Shantel’s First Winter Gala 2019

It’s been a while since I shared my last post. That’s because when we are in Arizona, we don’t really go anywhere that I haven’t already shared on my blog. But last week, our beautiful, grown, baby girl, Shantel, attended her very first formal company Winter Gala.

Shantel started a new job a few months ago. She’s working for a wonderful company that helps people who are in financial distress due to high credit card debt. This company was started by two young men in a garage and has now grown to a company employing over 2,000 employees. When Shantel interviewed for this company, I had my doubts that it would work out, because she has been hired at so many other companies who thought they could get the JAWS screen-reader program to work with their company system. So many times we’ve had our hopes up waiting for Shantel to land a job that would be willing to try to find a way for JAWS to work their system, only to have those hopes dashed over and over again.

This company hired Shantel with the promise that they would do everything possible to make JAWS work with their system, and they stayed true to their word. On the first day of work, Shantel was welcomed in the lobby by the Co-Founder of the company, the Vice President, the head of H.R., the head of Training, and the head of the IT department. They all shook Shantel’s hand and thanked her for “allowing them to work with her to get JAWS working with their system, not only so she can work independently at their company, but for all those who are visually impaired that will come after her”. Within a couple of weeks, working together with Shantel, and listening to what she needed to work independently with JAWS, Shantel was able to work on her own in the welcoming department, taking incoming calls bringing on new clients, and working with the clients to ensure all their account numbers were correct etc. We were thrilled for Shantel to get that position because not only is this job full-time (her last job was just 32 hours a week), this job is only 15 minutes from her home as opposed to her last job that was an hour away. We just couldn’t be happier for Shantel and didn’t think anything could be any better than that. But things did just get better. Shantel did such a good job with the welcome calls, she has now been promoted to Client Services and will now earn a dollar more per hour. She is in training for the next two weeks and is loving every minute of it. Then another surprise! The company also has a Winter Gala every year. This year the Gala was held at the Civic Center. It was a very formal event and Shantel was so excited that she could attend, and could have one guest attend with her. Of course she invited her best friend, Jaz, who was equally excited to be able to attend the Gala with Shantel. Jaz arrived at Shantel’s home around 3:00 p.m. and helped Shantel with her hair and make-up before getting ready herself.

I was filled with pride, and cried tears of joy when Jaz sent me pictures throughout the evening.

This is the first picture I received of Shantel standing in the kitchen of her apartment in her beautiful dress.


This is Jaz and Shantel together beside the Christmas Tree at the Gala. I knew Shantel met Jaz in college, but I asked her the other day how they actually met. Shantel told me she was just sitting outside one of her classes waiting to go in and Jaz just came over and sat down and started talking to her. Turned out they both were taking that same class together. Jaz is such a blessing in our lives and we love her as part of our family.

The day after the Gala, I called Shantel to see what she thought of the event. She said “it was really nice and we had a great time, but mom, I never felt so out of place in my whole life”. I asked her why she felt out of place and she said “well, it was just so formal. Like when we sat down to be served dinner, there were forks everywhere and I didn’t know which fork I was supposed to use”. I said, your supposed to start with the one farthest away from your plate and work your way in. She said “mom, there were forks on the side of the plate, forks at the top of the plate and just forks everywhere, so I just grabbed the first fork I found and started eating.” That’s our girl!

Then Shantel told me the Gala had different things going on in different areas. She said they walked outside on the patio and at first all they heard was someone screaming at the top of their voice. She said they didn’t know what was going on at first, then they found out it was Karaoke and someone was performing hard rock music. She said “I didn’t know Karaoke could be so entertaining”.

When I sent Jaz a thank-you note for sharing the pictures of the eventing, I asked her if she had a good time too. She said she had a great time and even managed to get Shantel out on the dance floor to dance. Apparently gift cards were being randomly given to folks that were dancing. And speaking of gifts, the company had really nice door prizes they were giving away as well. Unfortunately, one of the employees had her purse stolen when she got up to dance. The President of the company got up and addressed all the employees saying their company is based on honesty and integrity, and that someone in that room was not being honest by stealing. He then presented the lady that had her purse stolen, and her guest, with one of the door prizes which was two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the United States, and he apologized for what happened to her. What a great company to work for. Shantel also told me the President sends out a company wide email every Monday welcoming the employees back from the weekend and wishing them a great work week. Who could ask for anything better than that?

This week when we visited Shantel, she asked me if I would take this picture of her, Jaz, and Danny. Danny is a girl that trained Shantel in the Welcome Calls Department. Apparently a photo booth was also part of the Gala event, so the three girls had their picture taken together. Shantel asked me if I would put it it a frame, so I put it in this adorable frame Shantel made for me when she was in grade school. Every time I would leave the house to go to work, or anywhere, Shantel would hug me and say “don’t forget me” like I could ever forget my precious baby girl…

Stay Tuned

Easter 2019

Today we took our daughter, Shantel, out to Easter lunch, and had to say good-bye to Shantel until we return from our summer hosting positions in South Dakota. She looked so pretty in her new spring Easter dress.

We took Shantel to her favorite place for Easter lunch, Joe’s Crab Shack, in Tempe, Az.

Even though she almost always orders king crab legs, she still wants me to read the full menu to her, just in case they changed, or added, anything.

When the server brings her the bib, she knows some good food is about to come her way.

We started out with her favorite appetizer, great balls of fire, made with crab, seafood, cream cheese, jalapeños, and served with fries and ranch dipping sauce,

and of course, you can’t have seafood, without hushpuppies, which is another of her favorites…

But she got really excited, when the server placed that big bucket of king crab legs in front of her. Served with boiled potatoes and corn on the cob.

I had fish and chips, served with coleslaw. It was more than I could eat, but not to worry, Shantel said she would be happy to take home any leftovers for her dinner.

Bill/Papa had a shrimp sampler platter, and of course, Shantel asked if she could try one, or perhaps two, of his bacon wrapped shrimp.

When we were all served, Shantel wasted no time getting down to the business of cracking open her king crab legs. And she devoured every morsel.

When it was all said and done…, we asked for a take out box. Shantel ended up with one piece of my fish and most of my fries, two of Papa’s bacon wrapped shrimp, and four hushpuppies to take home for her dinner.

As we were leaving, Shantel asked if we would take her to the grocery store to get some things she was not able to purchase yesterday, because she would not have been able to carry all the bags home by herself. We were more than happy to do that. Then, we delivered our baby girl home, with a full tummy, and a full heart, because she knows how very much we love her.

Happy Easter Shantel, we love you, we are so proud of you, and we are always only a phone call away! See you in October.

Stay tuned as we begin our summer travels, I will post along our way.

Love,

Mom and Papa

Happy New Year

I’ve never been one to make New Year resolutions. I prefer to make positive changes in my life anytime I feel the need to do so. Throughout this year, and especially in the last few months of this year, I’ve made several changes in my life that are bringing a lot more positive energy around me, and into my life.

I’ve always been dedicated to my Catholic Faith, but this year I started dedicating even more time to my prayer life by dedicating a time of day as my prayer hour. This is in addition to my regular morning and evening prayers. I’m amazed at the difference a dedicated prayer hour has made in my life. It has sharpened my focus on what is really important, and meaningful in my life. It has allowed me to look for things in my life that tend to drain my energy, and replace those things with things that bring me positive energy. Did you know there is actually a list of “Everyday habits that drain your energy”? Well, there is, and this is what it says:

  1. Taking things personally
  2. Holding on to the past
  3. Always checking Facebook
  4. Sleeping in late
  5. Fueling drama
  6. Over stressing
  7. Having a poor diet
  8. Complaining all the time
  9. Overthinking
  10. Gossiping
  11. Not living in the moment
  12. Trying to please everyone
  13. Worrying about what others think

Some folks get so caught up in the things on the list, they don’t even realize that is what is draining their energy and causing so much negativity in their lives. Another big change both Bill and I have made in our lives is deactivating our Facebook accounts. We had a conversation one evening and discussed how much negativity is out on Facebook, and asked ourselves why we were allowing that to come into our home and our lives. Then we simply made the decision to drop Facebook from our lives, and for us, it has been wonderful. We want our friends to feel comfortable to stop by and visit us, call or text us, instead of being virtual friends on Facebook that might read a posting and hit the like button or send a heart…

A few months ago, a dear friend of mine gave me a small friendship banner. The words on that banner resonated so much with me that I have it hanging on a door in our home to remind me every day what genuine friendship is based on. This is what the friendship banner says:

“Friendship

We have genuine friendship when it is based on true human feeling, a feeling of closeness in which there is a sense of sharing and connectedness. I would call this type of friendship genuine because it is not affected by the increase or decrease of the individual’s wealth, status, or power. The factor that sustains that friendship is whether or not the two people will have mutual feelings of love and affection, genuine human friendship is on the basis of human affection, irrespective of your position. Therefore, the more you show concern about the welfare and rights of others, the more  you are a genuine friend. The more you remain open and sincere, then ultimately more benefits will come to you. If you forget or do not bother about others, then eventually you will lose your own benefit.”

H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama

That is what I want my friendship with others to be, and what I want from others as my friend. And, for me, that just doesn’t happen on Facebook.

I will continue to work on myself, my goals, and doing me throughout 2019.

I wish all of you the very best.

Happy New Year!

 

 

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!

 

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!

 

 

House Alarm Beef Stew

I guess I can call this stew that from now on..

Now is the time of year when most folks that love to bake, bake… I don’t, but I love to cook.. so I cook. And I am often asked to share my “recipe’s” with others, and I am happy to do so..

Today, I made a roasted vegetable beef stew.  I’ve made this dish many times over the years, including since we have been full-time RVing, in my slow-cooker without any problem.

But, today, I put the stew meat in my slow-cooker, with a packet of beef stew mix, two cups of good red wine and one cup of water, some corse black pepper, some dehydrated onion, some dried thyme, dried oregano, and some granulated garlic. Turned it on low and left it to do its thing while Bill and I attended 8:00 a.m. Mass, went to Walmart to pick up my prescriptions, then to Costco…

However, today, just as Bill and I were leaving the parking lot of Costco, I got a call from the Administrative Assistant at the Visitor Center at McDowell Mountain Park, letting me know that the neighbor next to us reported an alarm was sounding in our rig, and had been going off all morning…

Well, you gotta know,  Bill and I made a beeline back to our home to see what was going on. I was praying all the way that nothing was wrong with our home, and asking the Lord to please keep our home safe, and not let it blow up or anything…

Long story short… we arrived home, Bill entered our rig and checked everything, and sure enough the propane alarm was sounding loudly, but nothing was on. No heater, no stove valves, nothing but the slow-cooker on low simmering our stew meat for dinner…

So, with the all clear within our home, I proceeded to roast in our outside oven (omg they smell wonderful roasting), the purple potatoes, carrots, and onions, that I chopped and seasoned with garlic, black pepper, and olive oil, then I added them to the beef stew meat.

I usually add fresh beets to the roasted vegetable mix, but I couldn’t find any that were worth the price, so I bought two cans of canned beets and added them to the stew.

I served this with warm, buttered, beer bread that I made from scratch… and winner, winner, a delicious “house alarm beef stew” dinner was served.

I hope all of my readers are enjoying this beautiful Christmas Season. I hope you bake, if you love to bake, cook, if you love to cook.. But most of all that you spend time  to reflect on what is important to you, and spend time with the people that you love, and that love you. And, if you get the chance, from the words in the song of Dolly Parton “I hope you dance”.

Merry Christmas!

Stay Tuned.

Christmas 2017

We are all fixed up and ready to celebrate this wonderful season with little touches of Christmas throughout our tiny home. We have a tiny Christmas tree that looks so pretty lit up at night. And Bill loves the little Santa bucket filled with Christmas chocolates. 🙂

Our tiny Santa’s hang above the dashboard between our Santa hats and they keep a close eye on who is naughty or nice… I love the center piece on the dashboard. I put tiny light in it that are battery operated and I can set them to stay on or blink. So pretty at night.

Of course it wouldn’t be Christmas for us without the Virgin Mary sitting on the sofa shelf along with another metal Christmas tree that has tiny ornaments on it, and beside that, is our Poinsettia Centerpiece.

Even my favorite wine, Butter, is decked out with a Christmas scarf and hat…

 

Can’t forget the bathroom with the marching soldiers soap and snowflake kleenex box…

 

And the Santa rug in front of the shower will make sure we all have a goodnight!

 

Bill and I will keep Christ in our Christmas because we know Jesus is the reason for the season. We wish all of you a very Merry Christmas season from our home to yours.

Stay Tuned!

Previous Older Entries

Wheeling It: Tales From a Nomadic Life

On the Road Since 2010, Traveling Across USA & Europe With 12 Paws

The Brantley Blog

In the eyes of the law, we reach adulthood the day we turn 18 years old. God help anyone who actually believes that.

the next few years

family life..with a unique perspective of motherhood

Gotham Girl Chronicles

a mixture of random musings...life in NYC...travel...photography...cycling

Blooming Burgh Boomer

Living An Active Full Life

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