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“Mom, that girl is here again.”

That’s what I woke up to in the middle of the night.  My daughter, in a sleep state next to me, telling me that this girl is here with us.  I have never heard of this girl.  I don’t see a girl.  That doesn’t mean I don’t believe that there is a girl there.  I tell her to go to sleep anyway.  What can I do?  I’ve been plagued with nighttime visions my entire life.  It was only natural that my daughter would be the same way.  Over the years I have learned to block it, but how do you explain to a child that she has a gift–a gift that can scare her, could even hurt her.  Do you say, “Oh, by the way, dead people can communicate with us and they will.  Get used to it.  Learn to control it.”

Each person needs to learn to control it in their own way.  All I can do now is try to protect her….

Later that night…I wake up to something in the room again.  I have my hand on my daughter’s arm.  I hear myself demanding that they GO!  I know I’m yelling at them to go away.  The dogs only seem slightly disturbed.  They go through this with me…with us…frequently.

“Mom, mom, it’s okay.  Go back to sleep.”

“I’m awake.  Didn’t you tell me there was a girl here?”  Silence.

“No.  I don’t remember that.”

“Okay.  It’s okay.  Let’s go back to sleep.”

This is a typical night.  It happens maybe once a week–sometimes more often, sometimes less often, but it is a natural part of our life.  My daughter has insisted on sleeping with me for the past year.  I don’t argue.  I feel this constant need to protect her during the night.  Her “gift”, if you want to call it that, is getting stronger.  The only way I can protect her right now is to be there with her to ward off these spirits.  She’s not ready for it yet and they are not all good.

I’m feeling sick lately.  I suffer from heart conditions.  Classic symptoms of someone who can see and speak to dead people.  Someone who attracts them.  Someone who tries to ward them off.  Eventually, it will get to you.  Everything is fine with me.  My blood tests are normal, most things are normal with me.  So why do I feel extreme exhaustion?  Why are some days so difficult to get through?  Why do I never sleep well?  I can tell you why.  Because I need to stop suppressing.  I need to find my inner self again, so to speak.  Have you had similar experiences?  Comment about them.  I’d love to hear about it.


If you’ve read anything I posted in the past, you know that my weight actually weighs heavily on my mind.  Monday I started a new plan.  One thing I can say about the various plans I’ve participated in and created, is that I have learned a few things.

The first thing is that I am extremely busy in the daytime.  Although I don’t mind eating healthy, I find that I do not have time for the preparation some healthy snacks and meals require.  I also have very little time in the evenings to prep things ahead of time.  My solution is that I need to be on a diet plan that utilizes shakes during the day.

I had been on Isagenix and I really loved it, although after a while, I got really tired of the nasty shakes.  No, they never tasted good to me.  The chocolate was the best, but then I made the mistake of ordering vanilla.  I found there is absolutely no doctoring that can get rid of the gross oatmeal-type taste.

I have a few containers of Isa left and I may use them at some point, but I found Slimfast to be relatively inexpensive when compared to other plans.  The most expensive part of the plan are the 100 calorie snacks.  You can get around this by planning on your own 100 calorie snacks (up to three times a day), but then you’re not getting the extra protein and fiber necessarily.

It costs around $6 a week for me to drink my shakes.  This buys me one small can of chocolate Slimfast and provides 14 shakes (I have to drink them for breakfast and lunch).  I eat the 100 calorie snacks in between and make a healthy meal at night.

I managed to get my Bowflex M5 inside the house a couple of weeks ago.  Now I have no excuse to avoid exercise.  Also, snow is melting and temperatures are rising outside, which means I can do plenty of walking.

Since Monday, I have completed the 14-minute exercise program on my M5 that they advertise on TV every day.  Monday, I felt like I was going to die.  Today, I am packed full of energy, I feel relatively alert, I’m in pain and I feel almost euphorically happy.

Tonight I am making chicken for dinner.  No, I have no idea yet what I am doing with it.  I plan on using my Nuwave–another excellent thing to have during weight loss.  See, folks?  Losing weight is NOT cheap.  Even healthy food is NOT cheap.  It can be difficult in the winter when you have to deal with snow, ice and people not shovelling and salting their sidewalks. There is one place I can walk indoors for free here.  It is a 15 minute drive and they are only “open” Monday through Friday during my working hours.  So, not an option.  I don’t want a gym membership at this time (although, I am seriously thinking about doing a family YMCA membership, so I can swim and also use their other equipment–plus, for my 8-year-old daughter.

This new plan started, because I started to lose weight.  I was stuffing my face with what I wanted, not exercising, yet I lost 10 pounds?  My daughter then started selling Girl Scout cookies and I started eating tons of crap (i.e. cookies).  Still, did not gain the weight back.  So, I thought to myself that I better take advantage of whatever positive thing my body is doing right now and actually work on it.  I asked myself how much more I would have lost if I had simply paid attention to my eating and gotten some exercise.

Right now my plan is to use my M5 7 days a week and to strictly follow my Slimfast diet at least 6 days a week.  Sunday is my only day off each week (and that is only if I stay caught up on my work), so I may need a day of “doing what I want” so I don’t get bored of the plan.

Another plus to using Slimfast (for folks out there on public assistance–yes, you deserve to be healthy too!) is that the products are covered on the food card.  I do know people who are able to use their food cards to buy the Slimfast shakes (buy the can and take the time to mix it–you will save money!) and the snacks.

You only get 5 bags of snacks per box.  The snacks are the most expensive part coming in around $5 a box, or $1 per snack.  You need 2 to 3 snacks a day.  You are allowed 3.  I eat a snack in between my shakes and lunch shake and dinner.  After dinner, I generally do not feel like eating any more, but you do have the option of an additional snack, if needed.

At that rate, one box of snacks will only cover you for 1 to 2 days.  You do get 5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein in each snack.  I forget how much you are getting in the shakes.  Fiber and protein are important for two reason.  They help you feel less hungry in between meals and also the fiber keeps everything “flowing” through your body.

In addition to Slimfast, I have purchased the biggest container of Metamucil, which provides up to 6 grams of fiber per drink.  I drink two of those a day–one in the morning and one at night after dinner.  There are other benefits other than fiber from drinking it.  The large container is a 1 to 2 month “supply”.  At $16, it’s not as expensive as you would think.

So, with my current plan of only needing 2 snacks a day, I need 14 snack bags–or 3 boxes at $5 a piece–that is $15 worth of snacks and $6 worth of Slimfast.  $21 a week for you to lose weight is not bad.  If you have a family in school and at work, you most likely only eat one meal a day with them.  Make it a healthy one.  I get around a lot of calories and fill myself up by eating a lot of meat.  Roasts (when on sale) are good–chicken, fish, etc.

I checked today and so far am not down any weight.  I know you are supposed to wait until at least one to two weeks has gone by.  I will keep you all updated on this.

Are you on your own weight loss journey?  Please feel free to comment and share your tips here.

TIP:  I read somewhere that coconut oil is good for “boob sweat”–that’s what it said!  Lately, when I “sweat”, my skin itches like crazy!  I started putting a small amount of coconut oil in the areas that sweat and itch and so far, no itch.  Try it and let me know if it works for you.

Catching Up


It’s been a long, long time since I have posted on here.  Believe me when I tell you that I have thought about it.  I have been busy.  We’re coming to the end of 2015 and I’m hardly better off than when we were coming to the end of 2014.

To catch readers up, in July of 2014 we were told we had to leave Ireland.  We decided to return to the US.  We went back to our home state of WI, where we had family, friends and most importantly, our things!

At first we stayed in a lake cottage, but that was only temporary.  By October, we needed to find a permanent place fast.  Eventually I found an apartment owner that was looking for someone to move into a 2 bedroom apartment, rent-free, to manage two buildings.

It seemed like a fit.  The apartments allowed our large breed dog and although I found both the bathroom and kitchen (two of the most important areas in a home) to be downright hideous, I was assured that those areas would be updated after we moved in.

Not only did that never happen, but the apartment manager became a complete nightmare.  I’ll talk more on that later in other posts (hopefully).

By September, 2015, we were moving out and the apartment owner had decided to sue us and attempted to get a judge to issue an eviction on our records.  She was unable to get the eviction, but did manage to get a judgement against us.

Living in that apartment became a nightmare.  Our daughter is permanently affected by it.  Even though we are moved out into a single family home, away from having close neighbors or evil landlords, she is still affected in ways I am only beginning to understand.  Some people think we are exaggerating, but they didn’t have to deal with what we dealt with and they’re not in our home to see what our daughter goes through constantly.

So that’s where we’re at for now.  We’re working too much and we have too little money to do what we want.  No one wanted to return to WI and no one is happy that we’re still stuck here.  As of now, the future is looking grim.

One of my goals that I’m working on is to be able to dedicate just 15 minutes a day to writing fiction.  So far, the idea has been in my mind, but I haven’t been able to do it.  Another goal is to finish the construction on the home we are in.  There is so much to do!  Finally, as always, I am trying to lose weight.

Check back for more stories about what has happened since we returned, as well as other odds and ends that I feel like talking about.


It had been a long time since I had a use for macros, but recently I found myself working on some transcription files that really needed them.  Because of the formatting required and the number of participants, not using macros was really slowing me down.  I looked up directions on various websites and no matter how closely I followed them, nothing worked.  Finally, I figured out how simple it was on my own.  Since I had so much trouble finding clear instructions, I thought I’d share in case there is anyone else out there confused.

In the 2010 version of Word, you’ll need to record your macro.  Start by clicking on the “Developer” tab at the top of Word.  You’ll see your macro options on the left-hand side.

Click “Record Macro” in the options. A box will come up. You can name the macro if you want, or leave it (it will automatically be named Macro 1, 2, 3 etc.). I wanted a keyboard macro, so I chose the “keyboard”.

A new box will open and you will be able to label your short key. You’ll need to use something like Ctrl and a letter or number. For example, I’m using Control W here. You can enter this command into the box by actually typing it out (hitting the control button and letter sequence at the same time). Then click the “Assign” button.

Once you’ve done this, close the box will close and you’ll be back to your normal document. This is where it got confusing for me. If you look at the top of your screen, you’ll see that you’re actually recording a macro now. That means that whatever you type will record in the command you gave it. For example, if I am using a macro to insert a name all in caps to identify a speaker, I would now allow Word to record this by typing out: BETH:

Once you are done typing out what you want y our command to do, you’ll need to hit the “Stop Recording” option in the upper left. Now test your macro by hitting the key sequence in your document.

If you want this macro to be document specific, you’ll need to choose the name of your document in the pull-down menu button under “Store macros in” in the first box that pops up after you choose “Record Macro”.


In the past I’ve talked about where to find the best food and American foods in Germany and where to find bacon in Ireland.  Today I want to talk about finding professional baking items for the home baker.  In addition to my online work, I started baking cakes, cheesecakes, pies, pastries, etc. and selling them to local (Irish) restaurants, cafés, news agents and private individuals.  The busier I got, the more difficult it became to find the supplies I was used to working with in the U.S.  So today I thought I would pass along the locations I’ve found items and what I found.  If you’ve been trying to shop for baking items in Ireland, you’re probably aware of the fact that you’ll have to visit multiple locations to get what you want.

It probably would have been easier for me to find these things when I lived in Dublin, but I wasn’t do this then.  My kitchen and oven were too small in the last house and I had absolutely no storage.  I moved to Co. Leitrim nearly a year ago and suddenly had the space to do what I wanted.

Here is my list of “always searching for” supplies:

  • Gel food dyes
  • Wilton cake pans
  • Buttercream frosting decorating tips and bags (quality)
  • Wilton Meringue Powder
  • Flower nails

Of course there are many other things needed when baking, but those were the things I found it most difficult to find.  For starters, keep an eye on your local area Lidl and Aldi.  They don’t always have baking stuff, but when they do, it’s generally decent quality for a good price.  I purchased two of my favorite and most useful spring foam pans there a couple months ago and have been kicking myself for not purchasing more before they sold out ever since. 

There are many shops throughout Ireland that claim to be baking supply shops.  There is a shop in Cliffoney, Co. Sligo (about an hour and a half from where we live) that claims to be the largest baking supply shop in all of Ireland.  They do have a good assortment of things, but not everything.  I did find my flower nails and an assortment of gel food color.  Unfortunately, their Wilton products (food coloring) were very limited, so I had to go with a brand I was unfamiliar with (which also works just as fine). 

There are a couple of shops in Dublin too, but lately I’ve been finding the best shops seem to be shops that carry other products and don’t label themselves as baking or cake supply shops.  I do a lot of shopping at Whispy’s and Quidsworth (Q2) in Carrick-on-Shannon.  Be sure to check both locations for each (each has a downtown location, as well as a larger location in a different part of town).  You’ll find a lot of cheaper baking pans, fondant tools, cookie cutters and so forth. 

Heaton’s in Carrick-on-Shannon is another place that has a modest, but helpful, cake decorating aisle.  There you can buy a cake decorating turn table, decorating nozzles and bags, frosting spatulas and so forth.  You can also check your local Tesco. 

Also in Carrick-on-Shannon, you’ll find a good amount of baking supplies (pans, etc.) at Woody’s DIY.

I was shocked to find a good deal of baking and cake decorating supplies at Providers in Longford (Co. Longford).  Not only do they have some Wilton products, but they also carry a line of Cake Boss products.  You’ll find gel food colors here too.    

In Dublin, I was impressed with a shop in Blanchardstown called Inspiring Ideas (http://www.inspiringideas.com).  This is essentially a large craft shop with a café in the back.  They not only have a baking section, but they carry a good amount of Wilton products.  They had quite a selection of specialty fondant tools and rolling pins, gel food colors, cake decorating turn tables, pans and so forth. 

I’ve also been told that there is (or was) a baking supply house in Athlone and that I should go to Enniskillen in Northern Ireland (about 40 minutes from me), but I haven’t made it to either of those yet.  You’ll find some moderate supplies in little shops in downtown Sligo too. 

So if you’re in Ireland and you’re looking for a place to buy baking supplies, check out these places.  If you know of a place I haven’t mentioned, feel free to leave it in the comments below.

If you’re curious about what I’m doing, like me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AmericanDessertsinIreland) or visit my website (http://www.letseat/AmericanDesserts).


So I got this great idea that I was going to make crockpot chili.  It’s been a long time since I had good chili and ground beef is cheap at Lidl.  I found a recipe online and followed the spice measurements exactly.  I was a little put off by the 1/2 a cup of chili powder, but I went ahead and put it in anyway.  I smelled the mixture and thought that I could hardly smell any spice at all, so like like an idiot, I added MORE spice and THEN I decided to try a small spoonful.  Well that hairbrained idea didn’t get me far.  I mean, I like I spicy, but this literally scorched my mouth.  Not the kind of spice I was looking for!!

After some research and talking with Tony (a professional chef), here are some tips for other people out there battling this very common problem.

You can add sugar.  Of course, adding enough sugar to completely tone down the spice may make your dish gross.  You can also add more vegetables and broth to try to spread the spice out.  You can also prepare the same recipe, minus the hot stuff and mix it together with the spicy batch.  This will create a much larger batch, but hey, it’s better than throwing it away!

Natural acids can also help neutralize spiciness.  Try lemon juice and wine vinegar.  Coconut milk or other dairy products can help.

Have you had a similar experience?  How did you handle it?  Leave your tips and tricks below.

UPDATE

I added coconut oil and honey to the chili and it was still way too spicy.  I drained it and used coconut oil and honey as the liquid and left for about an hour.  It was still too spicy, so I drained it again (saving the liquid) and rinsed with cold water thoroughly.  I put the meat mixture back in the crockpot/slow cooker and added one can of condensed tomato soup, water and a small amount of the coconut liquid I had saved.  It seems a lot better.  There is still a kick to it, but I think with crackers, shredded cheddar and sour cream to serve, it will do.


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m putting together homemade meals and freezing them to make my own TV dinners.  Unfortunately, I’m already running out of freezer space and wish I had a second freezer.  It’s definitely on my list of things to search for.

I just finished making eight mini breakfast burritos and I took pictures as I went through the process.  Let’s start with the ingredient list:

7 strips of bacon

8 breakfast sausage links

4 eggs 8 slices of processed cheese

Shredded cheddar cheese

8 small soft tortilla shells

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation: I started by frying the bacon on medium-low temperature (so as not to overcook it).  I chopped up the breakfast sausage into small pieces and fried it on medium-low temperature as well.  When the meat is done, I remove the pans from the heat and drain the bacon on paper towel.  You can drain the sausage too, but I did not.  I cut each strip of bacon in half lengthwise and then chopped into small pieces or bits.  I scrambled the eggs in the same pan I fried the bacon in (drain any grease beforehand) and salt and peppered to taste.  I added a small amount of milk to my scrambled eggs too.

Building a Burrito:

I laid everything out on the countertop and I built them all at the same time, so that the ingredients were evenly spread between each burrito. DSCF8070

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I tore one piece of processed cheese in half and laid one near the bottom and one near the top of an open tortilla shell. Next, I added equal portions of egg on top of the cheese.  Please note that you can sprinkle a bit of shredded cheddar around at this time as well.  The cheese will help keep everything together.  Finally, I spread equal amounts of bacon and sausage on top and finished off with more shredded cheddar cheese.

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Folding: I started by folding the bottom up first.

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While holding my first fold into place, I fold the top down.

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While holding my first two folds in place, I carefully roll from one side until to the other and firmly press down (without breaking the shell) so the rolled burrito stays rolled when set down.

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Storage:

I wrapped each burrito with tinfoil and then plastic wrap.  I wrote today’s date on each one, along with what it was.  I filled out this same information on a gallon size freezer bag and placed all eight breakfast burritos in the bag and into the freezer.  All of my ingredients were cooled by this time.

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Serving:

These can either be microwaved or baked.  To bake, heat oven to 350 degrees and bake until tortilla shell turns a light golden color.  You can bake in the tinfoil, but I would remove all wrappings.  To microwave, remove foil and plastic wrap and wrap in a wet papertowel.  Microwave on high 5-7 minutes or until cooked through.