The Real Beginning of Lightening My Load


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My life began to change 3 1/2 years ago (roughly). I’d been living in Ireland with my daughter and (then) boyfriend for a couple of years. We’d been informed at the beginning of July (2014) that we could no longer stay there. Our lack of a visa had made us illegal, which was not news, but now someone had noticed. 2 1/2 more years there and we could have applied for citizenship.

We had less than 3 weeks to pack our things, unload as many personal belongings as we could from what we had accumulated and head back to the states. We’d been living in furnished homes since leaving for Cairo in August, 2010, but we had a small child with us and had accumulated toys and things like that.

I remember we were running so late at the airport the day we flew out (my birthday; July 16th) that we were literally running as we unloaded the golden lab (called Crixus) in his carrier and I met the buyer of my car, who gave me a quick 400 Euro in the airport parking garage. I quickly apologized for the dog hair and we raced inside. From that day forward, my life not only would be different, but it would be an uphill battle.

A lot has happened between then and now, but last year I found myself single, stuck in the state I grew up in (Wisconsin), which I loved, but no longer wanted to be/live in, so hated. It was just me, my daughter and our small zoo of animals. I never wanted to stay here. I wanted to go right away, but it wasn’t in the cards for us, so we re-settled in the area.

I realized last winter that I can’t handle the Wisconsin winters anymore. Well, I’m doing it, so perhaps I can, but really don’t want to. Dealing with the snow is too much. It pushed my over the edge of being able to tolerate my existence here and feeling like I was going to crack. I realized that I was walking in place again, like I’ve done so many times before. It was time to get my shit together.

I formulated a plan in my mind. My small zoo now consists of the golden lab (Crixus), a Great Dane (Shaggy), a tortoise (now 1 1/2-years-old), Blue Ears, the rabbit, and Shakespeare, my parrotlet. How would I ever find a place to rent? This would especially be hard because I wanted to relocate across the country to Oregon, or possibly Washington. I was looking for either Irish-similar weather I’d grown so accustomed to or the western dessert I also knew and loved. Oregon seemed like a place to find exactly what I was looking for.

It hit me one day. By now I’ve had the plan in the back of my mind from so long that I don’t even know how I thought of it or what I was doing when I thought of it. I just know that before last year’s taxes, I’d decided I was going to buy an RV. I went back and forth between buying a travel trailer or and RV. I’d settled on an RV (despite people who care about me telling me the trailer might be better), because I can drive it with or without pulling behind a vehicle. Either way, it is a small home on wheels.

With an RV, I could load up my animals, drive to where I wanted to go (preferably at the beginning of a summer) and we could check out different places. We’d find a suitable place to rent/live over the summer, hopefully before school started in fall, so we’d end up in a safe place, unrushed. It seemed like the perfect plan and if I wanted to be totally unrealistic with myself, I thought I could do it last summer (ha!).

I tried and tried to find an RV, but found nothing. Finally, out of desperation I posted an ad in a Facebook group asking if anyone knew of or had an affordable RV for sale? It didn’t have to be pretty or updated, but it did have to be functional and affordable. A woman contacted me nearly right away telling me about her 1986 Gulf Stream Sunsport. I now know it is 30′ long. At the time, I was told it was a bit bigger. She said the cabinets had been replaced and that a lot of work had been done to it. She said all the flooring (tile, she said) had been purchased already and would come with it. It ran and drove, but her husband had been working on remodeling it for years. They had purchased a new one and she wanted this one gone. They wanted $2,300 for it.

I had my tax return, which was around $3,100. Excitedly, I rode with my dad to Cambria to take a look at it. The seller had driven it to a parking lot to meet us. The interior was much different than described. More had been done to it than I’d been told, but also less. The “tile” she’d been talking about was vinyl tile. As someone who has installed all types of flooring and used to own a construction business, I can say that I was not impressed. Her husband insisted he had fixed the roof. I could see that he’d replaced the subfloor, but the cabinets were ripped apart. The 80s were very apparent inside, but it wasn’t gross or disgusting, just a bit in shambles. The cloth interior was a teal and green design and I instantly thought it looked dark inside with the fake wood and the wicker design in the center of most of the cabinet doors. The lower doors for the cabinets had no hinges and I could see it had not been well thought out. There was a brand new, never-used toilet…sitting uninstalled in the bathroom. Old wallpaper covered everything and the ceiling had turned icky with age.

For some reason, the old owner had pulled apart the dash. I guess he thought it was important to replace, but in doing so, he’d pulled apart all the wiring. Nothing was hooked up. I’d immediately put money down on the RV to hold it until I could get a cashier’s check from the bank for the remainder and we’d signed something. After I’d put the money down, they contacted me and said the brakes had gone out and they would repair them before handing it over to me. This repair took weeks and I wondered if I’d ever truly take possession of it. I eventually did sometime in May. I believe they delivered it to its storage location around the 8th.

My then 9-year-old daughter and I spent every extra minute all spring, summer and fall (while the weather was still warm) working on it. We made progress, but not near what we wanted. Paint was the cheapest beginning and we set off painting all the cabinets white and the wallpapered walls a very light grey. We may have gotten half of it done.

Not long after I got the RV, I was lucky enough to find two cream colored leather captain’s chairs and a fold-out brown leather couch from a newer RV for free on craigslist. I was lucky enough to get them. Slightly worn, but much improved from the seats I ripped out. Those were installed (by me) in the summer. At one point, I also found replacement dinette cushions off of craigslist. I think I paid around $100. They were used, but were like brand new, in perfect condition and were a brownish color that went well with my cream and brown furniture.

By the time Halloween rolled around, it was just too cold to do much more and by then I saw what I’d accomplished, but also how far I had to go. I shook my head at myself, wondering how I would be able to accomplish all I needed by the summer of 2018, which was my new goal for leaving. By December I’d made it up in my mind that I was leaving by then no matter what. While I’d been spending all this time working on my RV, I’d also been trying to finish the house I was renting. I’d committed to installing flooring in the living room, kitchen and three bedrooms. All was done except the kitchen. I’d also painted two of the bedrooms and the living room and had partially painted the bathroom. My dog had ripped up the brand new bathroom flooring my landlord put in the winter before, so I also have to replace that.

By the first of the year, I had this feeling like things were going to work out for me this time. I realized I may have to let go of things. Over the summer I’d paid a guy to organize my over-flowing garage so I could find things. After he’d done that, I could actually get two vehicles in it and could walk through it and see what I had. I realized 85-95% of it would have to be gotten rid of. I already knew I’d sell my couch for what I could get for it before I left. We were taking no bedroom furniture of my daughter’s, per her request, and she wanted to get rid of the majority of her toys, because she is getting older and no longer wanted to play with toys. That left my bedroom set, my grandparent’s dining room set, one single leather rocker/recliner I felt I had to have with me, electronics, tools I wanted to keep and possibly a solid wood and very heavy (and unmanageable) long dresser I have in my living room that I use as an entertainment stand. I can’t forget all of my kitchen appliances and things I do not want to part with or have to replace.

I found quotes online for various things: moving pods, moving trucks (like U-Haul and Budget), storage buildings, moving companies–whatever you can think of. It all came down to a need for a few thousand dollars. Somewhere along the line I had it in my head that I would need $6,000 to move.  I would need gas money to get there, money to rent a place to put the RV, full coverage insurance on the RV and roadside assistance, food money and “oops” money for things I could not foresee.

I was happy to see my taxes were going to give me about half that. I was even more happy when I took my Explorer to a local mechanic who said another customer had offered $2,500 to buy it. I’d purchased it 2 years before for just $550. I thought that was a nice profit and that $2,500 would almost get my to what I felt comfortable leaving with.

Then something shitty happened. My Explorer was parked outside of the shop waiting to be repaired and some guy (high and/or drunk out of his mind) stole it, committed another crime in it and totaled it within just a few hours.

Luckily, I’d had full coverage insurance on it. Progressive moved quickly and sent me a check for around $1700-something (after my $250 deductible). Something clicked in my mind and I sat down and re-figured some of the expenses I thought I’d have in leaving for Oregon. I realized I could lower my numbers by quite a bit. I’d had it worked out with that same mechanic to pay him a deposit and a monthly amount to fix my vehicles and do repairs on the RV. He’d looked it over and determined it needed brakes, fuel lines, u-joints, he could do the re-wiring, and it needs its roof re-sealed again. He said we could store it at his shop and I could work on it there. With heat in it, I could get things done in cold weather. He said he could have it done by June, but after I re-figured, I asked him if I just paid him for it, could he do it faster. Of course, he said yes.

I re-arranged the plan in my mind. I would rent a storage building near where I lived and commit to bringing as many boxes and tubs as I could each weekend. My daughter and I would go through them and take only over what we intend to move. I’d number each one as I put it in, so by the time I was done, I’d know how many I had. This information is important for various moving quotes. This would also be helpful, because I’d received a letter in early January from my landlord that he was going to put the house I was in up for sale around March 1st. Of course, there would be the opportunity to stay, but also I may have to move. The stress was all too much and that was when my problem-solving mind went into overdrive to figure a way out of my problems. Bad thing after bad thing kept happening, but many things seemed to be leading me out of the state, where for some reason, I felt this black cloud I seemed to be under would be lifted.

I started looking through craigslist searching Washington and Oregon for RV sites. I’d been thinking I would go to an RV park and had found one as cheap as $350 a month plus electricity, but then I came across an ad for a single family that had an RV site with hookups on their property. I researched their area and really liked it. I’d emailed them and had received a voicemail from the husband the next day. I called back and got his wife, who I had a really nice conversation with. I instantly liked her and could tell she felt the same. Unfortunately, they were prepared to rent to me and I was prepared to rent, but was not ready to go. They said they couldn’t wait until June, but had not had an good prospects yet (except me). We agreed they would let me know if they rent it and I would contact them when I was ready to go to see if their spot was still open.

I realize now I may not get to rent their spot, but the rush is driving me to push harder to get out of here faster. Even if the opportunity slips away, the more I can get done in the shortest amount of time will put me in a better spot. If my landlord sells my house while I am still here and I decide I have to move, it would be nice to be able to just go to the RV. It would save me money.

So that is where I am at. My next step is to put insurance on the RV, so it can be driven or towed to the mechanic and he can begin. I also need to rent that storage building, which I think is going to cost me about $50 a month. I’m waiting for my Progressive check to clear. I put it in a relatively new bank account and they are sitting on it for 5 business days. My first purchases will be insurance and roadside assistance and then the rental unit, which I plan to pay at least two months of. I still don’t know if I will rent a pod to put my stuff in, store and move to Oregon when I go or if I will leave everything in storage here and rent a moving truck later. It makes more sense to me to do the pod and I feel more comfortable about having my things in the same state. That way, if something goes wrong and I need to remove the items, I can. If I am in Oregon and for some reason cannot pay the rental in Wisconsin, all of my things would be lost to me. Not  just some of my things, all of my things.

This was a pickle I’d have to conquer once I get ready to move. A lot will depend on the amount of money I have available to me. The good news is that I work from home and so my income will move with me and will not change. I get paid weekly, so even if I am running low on funds when I first get there, I’d get paid pretty soon right after.

Tiny home living and unconventional housing is becoming more popular. The more I read about other people’s lives, the better I feel about my plan, which to some people, sounds crazy. Sometimes I’ve laid awake at night asking myself I am crazy, taking my now 10-year-old daughter and our small zoo across the country to live in a tiny space. I realized, though, that it’s a very sound decision in a life that has become too expensive. I may even stay in the RV for a year instead of finding a place right away. If one year of slightly uncomfortable living would get my debt paid up or off and provide me the opportunity to buy my own home or make a step toward where I want to be in life, why not? It seems like a small price to pay. I even think about buying a piece of land to build on. A place where I can plunk my RV down while I continue onto the next step of my plan. It’s a race to provide my child with a relatively normal childhood before we both miss out on the stuff that makes it fun.

Meanwhile, I plan on detailing my steps here for anyone who is interested. Perhaps this type of choice would be right for you or maybe you have your own experiences to share with me. If you’re interested in reading more about alternatives way to save money in rentals, check this article out: 30 photos show the extreme lengths millennials will go to live in cities instead of suburbs

Cheap Family Date Night


Let’s face it, it’s hard to feed a hungry family these days. It’s easy to feel like we don’t have enough money to take our families out to eat, but there are places we can go that offer free or extremely cheap kids nights. If you’re willing to go out on a school night (usually between Monday and Wednesday), you’ll find there are several places to choose from. Keep in mind that the days and prices offered by these places may vary from area to area. Here is what is available in my area (Fox Lake, WI):

Applebee’s (Beaver Dam):  Up to 2 kids eat for 99¢ Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Ponderosa (Beaver Dam):  Kids 10 and under eat for 99¢ every Tuesday between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. (one child qualifies for each adult entree that is purchased). Kids 2 and under eat free all day every day of the week.

Benvenuto’s (Beaver Dam): Kids eat FREE every Monday (up to $5.50 a meal) with the purchase of an adult entree.

Pizza Ranch (Waupun):  Kids eat FREE every Monday (with the purchase of an adult entree).

Activities

Don’t forget about free and cheap activities (depending on the season).

Rogers Cinema Beaver Dam: Sometimes they offer customer appreciation days. Usually you can get in by donating a canned food item. They’re not that great about advertising this, so you have to keep watch on their Facebook page.

Tower Lanes:  In the summer, you can sign your kids up for KidsBowlFree program.  Every week they will email you a coupon that allows your child to bowl free each day. They also offer discounted family programs too, so you can bowl too.

Crystal Lake Park: Crystal Lake is great. There is no lifeguard on duty, but there is a little free beach in the summer. They have some umbrellas and tables; also bathrooms, showers and changing rooms. Kids can go to Crystal Lake camp 5 days a week for under $100 a week. They do arts and crafts, swim, play games and take a field trip every Friday. The camp is open to residents and non-residents, but there is a price difference.

YMCA of Dodge County: They offer all sorts of inexpensive events. For example, right now they have a fall and winter Flick’n’Float. Non-members are just $3 each. Enjoy crafts and swimming with Santa December 4th. Members are free and non-members are $5 a family.

There are many things free and inexpensive for families. Make sure you keep watch of Facebook pages and check for future events on websites, so you know what’s going on. If you have anything to add about this area or your area, please leave it in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Solved: I can’t login to my Yahoo email from my phone.


The Issue:  I have a Samsung Note 5. I’ve had it for a year and have had it logged into my Yahoo email address for months. Last November it suddenly stopped logging in, telling me that I was using the wrong password. After months of failed attempts and password changes, I was very frustrated and had decided I would have to live without being able to login to my email through my phone.

Solving The Issue:  I did some research on it and others had the same issue. They were told to uninstall and reinstall the app, clear the cache and so forth, to no avail. I finally solved the problem and it was simple!

Step 1: Login to your Yahoo email from a regular browser.

Step 2:  Click the pull-down “Help” menu in the upper right-hand part of your screen and choose “Account Info”.  A new window will open.

Step 3:  Click on “Account Security” on the left-hand side of the screen. Please Note: It will ask you for your password again.

Step 4: Make sure that “Allow apps that use less secure sign in” is on.

Step 5: Try logging into your email through your phone. If you are 100% sure that you are using the right login info and this option had been previously turned to off, you should be able to login now.

That’s what worked for me. If you are having the same problem or issues on different phones or with different emails, feel free to post your solution in the comments!

“Mom, that girl is here again…”


“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.

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.

Using Macros in MS Word 2010


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”.

Where to find professional baking supplies in Ireland


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).

Toning Down Spicy Food!


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.

Homemade Frozen Dinner Idea # 1: Breakfast Burritos


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.

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