Green Bean Casserole, but Better

I combined a few green bean casseroles recipes and used them to make this recipe. It turned out so good!

I always have a hard time figuring out what to take to holiday dinners. Whenever someone asks what I want to bring, the old standbys are what come to mind for me. Stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, noodles, etc. None of these ever sound that exciting to me, even though I like all of them. They just don’t sound exciting to make.

Well, this year I decided to make stuffing and green bean casserole to take for  Thanksgiving lunch  at my son’s and daughter-in-law’s home. This was after I googled and Pinterest-ed recipes to find what I thought looked like good recipes. Both dishes turned out really well.

Green bean casserole usually tastes a little bland to me, but I found several recipes that sounded better than the standard back-of-the-label of French’s Fried Onions recipe. I combined my favorites parts of the recipes and came up with this one. I like that you don’t add a can of anything to it.

Then I found a couple other recipes that sounded really good, too. A few called for bacon. I mean, you can’t really go wrong when you add  BACON to something, right?

So, I used the original yummy recipe found here and added 2 slices of crumbled, crisp- cooked bacon. I mixed in half of the bacon in the green bean casserole and added the other half of each on top of the dish. This recipe makes enough to fill a 9×13 dish.

It was the best green bean casserole that I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve tried quite a few!

I’m planning to make it a couple more times this month.

Exterior Doors for the New House

A few weeks ago we picked out several exterior  doors for the house that we are building. A front door, two garage doors, a walk through door into the garage, and a walk through door going from inside the garage into the house.

I didn’t know that it would be so hard! We’ve ordered the doors and they should be in within a couple of weeks. Can’t wait to see them installed.

All of the doors will be in a walnut finish. They are all fiberglass.

 

I did not end up being able to get the front door that I really wanted, but the one that we ended up ordering is fine. Plus, the one that we ordered is about a thousand dollars less, which is nice.

Unfortunately, a couple of details about the doors may be a surprise to me. This is because I walked away while my husband and the salesman were wrapping up the door order. I found out that they had changed the window style in one of the doors without asking me, but the change that they made was okay.  I also am not sure exactly what windows we ended up ordering for the garage doors (I think that I saw them, but just forgot). Neither of these were a big deal to me.

I did make them go back and change the order so that all the doors were the same color whenever I realized that the doors they ordered were different colors. This seemed like a no brainer to me, but I guess not to them. LOL

So, lesson learned: stay present until the ORDER NOW button is clicked.

A Little at a Time

 

Boy, have I ever learned a lot since I became a foster parent.

My husband and I became foster parents almost two years ago. We are getting ready to renew our two year fostering license next month, which means we are about to start  our third year as foster parents.  My way of thinking about fostering has changed so much.

As can be expected, I had a pretty idealized idea of how foster parenting would be. I thought that our home would be a home where we would be able to take any foster child and help them. I thought that our home would be a home where we would take  a child and provide a home for them until they went back to their parents, until they graduated, etc.

I certainly never thought that we would have any child for only a few months and then say that we needed a break. Not us! Not me.

But I was wrong. I have renewed respect for anyone who takes on the responsibility of raising someone else’s child or children, be it a stepchild, foster child, or some other type of situation.

Living with someone new in your home is hard. Raising kids is hard. Raising kids who aren’t your own kids, who haven’t grown up with your family, in your home, with your rules, with your expectations, etc, is even harder. Add to that a child who has had a traumatic life and who has difficult behaviors to deal with. It makes life downright exhausting.

The way that this has affected my view of being a foster parent is that I now realize that some children will not be in my care until they no longer need a home. Some children will only be in my care while I have the energy to be a good foster parent to them.

I’m sure that this sounds very callous to anyone who has no experience with fostering. But the truth is that some fostering situations take a lot more of a person’s heart, soul, and energy than they can dish out long term.

I’ve realized that I can only do the best job that I can do for as long as I can do it. In certain situations, that will be short term. In other situations, that will be long term.

It makes me sad for the foster children who are moved from home to home. There are a lot of them. It is heartbreaking when a child calls you mom or mommy just because that child is at your house for a few days. That is a child who doesn’t really know what it is to have a normal family with a normal mom or dad.

Some days are really hard. Some days are great. When it comes down to it, you just have to do the best that you can do.  When you are no longer  able to deal with a certain child and their behaviors or a situation, you sometimes have to decide to ask for a child to be moved to another home.

It’s hard. Thank goodness for the good days when you can see that you’re helping a child.

The Comfort of Routines

The word routine has a bad reputation. It implies boring and old. But routines are a good thing. In fact, they are a great thing.

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Good routines are comforting in the same way that some foods are comforting. Routines help us to do things without having to put much thought into them. They make our lives easier.

Say that you got up for work in the morning and did not have a morning or evening routine. You would probably not have set your alarm, so you could be late for whatever you had planned for the day. You may not have any clean clothes because you may not have thought about this before hand. You may not know where your shoes are because you didn’t put them in a certain spot. You most likely would end up spending  a lot of time looking for something clean to wear and some shoes.

So, basically,  having a routine just means that someone has done a certain thing or set of things over and over basically the same way until it has become a habit. Just those few examples demonstrate how not having a routine can set you up for disaster.

One thing that I’ve found in life is that it’s pretty easy to start a new habit by doing something for a few days or weeks. Likewise, it’s also very easy to stop a habit (even a good habit) by getting out of your routine for a few days or weeks.

I once had a patient who (in my opinion) went a little overboard with his routines. He had his whole LIFE down to a schedule of routines.

This man was older, in his 80s, I believe. I was working in home health at the time. I or another nurse would go to his home to visit him a couple of times a week.

This man had his life down to a science. He was not in any way flexible. I figured this out when I called the first time to schedule a visit to his home and spoke with his daughter. I asked if I could go at a certain time and she said that her dad would be eating lunch at that time. So I said, fine, and asked her what time would be good for me to make a visit.

We worked out a time and I went to see her dad later that day, after lunch. Her dad was waiting for me in the living room. I did my assessment and vital signs, talked to him, did the rest of my job and left.

The next time that I called to make a visit (later that week), the exact same scenario played out.

Part of my job was to ask him about his meals, his bowels, urinating, medications, sleeping, etc. This man was very interesting; much more so than the average home health patient.

I found out that he got up at the same exact time every day. He had the same exact food for breakfast at the same exact time every day. He smoked one cigarette every hour on the hour. He watched the same tv shows at the same time every day. He had the same food for lunch at the same time every day. He took a nap at the same time every day, for the same length of time.

I don’t mean that he did almost the same things at approximately the same time every day. I mean he did all of the exact same things at exactly the same time in exactly the same way every day. He was extreme.

I guess that this extreme structure worked for him. Of course, most people are not that unwavering in their routines. I guess that, for whatever reason,  he found comfort in having this amount of structure.

I recently read that the reason that autistic people like/need  routine is that they aren’t able to predict the future. I really know very little about autism, but I do know that many autistic people do have many routines and can actually get very upset if their routines aren’t followed.

For someone who isn’t able to predict the future, it makes sense that a routine would be of utmost importance to them. It would give a sense of security because they would not have the uncertainty of what was going to happen to them next.

Of course, none of us can predict the future, but most of us can reasonably plan our days and have a good idea of how our days will unfold. This does require having a routine to a certain extent, though. Our days do usually involve planning in order to flow well.

Children also need routines in their lives. They need the security of knowing that someone is going to be taking care of their needs; feeding them regularly,  bathing them, putting them to bed, etc. . Having security enables them to go about the business of being children and doing  all that being a child entails.

As an adult, having a routine helps me, especially since I am not blessed with organizational skills. Following my bedtime and morning routines helps me to have more brain energy to put into other things. And I can definitely use all of the extra brain energy that I can get.

Having an end of day routine helps me to relax and start winding down towards bedtime. Coming home from work, I take my shoes off at the door and put my slippers on. I put my purse and other belongings in my bedroom. I change into my comfy clothes; I have my comfy clothes in a certain drawer.  Then I do whatever it is that I need to do.

I have my routines and they may be different in ways from your routines. But I would guess that they are probably fairly similar in ways.

Here’s to routines!

Life Hacks

I’m not very organized. As in: I’m disorganized. As in: I (and probably many others) wonder how I manage to get through life as well as I do.

Therefore, I am constantly trying to find ways to semi-organize the messes in my life. I google things, I look on Pinterest, etc., and sometimes I find an idea that really helps me.

And sometimes I actually think up things by myself. This doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, I am SO PROUD of myself.

I guess that it stands to reason that the longer that a person lives the more likely they are to come up with some of their own life hacks. I thought that I’d share a few things that make my life easier.

1) Problem: Getting kids to hang their wet towels up.

Wet towels laying around are a pet peeve of mine. Especially if I find them all moldy and mildewed and causing other things to be moldy and mildewed.

Originally, I tried having the kids hang their towels up in the bathroom. When I did this, I would find towels in the hampers on top of clothes and on the bedroom floors instead of hung up.

Next, I  decided to just give each kid a towel to use for several days so that they would either have to hang it up or use a wet, nasty towel. This did not work either. They would just throw their towels in the same places as before and use whatever clean, dry towel happened to be hanging up in the bathroom.

Finally, what ended up working was when I put their towel hooks with their one towel on the outside of their bedroom doors. That way I can see that their towels are hung up. I also put a lock on the linen closet so that they can’t get to the other towels. I used Command hooks that hold up to 5 pounds each and these work great.

2) Problem: Dog hates riding in the car/vomits in the car.

I take my dog to get his nails trimmed once a month. It’s about a 15 minute car ride and he always, always, always gets sick and vomits several times on the way there and usually on the way back, too.

After stuffing him into a dog carrier and having a mess inside the carrier to clean up multiple times, I had an idea of what I could do to make it less traumatic for him and easier for me to clean up.

What I do is I grab my rectangular plastic laundry basket. I fold up two thick towels and place them in the laundry basket so that they cover the the bottom of it. I place this in my front passenger seat in my car.

When it’s time to go, I carry the dog out there, put him in the basket, and off we go. I keep my hand on him during the whole drive. He still throws up, but it’s less stressful for him than being stuffed into a dog crate (he hates that).

When we get to the dog groomer, I take him out of the basket and take him inside. Before we leave for our drive home, I just turn over the top towel so that a clean side is up.

After we get home, I shake (or scrape) the vomit off the towels and throw them into the washer. The laundry basket is usually clean, but sometimes I do need to wipe it off.

These are two ideas I came up with that have helped me a lot. Hope that they might help someone else! I’d love to hear some other people’s (easy) life hacks!

Lessons I Should Have Learned By Now

I said  to myself, “I’ll just run to the store to get milk. I’ll just run in and out. I don’t need to change clothes. I don’t look that bad. No one will be looking at me anyway.”

Right………

That’s when I  see everyone who I don’t want to see. That’s when I  get home and realize that I  forgot that I  had changed shirts earlier in the day and am  now wearing a white shirt with a black bra. That’s when I  realize that my  hair is sticking straight up on the top of my  head. That’s when I  realize that my shoes have mud all over them. That’s when I  see that I  have food on my  face.

You know, because I  didn’t look in the mirror. Because I was  just running into the store and no one was going to be looking at me  anyway.

You’d think that I would have learned that lesson by now. But, no.

Along with the “I know I only have two and a half minutes to finish getting ready to go, but I still have time to brush my teeth, put on a little makeup, and find something to wear.”

Or “I’m only going to eat one of these donuts. I’ll save the other nine for later.” One empty box later and I am wondering how that happened because I don’t even remember eating all of those donuts. Especially since it’s only been seven minutes since I opened the box.

These are lessons that I know in my heart that I actually have learned! But the lessons don’t seem to stick with me.

I can only hope to entertain someone else, and perhaps myself when I am old and gray and hopefully have fond memories of my crazy, disorganized,  younger self.

Just for fun, here’s a picture of myself when I went to get my license renewed. I said to myself, “It doesn’t matter how I look today. I’m sure that I’ll have the option to use my old driver license picture.”

WRONG.

Fall is in the Air!

I love fall! The change of weather after a hot summer is so refreshing. It’s so nice to be able to go outside and not instantly break out into a sweat. I love watching the leaves change color. And I love soups and stews!

Last winter I made a soup recipe that I found on Pinterest. I’m sharing it so that you can make it, too! You’ll be SO GLAD that you did. It’s delicious! Here’s the recipe for the soup: Broccoli Cheese Soup.  Pair it with this salad recipe for  Italian Salad for a yummy and satisfying meal. I’m definitely going to be making those again soon!

We are getting ready to have the exterior doors installed  in our house. I’m not sure what comes after that, but I’m sure that I’ll be finding out soon.

Here is the front door that we’ve picked!

Single Door 80 Wood Mahogany Charleston 3/4 Lite traditional-entry

I think that door is beautiful!!! Hopefully it will look as good on the house as it does in my mind:)

These are the interior doors that I like. They just make me feel all farm-housey and happy. I’m thinking maybe black hardware, though.

Traditional Bedroom traditional-bedroom

Choosing items for the house is fun in my mind. Hopefully it remains fun as we actually do the choosing and installing! Wish me luck.

The Importance of Positive Male and Female Figures in Our Lives

Let’s face it. Men and women are different. I  don’t really think that anyone can realistically argue this statement, yet I imagine that there are people who would argue about it anyway.

Just to be clear, I am not saying that men are better than women. I am not saying that women are better than men. I am not saying that one sex is smarter than the other.

I am just saying that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. And I think that difference is good.

I think that women tend to see and react to  things personally and  emotionally. I am a woman and I try NOT to take things personally or react emotionally,  yet that is usually  my first instinct. It’s really annoying to me that I instinctively react that way;  yet being annoyed by it doesn’t seem to stop it from happening.

An emotional reaction usually leads to drama. As a nurse, I’ve mostly worked with women over the years, and OH THE DRAMA.

And even though I don’t like drama (especially in the workplace), I still am not immune to occasionally causing a bit of drama myself. It is so easy to do!

I’m pretty conflicted typing this, even though I do believe it. So I can imagine how someone else may feel reading it. Nevertheless, onward and deeper into this I will  go.

I think that men  tend to be more  of what I call “big picture” thinkers. They don’t usually get stuck in small details or drama of things, but usually in how to fix things to improve the outcome. They are thinking more of the long term, from my experience. They like to think about the mechanics or steps of fixing problems.

Recently someone told me an analogy (about my hair) using trees and a forest. Since it was about my hair, I have remembered it!

I just came up with my own analogy of trees and a forest and the differences between men and women.

I think that men tend to see the forest. They see the overall picture of the forest. They may, however,  forget that the forest is made up of tiny units: trees.

I think that women see trees that make up the forest. We see a lot of details about the trees. We may forget that the trees all live in the same forest, though.

Now, it may sound like I’m saying that either men or women (forest thinkers vs tree thinkers) are better. But I’m not. I’m simply saying that there are people who look at the same thing in a  different way, and therefore can see entirely different views.

My whole reason for bringing all of this up is that I think that it is so important that children are exposed to both kinds of thinking: male and female thinking.

I see so many children raised in homes with only a  female parent (or parental figure). I occasionally see children being raised in a home with only a male parent figure.

It stands to reason that if men and women think differently, we are not really able to teach children how to think as a person of the opposite sex would. Even though I am a female, I still need to be able to have the influence of a male in my life.

And even though I am an adult, I still need positive influences of the opposite sex. Our needs don’t end just because we are grown.

You may think that I am just making this up, but I am so interested in what I’m writing at the moment that I keep forgetting my overall topic. I actually have gone back and changed my title multiple times. 🙂 I think that this may just prove my trees/forest theory.

We need the viewpoints of the opposite sex members. Of course, not all men think the exact same thing about everything and not all women think the exact same thing about everything. But I believe that it is true that women have a general way of thinking and reacting and that men have a general way of thinking and reacting.

What I’m saying is this: make sure to have (good) male and female influences in your and your children’s lives. We’ve all heard the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. Pick out some villagers and also let your children pick out some villagers. Some of the villagers will just come into your lives without you having to do any work. You may have to do some work to find some of the kind of villagers that you want in your village.

I’m getting a little headache  with all of this village talk. But hopefully you get what I mean.

Don’t just settle for whatever people are in your and your children’s lives. Find some good ones. Get some male and some female ones if you don’t have some or enough of each. And it sounds funny to say it, but some people in your village may not be good for much more than to just show what you don’t want to do or become.

I don’t usually read or write long posts because I usually get bored by the third or fourth paragraph and I also don’t want to bore anyone else. This turned out to be a long post, but hopefully it will be worth it to someone who takes the time to read it.