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May I have a salad please? The one with bacon.

The salad I was supposed to have.

Since moving to Clermont in September, hubby and I rarely eat fast food. They’re just too far away. But last week, loaded we ventured to McDonald’s to order a quarter-pounder meal for Greg and the salad with bacon for me. There are only two salads on the menu so even without knowing the name, the cashier was able to easily ring me up.

It was an early supper so the place was practically deserted when we walked in. Despite that, it seemed to take forever for our food to arrive. When it did, I discovered my salad was covered with corn and tortilla chips instead of it being a tossed salad with bacon. Hmm, I think they got it wrong.

So I debated for a few minutes and finally decided to take it back and explained to the cashier that I ordered the salad with bacon and got this one instead. He shook his head as if to say “That silly kitchen…” After reiterating I wanted salad with bacon he took it back to be corrected.

More waiting and the salad was eventually delivered to the table with apologies. I popped off that top once again and uh oh, there was bacon alright…but they had simply put the bacon on the southwestern salad I had taken back.

Again I made the familiar trek to the cashier and explained that I still didn’t get the correct salad and asked them to please correct the order. The third salad finally arrived and was indeed correct. Greg was done with his meal by this time so we brought it home with us and I enjoyed it the next day.

While a little perturbing, in the scheme of things, this McDonald’s dinner incident was no big deal. In fact by Salad #3, it was downright funny. And I was able to laugh it off.

However, that’s not always how I respond to inconveniences. Sometimes something so minor will really tick me off. I will feel irritated and frustrated. Even worse, is when I lay blame on someone else or just overall share my discontent with them.

Really Cindi? What’s the big deal? Every single one of us makes mistakes and every one of us is on the receiving end of someone else’s mistakes. It’s life and it happens.

This week I was an overcomer. No frustration on my end, no blame put on someone else, and no bad attitude shared with the hubster. But my hope is that I’ll “remember the salad” in coming days when I may once again be faced with an opportunity to extend grace and mercy to others.

How about you? Ever find yourself overreacting to a very minor incident? Here’s a good verse to help us all remember what to do:

Be merciful (responsive, compassionate, tender) just as your [heavenly] Father is merciful.

(Luke 6:36 AMP)

Mimi

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I know better; I really do!

Cookies

Your eyes do not deceive you. That’s Mimi tossing out the four dozen cookies I baked last week.

While I don’t pretend to be a gourmet chef or outstanding pastry baker, I do fairly well in the kitchen. I understand that cooking is one thing and baking is another. That is, baking is science and needs to be more exacting.

So what went wrong when it started out so right? I was using coconut oil instead of butter in the chocolate chip cookie dough and despite reading that the dough would be more like batter (wet), at the end I did my own thing and added enough flour so the result was a dough that looked more traditional. BIG MISTAKE!

Cookies were formed, put on baking sheets, and baked to perfection. All was well until I ate one. And then another. Yuck. Pah-tooey! Every single one was tasteless and floury. Of course I thought maybe my discerning palate was over-analyzing so I brought one to hubby to taste. The hubster agreed with my assessment. Hence you see me tossing my hour’s work into the trash.

What was so wrong about deviating just a little? About trying my own thing? About ignoring all the rules of science in baking and thinking I knew best? I’ll tell you…I should have just followed the directions. They were there for a reason. And for the best results, at least in baking, the rules should be followed exactly step by step.

We also need to follow the rules in life. As kids, we followed our parents’ rules because if we didn’t punishment of some kind was sure to follow.

In school we knew homework, performing well on tests, and class participation were important parts of the grading system. By not following those rules you might end up with a bad report card.

Even at work we have rules to follow from HR requirements to job duties. Not following those rules could lead to dismissal.

Our heavenly Father also provided rules to help us. From the Ten Commandments to Jesus’ words in the Gospels to the letters written to the churches, all were provided to reveal Him to us, show us The Way, provide access to Him, and grant us life in Him eternally. God’s rules are there to give us abundant life and to keep us from making some disastrous mistakes.

It is up to us to choose God, choose His ways, and choose to obey Him no matter how we feel or think. I used all the right ingredients in the cookie recipe and followed it almost exactly. I only changed up one little thing. But that one choice destroyed the whole batch. “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.” (I Peter 1:14 NIV)

We don’t have to live in ignorance. Those who know Christ have the Spirit within to teach and to guide. Our part is to obey. I encourage all of us to decide following God’s path and His rules is really the only right choice.

Mimi

Silly in our 60’s

Throughout our lives, each new decade brings change. Many are great and wonderful such as wisdom, retirement, or grandchildren. Some not so great or wonderful such as our bodies aging.

I remember the day I first realized I might need reading glasses. I noticed I had double vision while reading. My older friends smiled knowingly as I wondered aloud what was happening. Once I was assured that I was now far-sighted I enjoyed finding some fashionable glasses and merrily accepted this rite of passage.

Realizing I needed vision correction was easy. One day I could see clearly; one day I could not. Glasses were the answer.

But other issues are trickier. Hearing for instance. Unlike changing vision, you don’t often realize what you’re missing. Because, after all, you can’t hear what you can’t hear!!!

I know I have some hearing loss because I took a test in my late 50’s and was diagnosed as “hearing loss consistent with age.” Hrrmmmph. I don’t like the way that sounds. Whatever that hearing loss is, I don’t notice it as I can still hear the tiniest of sounds and have no problem whatsoever with conversation. Not so with hubby.

Hubby’s hearing loss is a bit different. And while it doesn’t yet interfere a lot with his life it does make for some interesting challenges.

Recently, I mentioned there was freshly made ham salad for sandwiches along with some leftover potato salad. Greg appreciated that and happily made his sandwich.

Greg & His Scrumptious Sandwich

Greg & His Scrumptious Sandwich

Taking the sandwich with him to the table, he eagerly took his first large bite. (Let me interrupt for a second here. I happen to make great ham salad. It’s a long-held recipe that turns out perfect every time.)

Having eaten my ham salad for our entire marriage, Greg was anticipating yet another wonderful lunchtime experience. Only, this time something was off. After the first bite he took another…and with a strange look on his face made some comment about it tasting different. And in that instant I knew exactly what happened and why he wasn’t enjoying his lunch.

Greg wasn’t eating a scrumptious ham salad sandwich. No, he was eating a potato salad sandwich!

He must have heard some of the words I spoke such as ham salad, lunch, and sandwich, but he didn’t hear all of them such as potato salad on the side. He simply picked up the first container, figured it was ham salad, didn’t pay attention to how different it looked, and smeared it on his bread. But that first bite was an eye-opener for sure!

And know what he did? He just continued on eating that sandwich!

And that, my friends, is where a sense of humor comes in. Lunch that day was not a great culinary experience and in fact was quite a let-down. But realizing the opportunity, I immediately said “I SO have to blog about this” and he graciously allowed me to snap a pic and publish the story.

A sense of humor will go a long way to help us when we find our car keys in the freezer. It will help when we walk into a room only to realize we have no idea why we went in there in the first place. Humor will get us through our own silly age-related situations and it will go a long way toward helping others as they encounter them as well.

We are reminded in Proverbs 17:22 that “A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.” (The Message)

I’m 61 so these kind of experiences are just beginning and promise to become more abundant. I am determined to allow fun and merriment to grow and crowd out “gloom and doom” thinking that may try to accompany the physical changes we experience in the aging process. I hope you will, too.

Mimi

 

 

Mimi’s Marvelous Meatloaf

With permission.

Picture Used With permission.

“You know what? I love your meatloaf, Mimi. I eat it all up. Please make it again; make it a lot!” So said Konnor yesterday as we talked about the scrumptious bacon-wrapped steaks I had just purchased for a birthday bash tomorrow.

What? A five-year old loving my meatloaf? You’ve got to be kidding me! But earlier in the day (while at the meat market picking up the steaks) the little guy (almost three) said nearly the identical thing. So that makes two young’uns enjoying my meatloaf and asking me to make it again.

This cracks me up cuz nowadays most people do not like casserole-type meals, the kind where everything is mushed together to form one dish or one loaf or one anything. And kids especially don’t want their various food items to touch.

When I grew up meatloaf was an expected and enjoyed dinner entrée and for the most part I loved it but my mom did have a tendency to overcook meats sometimes. So when the meatloaf was overcooked, yuck! It became a hard lump of unrecognizable substance that even a knife had trouble penetrating.

I think that’s what most people think of the minute you mention meatloaf. No wonder they’re afraid to try it. Or they think of something smothered in a ketchup-like sauce, sweet enough for dessert. Well, my meatloaf is neither. And while I know it’s probably not very healthy, it’s definitely yummy to eat.

Just writing about it has my mouth watering so I’m going to share the recipe with you. And it really does end up looking a bit like the picture above – unadorned but delish! Try it sometime and let me know what you think. And maybe share your own recipe for your family-favorite meatloaf. Believe me, I’m no meatloaf snob. I like ‘em all – sauce covered, plain, with surprises inside (my grandmother used to line up hard boiled eggs in the middle and you got a piece of egg in every slice).

As Julia Child would say “Bon Appetit.”

(Before we get started – this is very forgiving. I began making it with 3lbs of meat because we had a family of four and enjoyed lots of leftovers. You can cut the meat down to 2 lbs. easily. Don’t go much less because then you won’t have any for sandwiches or another dinner meal later in the week.)

Mimi’s Marvelous Meatloaf

2-3 lbs. ground beef/chuck (yes, you can use a meatloaf meat mixture if you like)
1 egg beaten
Bunch of shakes of Worcestershire Sauce (can’t go wrong here-shake to taste)
½ can any brand cream of mushroom soup (can use cream of celery, cream of chicken, etc.)
Several shakes of seasoned salt
Bunch of Italian flavored breadcrumbs, not Panko

Whisk all wet ingredients together, toss in meat, mixing with hands. Add breadcrumbs by the handful, mixing well until you receive the desired consistency. I like it very moist but not wet. After all, I’m trying to get this to form a loaf. Add breadcrumbs until you can form the meat mixture into a shape that holds. Shape into a traditional loaf. (If I’ve used 3 lbs. of meat I’ll make two smaller loaves, one for the freezer.)

Place loaf in a baking dish and add ¼ to ½ cup of water. This keeps the fat drippings from spitting all over your oven. Do not cover. Just bake at 350 or 375 degrees for about an hour. If you make a thick meatloaf it will take all of the hour but if you make a flatter one it may cook in as little as 45 minutes. To test for doneness, simply cut into the middle to make sure it’s barely or no longer pink.

When done, remove from oven and transfer to a plate or cutting board. Slice as you desire and serve it up. (My lust is the ends. I try to keep them for myself.)

Enjoy it as-is though diehard meatloaf fans may insist on a drizzle of ketchup.

Freezes well cooked or uncooked. If uncooked, thaw completely then bake as above. And this makes the best sandwiches! Hope you enjoy.

A place for everything.

 

The Container Store, yippee!

The Container Store, yippee!

 

It’s not like I live in some back woods place. I’m in south Orlando for goodness’ sake. But I see commercials on TV or know of some great chains I wish were nearby and wonder why they aren’t.

We do have an Ikea. And after years of seeing commercials for Kohl’s they began popping up. Red Robin is also on my radar after having had a few opportunities to enjoy their burgers. But top of my list right now is a Trader Joe’s. There’s “talk” about town so I’m hopeful it won’t be too long.

And this week, after years of anticipation, the Container Store opened. This massive store must be like an amusement park to organizers, professional and amateur alike. I’ve never even shopped there but am eagerly awaiting my first fieldtrip because I don’t like clutter and do like opening a drawer or closet and having everything in its place.

As much comfort as this type of organization gives me, it truly can be a false comfort. If I have items I don’t need but am missing things I do need, even though they look nice on the shelf, what good are they? These items can take up space, making it look as though I am properly prepared when in reality I’m not.

Case in point. I made a new cookie recipe the other day using all sorts of items I don’t typically stock. (Okay already, they were healthy cookies so I needed coconut oil, almond flour, and organic honey. Who has that stuff anyway?)

But when mixing my dough I quickly realized I didn’t have the dark chocolate chips the recipe called for, only milk chocolate. In spite of my organized cabinet with the special basket for baking chocolate, I still missed this important ingredient because I assumed what I had on hand was what I needed.

I made the cookies and they were good but I do think using dark chocolate chips would have only made these better. Here’s the link to these yummy delights.

Point is I missed what wasn’t there because I assumed what looked good was correct. It was not.

The idiom appearances can be deceiving is so true. And while it was no biggie that my pantry didn’t house what I needed, my greater concern is how easy it is to deceive myself into thinking all is well with my spiritual life just because on the outside things look good.

I go to church and serve others. I talk about God and pray at supper every night. I even talk to Him throughout my day. And to others (even to myself) I look pretty good. But God is much less interested in what I look like on the outside and more interested in who I am on the inside.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 tells us “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, GOD, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”

Father, may my inside—my relationship to you—be what matters most.

Mimi

p.s. Had a colonoscopy the other day. Oh boy! I’ll be posting about that experience soon.

Brussels Sprouts are my Favorite!

So said 4-year old Konnor the other day…completely out of the blue.

We were enjoying a McDonald’s ice cream cone and chatting about nothing in particular when he sincerely stated how much he liked Brussels sprouts. What? Did I hear him correctly? So I asked “What did you say?” and he repeated that he liked the way his mommy makes Brussels sprouts.

Of course, I later told his mommy about this and she said “That’s funny. Not sure what that means since he’s never eaten them! LOL; he’s a mess.”

Back in the day, Art Linkletter (an old-time entertainer with a heart for kids) had a show entitled “Kids say the Darndest Things.” In the show he would interview kids and they would either reveal a truth people wish they wouldn’t have, or they would just start making up all sorts of outlandish stories with great embellishment. Of course, Art would egg them on the entire time so the stories became more and more grand. It was great entertainment.

Konnor told an outright lie on Monday but it was so unexpected, so funny that I saw it not as a lie but just as a cute kid-ism. Of course, the problem is that it WAS a lie. And how easy it is to do that. Easy for kids to do…easy for adults to do.

As adults we lie all the time but think it’s excusable for various reasons. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, or we want to be supportive to our boss, or we are trying to impress someone, or we might say something to help us feel like we belong. And I have a feeling we’ll never run out of excuses for our lies.

The fact is that while we would all no doubt tell our children and grandchildren that lying is absolutely wrong, we often believe that as adults we have enough wisdom to know when it’s actually appropriate or acceptable to lie. We can assess situations and make good decisions to purposely avoid or not tell the truth.

Years ago I was challenged by a friend to not lie. Period. About anything. (Much easier said than done.) The challenge also included “white lies” (they are after all, still lies) and exaggeration (my biggest downfall). Exaggeration? Really? It’s a lie, too? Most indeedy.

The challenge wasn’t a two-week or one-month thing, it was a lifetime challenge. And I must admit, I still lie but it’s definitely much less than in the past and I’m also much more aware of the lies. At times I’ll say something and then almost immediately follow it up with “I’m sorry, that was a lie.” Because it was.

God tells us in Proverbs 19:1 that it’s “Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool” (NLT) and in Proverbs 11:3 we learn “Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people” (NLT).

I want to be someone others can count on. I want my words to help and not harm. I want to be a woman of integrity and I want others to be able to trust my words. Here’s my prayer to that end. Perhaps you’ll considering praying along, too: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation [thoughts] of my heart by pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” Psalm 19:14 NLT).

Mimi

p.s. I’m including a link to a recipe for Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts posted by Rachel Schultz (http://rachelschultz.com/2012/12/15/pan-seared-brussels-sprouts-with-cranberries-pecans/). I have never on purpose eaten one of these but if I’m ever going to have them, this is the recipe I’ll try. Photo downloaded straight from Rachel’s website, too. Don’t they look yum!

Timmy’s Chocolate Cake (wish I had a picture)

1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix (any brand)*

24 oz. Cool Whip **

4 oz. Melted unsweetened chocolate

Bake the cake according to package directions. Cool complete then slice each layer in half so you end up with four thin layers. Freeze for 30 minutes or more. (This makes it easier to “frost.”)

Mix the Cool Whip with the melted chocolate.

Place one layer (even frozen is fine) on a serving plate and frost with the chocolate Cool Whip. Add another cake layer and repeat, ending with a nice thick coating on top. You can frost the sides if you like, but I prefer how it looks with frosting in between the layers only.

Decorate with chocolate sprinkles, chopped nuts, or curls of chocolate.

This cake freezes well and I usually make it ahead and keep it in the freezer. When I travel to Timmy’s house I put the frozen cake in the car, make my two hour trip and by dessert time it’s ready to go.

*You can use plain old chocolate cake mix as well. Same great results.

**I usually use Cool Whip Lite, but regular is fine.

Easy to assemble, easy to freeze, easy to transport, and easy to enjoy!

Mimi