Winds of Change

Purpose is life in motion. If you can figure out what your purpose is, the reason you get up in the morning, you pretty much have it made.

After all, being grateful for where you are, along with having peace of mind, are two key components of living a happy life.

It’s taken me a long time to figure this out, but I’m still learning. I find myself constantly adjusting to the Winds of Change, whose fickle existence teases me with her bipolar whims.

I am accepting, eventually, because I know there are many things that I can’t control, no matter how hard I try.

There are times when I just want to break down and scream at the top of my lungs, “Why is this happening to me?”

I already know, but there is something about letting everything go, even if it has to be ripped from my hands, that makes me go a little crazy. And it feels good.

Life is constantly in motion. Change is inevitable, and the Winds of Change doesn’t discriminate.  Go with the flow, but go a little crazy sometimes. It is how we keep our sanity.

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Tommy’s West Restaurant Believes in Traditions

Tommy’s West Restaurant, 393 Edgewood Road NW, has been a mainstay in the Edgewood Plaza in Cedar Rapids for many years, but tucked in the corner of the strip mall, it sometimes gets overlooked.

adam

Chef Adam Mykris

But it shouldn’t. Tommy’s employees not only believes in good dining traditions, the amazing kitchen staff dish up home-cooking style cuisine that is comparable only to Mom’s.

Tommy’s dishes include Broasted Chicken, Meatloaf, and Chicken-Fried Steak, as well as Tenderloins, Philly Cheese Steak and Hot Beef sandwiches. They also offer a variety of traditional breakfast items and homemade pie.

And even though the folks at Tommy’s provide their customers with the best food and service possible, they are stepping up their game even more. There is a new chef at Tommy’s, who not only loves to create new dishes, he also believes in the value of traditions.

Adam Mykris started at Tommy’s earlier this year. He is the mastermind behind the restaurant’s current special, Summer Salads, which he created uniquely with Tommy’s customers in mind; a fresh twist to healthier eating.

The Spring Salad is made with fresh spinach, candied walnuts, fresh strawberries, and dried cranberries, with Chef Adam’s special poppy-seed dressing.

The Teriyaki Chicken Salad starts with shredded lettuce and is topped with a chicken breast marinated in teriyaki sauce. It also includes mandarin oranges and almond slivers, and is topped with Chef Adam’s Ginger Dressing.

The Fruit Nut and Cheese bowl is a variety of fruits, feta cheese, and candied walnuts with a raspberry vinaigrette.

The Creamy BLT Salad is an old favorite with a new twist; a Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato, without the bread. It is also topped with cheddar cheese and croutons.

The Greek Salad begins with fresh spinach, Kalamate olives, feta cheese, and croutons, and tossed with Caesar dressing. You can add a grilled chicken breast for an even better flavor.

The salads are available for a limited time, so come in soon and experience one for yourself!

About the Chef

Chef Adam grew up in the Marion area and graduated from Linn-Mar High School in 1999.

“I’ve been interested in cooking most of my life,” he said. “I started helping my mother when I was little. As I grew older she let me help a little more, making pasta, cutting vegetables, things like that. I just really enjoyed it.”

After graduation, Adam said he took some time to figure out what he wanted to do with his life and realized his passion was with cooking.  He looked into the program at Kirkwood and knew that’s what he wanted to do.

Chef Adam worked at the Doubletree Hotel for two years before coming to Tommy’s. He started as a line cook, and was promoted a few months later as a sous chef, or assistant to the head chef. He has also held positions at Granite City and New Pioneer Co-op.

Besides creating the Summer Salads, Chef Adam recently introduced a homemade strawberry lemonade pie, which is made with a lemon meringue base and fresh strawberries.

“Tart and sweet; the best of both worlds.”

Chef Adam is also beginning plans for a fall menu, which will feature a few new dishes.

“Most people like to try new things, while others like things the way they are. We want to make sure everyone is happy, so if you have a favorite, we would love to hear from you!”

In his spare time, Chef Adam enjoys spending time at home creating new dishes and experimenting with the recipes he already knows.

“I can take an ordinary recipe, add a few new ingredients, and make them even better than before.

“It’s what I love to do.”

 

Insight

Mom and Dad, 1989

It’s been a tough few months. My mother woke up one day and said her back hurt terribly. We were hoping it would get better, but instead it got progressively worse.  

The next day when she couldn’t get out of bed, I had no choice but to call an ambulance. It turned out that she had five stress fractures in her spine, a result of osteoporosis and sitting all the time.

She spent a week in the hospital and was moved to a nearby skilled nursing facility, where she got the care she needed, but she still complained of intense pain. They took another x-ray and found that she had fractured her hip somewhere between the hospital and care center. Probably because her bones are so brittle, but I think, too, that the aides didn’t realize how fragile she is.

They sent her home a few weeks later because she really had nowhere else to go. Her case worker helped as much as she could, but the family had to decide the best option. So here we are, playing the waiting game, literally. She’s been put on the waiting list for three different care facilities. I didn’t realize there were so many older people, but I suppose it’s because people are living longer.

I always told my mom that I would stay with her until I couldn’t take care of anymore, and I’m afraid we’re there. She can’t do a lot for herself and I’m sure she will be much better off, getting the care she needs, in a care center.

It’s horrible watching your parents get old; not being able to do the things they used to, depressed because they can’t remember the things they did.  And to experience that close-up and personal, well, it’s quite an awakening. I’ve had to adjust my attitude more than a few times. My patience has been tested to the limit, and it’s all I can do to keep it all together.

But it’s not just the taking-care-of-her part, it’s all the emotions that come with it. The family unit is being tested, and with so many different personalities, everyone wanting to be heard and in control, it’s sometimes hard to tolerate. And I’m right in the middle of it all.

Some days I just want to run away.  But I won’t. I know God has put me here to take care of my mom. The things I am learning about myself and my mom are astounding, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And I get to spend quality time with one of the most amazing people I know.

Our relationship has changed over the years. There was a time when I was angry with her and resentful, but that has long-since been resolved. I know it’s because of the time I have spent with her. I’ve gotten to know her not as my mom, but as a person, and I have seen a side of her most people never will.

I didn’t get a chance to tell my dad how much he meant to me before he died, but I can tell my mom. Or at least show her; I do that by being here for her.

We all think we have time – time to tell people how we feel, heal broken relationships, and do all the things we want to – until we don’t anymore. I’m just grateful I have the insight to realize that.

 

 

 

 

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Tried & True: Broccoli Cheese Soup

I am slowly becoming a connoisseur of homemade soups; mostly because it’s winter, and there’s nothing better than hot soup on a cold day.

Searching for the “perfect” broccoli cheese soup, I stumbled upon a variety of recipes that varied in ingredients, but were similar in that they all contained broccoli, some kind of cheese, and were creamed.

I tried a few different recipes because I couldn’t quite get it to the consistency I wanted. In the process, I learned some very interesting things:

  1. I don’t like burnt or scorched anything. If we have this in common,  make sure you stir often, almost constantly, when the cream mixture begins to boil. Maybe even turn the heat down very low, so you can control the heating process.
  2. Make sure you don’t use too much cheese. If you over-indulge, the soup will become too thick and pastey, taking away from its delicious flavor.
  3. Cooking, or steaming, the broccoli in the microwave first ensures that the broccoli is tender, and saves a lot of time, too.

Cindy’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups velveeta cheese, cubed

Melt butter in Dutch oven, saute onion and garlic. Add flour slowly and stir until blended. Add chicken broth slowly, stirring constantly. Add milk and bring to a boil. Add broccoli, lower the heat, and bring to a slow boil. Add cheese and remove from heat, stirring occasionally.  Serves 4.

It’s funny how good things can come from a single idea. All my boyfriend had to say was, “Have you ever used queso in your soup?”

So I guess you know what’s for dinner tomorrow night …

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Luck Has Nothing to Do with It

Friday the 13th wasn’t always considered unlucky. In fact, up until 500-600 B.C., january-2017-printable-calendar-1both Fridays and 13s were considered extremely lucky, with some very feminine roots.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, the number 13 is the average number of menstrual cycles a woman has every year. Both the day and the number were associated with the Great Goddesses, and therefore, the day was regarded as the sacred essence of luck and good fortune.

Thirteen is also the annual cycles of the moon.  The Egyptians revered the number 13 as auspicious, and believed that life has 13 stages, with the last stage, death, leading the transition to eternal life.

According to boldsky.com, in ancient Greece, Zeus was the 13th and the most powerful God of Greek mythology. Therefore, in some cultures, 13 is the symbol of incorruptible nature, power and purity.

The number 13 is prime number and can only be divisible by itself, making it a complete number in itself. Some people see 13 as the symbol of totality, completion and attainment.

Friday is more than just the end of the workweek for most people. It was actually the day held holy to honor Shekinah, the female aspect of God. Those of Jewish and Islamic faith observe the Sabbath at sunset on Friday evenings.

Friday was associated with the early Mother Creation Goddess, for whom that day was named. She was known as Freya, or Frig. Friday was called Frig’s Day or Fredag in Danish. In Mediterranean lands, she reigned as Venus. In Latin, Friday is the Day of Venus, Dies Veneris.

Fear of the number 13 came about in Western cultures for several reasons. According to History.com, one of the reasons involves one of the world’s oldest legal documents, the Code of Hammurabi, which reportedly omitted a 13th law from its list of legal rules. In reality, the omission was no more than a clerical error made by one of the document’s earliest translators.

Another theory is that mathematicians believed that because 12 was often considered a “perfect” number in the ancient world, the number 13 must be “unlucky.”

The ancient Sumerian’s numeral system, based on the use of 12, is still used for measuring time today. Most calendars have 12 months and a single day is composed of two 12-hour half days.

In the Bible, Judas Iscariot, the 13th guest to arrive at the Last Supper, is the person who betrays Jesus.

Another ancient myth includes Norse lore, which tells of the evil and turmoil that were first introduced in the world by the appearance of the treacherous and mischievous god Loki at a dinner party in Valhalla. He was the 13th guest, upsetting the balance of the 12 gods already in attendance.

Fear of the number 13, or triskaidekaphobia, is a real malady, and should be taken seriously. For example, Winston Churchill refused to sit in row 13 in the theater or on an airplane. According to Donna Henes, J. Paul Getty, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Napoleon also suffered from triskaidekaphobia (paraskavedekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th).

“Christopher Columbus, too, seems to have been afflicted. In the 1950s, the Columbiana, a group of Italian Columbus experts, concluded upon careful study of his ships’ logs and notes that Columbus actually landed on the Western Hemisphere on October 13, 1492. The date, apparently, was deliberately changed to October 12, to avoid the imprint of such an evil omen.”

It’s a fear that many cannot control, and even though logic dictates that a number can’t possibly be held responsible for our destiny, we have a difficult time convincing our minds of it.

Friday, on the other hand, just happens to be the day that bad things seem to happen. According to the telegraph.co, in the 14th Century, Geoffrey Chaucer referenced Friday as being an unlucky day in his Canterbury Tales, “And on a Friday fell all this mischance.”

It is also possible that Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel, “Friday, the Thirteenth,” reinforced the superstition. The novel depicts an unscrupulous stock broker, who takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on Friday the 13th.

So, if you feel better staying home on Friday the 13th, that’s your prerogative. But if that’s the case, you might want to make plans now for Oct. 13, which also lands on a Friday this year.

Read more at tributecr.com

Nothing New About Resolutions

Like many others, I made a resolution in honor of the new year. I also wrote an article on how to keep those resolutions.  But then a thought occurred to me; even though resolutions are made with the intention of learning how to live a better life, no one seems to talk about what they learned in the process. And while 2016 wasn’t what I would consider a triumphant year, I managed to learn quite a few things. Here are a few of them:

  1. I have limits. I get so caught up in the “doing” that I sometimes neglect the quality. A few times last year, I knew I was being stretched to the limit (with three jobs and caring for my mother), but I just kept going.  I became moody and short-tempered and my work began to suffer. I found myself exhausted and constantly apologizing for not doing what I said I would. After it was pointed out to me that my work was suffering, I realized something needed to change. I learned to balance my work with taking care of myself. Otherwise, no one wins.
  2. I am only human. This is something I have tried for years to accept, but for some reason, haven’t been able to (insert laughter here). Consciously, I know I’m not perfect; but there is a little voice inside of me that says, “You can do anything you want to if you try hard enough.” Believe me. I have tried. And there are some things I can’t change, no matter what I do. I will always be clumsy and sensitive and a bit of a weirdo. I have learned to accept myself the way I am.
  3. I think I have known this for a while, but last year occurred to me that I don’t like to follow the crowd. It’s not just the fads, fashions, or the latest cool idea; I really don’t want to be like everyone else. This is strange for me because at one time, I had a real fear of not being accepted. Maybe it’s part of getting older, or maybe I’m just tired of the bullshit. But I am honestly past the whole “afraid of being judged” phase in my life. I learned that if I want to change the world, I can’t be afraid to do something different.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” -Steve Jobs

A Shoebox Full of Holiday Surprises

I saw a post the other day about an international program that sends shoeboxes of gifts to little children across the globe.lily2

Operation Christmas Child, started by Samaritan’s Purse, “a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”

The person who posted the information on Facebook is a good friend of mine through a little more research, found out the collection would take place next week, Nov. 14-21.

So, wanting to teach my grandchildren a lesson about helping others, I picked them up and we set out to buy a few toys for a little girl, who lived on the other side of the world.

I expected a barrage of questions such as, “Why do we have to buy presents for someone we don’t know?” or “Why can’t I have a present?”

Instead they asked questions about where it might go and who might receive it, and concentrated on picking out gifts that a little girl might like. We couldn’t send chocolate, or perfume, or nail polish (all the things Lily wanted), but she decided on a Barbie doll, a puzzle, some gum, colored pencils, and a notebook.

“She might like to have this, too,” she told me, holding up a little white bear.

“Do you really think she’d like something like that?” I asked, teasing her.

She laughed and handed me the little bear. “Yes, I think it’s something she could sleep with, so she doesn’t have bad dreams.”

We added a few notecards to the box, as well as Lily’s name and address, in case the little girl wanted to write her.

It will be interesting to see where the shoebox ends up. I just hope it brings as much joy to the little girl who receives it, as it did to the little girl who put it together.