Friday, August 14, 2009

Awesomely Good Stuffed Shells

So we had stuffed shells for dinner tonite (or technically last night as it is the wee hours of the morning now) and they were so amazingly good, I thought I would share the recipe.

Ingredients

1 box Jumbo Shells (we used Barilla and this recipe is modified from the one on their box)
1 lb ground turkey
1T olive oil
1/2 medium onion - diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp No Salt Seasoning or Italian Seasoning (or any particular seasoning blend you prefer)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 small can mushrooms and liquid (or fresh ones if you have them on hand)
1 egg
8 0z. of Ricotta cheese
8 0z shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 C shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 large jar or can of pasta sauce of your preference (I use a 4 cheese spaghetti sauce)

Preheat oven to 350

Cook Jumbo Shells according to package directions. When they are done immerse them in cold water so they are cool and easy to work with.

Saute onion and garlic on medium high heat until onion is translucent. Add ground turkey and saute until almost completely brown. Add mushrooms and seasonings and saute until meat is done. Remove from heat and allow meat to cool. Do not drain any liquids from the pan.

Mix together egg, Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. Add this to cooled meat mixture.

You can either use two casserole dishes and place the stuffed shells in a single layer in each (this is what I did), or you can use one 13x9 casserole dish and pile the stuffed shells on top of each other. Either way, spread just enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.

Spoon meat/cheese mixture into shells until they are full but not overflowing. You should have just enough meat/cheese mixture to fill the entire box of shells.

Pour remaining sauce evenly over the stuffed shells.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Sprinkle the Mozzarella onto the top of the shells and put back in the over for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is just melted.

Cheat Sheet for the Guys (i.e., How To And How NOT To Get A Woman To Throw You A Bone)

Alright guys. Every now and then, one of us women will have a little sympathy on your plight of misunderstanding and throw you a bone. NO! Not THAT kind of a bone! It's a figure of speech. It means 'pay attention and you might learn some useful shit here.' ;-)

1. Woman Speak

Here is a guide to what a woman really means when she says things like "Fine" and "Nothing."

Keywords and their meanings:

"Fine": This word is used at the end of any argument that the woman feels she is right about but needs to shut you up. NEVER use fine to describe how a woman looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.

"Five minutes": This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so it's an even trade.

"Nothing": This means something and you should be on your toes. "Nothing"is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. "Nothing"usually signifies an argument that will last "Five Minutes" and end with the word "Fine."

"Go Ahead" (raised eyebrows): This is a dare. One that will result in a woman getting upset over "Nothing" and will end with the word "Fine."

"Go Ahead" (normal eyebrows): This means "I give up" or "do what you want because I don't care." You will get a raised eyebrow "Go ahead" in just a few minutes, followed by "Nothing" and "Fine" and she will talk to you in about "Five Minutes" when she cools off.

Loud Sigh: This is not actually a word, but is still often a verbal statement very misunderstood by men. A "Loud Sigh" means she thinks you are an idiot at that moment and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "Nothing."

Soft Sigh: Again, not a word, but a verbal statement. "Soft Sighs" are one of the few things that some men actually understand. She is content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe and she will stay content.

"Oh": This word followed by any statement is trouble. Example; "Oh, let me get that". Or, "Oh, I talked to him about what you were doing last night." If she says "Oh" before a statement, RUN, do not walk, to the nearest exit. She will tell you that she is "Fine" when she is done tossing your clothes out the window, but do not expect her to talk to you for at least 2 days. "Oh" as the lead to a sentence usually signifies that you are caught in a lie. Do not try to lie more to get out of it, or you will get raised eyebrows "Go ahead" followed by acts so unspeakable that we can't bring ourselves to write about them.

"That's Okay": This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can say to a man. "That's Okay" means that she wants to think long and hard before paying you retributions for what ever it is that you have done. "That's Okay" is often used with the word "Fine" and used in conjunction with a raised eyebrow "Go ahead." At some point in the near future when she has plotted and planned, you are going to be in some mighty big trouble.

"Please Do": This is not a statement, it is an offer. A woman is giving you the chance to come up with whatever excuse or reason you have for doing whatever it is that you have done. You have a fair chance to tell the truth, so be careful and you shouldn't get a "That's Okay."

"Thanks": A woman is thanking you. Do not faint; just say you're welcome.

"Thanks a lot": This is much different from "Thanks." A woman will say,"Thanks a lot" when she is really ticked off at you. It signifies that you have hurt her in some callous way, and will be followed by the "Loud Sigh." Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the "Loud Sigh," as she will only tell you "Nothing."

I hope this clears up any misunderstandings . . .



2. The Hormone Guide

Every woman knows that there are certain days in the month when all a man has to do is open his mouth and he takes his life into his own hands! This is a handy guide that should be as common as a driver's license in the wallet of every husband, boyfriend, co-worker or significant other! Please memorize this. If you are caught using a cheat sheet, you will hear a "Loud Sigh" followed by "Thanks a lot" and "That's Okay."

About dinner:
DANGEROUS: What's for dinner?
SAFER: Can I help you with dinner?
SAFEST: Where would you like to go for dinner?
ULTRA SAFE: Here, have some wine.

About clothes:
DANGEROUS: Are you wearing THAT?
SAFER: Wow, you sure look good in brown!
SAFEST: WOW! Look at you!
ULTRA SAFE: Here, have some wine

About money:
DANGEROUS: What are you so worked up about?
SAFER: Could we be overreacting?
SAFEST: Here's my paycheck.
ULTRA SAFE: Here, have some wine.

About food — dieting:
DANGEROUS: Should you be eating that?
SAFER: You know, there are a lot of apples left.
SAFEST: Can I get you a piece of chocolate with that?
ULTRA SAFE: Here, have some wine.

About her day:
DANGEROUS: What did you DO all day?
SAFER: I hope you didn't over-do it today.
SAFEST: I've always loved you in that robe!
ULTRA SAFE: Here, have some wine.


Take these guidelines to heart, follow them carefully, and she may just throw you a bone. YES, THAT kind. ;-)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Acknowledge and Move On

Since my last post I've continued to do a lot of thinking about forgiveness. I thought I was making significant progress towards forgiving, but then I started thinking that maybe I wasn't because, well, I was still thinking about it wasn't I? Then, I read a blog post that had me look at this from a different perspective: (http://barkingunicorn.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/amber-olson-good-to-know/)

So, instead of looking to forgive a past wrong, which requires you to first blame, you acknowledge the event and then release it. Ohhhh, man! Can it really be that simple? Yes, actually, it can.

I don't like playing the 'blame game.' It annoys me to no end and I find it very petty and immature. At the same time, I find that I just as easily get caught up in the inclination to want someone to blame. It's so ingrained into our psyche! Until I read the above mentioned blog, I had completely forgotten one of my favorite sayings: 'Acknowledge and move on!' I had acknowledged, but I had not moved on. I was well into the blame game; being angry and blaming each and every person who had any potential for responsibility in the matter, myself included.

As adults we have a tendency to dwell on things. We continually mull them over and cling to them as if our lives depend on it. Guess what? Our lives DON'T depend on it. In fact, I think we often hold ourselves back when we dwell and cling to past hurts and injustices -- the death of a loved one, hurtful things said or done by others toward us, injustice in the world, criminals who go unpushined, etc. Even so, releasing these past hurts is easier said than done.

So, I've been contemplating my own inability to forgive for over a month now. The problem I have discovered about forgiveness goes sort of like this:

First, you try to forgive, but then anger flares up and petulantly says "Fuck That! Why do I have to forgive? Why do I need to be the bigger person? They don't deserve my forgiveness. How do you forgive someone who has done the unforgivable, anyway?" (Setting aside for another day the deeper philosophy of everyone deserving forgiveness and what that means when you consider that we are all one.)

So, you take the next step - if I feel the person is not worthy of being forgiven, then my problem is no longer about forgiving someone else. OK, so then, what, it must be about forgiving myself? Because that's where forgiveness starts, right? Everything starts with yourself. OK, fine, I'm down with that - if I'm playing the blame game, then I have blamed myself to some degree. So, I'll start there. OK, um, I'll forgive myself. *Thinking deeply on how to do that.* But, again, here comes anger: "What the -? FUCK THAT! I didn't do anything wrong. Forgive myself for WHAT?! This isn't my fault!" Hmmm, back to the blame game, aren't we? If I am not to blame? Then why do I feel somehow responsible? Clearly, this isn't working.

Well, shit then. If forgiveness isn't the way and blame doesn't help, then what can be done to resolve the situation? How do we let it go? Anger certainly isn't helping. It only keeps the pain and hurt around like some sort of badge of self-righteousness. What's left to end the suffering?

Release. What else can there be? Release it. Let it go. It does not serve you well to hold on to it.

It's so amazing in it's simplicity:

Release.

Acknowledge and move on.

What happened has happened. It cannot be undone. It cannot be fixed. Why dwell? It is what it is. It cannot be changed. But it can be released. And you can change your relationship to it. So that's what I've decided to do. I can't seem to find a way to "forgive," so I'm just gonna bypass that altogether, release it and let it go. I've acknowledged, now is my time to move on.

As I am writing this, @Eckhart_Tolle says via Twitter: "Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally."

So there it is, yeah? I can't change it. I won't accept it. So I remove myself from the situation the only way I can: by releasing it. I'm ready to let it go. I'm glad to have finally found the way to do so.

To all those who have Tweeted, blogged or commented somewhere in cyberspace in such a way as to help me finally find peace with this, I send you much love and heartfelt thanks. By being you and expressing yourself in a way that can be found and heard by others is a wonderful gift. I hope that I, too, can do the same for others.

Cheryl


Oh, and anger wants it to be known that it doesn't agree with "forgiveness" or "releasing" and it stands by it's earlier assessment of "Fuck That!" But what can you do? That's how anger is and that's how anger will always be . . . acknowledge and move on.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Have You Forgiven All You Can Forgive?

Someone recently posed this question: "Have you forgiven all you can forgive?"

Wow.

It appears to be such an innocent question, doesn't it? Harmless enough. Forgive and forget. That's what they say, right? But when you really ponder it, it's a very deep question with potentially disturbing answers that you might not want to consider.

Have you forgiven all you can forgive?

Boy, that got me to thinking. (Ruh-Roh. LOL!)

I pretty much always try to forgive those who have wronged me. Not necessarily because I think they deserve forgiveness, but usually because I'm trying to rid myself of the negativity that remains when you have someone in your life you continue to hold resentment towards. Don't get me wrong, I often forgive people out of compassion and because I try to see their side and give the benefit of the doubt. But, I admit that there are people I have forgiven merely for the sake of dispelling the negativity out of my life. Basically, there are one or two whom I have deemed unworthy of even my resentment. I realize this doesn't seem to mesh with my belief that we are all one and we do need to love each other, have compassion for everyone and spread love, compassion and only positive energy to make the world a better place. I mean, really, how can you love someone that you don't hold in high enough esteem to be worthy of your negative feelings, much less your positive ones? So, yeah, I see the contradiction. And no, I don't have the answer to that question. I am hopeful, however, that one day I'll figure it out.

So, as I contemplated whether there was anyone in my life I had not forgiven the following, more disturbing, question came to mind: "How do you forgive someone who has committed the unforgivable?" I don't ask this merely as a philosophical question, I really do have one person in my life that I have been unable to forgive, even though I have tried. And I would truly love to know the answer to that question. There are friends and family of mine who would probably ask me why I would even want to forgive in this instance. But, there is one beautiful, innocent voice that has forgiven and once said to me me: "...that was a long time ago." 3 years. A long time ago? For some, perhaps, I guess. I envy her ability to forgive and still love this person. I wish I could, too. Right now my wish to forgive is purely selfish. I would like relief from the pain, anger and resentment that arises when I remember. Sometimes I think I have forgiven and moved on, but then there are times, like now, when a simple question brings back all the feelings of betrayal and the tears that inevitibly come with it. Yes, these are the times when I realize I have not forgiven and I wish I could so I didn't have to feel this way anymore.

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong in thinking that forgiveness will release the pain and hurt. The anger and resentment, perhaps, but the pain, too? I wonder. I truly hope so, because if not, I will be very disappointed when I finally am able to forgive.

As I sit here and ponder these things, a deeper, darker question of blame begins to arise back there in the dark recesses of my mind. You know the kind of blame I mean. The type of blame that is unwarranted and unreasonable but remains there nagging you anyway. The 'should haves' and 'what ifs.' The type of blame a parent dumps upon themself, as if parents are omniscient. Even though I know it's illogical, I have a sneaky suspicion there is some blame lurking in the back of my mind. Knowing that blame is there, perhaps the biggest question I must consider in order to resolve the pain and my inability to forgive is this: "Have I forgiven myself?" Perhaps that is where I'll finally find the answer.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Inspirational Thought of the Day

The following inspiration came to me via Twitter and I loved it so much I had to share. You can check out Ms. Fraser's website here: http://www.tomikosgoddessgathering.com/
"Release limiting words & thoughts. They stifle your spirit. Breathe in the beauty of unlimited possibilities. You were created to excel." -- Tomiko Fraser

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thump Kthud Bump Bump

(aka Scaring Your Kid Half to Death is Fun)

It was a typical night in a typical house with a typical family. Dad was in his workshed building a nice endtable, mom was on the couch knitting him a winter sweater and the daughter was sitting at the desk meticulously doing her homework. (OK, this is America, who are we kidding? They were all sitting on their fat asses watching tv - Mom and dad in the frontroom and the kid in the bedroom.) Anyway . . .


Mom and dad are discussing amongst themselves what the child might possibly be doing as she seemed to be remarkably silent when a muffled sound from the deepest darkest recesses of the house meandered it's way down the hall . . . thump kthud bump bump, thump kthud bump bump. A pause and a glance passes between them. Thump kthud bump bump, thump kthud bump bump resounds again faintly from the hall. What the hell is that noise? Whatever it is, it means said child is probably going to be in trouble. Silently the parents sneak down the hall to the bedroom door where they listen carefuly -- THUMP KTHUD BUMP BUMP, THUMP KTHUD BUMP-- . . . a breathless silence . . has the child heard them? Perhaps the parents were not so silent as they thought . . .


THUMP KTHUD BUMP BUMP, THUMP KTHUD BUMP BUMP the now familiar sound of a ball bouncing in the house comes again from behind the bedroom door. Ever so slowly, ever so silently the door handle is turned . . . a last conspiratory glance amongst the parents . . . and . . .


AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!


The parents fling open the door and bolt into the room screaming loudly and waiving their arms at the child. It's a shame, really, that a camera wasn't rolling because words could never do justice to what happened next. The guilty child jumped up and back a step, startled, eyes wide, hands up in fright, mouth open . . . but, alas, no sound came from her lips . . . the seconds ticked away at an alarmingly slow speed . . . 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . only the eyes registered the terror which the brain could not process quickly enough. Finally, though, it came . . . a terrified scream at least 5 seconds after the brain recognized it was not some insane murderer, just two insane parents who were now on the floor in convulsions. A scolding scream of "MOMMIE!" could scarce be heard over the laughter.


Yes, it was a beautiful sight. Surprisingly, she did not pee her pants. She has, however, not bounced the ball in the house ever since. ;-)


Monday, February 2, 2009

2009 Is Kicking My Ass!

Ok, so 2009 has been kicking my ass big time. I'm not afraid to say it. Not only is it kicking my ass, I am having a hard time catching up with it, too. Slow down the train, I'm still tying my shoes! Damn! LOL!

On New Years' Eve, my mother-in-law was sent to the hospital by her doctor because she had had a heart attack (Yes, we filled that waiting room with 13 family members!). Rounding out the next three weeks: my brother-in-law went to the hospital for a blood clot/heart attack (drs. have no idea which came first and caused the other); a good friend of ours was in an auto accident which basically severed all of his fingers on one hand; we figured out the amount of taxes we're definitely going to have to pay this year - a buttload of them is all I'll tell you; I've been told by my mechanic (aka my big brother - talk about cheap labor - and yes he's a real mechanic with his own business) to sell my car and get a new one NOW while I still can - which means, of course, a new car payment - oh yay; my husband's job has laid off a lot of people and is having mandatory 1 day a week layoffs for most of the remaining employees; my job has been out of control, crazy, busy; I can't seem to get on top of any of my household projects/chores; and I've manage to not read any books at all this year when I normally am reading several at the same time. In fact, I'm so behind it's taken me over a month to fninish writing this blog. I know, it's insane!


On a good note, all of the aforementioned ill people are doing very well (including our friend with the severed fingers who has had numerous surgeries, with more to come, and who should regain full use of his hand when completely healed), my job is starting to slow down a bit (well, sorta), we have some money set aside for taxes, we should be able to manage a car payment even with the layoffs (although I'll probably have to cut back a bit on my CD addiction - I know that's just crazy talk you say), we're planning a trip to Disneyworld with my mother-in-law for later this year (which I found out today is going to cost about $1,000 less than we anticipated, but still, I don't even want to think about how many CD's and LIVE paraphanelia that'll cost me - lol), and, oh yeah, I've managed to start a daily meditation practice thanks to some well timed encouragement and the Holosync program (http://www.centerpointe.com/). OK, so I'm still behind on my household projects and reading, but I think that'll work itself out in time. I hope. LOL! Hmmmm, I wonder how many CD's a month it'll cost me for a maid?

During one of the many trips to the ER last month, a family member commented that her kids no longer believe in God because they cannot believe in a God who is supposed to love and care for us but allows people to die senselessly. It occurred to me that this line of thinking puts a lot of unrealistic expectations on God. And even though it is a common thought process, it doesn't seem quite fair if you ask me.


Now I'll stop here and say that this isn't meant to be commentary in any manner on religious beliefs and/or spiritual philosophies of any sort and I'm not criticizing anyone's belief system or religious deity. I'm not anti-God or trying to push any personal agenda. I further preface all of this by saying I am using the term "God" in the most commonly understood and most generic sense of the title that I possibly can.


So I began to wonder, who decided that it's God's job to be responsible for EVERYTHING that happens to us as a human race? And if I was God, I'd be kinda pissed off that I was given that job. Now, granted, he gets a lot of credit for some amazing shit that people manage to accomplish with a lot of hard work (think of any awards show you've ever seen). Still, I don't think I would want that job. Humans are a fickle bunch and we would much rather blame someone everytime something goes wrong than accept that perhaps we might have been responsible or even, *GASP*, that it was just pretty much dumb luck or a case of shit happens. And I mean "dumb luck," and "shit happens" in the broadest sense - that could be because of any of a myriad of natural reasons which could be explained better by a Buddhist monk or a quantum physicist than myself, or because we made a wrong turn two years ago and set in motion a series of events which eventually led to our current predicament, or any other number of complex or simple explanations you can come up with. All of which, I might add, do not involve a conscious decision by God to let something bad happen to you or one of your loved ones or be the actual cause of that bad thing, including death.


That's what it boils down to, really, isn't it? The blaming of God everytime something goes wrong. "Why did God LET this happen?" or "Why did God DO this to me?" or "What did I do to deserve this PUNISHMENT?" All questions and thought patterns which place the responsibility for what happened squarely as a deliberate act by God. I don't think we should give anyone that sort of responsibility, no matter how omnipotent they may be. Setting aside, of course, how illogical it is to say that God is loving, just, caring and almighty but accusing him at every bad turn of maliciousness and, well, murder. Ah, but perhaps I stray too close to the line of questioning personal beliefs with that comment and I apologize. I just tend to like things in neat logical boxes. I'm a little OCD that way.


So, the next time you or someone else blames God for somethng that has happened, stop for a moment and ask yourself: "Do I reallly think God did this INTENTIONALLY?" After you answer that question, then reconsider how you feel about the situation. I think you may see things in a different light. Perhaps, even, from God's perspective.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

One of the most underrated songs EVER

Radiant Sea by LIVE is one of the most underrated songs ever. Even by me and I LOVE the song. Why I don't listen to this song every day, I haven't figured out. The lyrics, the music, the arrangement . . . BRILLIANT. (I know, I think all LIVE songs are brilliant, but I swear, no bias on this one - it really is brilliant.)

You can purchase and download the song here: https://www.missingink.net/mishop/digitaldownloads.asp

I highly suggest buying it and listening to it. It's best when you have an uninterrupted moment to listen with your eyes closed and your headphones on. I actually recommend listening to all of LIVE's songs this way at some point. This doesn't, however, replace listening to them with the stereo turned up rather loudly while doing housework or a jigsaw puzzle or in the car or at a concert. I also highly recommend doing all those things (repeatedly). My daughter and I have actually had some pretty interesting discussions while listening to LIVE and working jigsaw puzzles. Quality time with your kid and Ed's lyrics are always great conversation starters. ;-) Can be a little difficult when the song playing is Lakini's Juice or Deep Enough, but I'd rather she ask and hear it from me than someone else. But I digress, I was talking about Radiant Sea.

2009 has been pretty tough for me, and yesterday announced itself as a challenging day from the moment I awoke (yes, I overslept). On the way to work Radiant Sea was playing and I thought how wonderful it would be to go home, curl up in my comfy robe and slippers on my big comfy recliner, put in my headphones and just listen to Radiant Sea all day and avoid the challenges of the day. Well, needless to say I didn't do that (SIGH!), but it would've been so nice. Fortunately, I have the ability to listen to music at work and it's saved my sanity more than once in this crazy, stressful job.

So, if you're having a particularly challenging moment or day or week or year, take my advice and take some time to stop and - well, you don't have to smell the roses, just close your eyes, open your mind, and listen to Radiant Sea by LIVE. When you open your eyes again, things will somehow seem so much better! I know it works for me.