R.I.P. Becca

This is a news breaking day in history. On this day, we are saying goodbye to our friend, Becca Heflin. In all due respect for the recently deceased, it would be appropriate to say that she’ll be missed, but I’m afraid making that statement would be a big freaking lie.

EXCUSE ME?!?!

OK, so I’m not deceased in the oxygen-depleted sense of the word, but the unemployed, depressed, panic-stricken-every-time-rent-was-due Becca is GONE! She’s DEAD and BURIED. Yep, you read that correctly… I am once again gainfully employed!!!! (Incidentally, I understand, acknowledge, and appreciate that over-punctuating one’s enthusiasm in a sentence can be annoying as all get-out to the reader, but please indulge me… I’m on a mental high and punctuating my little heart out makes me OH so happy at the moment!)

Please feel free to stand, cheer, and dance along as I now perform my official Peanuts © “happy dance”.

 


What does this mean for little old moi? Well, my friend, it means that I will be on that seemingly never-ending search for more time in my days and nights. (Hmm, I do believe I’ve blogged about that before. I sense a continuing trend.) The job is only part time, but the hours I’ll be working fit perfectly around my current class and work study schedules at school. What’s even better is that my position (front desk clerk at a local hotel) will allow me to gain hospitality industry experience while I am still enrolled in school. This should prove to be incredibly beneficial upon graduation! One of my long term goals is to work as an event/catering manager in a hotel or banquet facility, and this job will definitely help me progress towards that goal.

I need and want to give kudos to an incredible group of people who have provided me with the much needed prayer, emotional (and in some cases, financial) support, knowledge, advice, and love that I needed to keep me from completely losing my sanity (and the roof over my head) since losing my job just over two years ago. In no particular order, an enormous THANK YOU goes to:

  • My academic advisor, Chef Jeff Igel
  • My work study mentors/advisors, Barb Dreger and Casey Britten
  • My Job Seekers Network instructor, Chris Czarnik and the entire employment services department
  • The FVTC counseling center
  • The FVTC student life office
  • The FVTC scholarship foundation office
  • My very dear online friends: From HAPPINESS INSIDE: Steven Polakoff, Gordon Simmons, and Tracy Brown. Incidentally, Happiness Inside is one of the most incredibly uplifting and inspirational websites I’ve ever encountered. There are groups for everything from pet lovers to cooks to world travelers, there are forums for motivation and emotional support, and great tips on how to stay happy and spread the infectious enthusiasm. For me, it’s a great big virtual hug! I’d also like to thank my friends, Betty and Rhett Mullis, Kim Piccione, Kari Taylor, and Lisa Hill. You have all been my lifesavers, and I am forever grateful.

Most of all, I’d like to thank my best friend and partner for life, Brian Donovan. Without his daily love, encouragement, and support for and of me, I could have easily ended up an empty shell of a woman. I love him with every fiber of my being! I will also be remiss if I don’t acknowledge that NONE of this incredible news would have been possible were it not for the almighty love of my God in Heaven and His son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To God be the glory for the great things He has done!

 

Now, in true Halloween fashion (and OH so appropriate for a “funeral”), I offer up two recipes for you. The first is for a yummy “mummy meatloaf”. I think it would be an adorable and delicious Halloween night entrée:


You can get the recipe for the meatloaf here: http://www.theknead4speed.com/2010/10/meatloaf-like-mummy-never-used-to-make/

 

The next recipe is super easy and would make a great treat for any Halloween table. Get your drool factor on with this “ghosts in the graveyard” dessert:


You can find the recipe for this ghostly delight by clicking HERE

I hope that you have a safe, happy, and wonderful week. If you celebrate Halloween, I hope that you have a safe and enjoyable day. Please come back to see me soon!

Oh, and a quick reminder (or news if you haven’t read last week’s post), I have applied for a 6-month contract job as a “Good Mood blogger” for Nature Made. I need daily votes to keep me in the top 20 for a shot at phase 2 of the application process. Daily voting for Phase 1 is open until November 11th. If you’d please vote for me and spread the word to everyone you know to do the same, I would truly appreciate it. You can vote by clicking HERE or by clicking on the Widget located to the right of this blog post. THANK YOU!

The Art of Excitement

Have you ever noticed the difference in enthusiasm and excitement shown by adults versus those of children? Adults anticipate, so excitement for many adults is internal. Kids, on the other hand, have a vibrant exuberance about them that shines like a neon sign on the Vegas strip. Personally, I hadn’t really given it much thought until a couple of days ago. Someone stopped by my locker at school to congratulate me on my induction into Phi Theta Kappa (the international, academic honor society for 2-year colleges). She told me that as she watched me walk through the auditorium processional with the other 117 inductees, the look of excitement and pride on my face was likened to that of a 3-year old on Christmas morning. She wondered if anyone would be able to wipe the cheesy grin from my face. What can I say? I love to smile a LOT these days. Call me a 3-year old if you wish!

I briefly paused to visualize and reminisce on my 3rd Christmas. That’s actually the first one I have clear memories of. The aroma of freshly cut pine exploded through our living room and filled my tiny olfactory sensors. I remember my excitement as I raced toward the tree, anxious to see which of the white tissue wrapped gifts Santa Claus had left for me. I was filled with pride that I had been a good enough girl that year to warrant gifts from the big red guy and not black lumps of coal in my stocking. As my mind lifted out of my daydream and back to 2010, I realized that my friend’s assessment of me was very accurate. My life choices and actions, along with happenings that were out of my control, have taken me to the proverbial hell and back in my life. What happened to me physically, emotionally, and spiritually from my early teenage years through my mid-thirties was rough enough that some people (including myself) thought I’d never live to see my 35th birthday, much less attend college…AND make it to the Dean’s list. I’m walking and living a daily road to my happy destiny, and I am taking time to enjoy the scenery along the way. Having the opportunity to live life makes me happy!

Speaking of happiness… there sure has been a lot of it in my life this week. I reflected on it last night, as I gave thanks to God for the awesome things He’s done and helped me to achieve in my life this week. Get a load of this list!

  • I was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa.
  • I was contacted by the Post-Crescent and asked to interview with them about my “Kickin’ Corn Chowder” recipe.
  • I scored 100% on ALL of the midterm exams I took this past week. (Technically, one of them was 101% if you count the extra credit questions!)
  • I applied for a position with Nature Made as a “Good Mood Blogger”. Within the first 4 days after applying, I achieved enough votes to launch me into 16th place out of over 1,000 candidates! If I can maintain a top-20 position until the phase one deadline of November 18th arrives, I’ll move on to the second phase of the application process, where I’ll be in the running for a 6-month contract blogging job with them! If you look on the right hand sidebar of this page, you’ll see a link to the application website. You can read all about the job I’ve applied for and you’ll also have the opportunity to vote for me. If you have 15 seconds a day to vote for me between now and November 18th, I sure would appreciate you doing so!
  • I received a phone call last night from a local hotel that I applied for a job with 3 weeks ago. They invited me to come in for a second interview with them. I’m SO nervous and excited (oh gosh…I think my 3-year old enthusiasm is aching to pop up again) about this opportunity. I need to find work, and I’d love to do so in an industry that I’m hoping to hold my future in, so this job and I would be a PERFECT match!

Incidentally, this is the first time in almost TWO YEARS that I’ve been invited to come back to an employer for a second interview. That tells me that the economy may FINALLY be improving. Either that or yours truly may actually have grown in her hospitality industry skills and knowledge… and learned a bit more about how to live the art of joyful exuberance and excitement, too.

 

One last burst of excitement for you before I head to my job interview. This week’s recipe will be made by me as a “that-a-girl” treat for a week well done. I adore the Picky Palate food blog, and when I saw this recipe, I couldn’t stop drooling. I just knew that these bars and I would have a hot date together soon! If you’d like to make them for yourself, you can check out the recipe by clicking HERE

Incidentally, she’s a BRILLIANT food photographer. Oh my GOSH, I love this picture (and check out that cute fork, too!)

Have a GREAT week and please come back to see me again soon!

Becca

Time to Decompress

Can you believe that the fall term is half over already?! It blows my mind away! I’m trying not to think about the fact that there are only 11 weeks left of 2010 because frankly, the thought of all of that holiday shopping, baking, and entertaining stresses me out too much. If you’re one of the lucky ones with Martha Stewart’s energy, inspiration, creativity, and hostess blood coursing through your veins, more power to you. That is just NOT me! Nope, I liken myself more to a coach on the sidelines at a football game. I’m a great encourager, a wonderful planner, and an awesome strategist, but don’t you dare ask me to run an 80-yard play. The good Lord knows that at my age, my legs would probably give out on me at the 20-yard line and I’d be lying in a hospital bed for the rest of the season!

Speaking of bed rest, I could sure use some this week. At the very least, some down time would be awesome. I finished up my midterm exams today and now my mind is in desperate need of some rest and relaxation. When I think of things I could do to decompress without spending loads of money (because, as you know, I have very little to spend these days), a couple of great ideas immediately pop into my mind:

I love bowling. Wait, let me rephrase that. I love NON COMPETITIVE bowling…the mindless tossing of a 12 pound bowling ball toward a set of pins, with no care in the world if that ball becomes a dust magnet for the gutter on its way down the lane. Did you know that FVTC students get to bowl for FREE one night a week at The 10th Frame bowling center? I need to stop by the FVTC Student Life office to find out what day the free bowling is available, because I think it would be awesome fun to go. If not there, maybe my supervisor in the FVTC marketing department would allow me to convert that long hallway in front of Dr. May’s office into a makeshift bowling lane. Heck, I only need 64 feet for it to be regulation length. That’s not asking for too much, is it?

For some outdoor relaxation, I enjoy taking a walk outside to soak up the crisp fall air and view the vivid colors on the trees. It’s been unseasonably warm this month, but I believe that fall may be here to stay now. I hope so anyway, because Halloween just isn’t the same when it’s 70 degrees outside. Matter of fact, I think there should be an unwritten Wisconsin law stating that you must wear at least one thick sweatshirt under (or over) your costume for Halloween to be eligible for candy collection from your neighbors. Incidentally, if there are any trick-or-treating wannabes out there who plan to stop by my place for a treat this year, here’s your fair warning: I decided to go semi-healthy with the treats this year. I’m giving out Fruit Rollups and granola bars. Before you ask, of course, they’re not homemade…I bake and cook, but do NOT mess around with making my own confections. If you need a refresher as to why I don’t make my own confections, please re-read my comment about Martha Stewart. However, it has been confirmed by an 8 year old that Fruit Rollups are quite yumalicious.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you probably know that it’s now time for me to share a recipe with you. In honor of crisp fall air and football season, this week’s recipe is for one of my game day favorites: Sweet and spicy bratwurst chili. Note: This is not even remotely close to a typical meat chili. It’s got an amazingly wonderful fruity flavor that comes from the mango and orange flavors, combined with the spice of chipotle peppers and the spicy bratwurst. It’s a sweet, tangy explosion in your mouth that is sure to delight your taste buds (and clear your sinuses if you use extra chipotles!)


SWEET N SPICY TOMATO BRATWURST CHILI

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
1 – medium onion, diced
1 – medium green bell pepper, diced
1 – garlic clove, minced
1 – Tablespoon salted butter
1 lb – Tinners® tomato infused ground bratwurst (or regular brats, diced)
1 –16 oz jar Newman’s Own® Mango Salsa
1 –16 oz jar Newman’s Own® Black Bean & Corn Salsa
1 – 12 oz can black beans
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, chopped finely
½ cup – frozen corn niblets
1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes w/green pepper and onion
1 – 8 oz jar Mudd Creek® cran-apple orange preserves

DIRECTIONS
1. Melt butter in a large stockpot. Add onions, peppers, and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent.
2. Add tomato bratwurst and cooked until it’s browned.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Garnish with blue corn chips, shredded cheese and/or sour cream.

Notes:
Best if served the following day.
Tinner’s Meats and Mudd Creek (Butter It Up, LLC) are both local Wisconsin businesses. Feel free to purchase their products via the Internet, or substitute similar products.

I hope that your week is an awesome one!

All my best,

Becca

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