Cranberry Sauce Solution

My wonderful cranberry sauce.

For years I have avoided cranberry sauce. I like cranberries (as witnessed by my cranberry bread!) I even like to eat dried cranberries or put the jellied cranberry sauce into thumbprint (jolly jelly) cookies. However, every year when I face whether to bother with cranberry sauce, since only child #2 really likes it, I wonder if it’s worth it.

This year I had a thought. I knew my mother’s secret of adding salt to bitter coffee to take out the bitterness, so I thought I’d give it a whirl! It turned out better than expected and, for the first time in forever, I actually enjoyed cranberry sauce with my Thanksgiving dinner! Here is how I made it:

1, 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries

1 tsp. orange zest

3/4 cup of water

1 cup of sugar, or more to taste

1 tsp. salt

Add all ingredients into a medium saucepan and heat until it comes to a rolling boil, stirring frequently. Turn down and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. When thickened, pour into a bowl to cool. Can be served warm or refrigerated for serving later. It’s really tasty, and even better the second day! Hope you had a beautiful Thanksgiving!

Mourning the Dream

“Wherever you go I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.” – Ruth 1:16

Today I took child #2 Black Friday shopping. We didn’t get up at the crack of dawn or anything, as in years past. There weren’t that many good deals that we could afford, so we decided to go at the more reasonable hour of 8 a.m. We got the batteries that I needed (yay!) It was a good trip. We had fun.

We did, however, go to a store that often has religious-themed signs. We found a sign with a quote from the book of Ruth. It said (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Wherever you go, I will go.” I said to child #2, “The rest of that quote is ‘Wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people and your God shall be my God.'” That was part of our wedding. I started to cry.

Even though I know exactly how horrible he was, and that what he did was completely unacceptable, I still mourn. I mourn for the should-have-beens; could-have-beens; for the life I should have had with a loving husband and father; for the dreams that died the first time he laid a hand on me and on the children. The stranger he became, who I no longer knew, or wanted to. What about our happily ever after?

My friend tells me there’s no such thing; that books and movies lie to us. Some days I believe him, and yet…there are some people who have good marriages. I know two. That doesn’t seem like much, with all the people I know, but at least I know they exist. They are not like unicorns or fairies (sorry to burst your bubble!!!) So, why not me? I know, because I married a sociopath, an abuser, a narcissistic, son of a so-and-so! Someone who has set child #3 back so far, I don’t know if she’ll ever recover! Was he always this way? Research tells me yes, but I never saw it. All I saw was this charming man. How naive was I?

So, excuse me while I shed a tear for my shattered dreams. I mourn for what could have been; what should have been; but wasn’t. I know, though, that God is always there for me and for my kiddos. No matter what we’ve been through, He will always be there for us. I just wish He’d send me an angel. So I will mourn, but I will also move on, older and wiser.

Life is a journey, with many lessons to learn.

A Recipe for Disaster

Pride goeth before the fall.

When I was growing up we didn’t have much. We had a place to live and food, but not much more. My dad, as I mentioned before, had suffered two heart attacks before I was just barely five and was not able to work. Really, it was a miracle that he lived at all.

My mom, however, had much pride and taught us to have pride in many things as well. I didn’t even realize this until last Sunday, when our priest hit on this subject as part of his homily. All of a sudden, I realized I had made a grievous error. My whole life I have been looking down on people who were less educated, not well dressed, spoke incorrect English, or many other reasons.

What was I doing?! I was judging. I was like that Pharisee that thanked God that he was not like that disgusting tax collector! Really? That’s how I act as a Christian? Am I really able to call myself a follower of Christ if this is how I feel and act? Have I taught my children this way too?

So, now I must closely examine my life and know deep in my heart that I am no better than any of my fellow people. Sure, I may have more education under my belt, or a knack for correct English, and for pulling together an outfit that looks fabulous, but doesn’t cost much (or even anything with free clothing places for us needy) but how, exactly, does that make me a better person? That’s just it – IT DOESN’T!!! I feel it makes me a worse Christian. I believe it was St. John XXIII who used to sign off on his prayers to God as “the lowliest servant of the lowliest servant of God.” Yeah. He wasn’t judging himself to be more worthy of God than others were. I want that humility. Because really, does my knowing the difference between a violin and a viola make me a better Christian? No. No it does not. It just makes me knowledgeable in stringed instruments. Nothing more.

If we don’t realize how we treat other people (and I mean ALL other people!) then how are we better than that Pharisee? How are we all children of God if some of us are more equal than others? We’re not, or at least we’re not acting as if we were.

So, look at yourself. Really examine how you view others that you come into contact with during your day. I know this will be much less during the pandemic, but think back to before then, if you need to. Did you sneer at the fast food worker who got your order wrong? Consider that she might be going to school full-time as well as working full-time and trying to care for her toddler. She’s tired – that’s why she messed up your order. And really, did it kill you to wait an extra five minutes while she fixed it, after apologizing? It’s a lesson in patience – offer it up for someone who needs extra prayers!

Did you yell at the teacher who kept your kid after school in detention, because he was tired of the attitude your child was sporting? Maybe you need to look into your child’s behavior and try to get to the bottom of why the teacher felt threatened by it. Maybe there was a good reason.

Did you sigh impatiently while waiting in line because the person in front of you had 75 items and you only had two, and he didn’t let you go first? Maybe he’s trying to get home to his overworked and overstressed wife and he’s picking up groceries so that she doesn’t have one more thing on her plate. Taking the extra five minutes to let you go first just doesn’t seem like a good decision.

Maybe someone was just being a jerk. Maybe so. It happens. However, giving people (all people) the benefit of the doubt when you don’t even know them will make you a nicer person and a better Christian, not to mention it will increase your calm. Now go do good!!!

Giving Thanks

Blessings come in all shapes and sizes!

As Thanksgiving 2020 approaches, I feel a deep sadness at the way it is being rushed, so that Christmas can come faster. You do realize that pushing Christmas doesn’t really make it come any faster, right? Anymore than we could make it come faster as children. Over the years it seems that Christmas has been pushed up and pushed up that we now have Christmas trees and other paraphernelia in stores by June! Didn’t the Christmas clearance items just get sold, and now we have new items to put out? If you do decorate early, all you have to look forward to is a nice, thick layer of dust on all of your Christmas baubles and bells!

Seriously, people! We are missing a great holiday. And, no, I’m not just talking about the food! Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratefulness. I, personally think we could use quite a bit more gratefulness in our world. I don’t care who you are or what you do for a living, you have things for which to be grateful! So, I wanted to make a list. Here goes:

I am thankful/grateful/blessed by:

  1. My God and faith. He is for whom I live and who I will serve forever. Amen!
  2. My children #’s 1 – 4. They are all different, but they are the heart and soul of my life!
  3. My friends. When I think I can’t possibly keep going, they are there to cheer me on, and let me know that I am loved.
  4. My home. It may be small and could definitely be in better shape, but like many things, it’s a work in progress and I am grateful to have a roof over my head!
  5. The food that God has always provided. It doesn’t matter how much we struggle, God has always given us an abundance of things to eat. Even with our dietary restrictions, He takes care of us.
  6. Our struggles and challenges. We often think that life would be so much better if we didn’t have to struggle so much, but would it really? How would we get to be the great person we are today if we never had to struggle and didn’t face challenges every day?
  7. Music. I love music of many types. It is something which can calm me down, fuel my fire, or just simply invite me to sing along. How much poorer my life would be without music!

Thank you, God for all of your gifts, blessings and challenges!

I do realize that most people want 2020 (and especially the corona virus to be over.) However, playing Christmas songs in November isn’t going to speed that up any! Be grateful for everything and don’t forget to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Pecan Bread

Cranberry Pecan Bread – Happy Thanksgiving!

I used to make cranberry bread when I was a teen, before I found out that I had celiac disease, and subsequently, dairy issues. I had found a recipe in one of my mom’s old cookbooks, and baked it several times a year, whenever I could find fresh cranberries. It was flavorful, sweet, and wonderful with a pat of butter.

However, when I became gluten-free many years ago, I tried to figure out a recipe that would compare to the cranberry bread of my teen years. Much to my disappointment, I couldn’t. I missed that bread so much, but especially at Thanksgiving time, when fresh cranberries were plentiful. The other day, after I had found some fresh cranberries on sale, I decided to give it another whirl, as my dad would say. I have learned a lot in these last 17+ years of cooking and baking gluten-free. Well, I finally cracked the code! Here it is, and yes, it is fabulous!

Cranberry Pecan Bread

1 cup sorghum flour

1 cup tapioca starch

1/2 cup almond flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup chopped pecans

2 eggs

1 cup almond milk

1/4 cup dairy-free butter, melted

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 1/4 cup washed and chopped fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease your standard bread pan with your favorite cooking spray. You can make this in smaller pans for gifting, but those need to be sprayed as well!

Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. To that add your wet ingredients and blend well. Stir in your cranberries and pecans. Pour into prepared pan (or pans if you’re using mini ones!) and bake for about 45 minutes (20 minutes if in small pans), or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Ready for the oven!

Remove hot pan(s) from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes. Then turn your delicious cranberry bread out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Slice and enjoy with some dairy-free butter!

Yummmmm!

Mental Health Update-Child #3

Don’t forget to bloom.

You may remember my writings regarding my third child. She has struggled greatly with the abuses piled on her by her father. Since he is no longer in our lives (thank you, Jesus!) I am left to deal with the fallout of so many years of abuse. Currently, she has eight different diagnoses, and struggles mightily to do her schoolwork and fit in socially. She has a long struggle ahead of her.

However, today marks a major step for her. She auditioned for her school’s musical! Child #3 has a beautiful voice and loves to sing. I think it is what makes her happiest in this crazy world, and she decided to share her gift. What a blessing!

At first, she only wanted a minor role, with only a few lines, and part of a song. However, when I filled out the application with her, she only wanted to be in the chorus. I thought this was a safe option for her, in case she was having trouble managing her diagnoses during the production. I was surprised to here her practice the song for the female lead! Will she get it? Does she really want it? What do I do if she completely freaks out?

This is a huge step for her, though she knows this particular musical backwards and forwards, having watched the movie ad infinitum! What a new and exciting world she has entered. Good luck, baby girl, or should I say, “Break a leg?!!!”

Old Movies

Child #2 and I watched “Going My Way” tonight. It’s an old black and white movie from the 1940’s starring Bing Crosby. That child had not seen it yet! Now, we watch “Holiday Inn” at least once a year as well as the old “Miracle on 34th Street,” but “Going My Way was a new one for her. I sometimes feel the need to break out “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “The Bells of St. Mary’s!” Just the other day, I had children #’s 2, 3, & 4 watching “Christmas in Connecticut.” Some don’t like the black and white movie format, but I think you get over that once you are immersed in the story itself.

There is some great music to be heard in these old movies too, as well as lessons to be learned. There is nothing like “Too-Ra Loo-Ra Loo-Ral” or “White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby. No one can compare to his honeyed tones!

So, do you like old movies that were from way before your time, like I do? Do you prefer new movies? I like both, so my feelings won’t be hurt! (Just don’t say anything mean about Bing!!!) Leave your answer in the comment section below and have a great Saturday movie night!

To Win at what Price?

I visited my mom today. If you have been a follower of my blog for long, you know that we have had a tempestuous relationship with my extended family, since I kicked my now-ex-husband out of my house over four years ago. She took his side, ignoring the fact that he was terribly abusive to us and had, in fact committed many felonies. Right. Nice guy. So, for that reason, I didn’t talk to her for a few years. I couldn’t believe that, not only would she refuse to believe that St. David could possibly do any wrong, but also that she threw us away by taking his side. She knowingly threw us away.

What on earth could convince a mother to throw away her child and grandchildren? One charming man. Because abusers are always charming, aren’t they? It’s how they hide their dark side! I’ve seen it my whole life. My dad was one. My husband was one. Is there a reason I avoid charming men? You bet! I’ll run for the hills before I’ll go for another charming man.

Well, we got on the subject of my first child, who refuses to talk to me. I have no idea what the problem is, as I will continually and unconditionally love this child forever. There is no way to make me stop, and believe me, they’ve tried. I happen to mention that child #1 was not speaking to me and how much that hurt my feelings. My mother, of course, had to get in a dig about how she knows how that feels. I almost lost it. There is a big difference in not talking to the one person who is supposed to show you unconditional love, and doesn’t, and who makes it glaringly obvious by housing said abusive husband and providing for him, than one like me, who unconditionally loves all her children, no matter their problems, and who would never, ever throw them away.

I was just baffled by her! Unreal. As always, I’m wrong and she’s right. And then it hit me. She has to get in these little digs, because it makes her the wronged party; the martyr. Either that or it makes her right. Either way, she wins, and I’m once again the loser. I remember thinking, years ago, how I could never win with my family. I was always wrong, always at fault, always stupid. Yup. They put the “fun” in dysfunctional! Still that way. Except now, I refuse to play the game.

I refuse to be unhappy and waiting on them to tell me how great I am before I believe it! I’m awesome! God loves me exactly as I am, and so do my children (despite child #1 having issues right now.) So, screw it! I’m not going to worry about what anyone but God thinks, and He thinks I’m pretty great. I agree!!!

May God be on My Mind, on My Lips, and in My Heart

What would you change in your life?

I’m not sure how much you know about the Catholic Church. I am, in fact, what is called a “cradle Catholic.” In other words, I was born into my Catholicism and have not strayed from it. I love going to Mass. It is the most calming and beautiful time of my week.

I got to thinking, last Sunday, about the motions of the Mass. There is a point before the Gospel where, we Catholics, take our right-hand thumbs and make the sign of the Cross three times. While doing this we say “May God be on my mind” (while we cross our foreheads,) “May God be on my lips” (while we cross our lips,) “and in my heart” (while we cross over our hearts.)

To non-Catholics, who can’t even hear the words we murmer, this may seem like a strange custom. Once they are told what we are praying, though, the meaning comes through. Last Sunday, however, the motions and prayers gave me pause. What if we really let God be on our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts? Would we change anything about how we live and love?

If God is always on one’s mind, would we be likely to cut someone off in traffic, or cheat in business? Would we not act in a more holy manner? What if we all did this? What if, instead of spreading corona virus, we spread God’s love and joy? How would your day change?

If God is always on one’s lips, would we be likely to use sharp words at our children, or swear at a store clerk? Would we not check our words and tone first to make sure that the voice coming from our mouth is Christ-like? Would we not spread the Good News?

If God is always on one’s mind, would we plot revenge, or think about what nasty thing we should have said to a rude co-worker? Would we not forgive and think about what a rough day that person must have been experiencing in order for him or her to act in that manner? Would we not act more like Christ?

Yes, we are all different. We are not all Catholic, or Protestant, or Jewish, or anything, but we are all God’s children, no matter what we call Him. He loves us all so very, very much. We do not have to prove we are worthy of Him. We are not, but He loves us still the same. He is the ever-loving Father. Just as your parent loves you, how very much more does our Father in Heaven.

So, think about what it means to be a Child of God. Then go out and spread his love and joy!