Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Allen Family Taco Soup

I have too many friends out there asking me for my recipes. I just keep forgetting to share and send them. 

I decided that going forward when I am cooking one of my family's favorites I am going to try my best to post the recipe on here. I hope that our family favorites can also be your family favorites.

I love simple easy, at least somewhat healthy meals. And I LOVE my crock pot.

Here's one of the big hits in our home. 

Taco Soup
1lb ground turkey
1 chopped medium sized onion
1 package of taco seasoning (I like the low sodium Old El Paso.)
1 can of mild rotel
1 can of no salt added whole kernel yellow corn
1 can of no salt added black beans
1 can of no salt added kidney beans

Turn your crock-pot on high. Toss in ground turkey and chopped onion. (My ground turkey is usually frozen and I still toss it straight in.) Allow the turkey to brown. Add the taco seasoning and cans of rotel, beans and corn to your browned meat and onions. Stir and add water. I usually add two cans of water by using one of the bean cans. Turn crock-pot down to low and allow everything to cook for at least two hours.

We serve ours with shredded cheese and tortilla chips. We like to crush the chips up and add them to the soup and top it off with cheese. You could also add salsa, sour cream or even some guacamole.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Glass Ceiling and the Pat on the Head.....

I remember being very young when my Granddaddy told me that if I wanted to succeed in the South I had to be able to argue with a brick wall and make it want to fall down. Of course I had no idea what that meant. We all know we Southerners have some crazy sayings. Now as an adult I see exactly what he was saying. He was preparing me for my future.

We are all so judgmental by nature (and yes I am including myself in that statement). No matter how hard we try not to, we still judge people as the walk into our lives.

I find myself in rooms all the time now where I am the only woman. Sometimes I am the actual authority on the subject matter, but because I am a woman I have to prove myself 2-3 times more than the men would in that same room.

Nothing makes me more angry then when I have all sorts of facts and statistics and then I am given a pat on the head and disregarded. I can instantly tell my words are being discredited just because I am woman. I have had it happen again and again and again in my life.

I'll never forget the history professor who told me, "The only significant role women have had in history was giving birth to significant men." I kid you not, the guy actually said that and he has a Ph. D in history. Scary huh?!

Fast forward to today. I still have a glass ceiling to break through and constantly get those "good girl" pats on the head. Seriously my temper has ran out of patience.

Why does this frustrate me so much?
  • I am not a pet, you shouldn't pat me on the head. I didn't just play fetch.
  • I am very well educated both through formal education and life itself. 
  • I don't just talk to hear myself speak. I usually know what I am talking about and if I don't I'll be the first to admit it.
  • I may be young, but I have been through more Hell than most of America will ever see.
  • I married an Infantry soldier, that pretty much speaks for itself.
One would hope that in 2015 women could be valued as equals. I have found that I am the most valued through the military system. My opinion is not only heard but is sometimes even requested. I never enlisted into the service. However because I stayed by my husband's side and because I have helped so many other families, the military recognizes some value in my opinion. I wish I could translated this equality to the civilian sector. 

I feel like I am in an uphill battle on a slippery slope with civilians. I even feel that some think that because my husband was in the Army and because he was injured, then I am less intelligent and it even generates pity from them. I have found that I keep his injuries quiet at first because once civilians hear about the injuries and then can't hear anything else. I am looked at with total pity.

Let me be clear, I do not want your pity. I want you to listen to our families and join the team to help me help us. I can assure you that the TV shows and movies you have watched are no comparison to what is actually going on. You need to hear the actual stories from the people living it everyday.

I realize people don't want to hear the truth. They want to continue to believe that the government takes care of our veterans and their families. They would rather just pat us on the head and move on. That is the easier thing to do.

No one wants to believe that we have to jump through forty rounds of red tape and almost smash someone's head into a wall for a $10 piece of medical equipment that would make our veteran's life better. No, civilians want to remain blissfully ignorant to the needs of our veterans and their families. If they stay ignorant, then they won't get upset. If they don't get upset, then they don't have to do anything to help. After all, ignorance is bliss.

There are days I wish I could return to ignorance. I wish I didn't know a lot of the things I know. But if I returned to ignorance that would also mean I would not have learned about the true needs of our families and I wouldn't have ideas for solutions. I, like so many other women in my situation, have real solutions to the very real problems going on. We all deserve to be heard and I hope that together we can stop the pats on the head and break the damn glass ceiling.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Checking Off the Bucket List - Disney Style

Looking back now, I have realized more than once 2014 drown me in drama and chaos too many times. I found myself over scheduled and over committed way too many times. Throughout the year I kept making vows to myself that things would get better if I just got past this day or this week or this month. You know what?! That's gets old....

Late 2014, I decided 2015 was going to be different and I was going to find the time for my goals again. I realized that the only way to make it better was for me to put my foot down and say no to some things and say yes to me and my needs and to the needs of my family.

Like any dreamer, I have always had a bucket list. It's never been long, but it was mine. Chaz and I even shared a few of the items. After he was injured, the most amazing opportunities found us. Some of them also were on our list. It was pretty stinking cool to be able to check those off together. My favorite was the trip to Colorado to ski together. Thanks to his Physical Therapist and the Vail Veterans Program he achieved a goal and checked off an item on the shared bucket list.

On my list was "complete a half marathon before age 40." Well peer pressure sometimes makes you upgrade a bucket list item to a challenge. Demetria convinced me I could complete the Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World. This meant I had to complete a 10k (6.2 miles) on Saturday morning, then complete a half marathon (13.1 miles) on Sunday morning.

I began training late Summer of 2014 and I am pleased to report I not only accepted her challenge, but I completed it with her by my side!

I have learned races are about the bling so here's mine from those two days.

After I registered for the race in July, I received an email from Disney Cruise Line about a special race deal. Also on my bucket list was "Take the girls on a Disney Cruise."

I had yet to take a true vacation from my job, even though I have worked there for years. I decided we should go for it. Chaz agreed and the girls were ecstatic. When booking this cruise following the Princess racing series, you also earn the option to participate in the Castaway Cay Challenge. This was a 5k (3.1 miles) on Disney's Private Island, Castaway Cay. I accepted that challenge as well. Here's me with a two new friends I met on the course.
After hearing about all the races I was completing on our vacation, Cutie #1 informed me that she wanted to participate in a 5k. The cruise offered a separate 5k almost immediately following my Challenge 5k. Yes, I signed us up. Wednesday morning I completed my 5k, went back on the boat, found my family and then I went with her for another 5k. Here we are just past the finish line.
Yes I received two Castaway Cay 5k medals and the Challenge one. ;)

Cutie #2 wanted to join us as well, but she was not old enough.She has informed us that there will be a next time.

If you are keeping track that's 25.5 miles for me within 5 days and 6 medals total. And yes I am totally fine. No injuries, just tired feet to report, which have since recovered just fine. I actually feel pretty freaking awesome considering what I accomplished in 5 days. I love that I also sparked the cuties curiosity. I hope that this is the beginning of many 5k run/walks together.

For all of you non-athletes, like me, out there....I probably had the worst times in the races possible. I walk way more than I run. The important thing is I show up, I do my best and I complete them!! If I can do this with a busted knee and all sorts of crazy little medical problems, you can too! You just have to train like I did.

Always remember it's not about the time, it's about crossing the finish line! If I can do it, you can too!! Find a 5k in your area and get moving. I promise you'll love yourself for it.

Here's another idea, put "complete a 5k" on your bucket list so you can check it off and feel even more accomplished. ;)