My Name.

I have built quite the following on facebook, here, and now in my community. Some see me as just my name. A unique name, and I always have to explain it, but assume I’m married because of the two last names. I had three at one point but that was a long time ago. I own my two. My maiden names. My family names.

I actually wanted to drop one due to my father. Our relationship is weird. Rocky but cordial. We are at this weird place where we are building but it’s still tense since his tact button is broken and his old views tend to come out a lot more than they should.

Ultimately, I chose to keep my name from his side. Not because it’s his, but because of my grandfather. The same reason I have my mom’s last name.

These names represent me in the sense of what great genes, and lessons I got from these men. I’ve heard some of the horror stories, and things that they did before me. The weird thing is, by the time I came along, they were different men. They were older, wiser, softer with authority. Since I was the first grandchild of both, it was made clear, I was to pass these lessons not only to my kids but younger cousins.

As I get older, and move into the new chapter of motherhood, these talks, memories, and “ah-ha” moments have kicked in full force. In some ways, I’m an awesome mom. I had a lot of people who helped me get to the point where we are, family and non family, but I also watched and learned from mistakes.

On the other hand, as an oldest grandchild, I’ve been slacking and I hope to change that. Not only for my sake, but my kids, and my cousins kids. It dawned on me as we continue to do family trees, and how difficult it is to know your history, if you don’t share, or just keep in touch. Both taught me that. Especially in the minority communities, not everything is written down, and keeping in touch is the next best thing.

Anywho, despite the strained relationship we have, I wear my last names proudly. I hope my kids wear theirs proudly too, despite their father. Even though a parent might be a jackass, the whole family may not be. They may have honor and teachings that shape you. A blood line of history that made you who you are.

I guess it saddens me that my kids will never know their Dad’s side due to stereotypes. He was damned from the beginning since he was mixed, and then marrying me, and having our kids made things worse. I don’t punish every Mormon I come across, but it still hurts knowing that they’ll never be accepted since they are half black. They may not have my last names, but I hope the wear their names proudly as we come upon them growing up to become adults.

As Wise One crosses the stage, I hope her great grandfathers look on with pride like I do. That their humble beginnings and making these families produced her. Their beliefs, lessons, humor, and honesty gave her the power she has now as she embarks on college life this fall.

I also hope they look on me as  I begin my journey of dreams and goals. That their talks and constant hard work shaped me into who I am today. Of course I don’t take away from my grandmothers and my mom, they all had a hand in raising me, but for some reason, that random talks with these men were lessons without me knowing it.

Slick ones they were.

As I work on things today, I grin at my crazy schedule, and Jill of all trades approach. In those two names, it’s one of many thing it has in common with each other. Humility, be grateful, hard working, being creative, and stretching a dollar to name a few others.

To daily success. You two men had a hand in mine.

~CSM~

Sweet Potato Chili

Hello. Hola. Any other way to say hello!……Peeps!

Graduation is over. Summer vacation has started. It also means, kids are home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Kids may think, “school’s out, sleep in, and crappy food! Score!”.

Nope. Not in this house. Still eating healthy on break. Now this recipe is kind of a take on my pumpkin chili recipe, but a little different. My goal for this was to not use white or brown sugar in the dish. To find better alternatives but still have a great dish. Bonus: there is enough for leftover Friday!

Sweet Potato Chili

4-5 Sweet Potatoes, boiled with skin

2 pounds ground turkey

4 chicken breasts, diced

1 can sweet corn drained

1 can black beans drained

1 half butternut squash, diced

3 cups beef broth

1 cup red peppers

2 cups green peppers

Garlic Salt

Seasoned Pepper

Cinnamon

Nutmeg

Onion Powder

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup agave syrup

In a large pot, boil sweet potatoes until soft. Remove from heat, and let cool.

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Dice chicken, peel and dice butternut squash. Set aside.

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Side Note: You may want to bake your squash a little bit on 350 degrees, since it’s hard to cut.

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Now, this is where you can go two ways with this recipe. Crock pot, my favorite, or stove top. I’m going to give you the stovetop option, since my crock pot was too small for the amounts I used. I double cook in the summer, so we can use our time for other things, like tv bingeing on cutthroat kitchen or bowling(new obsession).

Once you have cooled sweet potatoes, peel, with your hands. The skin should slide right off. Add potatoes, seasonings, honey, syrup, and broth to a blender/food processor. Blend until smooth. If too think add water or more broth.

Combine all ingredients into a large pot, cook down until meat is cooked thoroughly and squash is cooked. Occasionally stir so it doesn’t stick to the pot.

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This is a light chili, that can be cooked in the summer or fall. I paired it with my honey zucchini cornbread(next post), and topped with sour cream and cheese. Kids tore it up! I loved it, because it was full of protein, veggies, and low sugar. They couldn’t tell the difference.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

~CSM~

School Birthdays: Go Big or Go Home.

Hyperdiva’s Birthday in on Sunday. Her dad is taking her to disneyland for her gift from him.

It’s been tight around here with graduation looming, and making sure everything is paid for. It wasn’t going to stop me. Each child always got a big presence from me their last couple years of elementary school. The last time they will have parties, and be kids before hormones and craziness of confusement kicks in.

I asked her what she wanted. Of course ear piercing was her top choice, but again money. She then asked for a cupcake treat at school. I didn’t know if it was allowed because of new rules, but apparently, it was.

No problem. 25 cupcakes right?

Oh no. 56 kids, and two teachers since they have started switching classes. At first I thought of buying the cupcakes, but after calling for prices, I said um no.

Of course, if I made them, I could make them my way……oh yeah. Your girl was all over this! Question was what would 56 10-11 year old like? Banana Split Cupcakes! I mean who doesn’t like banana split cupcakes?!

I began my craziness Wednesday night. These cupcakes were due Friday Afternoon. Of course my direct deposit didnt show up until Friday, no worries. I was crunched for time, but that’s nothing new.

Normally, in my cake form, I made the cake portion to taste like bananas. Literally banana cake, but I didn’t feel like doing chocolate drizzle on each and every cupcake.

Marble cupcakes. Genius. Half banana, half chocolate. I have my list of things, off to the store I go!

I’m inside walmart. No marble cakes. Why me????? If you guys ever wanted to see a grown lady have a tantrum in public, you should have been there. It’s 6am on Friday. It’s bad enough I’m doing this the same day, let alone not having the supplies I need.

Again, no worries, thought in two seconds……..french vanilla cake mix, add banana extract. Buy chocolate cake to swirl into other cake. Got it.

Now before I get into the recipe itself, I’m going to give you the cost of the idea.

For 60 cucpcakes: Two boxes french vanilla cake, 1.17/each. One box chocolate fudge cake, 1.28/each. Two jars cherries, 1.78/each. Two whipped cream containers, 1.98/each. 18 pack eggs, 2.98. Cucpcake liners, 1.00. Two pints of strawberries, 2.48/each. Three disposable cake pans, 2.98/each. Altogether it cost under 30 dollars versus my local bakery wanting close to 70 dollars.

After everyone was gone we got the assembly line going and heated my oven to 350. I mixed the french vanilla cake, and added 1.5 teaspoons banana extract in the first mixing bowl. In a smaller mixing bowl, I mixed the chocolate cake mix.

Then I lined my cupcake pans. Its easier to do it this way since you are goiving them to kids, less mess. Taking my 1/2 cup measureing cup, I began to pour in the french vanilla/banana cake mix first. One cup full equals out to two cupcakes. You want to make sure their is enough room to add the chocolate mix too. After pouring the first cake, you take 1 tablespoon of the chocolate cake mix, and pour into each cupcake. You can swirl them if you choose to, but I didn’t. Keep in mind, 10-11 year old aren’t that picky. Cake is cake, swirled or not, as long as it’s good.

Next, rinse off your strawberries. Air dry. Slice the tops of the berry, and the tips of the berry off. Then dice into quarters. Place one quarter into each cupcake. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clear.

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HUGE STEP! Take out oven and let them cool off. The cooler the better.

I did this three times. I got done early, so that was good, but it was tiresome. Again, rather do it myself then pay a ton of money.

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Once the cucpakes cooled, I began the decorating process. Originally, I was going to get whipped crean cans. Again, walmart disaapointed me and didn’t sell them. Real close to being on cops at this point. Shopping way too early without coffee means no patience.

Again, thought on my feet………buy the tub, transfer to a ziploc bag, cut a hole and squeeze out the cream. Ok crisis avoided.

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I placed these cupcakes in the cake tins(with lids). Then transferred the whipped cream to my freezer bags and cut two holes at the corner. Looked just like it came out the can. Ending it with a stemmed cherry on top.

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I probably wouldn’t have been so tired if I was cleaning inbetween, but I hate a dirty kitchen. Six pans of cupcakes by 2pm. Hyperdiva and her classmates loved it. Her teacher missed out because he had to leave early, so between that and some kids missing school, I had leftovers. I may take him one on Monday. He’s a great teacher.

My madness never ends I tell you, but the happy look on her face was well worth it.

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Banana Split Cupcakes: Yields 60 cupcakes

2 french vanilla box cakes

1 box chocolate fudge cake

3 teaspoons banana extract

9 eggs

2 pints strawberries, rinsed and diced in quarters

2 whipped cream tubs

2 jars of cherries

Mix as directed in bowls. If you choose to double the french vanilla cakes, that’s fine. If not, divide banana extract in half. One for each mix. Pour 1/4 cup banana cake mix, one tablespoon chocolate cake mix, and one quarter strawberry into the cupcake cup.

Bake as directed. Cool, and decorate with freezer bag full of whipped cream. Finish off with cherry. Serve chilled. You can store in refrigerator or freezer.

~CSM~

Quit blaming everyone else. Look at home.

Three posts today, but this one had to be first.

I saw a post on my personal fb what the problem with millenials are. I think we should fully discuss this concept.

Yes, I’m going there today.

Now, reading the age range of millennials being 1980 to 1996-2000(roughly), I call bullshit on this first. You are telling me my teenagers and I are in the same group of people? My grandparents and parents weren’t in the same group, and they were two different generations, and they had kids young too.

Fine, I’ll take it.

The first point I want to make it that, millennials are lazy and entitled. If you go back and read the last paragraph I wrote, this generation was born in the peak of greed, wall street peaking, and keeping up with the Joneses was at its peak. It was taught to be the best you had to show it, even if it meant debt.

Tell me why we are surprised as a society that this new generation is stuck on being flashy and getting material bullshit at any cost?

We are also the generation that is charged out the a** for college. At one point, college could be paid for by just having a part-time job. Those days are long gone. Work study and part time jobs mean nothing. Mom and Dad having a saving account for school means nothing. You are more likely to borrow money to attend college to some degree. I have friends who finished college, and it cost 60,000 to attend. Just for a bachelor’s degree. Don’t add-on if you want a master’s degree, or if you are pre-med or pre law.

We wonder why people rather get a job than go to college. Rather have the pay raise then to pay off a huge debt like that.

I think the biggest insult is that we are lazy. Um…..don’t think so. I think it’s the company you keep. I know a lot of people my age who give as much as they work into causes and their careers. We are lazy, but there is a surge of women having kids later in life, because they want to work to establish themselves first before having a family. Huge lie that’s peddled. I also know a lot of us who work, and are tired of being paid crap wages to do so.

Take bartending for a profession. In most of the country they are paid 2.13/hr plus tips. Now if it’s a slow night or all kinds of variables add in, some people get only 2.13/hr. You wonder why we are taking action for a pay raise. We were taught part of the american dream is if you do the work, you can take care of yourself, and reward yourself.

Not really the case anymore. I think the scary part to it is, even with a degree, you still are broke. Not just bartenders, one huge lie is people wh work at McDonald’s are asking for raises, and these are just teens. No. The average age of service workers are 32. My age. They have families. Some even went to school, and are stuck with service jobs. Think about that. Anytime you go somewhere, and you request a service, that isn’t government related, are asking for a raise, and frankly, I think they deserve it. That’s child care workers, EMTs, janitors, fast food, CNAs, Caregivers to the disabled/elderly, maids, you name it. Think about it, even though the ambulance is charging 1000 for the ride and service, how much do the actual workers get paid? Not much. Lets not get started on the military and what they pay to their soldiers, not officers…….

Truth is, it’s depends on who raises you, which is a point I don’t think is addressed too often. If Mom and Dad gave you everything, then yes, you come into the world being a lazy ass thinking you deserve to have everything handed to you. If you came into the world to a single parent, you see the world differently. If you had shitty values as a kid, you just may be a shitty person. If your parents were humbled people, you definitely see the world differently as well.

I was blessed enough to have people around me who stressed material crap is nothing on this earth. You can’t take it with you when you die. It loses value the minute you buy it, and unless it has sentimental value to it, it doesn’t matter. It’s about what you do in life that matters. Who you surround yourself with,how you treated others, and task you perform is what is remembered.

I stress this to the next generation of kids in my house, and my troop. If you we really want to know who created the “Lazy, entitled” generation older people speak of, look to the past. New generations are a reflection of the generation before us. Baby Boomers created Gen X. Gen X created Milennials. Milennials created the ‘pioneers'(don’t ask, I didn’t make this up). My grandparents took a lifetime to get where they were at their peak. Hard work, multiple skills, and being humble. My mom did the same thing. She also embraced my creative streak, and still continues to do so. She did also went into debt falling into that stupid debt trap of being flashy. It was then we saw effects of it all, and she sat us down and told us “never fall into the trap of being someone else. You be you. If someone can’t deal with that, cut them off”. Bankruptcy is never a fun process. It’s very humbling, and will teach you a hard lesson.

One huge problem I have which goes deeper is grouping people. I’m technically a millennial. I came from a single parent home, and had everything stacked against me statistically. I also had the best tribe of adults raising me too. They embraced my creativity, even when schools cut the arts. They taught me from a young age to understand politics, and respect both sides. To vote my conscience not the lesser of the evils. To be respectful of others, unless it’s not returned. To defend myself, and those who can’t. To give back to those in need any way you can. To be humbled and nice. To carry yourself with dignity and respect. To not knock hand me downs, or cheaper versions of things. To be educated inside and outside the classroom, and work hard for it. Education and hard work isn’t something can be taken away from you. To not see color, but realize others do, and you have to prove them wrong every chance you get. Being a female wasn’t a crutch, it’s was and always be a beautiful blessing. Lastly, your brain is a muscle, always use it, and exercise it.

With all that said, I’m not a millennial. I’m not anything but me. I denounce the stereotypes that come with that label, and every other label I’m grouped in. The faster we stop this grouping bullshit, and see the person for who they are, this place will be a better place for the next generation to takeover.

You just have two groups of people: Nice people or assholes, simple as that.

I feel that most people who have the opinions of millennial base those off of news reports and what they hear. Riddle me this, have you got back into your community, or even talked to a group of people in their 20s or 30s like myself(34)? I’ve been told I’m a rarity. I’ve been told I’m snobby and a nut job for expecting too much, and holding on to good values that maybe be dated.

“Your children are a reflection of what you show and teach them”. In my case, my people expected the best, because they gave the best. They were innovators. They challenged the establishment. They hated injustice in every form.

In closing, you want to know why millennial are “the way they are”, begin at home. Began with who you keep company with. You are only a reflection of who you keep company with and the values instilled in you.

I vowed as a young mom, my kids would have the hard work, hustle, always a brighter side, fight for the small man, know your shit, and be the best you can be lessons that my military family showed me.

It’s time to start asking ourselves, who is to blame fo the stereotype or fact(depending on who you talk to), and how we change it. If we don’t, we will have round two of worse.

“Fix your backyard first before you criticize someone else’s” – Oliver Adams Jr. Product of the depression of the 40s, civil right movement of the 60s, Air force Sargent, Truck driver, carpenter, mechanic, father to three, grandfather of 3, great-grandfather of 4, from Savannah, Georgia, and great teacher.

~CSM~

Questioning my logic.

I was supposed to be writing on margaritas, and planning my first tupperware party, but getting the news I just got, I have to write on this first.

As you guys know, I wear a ton of hats, of which one is girl scout troop leader. I originally signed on because Hyperdiva was in the scouts in Illinois, and she loves it. Working with others to empower girls. Giving back to her community, and learning how to run her business.

I can get behind that. Here in California, in the area I’m in, their are wait list. You read that right, wait list. Girls who have waited since kindergarten to be a scout. I explained that to the parents that it takes work at this age, but we are also having fun.

Parents begged and pleaded for me to start this troop. I put about 20 hous a week into the troop, and at times my own money into the troop. We’ve lost one leader, and four girls.

Why?

Because they couldn’t commit to the work after realizing it wasn’t a hang out session, or not do the work in their roles. We now have a better co-leader, and some girls left, but it pisses me off that parents begged, but didn’t follow through. That is what really pisses me off.

It showing these girls that it’s ok to sign up for something, then quit when it gets tuff. I taught Hyperdiva “you don’t sign up for something if you aren’t going to give it your all”. She also has a two choice limit on activites for these reasons. She does her work, and really excited volunteering to help the retired veterans.

These parents knew of the work. They didn’t keep up with these girls, and when I pressed the issue to see what was going on, they “didn’t have the time to continue”. Let’s not mention the click-ish crap I had to bust up. We are a sisterhood, and included everyone, and don’t use others.

It’s almost like I’m another parent. I didn’t sign up for that bullshit. I signed up to guide girls in becoming awesome powerful women. To give back, and yet I feel like they don’t to try, and can give a damn of the other girls who do. Now, we have projects that didn’t get completed because they had task that they didn’t do. Such a waste.

I was real close to quitting, but then the girls who are left, and leaders would feel abandoned. Nope, I can’t do it and feel ok with that. My mom didn’t raise a quitter, and I’m not raising any either. The girls who are left will have me in their corner. Tonight, we will issue in a new era of our troop. Earlier, I turned in flyers to expand our troop, because most don’t know who to call or reach out to if they were interested. I was thinking of even seeing about our troop wanting to do a robotics team. Just because we ar girls doesn’t mean we can’t build machines.

My mom was a marine. “Can’t isn’t in our vocabulary”. If nothing else, that’s our troops motto, and that’s what these girls will take from this experience.

Thanks for listening. Remember, your kids need to know hard work, and giving back.

~CSM~

Party Food Selection: What do you need to know?

Taking a break from the usual, in a sense. I wanted to touch on a subject that maybe in your future like mine.

Planning a party or wedding.

No, I’m not getting married anytime soon(as far as I know), but I am planning a graduation party. Future brides, reuinions, or parents planning a Quinecanera and/or Bar/Bat Mitzvah, this post is for you.

Planning out a party can be stressful, and when it comes to the food direction, it can get ugly. Of course sampling cakes and foods are fun, but before you get to that point, you probably don’t know what options you have for serving food at your event.

Our awesome friends over at Anoush Banquet Hall and Catering give a simple way to look at your options, and what may be best for you. Read below on the tips and tricks to making this time a smooth process. If you are in the Los Angeles area, or planning to have an event in the area, call them and they will definitely look out for you. Tell them I sent you!

From what I can see, this place it beautiful, and I would put them on my list to have my wedding/reception party!

Wedding Meal Options

The options truly are endless when it comes to your wedding menu. Generally speaking, there are no limitations to the type of food or manner of food service that you can select for your wedding. With the innovative and ever-changing climate that is the wedding scene, you can expect that no matter what you conjure up, you will find plenty of other weddings that had the same idea as you. Whether you decide to use a wedding catering or event catering service, a local restaurant or your grandmother, Aunts and Mother – you have many options when it comes to meals for your wedding and your wedding guests.

Menu Option Ideas

 

Deliciously Healthy Catered Food Plates0
Deliciously Healthy Catered Food Plates0

 

Here are just a few ideas in terms of meal options to help you plan for your big day.

  • Food stations – Food stations are especially trendy this wedding season. This option consists of many buffet style tables strategically placed throughout the wedding hall, each offering a unique specialty food item. Think carving stations, seafood boats, sushi rolling, etc. Take note that this is the most expensive of meal options suggested here.
  • Sit down supper – Sit down meals are the most traditional and elegant of meal service options. This gives the bride and groom, as well as all of their guests the chance to sit down and relax as they are served by waiters and waitresses, before they move on to dancing the night away.
  • Buffet style – Buffet style meal offerings are for the laid back and casual bride and groom. This gives the guests the freedom to indulge in what they see as appetizing.

 

Regardless of the direction you decide to take your wedding meal, there will be no wrong way. You could even go so far as to do dessert only, or even have an early wedding and serve brunch. Into finger foods? Then perhaps stick strictly to past hor d’oeuvres. There are no limits, no rules and no one that will judge you. This is your day – make it whatever you want it to be!

Lighting
Lighting

 

For the best services in catering, banquets, and weddings – visit Anoush.com for more.

If you need more information, call them at 818-764-0000. I think I may have my graduation party there for myself. My crew is still on their kid kick. Oh well I tried. Who wouldn’t want to eat with this setting below? Exactly.

Hummingbird Nest Ranch
Hummingbird Nest Ranch

Reflection

Its funny how life works.

No handbook. You can get advice, but even with advice, their is no guarantee that it my work.

With that said, it’s the small glimmers of happiness, laughter, and hope that keeps me going.

I’m not going to lie, I comtemplated stopping my dreams, including this blog, media, and everything linked to it. What I didn’t realize was dreams are hard to get to because what you may have been destined to do or talented in is not given to you. The skill may be, but making that your life is a hard road. It’s easy to get a government job and just be content.

Being happy and always staying that way is hard to do. Following your heart is hard to do. A lot of times, people may think you’re crazy for doing so. One thing I swore to myself is I would never do it to my kids. My crew always know I’m their cheerleader.

I guess as Im making goals happen and moving past setbacks, one of my cheerleaders is gone. I wrote about this before, but with his birthday at the end of the month, and other things are going haywire its a bit much.

Its ok though. I will push through this like everything else. Its just taking its toll and I guess it’s my way of telling you guys, I’m human.

Just like we will roll with everything else, we will roll with this. My grandfather may not be here to be my birthday partner physically, but in spirit, I can play gin rummy with him in memory.

~Common Sense Mommy~