From the Heart – What we all long for

        I was reading an email that I received today and it immediately brought to mind my first marriage. The topic was about longing for a person to turn to, someone to defend you, and keep you safe.
        The reason I thought of my ex-husband was I did not receive this acceptance and love from him. He never defended me, in fact, he often belittled me and told lies about me. I learned the difficult lesson that without mutual love and respect, the relationship does not prosper and grow; it falters.
        Maybe I am a little old fashion, but my core beliefs are a husband/wife should love his wife/husband unconditionally. He should be willing to do battle for her – not against her, and above all, he should respect her. This was not what I found in my first marriage. I have heard my ex-husband’s family described as mean. Sadly, I would have to agree. I have bore witness to it on too many occasions; and since the divorce -16+ years ago-, some of the meanness has developed into hatred towards me; and the relationships with my daughters directly affected by the detestation.
        When I met my husband -Hubby-, I knew that I would not settle for less than I deserved. Love and respect had to be part of the package, or there would be no relationship. Having gone through a similar marriage and divorce, he felt the same. It was hard for me to trust in the beginning, but with him as a light in my life, I learned how to trust again.
        My marriage today is abundant in love, trust, respect, forgiveness, and a faith in God to guide us. Our marriage has been like the bed of roses in my garden. There are beautiful blooms, but there have also been pricks from thorns along the way. With God’s help, we continue to prune the thorns. It is the definition of a marriage blessed by God, and one that nurtures both my husband and myself.
        I hope this post leaves you pondering, and I invite you to comment. What is your definition of marriage? Is there something you long for?
Thank you for visiting with me today.

“Say goodnight Gracie” – “Goodnight”

Donna

Are YOU making this etiquette mistake?

Sunday’s From the Heart Series – It’s all about the etiquette 
OR, maybe you don’t give a hoot about proper etiquette?
         I do! Even acquaintances of mine will tell you it doesn’t take long to see I am all about manners and proper etiquette!
         I was reading an article the other day about the proper way to handle different etiquette situations, and the topic of being invited to a shower or a party (etc.) hosted (and I use this term loosely) at arestaurant, but with the intention of you paying for your own meal. I thought it was funny because this is a pet peeve of mine, a HUGE one! I have addressed etiquette on my blog before and I thought – it’s a favorite subject of mine, so why not do it again? I love hearing what other people are thinking, so I really hope you will comment. It can’t be just me who is missing those long ago days of manners, along with “Please” and “Thank you.”
         (Back to the subject) This has happened to me on several occasions, and I must admit I chose not to attend the functions. We all view situations in a different light, and this is only my opinion. “Hey, we are having a baby (wedding, etc.) shower at (insert restaurant) in (insert town 2 hours away) on (date, time) for (insert name). We would love (exaggerating) for you to attend, but you will have to buy your own meal.
         This is what I hear when someone issues this type of invitation: “Hey. We want to you to drive two hours, bring a nice gift, and buy your own meal. Want to come?”
         My answer: “No thank you”.
         Now, my circumstances may be a little different in that this is the only time I hear from these types of people, and maybe my response reflects this. Hubby and I do not invite people to join us for anything unless we can pick up the tab. I feel that it is inappropriate to invite someone with the expectation that they travel this distance (and incur fuel expenses as well as four hours driving time alone), purchase a gift, and their meal.
         It really makes me wonder if they had the party at their house, would they have a donation box at the door to defray the cost. Personally, under the conditions where the host cannot actually afford to “host” the event, a smaller gathering at their home would be more suitable.
         I know if I were to attend such an event, the cost of the gift would be significantly altered by the additional expenses I would incur; than if I were attending the same event at someone’s home where I was not expected to also pay for my meal.
         Now, that being said, there have been occasions where my Hubby’s large family has met at a restaurant for a birthday and each family picked up the tab for their family. This is not the same thing. There are always occasions when friends will meet up at a restaurant and everyone will pay for their own tab. These are not the occasions of which I speak.
         To sum up this post (I guess I did that already) I feel that if you cannot afford to host the event at a nice restaurant, you should choose a less expensive venue, or have the party at your home. You should not ask others to pay for your party. I would much rather attend a simple affair at your home than pick up the tab for your party.
         Now that I have vented and expressed my personal opinion, I would love to hear your take on this particular situation. Do you think it is proper to host an event and expect people to pay their own way?
Thanks for joining me today!
Don’t forget to follow my blog for more 
Sunday’s From the Heart and Tuesday’s All Things Southern! 
 
Donna

From the Heart – Best Friends


Best – better than all others

Friend – somebody who trust and is fond of another



         How do you define best friend?


         Do you have one?


         Do you want one?


         I was having a conversation with my best friend this morning – a texting conversation – and, after completing our conversation, realized just how lucky I was to have such a good friend. I can tell Girlfriend anything and she will not get mad at me, well maybe a little upset at times. She may not like what I have to say at times, (or I, her) but we respect the other’s opinion.


         Girlfriend and I have been besties for a few years now, and because we share many of the same personality traits, we know each other quite well, sometimes too well. And, that can lead to trouble at times. But, on the other hand, we also know how (or when) to push or not push the other’s buttons. 


          We know what will send one of us over the edge causing the other to make a hasty retreat, hoping for a white flag. We tell each other how we see it, even when we know it will be hard to hear. Everyone needs a person like that in their life. We all want to look at life through finger smudged rose-colored glasses and we need someone to take them off every now and then. and clean them.


         When I have a dilemma, she plays Devil’s Advocate. When Girlfriend is having a problem, I take my turn; and even though I am secure in our friendship, you will sometimes find me hiding out behind the pecan tree because I may have pushed too far and feel her wrath buzzing around my head like a bee. I go in for the sting and then offer sweet iced tea.


         Let me add that texting is an easy way for two people who do not like confrontation, to have a sensitive conversation. I am like a bull in a china shop. I have no mid-way; I’m either not engaged or full out – nostrils flaring and pawing huffs.


         I have a few other close girlfriends who wander in and out of my life depending on how busy our lives are, but Girlfriend is a constant. Since we met, she has been my girl rock, my girl port in a storm; someone to celebrate achievements with, someone to pick me up when I’m down, cry when I cry, and laugh when I laugh, or make me laugh. We’ve seen each other through some rough patches when we didn’t think the storm would break long enough for the sun to shine through. Those are the times we reached for the other and choose to dance in the rain.


        Let’s just say, here in the South, we take our friendships seriously.


         How about you? Is there someone in your life that you trust with your deepest, darkest thoughts? Do you have a best friend, someone who inspires you? (I’m talkin’ about someone other than Hubby.)

From the Heart – A Southern Staple – Jambalaya!


Goodness! I’ve had an exhausting week and I think my house is going to permanently harbor the stench of cooking onions.

         I cooked a huge batch of jambalaya mix to freeze. While the idea of sitting down to a wonderful plate of “instant” jambalaya sounds enticing, getting it to that point isn’t so great.

         One day I am going to learn to chop and cook the onions in the outside kitchen, then move the process indoors to my kitchen. Seems I have this revelation every time I cook onions. It has obviously yet to stick. I spent the better part of a day chopping many (lots and lots) onions in preparation for cooking. Once I finished up with the onions, I cubed two slabs of honey ham, chopped two packages each of Hillshire Little Smokies and Smoked Sausage. With this huge pile of chopped ingredients taking up residence on my counter, I was ready to begin cooking.

         I tossed the onions into a huge pot and cranked up the fire (I think faster is always better – not so). So, with the candles burning and the windows opened to allow fresh air to penetrate the onion odor infested kitchen, I stirred and stirred and then stared at those onions willing them to brown and caramelize (oh me of little patience). Well, needless to say, no onion will caramelize before its time; and believe when I say – that onion had its own time table!

         The onions finally caramelized and it was time to toss in the chopped meats. Gosh! Once the meat starts browning and blending with the onions, it is slap yo’ mama good let’s have a party time. Oh! My Goodness! You want to just grab a bowl and start dishing it up to eat! After the meat and onions were cooked and a little gravy was forming, I threw in the peeled shrimp. A little more cooking and stirring and then it was “grab a bowl” time.

         I put the rice to cook and sat down to enjoy my bowl of jambalaya mix thinking all is right with the world (and it sure is great to be from the South!)

Ingredients:

10 onions, chopped; 2 packages of Little Smokies and Smoked Sausage, chopped; 2-1/2” slabs of honey ham, 4 cups peeled small shrimp, ½-teaspoon Zatarain’s Liquid Crab Boil

How To:

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the bottom of a heavy pan, add onions and cook until brown and caramelized. (I always sprinkle a little sugar over onions to help in the caramelization.)


Add chopped meat and stir. (See picture – sausage is sliced down center and down center again forming four links – slice – this will give you quarter pieces) Cook down. Drain any grease that has accumulated (sausage has lots of grease.)



Add peeled shrimp and ½ teaspoon liquid crab boil. Stir. Lower fire and let simmer. Add a little water if necessary.

 I do not normally add any additional seasoning because the meat helps to season the dish as well as the liquid crab boil.

To Do:


At this point, you can either cool mixture and freeze or mix in cooked rice and enjoy. The mixture is also great on French bread as a sandwich mix. Enjoy!

*If you have any questions about the recipe, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to clarify.

 

You might also enjoy Hubby’s Southern Pecan Pralines! Nielsen-Massey Madagasgar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

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From the Heart – A Mother’s Love

         Another year has gone by and it’s Mother’s Day again. I sit here in anticipation, hoping as I do each year that the phone will ring and when I say hello, this will be the year that my oldest daughter will be on the other end.

         It has been sixteen years since she last wished me Happy Mother’s Day. The pain in my heart increases each year and my breath catches as I try to keep the tears at bay. They fall eventually when I am able to find a moment alone, but for a while, I manage to hold them back. I am good at pretending, which is how I keep the tears at bay. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes. Maybe one day I’ll be perfect.

         It is hard sitting in church watching the mothers and daughters around me. I really have to focus hard during the part of the mass when the priest asks all mothers to stand for a blessing. My Hubby always makes me stand. He tells me that no matter what, I am a mother and I deserve my blessing just as all the other moms do. And, as I stand, my thoughts are not concentrated on the words of the blessings; they wander around in my head unfocused, wondering if I do deserve the blessing.

         About that time, God will grab my attention and help me to focus using happy memories from when my daughters were young, and I realize that He is telling me not to forget that He blessed me with children, and I am a mother and I do deserve my blessing on this Mother’s Day.

        I know this post is a little bit of a downer for what should be a joyous occasion, but there are those us who end up with a little different day. It is not always through fault of our own, it is what life threw at us. I do know, as other mothers do, we always did the best we could with the tools we had at hand. Sure, there are decisions I’d make differently if I knew then what I know today. Unfortunately, life does not always provide us with the opportunity. Nevertheless, I love my children dearly, and I always will; and for that, I do not need their permission (to love them). That is one of life’s little blessings for moms.


I received an email a couple of days ago from AFL informing me that I had won a gift certificate and that my Mother’s Day story would be featured in their newsletter. The story is about my daughter. Here is the link if you would like to read it:

http://www.afterfiftyliving.com/socialcenter/tag_sharedstories/A_SHARED_STORY__A_Rose_in_Bloom/?utm_source=The+TOPS+from+AFL+5-13-12+and+-+a+Happy+Mother%27s+Day%2C+too%21&utm_campaign=Tops+%26+Mother%27s+Day+5-13-12&utm_medium=email

Thank you to all who visited today. I invite you to leave your own thoughts on this Mother’s Day.

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Don’t come home a drinkin’…From the Heart Series

         It seems like I’ve been fixated as of late on drinking –as in me starting to drink.

It all began last weekend on the way home from a day at Madewood Plantation, where we attended a crawfish boil hosted by Ameriprise Financial. The Friday evening was spent at a family gathering at a local restaurant in honor on Hubby’s father’s birthday, where maybe half of his family actually acknowledged that I take up space. Then, on Saturday, just as we sat down to enjoy our boiled crawfish, we looked up just in time to see my ex sit down at the next table.

Knowing that on Sunday we were attending a meet and greet of oldest son, Joshua, in-laws-to-be, and we’d also have to deal with Hubby’s ex, I may have mentioned to Hubby I was going to have to start drinking in order to deal with the stress. It was either that or start taking drugs. I thought drinking would taste better.

Then, I really got on a roll. I told him I was going to be a loud, boisterous, happy, drunk. And, as if that weren’t enough, I was going to be a loud, boisterous, happy drunk who told people what she thought of them. By this time, I was absolutely pomaded (French for laughing), so much so that Hubby even started laughing (he doesn’t always laugh at my tirades.) I was so into character that I started a performance of just what a loud, boisterous, happy, drunk (aka me) would do. To try to recreate my antics in writing would be impossible. You’ll just have to use your imagination. It went a little like this:

“Hey! (insert name) You wanta know what I think of you?” (Laughing)

“No.”

“Oh! Sure you do! I’m gonna tell you anyway! (Lots of laughing, loud, boisterous.) …

You sorta had to be there, but believe me, if Hubby was laughing, it must have been funny. I am an introvert so far off the chart that I fell off the chart. I rarely tell people what I’m thinking because I wouldn’t dare want to hurt someone’s feelings. So, that’s why I decided that I would be a loud, slaphappy, boisterous, drunk.

Then, yesterday, as I was adding Vermouth to a pasta dish I was making, I started wondering if I consume enough Vermouth in the guise of “deglazing” to be considered a drunk. Maybe I’ve already started drinking and I haven’t figured it out yet. This dish makes me happy. Ummm.

So…what about you? What is going to drive you to drinking in your life? (You know you can tell me.)

 

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