Crouton Cups gone awry, sorta – HaliPawz

I am not one of those beautiful hostess types. You know, the ones whom, when you walk in their house, you ooh and ahh over the splendor of everything? Yeah, I’m lucky if I get the house cleaned and food prepared before the guests arrive.  I love to host gatherings in my home though.  My friends know the house might not be picture perfect but they will get enough to eat and drink…isn’t that all that really matters?

I was having a wine tasting in my home this past Saturday.  I’ve never been much of a wine drinker, but went to a wine tasting at a friend’s house a few years ago and fell in love with a couple of PRP International wines! I went from not drinking wine EVER to ordering a case of red wine.  I still can’t go to a restaurant and order a glass, I won’t like it, but I do love some of theirs.  I will have friends and family say they aren’t much of a wine drinker, I tell them my story, they try it, like it, and we laugh about it.  I should probably start selling it as it is the only wine I buy.

As I was planning my menu, I decided I wanted cheese of course, but I wanted appetizer type food.  I had considered meatballs, but decided I wanted cooler foods. It is June after all! Pasta Salad!

Italian Dressing, Rotini, Colby Jack

Simple, Fresh, Pasta Salad with Bacon, Cucumber, and Cheese

I really wanted pasta salad.  Wait, pasta salad isn’t exactly “finger food”. My thoughts start spinning.  I know! What if I made an edible cup to put them in? I had made Parmesan cups for Caesar Salad before but they were pretty time consuming. They were good. I was thinking about putting in the recipe I used, went to look for it, and came across this one! I HAVE NOT tried this, but it makes sense and is a LOT easier than the ones I made, so try it. Let me know if you like it or not.  If I try it, I’ll update this post.

Back to my edible cup dilemma.  I’m racking my brain and it comes to me, crouton cups! What a great idea.  Except I have no idea how to even make regular croutons, let alone a cup.  Would it be big enough? Would it even work? I’m patting myself on the back for such a great idea.  Off to Google to look for crouton recipes.  I put in “crouton cups” and site after site pops up. I realize I’m not so inventive after all.  Cooks, real cooks, have already thought of them.  I decided to not to reinvent the wheel, so I read through a few to find one I think I can manage.  This is the one I chose to work make, never planning on making any changes. Now I had no expectation of mine turning out as pretty as hers did in the photo. She recommended to use a firm bread, nothing airy.  Off to Google again to find out which bread is densest. The problem with that search is I kept finding out how to make bread less dense instead of which bread would be the densest.  I wasn’t going to bake my bread, so I had to make do with what I picked up.

I settled on Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread. I wish I could tell you why, but no clue.  It just sounded the best for my pasta salad.

I get home and as I’m about to start making it, I’m trying to think of what seasonings to use to complement my pasta salad…and then it hits me.  The olive oil or butter from the recipe are both liquids.  The Italian dressing is a liquid. Why not change the recipe a little! It made sense to me until I put the pan in the oven.  Then I panicked as I started smelling the Italian dressing.  Can you cook dressing? Will it start on fire?!?! Am I ruining my oven?!?? All these thoughts! Now you see why I say I’m a messy cook, I normally follow recipes to avoid scares like this!

They were done!

Italian Dressing

Baked Italian Dressing Crouton Cups

And they looked croutonish! Success! Well, at least in appearance.

They didn’t look anything like the beautiful picture In the original recipe I used for a base. They looked edible, which is a start.

I let them cool while I finished preparing my other items.

I ended up serving gourmet cheese,

Gourmet Cheeses on Michigan Chalkboard Serving Tray

my pasta salad with crouton cups, deli spiral sandwiches, assorted melons, strawberries, and for my chocolate; brownie bites with cream cheese frosting available and peanut butter / Hershey kiss cookies.  As you can see, I rely on Sam’s Club for many of my hostessing items! It’s easier and less time consuming.

Now, full disclosure, my guests opted for putting my Italian Crouton Cups on their plate and then putting the pasta salad over top, they didn’t really use them in the finger food style I had imagined….but they would have worked and they tasted great!

Great food, great wine, great friends….roll it up and you have success!

For the recipe for the Pasta Salad, click here

For the recipe for the Italian Crouton Cups, click here

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The Dryer welcomed a visitor I did not invite – HaliPawz

Yesterday, as I was waiting for mom to get ready to leave the house, I remembered I had thrown some towels in the washer. Running downstairs, I opened the dryer and saw some clothes in there.  No surprise.  I’m horrible about emptying it. I hang all my shirts up to dry, so there is never anything in there that can’t be.  With mom here, I’m always finding Kleenex remnants in the laundry. She always has a Kleenex with her and I am always missing them before I wash, no matter how hard I look.  As I’m folding the clothes, I see a rubbery thing near the zipper of one of her jeans.  I’m thinking….what in the world did she leave in her pocket this time? I go to pick it up and as my hand hits the rubbery thing, I scream (a small one), pull my hand away, and do the “icky” dance.  It is a SNAKE!!!

 

jeans, washer & dryer, dead snake, baby snake, snake in home

Baby Snake in Dryer

Yes, I freak out.  I don’t deny it.  I hate snakes! Albeit, this was a very very tiny one, but still I’m freaked.

Wait, it’s not moving.  Is it dead? I stare at it. Do snakes pretend to be dead when they are frightened? I stare some more.  No, they slither away.  Yes, conversations are running through my head rapidly.  Still staring.

Ok, take a breath.  You can do this.  I grab my trash can and move it next to the dryer.  I’ll just pick up the jeans and then dump the snake into the garbage. Simple.

I start to reach in, being careful as to not put my hands or arms anywhere where this vicious snake could come up and strike me and kill be.  The snake slips a little and ends up between the zipper opening and is now touching the dryer! I jump back.

Ugh! Now what to do.

I close the dryer door.  I’m done. I can’t do it.

I HAVE to do it.  I can’t leave it in there.  Ok, I go upstairs looking for something to help me. I shut the door on the dryer to make sure the 50 other baby snakes I can’t see don’t slither into my basement while I’m gone.

I tell mom what’s going on.  She starts talking about the guy eating the snake on Naked & Afraid the night before and then she thought about snakes and now there’s one in my dryer.  She hates snakes.  Yup, right there with you mom.

I grab a plastic Wal-Mart bag so I can pick it up like scooping poop.  I’ll lift it out and throw it away.

I open the dryer door and, for some reason, freak out all over again.  I quickly run through the list of friends I could call to come help.  NO! It is a DEAD baby snake.  I CAN do this!

Oh wait….take a picture.  No one will believe me.  Plus they’ll laugh at me over how small it is.  I still have to take one.  Carefully…so as not to get bit…line the phone up.  Turn the flash on because it’s too dark. Got it.

Now to scoop it up.  I can’t tough it.  My finger is still giving me phantom “icky” vibes where it touched it before, even though I’ve washed my hands three times already.  I look around.  I see a mitt I have for wiping the dogs paws when they are wet / muddy.  I put it on.  Grab the bag. I go in. Quickly reach down, scoop, squeeze, throw.  I honestly couldn’t tell if I connected with anything through the thick mitt or not.

dog paws, clean, muddy paws
Success!!!! The snake was no longer there!

I threw the jeans on the floor, looked all over the dryer, and then threw the towels in.

The jeans immediately went into the washer along with some other dark clothes.  Had to wash them.  They were filthy from dead, rubbery, snake.

Phew! I did it.  With limited freak outs and lots of deep breaths.  Did not matter.  I did it!

Went upstairs to show my mom the picture.  Her first question….did you put it on Facebook? Well not yet! I was too busy trying to catch it! Well throw it away.

Of course I posted it. I had to. I still have no clue how it got there. I really don’t want to think about it.  All I know is, next time my dryer wants to invite a visitor into my home, I hope it asks for permission!

 

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When Christians believe the Apostles spoke English – HaliPawz

I have stated in more than one post about my frustration with Organized Religion.  I don’t like the judgement so many Christians have for others, when they, themselves, are not sin free.  I think it is just an example of the time we live in, everyone wants everyone else to believe and think just like they do.  I am opinionated, I don’t deny it, but I try to be respectful of others as long as they are respectful of me and my thoughts.  I have actually had a change of opinion because of a healthy conversation with another person on more than one occasion.  What I don’t have tolerance for is when someone argues with me about my beliefs and they, themselves, not only have a difference of opinion but, in fact, have no concept of reality!

I am not completely against finding a new church home.  When I am invited to a church, I will do some research and sometimes I will even go visit it.  I received a note on social media from a man and he was inviting me to his church.  This was new, I had never had a church invite from a complete stranger before, but I messaged him back, thanking him, and asked him some more questions about the church.  He explained he was an associate pastor at the church and I discovered it was close to my house.  I wouldn’t mind finding a good church close by, so I wanted to learn a little more. I have a few standard questions I always try to find answers to before I even decide to go to a church.

Here are a few of them:

  • What is the doctrine of the church?  This is the written body of teachings that is generally accepted by the church.  I have to know what their doctrine, is it something I can support? Is there anything in it I don’t believe in?  A church is like any other organization you are going to be part of, if you don’t support their teachings, you shouldn’t be part of their teachings.
  • What is the church’ statement of faith?  This is a statement of shared beliefs.  This is, in my own words, the doctrine rolled up into a pretty statement to be understood easily.  Again, if their statement of faith isn’t something you can support or get behind, it might not be the church for you.
  • What is the Mission Statement? This is the Church’s purpose, reason for being.  Who they are and what they do
  • How does the church feel about women in leadership?  What roles do they allow women to be in?  This may not be important to everyone, but it is to me.  I had a friend invite me to her church and when I went online to look into the church, I realized they didn’t allow any women in leadership roles.  I asked her why and she said it was because it was Biblical based.  I asked what verses in the Bible stated that and she couldn’t tell me.  I have a problem with that.  If your church takes such a stand like this and says it’s Biblical based but does not share HOW they came to that conclusion, how based is it?
  • What is the ethnic makeup of the church?  Again, it isn’t for everyone, but I want a multi-cultural Church.  Sadly, in Kansas City, there isn’t a lot of multi-cultural churches.
  • How many offerings does it collect during a normal service?  I get annoyed at churches that take two and three different offerings.  It’s a preference thing.

Once I have those answers, then I will proceed.  I started asking the questions about this potential church.  He asked if he could call me to discuss.  Sadly, I was still thinking this was about the Church invite and nothing more, so I agreed.  He seemed annoyed by my questions right off the bat.  He asked why I needed to know the Mission Statement and Doctrine.  He was telling me it was a good church and that should have been enough for me.  I should have stopped the conversation right there, but I didn’t.  I kept talking to him with the thought I could help him understand the importance of these questions for future conversations he has with others.  I was trying to help him!  I decided he probably just didn’t know the answer and didn’t want to admit it, so I moved on to ask about the ethnic makeup and activities of the church.  He answered them with no problem.  Then he started asking me a couple of questions.  Did I believe in following the words of the Bible?, he asked me.  I thought it was an interesting question but wasn’t sure where he was going, so I answered it honestly.  I explained how I believed in the original writings of the Bible but felt it had been adjusted and changed to fit the needs of the man commissioning it, so you had to study before accepting the words as Gospel.  I then pointed out study was important anyway because the Bible said:

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” – 2 Timothy 2:15 NASB

Accurately handling the word of truth is the key!  You can’t take words that fit where you want them to and ignore other words.  As I was breaking this down to him, he sorta blew my comment off and asked if I believed women should be submissive to men.  What the h*ll???  Where did that come from?  Ahhhh, he wasn’t about inviting me to Church, he was trying to get a date.  It was all coming clear to me.  Again, I should have just hung up, but now I was prepared to just have some fun.  A small part of me was disappointed though because now I knew I wouldn’t be checking out this church.   It also was a chance to argue about “wives submit” as it is understood in the Bible.  I started to explain to him that in the Greek writing, submission has different meanings depending on the context in which it is written because the language is a pictorial language, very different from English.  You have to understand it based on the surrounding text.  I tried to explain submission, hupotasso and hupakoe, can mean “listen attentively to”, it can mean “to lift one up”, but it has a military base, meaning that, even if there is a hierarchy of power, we still need to think things through and not just comply because someone said so.  Yes, I know I broke this down vaguely and perhaps, one day I will put it in more understanding words for everyone, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ll leave it at that, because the sad part is what was to follow.

He told me he didn’t care what the Greek bible said, he followed the King James Bible.  I was confused.  I paused, then tried to point out it wasn’t the “Greek” Bible, but the actual writings in the Bible.  The King James Bible was commissioned by King James back in 1604.  He replied, “I speak English and I follow the English Bible, The King James Bible!”

I was lost.  Was he serious?  Maybe I was just doing a poor job of communicating, so I decided to take a different route.  I tried explaining the Bible was originally written in a different language and then translated to English.  I explained King James is just like the other translations, just written in Old English.  I know different churches follow different editions of the Bible.  Almost every predominantly black Church I have ever been in tends to follow the King James Version, so I understood why he was loyal to the King James Bible, but I didn’t understand why he was arguing with me about the writing of the original Bible.

I was just about done with the conversation, realizing we were just going back and forth, when reality dawns on me…..I paused for a minute.  I asked him the following question:

Hey, you know the twelve apostles?  Matthew, John, Simon, etc….when they were walking around, talking to Jesus, what language do you think they spoke to each other?

His reply was one of the best I have ever heard in my life……

English of course

I lost it.  I couldn’t help it.  I think I laughed the loudest I have ever laughed at the time.  Then sadness hit me.  Here is an associate pastor of a good size local church who honestly believed the Bible was written in English.  He believed the apostles spoke English.  With such a myopic view of the world, how biblical based could any teachings of his be?  This is a true example of one of the things wrong with organized religion today.  We have uneducated, uninformed, leaders who have just blindly followed the teachings of those before them and teaching those behind him to blindly follow as well.

So now, in addition to the above questions…..when someone asks me to visit their church, one of my first questions I ask, “What language did the apostles speak when they spoke with Jesus?”

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

Grass cutting dilemma over a holiday weekend – HaliPawz

My grass got too high.  It’s no one’s fault but my own.  I can make a bunch of excuses, but at the end of the day, that’s all they are, excuses.  It is the end of May and I had only partially cut my lawn in Missouri….where the rain had been flowing down for months now!  This leads me to spending my holiday weekend attempting to cut the grass….I say attempting because, it still isn’t done.

Let’s go back a few weeks.

I realized my grass was getting embarrassingly high.  I thought about getting someone to come in and cut it the first time because of how high it was, but I just didn’t want to spend the money.  Let’s face it, I’m still not where I want to be financially from doing the freelance writing, so I try to save every penny I can.  I’m one of the fortunate ones who lives in the city but still has a nice size yard.  When it comes to the dogs, it’s great, when it comes to cutting, not so great.   I begin to cut it and it’s still a little too damp from the rain we had overnight so the cutting is taking forever.  I decide to pause on the cutting and get out the weed eater to go around the house.  I don’t know why, but I also thought I could go back and forth like a machete and trip some of the high grass down.  I’m sure my neighbors were having a nice laugh at me!

Sometimes I swear I have adult ADHD because I jump around a lot when it comes to projects like this.  I always say I can justify it with a thought, but at the end of the day, I just can’t do the monotony of doing the same thing for hours.  It seems like writing is the only thing I can do for long periods without a problem.  Anyway…..I go back to cutting.  All of a sudden, out of no where, I see something wet looking and small fly out of the grass and away from the mower!  I stop the mower instantly and look down, there are three baby bunnies!  One flew into the tall grass, one took off down the slope of my yard, and one walked about six inches from where it came out of and froze.  Of course, I was convinced I had killed one; the one that had taken off and looked a little damp!  Looking around, I found their nest and then wondered, now what do I do.  I can’t see the other two anywhere, the grass is way too high, and the little frozen one is just standing still, even when I get close!

I go and sit on my porch and just stare at the baby bunny.  I send out a tweet about finding them.  I text my two animal lover friends to get some advice.  I google “who to contact when you find a baby bunny” and discover we have a nature center here in Kansas City that will help with things like this.  I call them.  No answer so I leave a message.  I’m still sitting on the porch.  Of course, I resolve to never let my grass get this high again because I don’t want to be a baby bunny killer.

Yes, I have since learned the nests are usually far enough into the ground I can

still cut my grass and cause them no harm…..but at the time, I didn’t realize it.

I grab the weed trimmer again and decide to do some more areas well away from where any baby bunnies might be.  Then it goes through my head, what if there are more and I won’t be able to see them while I’m cutting the grass?  Maybe I shouldn’t cut my grass until they are all gone?  How long will that be?  I stop trimming and sit on the porch again, staring at the frozen baby bunny.

I get up to go look to see if I can find the missing two, which I can’t.  One of my neighbors must have had enough of wondering what I was doing because he ventured over to me to ask.  We discussed the baby bunnies but I had the distinct impression he wouldn’t be as concerned as I was, or he just thinks I’m a little crazy! Either way, he walked away again without much advice.

My phone rings, It was Lakeside Nature Center calling me back.  She told me the mother rabbit will return around sundown, if I could find the babies and try to put them back in the nest, the mother would take care of them.  She then explained the “frozen” one was showing a tactic “If I don’t move, you can’t see me” to protect itself.  I felt better.  I had no clue where the other two were, but I was going to do my best to help these little guys out.  Needless to say, no more grass cutting was to be done that day.

I went inside for a little while, I was going to grab a yardstick to help me move the grass around so I could look for the wandering babies.  I ended up taking a phone call and got side tracked.  By the time I came back outside, I was overjoyed to see momma rabbit right by the frozen baby bunny and another one scamper into the grass as soon as I started down the porch.

Momma rabbit returns for her babies

 As you can see from the picture, the grass is quite high and stayed high for a while because, what I didn’t mention, is I was heading out-of-town the next day!

I was gone for a week and when I returned, it was easy to see the rain had not helped my grass growing dilemma.  My mom came back with me from Michigan so I had to do something about this situation soon.  She walks with a walker, so the high grass would be a problem for her since she has to walk through the grass to get to my porch.  I had built her a nice ramp last year to get up my steps, but she still had to walk up a slight hill on the grass so she didn’t need the problem of the high grass to go with it. It is clear my yard is not ADA friendly!  LOL

I grabbed my mower and cut a few paths for my mom to walk easier.  I cut about half of my front yard and then I saw a momma rabbit in a whole new area of the front yard.  I thought I saw a baby running away.  I decided to not cut in that area.  Maybe it was an excuse, but I cut all around it.  Then it started to rain.  Time to put the mower away again.

Rain came and went over the next few days and the grass kept getting higher.  The back yard was scary at this point.  Poor Zipper, my Jack Russel, had areas where the grass what much higher than him.  Because the dogs play out there all the time, some of the grass was trampled down, but it was still thick and high.  I had cut about two or three strips off to the side when I had cut the front yard and even that was getting high again.

Enough was enough, the grass had to be cut!  Who knew what was lurking in the grass, insects, rodents, it was time to conquer it so Monday, Memorial Day, I was out there.  It had rained earlier in the morning, so I knew it was going to be rough, but it was climbing to 80 degrees for the day, so the grass had to be drying somewhat.  I started in the back yard and began to cut.  I started in the area I had already cut, figured it would be easier and it was in the sun, so it would dryer.  As soon as I hit the higher grass, I knew I was in trouble.  The lawn mower would continually stop because of the high, thick grass.  I would have to back it up out of the high grass to restart it.  I would cut an area for a bit, then see a really high area and just cut across the yard to break it up.  My thinking was, if I broke it up into little pieces, it would be easier on the mower to go from high, then low, then high again.  In reality, I’m sure it was some more of my ADHD.  I’m so jealous of those who can go back and forth on their lawn in nice, neat rows, back and forth, so their yard looks great.  My dad would do that.  He would cut it one way one week, then another way the other.  Sometimes back and forth, sometimes on an angle.  My yard is cut in every direction, no rhyme or reason.

There were times I had to raise the mowers front wheels off the ground, go over a patch, then let the blades come down on it.  I had enough sense to lock the dogs in the house, so I wouldn’t have to be worried about them getting in the way or getting hurt.  Sadly, there were some loss of toys though.  I couldn’t see them, one was a stuffed animal, all of a sudden I saw the stuffing some flying out from around the mower!  Made me happy the dogs were inside, I felt it was safer.

I was dripping in sweat, the mower was stopping about ever 90 – 120 seconds.  I reached one part of my lawn where the grass was so thick and so wet at the bottom that I could only get about a foot or two and it would stall.  I was exhausted and my back was killing me from constantly pulling the cord on the mower.  I can usually cut my back yard with one full tank of gas.  I had filled it twice already.  About 4:30 pm, I had been at it over two and a half hours, not counting two fifteen minute water / rest breaks and my mower was now stalling every foot of grass until it was out of gas yet again.  I stopped.  I was out of gas in my gas can and decided I had enough.  Looking around at the patchy cutting I saw I still had about 1/4 of my back yard to cut and still tackle my front yard.  I was done for the day.

So, as I type this, I realize I have to run to the gas station to get more gas and get out there to finish my yard at some point today.  The grass WILL NOT WIN!  I guess the one good thing is, I had a nice workout!

Moral of the story, don’t let your grass get too high.  Just like so many things, if you ignore it, it will end up costing you more in the long run….in this case, more time, more energy, and more backache!

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on Facebook.com/HaliPawz 

Texas Roadhouse Restaurant; Port Huron, MI – HaliPawz

After taking Bella and Zipper to the beach, I decided it was time to get something to eat. Mom had been eating crackers, so I took that as a sign she was getting hungry.  We had to stop at Wal-Mart for a few things so I wanted to stay in the north end.  Since we had the dogs, we had to eat, then go grocery shopping.  Trying to do it in reverse would be pointless, the dogs would destroy everything.    Cheap Charlie’s had disappointed me the last couple of times so it was time to find another go to when I am home visiting.  I am sure I will give them another chance because I love their CC sticks.  I knew the last time I was home, they were building a Texas Roadhouse, but my mom didn’t think it was open yet.  I decided to drive by to check it out anyway.  The number of cars indicated they were open, and appeared to be pretty busy. We pulled in and found a handicapped location right in front of the door.  Because my mom walks with a walker, it is always easier when we can get close to the door.  After getting the dogs settled, we headed in to try Port Huron’s newest restaurant; Texas Roadhouse.

Once in, there was a small amount of people sitting around waiting for a table.  I asked how long and was told 5-15 minutes.  Not bad, considering the number of people.  I sometimes forget about the difference between Port Huron and Kansas City in regards to the number of people!  We ended up waiting about 15 minutes, which isn’t bad.  We started to be seated in about ten minutes, but they noticed mom had a walker so they asked me if I wanted to wait a few more minutes for a table that would be better for her.  She wouldn’t have to walk as far and they thought it would be easier for her to sit at.  I truly appreciate when businesses give thought like that to the situation!  I thanked them and said we would gladly wait a few more minute.

You could tell it was relatively new, everything still had that nice, “polished” look about it.  The staff all seemed to be working efficiently.  I asked the one seating us when they had opened and she said April 6th.  For only being open about a month, they seemed to be doing well.

The music was a little loud, even by Texas Roadhouse standards.  I have been in a few and I don’t remember it being difficult to talk over the music.  I didn’t mind it, but with my mom being older and wearing hearing aids, I was concerned it might be a little too loud for her.  They served the warm rolls and cinnamon honey butter right when we sat down.  I didn’t even want to wait for a drink because they looked so good.

Texas Roadhouse Rolls and honey butter

Texas Roadhouse Rolls and Cinnamon Honey Butter

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long! Rachel, our waitress, appeared right away to take our drink order.  I have been trying to drink more water, but I ordered my Coke with lemon that night because I knew I was having steak and a cold Coca Cola with a lemon wedge just goes better with steak!  While I was waiting for our drinks, I bit into a roll.  It was as good as it looked!  I honestly don’t think I have ever had a bad roll from a Texas Roadhouse though so this location continued the trend.

She brought our drinks and as my mom was ordering her food, I took a sip.  Ugh!!!  It was Diet Coke!  I HATE the taste of diet coke.  When it was time to place my order, I politely told her I thought, perhaps, she had grabbed diet instead of regular, then proceeded to place my order.   She immediately brought me another one, which I took a sip of, and said it seemed better, but then, after taking a couple more sips, I was sure it wasn’t regular Coke, but diet again.  She said she had made sure she grabbed it from the regular Coke when she brought it to me.

I proceeded to eat my salad, which, was DELICIOUS!  Honestly, it was one of the freshest restaurant salads I have had in a long time.  There was just enough of everything, the dressing, blue cheese, had a nice flavor to it.  I was impressed.  If only the drink situation could be resolved!

Rachel came back and I asked her what other beverages they had, I just couldn’t drink this Coke anymore.  It wasn’t right.  She told me, but none of them sounded appealing.  I know it sounds silly, but for me, a bad beverage can really make a difference.  I was about to switch to water with lemon, because I knew it would taste OK, when she offered to go and get me a Coke from a different unit.  Honestly, at that moment, I so appreciated her!  She could have just brought me water with lemon and thought I was some crazy restaurant goer, but she went above and beyond to try to resolve the problem.  She brought me the new drink and I took a sip…… HALLELUJAH….we have regular Coke!  It was delicious too!   I’m sure I had a happy smile on my face, because she said she was going to look into it.  I didn’t expect anything more from it because they were busy and again, I figured she chalked me up to just a crazy person, I know I probably would!

Our meals came and I was impressed by the way they looked.

Starting with my mom’s meal, she had ordered a loaded baked potato.  The potato was, indeed, loaded, but more than that, you could tell how warm it was because the butter was melting down the side of it!   It made me almost regret getting steak fries it looked so good!

butter melting bacon sour cream

Texas Roadhouse Loaded Baked Potato

My steak and fries looked perfect.  I had ordered mine medium rare, which can be a crap-shoot at some restaurants, so I was hoping I would not be disappointed today. So far, other than the beverage, the food was spot on.  I ordered the bone in ribeye.  As you can see, it came out looking wonderful!  Bone-in Ribeye, Steak Fries, and a Coca-Cola, a winning combination!

Texas Roadhouse Bone-In Ribeye, Steak Fries, and Coca-Cola

The first thing I noticed was how well it cut.  It sliced through so easily I almost thought I missed the steak at first!  It was prepared perfectly.  The medium rare was visible, not too rare (which usually happens).  I bit into it and it was so full of flavor as well!  Perfect temperature, just enough flavor.  i was happy.  I would like to rave about the steak fries as well, but they were, well, just steak fries.  They weren’t bad, they were good, but compared to the steak and the look of my mom’s baked potato, I have to say, they were just good.

Funny story to go along with the meal, Rachel came back after serving the steaks to tell me a manager had gone to check the fountain and discovered someone had accidentally hooked up the Diet Coke syrup to the Coke! I had been redeemed!  I was not just a crazy person!  The manager was with her when they told me and we all laughed about it.  Mistakes happen, I’m just glad they followed through and actually checked it rather than just letting it go.  I wonder how many others were given the wrong drink and just didn’t say anything about it?

My mom said hers was really good as well.  She didn’t finish her whole steak and there was a roll  left over, so we took it home and I made her a steak and cheese slider with the roll the next day for lunch.  She was pretty happy with it!

Overall, a very nice experience.  There have been times in the past when Port Huron would get a restaurant and the quality or service wouldn’t be what you had come to expect from other locations, so I was pleased to see this Texas Roadhouse not only MET my expectations, but, honestly, superseded them!  Something you don’t expect with a chain restaurant.  I would highly recommend stopping in there if you live there or if you’re passing through on your way to Canada or just in the area.

Just remember, if the Coca-Cola doesn’t taste right, SAY SOMETHING!  Don’t suffer in silence!  🙂

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Is Darth Vader secretly a Dominant in BDSM – HaliPawz

Darth Vader is known worldwide.  Just the mere mention of his name and a clear image comes to mind.  I believe Darth Vader secretly is a Dominant in the BDSM world.

Let’s look at the facts.

He has an imposing presence.  He exudes confidence.  When he enters a room, eyes turn to him.  He is tall and well built.  Not to mention he wears all black very well.

Imposing Darth Vader

He is mysterious.  He wears a mask almost all the time.

He wears sexy, lickable boots. I am sure a submissive would be happy to lick and kiss those shiny boots any day.

He would definitely be into breath play. With is ability to force choke, he could choke a sub during play with no effort on his part.  He’d just have to be careful not to take it too far.

He is a complex and conflicted man.  Two traits you often see with a strong Dom.

His theme song is a march!  How easy it would be to punish someone to it’s beat (no pun intended!)

He likes his army to be clones, obeying his every command, responding without argument.  They know how to line up, how to wait for instruction. Just like a Dom, he doesn’t think enough of them to give them names; only two had names (I guess those would be considered the alpha subs!)

Darth Vader army

He loves power.

He likes to have a weapon in his hand and knows how to use it.

He is comfortable causing pain in others.

Let’s face it, Darth Vader is one badass who loves to be feared and respected and that is why I believe he is secretly a Dom in the BDSM world!

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Relationship Happiness; Someone else’s fairy tales – HaliPawz

Little girls love reading fairy tales.  They love the ending where the prince whisks the princess away and they live happily ever after.  The End.

Growing up, I was not one of those girls.  I didn’t believe in them.  My analytical brain would break them down, point out the flaws, and chalk them up to ridiculousness.  My mom tells me I never cared for them; even before I was reading.  I don’t really remember because I was reading chapter books by kindergarten. Reading has always been something I loved to do, just not fairy tales.  I remember reading a huge book of stories my mom had from when she was a child. I loved it. It was filled with great stories about children, animals, etc.  I could accept talking animals but not fairy tales.  It probably explains all my issues today!

Science is something else I am comfortable with.  Science made sense. “If this, then that” mentality works for me.  It helped me for so many years in the optical industry. I could hear a problem and work through it to find a solution for the patient.  It was one of the reasons I was great at optics.  I believe my love for science and my dislike for fairy tales is the reason I never jumped on the “sci-fi” bandwagon.

As an adult, I still shied away from believing in “Happy Ever After.”  I learned through years of hurt, disappointments, and relationship failures I was better off helping others than thinking I would find happiness. I accepted the path.  I’m ok with it.  I’m happy with who I am.  This is not a “woe is me” blog. The ironic thing is, I am GREAT at helping others with relationships.  I always point out to my friends and acquaintances who come to me, “you know I suck at my own relationships, are you sure you want to ask me?” They still ask, I still answer, and, I’m almost always right.  I hate when it’s bad news I’m delivering to them because I WANT to be wrong, but I know I’m not. I remember one time, I discussed the direction a friend’s relationship was going to take almost step by step.  She thought I was crazy. I broke it down to days…”within 2-3 days, he’s going to do this or say that”…and I was correct every step I said,+/- a day or two.  Those odds are great when it’s good news and a happy relationship, not so good when I’m delivering bad news.

Please understand, I WANT my friends and family to have happy, healthy relationships. Just because I know it’s not meant for me doesn’t mean I don’t want it for others.  I love solving problems, I love making others happy. I will spend two hours on the internet scouring website after website looking for the perfect gift for someone I care about. I do it, not so they acknowledge how great the gift is, but because I would be so appreciative if someone did it for me.  To let someone know you cared enough to spend time THINKING about them, knowing enough about them, and then finding something they might not have even realized existed, is the best feeling.  I may come across to some as cold-hearted, one close friend even refers to me as “The Cold Hearted Assassin” but I honestly love making people laugh, smile, or just happy.  It makes me happy.

In my twenties, I was recovering from a difficult divorce which left me with huge trust issues.  The day I signed my divorce papers I learned so many things about my ex-husband; I didn’t even know who he was. I could not believe I shared a home and a life with a man I didn’t even know.  He had repeatedly lied to me and I was clueless.  Was I really so naïve? I learned to just date.  Honestly, dating for me was almost like alcohol to an alcoholic.  It was always “one more” and I didn’t care.  I was on a path filled with hurt but I wasn’t willing to venture off the path because every time I did, it was met with someone else lying to me.

I started working at Sam’s Club in 2001 and switched focuses.  I was obsessed with moving up the company ladder.  I didn’t give up dating but it did slow down.  I even met someone I liked.  Thought there was a possibility of a real future.  I accepted a promotion which, sadly, would take me away from my family, but I accepted because he was going to move with me, except he didn’t.  It was one excuse after another, but bottom line, I didn’t care about the excuses, I just knew I was alone in a city I knew no one, and it was rough.  My Happily Ever After thwarted again.

I knew I wasn’t going to make the same mistakes though.  I wasn’t going to have a flavor of the week.  I was too busy, for one, and I wanted a more meaningful, deeper connection.  Sadly, I learned, Kansas City is NOT the city to be single in.  The number of men I met who would lie to your face, put you at the bottom of their priorities, or would just want to sleep with you but not date was astounding! Don’t get me wrong, I’d have relationships here and there, but they always ended, usually badly.

I started to see a pattern. Patterns are good for me.  My analytical brain loves to break down patterns, determine where the hiccup was, and try to establish a new pattern.  Some of the patterns became funny to me.  For example, there were a couple of guys who lingered and I don’t know why.  I didn’t leave the door open, I would say we were through, but it was almost like they had a sensor and whenever I had met someone and thought, hey, this might work, I would get a text or call from them.  I would honestly just chuckle about it. They NEVER seemed to understand, even when I would tell them I’m dating someone and I’m happy.  They would disappear and resurface months later. One in particular, I could almost use a text from him as a confirmation I had met someone new.   Maybe he secretly has my phone tapped.  Who knows? It is funny to me.

I say all this because I understand patterns. I would meet men who were unavailable and have some of the best friendships with them.  Perhaps it was because they were unavailable, I let my walls down and let them get to know the real me.  The hard part is, sometimes they would fall for me.  They loved my personality, they loved my passion for life.  I began to believe I was cursed.  Men I couldn’t have loved me, but I couldn’t find a man I could love.

I gave up.  I accepted the fact I was here to help.  I was here to love, but only as someone who loves others, not to be in love.  I was here to write about my pain, my problems, so others would know it isn’t always Happily Ever After and its ok! You can STILL be HAPPY.  Don’t let a relationship status define your happiness.

The irony of this whole blog is the timing.  I started this weeks ago after discussing with a friend my happiness and happy ever after philosophies.  But I just couldn’t finish it.  I got as far as the first two paragraphs and would stop and rewrite.

Then I did something I never do.  I prayed. As a Christian, I believe in God, or a higher spirit, I just don’t really believe in organized religion.  When I pray, I don’t ask for anything for myself unless it’s wisdom or guidance. I may pray for the right words for someone.  I just don’t pray for things to make myself happy.  This time I did. I figured, it can’t hurt.  Within two days, I met someone.  I felt drawn to him, to help him. Conversations escalated quickly and I knew I could help him but I was disappointed.  Here was someone falling for me but I wasn’t falling for him. Ok God, message heard loud and clear.  I’m only here to help.  To fix problems.  I was disappointed but it was ok.

God has a sense of humor, I honestly believe He does.  I think he toys with those of us he knows can handle it just to break up the drudgery of dealing with those who always need Him.  The Bible says we are created in the likeness of Him, well look at brother / sister dynamics.  Look at close cousins.   The teasing / picking on each other has to come from somewhere.

God loves to mess with me, I’m convinced.  A couple of days after meeting the one I felt needed help, I met the most amazing man.  He was the type you say, dang, I’d marry him tomorrow if he asked me, knowing deep down, he wouldn’t, because stuff like that only happens in fairy tales and Hallmark movies.  My point is, it crossed my mind.  I laughed it off.  Silly girl thoughts.

Only I couldn’t ignore it like I had before.  I couldn’t just blow it off. I am careful about emotions. I don’t like them, except happiness.  I don’t trust love because I bomb at love.  I hate being hurt because it makes me feel weak and a little sad because I end up running when I’m hurt.  I hate being sad because no one ever wants to be sad.  So happiness is the only emotion I try to allow myself.

Back to patterns and God’s sense of humor.  I have really liked a lot of people, but to say I have loved a lot? No.  I don’t like love.  I don’t trust it.  Anytime I think it could be a possibility, I reassess it or, in almost every case, the minute I EVEN think it, or mention it to someone, within 48 hours, something happens and it explodes.  Trust me, it’s not me sabotaging it, sometimes I don’t even do or say anything to the person and something happens.  I just chalk it up to God getting the person out of my life for me.

With everything I have shared, it may come as a surprise to you, and to me, when something happened just recently, something so sweet and touching, my heart melted and did a flip-flop.  Wait, what? No. Feelings don’t happen that fast for me.  Ugh! I wasn’t ready for it.

I know, this is where you are saying, Aww …yay! Happily Ever After DID happen for her!

I was processing everything and made a phone call to someone who knows me all too well.  My exact words to her were, “I don’t do love” to which she laughed at me then listened to my story.  After I finished, I said, it doesn’t matter now, because it will explode within 48 hours because I acknowledged feelings. She made me assure her I wouldn’t sabotage anything and just see what happened. I promised her.  I knew it wouldn’t matter.  I am not meant for relationship happiness.  I have accepted it long ago, the only difference this time is I wasn’t looking for it.  I had pretty much given up, so I hadn’t prepared myself.

So what happened you wonder? Sadly, the 48 hours passed.  The explosion occurred. It’s ok.  Does it make me sad? Yes, a little, because it affects one of my deepest desires.  Does it hurt? Yes, of course.  I think the worst part is my ability to feel the shift in the other person’s feelings.  It has always been something I have been gifted with, but when it’s directed at me, it is more painful.

At the end of the day, I will survive.  I will do what I always do.  I will strive to be the best person I can be.  I will strive to do the best job I can do.  I will continue to write and share my life, my feelings, and my journey.

I will love.

The End