided to make them as a side to my husband’s wonderful Grilled Taco Burgers, and you can ===> find his awesome recipe here!!! <===.  Here are my recipe cliff notes, and you can find Connie’s original post for her fritters ===> if you click right here! <===

The one thing I will say that I should have done differently was make the much smaller.  I used them as a side to my husband’s huge taco burgers, and needless to say, they were half eaten because of this.  So note, make them smaller than I did!

I combined canned corn, flour, corn meal, an egg, cheddar cheese, jalapeno, paprika, green onions, zest and juice from a lime.  The original recipe called for coriander (which I did not have) and cilantro (which I despise), so I omitted it and added a spice blend I bought from a farmers market.  It had salt, pepper, and some spice to it.  I heated up the oil and added my fritters!

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I let them brown, as the original recipe directed HERE.  Look how golden brown they came out!  The scent that came off the sweet corn as it cooked in the pan was mouth-watering!

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After they were done cooking, I removed them and put them on a paper plate.  As you can see, they are rather big.  Next time I make them, I will definitely be scaling back on the size.

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Next month, my husband and I are hosting our Housewarming Open House, and I think this will be on the menu!  It is delicious, and when served with a little salsa, it is heavenly!

Be sure to try this wonderful recipe!  Click the links above to Connie’s blog and print the full recipe.  It is well worth it!

Have you tried a new recipe recently?

“Choose Kindness Over Judgement” by Dawn Helms

I was chosen to be a contributer to The Kindness Blog! Here is my post!

Kindness Blog

Choose Kindness Over Judgement

by Dawn Helms

Choose Kindness Over Judgement

We have all been there at one time or another: Sitting in a restaurant trying to have a nice dinner with your family, and sitting at the table next to you is a couple with two children. One of them is around two years old, and the other clearly around ten or eleven years old. You hear fussing and fumbling from their table that is getting progressively louder, and the disruption is coming from the older child. It is beginning to become annoying and you are uncomfortable watching this meltdown. You ask yourself, “Why are the parents not just leaving?”, or, “Why are they letting that child get away with that! I would never do that.” You scoff, judge and try to hurry through your dinner as quick as you can so that you can leave and not have to watch another minute…

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The Amazing Taco Burger!

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My husband was born to grill.  It’s true!  Ask anyone who has come to our home for one of his creations, and they will agree.  when we finally moved from our apartment to our new home, his objective was to buy a new grill, ASAP!  When we relocated, we downsized a lot and gave people or sold some of our larger items because we were uncertain of the space we would have in our storage unit.  Well, the day that he passed his grill on to his brother, I could see his heart breaking.  The grill is his baby, and one place where he is his most creative.  I love it because he cooks the big stuff and I only have to worry about sides!  Hell, sometimes he even does the SIDES on the grill!  I am one lucky lady!

When a contest came around from our local grocery store to submit a picture of a grill creation to win prizes, it was a no-brainer that he should enter.  Since Memorial Day is synonymous with grilling, we decided to dedicate our Sunday dinner to this contest.  After much consideration of his greatest grilling hits, my husband decided on his Grilled Taco Burgers.  They are delish!  One of the stipulations of the contest was that every single ingredient had to be the store brand of this grocery store chain.  You can find the full recipe list and directions at the end of this post.  But for now, lets show you the photographic cliff notes.  Here are the ingredients:

Tortilla shells, onion, one jalapeno, ground beef (or turkey), Mexican shredded cheese, sour cream, taco seasoning, salsa and tortilla chips

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Take ground beef, jalapeno, onion, taco seasoning, salt and pepper and mix. Form burger patties.

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Grill them until cooked thoroughly.  While on the grill, get your toppings ready to go. Salsa, sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips and shells.

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Once burgers are cooked, layer toppings (chips on bottom) onto shell and top with cooked burger and more cheese.

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Wrap burger so that there are no ends open.  Place burger seams down on your grill.

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You are really just charring the outside and melting the cheese inside, so depending on how hot your grill is will determine how long per side to have your shells on the grill.  You are only going to need a couple of minutes per side IF THAT.  Be careful not to burn!

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(The hubby loves his perfect grill marks)

Take off the grill and enjoy!  Serve with extra salsa and sour cream if desired.

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So, this is where I need YOUR HELP!  My husband’s creation is up to be voted on right now on the grocery store’s contest page on Facebook.   If you believe this recipe is worthy, please click the link below to vote for him!  You can vote once every 24 hours!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR THIS AMAZING BURGER!!!

Click Link
Click, “View Entries”
Click, “Dan”
Vote!

If you decide to give this recipe a try, both my husband and I would LOVE to hear your results!!  Please be sure to share it with us!  Below is the recipe in its entirety.  Enjoy!!

Taco Burgers

1 ½# Ukrops Ground Beef 85/15

Chopped Onion

Dice Jalapeno

1 Packet Ukrops Taco seasoning

4 Ukrops Burrito Shells

Ukrops Salsa – Medium

Ukrops Shredded Cheese – Mexican or Cheddar

Ukrops Tortilla Chips

Salt and Pepper

Preheat grill (I prefer charcoal)

Mix the Ground Beef, Onion, Jalapeno, Taco Seasoning, and Salt and pepper until blended well.

Form into 4- 6oz patties and cook on the grill until desired temp.

While the Taco Burgers are cooking, set up a tray with Mexican shredded cheese, Salsa, Sour cream, Burrito shells and Tortilla chips.

Take 1 burrito shell, lay down 4-5 tortilla chips, cheese, and salsa, and place the cooked taco burger, top with cheese and sour cream.

Fold up one side of the shell to the top of the burger, and work your way around until closed up.

Place Taco Burger fold side down on the grill, only a few minutes on each side. You are really only charring the shell and melting the cheese.

Enjoy!!!!!

My Top 12 List Music Collaborations of All Time (So Far…)

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I’ve said it before and I will again, I am a music LOVER of all genres and all types. I believe that something magical happens when two artists come together to duet or collaborate on a song together. If the chemistry is right, a diamond emerges from the rough. In music today, there are some great collaborations (Pink & Nathan Ruess, Christina Aguilera & A Great Big World) and some bad (Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood, Lil Jon and anyone), which made me think about some of the ones that I really love and have touched my heart or rocked me hard.  A good song in general can span the generations, but a good collaboration can expand outside genres and through generations.

Here is my list, in no particular order:

 

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Linkin Park & Jay-Z – Dirt off your shoulder/Lying From You

This entire collaboration CD is amazing, but this particular song rocks me harder. The beat, how Mike Shinoda raps the Linkin Park classic to a Jay-Z beat, it was like they were written for one another.

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Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton – Islands in the Stream

All right, cheesy I know. But if you were born at any time in the 1970’s, you heard that song on the radio all of your life in the 1980’s. It was the backdrop for many romantic movies and on the lips of your parents, if they sang in the car like mine did. And yes, I do know all the words =)

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P.Diddy & Faith Evans – I’ll Be Missing You

In the heat of the east coast, west coast rap wars, there were casualties of some of our greatest rappers ever to hold a mic. When Notorious B.I.G. was murdered and rocked Diddy to the core, he sang about it, and the world listened. This song is one of the biggest collaborations of the 1990’s, and one of P. Diddy’s best.

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Aerosmith & Run D.M.C. – Walk This Way

I know that this song is on EVERYONE’S list, but it has to be on mine as well. I am an Aerosmith fan for life, and this collaboration is on the soundtrack of my childhood. Classic.

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Jay Z & Kanye West – Otis

No, I am not an avid Kanye West fan, but when I heard about this partnership, I was excited on many levels. These two are a couple of the best rappers in the game, and them coming together for this track in particular makes me extremely happy. The beat is infectious!

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Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes – Up Where We Belong

Richard Gere. Debra Winger. One of the best romance/drama movies of my lifetime, An Officer and a Gentleman. Love. Love. Love. That is all.

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Boyz II Men & Mariah Carey – One Sweet Day

The year was 1996. This song was everywhere and I remember crying and crying and crying to this song. 1996 was a horrible year for me. But, music is always a cathartic experience for me. The voices in this song melt together and tear your heart out.

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Anthrax & Public Enemy – Bring the Noise

Yet another rock/rap collaboration that rocks my socks and one that is on that childhood soundtrack I spoke of prior. I remember singing songs like these in the back of a metro bus with my friends. High school memories.

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Michael Jackson & Siedah Garrett – I Just Can’t Stop Loving You

A good love song can extend itself across the generations, and this one does for me. It is heartbreaking and the angst in MJ’s voice is visceral. Again, this duet brings voices together that seem to intertwine together in the smoothest fashion. So good.

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Sonny & Cher – I Got You Babe

Yes, Sonny & Cher. 1970’s, bell bottoms and Sonny & Cher. This song spans decades, and most recently was on an episode of The Big Bang Theory. It’s fun and cute.

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You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond

Again, heartbreak. And Barbra & Neil. Nothing to dispute here.

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Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure

We all know the beat, though some do not know where it comes from. We know the controversy about Vanilla Ice and the beat from his hit, “Ice, Ice, Baby” that almost matched this song’s original beat. But the lyrics are good, and the eclectic sounds of Bowie’s voice and Queen’s fabulousity (my own original adjective), and you have a classic.

 

What is one of your favorite song collaborations?

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