tortilla soup

I haven’t posted a recipe in ages. I was typing up this soup recipe I created over the weekend and I thought it would be great for today’s post – it’s chilly and overcast out and a warm hearty soup is perfect.

This soup was good enough that DH wants to eat it a third night in a row tonight! I figured if we like it that might you might too.

Quick and Hearty Tortilla soup

1 package ground chicken or turkey
1 large (48 oz) box chicken broth
2 cups tomato juice
1 ½ cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons dry quinoa
1 package taco seasoning
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can corn, drained, or use frozen
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
5 or 6 pepperoncinis, chopped fine, or other equivalent hot peppers
1 tablespoon minced garlic
chili powder
black pepper
lightly crushed tortillas

In soup pot, cook down carrots, celery and onion with a splash of olive oil. Add a tiny bit of broth as needed if it starts to stick.

In a separate pan, cook ground chicken or turkey with the taco seasoning, cumin, chili powder, and black pepper to taste.

As the veggies have cooked a bit, add corn, garlic, peppers, and black beans. When everything is hot through, add chicken/turkey mixture, tomato juice and chicken broth.

Bring to bowl, add quinoa and rice, and lower heat to a simmer for 20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked. Taste test for seasonings. Serve with crushed tortillas on top.

Btw, if you’ve never cooked with quinoa, you should really try it – it’s considered a super food and it’s a great way to bulk up a soup with extra fiber and nutrients.


I wish I could find a comfy spot and nap away the day today too.

The power of a fuzzy blanket is too great to ignore.


That’s a beautiful word isn’t it? Especially when it’s someone you know.

My father is in remission.

He has Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The last couple of years have been steeped in chemo and all its side effects. Here’s the thing about Lymphoma, it never really goes away, you’re never really cancer-free. You beat it back, and you beat it back some more. The very best thing you can hear about Lymphoma is the word remission. We’ve waited a long time to hear this, and I got the word yesterday.

The timing of my father’s remission is bittersweet though, because his little sister’s cancer is now beyond treatment. It’s far past surgery or chemo or radiation, and into the realm of morphine and time. Her name is Marie, after their mother. When my grandmother died I was very young, and in my mind my Aunt Marie became a living reminder for me, in name, in looks, in voice,. In hugs. If I had had a daughter instead of a son, she would have been Emma Marie.

So I am happy today, but I am also sad. I live my normal life everyday, for my son, for my husband, for me. But in the back of my mind, I’m waiting for one of those phone calls. It might come tomorrow, or this week, or maybe next, but it come soon.

Peace be with you, my dear Aunt Marie.


She whispered from the bunk above me. “I think we can go now. She must be asleep.”

Quietly, like a cat, she jumped down from her bed, while I crawled out from under my own covers below. A dim light from under the door helped us navigate across the room we shared. We ever so quietly tiptoed out into the hall, past the bedroom where Mom slept. All of us kids, we sure wore her out, but we also knew she would awaken at the slightest of noises. We prayed the floor wouldn’t squeak nor our ankles make a crack.

Stifling giggles and trying not to stumble in our excitement, we went down the stairs to the landing. Ah yes, the big door was still standing open, letting the cool night air stream in. That meant Pop, ever the night owl, was still up. Probably down in the family room watching TV or reading a book. Some of our siblings were likely still be up with him. No school for the summer meant later bedtimes for the older kids, though not for us.

Please don’t make a sound, we can’t be stopped before we’ve started, I thought as we pushed open the screen door and let ourselves out from dark house into the darker beyond. We might not get another ideal opportunity.

The concrete steps were cold on my bare feet, and the grass colder still with dew drops clinging to their blades. The night air felt wonderful after such a sweltering sunny day. A light breeze prickled the skin on the back of my neck and sent a thrill down my spine.

A perfect night for fireflies.

We could see them flitting all around us, all across the wide expanse of lawn. We ran in circles, catching them in our palms. Peeking between my thumbs, I could see just blink, blink, blink, like the tiniest of signal flares sending an SOS for help. I let it go after just a moment, no harm intended. Catch another quick, feel its buzzing against my skin. Peek again. Let it go.

It was too much fun to be quiet about it. There was no doubt we would soon be caught ourselves. Our laughter pealed through the air, into the windows, waking our mother.

“Come back inside,” she called. “Go back to bed.” Not angry, but not exactly pleased. We were happy though, we’d had our romp. Did you know Mom, when we went down the hall, what we were up to? Did you purposefully let us have those few moments before you came out to get us?

I remember catching fireflies with my sister. I have no doubt she does too, though I don’t remember ever talking about it.

bloggy business cards

Okay – here’s my business card design – or at least close to it. I actually did this myself and DH is going to tweak it for me tonight before I get them printed. What do y’all think?

When you see that b/w icon – you know it’s me right away, right? I try to use it on all my accounts so it’s immediately recognizable.

Of course, two of those three urls aren’t actually working yet – but they will before Oct. 11 (2 weeks!!) when I go to the BlogHer Reach Out in Boston.

Tell me if you love it or hate it – I’m hopefully printing tomorrow!

it must be time for bullets

It’s one of those bullet kind of days, don’t you think?!

life’s little irritations #9

Latest irritation: the current prices of groceries. Frankly, it’s more than just a little irritation, it’s a huge aggravation for me.

I understand the whole concept about gas prices going up so shipping is more expensive blah blah blah. I call bullshit. You can’t tell me that every single item in the store needs to go up by 20-40 cents per item for them to make up for the extra shipping costs. Three cents, five cents? Maybe. But a can of black beans that used to be $0.69 is now $1.09? Eff that. Milk from a company in the same state I live in is up from $3.99 last winter to 4.29 now? Did their trucks really use 30 cents more in for every single gallon to be shipped? I have a really hard time believing that.

I think we’re being screwed – just because the product manufacturers and the grocery stores know they can get away with it. They have a great excuse and they know we have to buy food right? Well guess what? I’m just buying fewer extras, buying the no-brand items more often, buying in bulk, and waiting for good sales. (And don’t freaking tell me that taking 10 measly cents off a 2.99 item is a sale – it’s NOT.) I have a set amount I can spend and that’s not going to change.

Seriously, when was the last time you saw this make headlines in the news? When the economics of oil is discussed all I hear is about are the prices at the pump. When are we going to really talk about how gas prices are affecting EVERYTHING we buy, and far more than it should. This affects me every single day and I don’t want it buried on page 23 anymore.

As I see it it’s price gouging at its finest, it’s barely been perceptible as it’s crept up on us for the last few months and no one seems to notice. But I see it clearly now at the bottom of my register receipt.

Have you noticed this where you are? Has it affected your bottom line? Are you shopping differently now to lower your grocery bills? I’m really curious if I’m the only one that’s going crazy about this.

two kitty or not two kitty

My dear husband did something very cruel this morning. He sent me pictures of kittens.

Why is that cruel you ask?

Because they’re soon to be available from someone we know, they’re, I desperately want one but I don’t think I should.

My big hesitation? George.

Hi George! Do you want a little kitten to play with? And when I say play I don’t mean like you play with the mice and moles in yard. When I say play I mean lick and snuggle and romp. Wait, that’s what you do with the mice and moles. Right before you bite their heads off.

See my concern? I have a bit of fear that George might harm a kitten. I also wonder if he might get so mad at me for bringing such a creature into his castle that he might run away from home.

George has been an only cat for 9 years. He has been aggressive (!) toward other cats, but that’s always been outside when he’s defending his own property. I have no idea how he would relate to a kitten, but I’ve always wondered if he’s so attached to me because he’s a bit lonely and could really use some kitty company.

I also think that although DH says it’s my decision, he wouldn’t have sent me that email if he didn’t want one too, right honey?

Any of you been through this before? Advice? Am I insane? Don’t answer that last one.

ps. If you knew my title was a pun and not a spelling error I adore you.

where were you?

I was in my office, just starting my day, when a co-worker came in and told me her mother called and said a missile had hit a building in New York. We thought that sounded very strange so I tried going to,, every internet news site I could think of, but none of them worked. Even stranger.

We thought of the TV in the conference room. The reception was terrible with those old rabbit ears, but we made it work. The more we watched, the more colleagues joined us, and the more horrified we were. We were watching live when the second plane hit. The entire group was stunned into silence, until these co-workers of mine, military and aviation experts all, called it for what they knew it was. It wasn’t a missile, it was a plane, a big plane. As bad as the picture was, they clearly recognized it, long before the analysis on the news got it right.

The room became very crowded. I couldn’t have left my seat if I’d wanted to. I didn’t want to. All eyes were glued to the screen, ears straining to hear the tiny speakers. Talking in the room was only a slight whisper. Anything louder was quickly shushed.

The reception got worse, only one channel came in, and only with someone standing up, holding the antennae, using their body to attract the signal.

Time passed, rumors were heard. Rumors about bombs at the World Bank, rumors about bombs at the USA Today building, rumors about Reagan National Airport, and then Dulles Airport, just a few miles away. Rumors about news buildings being targets. And the White House of course. Rumors about the Pentagon. Wait.

New pictures on the screen. The Pentagon was not a rumor. Neither was the plane in Pennsylvania. This terrible reality just got closer to us personally, a lot closer. My colleagues knew what that meant. Imminent war. At this moment, some kind of war was beginning, we just didn’t know exactly what that war would look like.

Some of us watched longer, unable to look away, while others drifted back to their offices, hoping to get some normalcy out of the day. They were hiding out, not wanting to know any more. I couldn’t blame anyone for that. Especially after those of us left watched the first tower crumble with tears streaming down our faces. I was glad I wasn’t alone then.

After the second tower came down, our boss quietly told us all to go home. He was closing the office and wanted us to go be with our families. It was a relief to leave to have a reason to get away from the TV for a few minutes, to get away from other people.

I got in my car, and sat for a moment. I was listening to a little voice in the back of my head. Don’t get on the highway it said. The last thing I wanted to do was get on a crowded highway, and get stuck in massive traffic. Traffic is bad on a normal day, this was Northern Virginia after all. I knew a back way, a dirt road that led almost all the way home. Halfway down the dirt road, I heard the traffic update. Everyone who got on that highway was there for hours and hours. I spent those same hours at home, alone, back in front of the news.

I remember how bad the phone lines were. I was able to call my parents in Maine, but not my husband two miles away. For awhile cell phones were easier to get through on, then nothing at all worked. DH wouldn’t come home, couldn’t come home. He worked in the news business and news people don’t get to stop working in a crisis.

I wasn’t a mom yet. I wondered that day if I ever would be, if I should even bring a baby into such a horrible world. I changed my mind about that, but one this day every year, I remember that helplessness, hopelessness, and the terrible terrible sadness. I remember and pray for everyone affected by the events of 9/11 and its aftermath.

Where were you that morning? Do you remember much? I realized today that I had some trouble remembering the details. I wrote this today so I wouldn’t forget how I personally felt and what I did and who was around me. I don’t want my only memories to be the ones I see on the ceremonial shows every year. I don’t want my own experience to get cloudy. Never never forget.

The Pentagon, 9/11/01, Department of Defense/US Navy photo.

moisturizer advice?

I need the internetz help! I want your recommendations on moisturizers. I’m in the market for a new one, and frankly I’m tired of buying them, using them for a month, hating them, and having to try another one, and another one…you get it.

I just don’t have the time or the money to experiment right now! I don’t know if I should stay with Loreal Future E, which is the one I’ve used for the last few months. I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it, but it’s better than anything else I’ve ever used. I was also thinking about trying Cetaphil’s facial moisturizer since I like the cleanser but I really want to know if there’s something better out there I’m missing.

Here’s my criteria:

So can you help me? At least tell me what you use, and why you like it? Help a sister out!

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