Monday, August 31, 2015

30-day Blogging Challenge: Day 5

Day 5:  What are your favorite comfort foods and why?

Probably my all-time favorite comfort food is grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  I vividly remember going to my aunt's house for the weekend and she would make grilled cheese sandwiches for me.  They were always cut into triangles, and when I was there, I never had to eat my crusts!  I cut my grilled cheese sandwiches into triangles to this day.

After that, I would have to say it's tuna on toast.  My own creation, I ate it quite a bit in my twenties when money was tighter than tight.  A can of tuna, a can of peas, and a prepared can of cream of mushroom soup.  Heat together and pour over toast.  It's filling, warms you up, and inexpensive.

Those are a couple of my favorite comfort foods...share yours!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Happy National Toasted Marshmallow Day!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Comfort Food

Chicken and Mushrooms


3 to 3 1/2 lbs chicken, cut-up
1/4 cup butter, (Stick-sliced)
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Paprika for garnish


Place butter in a 13x9 pan and melt in a 350 degree oven.  Set aside.  Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow pan and coat chicken.  Place skin side down in pan and bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Mix sour cream, soup, and mushrooms thoroughly.  Spoon mixture over chicken, garnish with paprika, and bake an additional 30 minutes.


Friday, August 28, 2015

30-day Blogging Challenge -- Day 4

Day 4:  Discuss your views on religion.

Oh, boy.  Let's start with some background.  I was raised Lutheran and attended a Lutheran grade school all the way from kindergarten through the 8th grade.  That included all the after-school activities, choir, etc., etc., etc.

About age 17, I decided I had enough church to last me a lifetime.  I stopped attending on a regular basis.  I returned as an adult, but quickly left again.  Why?  I realized that those who so loudly proclaim their Christianity are often the same who treat people like sh.t once they leave church property.  It seems that they believe it is alright to mistreat people Monday through Saturday as long as they show up on Sunday and ask forgiveness.

As I have aged, I have found my spirit drawn more and more to Wicca and other such nature based religions.  Their basic tenets of kindness, gentleness, tolerance, and respect speak to my spirit much more than the hatred, bigotry, and intolerance that have become the loudest voices of the Christian church in the United States.

And there you have my views on religion.  Please share yours!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

30-day Blogging Challenge -- Day 3

Day 3:  What are your top five pet peeves?

Buckle up!  Here we go!!

5.  People going below the speed limit and refusing to move out of the fast lane.  This can get me wound up faster than anything!!!  Living on the Gulf Coast, dealing with tourists is a daily adventure and most forget that people actually live here, have places to go, and things to do!

4.  Leaving the seat up or failing to replace the toilet paper.  This one pretty much speaks for itself!

3.  People who treat those in the service industry as somehow being "beneath" them.  In this country, most of us are one paycheck away from having that job.  These are hard-working people who deserve respect for doing a hard job for little pay.

2.  People who use religion as their basis (read:  excuse) to spread hate.  There is no excuse.  Period.

1.  Treating my time as less important than yours, as inconsequential, or as an item not worthy of your respect.  Want the fastest way to burn a bridge with me?  This is it.  I work three jobs.  When I make an appointment, no matter how trivial, I have that day scheduled to the minute.  When it comes to my time?  I don't play.

There you have top five pet peeves.  What are some of yours?


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

30-day Blogging Challenge -- Day 2

Day 2:  Where would you like to be in 10 years?

Ahhh, dreaming.  Okay, here we go...and no laughing, please!

In ten years, I would love to be living in a tiny house and writing full-time.  Hey!  The question didn't say it had to be a practical answer!!

First, I have waaaay too much crap for a tiny home.  Yes, I could probably downsize, but from the ones I have seen on TV, I could fill it with just my books!  But the dream of a solar-powered tiny house lives on!

Now the writing full-time.  While perhaps a more achievable dream, with the status of my bank account, it is just as unattainable as the tiny house!  The average salary of a United States author is $10,000.00 per year.  And that takes years of publishing to attain in most cases!  I, unfortunately, like to eat...a lot.  That means a real job is in my foreseeable future for a long time!

But...if I have a talented reader out there...this will do quite nicely!!

Never stop dreaming!!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

30-day Blogging Challenge -- Day 1

Day 1:  Discuss your current relationship.

Well, this should be an easy one.  I don't have one.  I am single.  Totally, thoroughly single.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing.  As with most women in my age group, I have spent my entire life taking care of other people.  It is an integral component of my character.  It also resulted in putting myself last for not just years, but decades.

I guess I would say my current relationship is with myself.  I am spending more time doing things I enjoy and I am re-learning my own happiness.  Taking care of yourself is not a bad thing.  I have noticed, particularly among my friends, that we are slowly emerging out of  "someone's mom" or "someone's wife" mode and re-entering our own identities.  

I think that may be one of the blessings of middle age.  A number of the obligations and paths of our younger years have been completed, transitioned into lesser needs, or vanished completely.  This is our time and we are learning to embrace it.

So yes, my current relationship is with myself.  That is not to say that I am not open to a new relationship; but that the next relationship will fit into my life rather than the other way around.


Monday, August 24, 2015

A New Challenge

For the next few weeks, I will be participating in a 30-day blogging challenge.  As I always post a recipe on Saturdays, the challenge will be the weekday posts only.  That means this 30-day challenge will last around six weeks!

Here is the challenge in which I will be participating:

30 Day Blogging Challenge

Some days are silly, others get deeper.  I hope you enjoy the challenge!


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Anticipating Fall

If you are in a part of the United States that has been dealing with grueling heat this summer, here is a quick dinner in anticipation of a cooler fall!

Chili Pie


1 pkg. corn muffin mix
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 can chili, no beans, 15 oz.
8 oz pkg shredded Mexican blend cheese

Spray a 10-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.  Line the bottom with parchment paper cut to fit.  

In a bowl, combine the corn muffin mix with the egg and milk until well blended.  Pour batter into the pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and cool for 10 minutes.  Top with heated chili and shredded cheese.  


Friday, August 21, 2015


During last week's grocery run, I tried a new app called "ibotta."  ibotta earns you rebates at the stores where you shop on items you buy every week.

When I first used the app, I found it a bit cumbersome to learn to navigate.  However, once I was in it a few minutes, it got a great deal easier.

You find items you are planning to shop for.  The next step is to unlock the rebate for that product. Some of the rebates are for name brand items while other rebates are general ones such as eggs, milk, and bread.

As you unlock the rebates, ibotta adds them to your shopping list.  This is handy as I tend to forget what I am at the store for to begin with!  Purchase your groceries and head home!

Once home, you will need to open each rebate on the app.  You will then scan the barcode on the item.  After scanning your items, you will also need to scan the QR code on your receipt.  I had a lot of difficulty getting the QR code to scan but ibotta offers the option of photographing your receipt instead.

With a $103 Walmart shopping trip, I received $4.50 in rebates from ibotta.  Not one to miss a chance to save, I also scanned my receipt into Walmart's Saving Catcher and received an additional $1.83.

Could I have saved more?  Definitely.  I did not take the time to write out a list, use coupons, or do any price comparisons between stores in my area.  Still, $6.33 is not bad savings!  

To save even more at the grocery store, join me on ibotta!!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

No Dye Here!

Confession:  I do not dye my hair.

For some reason, that fact horrifies my friends.  I constantly hear suggestions to dye my hair, what color to use, and where to go to have highlights put in.  Stop!!

I have very little gray hair.  I do, however, have two white streaks framing my face.  Yes, they are natural.  No, I did not pay someone to put them there.  They are totally courteous of my father's genetics.  

Dying my hair does not interest me in the least.  I have no desire to incur the expense of having to maintain it.  I do not have the time to spare for the upkeep and processing.  I seem to be missing that particular component of the vanity gene.

I am 53 years old.  I am a mother and grandmother.  I have survived so many things in my life, that I see no reason to hide or be ashamed of my age.  I will let those white racing stripes glow!

I am just me.  And I'm okay with that.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Stop and Play

I received a reminder from my dogs on Sunday morning that I needed.  As I sat at my desk working, my son's dog was racing around the house, pouncing at my dog, and just generally causing a ruckus. I enjoyed watching them play.

Eventually, my Emma tired and went to her bed.  She is quite a bit older than Sam and his rambunctious play wears her out rapidly.  But for those few minutes, I saw the puppy in her again.

It reminded me that no matter our age, we still have a few minutes of play left in us.  Too often, we let life, bills, work, and drama get in the way of playing.

Head to the park or beach today.  Stop at Walmart on the way, grab a frisbee, and play!  If you end up sitting with your back against a tree after fifteen minutes, that's okay.  You will be outside, and you got your heart rate up for a few minutes.  Don't forget that play is necessary, if not more so than work.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

One of These Days

I have written before about not being one of "those girls."  The ones who brunch with perfect hair and perfect nails.

After my misadventures this weekend, I had scratches, potting soil under my nails, and sweat running down my face.  Not the most attractive picture, but that picture also came with accomplishment.  I marked quite a few things off of my to-do list this weekend.

One of these days, I might take a day to be one of those girls.  I am sure that brunch would be a welcome break.  I might even break down and get my nails and hair done.  Of course, there probably isn't a soul alive who would recognize me, but it may be fun for a day!

Just one day, though.  While I may not be the picture of perfection, that potting soil means another plant is growing.  The scratches mean a flower garden has been returned to beauty.  The sweat means hard work and a job well done.

I'll be one of those girls one of these days.  But just one.


Monday, August 17, 2015


I started out my weekend with the simplest of objectives.  Get a few chores done.  That is it.  Nothing fancy, nothing major.

First, let me tell you of the horror that is blackberry vines.  They grow wild here and take over everything.  My first job of the day was to eradicate the ones that had invaded my front flower bed. Easier said than done.  Do you know that blackberry vines are covered with millions of tiny little thorns?  Let me tell you, they go through leather gloves like you are not wearing any at all.

After that, I moved on to transplanting two pineapple plants.  Obviously, I am a glutton for punishment.  The leaves (let's just call them daggers) of a pineapple plant are sharp!!!  Now my arms look like I battled a housecat.

Then there's the replacing of the dishwasher.  Let's just say when I thought I had turned the water off...I actually hadn't.  And I spend Saturday doing an extra load of towels I had most definitely not planned to do!  

At this point, I was exhausted.  What else can be done but laugh?  Life is too short to take this stuff seriously.  The friend who was helping me with the dishwasher?  The look on his face when the water came out of the hose full blast?  Priceless!


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Heaven on the Tongue

A favorite recipe from my favorite city, New Orleans:


2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 small bananas, sliced lengthwise
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup light rum
1 Tbsp banana liqueur
Vanilla ice cream


Melt butter in a skillet (large enough to hold the bananas) over medium heat.  Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved.  Add bananas, cooking on two minutes per side.  Sprinkle bananas with cinnamon.  Combine the rum and the banana liqueur and pour over the bananas.  Using a match, light the alcohol.  Baste the bananas with the liquid until the flames burn out.  Serve immediately over ice cream.


Friday, August 14, 2015


This past week, I was asked how I afforded the items I bought off of Amazon.  If you look at the top of the blog, you will see a tab called "Moneymakers."  Everything I purchase off Amazon is bought with the gift cards I earn using these sites.  Depending on how busy I am at any particular time, I can average between $40-$200 per month.  It is not a fortune by any means, but it allows me to purchase Christmas gifts, prepare my home for hurricane season, and take care of such staples as new underwear!

Now, how to keep track of what you want/need on Amazon.  Amazon has a fabulous feature called the Amazon wish list.  Add the items you want or need to the list and you have a handy virtual shopping list.  In addition, your friends and family can access your list via the email you used to create it and they will have a list of your wants and needs for special occasions,birthdays, and Christmas.  As they view your wishlist, they can purchase those items directly from the list.

I hope that fully answered those questions.  If you have questions about how the moneymakers work, or how to create a wishlist, please ask away!


Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Random Thought

I had a random thought and thought I would share.

I realized that there are phrases that I use, and those of my generation use, that are not only obsolete but hold no meaning whatsoever if you are below a certain age.

"Hang up the phone!"  Sadly, the younger generations will never know the pure satisfaction of slamming down a receiver on a member of the opposite sex.  

"It's quarter to five."  Not only have I been on the receiving end of some confused looks for this one; I actually thoroughly rattled a child by actually looking at my watch rather than my phone when she asked for the time.

"Pass me the clicker."  Okay, so it's been years since remote control keys actually clicked when you pressed them.  But old habits die hard and in my household, at least, when I say "clicker", I get the remote!

"Roll up the window."  How many cars still have manual windows?  I know there are some out there but they are getting fewer and further between.

"I have that show on tape."  No, actually, I don't.  I have it saved on my DVR on a miniscule chip.  I actually think it's been a couple of decades since I saved anything on a tape!

Those are just a few I thought of while pondering the deep mysteries of life.  What can you come up with?


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Hint of Sunshine

Sometimes the shades of gray in life seem to overflow and color our entire world.  Living in a region where fog is common, particularly during the winter months, I am well aware of how oppressive the gray can become.

At times, the gray covers us like a comfy blanket.  And that is perfectly fine.  There are times in life when we need to slow down, rest, and be comforted.

Other times, the gray is an oppressive mantle seemingly holding us in place.  Frequently, these are the times when we either are not strong enough to push through to the sunshine.  However, the sunshine is there...just on the other side of the gray.

However many sides there are to a story or a situation, it is perfectly acceptable to remove yourself from the gray.  Taking a step back and slowing down may enable us to see that hint of sunshine, to get the rest we need, or seek out the comfort we desire.  If the gray has become overwhelming, stepping out allows us to gather the strength to push through it.

Whether black, white, or gray, the sun always come out again.  Have faith in that.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Do Your Research

Yesterday, I spoke about the shades of gray we experience in life.  That leads into today's post in vague, Jerri sort of way.

Election season has sprung.  Never mind that the actual election is over a year away, the candidates and pundits have revved their engines and it is full speed ahead!

Ahhh, the sound of rhetoric on every newscast.  What an absolutely annoying and frustrating way to spend a year!  Each candidate will try to convince you that every word which they utter is the absolute truth and that each situation they address is black and white.

But we know better.  Nothing is black and white.  Do your research.  Do not accept that 30 second black and white soundbite as truth.  While a candidate may not intentionally lie (no comment), each has a tendency to exaggerate statements and situations to convince you that they are the only one who is right, who can fix it, or who is our last hope.  Again, nothing is black and white.  

Do your research.  Read multiple sites, not just those of a particular party or a specific political leaning.  Do your research.  Find the shades of gray the politicians do not mention.  Ask yourself why those facts or shades are hidden.

Do your research.  We will all be better for it.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Shades of Gray

Not that shades of gray!!  Okay, now that your mind is back in reality and out of the bedroom, what I mean is the shades of gray in life.

Rarely is anything pure black and white.  I have noticed that the tendency to view the world in such stark contrast is truly the purview of the young.  As we age, we realize that nothing is that easy.

We can all agree that crime is bad.  Recent events, however, have shown that not all the good guys wear white hats, and all suspects are not necessarily wearing a black one.  And there you have your gray situation.

We learn, as we stride, stumble, and fall through our years that those shades of gray are everywhere and in everything.  It is then, more than any other time, when our senses of empathy and compassion are of utmost importance.  Only with said empathy, can we appreciate all aspects of a situation and endeavor to appreciate all sides of any given situation.

For my young is not black or white.  While each new crisis may seem to toll the bells of impending doom; if you stop, breathe, and take a step back, you will begin to notice not only the shades of gray, but how those shades of gray give glimpses of the light on the other side.  

Take it from someone who has learned the hard way...


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Something Sweet

If you've been following the blog all week and taking the journey with me, you know it has been an emotionally taxing week.  Here is a little sweet to reward yourself for a job well done!

Cinnamon Apple Tarts


1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls
4 1/2 tsp cinnamon sugar -- divided
1 large tart apple, peeled and thinly sliced


Separate the crescent dough into four (4) rectangles.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and seal the perforations in each rectangle.  Sprinkle with 3 tsp of cinnamon sugar.  Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes.

Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and arrange the apple slices on each rectangle.  Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.  Return the sheet to the oven and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Feeding The Soul

It's Frugal Friday!  Here are a few ways to feed your soul and your joy that are absolutely free!

1.  Take a walk early in the morning.  Enjoy the sounds of nature and the peace of the dawn.

2.  Play with your pets.  Research has proven petting an animal lowers blood pressure and reduces     stress.

3.  Volunteer.  Giving to others brings joy to your heart.

4.  Purge.  Whether your friend list on Facebook or your winter clothes, lighten your load.

5.  Dance.  Turn up the music, close the blinds, and enjoy yourself!

Obviously, this list could go on forever...these are just a few ideas to get your brain engaged!  Show me what you come up with!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Limiting the Fallout

Setting limits and boundaries does not come without a price.  People's feelings may be hurt.  Some will lash out, others will bad mouth you to anyone who will listen.

How do you respond?  Here is where you set a limit on yourself.  A simple statement, "I did what I needed to do for my own peace and joy," will suffice.  Do not re-engage, do not waiver, and do not allow the drama back in.  

Will it be hard?  You bet!  One of the most valuable things I have learned at my advanced age is that a larger circle or tribe does not always equate to increased joy.  Reducing your circle to those people who reciprocate your love and caring is the best gift you can give yourself.

Fill your circle with love.  Let those who delight in spreading darkness spread it elsewhere.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Limits for Others

Another aspect of limits and boundaries is setting them for other people.  It is not always enough to set them for yourself.  Limits also need to be set on what behavior you will and will not accept from others.

Recently, by trying to be "nice," I allowed a situation to develop that resulted in a significant cost of time.  Although I work full-time outside the home, I also have a couple of part-time jobs (in addition to this blog) that I work from home.  That means that the loss of time I experienced directly translated into a loss of money.

Why did I allow that to happen?  Like I mentioned, trying to be nice and again, fear of hurting someone's feelings.  That fear actually cost me in dollars and cents.  It also delivered a healthy dose of feeling stupid.  

Women of my generation were raised to be caregivers, to not make a fuss, and to be nice.  At some point, we have to take back our power.  Set firm boundaries for others.  Do not allow anyone to steal your precious time.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Limiting Toxicity

I've written before about removing toxic people from your life.  Whether it is someone who revels in misery, or only contacts you to share their own latest, greatest drama, such people have the capability to suck the joy right out of a day.

Too often, I have allowed such people to remain in my life due to a sense of obligation, or guilt, or responsibility.  As part of my new plan to set limits and boundaries, one of the things I truly need to do is take a serious look at the people I allow into my life.  Whether people with whom I have actual face-to-face contact or those I only see on social media, some of them will have to go.  

Just typing that, I already feel a sense of guilt, dread even.  While I realize that these people bring nothing but stress to my life, I am still afraid to hurt someone's feelings.  The truly sad part of that is that those emotions are strictly one-sided.  Such narcissists will simply move on to the next victim willing to listen to their tale of woe.

It is time for me to man (woman) up.  Like ripping off a bandage, faster is less painful and less protracted.  Here I go!


Monday, August 3, 2015


Limits...the setting of which I struggle with.  How about you?  Do you find it difficult to set limits, draw boundaries, or just say no?

When dealing with a particular person or situation, I always endeavor to approach it from a place of kindness.  Unfortunately, I am beginning to feel that a number of people view that kindness as weakness.  This opens the door for that person to take advantage.  On my behalf, I then lose trust and feel quite a bit of resentment.

Of course, the easy answer is to set limits and boundaries.  Easy to say, but not easy to do.  I have made the decision, though, that it is time for me to do just that.  

Limits and boundaries are what we will be exploring this week.  Take the ride with me!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Summer Ease

Summer is the best time to drag out the slow cooker.  Come home from a hard day at work and dinner is ready without adding any extra heat to the house!  Here's a great one to get you started:

Beef and Gravy over Potatoes


2 pound roast (it's going to be in the slow cooker all the cheap one!), cut in small pieces.
1 can beef broth with onion
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 8 oz can sliced mushrooms (can be eliminated if you have a mushroom-phobe like I do!)
6 medium potatoes, scrubbed


Spray the slow cooker with non-stick spray.  Mix all ingredients except the potatoes in the slow cooker.  Lay the potatoes gently on top.  Cover and cook 5-6 hours on high.  Uncover and remove the potatoes.  Cut each potato in half and plate.  Spoon the beef and gravy over the potatoes and serve.



Jerri's Empty Nest