Frog Eye Salad, a tradition

There are some recipes our family uses in celebration of different seasons and holidays. Frog Eye Salad is an Easter dinner tradition. I found the recipe years ago in a school generated cookbook. The school collects recipes from the families of students attending, and compile the recipes into a cookbook and sell them to raise funds for specific items or programs at the school.

Where the name Frog Eye salad comes from I do not know as there are no frog eyes in the recipe. It is a sweet tropical pasta fruit salad. There are three parts to the recipe: the sauce, the pasta and the fruit. I do variations of the recipe depending on what is in the cupboard at the time. I will put my variations in parenthesis to show the difference from the original recipe.

The Sauce:

1 Cup of Sugar 2 Tablespoons of flour 1/2 teaspoon of salt 1-3/4 Cups of Pineapple juice ( I get the juice from the cans of fruit I am adding, or if I am using fresh pineapple, after blending the pineapple I strain the juice into a cup ) 2 eggs beaten 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Combine sugar, flour and salt, stir. Beat eggs then add to pineapple juice. Add the juice/eggs to flour mix, stir well, cook over moderate or medium heat, stirring the mixture until it thickens. I like the consistency of thick gravy. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice, can be fresh or bottled.

The pasta:

The type of pasta is Acini de Pepe or pearl pasta. Same pasta two different names.

16 ounces of pasta

Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Really soft pasta does not hold up in the pasta salad. Drain.

In an airtight container mix the pasta and the sauce together and refrigerate until cold.

The Fruit:

3 – 11 ounce cans of mandarin oranges, drained 2- 20 ounce cans of pineapple chunks, drained 1- 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained

(I will substitute fruit cocktail for a can of mandarin oranges or one can of pineapple. The pineapple makes the salad. One fresh pineapple is substituted for all the canned pineapple chunks and crushed. I also drained Maraschino cherries to add color to the salad for July 4th. )

1 – Cup of miniature marshmallows (I consider these optional, if I have them I use them. If I do not it does not distract from overall taste.)

1 – Cup of coconut (This is listed as optional, but I consider it a main ingredient. The flavor combination of pineapple, oranges and coconut are what give this salad character. )

Fold the fruit, marshmallows and coconut into the pasta, until well blended and refrigerate until cold.

If kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this salad can keep for up to a week.

amtolle

Easter

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I love spring, the beginning of the year for me. When everything comes out of the winter hibernation and shows their bright new colors, flowers, trees, grass, and the animals. The animals get a winter coat, when they shed off the winter hair, their color is brighter, cleaner.

Before Easter, there is spring cleaning. The house looks and smells great after a week of deep cleaning. Removing the old to let the new in.

All these things cause a renewing of my inner being, soul and spirit, much as it was intended by our Creator. Easter the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Resurrection of what was dead to new life displayed each spring and celebrated.

I always dream of having all the children, their spouses and the grandchildren in one place for Easter. As yet, the dream has not happened. Each child has their lives and their children to celebrate. Not to mention the hundreds of miles that separate all of us.

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This year my husband has to work. I will go to church alone, which happens a lot since he works most weekends, a crazy schedule 7 on 2 off 8 on and 3 off. Crazy schedule. For some strange reason I have yet to learn the basis of, I still spring clean the house, decorate two weeks before the celebration. A day or two before Easter, I will dye or color eggs, I enjoy the colored eggs that become deviled eggs or potato salad later. I will prepare a meal for Easter, even if the meal is only for two.

I will not let the fact my children and grandchildren will not be present to celebrate, keep me from celebrating and having joy for the Easter. A friend decided not to decorate any longer for Christmas or fix a special meal, it was too much work, there was no one but the two of them. Their children grown with families, and distance prevented them from being with my friend and her husband. They stopped celebrating Christmas, and Christmas became a depressing time of the year for them. I refuse to let that happen to me.

Time changes the way we celebrate occasions as children grow up, have families, people move. Change does not mean to stop celebrating, only to celebrate differently. My children call, I talk with the grandchildren. I am sent videos of the funny or cute things that happen that day. I am always sent pictures of the egg hunts and activities.

We may not be in the same location, but in our hearts we are celebrating together.

Happy Easter. Happy Resurrection Day.

amtolle

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Birthdays

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Today is my husband’s birthday.

Another year older, and I hope a lot wiser.

For years, actually most of my life, I did not give much thought to my own birthday. It was another day, I received gifts, but no big celebration or fan fare. I began to believe that my birth nor my being was of much importance in the universe. My self worth was very low, I was unimportant and there was no need to celebrate me becoming older. Age is just a number, no need to acknowledge or celebrate one more year.

Then I joined the “Birthday Club” at a church I was attending. Each month we would celebrate not the birthday, but the fact a woman was born. When we signed up, we were to put our birthdate on the form so the organizer would make sure we were not acknowledging the fact we were born in the same month of our birth. I realized that my birth was important and a reason to celebrate.

Now I celebrate the birthdays of those I know. Those I can be with get a card and gift. I like to send flowers to my daughters. I mail cards and sometimes small gifts to my grandchildren. I want them to know I think they are important to me and I love them.

The day of our birth is special and unique as that is the very first day we greeted our parents, became a family, and said “Hello world, here I have arrived!” We should celebrate each year we have shared our lives with others, as others did not have some many years to share with others.

When I celebrate my birthday, I celebrate that I have survived as long as I have. Acknowledging all the health warnings for activities I did as a child, it is a miracle I am alive.

Yes, I drank from a garden hose, rode in the back of a pickup truck traveling the speed limit or more down the highway. As a child, the vehicles were not made with seatbelts. It is a wonder the baby boom generation even survived at all.

But I had a life of roaming anywhere I wanted, only had to be home for supper. I remember riding my bicycle down the gravel hill near home barefoot. We would go to the top of the hill and pedal as fast as we could, then let go of the handle bars plus put our feet up on the back fender of the rear wheel. On one run, I missed the back fender and my bare toes went into the rapidly spinning spokes. WIPE OUT! Nearly took my toe off in the spokes. Blood all over my toe and foot. Removed my toe nail off my big toe. My reaction, go into the house for a pair of shoes, and out the door to see if I could go faster. Have I gotten wiser as I have gotten older. I would love to try that stunt again, only I will keep my shoes on.

Birthdays celebrate the number of years you have shared your life with family, friends and others.

How to you feel about birthdays? I hope you feel they are worth celebrating. You being alive is worth celebrating.

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amtolle

Happily Ever After

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We all dream of living a “Happily Ever After” life with someone we love. We observe couples who always seem to be comfortable and happy together. Often a thoughts comes to our minds – they are only acting in front of others, behind closed doors I bet it is different.

I believe in “Happily Ever After”. That does not mean my husband and I agree on everything all the time. Or we never have negative feelings about the other. We do not agree all the time and sometimes we get frustrated or upset with the other. But we placed rules on our relationship at the very beginning.

We had both been in in unhappy marriages, both gotten divorced, and both knew we did not want to live in the type of relationships we had before.

First Rule – do not yell or raise your voice in anger. Nobody likes to be yelled at. I had spent 15 years being yelled at by my previous husband, and I yelled back. Kids do not like parents yelling at each other. Likewise, he had experienced the same thing, just not in front of his children. Talk to me, do not yell at me.

Second Rule – We have to agree before making big purchases. Money is the number one reason couples fight and for divorces. We decided to discuss purchases great and small. We usually shop together, since I am not fond of crowds. But at gift giving, we agree on maximum amount to be spent to keep our budget balanced. I balance the money accounts and track all expenses.

Third Rule – We have to communicate. We talk everyday, about everything. If he does something I do not like, actually it is usually something he does not do that bothers me. We have a focused discussion, I tell how I feel about the subject, we come up with a solution or compromise. I have had to change some behaviors and he has had to change. Then as you get older you both change and have to discuss those changes as well.

In our relationship, the house and place are mine to do with as I want. If I want to paint a wall red, I can. I decorate, plant bushes and a garden. I care for the sheep and critters we have. The house is my place to do pretty much what I want.

One day, my husband comes home from work and finds the neighbor’s tractor in our front yard, an enormous pile of dirt in the yard and a large pile of chunks of cement, and a huge, deep “moat” in front of the house, and unable to get to the front door.

My husband enters the home using the back door and askes, “Honey how was your day?”

My response ” I am tired of skunks!” We had a serious skunk problem.

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Then he asked, “why the tractor and dirt was in the front yard?

“Because the skunks walk up the sliding sidewalk to get under the floor of the house. We can not sleep in our bedroom again, because it stinks. I removed the sidewalk, now they can not get under the floor of the house. In a week I can sleep in my bed.” He laughed and said “ok.”

When he said ok, I realized I probably should have discussed this plan of action with him before I had the moat in the front yard. But, I am married to an awesome man, he was not angry, upset, frustrated. I was at the skunks. He just laughed and went on. The skunks were a problem, and I came up with a solution.

Communication is also just asking about the other’s day, expressing ideas, discussing a movie or book. Just everyday talk to says “You are important to me and I value you”.

Rule Four – Forgive and Learn. We learn from our mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. My husband and I have made a decision together, and it was a mistake. The reminding of mistakes does not help a relationship grow. I call it dragging around the garbage. If you have discussed the problem, learned from it and come up with a plan or solution, and forgave, then leave it in the dump.

I learned from the skunk story, I should discuss large actions with my husband before I start them.

I am sure there are other principles and rules a person could say leads to a happy and healthy relationship with someone. But these are the main ones for us.

After 12 years of marriage, this summer we had our first fight. Not much. I got angry, he got angry, we both yelled at the other. We did not let it stay and simmer long. We both calmed down, important to calm down before continuing. Then we discussed why I got angry, then why he was angry. We learned what each one did wrong and right, we forgave and moved forward.

I am married to my best friend, my biggest supporter, my rock as he keeps me from doing too many projects at once, and the love of my life.

amtolle

Let Us Celebrate Loved Ones

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Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, our lives have changed. There is not ever going back to “the normal” we used to know. Some of the routines of how we celebrated events and special days have evolved.

The constant staying at home was depressing, and I choose to fight back. Starting in 2020 after the lockdowns began, I started putting flower arrangements within the d├ęcor for each season and holiday. I use artificial flowers so they last from year to year, and I do not have to worry about the care. For Valentine’s Day, the flowers are red and white roses. This year I added red candles.

Traditionally for Valentine’s Day, my husband and I would exchange cards and go out to our favorite restaurant, Red Lobster. The once a year visit due to the prices on the menu. Last year, we did not celebrate Valentine’s Day as we were without electricity for four days, had well below freezing temperatures. We were too busy chopping wood and keeping the fireplace going since it was our only source of heat. We did roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire in the fireplace just like camping.

Since the past two years we did not celebrate Valentine’s Day, I decided I would plan something special and surprise my husband. He loves beef steaks grilled. I am fixing steak, with some vegetables grilled as well. I am baking cookies with red M&M’s, as he likes cookies better than cake. We will eat by candlelight. I have gotten him a small gift and card.

Valentine’s Day is one day that focuses on those we love, friends and family, not just couples. Last year I sent Valentine’s to all my grandchildren and I am doing the same this year.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, our family does more phone calls and we try to keep in touch with each other. I send cards and small “I love you” gifts in the mail. We do not visit often. We cancel visits if anyone is feeling a little under the weather, so as to help prevent transmission of illness. We developed a way with video calling to have a “party” together, without physically being there.

What are your plans for the ones you love, children, spouses, friends and family? Maybe it is time to start something new.

Let those you care about know you love them.

amtolle