Monday, November 24, 2008

You can't SEE Autism!

I wish I could make a sign to carry around with us wherever we go out and hang it around Ivy's neck or something. I get so discouraged sometimes because people just think because she is cute, there is nothing *wrong* with her. She walks around upright and appears to be able to communicate, so she must be *ok*. Well, very often, autism can't be seen. Let me repeat that, you can't see autism, ok?

Conversation with a friend (and fellow musician to my husband) this weekend:

I tell him we are organizing a fundraiser this January and we'd like for him to play in it if he could donate his time. I then proceed to tell him about our idea to have several bands and provide entertainment for a cover charge. He looks at me and says, who is the fundraiser for? And I say Ivy...for her treatments, to help ease the burden on us. He looks at her and then says, "well she seems like she is fine to me. What's wrong with her anyway?" I have told this friend before that she has autism and I know my husband has too. I am just in awe because you can't see her physical disability, that people assume she is normal. That really irritates me. It just goes to show you how uninformed the general public is about autism.

It hurts me deeply that this guy thinks there is nothing wrong with my child. Then I felt the need to explain how she is only as good as she is because we have both cashed in our 401k's, took out a second mortgage and spent well over $150,000 in treatments, medication, supplies and special food to accommodate her special diet. We drive old beat up cars and live in a dump because we spend every extra penny we have getting her better. Why should I have to explain that to people to justify our reasons for having the fundraiser? So now it makes me feel all self conscious that maybe others will perceive Ivy in the same light and maybe people will not want to come to our fundraiser or feel like donating is stupid.

I could really let this tie me up in knots, but I am looking forward to Thanksgiving too much to let it ruin my Holiday. Take it way God, I can't handle this right now.

Two more recipes to share for Thanksgiving

Easy Breezy Deviled Eggs

Boil your eggs until hard, then rinse in cold water to stop the cooking. Carefully crack and peel the eggs. The trick to getting perfect eggs is to NOT use super fresh eggs bought the day before. If you can buy your eggs about 1 week ahead of time, they come out perfect. I have heard that adding a pinch of salt to the boiling water works well too to keep the shells from sticking, but I have never tried that method.

Slice the eggs in two and dump the yolks into a mixing bowl. After you have all your yokes, beat them with a hand mixer until fine and crumbly. Add Miracle Whip and some dry mustard to the yolks, beat until smooth and to taste. I like to use LOTS of Miracle Whip. When my mixture is nice and smooth, I scrape out the entire amount into a gallon size plastic baggie and close. Snip the corner off of one ened and then pipe in the mixture into your empty eggs halves and viola! Now sprinkle lightly with paprika and you have some mighty fine looking deviled eggs that will be the hit of your Thanksgiving dinner, I promise.

Super Stuffed Celery

Wash and dry a package of celery stalks. Cut the stalks into 3's.

In a mixing bowl, cut up chunks of Velveeta cheese...about 2 cups worth. I like to cube it small, it makes for easier mixing. Then dump about a cup of Miracle Whip on top and beat with a hand mixer. It will be chunky and smooth at the same time, if it isn't then keep adding Miracle Whip until you get the above consistancy I mentioned. Next, stuff your celery with this cheese mixture and arrange on a nice plate. Sprinkle lightly with paprika and serve cold. People will love this tasty little appetizer on Thanksgiving Day! Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lisa's Famous Pumpkin Pie

I love pumpkin pie. I could eat a whole pie myself. I swear! It's the total truth. I have done it many a times over the years. There is nothing like a slice of cold pumpkin pie drenched in Cool Whip, eaten for days after Thanksgiving is over.

Anyway, several years ago, I ran across a pumpkin pie recipe that rocks this world. I found it in Country America magazine, dated October 1991, so you know this recipe is OLD. You should see the page. It has splatters of pumpkin and who knows what else on it and it's all faded because every year, I faithfully drag my little recipe out to dutifully make my pies for Thanksgiving Day.

So, without further ado, here it is to share with you:

Lisa's Famous Pumpkin Pie

1-29 ounce can pumpkin
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
dash of ground cloves
3 large eggs
1 to 2 12-oz cans evaporated milk-you may extra for the right consistency
1 tbsp melted margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, honey, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in a mixing bowl. Add eggs. Beat lightly with a rotary beater or a fork.

Stir in evaporated milk and margarine; mix well. Pour into two unbaked 9" pie shells.

Cover edges with foil. Bake at 375 degrees oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil. Bake about 25 minutes more. Cool. Cover and chill to store. Makes 2 pies.

Notes: I like to use Farmer's Market Organic pumpkin, but you can use whatever brand you like best. I also use all organic ingredients if possible. Also, you can either make your pie crusts, buy the Pillsbury roll out dough, or buy the frozen pre-made shells in the freezer section. I have made them all three that way. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Menu

So, where is everyone going for Thanksgiving? I normally cook and have people to my house, but this year, I don't think we will have any company. It looks like it's just going to be the four of us. It doesn't matter. I will still knock myself out to provide a fantabulous meal for my little family. I want to create memories, so that my children will undertand the importance of families being together and traditions and Thankfulness.

Jade is already excited about which cooking projects she will be helping me with this year. I think she wants to take on the pumpkin & apple pies Wednesday night before and she has already called deviled eggs. She loves to get in the kitchen as much as I do. She gets in honestly. :)

So, here is my menu:

Turkey Breast (with just 4 of us, I decided a turkey was too much and no one likes dark meat in my house, so....)
Homemade stuffing (none of the boxed stuff)
Homemade Noodles
Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Corn (from the local orchard)
Stuffed Celery Deviled Eggs
Homemade Yeast Rolls
Pumpkin Pies
Apple Caramel Crisp Pie

Later this week, I will post all my secret recipes for my stuff. LOL!! :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008


With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it reminds me that I should remember the things and people that I am grateful for. One thing I have learned over time is to try to walk through life with an attitude of gratitude. I am going to make my gratitude list and I encourage you to do the same. All you lurkers, now is the time to join blogger so you can share your lists too. I look forward to reading what YOU are grateful for this Thanksgiving Holiday.

Top 10 Things I am Grateful for:

1) God who is everything to me, without Him I am nothing.

2) My husband Ed, who I don't deserve most days

3) For Jade, my angel

4) For Ivy, my little yellow canary

5) For friends and family that are always there to encourage me

6) For my job that provides us with insurance

7) For the sound of my girls giggling together and getting along

8) For the sunshine and all that it does for my mind, body and soul

9) For a good book, that I can dive into and escape to another place and time

10) For my online community that I adore and have the privilege of *knowing*

Friday, November 14, 2008


You would think after all this time, I would be AWARE enough to recognize the obvious. For the past 14 years, I have not liked November so well. Just too mindful of events I want to forget. My Dad's birthday was the 7th and the anniversary of his death is today. I miss him. Totally. I haven't had a Thanksgiving or Christmas with my entire family together since 1993. It's depressing to say the least. This year instead of succumbing to the misery, I will attack it head on. I plan to go to the cemetery today (which I have not done in years), have a talk with my Dad, go grab my fave Chinese carry out (pork lo mien and general chicken WITH chopsticks), grab a movie and head over to my friend Joe's house tonight and hang out with him. He always makes me laugh. Just what the doctor ordered for curing the blues and crabbiness.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Short Story About Healing

I could hardly wait to get to my blog today. I have a story I want to share. Last night, I believe I had one of those "ah-ha" moments of clarity and I want to put it in writing. For months now I have been praying a short and simple prayer to God, "please heal me because I am broken". It occurred to me last night that maybe, just maybe I am already healed. Kind of a weird way to put it. How can one be healed and not know it? Well, for me...maybe because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to notice that I am, could be the answer. Now for the story. Sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee, it's going to be a long one.

Growing up, I was forced to listen to the likes of Roy Clark, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Rich, George Jones, etc. My Dad always had the stereo blaring with one of those great country legends on Saturday mornings. As a young girl, I DID NOT appreciate being forced to listen to music I'd rather not. Growing up in the 70's, I also had influence from my older siblings that turned me on to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Nielson, Pink Floyd and the likes. NOW THAT was music!! That kind of music made my heart sing. To this day, I love rock-n-roll....even the heavy metal stuff. I love how it speaks to my soul and rocks me like a baby. That is my music of choice.

Over the years, I have developed a love for other kinds of music like disco, the blues, jazz and even rap. To me, there is always a song being sung somewhere that can describe a person's mood at any given time. I love how I connect to music of all types. Somewhere in the late 80's, country music sort of took off like a rocket and suddenly it was almost cool to be country. I was living in California at the time and I was making a weekly trip from LA to Bakersfield to see my sweetie at the time. I remember my Mom making me a couple of tapes to listen to on the way up in my old '66 Mustang. She told me that music was not all about Guns-n-Roses and Bon Jovi...that I needed to experience some good 'ole country music too. The two tapes she made me where KT Oslin and George Straight. From the minute I put George into my tape deck, I fell in love with his music. I wore that tape out. There is nothing like listening to the sweet melody of a George Straight song. I bet you can guess that lead me to my love of country music for the next several years. I mean I was crazy in love with country music. I had all the CD's, knew who was hot and who was not, learned to 2-step and wore my Wranglers and Ropers and was a country girl at heart. I never gave up my rock-n-roll roots, but it did take a back seat for a while while I was having my love affair with country music.

Then one night, I meet the man I knew I was going to spend the rest of my life with. He seemed to complete me and he loved country music too. So we often listened to the music together and would swap CD's and keep each other up to date on who was our faves for the moment. We spent 4 years together. I thought it was a match made in Heaven. I had never been in love so much before. I was absolutely head over crazy heels in love with this guy. I loved his family, they loved me. It was really, really perfect. He told me often I was beautiful and that he loved me and wanted to spend his life with me. He called me daily at work, just to say "I love you" and often would surprise me with flowers at work for no reason. I thought life couldn't get any better. This man was for me. I knew that God had sent him to me and that we were going to live happily ever after. .

On February 2, 1995, he surprised me with a beautiful birthday dinner and a lovely gift. Could this guy get any better I remember thinking. Then, out of nowhere, he calmly explained to me that he no longer wanted to be with me and that we were not going to be getting married after all and he didn't want to see me anymore. I was devastated. I was crushed. I couldn't breathe. I wanted to die, it hurt so bad. I couldn't understand the sudden change of heart. When I told people he broke up with me, they thought I was joking. His family and our friends tried to talk to him and all he would say, was she deserves someone better than me. WTH???? What does THAT mean? I deserved someone better? It left me hurt, angry and confused. All I wanted to do was wake-up from my nightmare. I would sit for hours and stare into nothing and I ached like nothing before. I wanted to just die. Consequently, at that moment, I could not bring myself to listen to country music. It became like fingernails down a chalkboard to me. It made my stomach turn to listen to it and I instantly hated it.

Enter the new sounds coming from out of Seattle like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana and Pearl Jam. That music sang to me like no other music ever had. It was deep, dark, hypnotic and mysterious and all about PAIN. I clung to it like a wet blanket. It eased my pain, if only temporary. Yes, I sure had a new love, and it's name was Seattle Grunge. I soaked myself in the grunge scene, because I had some pain buddy. I had pain to share and I had pain to give back to it. Pain was all I knew. I was forcing myself to get up and move everyday and work for money to pay the bills. By night, I would smoke and drink and ease the pain to the tune of Down in a Hole and I would marvel at just how much I felt like the lyrics that Layne Staley was belting out to me. I had a HOLE as big as the Grand Canyon inside of me and I needed to fill it with something. I filled it with cigarettes, booze and sex. Not proud of that fact, but it's who I was at the time. I just wanted to ease the pain, if only temporary. I knew one thing and that was that I HATED country music. It was a lie and I no longer believed the promise that it offered. I decided somewhere in the summer of 1995 that I would never, ever listen to country music again because it reminded me of HIM.

From 1995 up until last night, I have kept that promise. Country music has been hated by me (I can really hold a grudge when I want to) and I have been faithful to my promise to myself, that I hate country music. Country music has had nothing to offer me. I refused to even let it into my heart, so why bother. Over the years I have heard songs here and there that I was able to give credit to where it was due and acknowledge that country music stars are talented and they deserve recognition. But that kind of music was for the other people in the world, not people like me, in pain. I really believed that with all my heart. As you know the story, I met and fell in love with Ed and I moved on from the pain somewhat, but never letting Ed get too close to me. Even after 12 years together, I have never really ever let him into my heart all the way, it's too risky. It was so much easier loving him from afar I thought. No chance of being hurt again. Probably not the best way to live ones life I guess. Totally not fair to Ed as well.

Last night, while flipping through the channels looking for something to watch, I came across the CMA's. I decided to watch for awhile at Ivy's request. So we snuggled up and began watching and guess who performed right after we settled in? You can probably guess that it was George Straight. I remember thinking after he was done, "wow, that man still has it after all these years". But then as quickly as that thought came out, my next was "well that was just a fluke, then next song will suck". But I kept watching and while I didn't get much out of Kelli Pickler and Taylor Swift's new age country performances, I was thoroughly entranced with Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, Brooks and Dunn, Reba, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban. I found myself still watching long after Ivy had succumbed to sleep. I remember asking myself, "why are you STILL watching this stupid show Lisa??? You don't even LIKE country music, r-e-m-e-m-b-e-r???". But I kept on watching and then Carrie Underwood came out and sang this beautiful and very powerful song about loss and the flood gates opened when I heard her belt out one line that said, "I could hardly breathe.....this can't be happening to me" and all of a sudden for the first time in 13 years, I connected to it. It was like electricity running through my body. I was alive and at that very moment, it occurred to me that my heart was actually healed because I had let country music back into and it felt so right. I knew in an instant that my prayers had been answered. My simple, little prayer: please heal me because I am broke. God knows that I am too inattentive to hear him speak to me softly. He has to speak to me with ways that I can connect to and for me last night, it was through music that I love so much and connect to so well....even if it was "country" music in the end. What a day to be thankful for. The hard part is now moving forward with the knowledge that I am healed and I now need to move on. I am sure it won't be easy, but I love that I have finished with what seemed to be an excruciatingly painful growth process here. Move forward, keep breathing, move forward, keep breathing......

Monday, November 10, 2008

God's Amazing Grace

I sometimes go back through my older blog posts and re-read what I have written and I like to measure my progress. I use it as sort of a checks and balance type thing. I like to see if I am moving forward as I know God wants me to, or if I am going backwards and wallowing in the muck of self-pity. Can I just say wow? What a roller coaster ride the past year has been. There have been some really high, highs and then have been some really low, lows as well. I am so glad that I can just surrender my heart and all that it holds to God when it seems that I cannot bear another minute inside my own skin.

One post in particular really shouted out to me and I just want to clarify that Ed & I do not HATE each other. While we do, have and are currently experiencing marital difficulties, we are not disrespectful to one another. We remain friends. We do argue, like all couple do, we just argue more often these days due to the stress of autism. But we can still laugh together and I guess that would be a good thing. Second, my kids do not hate me and they don't hate each just SEEMS that way some days...especially on a day when Ivy has had too many dietary infractions and is on sensory overload. She can be demanding and overwhelming to deal with. It's those days that nearly break me. But it's those days that I have forgotten the most important thing I have ever learned about God. I forgot to turn it over to Him, so that he could grant me peace and that I could know that by HIS grace, I am not bearing this burden alone and that I am forgiven. Seems pretty simple as I read back through some of the painful posts now. Wonder why I never saw that at the time? Some one please point that out to me next time I post a pity party post (aka PPP) will ya???

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lisa's Hamburger Soup

This is THE BEST soup ever for this time of year. I highly recommend whipping up a couple of boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix to go along with it. This tastes even better the day after. I guarantee you can't eat just one bowl, so enjoy!!

Hamburger Soup

1 lb ground sirloin (or chuck)
5 c water
1-16 oz can diced tomatoes
1 c chopped onion
1 c sliced carrots (like coins)
1 c chopped celery
1/3 c pearl barley
1/2 c ketchup
1-2 tbsp beef bouillon granules
2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp dried basil, crushed
1 whole bay leaf (removed later)
salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven, brown the beef, drain off the fat. Add the water, tomatoes, onion, carrots, celery, barley, ketchup, bouillon, seasoned salt, basil and bay leaf. Bring to boil;reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 hour or until carrots are tender. Season with salt & pepper to taste, remove bay leaf. Makes 10 cups. Freezes well in 1 cup or 1 pint portions.

Monday, November 3, 2008

FALLING in love with FALL

I love Fall. I love that we are having a beautiful Indian Summer here in Indiana. The forecast for Halloween was wonderful. We trick-or-treated in the nice cool, crisp early evening air. Not too cold, just right. No need for winter jackets underneath their costumes either, LOL.

Fall means pulling out your sweaters and making pots of chili and veggie soup. I love the leaves changing colors on the trees in my yard. I hate raking them however...who likes raking leaves??? It means you start thinking about Christmas and what's on your list for Santa. It means clearing out the clutter before the holidays. Yes, I love Fall. I forgot how much I love Fall.

I think I'll pull out an old sweater, curl up with a good book, light my pumpkin spice candle, make a pot of Hamburger Soup and let Fall hang around this year.
Tomorrow I will post my recipe for Hamburger Soup. :)