Saturday, February 28, 2009

Workshop Recovery Mode - Activate

Due to the INSANE FLASH FLOOD that came outta nowhere, three of my students didn't show up. However, I still had seven students and we had a good time. It was hard to make it through the class and I couldn't seem to get my thoughts together, but my students encouraged me and told me that I was a great teacher. I love my students. :)

As usual, I can barely walk. My body hates me for doing any kind of activity, so teaching a four hour class and being on my feet for six really knocks me for a loop. There is no way that I could teach classes back to back, or even one day after the other. Every two weeks seems to be about all that I can handle, but I am in the process of adding another Saturday so that will have me teaching three times a month...twice at Hobby Lobby in Mobile and once at the Rec Center in Mississippi. Which Rec Center is still being determined, but it's looking like I will either move to Moss Point or resume in Pascagoula. I'm desperately behind on bills and can't afford basic necessities at this point, so I am praying that this will work out and that I will be able to physically do this. Ultimately, I need to teach four or five workshops a month. Maybe someday.

A bigger update is coming soon...probably tomorrow night. With pics. :)

But for now...nighty night.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Initiation


I never told y'all about my first morning at my new place in the country...

I woke up bright and early the day after Thanksgiving, with an optimistic spirit. I am a city girl at heart but thankful that I had a roof over my head, even though the country isn't exactly where I wanna spend my days. I'm grateful. I thanked the Lord and told Him that I would make the best of my new circumstances. I walked into the kitchen to find a VERY LARGE spider on the floor. Ok, I have spiders in my new kitchen...fine. I can deal with them. Smashed the spider and went on my merry way.

I opened the door to find five fat stray cats on the doorstep waiting for breakfast.

I shooed them away so I could go out to my car, and when they moved, I opened the door to a mouse head. Yep, just a head.

Oh but wait...following the head was a nice big puddle of mouse guts. Faaaabulous.

I closed my mouth and prayed not to gag as I stepped carefully OVER the beheaded remnants of mouseness. I said to myself "OK God, I know you have a sense of humor. But really...is this initiation into my new country surroundings really necessary? Yes? Ok, fine. I can deal. Happy to be here."

At that moment, I stepped off of the porch, FACE FIRST INTO A BIG FREAKING SPIDER WEB. As you can imagine, the spider was just as freaked out as I was. And I could practically hear God laughing...

God: WELCOME TO THE COUNTRY, KELLI!

Me: Um, yeah...THANKS.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Easy Herb Crusted Tilapia

My easy herb crusted tilapia is made of pure love.

Or at least it appears to be...heh! It's shaped like a heart! :)



Two or three tilapia filets
1/4 cup naturally white whole wheat flour
1 tbsp Mrs. Dash garlic and herb
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp dill
1/4 cup canola oil

Combine flour with Mrs. Dash, onion powder, and dill
Cover both sides of tilapia in flour mixture (I use my hands to press the mix onto the tilapia so it will stick)
Fry in oil for approximately 4 minutes on each side or until done

Such a quick meal...takes about 10 minutes. Thank you Mrs. Dash.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

101 in 1001 update, and more...

#49 - Cook for Uncle Melvin


DONE!


I made blueberry multigrain pancakes, eggs, and toast. He said it was very good. I've offered to make lunch also for the past couple days but he's getting around well and is pretty much doing his own thing. He prefers independence. The doc said his foot looks good, just swollen.

I was planning to volunteer at a church in Mobile today, but they never called or emailed me to schedule anything. So I've been working on my charity project. It's coming along very well and I'm about half done. Have to get a few supplies next Saturday before I can finish, but it will be done by early March.

Hard to believe March is almost here already. My birfday is right around the corner.

Yes, I said birfday. I was influenced by In Living Color as a child. I also use the line "Homey don't play that" more often than I would like to admit.

But you didn't hear that from me, mmmk?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bob Ross Workshop Update

Just updated my Bob Ross Workshop page with photos and more! Clicky!



My experience at Hobby Lobby couldn't be better. I had a packed class yesterday, and will have another full class on the 28th. If interest grows, I may have to double my schedule! No clue how I would physically handle that, but I'm gonna do what I gotta do and see how it works out!

In other news, one of my paintings that was on display in the store is MISSING! Nobody knows what happened to it. I don't know whether to be upset or flattered! Haaaaaa!

*Goes to see if it's for sale on eBay*

Saturday, February 14, 2009

On this Valentines Day, I would like to profess my undying love for babies, puppies, and CHEESE! :-D

And cereal. And sleep. And Panera Bread. And music. And babies again. And did I mention cheese?


And Florida. And happy trees!!! And Italian food...Greek food...um...ok just food.


And Hershey's chocolate. And hummus. Oh wait...that's food too.


And road trips. And charity work. And my wonderful, beautiful friends!!! Ok that's all. Oh wait...sweet precious BABIES!!!!!!!


And cheese.

The end. :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Embracing Aloneness

I was going to write something heart-tugging today. I am supposed to be working on an essay for a friend who is writing a book on overcoming abuse. And this also being what used to be my anniversary, I have many thoughts.

But words...fail me.

So for now, I'm sporting my awesome Eeyore pajamas, snacking on a butterfinger (albeit, sugar free), and basking in the fabulousness that is singlehood!

I wish all of my beautiful friends, single, married, and everything in between a happy Valentines Day, and EVERY day.

*LOVE*

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Remembering Dad: Apr 5, 1950 - Feb 11, 2005




On February 11, 2005 at approximately 9pm, I received a call from my brother Layton that Dad had fallen over and wasn't getting up. In my mind I was imagining him on the floor, awake and talking, with a hurt back or a possible stroke. I immediately jumped in my car and drove to Grand Bay to find my family crying and my Dad on his bed, lifeless. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest in an instant, as if oxygen was being sucked out of my body as I struggled to take a breath. But I was still alive, left to feel the shock and the pain.

As I sat there with him by the bed, my life flashed before me as I thought about his. He was the lone survivor of a dozen babies in his community who were stricken with Polio. Told that he would never walk again, my family rallied together and worked with his legs day and night in order to strengthen them. Miraculously, he began walking with the assistance of braces on his legs. In elementary school, he was bat boy for the local softball team. Eventually the braces came off, and although he walked with a severe limp, he didn't let it stop him. He danced, he played softball, he worked full time at Chevron Pascagoula Refinery, and he had seven children. His motto was "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger".

People often say that you are either a lover or a fighter. My Dad insisted on being both.

So now, four years later, I think about my brothers and sisters. Dad was very involved in their lives, and it hurts me that they have been robbed of that. But my brothers and sisters are amazingly strong and wonderfully special people. My brothers are the most sensitive, considerate, protective, and loving men I have ever known. My sisters are strong-willed, thoughtful, passionate, and extremely talented. I have learned something from all of my brothers and sisters, and I am so very proud of them. Each one of us have been through the wringer as a family and in our individual lives. We know tragedy, pain, and hard times very well. But by the grace of God and our own stubbornness, we walk through these dark valleys, believing that it is all a part of a plan...a blueprint that shapes our lives and makes us who we are.

People often say that you are either a lover or a fighter. We insist on being both.


May all who read this today be encouraged to stand strong, be grateful for all that you have, live well, laugh often, love each other, and embrace life.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

To embrace life is to truly live
Never taking more than what you give

Listen to the sound of a rushing wave
Sit at the park and watch children play

Rejoice when a newborn baby cries
Weep with a friend when their loved one dies

Cherish the dawn of each new day
Choose to see the world in a different way

Sacrifice to help your fellow brother
Live well, laugh often, and love each other

Never taking more than what you give
To embrace life is to truly live


~KB © 2008

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Meet Bob!



This is Bob. He's crazy.

Since I moved in, Bob has taken a liking to my car. Ok it's a little more than a liking...it's an obsession. He sits on it daily. And when he's not sitting on it, he's sitting BY it. And when he's not sitting by it, he's rubbing up against it. He sprayed it today, and wouldn't budge when I tried to move him out of my way so that I could clean out my car. He also doesn't want to budge when he's sitting on it, even after I start my car. He waits until I actually start pulling out of the driveway and then he conveniently falls off...feet first, of course. He made his way INTO my car one day, and it took an act of God and Congress to get him out of it. He cussed me up one side and down the other, in catspeak of course. In this pic, he's having an afternoon snack, but his eyes are fixed on the car. Bob needs therapy.

And he's crazy, too.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Changes

As you can see, I made some major changes to my template. I think the background was a little too overwhelming, and the header on the top left side was bugging me. So here we go...new header (which still needs work but it will do for now) and a nice, quiet background. Can you breathe a little better now? I can. Ahhhhhh.

Still in bed, not up to par yet but hoping to be feeling better tomorrow. I got some sleep during the day yesterday as well as today, and will hopefully get a little more throughout the night. I function so much more efficiently when I've gotten some real sleep, and I had not gotten any for a while, so my body freaked out. It seems to be the "norm" for me, I hate to say, but I'm not going to give up on finding a solution. I can't.

In other news, I finally gave in and joined Twitter. Username is the same as always, ugottafriend. Feel free to add me, although I'm really not all that exciting. I guess Twitter will be my place for short-winded thoughts, as opposed to my blog which is quite the opposite, no?

Big congratulations go out today to my friends Tony and Andrea on the birth of their new daughter, and to Robin on her new grandson!!! Babies rule!!!

I guess that's all for now. Time for more meds, and maybe a snack.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunshine in the darkness

I'm back on the heavy stuff again...the meds the doc prescribed for my worst days, and lots of menthol pain patches wherever I can find a place to stick them. I wish I could make people understand this pain. Heck, I wish *I* could understand it. My entire body is screaming. There is just no other way to describe it. I feel like I'm carrying an elephant...I'm just so heavy. Through the night I switched back and forth between praying and crying, until I didn't have the strength to do either one anymore. I dozed off but couldn't be still and I woke myself up moaning...something that I do often these days. I cannot escape it. Even with sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and pain pills, there is no relief in sight. I had to go to the store this morning to buy some OTC meds and a part for my walking cane, and I almost had to ask for help because I couldn't lift my arm to the shelf to pick up a box of cereal. I walked in slow motion towards the front of the store, and the greeter saw me and brought me a shopping cart to lean on. Needless to say, my quality of life is rather poor at the moment. Regular every day living that is so easily taken for granted is but a dream to me. And let's not mention the agony involved in simply wearing a bra. Yeah, let's not talk about that.

I do what I can to distract myself from it. I spend a great deal of time online, reading stuff and connecting with people. And of course, I blog all over the place. I have made a habit of finding a reason to laugh every day, which usually leads me to the funny website that I mention often, posting funny animal photos on a weekly basis. Humor has become a life jacket for me. It is absolutely necessary to my survival.

As is music, which since the day I was born has been a source of security for me. At birth I was given a little musical sunshine that played "You Are My Sunshine". I carried it with me around the house, and one of my earliest memories in life was giving my sunshine to my mama when she was crying on her bed. At the age of 2 or 3, however old I was, I recognized that she needed comfort, and gave her the object that I loved most, that seemed to carry me to a better place when I needed it to - my little sunshine. She, of course, gave it back to me, and when Hurricane Katrina ruined ninety percent of my city in 2005, my little sunshine fell victim as well. I remember finding it among the debris, and refusing the throw it out, I hosed it down, scrubbed it, washed it...whatever I could do to save it, but to no avail as the music box inside of it had rusted. I still have my little sunshine, though, and every so often I'll find the song running through my head:

"You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are gray
You'll never know, dear
How much I love you
Please don't take
My sunshine away."

Growing up, although not musically inclined in the least (I'm not even capable of bad karaoke...ha), music was so much a part of my life and seemed to carry me through many tough times. I would spend hours in my mom's room sometimes, listening to her record albums (yes, RECORD ALBUMS, kids!) and letting the songs take me to another time and place. As a teenager, struggling with my health, I discovered contemporary Christian music, and it was as if I was breathing new air. I still had the same problems, but somehow this new-found love gave me the strength to cope.

Now as an adult, I still find myself using music as an escape from the real world. In an attempt to get away from it all, I get in my car and drive with no particular destination in mind. I turn up the radio or a CD, and I sing to the top of my lungs as if I'm live on stage. I cannot stress enough how terribly I sing, but I don't care. And it could be a really sad song...it doesn't matter. I sing it loudly and proudly, and even when life is going horribly wrong, I find the strength to cope.

And I did so today, driving to the store in utter agony. I turned on my CD and sang to the top of my lungs. It was hard. I didn't feel like singing. But I made myself do it, and eventually it became a little easier as time went on. It was my stubborn, life-long way of telling myself that I am not giving up, even though I want to.

Music has been a gift to me. It is my sunshine in the darkness. I believe it is God's way of saying "Hang in there, girl, I'm not through with you yet. Just keep on singing. I'm listening."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Friends don't let friends eat Chicken McNuggets

Ingredients in a chicken mcnugget from the McDonalds website:

Chicken McNuggets®:
White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, chicken flavor (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil ((may contain one of the following: Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness), dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent).
CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK.


There has been much debate over the Chicken McNugget for years now, including a book that came out a couple years ago which went as far as to suggest that McNuggets cause cancer as well as contain lighter fluid. I decided to do my own research, and here is what I found:

I found that they made a couple of changes to the ingredients over the past 4 years: They eliminated dark meat, and removed triglycerides from the list (although mono and diglycerides are still used). As of 2007, it is being reported by a multitude of websites that chicken mcnuggets are 56 percent corn-derived products, which includes the chicken flavoring and seasoning itself and not just the breading (see "natural flavoring of a botanical source" in the ingredient list above...that's there McLanguage for it). There are a total of 38 ingredients in the mcnugget as a whole, with a variety of phosphates being used to hold the mcnugget together. The ingredients that are sparking the most debate are TBHQ and dimethylpolysiloxane. Dimethylpolysiloxane is a chemical that prevents the nugget from foaming when heated. I haven't done any research on this ingredient. TBHQ, however, is Tert-BUTYLHYDROQUINONE, a petroleum bi-product and type of phenol that is used as a preservative. A few sites, including the book that I mentioned, suggest that TBHQ is butane, aka lighter fluid. That is incorrect, although it's not too terribly far off. There have been reports of TBHQ being a carcinogen, so I dug a little deeper and pulled up some lab reports, which can be found HERE.

In reading the report, I found that TBHQ as well as BHT (also a preservative) tested positive in carcinogenic behavior in a variety of animals including rats, hamsters, and dogs. It also tested positive for mutation of DNA cells, lymph nodes, as well as cells of the lungs and ovaries. The FDA has approved TBHQ and BHT as preservatives in mechanically processed foods such as mcnuggets, but gives a limit to the amount that can be used due to the risks found in research studies.


For the record, their other fried chicken products contain many of these ingredients as well, including TBHQ.

From previous research on free-range chicken vs chicken with phosphates and other additives, I found two U.S. brands that are 100 percent chicken with no hormones or phosphates: Tyson and Sanderson Farms. I'm not sure about Pilgrim's Pride but I think they are also free range.

Just thought I would share the wealth. Be well, everyone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A few things before bed

If the music bugs you, just press the pause button. I figure that's a known thing, but thought I would mention it anyway.

I'm working on several things for the website, and eventually ugottafriend.com will be a gateway page to different areas of my site. My blog and Bob Ross class schedule just happen to be the only two pages open at the moment. I will eventually have art for sale, a charity blog, CONTESTS (YAY!!!) and more. I'll keep you posted.

I didn't meet with Art With Heart Tuesday night, but we exchanged emails and I am looking forward to what's in the works. This is gonna be awesome, and I'm about to make myself very busy with art, writing, and charity work until I can find a part time job. There is no way physically that I can work right now, but I hope that I will start feeling better every day. I'm still in great pain and my sleep schedule is very bizzare, but I'm trying my best to distract myself and deal with it.

I've been thinking about Abby all day today, and praying that God will bring her through this terrible time. She is in the hospital again, on morphine, and is not doing well. I feel incredibly burdened for her right now and I'm on pins and needles waiting for the next update.

A big praise report...baby Harper is doing well and is going home tomorrow!!! I'm in tears over this...so relieved, so blessed by the testimony of her new life as well as those whose lives have changed because of her. God bless this dear family!

More to come, but I must lay down. See ya tomorrow, net friends.

It's easy bein' cheesy, baby!!!

Introducing...

Four cheese almost low fat but not quite chunky monster queso dip!



Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Behold, a close up!



Just look at all of that glorious cheese! 2% milk cheddar, low fat mozzerella, swiss, fat free cream cheese, and rotel tomatoes and chilies make this queso extra chunky and super cheesy!

And HOLY COW BATMAN, it made a full pot! LOCALS!!! Get yer butt over here and help me eat this! NAO!

Ok not now. Tomorrow, perhaps? :-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'll take two recipes for the win!

Low Carb Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla



I've been trying to find an alternative to Moe's Southwest Grill JC Quesadilla, which is $6.00 and over 700 calories! I've hit a home run here, folks!

1 Low Carb Multigrain Tortilla
1 Large Chicken Breast Tenderloin
1/4 Cup Bush's Seasoned Black Beans
1/2 Cup Shredded Cheddar
1/2 TBSP Mild Taco Seasoning
1/4 Cup Chicken Broth

Combine taco seasoning and chicken broth in a skillet, add chicken strip and cook until no pink remains. Cut into smaller pieces. Throw beans in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Lay torilla in a flat pan on low setting to warm. Sprinkle cheese on the tortilla, then chicken and black beans and fold over. When cheese is melted, remove from heat and cut into thirds.

This is obviously a recipe for one person. :) Just double, triple, etc. as necessary.


And I couldn't leave out the low fat no sugar added chocolate pie, even if it is a no-brainer.



1 Small Box Fat Free Sugar Free Chocolate Pudding
1 Small Container Sugar Free Cool Whip
2 Cups Milk (whatever you prefer...skim, whole, soy, doesn't matter)
1 Honey Maid Graham Cracker Crust

Make pudding according to directions on box and let set in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
Pour into crust.
Top with Cool Whip.

TA DA!

The crust is only 6g sugar per serving, which makes it diabetic friendly. JUST DON'T EAT THE WHOLE PIE! Not that I did...just sayin'...SHARE! :)

A little update on things

I hope to visit Art With Heart tomorrow and sign up as a volunteer. I am very much looking forward to helping them reach out to troubled and underprivileged kids and adults. I have been working on plans for some of my art to be shown/sold at local shows with the money going to charity. This is a great thing...I can't wait.

Hobby Lobby has given me the green light to teach there twice a month. My students are gung ho and I'm excited about teaching. I have informed them of my health issues, but told them that I would do my best to be there as often as they want me. I'm still brainstorming about kids classes too. I think it would be a blast to have a kids club. Still trying to work things out with Pascagoula as well, and hope to teach there at least once a month.

After talking with several people, I've decided to change my school plans once again. USA accepts almost all academics from MGCCC, and MGCCC is less than half the cost of USA. USA has so many extra fees...it's incredible. A Pell grant would only pay for one semester at USA, but would pay for THREE semesters at MGCCC. I could possibly take every single class online there as well. They have a packed schedule, unlike the schools here in AL. So honestly...the practical choice is to take my academics at MGCCC. Fall, Spring, and Summer...then I can go from there.

I'm going to talk to them this week about CLEP exams. I hope to knock out at least one class, if not three or four, via CLEP. The more I knock out, the more breathing room I'll have.

Friends, have any of you taken CLEP exams? If so, please tell me about it. Thanks!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The roller coaster continues...

Had to stop the potassium therapy again due to bad side effects. Still not getting around well, in terrible pain, and not sleeping at night even with sleeping pills.

I would like to get off the roller coaster now!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cue Twilight Zone Music

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals


I'm posting this because it is quite a coincidence. That is the exact color of my carpet AND I have that exact same blanket on my bed right now.

Oh, how I wish I had a camera phone. Or a camera that worked, period.

And yes, it's 4:30 in the morning and I'm still up.