Family · food · Planning · Recipe

Corned Beef and Cabbage (Gluten Free) – Cooking Once and Eating Twice (or thrice)

While sipping coffee this morning I gathered the following list of ingredients:

1 Flat Cut Corned Beef package (3-4 pounds)

2 pounds of red potatoes, halved

1 large onion (peeled and cut into large sections)

1 pound of baby carrots

3 Tablespoons of Apple cider vinegar

1 half a head of cabbage, sliced (feel free to add more)

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon cracked pepper

1 Tablespoon Corned Beef pickling spices

Then I grabbed my slow cooker. I layered the potatoes, cut in half on the bottom first

Next, I tossed in the carrots and onions.

After unpackaging and rinsing the corned beef, I set it over the veggies with the fat side up.

I prefer Penzeys spice so I added my own, sprinkling it over the meat. You certainly can use the packet provided. But this picture may show you why I like Penzeys.

Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper.

What about the cabbage? I prefer crisper cabbage so I wait until the last hour to put mine on top. Feel free to put yours on sooner.

Water!!! Add water into the crock pot until the meat is half way in the water, at least. The veggies and meat will make more fluids so you don’t want to fill the whole pot.

Pop on the lid and set it on low.

After 8 hours, add the cabbage if you decided to wait like I did.

Cook on low for another hour.

Take the meat out and let it rest for a few minutes. Slice it and plate up the rest either as side dishes or right next to the main event!


Tip: grain mustard goes great with it.

And if you have leftovers, plan for sandwiches tomorrow while you enjoy March Madness!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Family · Goals · lists · Planning · Vision · Writing

Unboxing – Erin Condren Haul

Every once in awhile I come home to a box waiting for me. It feels like Christmas.

So, here is the latest box from Erin Condren! Isn’t that a pretty box? The word “enjoy!” and the pretty design lend a subtle clue that EC has blessed my step. I kinda dig when the box does not blatantly display a company name.

And when I saw this pastel beauty next to my front door I was a giddy girl. Ready to see what is inside? Me too!

Let’s open it!

The enjoy! theme is mirrored inside. I just adore when I order items and they come packaged like a gift. Personal touches is a trend that big box retailers miss.

When I was browsing the site I wanted a new notebook (Her planning system is not what I use these days) and was hoping I could find something with my words for 2018. This little gem ties nicely to Strength. So I jumped on in and customized to colors that made me happy. That is the fun of Erin Condren. You can personalize with your name and change the colors within her palatte range. And the paper quality is amazing! Let’s tour this notebook.

The cover is laminated so the inside can be used over and over again with the wet erase markers.

Instead of the standard lined notebook, I opted for the productivity notebook with a list margin. We all know i love making lists! I haven’t decided what I will do yet with this notebook. I know it is going to be for writing projects. And as a lover of lists I thought I could brainstorm in bullets or list what I might need to research.

The notebooks are filled with quotes and reminders of positivity which make me smile when I use them. I need more positivity. How about you?

Did I mention I love the paper? Made in the U.S.A. and a nice thick paper that won’t tear easily. I am in love and can’t wait until I have a block of time to play.

What else is in the box?

These gift tags were a freebie. I realized I shop regularly with EC and prefer online versus going to Staples for their limited inventory. And I never signed up for the EC Insider program. I finally took the plunge for the perks. And as a thank you they sent me these! What fun! Watch for a post in the not so distant future when I embellish with them.

Markers! I have to hide these from my teenager. I really do. Not only because she would likely borrow them with no plan to return but because I have been organizing in my office in my spare time and my marker/pen/highlighter collection is already put of hand. These are my first ever from EC. They were 15% off and the Wet Erase are needed for some other items in the box. And those are…

These laminated beauties were also on sale. I wanted to see how they work with any and all spiral notebooks. And I wanted to explore laminated or permanent reusable inserts for planners would work for me. Now you know why I needed the wet erase markers. I just love these colors! Watch for some future blogs where I plan with them. I am so excited.

Oh…that isn’t all!

I love pen holders that can be stuck in journals, notebooks, and planners. And these were on sale making them under $2 each. I have never tried EC holders. I have several from Happy Planner and Michael’s but they are not plain and simple. I am into the thought of the pen holder blending in and the pen of choice standing out.

And the Coil Clip Connectors allow you to put anything inside the spiralbound notebook, journal, or planner. A custom-made dashboard or checklist might be good to pop into one…and I have always wondered what to use. So I grabbed a couple to play around with and maybe share with my readers.

Last…but certainly not least. I love these daily dots sets.

And I have been meaning to play around with this on one of my planners. I cannot wait to show you how. I will also compare these to other daily dots that I have found via other retailers.

All in all I am happy with my new unboxing. The notebook feels so personal and was definitely a treat for me. I did pay full price for it. It is okay to splurge every once in a while. All of the accessories were on sale so I went a little crazy while still staying under my budget for my splurge. Don’t you love when that happens?

Watch for some projects coming up in the next couple of months as I put these to good use and compare EC products to other brands.

Have you ever purchased Erin Condren products? The company has quite a selection and not just paper and planners. The colors and desings change regularly throughout the year. I tend to place an order every quarter if one of the new designs catches my eye.

What do you think of Erin Condren products?


Vision-On Writing

When I sip coffee in my favorite spot, my chair in my bedroom, I have a clear view of my vision board, and the mess around me. My major goal today is to tackle the mess. And I will right after my coffee.

For now, I am meditating on the section of my board that has a big “W” on it. Write and Create. My eyes have honed in on that section every morning this week. And let me tell you it is eating at me. I aspire to write all the time. I think about writing. I dream about it. And I write. I fail to do it consistently and diligently. I follow writers on social media whom I hold in high regards to gain inspiration and motivation. I have a bookshelf full of books on the craft. I have notebooks full of ideas.

A couple of days ago, I argued with myself while sipping coffee. The same excuses of many aspiring writers came up for debate:

  • Not enough time
  • Work and Family consume me
  • I probably suck
  • I need a class
  • I need a plan
  • I need
  • I can’t

And a few sips later I was on the web looking at writing classes and retreats. I even went on Etsy to look for writer and blogger planning tools.

Last night I was in my mess of an office mentally planning for my blog series and shuffled through a few things in my bookshelf.

I found a binder and inside it was the hard copy of a draft manuscript that I have done nothing more than move around, pack, and unpack in a couple of years. I stood there and read a few pages. I realized I don’t suck. I can write. Pretty darn well. And I need to stop making excuses.

So in my journey of creating an organize crafting space, it will have not just planner crafting, it will include planning to write and space that encourages that craft.

I plan to dust off the manuscript and see if it should be revised or set aside to allow these other characters and their stories dancing around my head to be told.

As for classes and retreats…well, I have the best retreat right here: my favorite chair in my favorite corner of the house and that office next door. I just need to remove the mess, keep meditating on my vision, and well, write.

Time to tackle the mess…right after I finish this cup of coffee. Happy Saturday.


Mom Worry – Thirteen Going On Thirty

Friday, I received a text from my daughter that the school was on lock down. Having just joined a conference call with colleagues in our Florida office, very near that recent school shooting, I immediately shared that I was texting with my daugher due to the lock down and apologized if I seemed distracted. With all of the recent shootings, imagine where my mind went. Yes. What threw me was how “commonplace” it felt to receive the reaction of genuine concern with everyone admitting they were logging into news sites while I was getting details directly from my daughter.

This instance wasn’t a shooter at the school. With so many already this year, it was what first came to mind for myself and my colleagues. Police were in pursuit of a suspect involved in a shooting near the school. During the pursuit, the suspect stepped into the perimeter of the school property. He was apprehended and the students and faculty remained safe. Thank God! Those twenty or so minutes of texting with my daughter, knowing what was happening and having zero control over the outcome, were terrifying. Relieved, I poured an extra cup of coffee and engaged in another conversation with God about the worry and fear that still clouded my focus. I rambled to Him about the way the world seems now. At that age, my world was so innocent in comparison. My friends and I talked about music and crushes and parties. At school we had fire drills and tornado drills. Lock down? That didn’t happen. If we were locked in the school it was for an overnight retreat type activity like Project Graduation. Am I showing my age?

About an hour after the lock down, I picked my daughter up (normal time) from school and while we drove to Taco Bell to grab lunch, she talked more than I ever remember her talking on a Friday. I was completely taken back by her rambling revelations. She shared that lock down procedures have changed recently because of the school shootings. And frankly, some of the things she shared made my heart ache more than ever. Did you know that our kids are being trained by their teachers, administration, and police officers? She has been taught things to remember when a shooter is on the premises:

  • Stay away from internal and external windows
  • Lock and barricade doors with anything you can like desks and chairs
  • If the gunman is shooting at you, throw things at him or her
  • A fire extinguisher makes a great weapon: spray at them with it or use it as a weapon to hit the person

What really was surprising about all of this was that my daughter was thinking about all of this while that gunman was running around the area. She mentioned that she realized the choir room, which is the class she was in during lock down, was mostly windows and unprotected. She mentioned that she raised a concern to her teacher that the fire extinguishers are in the hallway and not in any classroom. She shared how the teachers use their classroom phones and email to stay in contact with the office and any police that may be with the administration for updates on the situation. She talked about the games they played to try to stay calm and distracted from what was going on around them even though three helicopters flew overhead. She talked about throwing things at a shooter seems smart…”but what if he (she never mentioned a female…in her mind it will be male) has an automatic weapon?” And at each new reveal, my heart went further into my throat or further into my stomache. I listened and tried my best to sound like I could reaffirm the direction provided by the school. At least I think I did. I’m not sure. Two days later, as I’m writing this, whatever I said has faded. Her words echo in my mind. Still. And two days later, I’m still sad at the innocence that seems lost. My heart aches knowing that her thoughts about friendships and crushes, school dances and plays are all sprinkled with worries I never had.

At her age, I didn’t have email, classroom phones, access to social media or mobile phones that allowed us to connect with anyone outside of school during the day. When did being 13 sound more like being 30? When did it become acceptable that our children try to learn while panicking or planning to be at the ready for a war that they don’t really understand. Heck, as a parent I don’t understand it myself. I know that my colleagues in Florida are still reeling from that shooting. And I feel like many of us are hypersensitive. In the past two weeks, I found out that my cousin in Ohio had a school shooting in a junior high right next to the high school she attends. And even my high school alma mater in Raytown had to address a threat made by a student. Sadly, it feels like every day we are seeing more incidents that adds to my fears. For everyone not just my family.

This is more than politics and policies. I don’t care if my neighbor, friend, and collegue are for or against guns. I pray that people become in love with the idea of genuine relationships: ones where we spend time together, making eye contact, touching, and truly conversing. I’m simply drawing a contrast to being 13 in the 1980s and today. As a mother I worry. I do so every day. I know my mother did too. But her worries weren’t quite the same as mine. She worried that my friends were quality just like I do. She hoped I made good choices when faced with peer pressure just like I do. She worried that my heart would be broken just like I do. She worried about me getting hurt in a car accident but I don’t think she ever worried that a person with a gun would be in a mall or a school taking aim where I might be. This mom worries and continually asks, “When did it become okay for our children to be 13 going on 30?”

Noteworthy Mention: While I was working on this post today, I made it a point to shift gears for family. I made sure to pause in my writing to spend time with my daughter and watch a movie together. I even decided to make cookies today. I have control on what happens here in my home and I certainly can encourage her to be simply 13.


Managing Mondays-When one call can change a game plan

This past weekend, I did the usual on Saturday morning. I put together a meal plan and did some make ahead meals for the week. I wanted to make the week easy as possible because I have lots of twists and turns that may be happening in work and life. In the effort to control what I can and reduce stress I cooked. Have I ever shared that being in my kitchen is a joy to me? Cooking relaxes me. More often than not, I cook from memory and my menus often reflect my mood. The temperatures have been cooler and stresses bring on the desire for comfort foods. I made a few of those things (all gluten free of course):

  • Baked Macaroni and Cheese
  • Tator Tot Casserole
  • Jambalaya
  • Chili

Today, at the end of a crazy Monday, I am glad I did. I only had time to dish up a serving at moments when I was so hungry I couldn’t focus, pop the dish in the microwave, devour and get back in the game. Ever have a day like That? Yeah. Me too.

And as I ended my long day, I took a look at my weekly plan and this little gem was staring at me.

Yep! My turn to fulfill my civic duty. Maybe. That is the part that adds stress. I will not know until Wednesday evening when I make the call to find out if I will be selected for jury duty.

So, how does one plan for the unknown? It is the unexpected to always expect. Right? And if I do have to go, what do they tell you to plan for? Well, they have a list. And I found some of this amusing. In my mind a lot of it is logical. The website is quite specific. Perhaps folks just do not know. Like the, “caution: contents may be hot” warning label on a coffee lid. People don’t always think. Nor do they read ahead. I guess I do though.

The website gave the following guidelines:

  • Business Casual: no shorts, tank tops, torn jeans (Really? People have tried this?)
  • It may be chilly in some areas of the courthouse, so they suggest wearing layers like sweaters and light jackets
  • Bring a book or something to do because there may be a lot of down time waiting (this one made me pause. Something to do is vague and I wonder if people crochet and knit or do crosswords too. Would anyone bring nothing at all?)

I haven’t had to do this in quite a while and the tips on the site were great for the most part. That clothing bit had me laughing out loud. I wonder if people get sent home for failing to adhere to the guidelines. And Does it count against them As if they failed to appear? Does anyone know?

I have a plan…or a list. I can’t stand starting the week without something thought through for this potential plot twist.

When I call and if I find out I am going in the next day, I have a list of things I have to do for work and home. I have to put into effect how my daughter will get to and from school as well as contingency plans if I am selected to be on a long-term jury. And as for work, I have another list on who gets to do what while I am out for one day. And there is another brainstorm list if I get lucky for a longer jury sit in what I need to do quickly to set expectations and provide delegation of work.

Oh the joys of jury duty!

Now that I have my tentative planning adjustments set for the “just in case” my mind has started to imagine what case I might be asked to help decide. Isn’t that fun?

Or will I call Wednesday evening to find out my list making and planning wasn’t needed after all?

It is good to practice plan than panic. Right? Or am I just planning crazed? You tell me. I feel better prepared no matter what.

Have you served on a jury? What can I look forward to?


Vacation-The Rock Boat Recap

As I am sipping coffee I recognize that I still need to tell you all about the World’s Best Floating Music Festival, The Rock Boat.

Remember when I was worried about what to pack? I made list after list planning for themes, the days before in New Orleans, and fluctuating weather. I was nearly obsessed because I didn’t want to bring “cranky” along on that trip.

Why the Worry?

For the past 18 years, I have budgeted and reserved this special time for me. What started as an opportunity to have a fan girl weekend with my favorite band, Sister Hazel, in 2001 has evolved into this amazing annual week long escape from life, work, and motherhood. It is a full immersion into music where my connection to the regular world gets suspended. I found the perfect recipe with my favorite vacation ingredients: cruising, great music, fun people, and going off the grid.

Where Music Fans Become Family

In this immersive world I have made friends who feel like family. Many of these people I see only during our noat vacation because they live all over the world. And our Family Reunions are Epic! This kinship has allowed me opportunities to visit cities where some my adopted family lives. I have been a guest in Charleston and Austin and have open invitations to a world full of places when time time is right. How amazing is that?

Here I am with some of my Rock Boat Family.

Where Music Is Joy-My Happy Place

In this immersive world I am in my happy place. I see artists I love in a setting like no other: On a cruise. Every year, the hosts, Sister Hazel and the event planning team at Sixthman, work hard to bring us the perfect mix of fan favorites and new artists. And their formula works. I come away every year with a list of new music to add to all of my playlists. I do not fall in love with every artist on the boat. I doubt I ever will. And truthfully if I did I would probably complain that the scheduling conflicts kept me from seeing everyone at least once.

This year, I found so much joy in music while seeing Sister Hazel remembering that they brought me along on this incredible journey year after year. I am that girl that cries when she is happy. And I did.

I was giddy to find that Tony Lucca and JD Eicher returned as Stowaways. And I loved some down time where my friends and I got to chat with Tony. We talked about parenting and why it is more challenging than ever with social media and our ever evolving culture. We talked about our families and life. What you learn whwn you get these moments is that musicians are not so different than we are. They just have different gifts. Nothing beats my vacation because I get incredible moments like this: unplanned, unexpected, and immensely special.

Anyone who knows me, knows I adore Will Hoge. The Rock Boat brought him into my life in the early 2000s and I have loved his music ever since. The best known fact about Will Hoge on TRB is that he NEVER repeats a song. With three full sets, not repeating a song means you get to hear a mix of old and new. This fan girl LOVES this. I see him every time he is in Phoenix. Will on tour is amazing. But Will on the boat is SPECIAL. And…

This year was very special. Will brought his wife on stage to sing a song with him. Seeing him excited for this filled my heart with happy joy. When I see my favorite artists have their own glee moments on vacation adds joy for me in volumes.

There were so many great returning artists like Cowboy Mouth, Barenaked Ladies and NeedtoBreathe. You may know them. If you don’t check them out. You may love them as much as my TRB Family does. See them when they come to your neck of the woods.

What New Music Did I Find?

We were joined by many new artists. I felt instant love for many like The Rocketboys.

And some that seemed to be favorites for many I just didn’t feel a personal connection with like Low Cut Connie.

It doesn’t matter if I loved them because as you can see, their shows drew a crowd. It made my heart happy to see everyone living it up. And for me, I just wandered to the next venue to listen to something different.

The schedule can be maddening if you are trying to see it all. I biewed the schedule like a menu in a buffet. If I didn’t find one show deliciously delightful, there was something somewhere else that I would love more.

I have to confess that I was less than stellar at taking photos. If I am really enjoying myself I am not taking pictures. And often I am standing in a place that makes many photos look bad. I will not apologize for not having more photos. You can search YouTube for videos because my TRB Family loves to share. I encourage you to do that. The fewer pictures I have means the more fun I had. Don’t you agree?

Is it like a regular cruise?

It is in the sense that we are setting a course for adventure and every year our itinerary includes stops in ports. We have great dining options included in the price with some specialty dining options for a fee. There is a buffet nearly 24 hours a day for folks like me where eating is a secondary focus. I eat for the energy on this vacation so the buffet is a stop mid action to refuel. On other cruises, my foodie comes out. But on The Rock Boat, I only marginally care about food. Sometimes eating conflicts with music and fun. I will opt for the later choices nine times out of ten.

With an unlimited drink package, I did my best to get my money’s worth each day. Now, I don’t want to alarm anyone. I drink to enjoy not to pass out and forget. This year I drank so many mudslides I think they became a meal replacement. I just wasn’t hungry with all of that ice cream. And I laugh remembering the day that I drank so many I realized my only meal was breakfast. Thanks, Steve, one of my cabinmates who gave me my first and many that day. It seemed he always came back from the bar with two and lovingly shared.

Progreso, Mexico was one of our stops. I explored with friends. I really enjoyed walking past the duty free and seeing some of the every day life in the port. Progresso is a fishing town. Smaller boats like these were found along the coast.

And that margarita in Progreso was probably one of the best I have ever had. They squeezed the limes at the bar as they made the drink. No mix. Not too sweet. Not too sour. Perfect!

Like any cruise you can shop duty free on board. You can schedule pampering time in the spa and salon. You can lounge in the sun. You can find quiet places to read or chat. However, you will likely find that more difficult because my TRB Family loves to be loud and party. And I love that!

What did I miss?

Who knows!?!? I am sure I missed a lot. Everyone in the family walks away with their own stories and memories. I know I didn’t play bingo this year. I know I slept in and didn’t get off the ship in Cozumel. What I missed is seeing Sarah Potenza. I think I shouldn’t have. I saw her on a cover set with other artists and loved her. I didn’t get a chance to see her performing her originals. Her image and her bluesy voice caught me. Luckily, she is coming back in 2019.

No regrets. I can’t do everything. But whatever I did was filled with joy. I have friends who take pictures of me. Thankfully, my friend Chris took this one. I share it, not to show off my layers to keep warm. Not to show my attempt to fly. Simply this is a moment where I am singing and dancing like no one is watching. I am letting out my inner child and immersed fully into the moment.

Photo Credit: Christopher D. White, 2018

Some of my highlights

My Rock Boat family likes to party so often some will host cabin parties. Invitations come by way of swag with cabin numbers, date, and time written on them. Here I am at the Duck Fart party. How many people do you think we squeezed into less than 400 square feet? That is a real show of love when you squeeze in for a photo opportunity in a small space. It probably didn’t hurt that we all had at least a shot or two….

Sixthman makes sure we bring home memories. From photos to swag. My foam finger hasn’t found a home yet. In fact, I keep playing with it now and then when I am listening to music at home. The blanket is on my favorite chair in my bedroom ready to provide warmth when I am reading and sipping coffee.

Theme nights? Yes. Every night has a theme and we love our themes. We sailed from New Orleans in the midst of Carnival season and we had local favorite, Cowboy Mouth on board. Mardi Gras had to be one this year.

And we partied late into the early hours of the next morning…here we are in Silent Disco. Ever been to one? What fun! I especially love when The Rocketboys and The Georgia Flood were mixing the songs. I have to believe the artists had fun too. This night members of Sister Hazel and their wives and friends were there too. You never know who you will be dancing with.

Let me sum it up

This is probably my favorite week of the year. I have stories and memories that couldn’t happen anywhere else.

Here is a link to the lineup at this year’s festival. I hope you will check out their music. Music brings people together. One thing I can admit, my TRB Family comes from all walks of life. We all have different beliefs. We likely all differ in politics. What we all have in common is love. Love for music. Love for each other. I wish this one week spilled out all around us every week of ever year. I personally carry memories that pop into my mind that lighten a mood and bring smiles to my days. For that I am grateful.

And because of that I cannot wait until February 1, 2019. I get to do it again. Yay!

Have you ever been on a chartered cruise? Ever been to a music festival? Tell me about it.


Being Out on a School Night

I really need my coffee this morning.

Why on earth was this 40-something single mom out so late? I was making memories with my daughter.

One of my Christmas gifts for her was a promise to take her to see Crown the Empire. And months ago I knew this was a School Night. Still this morning it wasn’t easy to get up and move…for her, myself or her best friend who went with us and spent the night.

Call me crazy. I am not insane though. It was a fun night. Way more fun for the teens than me. This was their music and they were fan girls the whole night. And not just about Crown the Empire. The other bands on the bill included Asking Alexandria and Black Veil Brides. Ever heard of them? Well, not this mom!

I love music and any of my friends know I listen to so many genres and styles of music and many of my favorites are obscure or little known artists.

I love finding new music. And even more, I love gifting my children with music and memories…especially when we do them together.

So, being out so late you might wonder if I was a stick in the mud mom frowning all night or some crazy mom from the movie, Mom’s Night Out. Well, I hope neither.

On the way to the venue I shared what they might expect.

I checked to see if they wanted to be in or near “the pit” and were prepared to feel pain. I got all the mom warnings out of the way and set basic ground rules. What a great plan. It helped us just ease in and enjoy the night.

We didn’t have any pit mishaps because they didn’t go close. That made me happy because I got to enjoy the bands and find joy in the joy my daughter was having.

I kept them hydrated and me caffeinated.

CTE was great. Maybe not my first choice in music but I loved their performance, their interaction with the crowd, and lyrically, I actually was sucked in. Who knew I could like Emo?!?!

Asking Alexandria was MY favorite in the lineup. I will be updating my YouTube channel with videos later in the week so you can see what I saw and loved.

And notice…we were nowhere near the pit. Ha ha.

What do we do when waiting for the headliner to go on? Why cut up a bit of course. I do love that girl of mine and her bestie just makes me smile too. I found out she really has only been to one concert before. So what a great for me to give her this experience and be part of this memory of hers in the making.

Black Veil Brides although my least favorite seemed to be a huge favorite in this crowd. I can’t wait to listen to more. I may be missing something still. It seems like their older stuff sounds different than the newer and bands have these evolutions. U2 and Madonna did this to me. So perhaps, BVB has something worth diving deeper into. I felt like I should be hearing them on TV or movie soundtracks. Especially ones that target the younger Emo listening audience…ahem, millenials?

Either way, I loved being out late on a School Night and can’t wait to find another excuse to do it. Especially if I am with my girl.

Did I look like a stick in the mud? I really had a great time discovering new music and making memories.

Watch for my video channel updates post editing.

Any new music suggestions?