Monday, February 28, 2011

Help is On the Way

I decided I need some of this...

Every week I say I'm going to wash the floors and deep clean the house, and I'd love to tell you my life is so exciting that things keep popping up and I just don't have time to do this.  But it's not only that, it's also the fact I just despise cleaning hardwood floors and dusting the blinds.  Yet, I LOVE a nice clean house.  Not that my house is messy by any means, I've actually been told by friends when I say I need to clean that my house is "immaculate" in their words.  But in order for me to keep from making unkept promises to myself, I've decided getting a little help is just what I need, especially with the spring months coming up when I like to be out and about!

That will also help me relax and enjoy planning some fun festivities for my friend and sister for their weddings!  I've had so much fun this weekend preparing for my sisters bridal shower.  It's not until June, but my mind is running wild with fun ideas!

And maybe I can get back to my love of baking….

And try to plan some getaways...

Do you have some help?  Am I just lazy?!
Who cares…time for more fun!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Taking One Step at a Time

Right now, I feel as if I could break down and cry.  And many times this week, it's been the best thing for me to do.  But right now a single tear won't shed, yet inside I feel a good cry is necessary.  Ever feel like that?

I'm so ready for August 28th to come…the day my ex and I can file for divorce.  You see, Maryland has the worst laws for getting a divorce and you have to be separated for a year.  I guess it's because it's a Catholic state and they think you should be able to try to work out things.  Well, if my ex didn't even want to go to therapy at first, and threw me out of the house giving me "24 hours to get out," I don't know why I really have to torture myself for months on end.  But the law is the law, and I wont be changing that any time soon.  Lord, I can't even remember to change the lightbulb in the guest room right now!

I know I'm not the first or only person who has gotten a divorce.  And I  won't be the last, unfortunately.  But sometimes, I've never felt so alone.  My little sister is getting married, an exciting time for most.  But it's so hard and tears me apart.  For instance, she's using the same florist…one of my favorite people in town!  And I ran into him not long ago at Pier 1.  I loved seeing him, I really did, because he makes me laugh so hard (I used to refer to him as "Fronk" like Fronk from Father of the Bride when I was getting married.  He was that awesome!)  But it's hard to see him now and not think of that special day.  Well, the day I thought was special.  The day I thought I was marrying my best friend.  My companion.  The man I would go to the end of the earth for.  The guy who I loved with all my heart.  And my world came crashing down on me without even a chance to try to fix it.

That's the kind of person I am.  I like to fix things, people, in particular.  I guess that's why I'm a nurse practitioner.  But my strengths have been tossed to the wind when I would have wanted to use them the most I could.  I always told my ex that divorce wasn't an option for me, and for him not to marry me if he ever thought that is what would happen.  He assured me he not only loved me, but that he was in love with me.  He promised we would be together forever.

Fast forward:  Promises don't matter to some people.  Hard work, tough times are not ideal for everyone.    However, I feel anything worth it, will be hard work.  But there's no point dwelling on that.  That chapter of my life is over.  And I've accepted that.  And I'm excited to move on.  I'm looking forward to my future each and every day.  I can't wait to find the guy who I'm supposed to spend the rest of my life with, a man who loves me as much as I love him.

But during this journey of moving forward, I have to take baby steps.  Some days are easy with tons of smiles, and special people to brighten each day.  But then there are gloomy times that I come crashing down out of the blue.  For instance, this week I was up with multiple pages about my patients throughout the night.  This makes for a very tired nurse practitioner who is precepting a student the next morning.  Then, on my way to work, I get an email from the photographer from our wedding asking what to do with our wedding pictures.  I break down in tears on I-695.  I can barely see out of the windshield, as the tears just accumulate, but I wont let them drip down my face and ruin my makeup for the day.  I will not let anyone at work know I was crying.  I will not call my friends, they are all at work, busy.  I don't want to be that girl.  The girl who calls and cries to her friends.  No one wants to hear it.  But for weeks, I've been coping alone, trying to get myself together.  So, I can't take another minute alone.  I call my mother.  Yup, in the car…I know…against the law.  But I swear if I was pulled over, I think the cop might take one look at me and be frightened and run away himself.  So, my mom can't talk because she, like everyone else, is just arriving at the office in the morning and people are around her desk.  I can't blame her.  After all, she dropped everything at her office when we found out my ex had drained our joint bank account to help me and my dad get anything out of the house I was living in with my ex.  She had been there and so was my dad and sister through all the turmoil.  When I was given 24 hours to get my stuff out of "his" house, I did.  My family took off work and moved me out.  While I sat on the floor with tears streaming down my face, my mom and dad tossed my shirts and pants, dresses and sweaters into the car, racing as fast as we could, as none of us could be in that house after how everything was handled.  So, when my mom couldn't talk on the phone this week, I understood, but that meant, here I was, alone again.  So I pulled into the parking lot at work, checked in the mirror, dabbed my eyes with the sleeve of my lab coat, took a deep breath, smiled and walked in to start my day.  Go figure, it was the facility's dentist first day and he introduced himself, and wanted to talk.  We went into the office and just chatted about how we planned to care for the patients together and get their routine care down.  When he asked me my last name I was taken back.  What IS my last name?!  The nurses know me as Lauren M, CRNP, who they take orders from.  That has been my only name as a nurse practitioner.  My family and friends have already changed my name back to Lauren D, and refuse to call me by Lauren M, as they say I should get rid of it as soon as possible.  But low and behold, by law, my name is still Lauren M.  So, that's what I tell the dentist.  And he goes on and on how he knows so many people by that last name and if we were jewish and who his dad is, and yada yada.  I explain, "No, we are both Catholic, his dad's name is G., and I really don't know many people on that side."  He then looks at my hand and says, "you don't wear your ring here…does your husband know that?!"  He was joking.  But my eyes teared up.  So, being the person I am, I coughed and acted like my eyes were tearing from the cough, and I just kept smiling.  I explained to him that (DUH!) my ring was being cleaned.  I just couldn't and didn't find the need to get into my personal life with this dentist I just met, and I'm pretty sure he didn't want to hear the story anyway!

Why am I telling you all of this?  I don't really know.  I guess I just want you to know if I have a bad day and am not as talkative as I usually am, or smiling and joking around as much, it probably has nothing to do with you.  It's just me.  It's just a stepping stone I need to walk over.

I feel I have come a far way from that August afternoon when my ex sent me a text to tell me he no longer loved me and did not want to be with me.  I have gotten through what would have been our first anniversary, bought a house on my own, attended my first wedding alone along with two others that I was in (thank God for my the worlds best husbands/finances of my best friends who so graciously held my lipgloss, got me a glass of wine when they got their wife one, and made sure I got home safely), I've gotten through many of the awkward questions about "When are you having kids with B, I'm sure you're next?!" I got through Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday with minimal tears, shoveled my way out of my house during lots of snow, learned to take out the trash weekly, use tools AND learn their names (yes, I know how to use an Allen Wrench now), started a fire in the fireplace, got through my birthday (you know, it's a national holiday, right?!), and the dreaded Valentine's Day (I never have been big on that holiday, but being single and seeing everyone's facebook statuses and all could seriously make you ill when you have recently had your heart shattered and stomped on), and have even dated a little bit.  I still have big hoops to get through… More weddings, lots of babies (probably one of the hardest things that makes my heart ache), and the daily events that pop up here and there.  And you know what? I can't promise I'll be smiling the whole way through.  But I can promise that I'm trying my best every single day.  And that's all I know what to do right now.  Trust me, I'm ready to find my special someone and share all the joys of life with, I really am.  But I hope when I meet that person, they will understand, this is part of my life too, and not every day will be perfect.  But that doesn't mean it won't be perfect between he and I, or you and I, friends.  I can only hope I find my Prince Charming who will be there for me through thick and thin, for better, for worse, and really mean the vows when they say them.

I'm just asking to be patient with me.  As my aunt has described me, like other people going through this, as I'm like "a little snowflake that is so fragile and you have to use gentle hands."  Don't worry, I can take a joke, and love days that I laugh a lot, but some days I just want to feel loved and supported more than ever.  I might not return calls right away, but that doesn't mean I don't want to talk to you or hang out with you.  It might just mean I'm trying to spare you the dreaded calls of talking to me when I'm at one of my worst moments and you probably don't know what to say to make it better.  I don't want you to feel bad.  And that's why I don't tell everyone what is going on.  I just don't want them to feel bad for asking where B is.  But in turn, please understand, I may feel bad, and I'm trying not to bring anyone down with me.  We have one life, and it's short enough as it is.  I'm trying to keep positive and move on, but if I don't get through this now, I'm afraid it will come up later.  Please be patient with me.  I love you all, all my friends, family, and blogging buds and you all have been wonderful, so thank you.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday Treats: Red Velvet Cookies

For a valentine treat, in addition to the yummy brownies last week, I made these this week for a sweet treat!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp red food coloring
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and combine until smooth.
3.  Beat in red food coloring.
4.  Stir in cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt until just combined. 
5.  Fold in chocolate chips.
6.  Using ice cream scoop, scoop out dough and place on cookie sheet. 
7.  Bake 10-12 minutes.



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Weekly Wednesday Recipe: Easy Baked Grouper

As you might know, I'm more apt to cook something that's easy and doesn't require a ton of ingredients…here's one for the books!

1 pound grouper fillet
1 medium onion, diced
1 small can sliced mushrooms (I used fresh, as I'm not a fan of canned foods and stay away as much as possible)
1 can tomato soup (however, I was not about to make homemade tomato soup, so canned will do here!)

1.  Saute onion in medium saucepan until tender.  Add mushrooms and cook until tender.
2.  Add soup and warm mixture.
3.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking dish with aluminum foil.
4.  Place fish in baking dish.  Pour soup mixture on top.
5.  Bake, covered, for 45 minutes.
6.  Then, bake uncovered for 15 minutes.



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Treats: Be Mine, Valentine Brownies

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
6 Tbsp baking cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp baking cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
Decorating sprinkles, optional

1.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla. 
2.   Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. 
3.  Gradually add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix well.
4.  Spread into a greased 9 X 13-in baking pan.  
5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 
6.  Cool in pan on wire rack. 

7.  For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the butter, milk and vanilla.  Add cocoa.  
8.  Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth. 
9.  Invert brownies onto cutting board.
10.  Spread frosting over cooled brownies.  
11.  Cut out heart shaped brownies with cookie cutter. 

12.  Decorate with sprinkles if desired.   

Add drop off to your friends, family, or that special Valentine! 


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday Treats: Butterscotch Pecan Slices

So, let me first start off by saying I made these cookies by mistake.  I thought I was making another cookie recipe, but I was on the phone with a friend and was not quite paying complete attention.  Whoops!  But no problem, really, as I still made great, yummy, warm cookies on a chilly winter night!  (Plus, it was sooo nice to catch up with a dear friend)

Second, I'm clearly aware that this is Thursday and not Tuesday.  Again, with this ice we have been having up here, I did not get a chance to bake until Tuesday evening, so I apologize.  But, fear not, here is a great recipe for baking!

6 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

1.  In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  
2.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.  
3.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
4.  Stir in pecans.  
5.  Shape into two 7-inch rolls.  Wrap each in plastic wrap.  
6.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
(If you know me, you know I don't have much patience and could not wait 2 full hours!)
7.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
8.  Unwrap and cut into 1/4 inch slices.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
9.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  
10.  Remove to wire racks to cool.



Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday Wellness: Panko-Crusted Salmon

I finally tried my first recipe from Barefoot Contessa's How Easy is That?
It was delicious, and I even had to make some adjustments, as I did not have all the ingredients, and in this ice storm we are having in Baltimore, I decided against venturing out just for a dinner recipe.

2/3 cup panko
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley (I just used parsley flakes)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 salmon fillets
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
 (just good old fashioned regular mustard in this house!)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

2.  In a small bowl, mix together the panko, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated.  Set aside.

3.  Place the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a board.  Generously brush the top of the fillets with mustard and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper (I just sprinkled with pepper, as I don't like a lot of salt).  Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each salmon fillet.  The mustard will help the panko adhere.

4.  Heat the vegetable oil over med-high heat in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or large heavy ovenproof pan. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3 to 4 minutes, without turning, to brown the skin. 
(I skipped this part entirely)

5.  Transfer the pan to the hot oven (or in my case, I just put the salmon on a baking sheet and placed in oven) for 5 to 7 minutes (I put in oven for about 10 minutes) until the salmon is almost cooked and the panko is browned.  

6.  Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.  

7.  Serve the salmon hot or at room temp with lemon wedges.