Pasta Pea Salad

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

When I was a kid, my mom used to make the most delicious salads. Among my favorites is pea salad. I absolutely LOVE her pea salad. As a kid, it was always cool and refreshing on a hot summer day. Pea salad was so very special. Mom didn't make it often; it was reserved for special occasions like barbeques. So this salad has a connection to most good memories from my childhood.
Now that I'm a mom myself, I like to make my mom's pea salad for my own children. They love it just as much as I do. Instead of making pea salad occasionally, I make it all the time. When I eat this pea salad now, it's like having a comforting hug. As I'm mixing the ingredients together, I can almost hear my mom telling me how she makes it. 
The other day I really wanted some pasta salad, but I didn't have all the veggies I like to add to my pasta salad. I have been having a pretty difficult time with life lately, so I really wanted something comforting. As I searched the pantry, I came across a can of peas and thought of my mom's delicious, comforting pea salad. I decided to combine her pea salad with some pasta to make pasta pea salad. I'm so glad that I did!

My pasta pea salad was devoured by myself and my girls. The girls ate every bite! To make this pasta pea salad, I combined together:

1/2 box of tri-color rotini pasta
1 can sweet peas
1/2 onion (diced really small)
3 hard-boiled eggs- diced
ranch dressing (however much you like)

While mixing it together, I added a little salt and pepper. I then covered it and chilled it in the refrigerator while I prepared the rest of our meal. This particular meal was a steak that marinated for 2 days, clam strips, and baked beans. If you're looking for a cool, refreshing side for your next barbeque, give this pasta pea salad a try. You won't regret it!


Oven-Baked Berry Pancakes

Monday, 22 June 2020

My kids LOVE pancakes. They want to eat them all the time, and for every meal. Their dad used to make the pancakes because I just can't make them. They turn out inedible every time. So he had the duty of making delicious, fluffy pancakes for the kids on the weekends. When he left, the girls did not stop wanting pancakes. 
I was watching a new cooking show on Netflix with Savannah one night when I saw a lady bake pancakes in the oven! I knew then that I could begin giving my girls the pancakes they longed for. The next day I began experimenting with different oven-baked pancake recipes. The first we tried was German pancakes. Savannah wasn't a fan. I tried making some changes in the recipe a couple of times before giving up on German pancakes.

One of my friends makes the pancake batter and then bakes it in the oven. She said the girls love it that way. Of course that's what I tried next! We have finally found what works for us. The girls love berries of all kinds. Our pancakes MUST to be full of vibrant, sweet berries! The batter is basic, and a good base for any fruit or flavors you may want to add. I bet it would be delightful with peanut butter and chocolate chips! The recipe has only a small amount of sugar. We're going to drown it in sweet, sticky maple syrup, so less sugar in the batter is best.

To make these pancakes, I spray a 9x13 Pyrex pan with coconut oil cooking spray and then preheat my oven to 350. While waiting for the oven to heat up, I mix together: 

3 TBSP sugar
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 Cups milk
4 TBSP melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

I mix everything together until it is combined, but still a little lumpy. I've learned that over-mixing the batter makes the pancakes rubbery. After I mix everything together, I add 2 cups of frozen or fresh berries. If I add strawberries, I like to slice them first. Then I pour the berry-filled batter into my pan and bake for 25 minutes. I cut the pancakes into rectangles, plate them, and drizzle with sweet maple syrup. My girls love them every time!

You can find the original recipe from Eating on a Dime here.

Don't Be A Litter Bug

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

I am not an environmentalist by any stretch of the imagination. I do not have to be an environmentalist to be irritated by the thoughtlessness of my fellow humans. Why would you go to the beach and leave your garbage??? I didn't see any trash cans, but most people are arriving to this beach by car. Put your trash in your car and toss it in the trash when you get home. The animals don't deserve your trash in their home. The people who want to enjoy this beach don't deserve to have to pick up your trash. And certainly, no one deserves to be injured by your trash.

Here are my children playing with someone's discarded lunchmeat container next to the remnants of a burn pile. 

This is not ok. People, we have to do better. If you take it with you to your outdoor adventure, make sure you take it back home with you.

This burn pile has left HUNDREDS, maybe even THOUSANDS of rusty nails all over the beach. When the tide comes in, it reaches the pile and spreads the nails and other debris all over.

Kona Ice!

Monday, 8 June 2020

I took the girls to the "beach" last weekend when their friends were over. We had the BEST time! The girls splashed in the water and expelled some ENERGY! We even had a picnic in the car before getting out into the sand, water, and sun. The best part was when the Kona Ice guy arrived unexpectedly! I absolutely adore Kona Ice, and so do my girls.

My love of all things Kona Ice began last summer when my employer began to have Kona Ice every month to show their appreciation for their employees. I don't know the man's name, but he is so kind. He is in the business to make people smile, and you can tell he really enjoys himself. He's really become an important part of our village. We have seen him all over town; at Savannah's school, at the chicken feed store, and now at the beach! Every time we need some happiness, there he is with his cool ice and sweet syrups.

If you see a Kona Ice truck driving around, I highly recommend flagging him down for an experience you are certain to enjoy!

P.S. If anyone knows his name and how I can reach him, please leave it in the comments. I'd like to share a link to his Facebook, Instagram, etc in this post.

Crochet Kitchen Sponge

Sunday, 7 June 2020

It was rainy yesterday, and I've been having a hard time for the past few days. I have somehow run out of washcloths in the kitchen, so I decided to make some for myself. I have always found crochet to be very soothing and therapeutic. There's just something about the repetitive motions and the counting of the stitches that really soothes my soul. 

For the longest time, I was using the wand with the soap in the handle and the scrubby sponge at the end. I don't know about the rest of you, but I wasted SO much dish soap using those things! The soap ALWAYS leaked out no matter how I stored the thing. Not only do they waste soap, but they smell terrible! There just HAD to be a better way. I began my Google search for the perfect crocheted dishwashing apparatus.

During my search, I found a ton of great ideas, but this one stuck out from the rest. This crochet "sponge" is incredible! It feels great in my hand and holds the soapy suds quite well! I just tried it out, and only had to soap it up twice while readying the dishes for the dishwasher. Hello, soap savings! I also tried it out on the counters and stovetop. This crochet sponge did not get water everywhere like a regular sponge does. If you want to try your hand at making your own, you can find the pattern here.

10 Things I've Learned About Domestic Violence

Friday, 5 June 2020

While on my journey of healing from my marriage, I have learned a few things. Some of the things, I've known all along but didn't connect the dots until now. Hindsight really is 20/20.

#1. The kids are listening. Even when they aren't in the room, or you think they are sleeping; they are listening. The kids are scared of the things they hear. The effects of domestic violence often go unnoticed until the kids begin to act out.

#2. It's estimated that every 60 seconds, 20 people in America are abused by an intimate partner. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been the victim of abuse by an intimate partner. Maybe you aren't in a violent, abusive relationship. Chances are that you know someone who is. Please learn the signs of abuse so you can help your friend, family member, or coworker.

#3. Domestic violence has been linked to PTSD. It was once believed that PTSD only affects combat veterans. Researchers now know PTSD affects victims of intimate abuse as well as other traumatic events. People with untreated PTSD are more likely to abuse others.

#4. The abuser will not accept responsibility for his/her actions and is likely to always blame the victim. The abuser will also spend his/her time seeking the sympathy of others.

#5. Narcissists are not likely to change. For change to happen the narcissist would need to be able to recognize his/her abusive behavior and really want to change. The nature of narcissism prevents such recognition and willingness to change.

#6. The victim will often become an abuser. If you're a victim of physical, mental, emotional, or other forms of abuse, it is extremely important to get help. As an abuse victim, you are more likely to become an abuser than a person who has not suffered abuse.

#7. Traumatic bonding is a thing. Traumatic bonding is defined as a strong emotional attachment between an abused person and his/her abuser, formed as a result of the cycle of violence. Traumatic bonding often keeps the victim from leaving the abusive relationship.

#8. Gaslighting is also a thing; a very common thing. The gaslighter will sow seeds of doubt to the point that the victim begins to question his/her own perception of reality. The victim will begin to question their own sanity. The gaslighter will make sure his/her victim has no self-worth and will often convince the victim that he/she is the abuser.

#9. After leaving a domestic violence relationship, friends and family will often unknowingly assist the abuser in harassing the victim. Friends and family will try to "help" by telling the victim what the abuser is doing and saying. This act is not helpful and is another way for the abuser to harass the victim. The abuser is counting on the good intentions of friends and family. If you have a loved one who has just escaped an abusive relationship, the best way you can help is to stop communicating with the abuser. Your loved one doesn't need to know every time the abuser makes a disturbing social media post or solicits pity from others.

#10. The last and most important thing I've learned about domestic violence since leaving my own narcissistic, abusive relationship is that leaving is easier than staying. While you're being abused, leaving seems impossible and unattainable. This really isn't the case. Once you make the decision to leave, just start putting one foot in front of the other and don't look back. Just keep going. There will be people to help you along the way. That fear you have is another side effect of the abuse you've suffered. Your abuser needs you to think you'll be all on your own without anyone to help you so you will stay.  Reach out your hand for help. There will be someone there to help you.

Clam Spaghetti

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Yesterday I let Savannah choose what we would have for dinner. We walked by the Publix seafood case, and she made me stop. She wanted some clams. I almost told her to choose something different because clams are intimidating. I had some seafood spaghetti at a restaurant that was incredibly gritty and inedible. I was really nervous about a repeat of that meal. Since Savannah had been asking for clams for a few weeks, I agreed to take on the challenge of the clams. Boy am I glad I did!

It took longer than I had expected to clean the clams, but it was definitely worth eating a late dinner. To clean the clams, I soaked them in cold, salty water for 20 minutes in the refrigerator. I then placed the clams in another bowl of cold salty water for 20 more minutes in the refrigerator. I repeated this process 2 more times. After soaking them for the last time, I gave them all a good rub under running water before putting them in my trusty cast iron pan. The clams were not gritty, and were incredibly delicious!

To go with our clam spaghetti, I also made a quick cucumber, onion, and tomato salad. This salad reminds me of my childhood. My mom used to make it when I was a kid. I remember sneaking into the refrigerator to sneak bites of the vinegary onions. My mom made her own vinegar dressing, but I use Italian dressing. Both ways are fantastic. 

To make the cucumber, onion, and tomato salad, I sliced:5 Roma tomatoes, 1 cucumber, and 1 small sweet Vidalia onion. I put all the slices into a Tupperware bowl, poured half a bottle of Italian dressing on top, closed the lid, and gave it a good shake to ensure everything was coated with the dressing.

For the clam spaghetti, I chopped up 6 cloves of garlic and a small onion. I poured about 1/4 cup olive oil into my cast iron pan and heated it over medium-high heat. Once the oil was hot, I added the garlic, onion, and a tablespoon of anchovy paste. I cooked it until the onions were soft. I then added 8 ounces of clam juice, a tablespoon of Italian seasoning, clams, and peeled, deveined shrimp. I cooked everything until the clams opened up and the shrimp was pink. I added the pasta and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Then I tossed everything together, plated it, and served it up. This dish was a hit!