Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What We Have Here...

Why is it so hard for some people to communicate?

If you're a good, true friend, you understand and empathize with a person's highs and lows, joys and sorrows, victories and defeats.  Just being there is great support to a person you cherish as an important part of your life.

But nothing positive is going to happen if one of the people in the relationship is unwilling to communicate.  NOTHING.

Communication can be verbal or nonverbal.  Shutting out people may be a coping mechanism, but it is nothing but destructive for both parties.  At least answer a question if you are asked.  It can be a simple one-word answer or a certain "look", but ANSWER.  Damn, it's really not that hard.

If you are trying to punish or drive away the other by not communicating, then maybe you aren't really good friend material after all.  Think about that for a while.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Thank Goodness For Nice Guys With Big Muscles

Well, we got our expected snow dump last night (mine looks to be about 8" right now).  And, as expected, my work didn't close, but they delayed opening till 10:00 AM.  Our schools are closed, but we are considered to be "essential" personnel, so we have to go to work on snow days.

I didn't take advantage of the 2.5 hour delay today to shovel snow; instead, I tucked my tired carcass back into my warm bed and caught a few more zzz's.  When I went out to clean off the car and start it, I realized what an adventure driving to work today was going to be when I looked at my pant legs and saw snow crusted 3/4th of the way up my calves.  Not funny.

Pulled away from the curb.  Good so far.  Driving slowly, which is the best you can do in a passenger car in this kind of snow.  Got to the end of my street.  STUCK.  Hopelessly, deeply stuck.  I took a  deep breath, closed my eyes for a quick "please help me, God", and started the routine of reverse-drive to try and get out of the snow quagmire.  Nothing.  Nothing at all except more stuck.

Along comes a big black SUV, slowing down.  Out gets a friendly, strapping young guy, who came straight to my car door and said "I'll help you".  He pushed on the back bumper and I kept doing the reverse-drive maneuver.  Eventually (probably about ten minutes total but it seemed like forever), my little engine that could popped itself around the corner and into the street upon which I was trying so unsuccessfully to turn.

His name is Don Suto.  He's from Lafayette.  He had just dropped his wife off at Wabash Center, which is a facility for the developmentally disabled that is located at the end of my street as well.  For once, I had good timing and good luck, as Don was there when I needed help and, most importantly, he stopped to help me.

Immediately, I realized that I had absolutely NO cash on hand to pay Don a little thank you gift.  He just smiled and said, "I wanted to help you".  Five words that so many people need to hear and, today, I heard them when I needed them the most.

Angels come in all shapes and sizes.  today, mine wore Carhartt bibs and a friendly smile.  Thank goodness for nice guys with big muscles.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Winter

Winter can be a pain, especially when it snows and turns frigid as much as it has here in Indiana this season.  But it still can be beautiful--and that's why I am sharing this lovely Charles Wysocki print, "Winter", with all of you.

"Winter" by Charles Wysocki

And To Go With That Soup, May I Recommend...

Larry the Cable Guy Beer Bread Mix

Yep, that's right.  Larry the Cable Guy Beer Bread mix.  The "Git 'er Done" guy has expanded his talents into the world of food. 

I've just recently discovered just how good beer bread is with just about any hot meal.  And, when I was trying out different types of beer bread, the one that was most often recommended to me was the mix produced and sold by Tastefully Simple, a home sales company.

Well, while keeping the Tastefully Simple mix tucked into my memory, I was at a Big R store.  Big R is a farm and home store in the Midwest (based in Watseka, IL, but there is one in Crawfordsville, IN, about 30 minutes south of my home) that has a really nice food department for their size, and it's always a good idea to browse their shelves.  One day, I came upon Larry the Cable Guy mixes on special for 99 cents apiece.  Yes, you read it right; 99 cents apiece.  That was too good of a bargain, so I picked up a couple, then begged a couple of beers off my Dad (I don't drink beer and he does, but only in the summertime), and headed to my kitchen for the great experiment.

Much to my surprise, the bread was excellent!  Very moist and that sweet flavor of the yeast from the beer was evident but not overwhelming.  Plus, the loaf baked to a nice size.  I've still not tried the Tastefully Simple bread, but given the opportunity, I would pick this one up every time.

Try it out sometime and see what you think.  Hey, if it saves you money and tastes great, there's no reason not to!

Recipe--Slow-Cooker Smoky Ham and Navy Bean Stew

If you live the in the Midwest during the winter of 2013-2014, you know that the snow and cold have been relentless.  We have mild winters for the most part the past few years, so I think we were due for a whopper--and we certainly have gotten it! 

As a matter of fact, today--February 4--all the weather forecasts are predicting anywhere from 6"-12" of snow for my part of Indiana.  When I hear a forecast like that, one of the first things that enters my mind is how goooooood a pot of homemade soup would be.  Searching for some new soups to add to my "repertoire", I found this recipe from Pillsbury that I may have to try yet this week; after all, another storm is headed our way for the weekend.

SLOW-COOKER SMOKY HAM AND NAVY BEAN STEW

1 lb. cooked ham, cut into 1/2" cubes (3 C)
1 C dried navy beans, sorted and rinsed
Slow-Cooker Smoky Ham and Navy Bean Stew
2 medium stalks celery, sliced (1 C)
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 C)
2 medium carrots, sliced (1 C)
2 C water
1/4 t dried thyme leaves
1/4 t liquid smoke
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley

In 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients except parsley.  Cover; cook on low heat setting 10 to 12 hours or until beans are tender.  Stir in parsley before serving.

Makes: 4 servings