Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crock Pot Dr. Pepper BBQ Chicken

This week has been what we would officially call tumultuous. In general, it’s just sucked weasels backwards through a knothole. Between drama with Charlie, drama with Bentley, 2 papers to be written, edited, and turned in, a presentation and now the added Jury Duty; it’s just been one trigger after another. My TBI has gone off the charts with headaches and my vision started to tunnel a few days ago from the stress. Needless to say, I know all I’ve wanted are comfort foods and I don’t want to spend time cooking. Right now, financially, going out and eating and McDonalds and Arby’s isn’t even an option. With school ending in a few weeks and no jobs lined up, we are saving every single penny. But I want BBQ. I want the BBQ Papa Dave makes when we are at home and he’s cooking. Luckily I know what brand of BBQ sauce he uses, and it’s all brown sugar, smoke and yummy goodness. You can certainly use your favorite BBQ sauce for this, anything to help with that comfort factor. The Dr. Pepper is an odd-ball meat tenderizer, but I'm telling you it works a treat. We’ve even tried doing this with root beer, although it was far too sweet even for me. So throw the chickens in the crock pot, toss in the ingredients, and go rest up. For an extra hit of comfort goodness, you could always pair this with cheesy noodles or mac and cheese. In our case, Steve’s comfort food is tater tots.

Ingredients Needed:
2 Thawed, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Lemon
1 Tablespoon dried onion
1 - 20 oz. bottle of BBQ sauce
1 - 12 oz. of Dr. Pepper

Get out your ever-trusty crock pot and make sure there is no gunk/goo/dust or crud on the bottom or sides. Just a hint, they make crock pot “sleeves” that are supposed to be a great thing as far as being able to cook in them and then just pick them up and toss them out. I’ve not had a stroke of luck with them, mine have all broken, but most other folks I know swear by them and it’s just one less thing you have to clean up later.

Cut your chicken breast into 2 separate pieces and be sure to rinse them and pat them sort of dry.
Cut your lemon into quarters and poke out the seeds if you can. Also, if you are still in a foul or bad mood, take a sniff of the lemon while it’s all cut!  Just don’t eat it like that unless you are into that kind of thing (grin).
If you are using the crock pot sleeves, put it on now.
In a bowl, mix your BBQ Sauce and Dr. Pepper.
Don’t over stir it, just lightly mix it. Be careful! This stuff will foam and get messy!
Add in your tablespoon of dried onion to the mixture and gently stir.
Place the chicken on the bottom.
Place the lemon wedges on top of the chicken.
Pour in the entire BBQ sauce/Dr. Pepper mixture on top of that.
Put the lid on and walk away! No seriously, don’t open the lid even if the smell is driving you insane and you want to huff it, it needs the moisture!
Cook on low for 6-8 hours (the best way) or if you are in a hurry, high for 4 hours.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dog Update

A few folks asked for a Dog Update, so before I forget:
The two hounds are scrubbed down. (Steve did the bath) One hound semi dry, one just shakes and is dry. (I guess Bentley is part duck) They both love bubble baths, which is good because their feet are white and the ground here in Montana is not conductive to keeping white paws clean. So they get a foot soak. The Semi Dry Hound will finish air drying then get "primped" for tonights concert. (I get this part because, "Girls are better at this whole primping thing). Besides, I don't have to use voice commands on Charlie. Steve is de-molting him now. Charlie doesn't shed, his under coat balls up and tangles with the "new" fur. This has to come out and if not brushed out everyday will become a huge, hurting mat. This will take Steve a few hours to do the body and then concentrate on where the vest rubs, I kid you not. But once he's done, oh my how HANDSOME Charlie is. His body just happened to pick this weekend to molt. Oh well! I guess that means Spring is trying to show up!

The white coats are glowing white and the brown coats are starting to turn red. Bentley is done with his puppy foods and is now on an maintenance of adult food like Charlie. Bentley is officially 70 pounds (in October when I picked him up he was 49.9 pounds) and according to the, vet a lean muscle mass.  There might be a tiny bit more of growing but it will be in length, not height and not be that noticeable. Charlie is officially 89.9 pounds and looking "very solid" according to Dr. Anderson.  We were hoping for a fun new thing for both boys to do this summer to get us all out of the house and ran our ideas past Dr. Anderson. No agility  courses for the big guy, he doesn't feel his hips would really take the abuse, however, for Bentley, absolutely!  The more thinking and moving he can do, the happier we think he will be. Charlie gets to try out long distance retrieving however.  He loves to get out and stretch out his legs and run. There is even a small duck pond at the end of the course.  You fling a stuffed duck or retrieving bag as far out as it can go and let the dog loose to go run after it, dive in the water if need be, swim back land, and then bring the "duck" back to you.  We are about 99% sure this will rock Charlie's world.

Tonight we get to go see one of our Hero's, Dr. Bill Cosby, perform here in Bozeman at MSU.  This is a huge deal.  Neither of us have been out on a "grown up date" since Keri got Bentley, so this will be a big night. It will be nice to give this a try.  We'll make sure photos follow!

Well, back to the drying, sewing, drying, brushing out and oh yeah, drying!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


What happened yesterday at Ft. Hood is an atrocity. We’ve had numerous people IM or email asking for opinions just because Steve and I both have been diagnosed PTSD, because Steve was in the Army for 12 years and my father was an officer for 28 years; therefore we “understand why solders snap.”

First, let me be perfectly, 100% clear with everyone: What happened yesterday at Ft. Hood was horrific and we are so very, very heartbroken for all of the solders and families. We wish them much peace and healing, to be able to gather the strength, pick up, and move forward.

After a long discussion last night this is our perspective on what happened. This will be over played, most likely in a shocking way, with incorrect definitions, due to the media sensationalizing versions of this story and a constant comparison to the attack in 2009. There are graphics showing a gunman standing shooting other graphics. How many bullets used. His list of mental diagnosis, details, details, details and the constant phrase, “how could the Army let this happen?” The fact is, this type of tragedy has happened repeatedly, all over various posts/bases/navel stations across the US from all the various wars/police actions and it is not a second, third or even fourth time thing! Because of our media, and the publics shark feeding of wanting sensationalized, on the spot journalism right this very second makes this a nightmare for those trying to work these cases. I guarantee you’ve never heard about the 1984 lockdown of an air base in San Antonio. I know about it, I was in lockdown in school about 1mile away from where the scene was!

PTSD/Shell Shock/Combat Disorder/Combat Fatigue/Combat Neurosis all carry a stigma with it: We are all bat crap crazy who will “burst” at a given moment, so don’t look them in the eye or talk to them or even make them feel like they are part of the community. Those who are soldiers are perceived to go on shooting rampages while being on a wait list to see some sort of doctor or are being “watched” to see if they break. I have a close friend who’s son is a solider and she has been asked if her son has that shooting rampage disease. We personally know many, many people who have PTSD. We have very a close circle of friends who are PTSD, both civilian and military. We are PROUD of our accomplishments, and when we have one of those bad days, we have to work the system, do what our doctors advises us to do, and more than anything communicate with each other as our support structure. We use our dogs for support, we use our medical teams, we use our community. And once we are back to center, we also give back that support to others when they need it.

What happened yesterday just set law abiding soldiers back years on PTSD therapy. Rumors on social media and even on television are going around saying those diagnosed PTSD should be banded from owning guns. I guess the next thing in line would be to bar code PTSD patients because they are a danger around humanity? Maybe round us up and put us on a island where they can deal with their own drama as long as they are not around “normal people?” Do yourself a favor, turn off the television. Before you share a post or tweet, check the facts stated and the source of the information. Quit giving power to people who are not reporting correctly, but rather start forcing them to report correctly, truthfully, not in a sensational manor that’s just easier because there is information in front of them.

Not every solider has PTSD or is depressed or is anxious. Not every civilian out there is mentally sound. Mental health stigmas are life altering. Everybody feels stressed from time to time, it doesn’t mean you have PTSD, and on the flip side, those of us with it doesn’t mean we will “crack.” And FYI, the word snap is horribly over used. None of us like to talk about upsetting events and feelings, but when you are given a diagnosis of PTSD, you are forced in to it, sometimes when you are not ready to face it. We have found that people we trust don’t really like us to voice our feelings about what happened when we are ready to, they don’t like us to tell you what triggers us, they avoid us because we will, apparently, go bat-crap nuts, are usually angry with us because of our avoidance of life as we try and cope, think of us as weak and some even blame us for what happened. We don’t expect you to understand our journey because you’ve never had to step foot on the path we’ve walked. We’ve seen things, survived things that are not a normal part of daily life. We are incredibly strong, and sometimes too strong to let ourselves heal. It’s a double edged sword. Let’s be a little more aware of each other, let be a little more thoughtful and tolerant.

We love you, we respect you, we want you to stand up with us.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

City Sampler MOLLE Bag Challenge Week 2: "Raspberry Hot Chocolate"

I love this block! Windmills are such a blast to play with, plus I love the fact that you can play with the colors to make an optical illusion of the thing moving. They look complicated to make, but they really aren’t.  They way she lays this block out, it has a yummy modern twist to a classic block.

Colors for this block areRJR Cotton Supreme solids:

This past week was a toughie.  The dogs were off their game, I was off mine, Steve has been heads down working and we alls ere just plane off.  It didn’t help that it was the last week before pay day = very, very lean. Then we had to take Charlie to the Vet. Needless to say, I’ve been craving Starbucks Hot Chocolates all week.  Steve likes his with a hit of raspberry; I love mine with peppermint. Once I saw the block, the fabric pulls were a simple choice. Darn it, now I want a hot chocolate again! (grin)

I decided on the 50wt 2021 - Ivory because I really wanted the stitching to have that bright, warm feel to it.  This block is also, again, very linear, so I wanted that warm, steamy feeling you get when you are first handed that yummy mug. Oh dear, I really need to do something about this craving. (grin)

Monday, March 24, 2014

City Sampler MOLLE Bag Challenge Week 1: "March Madness"

Tula Pink specifically did not name the blocks in her book, so we, the creators, get to name them! I happened to pick to ”March Madness” because the weather this week has been psycho: it’s either snowing and blowing, or sunny and mild. Pick one! Plus you can feel Spring trying desperately to come out with the lighter, airier breezes.

Colors for this block areRJR Cotton Supreme solids:
Ruby Slippers, Flan, Stormy Night, and Proud as a Peacock.
This was a toughie. All but the Flan are within the same color hue’s of each other, so my eyes were seeing various shades of gray.  The Flan popped out as a buttery yellow. So, having spent a few hours under my Ott-light and the window, I decided on the the Ruby Slippers, Stormy Night and Proud as a Peacock. That almost remind me of a few of the 80’s colors that seem to be coming back into trend together.  They also reminded me of brand new opening flowers where the sun hasn’t really robbed them of their colors yet.

I decided on the 50wt 2024 - White and not the 2021 - Ivory because I really wanted the stitching to pop.  This block is so linear, and the quilting cried out for something angular to move with the windmill. Plus, this thread goes through any good fabric like butter and really does a delightful job of producing a great quilting design. It also means I’d better be darn careful about my straight lines because it will show up!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Service Dog Household Rules

A list of just some of the things Charlie and Bentley must remember to be a good Service Dog.
1. I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it or after they throw it up.
2. I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc. just because I like the way they smell. Especially if you need me to go to the store or to a doctors appointment with you.
3. The litter box is not a cookie jar & you don't appreciate my kisses after I sneak a cookie!
4. The sofa is not a ”face towel” nor is your thigh when wearing your good pants.
5. The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff and the maintenance staff is not part of a secret government organization to spy on us.
6. I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet nor will I haul off with Mom's bra and run around playing catch me if you can!
7. Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is an unacceptable way of saying "hello."
8. I don't need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm under a table.
9. I must shake the rainwater/snow out of my fur before entering a building-- not after.
10. I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt into flop-bot mode.
11. I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my crotch, and I won't crop dust guests either.
12. The cat is not a squeaky toy so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it's usually not a good thing.

The Observation Point: Keri's Story (Pre Bentley)

Between the years of 2006-2008 I was not in a good place. OK I was really in the Darkest Place I've ever been. My first marriage fell apart (not due to a lack of trying) and so I survived a divorce and the immediate pain of him going right from me to another woman who, also happened to be, my friend. Because I had been dependent on him for so long, and I didn't need to work, I didn't have any money saved up, so I lost my home and my belongings due to financial issues, thus living in my car for several months with 2 cats and a dog because I refused to give them up. No, it really wasn't all his fault.  It was mine as much as his. We agreed amicably, but it didn't mean that it wasn't one of the most painful life experiences I've ever been through.

I had also been just diagnosed with cancer and discovered that if I had not been trying to put myself though the meager attempts of trying to get pregnant for the previous 8 years, chances are I wouldn't have gotten sick to begin with. I was on my own, so I couldn't do the "normal" rounds of chemo and my insurance wouldn't cover the surgery, so I did the cheapest way possible with weekly smaller doses that would allow me to function and work. I had an aunt offer to go with me and sit with me while I got my little Mt. Dew coloered bag of poison, but I just couldn't do it, so I went by myself. I took care of myself and after the steroid shots wore off 3 days after the treatment and I was forced to bed rest for the day to get through it, my Isotope Dog, Grep Kat and Edlebrock Kat would force me to get up to feed, water, clean boxes and take them out for potty breaks, and then would pile on top of me so I could rest for a day. I did this 5 times, that's all I could afford.

I gained and lost work repeatedly, and moved to a really, really bad part of town to share a home with, as I'd soon found out, a psychopath who killed one of my cats.  I discovered the reality of abandonment and loneliness and the trueness of where I stood with my family and friends. I went through multiple mental break downs, drank myself stupid countless times, over worked myself with a set of friends because I was starving for companionship and attention so they used me for what they wanted then ignored me when I was no longer of any use to them. Most didn't believe I was sick, after all if you have cancer, then you are dying!  I lost my job because I refused to disclose my health status to my employer, so they fired me. (BTW, I was never late, I never skipped work, and I was always there for emergency's and on call.) Meanwhile, my friends never even bothered to call unless they wanted or needed something.  I asked my father if I could move in with him until I could get back on my feet; I was offered the garden shed with the rats in it. He had a 3 bedroom home. This was the same man that I had dropped my school career for when my mother died and come home to take care of him. This is the same man who, when he dove into the swimming pool and broke his neck, I discovered and saved from drowning and never got a thank you. This is the same man who I cooked and cleaned and took care of for years.  I was the one making funeral arrangements for his wife and didn't get the real opportunity to grieve. I was the one dealing with the financial issue aftermath until he decided he was ready, I was the one who's entire life had to change in order to help him during his lowest point because that's what you do for family, right?  I was the one who kept her mouth shut when he started dating...2 months after my mothers death and then remarried 9 months after her death. Regardless, Universe was teaching me to suck it up, depend on no one and just keep moving forward. And the lesson fracking hurt. Financially I was screwed, my education was screwed, my home life was screwed, everything was totally out of control. I lost everything. What in the hell was I going to do?

In 2008 I decided to go take a hike up a hill to burn off some of this stress that was just taking me over. OK, so it was either hike or drink, and the hill was Mt. Baker, but still, it was a hike, and it got me out of the house.  I'd not been eating all that well, I had just been fired as the marina manager in Seattle, and I was living with the woman who (later that weekend) killed my cat. I needed to get it together. Now. So I got my maps, put on my tennis shoes, called an acquaintance who had just come back over from Iraq and wanted to go hiking, and we went up Heliotrope Ridge Trail on Mt. Baker. It. Sucked. Hard. Every step was painful and difficult, but I was committed to the trail and couldn't just reverse without causing drama for the others coming up behind me.

4 hours later I did it, pretty much on my own (I didn't hike alone, but there wasn't much conversation either), at my own pace. I didn't look all glowy and beautiful and Sporty Spice when I got to the landing point, but I got there. I got to the top of the day hike and the base of the Hogsback Camp which is the base of the Coleman-Deming climbing route to Mt. Baker's 10,781 ft. summit. It was as high as I could go without all the advanced climbing gear. I turned around to my left and saw the most amazing thing I've ever seen: the Coleman Glacier. I saw little tiny specks of orange and black and found out they were students from the university performing ice coring in the glacier.  The thing was so massive it looked tiny. Then the clouds broke and I was able to see the top of Baker, I was just under half way up the mountain at that point. I must have just looked like a codfish out of water with my mouth gaping open and closed, open and closed.  No words!

That's when I decided to stop all this nonsense and ask for help. I was just going to have to take that leap of faith. I parked my butt off the side of the trail, hauled out my munchies (I splurged and got a jar of peanut butter and crackers and a couple of bottle of vitamin waters because I wanted the animals to be taken care of) and started making plans as I ate. I watched the orange specks flit around the blue ice of the glacier, the birds over head, and the hikers on their way to the summit. I stayed up there for about 3 hours, plotting.  Screw the ex-husband for not holding his part of the vows, screw the jobs that didn't believe me, screw my friends who deserted me, drop the team who used me, and watch carefully with my family...I didn't want to abandon them, but I wasn't going to initiate the talking to them either.

I'm not the bad guy here. For years I assumed I was because of all of the garbage that happened, the words used, and the actions taken by others. I'm not the bad guy; but I was a coward for not standing up for me. I soon found a stable place to live at for several years with people who took very good care of me; when I needed it. I found a job, while not the best in the world, let me get my feet wet again, got me a little money to pay bills with and start learning to function again. Yeah, there were back slides, like getting hit over the head with a bottle, and there were times I was loosing more ground then I was gaining, but if I didn't get back up and moving, I'd never see the next glacier and that isn't OK. I'm not the bad guy, I'm just a day hiker looking for the prettiest observation point is all.