Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Man Spreadsheet

Excel Saves the Day Again!

I like to cook. LOL Really? Yes!!! “Cooking” to me usually involves finding a recipe, buying the ingredients and following the directions. Some people claim they “can’t cook”, but that just seems to always be something I did not have a problem with.

What DID I have a problem with? I found all the wrong relationships with men…over and over and over. Let me say to start, I have now been with my husband, Rick, for ten years, but my prior record was pretty embarrassing.

So now, as a mother to my 21 and 24-year old girls and a 17-year-old son, I am faced with the daunting task of advising them on their own relationship mishaps. Who am I to advise them?

Just ten years ago, I found myself leaving my second disastrous marriage at the young age of 32. I felt like I was trying to be a good role model to my children by leaving a bad marriage but at the same time I felt like an enormous failure and huge disappointment, not only to them but to my family. I was not only the first person in my family to get divorced, but now I did it again! And, with ‘three children” as plenty of baggage, I did NOT see a successful relationship in my future. I was pretty mortified and scared. I had been stripped of any kind of mental, financial, or emotional security. I was spent.

First, I vowed I would not marry again until I was at least 40 years old. You can’t get divorced if you don’t get married, right? Second, no violent man would enter my life or my kids’ lives. I had spent the first 32 years of my life around violent men and I was now done. I would rather be without a man at all.

When things go wrong, I usually try to figure out what went wrong. In this case, I needed “a list”. As anyone who knows me knows: I always need a list. I make most of my lists on Excel. I started thinking, “How in the hell did I end up in either my first or second marriages when both men fell so short of what I was looking for?” So, I made a list of exactly what I was looking for. Yes, on Excel.

OK, but of course some things HAD to be more important than others. I labeled a few characteristics, “Absolute Musts”. Following closely were “Strong Preferences”. This second category contained things you would LIKE to call important but at the end of the day you knew “has a job” was more important and worth more points than “nice butt”. Then there were just a few items to round it out maybe to be called “Nice Things” containing tidbits that would be nice like “loving the same TV show”, etc.

“Absolute Musts” were given a point value of five points each. “Strong Preferences” were given a point value of three points each. “Nice Things” were given a point value of one apiece.

Now looking at MY list, as an outsider, one might laugh. BUT this is a result of my experiences in the dating world. “Pet not more important than me”? True story. I don’t want to compete with a feline in a relationship. I did it once and don’t care to again. Sorry!!!

“No Country Music”? Or, Rap music, while I’m at it. I can probably handle Rap better than Country. Country music to me sounds like nails on a chalkboard and is WORTH 5 points to me. (Maybe 20???) That right there is almost a deal-breaker. There are just certain plusses and minuses in a relationship!

After rating my two ex-husbands and a few recent dates I had at the time, it really was a real eye-opener. It is kind of called, “look at the facts”. They don’t lie. And it’s your own criteria, not someone else’s.

Stacie’s Man Spreadsheet

Not be violent 5
Not a drug user 5
No criminal record 5
Has a job 5
Has a car 5
Has a house/apartment 5
Likes children 5
Drinks socially 5
Sarcastic sense of humor 5
No country music 5
Smart 5

Strong Preferences
Good looking 3
Taller than 5'10" 3
Height/weight proportionate 3
Not thinner than me 3
Older than me 3
Non-smoker 3
Not a momma's boy 3
Pet not more important than me 3
Good in bed 3
Not a slob/not a neat freak either 3
Affectionate but not obsessed 3
Loves loud music 3
Loves football 3
Not a Bears fan 3

Nice Things
Packers Fan 1
White Sox fan 1
Watches the same TV shows 1

 Total for a Perfect Man: 100

A few dates will be necessary to get all the information needed to rate a man, no matter what your criteria. The man will not admit on the first date to being a Momma’s boy. Or, maybe that’s what you’re looking for? “Good in bed”? Not going to find that out on the first date. And yes, I will include this in my discussion with my daughters. They’re not 16 and I’m not stupid. One of them has two children already!

One word on relationship SUCCESS: it’s eerie! Things were so good once I found my husband I was sure it couldn’t last. When I first met my husband, I was in relationship heaven. However, I was sure (paranoid?) a good relationship could not be in the cards for me. He mentioned to me that his company was relocating to the Indiana Beach area and he would commute back and forth. I was so not buying it. “This is the end of the relationship”, I told myself. I thought for certain he would be moving. Me? Or, the job he had for twenty years? I was the sure loser. THEN he called me one day to tell me the company move had failed and they had to let him go. He was unemployed but I was overjoyed! My response was to help him look for a new job. Couldn’t lose those mega-important five points man…As the relationship progressed, he gained an EXTRA 3 points by finally looking heftier than me. And, I dove in at the age of 38 instead of 40 and began my third marriage. He puts up with me and loves my cooking. Maybe my list only needed those two things?

But, we all want to protect our children. I have watched my children go through bad relationships and I’m just trying to prevent them from repeating my mistakes. If YOU can use this list and want me to e-mail my Excel version so you can tailor it to your needs, just write me or comment and I’ll send it. And as for MY version? Hey, it’s MY version and I found what I was looking for using it. Call some items “superficial” if you wish, but I have to put up with what I end up with, right? And I love him!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beer Can Chicken

Beer Can Chicken

Well, the end of summer is almost here. To hear the kids tell it, "the end" has already happened because they are back in school. First, summer doesn't officially end until September 21st. Second, if it's still eighty-plus degrees outside and the air conditioning is still cranking, it is still summer. I have seen Chicago summers go well into the third week of October. Either way, time flies. And I had yet to make Beer Can Chicken in Summer 2010, so before it starts getting dark too early (already sort of happening!) and before I'm wearing a sweater and jeans while BBQ-ing. I thought it would be best if I got right on it.

This is the silly thing...it seems like such an adventure. But, if you want a CHEAP adventure, this IS your game! The chicken was $3 (on sale), ten red potatoes $2.33, and green beans 46 cents. Split this between two adults? $2.90 per person...for dinner, not lunch! Can't beat that...

So, how do you grill a Beer Can Chicken? This is about the fifth one I've done, so I will share the steps.

I have a charcoal grill. When you grill something like burgers that will take about twenty minutes at the most, you will not need a lot of charcoal. But chicken on the bone or a whole chicken takes an hour or longer, so more charcoal is needed.

Time I lit the coals: 5 pm

Here, I have my grill started. I have one of those grills with a pot at the bottom where I put newspaper to feed the fire. I put the coals in a triangular shape add lighter fluid, light, and add twigs to get the fire going. Keep an eye on it and move coals with prongs as necessary to keep it evenly going. If it dies out completely, re-light but be very careful to stand back as it will re-light SUPER quickly and viciously. Lighter fluid IS DANGEROUS.

Woods chips are soaking in water to add to fire. Not necessary for burgers, not necessary for bratwurst or pork chops, but chicken? YES. You need something to keep the fire going. Soak a cup of these for maybe twenty minutes before grilling. While the grill is getting hot, it is now time to prepare the chicken.

Remove the chicken from packaging and take gizzards, etc. out of chicken's body cavity. Wash inside and outside with water and dry off with a paper towel.

The star of the show: the CHICKEN! and his (her?) counterpart bought on E-Bay, the beer holder.

Some simple spices...salt, pepper, and BBQ rub!

Sprinkle salt, pepper, and whatever other seasoning or rub you wish onto chicken's cavity and outside.

Chicken all spiced up

Spray chicken AND beer holder with Crisco butter spray. No need to spray beer bottle. The beer is being poured into the beer holder!

It is now about 5:40 pm. The coals are almost done turning gray, and the last sticks I threw in there are still a little on fire. We need to do two things next to get the grill ready: Put the coals in a circle and add the wood chips. Note on this...IF you were just making burgers, brats, or pork chops, no circle necessary and no wood chips. ONLY because this is chicken on the bone and it takes longer to cook do you need to go through these steps.

Move these around with a long-handled metal prong. And be careful...

Throw in wood chips by handful. And it will burn well for another five minutes.

OFF OF GRILL, prepare beer holder and chicken (while wood chips are burning)

Fill beer holder about 3/4 full or place a beer can which is 3/4 full in place for chicken to rest upon

Chicken on grill OFF of grill...set up off to side before actually placing on top of fire

Here we go...ready to grill!

Put lid on when centered.

Time: 5:50 pm

One side...green beans

Second side: red potatoes

Cut up potatoes into fourths. Spray with butter Crisco. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley flakes.

Spray veggie griller with butter Crisco and load potatoes in. Spray taters with more butter Crisco and season more if wedges are showing with no seasoning.

Time placed on grill: 6:30 pm

Here is chicken with the taters getting nicely done. If fire seems to be dwindling and needs to a little kick, poke the chicken all around so juices flow out. Also turn the potatoes so they cook evenly.

This is about 6:45 pm

Next we will add the green beans to the potatoes. And the gizzards for our dog, Bear. If you love your dog, grill him/her the gizzards. We're not exactly making gravy tonight...

Dinner done 7:30 pm


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Success and Failure

The Science of Success

What is "success"? I think the ideas of "success" and "failure" depend on many things. If your idea of "success" is getting something absolutely perfect the first time you try it, then you will view many attempts as "failure". If your idea of "success" is "trying to do something in the effort to become successful at something" then you will view anything short of your goal as "steps to success". In the end, it is YOUR definition, that really matters. So here's some food for thought...

Just think for a minute. Think about babies or toddlers learning to walk. They are definitely NOT successful the first time. Neither are kids learning to ride a bike. Do they give up? No. And I don't think I have ever seen a grown person crawling on the ground because he or she gave up on the walking bit. 

Now let's take it a step further. Imagine someone, I'm going to use Tara Lipinski, our United States Gold Medal winner in the Olympics many years ago. You can use any other athlete of your choosing! Let's say we're showing a video to Tara as a eight month old. Keep in mind, Tara is able to talk (think Look Who's Talking movies for a minute!) and she's hearing us tell her our plans for her future. "Tara, first you're going to learn how to walk. Then we're going to put ice skates on you and you're going to skate on some ice. THEN we're going to go REALLY FAST in circles around and around the rink and THEN you're going to JUMP. Not only are you going to jump, but you're going to twirl around four times in the air, land on the ice, and not fall. Oh yeah, there will be people watching too. They will see if you can do it good or not. And there will be judges who watch your every move. And, you have to look gracious, smile, and act like you're having a ball."

Ok, so we said, Tara is able to talk. What do you think Tara will say in response? She can't as of yet WALK. And she's going to be told she's going to skate on ice, jump, land, not fall, and do this in front of how many people? And get judged? And represent her country? You would think Tara might laugh, say,"ha ha you're funny!" Or something else.

But see, Tara was never told as an infant that she couldn't do something. No one ever looks at a baby and says, "You'll never walk!" No one ever looks at a toddler going through potty training and says, "You'll never use the toilet!" (Unless they're a very exasperated parent!) See these are things that everyone can do.

We're all not going to be great at anything the first time we try it. Just because you try to do something and it fails does NOT mean you should give up. I love Mustangs. I have found that many Mustangs are stick shift. I do not know how to drive stick shift. One of these days I am going to own a Mustang. And I will learn to drive stick shift. Am I going to "get it" the first time? Hell, no! LMAO Anyone who knows my driving skills KNOWS this. I KNOW this. The first time I get behind the wheel and try it, I know it's going to stink. It will probably be very bad and I'll want to give up out of sheer embarrassment. BUT if I want a pretty Mustang, and I do...I will learn to drive stick shift. I will NOT be doing well the first day. I already feel sorry for whoever it is that my teacher is going to be! BUT, I will end up knowing how to drive stick shift. I AM going to make an ass out of myself while learning. (OK, maybe this is negative thinking! But...) It's going to happen.

Lately, I've been thinking about the cake decorating bit and I think I am going to try a different avenue. Like I said, you try something and it doesn't work, you don't quit. You evaluate what you learned from the steps you took and just view it as STEPS to success. There is no failure in trying. You're learning what doesn't work, is what you're doing. Not "failing", but "learning". And there's nothing wrong with "learning", right?

So, I've come across a different idea:

I think I will concentrate on what I can do that others can't do or don't want to do. Or, don't have the time or patience to do. I have a lot of patience when it comes to decorating. And I can help others make their cakes look like a showcase.   

This is what I like to do! I can still do any kind of cake I want, but this is where I maybe have the "wow" factor a little more.

I may not be "the best" right now. But I can keep practicing and become the best I can be. And, it DOES take practice. And patience.

AND, there is no way this cannot be fun! It's a blast. I am like a 41-year-old wishing I can be five again so I can play with Playdough and knock all the other kids' socks off...

So, cake or no cake, it is onto "figurines" for now for me! Maybe it's just that this summer was so hot I didn't want to bake and will pick it up again come October! We'll see...

Next we're going to have Ladybugs, Bees, and Black scary cats. So September and October-ish!

Just remember, the first time you put on make-up you didn't look so good! But you didn't give up, did you?

Monday, August 2, 2010


Not one of my specialties! Just being honest…We once were low on bottled water and I said something to my hubby about it. His response? Get it from the sink. OOOOHHHHH YEEEAAAAHHHH…. (doink on the head!) I have always been “book smart” and completely NOT “street smart”. That is what my hubby is around for.

This brings me to the point of: “doing something because you’ve always done it that way”. I read a book once and it had a story in it about a family who always cut the end off of the roast before cooking. Finally someone backtracked through the family chefs to find out why. It was because the roast wouldn’t fit in that particular family member’s oven. I would like to think before I do something that it appears well thought out. But this isn’t always the case! Habits sometimes prevail…

Well, going down memory lane recently with my oldest daughter proved to be somewhat of a trip. What came up? “Remember those pics of Grandma Paulette letting me takes sips of her beer?” EEEKKSSSS!!!! Well, YES, I remembered, but why in the hell would my mother have done that??? She had also let me and my sister do the same when we were younger. I am going to stop right here and add “my dad” to the mix. He was equally as guilty. It’s funny NOW but back when we were 5-6-7 years old, my parents would ask us to get them a beer and when we returned with it, we would ask if we could have a sip. They said “yes”. ???????????????????

To me, as a parent, and now a grandmother, I find this VERY unacceptable. I have a five year old grandson right now and would NEVER allow him to take a sip of any alcoholic drink I was consuming. I NEVER allowed my children to take sips of my drinks when they were growing up either. MAYBE at Christmas or New Year’s someone got to take a drink of champagne, but they were over 16 before they did that, not five!

In any case, that brought me to thinking about our parents’ habits we take with us into our own adult lives. I think the very first one I dropped was my parents’ use of Open Pit BBQ sauce. OMG…gross…I haven’t touched it since. I am not joking…

So here’s a different burger. Not your parents’ burger.

One pound ground pork

½ t. garlic salt

1 t. salt

½ t. cumin

Pinch of black pepper

1 t. basil

1 t. paprika

1 jalapenos, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients and form into five patties. GRILL!!!!

And, I do use aluminum foil most of the time when I grill because bacon on a wide open grill will get killed.
Top with cheese, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, or whatever you like! I like Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce.

And the kiddos get milk or juice...no sips of beer!


Sunday, July 4, 2010



We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I can sit here and tell you about how honored we should be to have our fellow Americans in combat and how brave they are. Or, I can share with you what I know more about...how to COOK and SERVE for the holiday festivities. We each have our duties, and I am doing mine WITH PRIDE :-)

I wasn't REALLY expecting company for the holiday, so I did my shopping on Friday just for my hubby and myself. THEN my daughter writes asking me what we're doing on the holiday. HMMMMM, should I ADMIT we have no plans and be subjected to possible last minute babysitting duty for the two grandchildren??? HMMMM, hubby would might not like that, but he was in the shower, so I answered that I was free and available. LOL (Brave, am I?) Instead of being her last-minute babysitter, she asked if SHE and THE KIDS could come over.


But now I have to go back to the store...no big deal...(Other son added to list of people coming along...) I had a coupon for another store for charcoal but had to do one of those ten dollar purchase things to use it. And, I like to PREPARE. LMAO...HMMMM...again

I am used to stores running out of red and blue produce items around the Fourth of July and I had JUST been to the store Friday and didn't get blueberries because I didn't need them. But they had them at Meijer's. Now I was going to PayLow to use a coupon and there were no blueberries in sight. Figured...I knew Meijer's runs out of blueberries quickly on a normal basis, so I thought JUST TRY, JUST TRY the local farmer's market on Taft Street. A little late on a Saturday afternoon, I didn't even know how late they stayed open, it was close to four, but I figured...JUST TRY. THEY HAD BLUEBERRIES!!! YAY!!!

Although I had no idea what I was making, I had picked up Jello at Paylow, along with strawberries and Cool Whip, so I had the ingredients now, just no picture of what they were making. I went on line to find recipes and consulted my Jello Cookbook, which is ancient, but came up with the Fresh Fruit Parfaits.

Four strawberries divided into fourths lengthwise
36 blueberries
4 oz pkg. strawberry Jello
3/4 c. boiling water
1/2 c. cold water
ice cubes
Cool Whip


6 strawberries
18 blueberries

I took about four strawberries and cut them lengthwise. I divided those slices evenly per glass. I then added six intact blueberries per glass. Combine 3/4 c. boiling water with gelatin mix until dissolved. Add cold water and ice cubes. Pour on top of fruit in glasses.

They should not take longer than 30-45 minutes to gel, but then you'll top with garnishment ingredients (Cool Whip and berries) to decorate.



there's jello shots...

Fill nine Dixie cups with a slice of strawberry and four blueberries. Combine 8 oz. boiling water with Jello mix for about a minute. Add 1/2 cup of cold water and 1/2 cup of vodka.


Then pour over the fruit in the Dixie cups. And refrigerate.

And make sure the little ones don't get the Dixie cups.


Monday, June 21, 2010


What I've Learned Since Graduation

To those who know me, I am kind of a hyperactive person. Except on weekend mornings when I "make up" the sleep I've lost during the week. Then, once up, I am a little ball of energy with a definite "to-do list" going on. Most days, I ask my husband, "What's the plan today?" To which he responds that he doesn't have one.

When school ended, I had these ideas of, "oh, now you can do this" and "now you can do that". Most people assumed I would NEED to get my Master's Degree because I would be bored to death. I was afraid I would go for my Master's degree because I would be bored to death.

I had lost a few pounds last summer, and not that I need to lose weight, but I figured, "OK, exercise, and that will take up your time. You can pick up where you left off last summer". I am in acceptable shape, but if I wanted to be ultra-fit, I could lose 15 pounds. To be perfectly honest, I felt motivated for about two or three weeks and then something happened.

"Something" was that I think I may have learned to relax. OMG!!! I come home from work at 4:30-ish, I start up the grill, I cook, my husband gets home, we eat, and then I spend the evening relaxing with him watching the White Sox play. I am so good at "relaxing" that I don't even know HOW I got any schoolwork done last semester. Or, any of the previous semesters!


Is this really me?

Which brings me to the title of this entry: "SHOULD"

SHOULD I be painting my bathroom as planned?
SHOULD I be be exercising three hours a day to ensure maximum fat loss? (LOL)
SHOULD I be looking into any school's Master's Degree program?
SHOULD I be planning my next greatest adventure?

I have in the last month: planted flowers, made my own fondant icing, created a website, shampooed my carpets, and hosted my 5-year-old grandson's birthday party all while working full time as an Office Manager. And I'm sure this isn't "the whole list", and I'm not going to go looking for it...that is the point. I am tired of crossing things off of my "to-do lists".

I SHOULD be able to take a break. I started back to college back in 2005 taking two to three (and sometimes four classes) every Fall and Spring semester until I just graduated. Made the Dean's List every semester. Graduated with Highest Honors and a 3.9 GPA. This is 2010, five years later...

What SHOULD I do now? This girl is "relaxing" whether anyone ever thought I would be able to or not...LOL

I will keep you posted on my progress!  ;-)

Monday, May 10, 2010


Well, we're now done!

And what remains to be seen is HOW I will use my degree. I WILL BE paying for it so I how I use it is very important. I think I have said enough on what I think I've accomplished so rather than beat a dead horse more dead, LOL, I will just concentrate on the future.

It would have been nice if I had known while I was taking my "creating a website" class that I would be doing this because now I have to do it all again. We'll just refer to it as a refresher course.

I AM happy though for everything else I learned. And, all the friends I've made.

I had to find a pic that's decent enough for peeps to see on Facebook so I have Chloe on here from this weekend. She is my little sweetie pie along with Brandon. I am doing an Iron Man cake this week for his birthday and am contemplating "plain but awesome" versus "F-ing spectacular"...LOL Or an "F-ing mess"

If it works out, it'll be posted. If not...LOL it won't!!!