Sixty-nine And Counting

Today is my husband, and very best friend, Bill’s, birthday. To celebrate, Bill and I met our daughter, Shantel, at her doctor’s appointment, and the three of us went out to lunch to what was once Bill/Papa’s favorite Mexican restaurant, Abuelo’s, in Chandler.

We arrived, and were seated promptly, and everything looked to be the same as the last time we were there last year.

Bill ordered an appetizer of jalapeno cheese fritter balls, served with a sauce. They were delicious.

We were served warm chips and three kinds of salsa, just like always.

I ordered grilled sea bass taco’s that were the bomb! They were served with a side of rice and pinto beans cooked with bacon.

Shantel had one chicken and one spinach enchilada, served with beans and rice. She loved the chicken enchilada, but said the spinach one tasted like “tea leaves” to her.

Bill ordered a green chili smothered beef burrito. That was always his favorite, and the only reason he wanted to go there for his birthday lunch (the other option was Cheesecake Factory that was just across the street). Unfortunately,  the recipe changed, and what he was served was not anything like what he remembered, and loved so much in the past… He ate it, and said it wasn’t awful, but he was just really disappointed that it wasn’t what he remembered it to be…

But, as with all things in life… or at least this is what we try to live by…, it’s not about what you get, or what happens…, it’s more about how you react and deal with all of it… Bill, Shantel and I all agreed that today was not about the food, it was about taking the time to spend quality time together to celebrate another important event in our lives…, Bill/Papa’s birthday.

Happy Birthday Bill/Papa, we love you!

Stay Tuned.

 

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Christmas Cookie Baking 2017

Today Bill went to our daughter, Shantel’s apartment where he spent the day helping Shantel, and her best friend, Jaz, bake Christmas cookies for Christmas Eve, and to take to our family friends home for Christmas Day. This cookie baking day is an annual event for Bill, Shantel, and Jaz.

They made Neiman Marcus and Ginger Snap cookies, and a lot of them! They also made a batch of fudge for the Christmas celebrations.

Shantel loves, loves, loves, to bake. Bill captured the pictures below that show how well Jaz and Shantel work together to accomplish the job. Shantel and Jaz met when they attended the same college, and they have been best friends ever since. Bill and I feel so blessed to have Jaz in our lives as Shantel’s best friend. She is a very special young lady, and we love her like one of our own daughters.  Bill was helping with the cookies as well, but he had to stop every now and then to capture pictures to send to me so I could document the event on my blog for Shantel to read back on over the years. I just love seeing that big smile on Shantel’s face!

Shantel has no problem working in her kitchen. When she is cooking or baking, she likes to keep the cabinet doors open (so does her papa) but when I’m there, I have to keep asking her to shut the cabinet doors because I tend to walk into them… Funny how she is blind and doesn’t hit her head on the open doors, and I can see but seem to always walk into the open doors… Ha!

 

This next picture shows Shantel placing cookies on her coffee table to cool, and placing them in the storage tins after they were cool. She so loves to know that there are plenty of cookies for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and beyond… 🙂

From the looks of the first storage tin, I don’t think she is going to have to worry about not having enough cookies!

After all the cookies and fudge are made, the next part of the annual cookie baking tradition is that Bill takes the girls out to lunch which is the perfect ending to their perfect Christmas Cookie Baking Day!

I so love that Bill, Shantel, and Jaz, have this time together every year to bake and bond. They all look forward to it.  And, since I don’t like baking, it allows me an opportunity to have some “me time” without having to be involved in smelling the cookies I don’t eat, bake, or be involved in cleaning up the mess that goes along with it… Win, Win…

I spent my “me time” today making coconut curry chicken for our dinner, took a nice long walk, did some laundry, and posted this blog post… And now, I’m headed to happy hour!!!

Merry Christmas!

 

Dial-A-Ride, Or Dial-A Problem

As many of you already know, our daughter, Shantel, is totally blind. She recently was hired at a large company, that can accommodate her computer needs, and she is currently in training for a new position that will allow her to take “live calls” regarding declined purchases and/or reporting fraud… She loves her job and looks forward to getting to work everyday.

Because Shantel is blind, and cannot drive, Bill and I help her out by paying $65.00 a month to Dial-a-Ride that is supposed to allow unlimited trips for her to travel to and from any destination throughout the Valley for $4.00 each way…

However that is not always the case. And what happened this past week, is but one example of what continues to happen over and over again. And, I’m sure this type of thing is not only happening to our daughter, but to many other people that depend on Dail-a-Ride throughout the Valley. In fact, I know for a fact, that the other two blind co-workers that Shantel works with report the same type of poor service from Dial-a-Ride.

Here is what happened to Shantel just today: She scheduled a 4:30 a.m. pick-up that would allow her to get to work at 6:00 a.m. (allowing for all the other folks that have to be picked-up and delivered along the route) but, keep in mind, that when you schedule your ride in advance, you are supposed to be guaranteed delivery to your destination “on time”. But, today, Shantel didn’t get to work until 6:25 when she is supposed to start at 6:00 a.m.

Of course Shantel was upset that she was late for work, due to circumstances beyond her control, and of course she called Dial-a-Ride the first chance she could to make a complaint. She explained the situation to the person taking her call, letting them know that the person that scheduled this ride should have to be put into the same position to lose their job as she is put into when they cause her to be late.

Shantel went on to tell the person taking her complaint that on the return trip home, her pick-up time was supposed to be 3:00 p.m. but Dial-a-Ride notified her that they couldn’t get there until 4:45 -5:00 p.m. So Shantel decided to take Lift ride service home (costing her $30.00). She had already been riding Dial-a-Ride since 4:30 a.m. and just wanted to get home at this point… I don’t blame her.

However, when she made her complaint, she was told the ride service was over 25 miles from her home  (which we have never been made aware of that making any difference ..) and “Rules are rules”,… and that perhaps she should move closer to work… then they hung up on her!!

Yes, this job is more than 25 miles from Shantel’s home, but that should not make any difference when we are paying a monthly fee to make sure she can get to and from her destinations on time… This is but one example of how our daughter, who is not the only person out there that could just sit home and collect Social Security Disability payments and food stamps every month and not work…, but wants to work, and earn her own way in life… but is met with more obstacles than you and I could ever imagine dealing with each and every day just to get to work..

There has to be a better way for people with disabilities that want to work to be able get to and from work safely, and  on time. Shantel can’t take a bus or light rail because that requires her being able to cross a street by herself, and because she lost hearing in both ears due to the chemo she received while being treated for the cancer that took her sight, she wears hearing aids in both ears so she is not able to pick up on the traffic surge when the light changes to cross an intersection safely, and now with the electric cars, she can not pick up on them at all.

Shantel, Papa and I continue be amazed at how hard you work to get to work… We love you and are so very proud of you, and we continue to pray that things get better for you and all people with disabilities that just want to work… Never give up on your dreams baby girl.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goat Cheese, Cranberry, and Walnut Stuffed Pork Chops

So easy and simple to make and, OMG! It really is as delicious as it sounds…

All I did was mix one package of goat cheese with a good handful of chopped walnuts, and dried cranberries.

 

Then I took thin, bone-in pork chops, and just pressed them out with my hand to make them a little bit bigger… I was going to stuff the pork chops but I didn’t buy them thick enough… so I went to plan (B). There is always a plan (B) if you want one…

then I put  about a handful of the goat cheese, cranberry, and walnut mixture into the center of each pork chop, pressed the mixture out a little, and rolled them up.

Then I dipped each pork chop roll into an egg and milk mixture, then into a mixture of Panko breadcrumbs that I seasoned with a little smoked paprika, and black pepper.  Next, I placed them on a copper rack that fits into a copper tray, them put them into our outside oven on 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

Thirty minutes later we had the a delicious pork chop roll up meal that was tender and moist, yet also had a crunchy panko crust. I served this with potato salad, that my sister, from another mother, Holly, made, and peas. Big shout out to my sister, Holly, who loves to cook as much as I do, and who always cooks too much, like I do, and always shares what she makes with Bill and I…

So loving this beautiful Christmas season of spending time with family and friends.  Cooking is what makes me happy, but sharing what we have, no matter what that might be, with those we love is what always warms my heart, not just at Christmas, but all year-long…

Merry Christmas!

Heartwarming Update

I wanted to post this update to my previous post, Random Acts Of Kindness. I spoke to our daughter, Shantel, and she told me that she was in the laundry room at her apartment complex again yesterday finishing up her laundry, and a man came in and asked her if she had some clothes in a washer with tide pods in it and quarters in the slot yesterday..? Shantel said yes, and he said he was the person that removed her clothes, and used the washer with her tide pods and quarters. He didn’t say why he did that, but he did give her money back and said he was sorry.

I asked Shantel if she knew him and she said she didn’t, but that he told her he sees her in the laundry room a lot and he said he felt bad about what he did. I asked if she got his name, she said no, but he sounded like he was an older man, and that he seemed to really be sorry about what he did.

 

I believe in miracles, do you?

Merry Christmas!

Random Acts Of Kindness

Our daughter, Shantel, had a mixed experience with kindness yesterday. Here is a little summary of how her day went:

After Shantel got home from work, she found out she needed to go to the Post Office to pick up a package. She didn’t have time to schedule a ride with Dial-a-Ride, so she had to call Uber. When she arrived at the Post Office, the Uber driver took her in, helped her get in the back of the line to wait her turn, then he returned to his car to wait for her to come out. I think it is important to note here that Shantel gets herself to work everyday, lives alone, and takes care of herself,  goes to her own doctor appointments, goes to get her own groceries (she goes to the Customer Service desk and asks for assistance to select her grocery items) etc. However, this Post Office did not have anyone that could assist a disabled person through the line…

Shantel said she was standing in line at the Post Office, with her long, white cane, with the red at the bottom, which is pretty much a universal sign that the person using the cane is blind or visually impaired. She said she waited, and waited, and never seemed to move up in line. At first, she said she thought it was just very busy, due to the Christmas mailing season.. But finally, a lady working behind the counter, noticed that Shantel couldn’t tell when the line was moving,  and that people behind Shantel in line were going around her, even stepping over her cane to get in front of her. So, that Post Office worker, went outside, and asked the Uber driver if he would come in and help Shantel keep her place in line, which he did…  I say, THANK-YOU to the Post Office worker for noticing, and helping Shantel, and THANK-YOU to that Uber driver for going above his job to help Shantel keep her place in line. And SHAME on all the people that felt the need to go around Shantel, instead of simply letting her know the line was moving forward…

Then, when Shantel finally got home, she got her laundry together and made her way to the laundry room at her apartment complex. She put her clothes in a washer, put her tide pods in, and put her quarters in the slot. Then she remembered she forgot something back at her apartment. She said she left the laundry room, and made her way back to her apartment, got the items she forgot, and when she came back, someone had removed her clothes, put their own clothes in and used her money, and tide pods, to do their own laundry. Again, to whoever did that, SHAME on YOU!!

I was so upset when I talked to Shantel and heard all of this. I told her I thought what happened was awful, and that I was sorry it happened. I asked her how she felt about it. Shantel said “mom, people do stuff like that all the time, I just had to learn to deal with it.” Well, as her mother, I can tell you, I will never accept that kind of bad behavior.

Shantel, Papa and I are so, so, proud of you and how you live your life. I wish life were a little easier for you, but you are, and always will be, our HERO! Never let the bad behavior of others dampen your kind heart, and beautiful spirit. Keep letting your special light shine brightly, and I hope you always keep practicing Random Acts of Kindness every chance you get! We love you Shantel.

Merry Christmas.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

Split Peas And Ham Soup

Yesterday was our weekly cleaning and laundry day for Bill and I. So it was a perfect day for me to make my split pea and ham soup in the slow-cooker. It’s fast and easy, and is the perfect meal to make when I still want something home-made, but I don’t really have the time to spend hours cooking… I just put on Christmas music and got busy…

I chop up a whole sweet onion, spray my slow-cooker with non-stick cooking spray, and put the onion in.

 

Then I pick through and rinse a bag of dried split peas

Trim the fat from a ham steak, and chop it into bite size pieces. Keep the bone as it goes in the soup as well.

Put the ham, the bone, and the split peas into the slow-cooker with the onion. Add three bay leaves, some granulated garlic, coarse black pepper, and salt (I used no-salt seasoning mix) into the slowcooker

Add about one and a half boxes of chicken stock, put the lid on and set the slow-cooker on high until the liquid begins to boil, then turn to low and let it simmer until you are ready to eat (about five to six hours).

I had mine with a salad. Bill had his with buttered saltine crackers. No matter how you serve it, it is delicious, and so much better than anything you will ever get out of a can. If you love split pea and ham soup like we do, this is the only way to go…

So enjoying this beautiful Christmas Season. Hope all of you are finding ways to enjoy whatever it is that makes you happy, and that you are also finding ways to express your love for one another… I show my love by cooking, and feeding my loved ones, which always makes Bill say he is such a lucky man…. I can’t help but think that he also must be thinking to himself “now if I could just get her interested in baking as well…” Ha!

Merry Christmas!

 

 

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