Great Purse and Backpack Organizer

I purchased this felt insert for my purse and it has been a lifesaver. I got tired of digging around in my open totes unable to find things quickly and I love this purse organization. I’ve even used it in other purses, bags and backpacks even for organizing my camera lenses when traveling as well. It even comes in all different sizes and colors

So, I thought I would share it.

I recently became an Amazon affiliate and since I have to stay home now due to health issues I’m trying new things and ways to be creative. But, I sure would appreciate it if you use my link to purchase.

And just so you know, I will ONLY share those things me and my family like or use ourselves. 😊

Link: https://amzn.to/2MMnB5h.

I get a really small commission, just a few dollars really, but every little bit helps!👍🏼 Thanks!

Here’s my video review showing how it works.

They make great gifts too. 🎁

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Big Sky

I pulled over to take this pic after going up to an appointment for my mom. I call it “Big Sky”.😍

Yummiest and Easiest Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese (gluten free)

Ok, I happen to be a person who actually likes cauliflower. But all my life, I have LOVED macaroni and cheese. I could’ve solely lived on it actually. (Well anything with cheese.) 🧀🧀

But I’m also now trying to avoid gluten in dealing with this Sjogren’s and Lyme Disease. Sooooo I thought this might be a good combo and away I went with experimentation. 👩‍🍳

My husband is the official taste tester around here and if he says a recipe I come up with is delicious, like this cauliflower mac-n-cheese, then I publish it!👌🏼😁

And we BOTH really loved this, so we hope you do too!

Ingredients:

1 Head of cauliflower

1 Block of softened cream cheese

2 Cups sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 Cup parmesan cheese (opt)

1 Pint of heavy whipping cream

2 T. Plain Greek yogurt (optional) or sour cream

5 Strips of thick bacon (diced) or 1-2 (3 oz. pkgs) of “real” bacon bits

Panko bread crumbs

Seasonings: Black pepper, garlic powder, salt, smoked paprika, sriracha hot chili sauce. (To taste… but let me tell you, the more seasonings the better, in my opinion.😁 I’m kind of the seasoning queen, ha. )

Directions:

Chop up the cauliflower. Then boil till it is slightly tender. Drain the water. Mix all the above ingredients except the cauliflower and melt together on stovetop lastly add in the cooked bacon or bits. (But also save back some cheese and bacon bits for toppings.) Place everything in a baking dish and cover with bread crumbs, more shredded cheese, bacon bits and finish with sriracha hot chili sauce.

Finally, broil till everything is lightly browned and crispy on top. 😋

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 🥄🥄

This is not a sponsored post, but I did find everything at ALDIS…Love ALDIS!

Travel to Virginia (Battle of Bull Run, Jamestown, and Virginia Beach)

Recently, I decided to leave with my husband on his business trip to Manassas, Virginia. A lot has happened these last 5 months, with mom’s stroke, then my surgeries, just life issues always coming at us, and even though I was fighting pain and trying to walk, I was so over this cold weather and really needed a change of scenery, so we decided to go for it. We hesitated whether to drive or fly but ended up having to drive. (At least I could get out to stretch and could wear a tens unit without TSA thinking I was packing a bomb. 😁)

In my husband’s 30 yrs, he hadn’t been to this particular city and was meeting with a new company. So, we decided that it might be nice to also drive a little further to Virginia Beach, after his meetings, just to check out the area.

We have been part of a ministry, for many years, called Operation Blessing that gives to those in need here and overseas, and had watched some beautiful testimonies through the years on the Christian Network CBN. So, we also thought it’d be interesting to visit the studios as well as see Regent University there. The campus was beautiful with it’s colonial style buildings and brick paved pathways.

Video of the campus here: https://youtu.be/dlHcI_kGA2k

We knew the weather wouldn’t be as warm as we would like but the two full days we had there (in Virginia Beach) still were warmer than at home.

There happened to be a St. Patrick’s Day marathon run (along the boardwalk) that we could view from our balcony, and we also enjoyed some great seafood while there. We even visited our first Trader Joe’s where we picked up a few things. The employees were so helpful there!

The wind was pretty fierce when we first arrived, and we were pelted with sand as we tried walking along the boardwalk. I noticed horses along the beach and felt sorry for them.

When we first arrived, we heard, then felt, the thunderous jets flying overhead from the nearby Oceana Naval Air Station.

This is where fighter jet pilots are trained and boy what a rush it was hearing them fly overhead, one right after another. Since my husband works for the Navy, later on, we decided to go on the base to view some of those jet fighters.

We also viewed many a ship using the ocean like a highway.

Each day there were large cargo ships lined up along the horizon; more than we’ve ever seen on any coast.

On the last night, I managed to catch some magnificent sunsets with the sky continually changing by the minute.

Since the trip came up rather suddenly, we hadn’t realized that major Civil War battle sites were literally 7 minutes from our first hotel in Manassas, VA. Both the first and second battles of Bull Run took place here.

The grounds provided some beautiful views stretching out to the horizon and it was sobering to think how many lives were lost on the very land we were walking. There was a free museum there as well as a self guided driving tour. We got out at one point and walked a few miles down a trail noticing points of interest.

I thought it was interesting that the northerners had a different name for the battle than the southerners.

Wiki: The First Battle of Bull Run (the name used by Union forces), also known as the First Battle of Manassas[1] (the name used by Confederate forces), was fought on July 21, 1861 in Prince William County, Virginia, just north of the city of Manassas and about 25 miles west-southwest of Washington, D.C. It was the first major battle of the American Civil War.”


And it was just sad to think that this war cost some 3,000 Union casualties, as well as 1,750 Confederate deaths.


Later, as we drove away from Manassas, I mentioned to my husband I thought Jamestown might be near. I looked down at the map and realized we were then only 20 minutes away, so we took a slight detour and at last minute, toured the Jamestown settlement. Again, I learned many facts I had not realized before.

Check out our Jamestown video link here:

https://youtu.be/IPCVR6xrSqI

So, we saw a lot for the short time we were there and our 12.5 looong drive home took us more southerly through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and Smokies. Then, we came home to find our refrigerator had gone out, again, like it had 7 years ago. What a welcome home. 😞

*For more travel videos and pics across the country, check out our YouTube Channel: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCB07TgWeL-brVsLv–C7yYA

or see Instagram highlight video “Midwest to VA” : @Thentherestwo

My Valentine to the Readers

Even if you don’t have that special valentine today, or you are feeling sad and low… I, even a stranger to you, want you to know that someone DOES love you and saw you before the beginning of time. You are important; you were designed to come into this world, you have something to add, and you are still here for this purpose.

Be you…but be kind.

Don’t listen to naysayers.

Dig deep.

Keep going.

Happy Valentine’s Day❣️

 Psalm 139:15-16 (NLT) – “You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”

Fall in the Midwest

This past fall was some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve had here in Indiana for a few years. I did a lot more driving up through southern Indianapolis, Danville, Mooresville, and Plainfield due to the sad fact my mom had a stroke in October. She is fairly young and went in for a rather routine heart cath and stroked. (The odds were less than 1/2 percent.) All our lives changed that day.

I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it completely. When you see someone go from totally functional, driving, etc.. to needing help with everything and their mind just not all there…well, I still think I’m in shock. It all happened within an hour. It wasn’t a slow degredation, nor something we saw coming and could attempt to prepare ourselves for as we did with my husband’s father. He dealt with Parkinsons. It has just been a lot in such a short time with sudden adjustments.

Not only is mom dealing with a severe stroke, but they also found her heart to only be working at 25%. (According to her doctors, this heart thing could’ve been going on for years.) She had already been dealing with severe, undetermined pain for decades, along with pain from fibromyalgia. So, my poor mom has been through A LOT, and having entered that arena of severe pain, especially these last ten years myself, I am realizing just how REALLY TOUGH my mom truly is!!

Mom was over an hour away from us; first in the hospital, ICU, then went on to a rehab facility. So, I had a lot of time to drive and think. As I drove (and prayed), I thought of how much my mom would’ve loved these vibrant colors. She LOVES fall. She used to paint, and I thought she would’ve loved painting all this beautiful color!

While on the road, I positioned my camera to catch some of the fall foilage. (You may have already seen some of my IG photos.)

But here’s some of my video links: Driving through the Indiana countryside.

Driving the new I69 from Bloomington, IN up through Martinsville.

AND my YouTube channel: thentherestwo

I’m not a professional by any means but someday maybe my grandkids will see the clips along with everything the grandparents were up to. 😉

Garlic Buttered Shrimp and Asparagus

When I was younger, you couldn’t get me to eat ANY kind of seafood. None. Nada.

The thought of going to Red Lobster after church…just yuck.

I think it had something to do with the fact my dad used to take me fishing with him out on Balboa Bay in California. We used to be out for hours trying to catch fish…many a time we caught seagulls. 🎣 They’d sweep down and pick up our bait as the line was spinning out into the sky. Oh, the memories. But during those long hours of baiting, and smelling stinky fish all while drinking V8 out in the heat of the day, 🤢 well, it just seared it in my brain. “NO, YOU WIll NOT LIKE SEAFOOD!” 🐟🐠🦑🦐🦀

And I didn’t for many many years.

Then, somewhere between high school and college I was asked pleaded with (more than once) to try fried shrimp, and I actually “tolerated” it. (I think because it was fried, so I barely tasted anything seafoodish.) I later graduated on to trying grilled shrimp and scampi.

It was a big leap for me. 😂 I guess anything with garlic and butter on it has resonated with me.

So, here I am. Now sharing my own shrimp dish. Unreal.

But this turned out better than I would’ve thought as I’ve literally only made shrimp twice in my life. It met the hub’s satisfaction, so it’s going on the blog. 🙂

You will need:

1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp (Yes, I actually did this myself..I know!😱)

Olive oil to coat your pan

5 cloves of crushed Garlic (or jarred minced garlic can be used.)

1 stick of butter

Salt

*Red pepper flakes

*Smoked paprika

1 & 1/2 Lemons

*Parsley

*Asparagus cooked


*optional items

Instructions:

In a hot skillet, add olive oil just to smoking temperature. Next, add in the shrimp, constantly tossing till slightly pink (roughly a minute) and then add in your garlic and red pepper flakes (small amt) turning everything for about another minute being careful not to burn seasonings. Add butter to your liking. (If your butter is salted no need to add salt.) Add paprika, and finish with chopped parsley and lemon juice. You just want to toss your shrimp till they turn a darker pink and curl slightly. I then added steamed asparagus mixing it all together and added a bit more of the seasonings also more lemon juice. (This is all to taste.)

It assure you it will be delicious! 👌🏼

Just ask my hubby and this shrimp 🦐 eatin’ gal now. 😉

What is your favorite seafood and where would you like to be eating it about now? We just got a snowstorm, so I vote Hawaii!

Items to buy:

I love my pan: https://amzn.to/2DkT2Ar

Peeled & Deveined shrimp: https://amzn.to/2MoNqbC

WOK: https://amzn.to/2Cv7l3W

Chicken Salad Recipe

We recently bought some organic chicken breasts on sale and cooked them on the grill. They were so large, we had a lot of chicken left over, and I thought hmmm…what else can I make out of this chicken? 🤔 I remembered I used to make chicken salad often and hadn’t made it in a long time.

We just had a snowstorm overnight and since my hubby was preparing to watch the Colts playoff game, he asked if I’d make him some sandwiches.

Every time I’ve made chicken salad, it has turned out differently adding or omitting different ingredients.

But, I did my best to try and keep track of all the ingredients as I used them today. (You know me, I rarely follow a recipe, never measure anything, and just throw stuff together. 🤪)

Ingredients:

3 large, diced chicken breasts

Red grapes halved

1 diced boiled egg

4 diced celery stalks

3 diced green onion stalks

Mayonnaise as needed (I used low fat.)

Seasonings: onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and fennel. (But you could use just about anything you want.)

Instructions:

I previously seasoned the chicken and grilled it. You could also boil your chicken, use canned chicken, or make things really fast and simple and go buy a rotisserie chicken.

Next, I cut the chicken up smaller to make it easier to add to the food processor. And, I added a little mayo to help it break down easier.

Food Processor: https://amzn.to/2TVcnh9

After the chicken was the consistency I wanted, I added it to the bowl of diced celery, green onions, and egg and added about a cup more mayo till it was even creamier.

I then added the seasonings to taste and that was it!

You could even add walnuts, cranberries, or apples to your chicken salad. Initially, I thought about using sweet pickle relish until my husband requested grapes. There’s really 1 million ways you could make it. Ok not a million, but you get it.

My hubby loved it and wanted his chicken salad on Hawaiian bread. He’s presently waiting for the Colts to play in this snow. (They’re one game away from the AFC Championship game.) 🤞🏼

As for me, I went gluten free, so mine was on top of greens. 👌🏼 Once again, my chicken salad was a different recipe, but oh so good!!

Don’t Be Demanding During the Holidays

As the holidays roll around, I often talk with people and hear about how stressed they are trying to please their family members at this time. It makes me reflect on family dynamics and why people act the way they do, or get so bent out of shape at this time of year. I just heard a lady (while at the hair salon) speaking about how she works SO hard, is super busy, then has to cook a huge meal while off work…yadda, yadda, yadda, BUT this year she was choosing to stay home, just her and hubby, and she thought it sounded glorious. Why is the holiday season SO stressful for us…women, especially?

I believe it’s because some family members have preconceived expectations about how things should go. I hear friends say that their family members don’t understand their hectic life or work schedule, that they always are the one to cook and never get help, they mention they don’t get much time with one side of the family over another, or they ate 3 huge meals in one day just to please everyone. Geeze!

Why can’t people talk with each other and just be honest explaining their reality like grown ups should be able to?

As I grow older, I reflect on these situations and have created a series of posters entitled, “The older I get…” All are observations I’ve had while talking to people or while encountering certain social situations.

So, my own kids are now married. And I refuse to be that parent that pressures them (silent or not) into feeling they have to meet my needs or be somewhere that causes them undue stress. I don’t want to apply that kind of pressure to anyone! I haven’t liked it myself, in the past, and I don’t want it for them. No holiday, or get together is worth that feeling of guilt, or the added stress of trying to please everyone. You can end up resenting family holidays. I mean, even if it doesn’t seem fair at times, I refuse to put that pressure on my family because I’ve seen what that kind of hurt can do to relationships. It causes problems or misunderstanding for years! And I don’t want that! I want my family to visit me because they love me and want to be around me. I don’t want anyone feeling stressed over trying to make an engagement because they fear my disapproval. That’s not love, nor dying to one’s rights, nor is it even enjoyable when they do show up because it’s begrudgingly. Am I right?

I have seen so many family splits over such stupid nonsense.

I know of occasions when my own mother felt she didn’t have an adequate home (not completed due to constant remodeling nor enough beds for everyone), and she would ask if I could house family coming in from out of state. That really never bothered me because I liked hosting them and just being together all in one place was fun to me, and it brought joy to my parents. However, I always felt bad mom worried about many a holiday season. She wanted things to be just perfect, nice and cozy, creating good memories for grandkids she wasn’t able to visit with all that often, and I understood that. But, to be able to just do what you can, and be okay with that, and everyone giving grace to each other and just being thankful to be together…that would be more enjoyable. That’s what truly mattered, still does.

So, you can’t make it one year, or you’re cramped and everyone sleeps on the floor, or you’re not a good cook, so you get takeout, or you can only buy a few gifts…no biggie. It’s really not important and it’s sad people don’t realize that sooner. We really need to let go of OUR wants, OUR expectations, OUR needs, and try to put ourselves in the OTHER person’s shoes.

Not everyone has the same upbringing, not everyone celebrated Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas the way you did. Not everyone understands your traditions, norms, or your family’s customs. And guess what? That’s perfectly fine. We all are unique. We were all raised differently. And that’s okay, too! There is no perfect way to do things. Why do we think everyone should be like us, do like us, sound like us, think like us, celebrate like us or just conform to our ways? The way “we’ve always done it!!”

Life is a mix. A mix of people…ideas, wants, and needs. We all need to just chill and learn to enjoy one another because time is shorter than we even realize, even at this moment.

I’ve seen many a family go through extreme crisis, and I bet they would tell you that just being with their special loved one, doing nothing extraordinary, or having any great plans would be just fine. Letting go of any differences. In fact, I would bet they would be happy to just let go of everything and just be.

Be present.

Because, being there in the moment with their loved one, would be gift enough. ❤️

Saddened by the Disrespect Shown to Another Young Soldier (Repost 5/26/17)

uncle-terry-recent

After recently visiting my Uncle’s grave, I was upset to hear, once again, about another young man who lost his precious life.

Another son had died.

In a foreign, far away place.

He fell as a soldier wearing the United States uniform, and now, his parents were bringing him home.

And the reactions of the plane’s passengers made me sick.

VERY SICK and VERY ANGRY!

The article describing the incident here.  

I wanted to cry. I felt horrified to think other human beings could be so calloused. Americans, at that!

I couldn’t even fathom this lack of respect, nor comprehend such a show of self-centeredness or whatever they thought they were trying to achieve.

What causes a person/people to treat a grieving family with such disdain?

What has happened to our America?

I tried to place myself in that family’s shoes; that frozen moment in time they will NEVER forget…

My heart was heavy for them.

But how can my heart be SO different from those that were on that plane?


My family is also familiar with this pain. They could tell you of profound grief.

We, too, lost a young soldier in Vietnam many years ago.

Terry3

He was escorted home, finally.

It just happened to be decades after being listed as Missing in Action. (MIA)


It was the 60s and the Vietnam War was raging. My Uncle Terry had volunteered just as his two older brothers had.

Marine family of uncles, dad, and brother

He was part of a helicopter crew, rescuing the wounded when his helicopter was shot down.

Some of the men were thrown from the fiery crash, but Terry was never found.

We always wondered what the full story was.

Terry5

Then, in 1993, some Vietnamese farmers came forth with items from a crash. And the story began to unfold.

Forensics were then confirmed in Honolulu, and my brother–then a young Marine himself– escorted Terry’s remains home.

Terry could’ve been buried at Arlington. However,  the family thought it best to teach a community (and the younger generations) a valuable lesson.

A lesson we feared was being lost, not really taught in schools much anymore.

Not just one lesson, but many:

That war was cruel.

Kids were still dying to this day.

That we should be there to support families, help where needed, and invite a military family over for the holidays.

(You know, just be a good human.)

That this could have been anyone’s son or daughter.

And there were other countries losing their people, DAILY, due to lack of freedom with many picking up rifles to enter war as children.

Most importantly,

that freedom had a price. Always has, always will.

A HUGE price.


So, on that hot and humid July 4th, Terry’s high school gym was packed out.

He was remembered for his talented football skills, and his kind, gentle ways.

Terry1

His ultimate sacrifice recognized.

Our family, once again, was left with distant memories.  Terry’s parents (my grandparents) had wounds reopened all over again.

Terry4

People lined the streets, kids waved flags, and many a biker rode in from the surrounding states to finally return their MIA bracelets.

It was a memorable sight to see them piled high, on the floor, near my grandparents’ feet. It had to be so hard for them.

The news crews were there to capture it all.

The flag-draped coffin.

The thunderous flyover that moved you to your core.

The caisson; a solemn reminder as it passed through town to the beat of a sole drum.

COMPLETE RESPECT was shown that day.

Tragically, for this other family on the plane…

that didn’t happen.

There wasn’t much, if any, shown.


My Uncle Terry didn’t get to finish college.

Terry 2

And I sometimes wonder what his life might have looked like.

What would’ve been his hobby to tinker with?

Who would he have married? How many kids would he have?

He wasn’t able to marry, have kids or enjoy a weekend with family.

(Just to have another day to show his own thankfulness.)

No, he CHOSE to leave a comfortable life to help in a far away land.

He wanted to show his loyalty.

He wanted to make sure we were ALL afforded continued freedom.

Simply put…HIS MOTIVES were PURE.

USMC, Marine soldier's gravestone


If I had been on that plane, I can tell you…

I could NOT have sat there silently!

I KNOW, that I would’ve stood to speak for that family.

I KNOW, I would’ve cried with that family.

I KNOW, I would’ve tried to apologize to that family.

AND, I would’ve thanked them and made it clear that this is not the totality of America that my Uncle, nor their son, gave their lives for!!


Find a military family to reach out to.

Reach out to a grieving widow, a cop, a neighbor…the lonely and under appreciated in your community.

Compliment your local worker.

Invite someone over for the holidays.

Say a prayer for others.

Just show some kindness, some thankfulness.

Bridge the gap(s).

Teach your kids.

Show some honor and respect.

I know my Uncle Terry would have,

if he could.


* For Terry’s documented military story two accounts are listed below:

http://www.vhpa.org/KIA/incident/68081999KIA.HTM

❤️🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸

http://www.hmm-262combatvets.org/hoffmann_memorial.htm


Link to:The United States Marine Corps

Written in honor of Terry who would have turned 72 Feb. 4th.💗

Show some thankfulness this Thanksgivingposter.