Monday, February 27, 2012

Hummus Chicken Salad Recipe

One of my favorite lunch time meals is yummy chicken salad.  I've been trying to figure out an alternative to using mayo or Miracle Whip.  And that's when it hit me...why not use hummus?  Much healthier and so tasty! Absolutely genius idea I must say. Then I did a little research and discovered something. I am not the first person to have this fabulous idea. is my own recipe.

You will need:
2 cups shredded chicken breast (I tend to use canned chicken {drained})
4 tablespoons of  hummus
2 stalks celery, diced

1/2 cup of red onion, diced (add more or less according to taste--may omit)
1 small apple (peeled and diced--used rather than or in addition to onion)
1 handful of red grapes (add as much or as little as you prefer)
A touch of cracked black pepper and a pinch of sea salt
   (to taste or can be omitted if wanting low sodium)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together until reaching desired consistency.
2. Refrigerate overnight or until cool (about 30 minutes)
3. Serve over a bed of fresh lettuce and spinach (yay no dressing necessary) or use whole wheat wraps for something super quick and definitely easy.

Hope you enjoy this recipe.  If you love chicken salad as much as I do and wanting to make something a little better for you, especially if you are dieting, this is a much healthier alternative to having to use the "lite" version of mayo. 

Now if you want to be a little more adventurous, which I plan to do next time, try adding a flavored hummus, such as the jalapeno flavor, to give your chicken salad a little kick.  I am thinking that I will omit the fruits from spicy version next time.

Let me know if you try either of these versions, your substitutions, thoughts and words of advice. 

Bon Appetite!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Just When I Needed It Most

Since my mom passed away, my grandmother and I are closer than we've ever been. So much so that I tell her just about everything and she pretty much does the same with me. I have a thirty minute drive to and from work on the week days, so I normally give her a call on the way into work and we usually talk most of the way there. We talk about everything...big things that are going on in my life, little things that Jude has done, her health, her lack of I said, a little bit of just about anything and everything. She's confided in me secrets she's never told a soul. When I feel the urge to "call mom" to tell her something, I call my Memaw.

Memawlives alone. My Pepaw (her husband, my grandfather) passed away five years ago last October (around the time my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor). I don't know why I am telling you this. I guess I just want to give you a little background. 
When we were children, Memaw was not at all the same type of grandmother she is today.  She was actually pretty mean.  Let me give you a couple of examples. She used to be known for throwing her shoe (usually a house shoe but a shoe nonetheless) at us grandchildren when she was frustrated with us.  I also have one very vivid memory of her doing that to me, but that's a story for another time. Then there was the time that she nailed the toy box at her house shut because she claimed we didn't pick up toys.  There are quite a few more stories but we'll move on.

Back when most of us were still children, her youngest son, my Uncle Ricky got chicken pox which later turned into to double pneumonia, which he eventually succombed to and passed away.  Memaw was devastated when he died.  Then something happened. She... changed after his death.  She told us years later, when we were discussing how different she is now, that she just began realize the importance of family and making every moment with them count. She learned that family was more important than anything else.  Once Memaw had that realization, she never again was the "mean" Memaw we all remembered.

I love that now one of her favorite things to do is sit and enjoy her family when we all get together.  She also absolutely adores her great-grandchildren.  And she doesn't even seem to mind when they leave their toys out...particularly the little ones like my son.

Memaw and I were talking on my way to school today.  She was telling me she wasn't having such a great day, emotionally speaking. Today is the anniversary of the death of my Uncle Ricky.  February is a terrible month for Memaw.  She lost two children in the month of February, of course several years apart.  Every year she has to relive the memories of losing them both.  Can you imagine?  To lose one child...much less two. You know, I think that I don't know if I would want to live in the world without my son.  I don't know if I would recover if I ever lost him

Memaw is a beautifully strong woman. She's taught me about having strength even when you think you are at your weakest.  To have lost two of her four children and her husband (of nearly 60 years), she has a strength in her that she's not even aware of.  And a heart full of love for her family. 

I am so glad that we have the relationship that we do now.  Every time I tell her that, she says to me, "Good because all we have is each other." And that always makes me smile.

Memaw and Me

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Like Mother Like...Mother?

As the four year anniversary of my mom's passing approaches, it's got me to thinking about my mom and about being a mom and all that goes with it.  This post is going to be about some of the "for instances" of motherhood and drawing parallels to my own mom.

For Instance #1:  Before I had my son, I could drink my own Dr. Pepper, tea, milk or water without anyone drinking after me.  You know, it tell you the truth, I'm not a huge fan of people drinking after me. And I normally don't drink after other people. 

I think back to when my mom would get a fresh glass of tea and I just had to help her drink it.  Mom's tea tasted better than any glass of tea I could make myself.  She could even make me the exact glass of tea, and I tell ya, it just didn't taste like hers did coming out of her glass because it was hers I guess.  Who knows.

Fast forward to me being the mommy.  Jude can have a glass of juice, milk, tea or even the exact glass of soda sitting right next to mine and he will always opt to have a drink of mine.  It's almost a game to him. "Haha mommy, I'm drinking your drink." 

It's funny I never thought about if Mom wanted me to drink after her or not.  Now I realize she may not have actually wanted to share her drink with me. 

For Instance #2: 

 "What do you want Tracy?"

  "I love you." annoying is that?  Yeah that was me as a child.  If I couldn't think of anything else to tell her I'd tell her I love her.  Turns out my son is just like me.


"What Jude? What do you want?

"Are you still my best friend?"

I know, sounds pretty cute huh?  Imagine hearing this, oh don't know, every few minutes sometimes.  Gets less and less cute.  But it's times like this I have to smile and think, well he comes by it honestly. And if my mom could put up with me doing that for years I can put up with it with Jude doing it, can't I? 

For Instance #3:

I remember wanting something, wanting to buy whatever it was I wanted and asking Mom for money.  That's when she'd tell me that she didn't have any money.  To which my response would be, "Well, can't you write a check?"

Truthfully Jude's not quite there yet.  Though there are times when we have to go to Dollar General or WalMart to get essentials and he wants something and I just have to tell him no, that we don't have the extra money to buy toys and such.  And regardless of whether or not Jude needs whatever it is, it kind of makes me feel bad sometimes that can't always buy it.  Working part-time right now money's tight.  Thank goodness it won't always be like this.  (*Crossing my fingers I become full-time in the fall*)

But you know, I think about growing up and my dad started having heart problems and chronic back and leg pain when I was in middle school.  He had to stop working around then.   It was years before he was on full Social Security. I remember Mom working off and on growing up, but she never had a "career".  She was basically a stay at home mom which, those of us who are moms know, is a job in of itself.  So my point had to have been pretty tight for a long time for them.  And here I was asking for money like it was just there for the taking.
Back then I didn't have a concept of money, how truly available or, in this case, unavailable it was.  Becoming an adult, getting married and having a child just puts it all in perspective for me.  What she and my dad must of thought when I'd make comments like "write a check."  Probably thinking "if I could I would..."

You know, as a mother myself now, I think about the things I did...things I asked for without even thinking and I realize just how ungrateful it all seems.  But as a child do you really know any better?  It isn't really until you are put into a situation years later where you can see it all from a different perspective. 

I miss my parents.  Gosh do I ever miss them.  Even now when something happens in my life...that's the first number I start to dial.  Hmmm...wonder if it will always be that way? 

I realize as a mother, my mom was just doing the best she could.  Afterall, isn't being a parent basically trial and error?  Aren't we learning as we go?  I know I will never be Supermom or even a cookie cutter version of the perfect mom... but is there really such thing?

I just want to do the best I can...just like my mom.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Because I Can...

Well I did it...I created my first "recreation" of something I found on Pinterest.  Sorry, for those of you who could care less about Pinterest.  I promise all of my posts will NOT be about it.  But, nonetheless, I am pretty proud of myself and my creative (would you call it that since I basically took someone else's idea?) skills. 

Anyway, Jude has a Valentine's Day party at Preschool today, and for a while now I've been thinking that I want to do something more fun and creative than just random Batman, Spiderman or Cars Valentines from Wal-Mart with a piece of candy or a sucker.  There are so many wonderful ideas on there and even free printables (which I plan to try later).  I finally went with this cute little "bear hug" Valentine idea. 

I bought the following items:
  • Plastic Valentine Bags
  • Red Ribbon (could even be ribbon you have on hand at home already)
  • Teddy Grahams (I bought two boxes for about ten kiddos)
  • Gummy Bears (two small bags or even one big bag should be enough)
  • Card Stock (which I cut with the help of my mother-in-law's Cricket, but you could go even simpler with a heart shape or even squares)
  • Markers or Colored Pins
  • Optional: Cutouts for eyes and mouth or even Valentines stickers (hearts)
I think they turned out pretty cute.  After getting this little crafty idea under my belt, it makes me excited about future crafting activities for Jude's birthday and holidays like Easter, Halloween, Christmas and such. 

Let me know if you try this or a variation of it and your thoughts!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pinterest...You're My Obsession.

I think I have an addictive personality.  It's like I become involved in things and then they become all I can think about. I become obsessed.  For a while there I became so obsessed with some of Facebook's games.  Things that I had to go back to in a few hours like farms and eggs and crap that do not matter in real life to me.  No offense to those who are currently obsessed with these games.  But with my addictive personality I was getting to the point where I was willing to spend actual money to go farther in these meaningless games.  What an idiot. What a maroon.

Not so recently ago I got involved in  I guess you could say that tumblr a combination of something between pinterest and having your own blog, but instead of repinning things, people reblog them.  People have tumblrs for everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.  There's tumblrs for photography, TV shows, musicians, artists, name it there is a tumblr for it.  Most of them are considered picture tumblr blogs where basically people post more pictures than actually blogging.  I created two different tumblr blogs.  The first one was basically reblogs of things I liked from images of pretty things to geeky stuff that I thought was cool.  It started out with pics like this...

Okay before you even talk about me being a dork, understand that I have and will always be in love with John Cusack, particularly the John Cusack from such films as Say Anything..., The Sure Thing and High Fidelity.  I'd also post quotes and such that I identified with or inspired me like the one.

Love this quote...guess you'd call it that.  I've always been loved Alice in Wonderland.  The crazier and darker the interpretation the better in my opinion.

Then there was a while there where I started posting things that would get me more followers.  I became obsessed with people liking my "blog".  I started posting things like old classic hollywood starlets and movies or television shows that were popular and would get me more followers.  You wouldn't believe how many people love old movies and all that goes with them.  But, when I only posted things from classic hollywood, one of my friends commented to me that I wasn't be true to myself, that I should go back to posting things I really enjoyed.  So I did.  I started posting things I loved.  Among other things, I posted musicians I loved growing up and still inspire me today.  I posted their songs and images of them that I loved.

Then I discovered GIFS...which a basically moving images from films, videos and such.  I wanted to create my own, to learn how so I could post things I loved left and right. I created a new tumblr blog that was dedicated to only 80s movies and the soundtracks from those movies.  With this blog, I had nearly a thousand followers. They loved my blog, the pictures I found and created...I thought, dang girl you have one awesome blog...what now?

What good was having such an awesome blog?  Big deal! How much actual thought was I putting into it?  I wasn't saying anything important.  It as meaningless. Just like tending those virtual farms.

It was then I reached the point where I realized I was spending way too much time on tumblr, making too many pictures, devoting way too much time.  I didn't delete it...yet.  But I plan to, I really do.  I'm just having a hard time. I mean I have nearly 1000 followers.  But enough about tumblr...

I reached a point where I thought, geez I have to find something that I enjoy doing but I don't have to do all the time.  Something I can take a break from for weeks at a time and then just go back to.  Something I can do a little or as much as I want.  And that's when I guessed it...Pinterest.

And it does make me happy.  I pin things that I think, damn, now THAT'S a cute outfit.  Or I pin things I think, now that looks good, I'd love to make that...someday.  Or I pin things I think, wouldn't it be cool if I was that crafty and made really awesome things like this. Ha! I have actually come to the realization that I probably won't wear, make, or cook a third of the things I repin on Pinterest, but dang it, I want options right?

  For instance, I want to plan a big party for Jude's 5th birthday. I have found so many ideas of things I want to do to give Jude the best Star Wars theme party I can put together.  That's only if Jude loves Star Wars just as much in October 2012 as he does in February of 2012.  Ha...we shall see.

I have cooked a few things from Pinterest.  And I am currently planning and putting together crafty Valentines I found on Pinterest.  Whoo hoo! Go me!

Yes...I will admit it.  I am not afraid to admit that I am once again obsessed.  But the difference is I go into it knowing this.  And I am smarter about it this time. I know that Pinterest is a land of "coulda, woulda, shouldas".   I just hope that some of this inspirations I've found actually become reality, that I actually do some of the things I see and think I want to do on Pinterest.  I get "inspired" by so much on there.  I get inspired to lose weight.  To cook healthier choices.  To exercise like I should.  To build. To redo. To refurbish. To learn how to knit.  To spend time doing great things with my son and husband. I am actually hoping, with all the tips of how to do some of these things, maybe I someday will do these things.  Wish me luck.'s to 2012...and resolving to do some of the stuff I repin on Pinterest.  Hopefully the more important stuff...the stuff that matters.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

Learning Family Traditions

I've been married to Lance for five years this June.  After the death of my parents, his family opened their arms and, more importantly, their hearts to me. It's absolutely amazing just how blessed I am to have them in my life.  They are wonderful to Jude, spoiling him every chance they get and and I enjoy the time we spend with all of them.

After Christmas, I rode with my mother-in-law, Gean and her husband Don to Frisco, Texas to stay at her niece Katherine's home.  Katherine's mom (Paula) and stepfather (Jim) were there as well.  We went there on Thursday morning and came back on Sunday afternoon. Lance had to work through the week and wasn't able to be there, and we sure did miss him.
During our trip we visited the ICE experience at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas.  Quite an experience at nine degrees.  It was a really cool (pun intended) place. The theme was Shrek from the Dreamworks film Shrek The Halls.

Shrek and Donkey
Jude on the ice (literally)
Jude and me photo op
We had such a wonderful time. I definitely want to go back next year.  Although I'm not sure the grandparents will be on board for that.

So now to the reason for this post.  A few weeks ago my mother-in-law Gean and her sister Paula told me all about their Mama Mia's (their father's mother) chicken and stuffing recipe.  During our trip to Frisco, I had the opportunity to watch Gean and Paula make this old family recipe.  It was quite a treat to watch.

This was a recipe they had not made since I had been in the family and I was interested in it because of all the history behind it.  Mama Mia would use a whole chicken in the recipe and it needed to feed a lot of people.  So over time this recipe developed. 
Mama Mia's Chicken and Stuffing Recipe
(click on to enlarge)
I watched every step of the process and now I want to share it with you.  Notice this is not a traditional southern chicken and dressing recipe with sage and corn bread.  The main seasoning in this is basil and, while corn meal is added, the main bread is french bread.  The most interesting ingredient I find in this recipe is the head of lettuce. You may be tempted to leave it out, should you decide to try this recipe, but I suggest you keep it.  And would I steer you wrong?
Gean (left) mixing the stuffing early on as Paula (right) watches.

I also snapped some pictures of the dressing being mixed up in the process.
The stuffing mixture before going in the pan
Now here's what you do.  First put down a layer of the mixture of stuffing into the bottom of your pan.  Make sure you have a nice big pan.  This is an aluminum roasting pan.  And actual roaster would work probably as I find that aluminum pans make it to where food seems to take longer to get done in the oven.  But that's just my opinion.

First layer of uncooked stuffing

Then the second layer is your chicken.  While Mama Mia used an entire baking hen, Gean and Paula used breasts and legs. 
Second layer of raw chicken on top of the stuffing layer
Then the last layer is what's left of the stuffing mixture.
And the last layer of stuffing before going into the oven.
Before putting it into the oven, Gean and Paula covered it in foil.  They placed it in a 350 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the chicken was done.  Sometimes the breasts get done before the legs, so be sure to watch that. Then, when it good and done, remove the foil off the top as to toast the top of the stuffing good and brown.
Fresh out of the oven

Now, just so you know, I loved it on the first night.  But it's even better on day two.  Believe me when I tell you this.
My plate the first night (not the best lighting but you get the idea).
It's interesting, Gean and Paula talked about that, although it was good the first night, what they wanted to do to make it better the second day.  Paula basically added more basil to it and a little water so it wouldn't get too dry in the oven.
Fresh out of the oven on Day 2
Like I said, I really enjoyed it much more on day two.  What I love about this recipe is the history behind it.  I want to keep this recipe and pass it down like Mama Mia did with her children and grandchild.  I want Lance and Jude to experience this taste of history from their Italian family and maybe one day Jude's wife (heck or even Jude himself) will want to make this recipe for his children. I hope so.  There's nothing more important than family and then keeping the history alive by carrying on family's traditions. 

Happy New Year everyone!  Here's hoping you have a wonderful 2012 with your family. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

You Sure You Wanna Start A Blog?

This is the question I've been asking myself.  Do I really have anything to say?  What will this blog be about?

All I gotta say is...who the heck knows.  I don't know why I decided to start blogging.  I just knew that I felt as if I have something to say, even if it's just to myself.  Who knows if anyone will actually read this.  Maybe some will...that would be great.  It would be awesome to have fans.  I won't, however, hold my breath. 
"Violet, you're turning violet, Violet!"

Ha! Sorry I couldn't resist.  Pictured me holding my breath.  Turning blue which in turn made me think of one of my favorite films, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and then, of course, one of my favorite quotes. Oh wait, here's another...

I know pretty random, right?   That's pretty much me in a nutshell. Silly little things make me think of quotes from films, song lyrics, things like that.  This happens a lot so you'll just have a bear with me.

So, wanna know where my blog theme and name came from?  I bet you think I am a huge Beatles fan, don't you? 

Nah, just kidding.  Although I do like the Beatles, that's not where I got the name (well technically yes, but it's not the inspiration).  Actually, my son's name is Jude.  Interestingly, the inspiration for his name didn't even come from the Beatles.  But more on that later.  Pretty much everything relates back to him.  Back to being a mom.  Something I always wanted and wasn't sure was going to happen.  And then suddenly I was blessed with the miracle that would change my life forever.  He's my world.  My family is my number one priority. And I certainly don't take that for granted. Something I've learned is that nothing lasts forever, so I'm going to soak up and enjoy every moment particularly with Jude and my husband Lance.
Okay, so if you're still with me you may be asking, so what is this blog going to be about?  Even I am still asking myself that question.  Ugh, I hope I didn't lose you with that last statement. 

Hmmm...Think of this evolving blog.  I plan to post a little bit of everything here.  Things that interest me, things that tick me off, things about my life as a mom, things about my job as a theatre teacher, recipes I concoct, random tidbits and everything in between.  With lots of great pictures too. Sound like something you'd like?  Then stick with me...I think you'll be glad you did.