Thursday, December 24, 2015

Granny’s Chicken and Dressing

MyMama was my cheerleader as I ran my first 5k this year.

MyMama doesn’t necessarily like to cook. However, growing up in the 80’s, we didn’t have the eat-out option like today. Therefore, Mama did her best to be creative. There will always be the story of the chicken pot pie that no one but I would eat (I was and always will be a Mama pleaser). She finally said, “Baby girl, don’t eat that.” It was thrown out and a neighborhood dog was rumored to have died that night. I didn’t think it was that bad, but Mama was teased forever about it.

Now when it came to the Holidays, everyone looked forward to ONE thing. MyMama’s dressing. It’s a mix-match of two recipes from BettyC with some variations to please the Moore-Tutt masses. I have even made a variation to please MyDaddy. Now that I am a mom with a family, this recipe is requested by my in-laws and daughter as well. Darling Daughter has asked before, “Is this Memaw’s dressing? Yes? Okay, I will eat it.” I made it this year for Thanksgiving and MyDaddy, who doesn’t usually request a repeat at Christmas, specifically asked for me to make him some more of my dressing.

I am posting it here for easy look up when I am traveling here or there or where ever I need to be for the holidays. Make it with LOVE, and it will be a hit with your family too.

Make the cornbread the night before to hurry things along.


2 cups milk
½ cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
2 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400. Grease the bottom and sides of a large skillet with butter (not included in the ingredients list).

I mix all the ingredients in a topper to a cake carrier because it is technically a double batch of cornbread. Beat milk, butter and eggs with mixer. Stir in remaining ingredients until moistened (lumpy). Pour into skillet.

Bake 20-30 minutes until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool overnight on a baking rack.


Boil 6-8 chicken thighs until cooked through. Let cool and remove the bones and skin.

Cornbread crumbled up
1 onion and 1 bunch of celery made to liquid in a Veggie Mixer
2 cups butter melted
4 ½ teaspoons salt
5 teaspoons sage
2 ½ teaspoons thyme
1 ½ teaspoon pepper
4 cans of chicken broth

In a large skillet, cook and stir onion, celery and butter for 5 minutes.

Stir in 1/3 of the bread crumbs.

Turn mixture into that same cake cover lid (largest bowl I own). Add remaining ingredients except chicken broth. Toss thoroughly.

Add chicken and broth to mixture.

Turn everything into a very large baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake at 400 until it is the desired consistency, stirring every 30 minutes (About an hour and a half).

Monday, September 21, 2015

RECIPE: Chicken Tortilla Soup

So with teeny, tiny tummy comes teeny tiny meals. The more protein you can pack in, the longer you feel full. Protein is your friend with gastric vertical sleeve. In my search for high-protein meals, I have experimented and either flew or fell. This was a fail for chicken tacos but seems to be a flight of fabulous for chicken soup!

I have been sick for a couple of weeks now (thank you allergies and rag weed). Well, despite my efforts, I still ended up with bronchitis. To make myself feel better, I was thinking chicken tacos. I don't know where I saw the ingredients and idea so forgive me if I have committed Internet theft of a really good idea that was yours.

I put the ingredients in the crockpot and let it commit its magic while I slept off my bronchitis. After a few hours, our home smelled like heaven. I went to check on the shredibility of the chicken. Each time I made a grab for the chicken breast, it just shredded itself back into the crockpot. With the liquid a plenty, I made a snap decision...tacos out, soup in. Husband friend ate his with a bed of tortilla chips and cheese.

Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup (Tortilla Optional)

  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 pkg. Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Powder
  • 1 pkg. Old El Paso Taco Seasoning
  • 1 pkg. McCormick's Chile Seasoning
  • 1 Box of Swanson's Chicken Broth
  • 1 Can of Black Beans
  • Your choice of soup vegetables; maybe some rotel tomatoes too!
Place first five ingredients in the crockpot on high. Cook till chicken falls apart. Add beans and vegetables. Cook for another hour. Serve hot over tortilla chips and cheese if desired.

8 servings at around 220 calories/serving

GVS buddies, I put just the soup in a ramekin to get my 1/4 cup (@110 calories). I skipped the chips and cheese.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

You Do You...I Am Doing Me

One Year Ago and Now.
Tonight at the Try-it Tuesday for the Lifetime Fitness 90-day Challenge, as we were waiting on the grocery store tour to begin (in a nutshell, shop the outside and avoid the aisles), one of the ladies recounted her weekend.

She told us of her "pity party" (her words, not mine) that she threw after seeing that she hadn't lost as much weight as most of the country in this Challenge. She lamented that her two, no three, okay four "bad" meals had led her to gain weight this week. I asked her why she was comparing herself to others. She remarked that she was highly competitive.

My advice is the same I give to everyone: If you aren't doing this for you, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons. If you are highly competitive, which I am not, then compete with yourself. If you lost one pound last week, then lose one and a half this week. If you only made it to the gym twice, shoot for three times. Can't hold that plank for 30 grueling, fire-in-the-belly seconds, then do it every day until you can.

Yes, I am doing this so that my daughter has a mother and my husband has a wife. I made this decision so that my parents don't have to say good-bye to another child too soon. Most importantly, I do this for me. I have life that wasn't there before. I love myself for the first time in my life...inside and out. You do you...FOR you. No one else has to live with your decisions more than you.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Losing to Win Update: One Year Since Decision

One Year Ago and Now
To say it's been a while since I blogged is an understatement. To help me get back in the groove, I am making a list of possible topics. For today, let's go with an update since my December post about weight loss surgery.


In August 2014, my family and I traveled to Mexico on vacation. At 332 pounds, I was devastated and embarrassed to have to request a seatbelt extension from the flight hostess. To further my devastation, my daughter Darby and husband Chad felt they had to make themselves as small as possible so that I would be able to be somewhat more comfortable traveling. Then while we were there, I wanted to parasail but was told by an awkward young man that I weighed too much to complete the expedition safely. The final insult to injury was, while I was able to slowly keep up with our traveling party wherever we went, I spent one day of vacation unable to leave the bed for the pain in my feet, back, and knees.

During this time, stuck in our room, missing out on vacation, I was reminded of a recent doctor’s appointment where my physician frankly told me that if I didn’t “do something” about my weight, then I would be lucky to have 10 more years with my family. We had lost my sister Gayla, 38, a few years earlier, and I could not hurt my parents, my husband and daughter, and my friends by dieing young too. I had seen that devastation and didn’t want to add to their misery. Then I did the math and realized that my daughter would only be in her 20s in the next decade! I would not leave her so early if there was something I could do to prevent it.

This line of thinking led me to also remember that my husband and parents had spent the better part of three years practically begging me to have bariatric surgery. I remembered being offended and insisting that I could do it on my own. I spent those years trying and failing to lose weight, exercise, and eat right. A little more math and I figured out that I had gained 110 pounds in less than a decade. How would I be able to lose what I had gained and 50 more in order to be considered a healthy weight?

The night after we returned from our vacation, I took a deep, shaky breath and told the love of my life, “I don’t want to die.” I asked if his offer to support me and care for me through bariatric surgery was still good. I had spent the day reading up on it and explained that our entire life would change. What we ate, what we did, everything would be altered.

This man, who will have my heart forever, embraced me and my decision, reminding that my body was not like a “normal” person. He said it “betrayed” me at every turn. I had sleep apnea and had to sleep with a machine to keep me breathing. I also suffered with high blood pressure, migraines, hypothyroidism, and high cholesterol. In the previous five years, I had been hospitalized three times for suspected strokes because my blood pressure was so high and migraines so tormenting.

From this conversation, there were the ones we had with my parents and our daughter. All were on board and ready to make this decision a reality. For my first information meeting, my husband had to travel for work so our daughter insisted that she would go with me. She said, “I want to know that this is the right thing for us to do.” The fact that she was involved and she said “us” sealed it for me. This is what I would do.

Dr. Roshek of The NicholsonClinic led the information meeting, explaining all options available. He also explained how most people gain weight back on regular diets because of a hormone ghrelin that made you think you were hungry, even if you weren’t. Dr. Roshek explained the statistics and surgery options so well that my daughter was able to enlighten her father about what to expect, even using air quotes when she explained the difference between the LapBand and the Gastric Sleeve—“Sure the Lap is ‘reversible’ in that the device can be removed but your stomach stays in that shape.” We chose the gastric sleeve option.

From this point we proceeded with Dr. Carlton and an exploratory EGD, which showed I also suffered with a hiatal hernia on top of my other ailments. I thought, “How have I survived this long much less the next 10 years?” Once we had a surgery date with Dr. Nicholson, I began to share the news with those closest to me. There were mixed reactions, but the people who mattered the most said, “If this is what YOU want, then you have my support.”

After surgery in December, there was time for healing. However, I figured out pretty quickly that walking made recovery so much better. I started walking. And walking. And walking. That got boring so I took it to the gym…a gym for which I had been paying for years yet using only sparingly, Lifetime Fitness. I found my trainer Aaron Frisvold and, one month after surgery, I joined Lifetime’s 90-day challenge at the encouragement of Aaron. I was elated the first time I ran a mile and ecstatic the first time I ran two miles. Aaron continues to motivate me to hit those Firsts. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that I had won the 90-day challenge!

Today we began the next 90-day challenge at Lifetime. I have every intention of winning this too. However, I feel like I am already a winner. I took on this life-long challenge and am a whole new person for it. In April, it was discovered that I no longer need blood pressure medicine. Shortly after that, I didn’t need the sleep apnea machine when I slept. By the end of May, I had hit the 100-pounds-lost milestone. The weight loss has slowed significantly, and I have turned to looking at my muscle definition and body mass index for the progress. Aaron gets excited about the number of calories the fancy scale says I burn because of my lean muscle.

In the beginning, I sported a 53 BMI. Today that was down to 35 BMI. To date, I have lost 120 pounds and have 42 left till I hit my personal goal weight of 170 pounds, a weight I could identify with being happy with my body. Also, at my last doctor’s visit, my thyroid looked good and my cholesterol was “normal.”

The most amazing thing that I have gained in all of this is self-confidence. For the first time in my life, I am proud of me, inside and out. I love the life that is blooming all around me. Chad and I greet each day for the adventure that is a life without the burden of being overweight and unhealthy. We have even adopted a weekly date night where he joins me at the gym. He has also discovered that he is a rock star at cooking healthy.

My gratitude overflows for everyone involved. To The Nicholson Clinic (Dr. Nicholson, Dr. Roshek, Dr. Carlton, Sandy, and Melody), thank you for your expertise and continued support. To Aaron and all the trainers at Lifetime, thank you for all of the high-fives and at-a-girls that keep me running and pumping that iron. To my friend Brandy, thank you for being my workout buddy and cheerleader. To my friend Sarah, thank you for all the loaner clothes and the encouragement. To my parents, thank you for the emotional and financial support to make this a reality. Thank you for reminding me that I am always your “pretty baby.” To my daughter Darby, thank you for reminding me that I have to love me as much as I love anyone else if not more. Thank you for demanding that I stick up for myself. To my darling Chad, thank you for making me admit that I needed help from everyone, for learning to cook healthy, and for being my biggest fan.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Losing to Win: Big Decision

In July, after returning from our Cancun vacation, I made the difficult decision to have weight loss surgery, specifically the gastric sleeve. I never wanted to see Darling Daughter and Husband Friend struggle to fly with me again, sharing their seat space with me. If I wanted to go parasailing, I didn't want the weight limit to prevent it. I didn't want struggle to keep up only to have my feet and legs and back suffer. 

I went to Husband Friend first. As soon as I voiced my wish, our future opened right before my eyes. I'd never realized I couldn't see glimpses of our future until then. We held a family meeting to let DD know and voice any concerns she might have. She added to our visions for the future. In fact, she insisted on going with me to the initial information meeting. The next call was to my parents who were giddy with support. 

Waiting for winter break was going to be the hardest part. After months of dreaming of the future, making a weight wish list, meetings, tests, counseling, battling a last-minute head cold, and insurance hoop jumping, I had the gastric sleeve procedure and hiatal hernia surgery yesterday (12/15/14). Overall pain hasn't gotten above a 7 in 24 hours. Dozing off while people are talking to me is distressing but everyone seems to understand. Sipping fluids every 15 minutes isn't too difficult. Walking every hour helps with soreness. There are so many medications that my mother and husband are creating a spreadsheet. 

I'm proud of how non-weenie I am being. This is going to be an amazing adventure!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Jackanapes

My favorite Jackanape!
I am a zookeeper, y'all! I specialize in Jackanapes.

The particular species I am currently keeping are the adolescent jackanapes. These are tricky critters, especially when they are socializing with others of their kind. The males are extremely physically social, touching and rough housing with all varieties of their kind. The males suggest the behaviors are friendly through smiles and call of laughter. The female jackanapes are rumored to negatively socialize with other females of the clan, ONLY when not observed. This indicates to this scientist that they are quite capable of reasonable thought. Now if we could train both male and female jackanapes to use their powers for Good!

I like my job. I used to love it when the jackanapes were pre-adolescent. The genuine curiosity of the world and their peers. Their honest desire for training and attention. I hear the infant jackanapes are even sweeter in nature. Mayhap I should transfer to a new zoo.

BTW, I asked my four-year-old nephew what it was that his Aunt J-Me does for a living. He responded without hesitation and with complete seriousness, "My Aunt J-Me teacher the kids at the school." That baby boy is the cutest Jackanape I know!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Inspiration

Reading before bed used to be my wind-down. I would escape the reality of the day and go on an adventure of the mind. More recently, I have joined millions of other escapees in the world of Pinterest instead.

Pin, pin, pin, I snag everything I see, leaving myself imbued with inspiration for how I will cook, crochet, craft, and clean my way through weekends, holidays, and summer vacation. If I had a dollar every time I gave advice that began, "I saw something on Pinterest that said..." I might be able to afford the materials for all the fun to be had.

Aunt J-Me's Top 10 Pins to Try:
  1. Fire starters for camping
  2. Laundry room make over
  3. Pool-side towel rack for camping
  4. Banana Pudding Poke Cake
  5. Pizza Grilled Cheese
  6. Glow in the Dark Path
  7. Tiered Planter with House Number
  8. Sign for my classroom door
  9. Crochet Parasol
10. Necktie Quilt

Share your favorite Pinterest find in the comments!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Howdy


a question we all answer "fine"
native understanding
less formal, we respond "good" or "okay"
hurly burly whoops

Wikipedia states, "Howdy is an informal greeting, commonly thought to have originated as a shortened form of the greeting "How do you do?" It was first recorded as part of the Southern U.S. dialect in 1840. Literature from that period includes the use of "How-do, how-do" as a greeting used by Native Americans when addressing Anglo settlers in greeting. The double form of the idiom is still found in parts of Texas as "Howdy, howdy". Without regard to etymological beginnings, the word is used as a greeting such as "Hello" and not, normally, as an inquiry."

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is, and always will be, for Gayla

Gayla's adventure in Mexico just two
weeks before she was gone. I always find it
ironic that I worried for her safety there, and she
was at home heading for a pedicure when we lost her.
I dream of Gayla at least once a week now. Sometimes we are back in college as roommates; mostly she has a cameo at the end of whatever drama my brain is working through. No matter the dream, I beeline for sister and tackle her in a hug, much like I did when she would come home from school when we were little girls, sharing a bedroom on Ellen.

It has been a little more than two years since that distracted truck driver took Gayla from us. I genuflect and thank God she did not suffer. Then I shake my fist and scream in agony, "WHY!?!"

Sister on the night of her
20th High School Reunion

Grief is bipolar like that. In the same instant that I am thankful for all He provides, I will stomp my
feet and feel the surge of CRAZY that wants to escape and pummel all that played a part in my beloved sister's demise. If it weren't for my 'Rents, Hubby Dearest, and Darling Daughter (and the 70 kiddos who expect me to teach them each day), I would allow this grief to suck me in. However, Gayla would be angry at that so I soldier on. I occasionally let the crazy hang out for a minute or two and pretend Sister's stay in witness protection will end soon and life will be good again.

February 1975, one of our first pictures together

February 2011, our last picture together

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Finger Paint

It's spring in Texas so you better enjoy these fabulous two weeks when the fulgent sun doesn't turn your backyard into the 80s version of the easy bake oven. Each afternoon, I emerge from my classroom with no windows and want to embrace that radiant globe by doing something child-like. Today I chose to ... FINGER PAINT! What do you do to embrace your inner kiddo?