I finally finished, “Cilka’s Journey” by Heather Morris, earlier this weekend. It was the continuation of the story from the Tattooist of Auschwitz which you can read about HERE. One of the main character’s from the first book was a Slovakian woman by the name of Cilka. You immediately are drawn to Cilka’s bravery in Auschwitz and find her story to be intriguing. Apparently, she was considered one of the most beautiful women and this caught the attention of a very powerful SS officer. Most of the women in the camp were required to shave their heads, however she was allowed to keep her hair.
The story ends with many of the women being shipped off on a train heading to another camp, however, Cilka was charged with working with the Nazis (since she was used as a sex slave for the officer,) and was sent to the Siberian working camps.
Guys… this is based on a true story and I have been curious about these Russian work camps since I saw the movie White Nights back in the 80s.
THAT brings you to Cilka’s Journey.
WOW. This poor girl was sent to work at Auschwitz at 16 and then sentenced to fifteen years in Siberia. Again she is repeatedly raped, forced to work in mines, however, for whatever reason, Cilka was smart enough to strategize and end up working the hospital and was trained as a nurse. I won’t go into great detail, because THAT is her journey and the basis for the story, but what I can tell you is this girl was full of heart! It is amazing how anyone can withstand the brutality and harsh conditions these people had to live through.
While reading, I began to wonder what I would do? Would I go along to get along? Would I fight and end up in the hole, only left to die from the elements? It truly boggles the mind.
What I can say is I have truly enjoyed reading these two novels by Heather Morris. If you are looking to get a behind-the-scenes look at life in the Gulag and understand what it takes to survive, then this novel is for you!
I made it to Friday and yes, my friends, it is Labor Day weekend. Of course this weekend will fly by so quickly, but I hope to take full advantage of the relaxation!
Before I share a few recipes with you, I thought I would catch my friends up on my life.
It is grape/muscadine season in South Georgia and luckily, at Tim’s family farm, there are plenty to pick from! Cotton decided to help me pick some out. If this pic was a scratch & sniff, you would just love that candy-sweet smell this fruit gives off.
There are two varieties: dark ones and green ones. The green ones seem to be the sweetest. Tim’s mom makes jams out of the dark ones.
There are also tons of pear trees all over their property. They are super sweet and there are several varieties.
This is the extent of my awesome conferences I get to attend. Yep. Zooming it from the Roosevelt Board Room at the Windsor Hotel.
My dear friend and tourism associate, Karla Scarsafava, came for a visit from Henry County (south suburb of Atlanta.) We grabbed a delicious lunch at Gyro City Mediterranean Grill.
I’ve actually cut my TV time down, but I have to tell you – Frozen II did not hold my attention.
Been making time to take a lunch with friends. We socially distance at the Visitor Center and either I bring my lunch or I pick something up.
We had our friends/neighbors over for dinner.
That’s my baby boyfriend – Atlas.
Little man goes from being a doll to being an asshole.
Typical 6 1/2 month old German Shepherd.
My parents came for a visit a few weekends ago. It was so nice to see them. We ate, watched tv, talked, and played trivia. It was the first time that I have ever beat them!
Chicken Cordon Bleu – Low Carb!
Brown Butter Sauce
1/2 c butter
1/2 c beef broth
2 tbsp cream cheese
10 oz swiss cheese, shredded
Boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp black pepper
8 slices of Swiss cheese
8 slices of cooked ham
1 c powdered Parm
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp coconut oil
chopped parsley for garnish
Heat butter in a large saucepan on high heat. Whisk for 5 minutes. Watch for brown spots.
Remove from heat and whisk vigorously. While whisking, slowly add broth, cream cheese and shredded cheese. Heat lightly (melt cheese) and add a little salt to taste. Remove from heat, place in a blender and smooth. Cool sauce before serving.
350 F and use a 13 x 9 baking dish.
Place chicken between 2 pieces of parchment paper and pound. Sprinkle each piece on both sides with pepper. Place 1 slice of swiss and 1 slice of ham on top of each thigh. Roll and secure with a tooth pick. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with Parm & Italian seasoning & coat.
Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil over medium heat. Place chicken rolls in a hot skillet and cook until brown on each side. (Takes about 4 minutes.)
Turn chicken and cook 2 minutes until golden. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Bake until cheese melt and chicken is done. (About 5 minutes.)
All to rest for 5 minutes (and remove toothpicks.) Slice crosswise. Drizzle with sauce.
Okay, in the words of Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.”
Yes, there is no question about it, that is the right thing to do.
My friend, Qaijuan Willis said, “Lord, don’t let my gift take me where my character can’t keep me. I am your student, teach me.”
This struck a cord with me. As I mentioned in the video above, I have a challenge in front of me and I am trying very, VERY hard to do the right thing.
I am supposed to have a meeting with someone this afternoon, and who it is should not matter, nor should the subject matter. The real issue is the why and the how. Why is this person in my life and what are we talking about. And finally, how am I going to react?
I already know the subject matter and unfortunately, this person has created a scenario of division. The main question on the table is how will I react?
If you knew me in my 20s, you KNOW how I would react. I would have an attitude the moment this person came in the door and would have taken every opportunity to snip and snap at them. In my 30s, I would have sat across this person with a RBF and just undercut them every chance I got. But now, in my late 40s, I know better. I can do better. But I still have a desire to do choice A or choice B. It is within me. The trick is can I keep the old me at bay?
I’ve read multiple books on dealing with difficult people, as well as books on setting boundaries with toxic people. This person has a reputation of being verbally abusive in meetings, specifically to women. If I had a choice, I would NOT meet with this person. However, I do not have a choice. I thought about what I would tell a friend or how I would instruct a mentee when dealing with someone like this. Here is the advice I need to take:
Be calm (This is the most important. For me, that may mean a little prayer and meditation after lunch.)
Understand the person’s intentions. I am very clear on what is happening, I need to try to put myself in their position.
Get some perspective from others. I have invited 2 of my team members to be in the meetings, though this person would prefer to meet with me alone. I do not work for this person, so I am able to dictate how this works.
Let the person know where you are coming from. I will be clear, calm, concise, and matter-of-fact.
Build a rapport. It is always easier to control a situation if they believe you are on their side. I can at the very least, attempt to set the tone for our working relationship.
Treat the person with respect. I have been in meetings where there was little respect for me and I know how that feels. I need to push my personal judgement aside and be kind and respectful
Focus on what can be actioned upon. That way there is a way to prove that I am compromising, yet keeping set within my boundaries.
Ignore. According to Business Insider, if you have tried everything and the person is still not receptive to your position. I would have done everything I could to be flexible – but if it comes to bite me… then there is….
Escalate to a Higher Authority for Resolution. This is considered the trump card and shouldn’t be used unless you’ve completely exhausted your means. Sometimes, the only way to get someone moving is through the top-down approach, especially in bureaucratic organizations.
At the end of the day, it really isn’t as big of a deal as I am making it. I think I am more so disappointed with some other people in our community for being so gullible and backing this person.
It is what it is.
And at the end of the day, what no one realizes, if this ends up causing issues for me down the road, it will be the catalyst for me making some sweeping changes.
Place the parm, paprika, and cayenne pepper in another shallow bowl and stir well to combine. Divide the parm mix between 2 separate bowls so you can do a dry, wet, dry dipping of steaks.
Dip a steak into the first bowl of Parm, then into the egg mix, then into the second bowl of Parm. Use your hands to coat both sides. Place the coated steak on a plate and repeat with the remaining steaks.
Place the 1/4 cup butter in a cast iron skillet on medium heat. When hot, add the coated steaks, working in batches. Cook for 3 minutes on each side (maybe longer – get to right consistently.) You want them to be golden brown and cooked through. Place steaks on a warm plate and cover.
To make gravy: Melt 1 tbsp butter in same skillet. Add onions and garlic and saute over medium heat. Use a whisk to stir in cream cheese, whisking until there are no clumps and it is melted. Slowly add broth while whisking. Cook, stirring constantly, until mix comes to a simmer and is smooth. Reduce to medium low and continue to simmer, until it thickens. This should take about 2 minutes.
Remove foil off steaks and cover with gravy.
This is a great way to have a little comfort food with low carbs!
Why would anyone want to be friends with someone who constantly trolls your social media posts?
That’s the question of the day.
It all started with this photo:
Innocent enough, right?
I happened to mention I was eating a low-carb lunch and watching Frozen 2 and cuddling my German Shepherd, when someone I know decided to inform me that my meal was NOT low-carb.
Look, I said low-carb, not no-carb. I understand the ranch sauce may have some form of corn syrup and yes, fruit has sugar and yes, dairy has sugar. But I assure you, it is way healthier than what I really wanted which was chips and queso.
I found these awesome cheese wraps in the KETO section of a supermarket and have been using them as my go-to for lunch. I’m attempting to cut wheat out, because, no matter how you slice it, wheat is inflammatory and it is a start. I took a little knife and spread some chive cream cheese on it, squirted the Smokehouse Ranch, added the deli ham slice, threw a couple of pieces of baby spinach and cut scallions, and then added a side of a few grapes and slices of apple. I was full, satisfied, and guess what folks – I’ve been losing weight.
So for someone to just try to call me out was just… one of those moments when you go, “Really?”
It is not just that, it is other stuff. This particular “friend” always has something to say about something that I post. Once it was about a certain children’s club and another time it was about whether kids should go to school. Clearly we line up on different sides of the equation politically, but really, that is okay. What is not okay is constantly giving me grief on my pages.
I often attribute it to someone visiting your home. Do you come in and begin arguing with your host? Or even worse, what if the person begins to argue with your friends? (Aka comments,) that’s just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
This begs the questions, “If you have such differing opinions and you constantly check someone else, should you remain “friends” with that person?”
I think the best thing to do is simply one of two things: Ignore the comment or respond neutrally, but in a way that says, “Thank you for sharing, but I’m good.” Luckily, FB has a new feature where you can “take a break” from someone. What that means is that person will only see public posts that you post. You can also unfollow them. All good options.
Share with me if you think it is okay to troll a friend? And if so, why? Maybe you are well-intention-ed, or maybe there is something else? I don’t know. Help me understand.
So I decided to finally go for a long walk with the dog.
This should have been okay, but man oh man was it hilarious. Here is my reaction and why it was funny:
All of it seemed a good idea and the dog did get a really good workout, as I did, but man… I’m still paying the price for it. My KNEE. Though I am taking new medicine that helps, I basically threw myself back into inflammation hell. The Ortho doc TOLD ME NOT TO WALK. Did I listen? Nope.
Here’s hoping the week goes off without a hitch and my September is a golden beauty!
I have always had a thing for German Shepherds. Though I loved my Siberian Husky, and yes, Nanook and the Huskies are one of my favorite breeds, GSDs (as they are called) are most certainly at the top of my breed list for best dogs EVER!
Back in April, when the pandemic started, my husband and I bought Dorian from a sweet family in Milledgeville, Georgia. He was 8 weeks old and 10 pounds.
Now he is 6 months old and 70+ pounds (and growing.)
I have to admit, he is my first puppy. I’ve always acquired or adopted older dogs, or at least young adults.
Here are some things I have learned from owning a German Shepherd:
They are adorable puppies! Big puppies, but really, really cute. Their fur is so, so soft and they bond really quickly. That was something I was looking for. Of course, they look nothing like their adult versions.
They grow really, really fast. And they love to chew everything they see! Thank goodness I splurged on some heavy duty chew toys early on. They came in handy! Always offer the toy over your hand. That is a really bad habit (chewing & mouthing hands) that is really hard to break. I was big on no mouthing, Tim let him mouth. We are still working on it! Plus, they have little needle teeth as babies.
They are quick to train. We had this guy potty trained in 2 days and he learned to sit, lay down and stay in 30 minutes. Super smart! Take advantage of this time to train quickly. We rarely had any accidents.
Leash training should be consistent and started early. We have not had the best luck with it. Again, I use a leash, my husband prefers not to. I think consistency is key.Tim and I just have different philosophies when it comes to the dog. (Can you imagien if we had a baby together?!)
5. I know people say raw hide and pig ears are not the best for dogs due to the issues they can cause with their insides… but I have to admit, sometimes a good pig ear calmed my little guy down. He was busy eating every stick he could find, I thought the ears would be better. He may have eaten 4 in his entire 6 months, but it definitely saved me a ton of time and kept him calm.
The Kong really is a great way to keep them calm and busy when you are trying to get them to adjust to being in their kennel. I would scoop kibble into his kong, top it with a plug of peanut butter and freeze it. It would take him about 30 minutes to work through it, but it was an awesome tool to use. Especially when he had such anxiety about me going to work.
Don’t sweat the ear issue. I was under the impression you had to pin a shepherd’s ears to get them to stand up and thank goodness I took the time to do the research. The ears you see above naturally do that. Basically, while their teeth are coming in, they are beginning to build cartilage. Around 4 – 6 months, all of their adult teeth are in and their ears will now receive the rest of the cartilage and they will stand up on their own! You do have to get used to this milk maid look for a while!
Exercise is critical! We try to let our little guy run outside as much as possible. If it is raining or too hot to go outside, we simply throw the ball inside and he runs from one end of the house to the other playing fetch. WHICH, btw, I did not have to train him to do. He literally knew what was needed. Amazing breed! Just this month we are learning to catch the ball and he is, again, outstanding at any thing he learns. It reminds me of those natural athletes. They just know!
Water has not been a problem with this breed. My little guy loves running through his splash pad or jumping in the tub after we have taken a bath. And baths are a piece of cake! I can’t wait to take him to the beach and see his reaction!
His growth has been very, very fast. At 5 months he was 68 pounds, and he is still growing. We started off with a large kennel inside, but ended up at 5 months purchasing the largest size we could find for indoors. He is a big boy and making sure he is comfortable is key!
When it comes to health, I have noticed he needs a lot of water and he has very sensitive skin. I make sure he stays hydrated and cool in this South Georgia Summer heat and I am now washing his bedding and blanket with no-perfume or dye detergent. He ended up with a terrible rash all over his belly and spent a week or so on antibiotics and steroids. He recovered just fine, but it is something to look out for. Also, people food. Let’s be honest, we all hand over the scraps from time to time, but apparently GSDs have super sensitive tummies. He will get a bout of diarrhea quick!
A lot of time people ask me what I feed him. He is growing up so healthy and his coat is shiny and soft. We feed him Diamond Naturals Large Puppy Breed food. Our vet suggested we do this until he is one. We have also decided to neuter him when he turns one also. (Another suggestion from the vet.)
13. We do use a monthly heart worm preventative (Interceptor,) and we use a 3 month flea & tick protection internal prevention (Bravecto.)
14. His paws can cause serious injury – I have so many scratches all over my body. You will have to file and get his nails trimmed often.
15. Be careful when purchasing chew toys and stuffed animals. Once, while we were driving, he vomited in the car and out came tree bark and half of a stuffed animal. These guys will eat anything. Only purchase super hardy items.
16. They are known as velcro dogs and will follow you everywhere – including the bathroom.
17. They are very loyal, so make sure to show them plenty of attention. However, make sure you socialize them with children and other dogs early on. Our dog will bark if you come to the door like he is going to kill, but once you come in, he will lick you to death.
18. Finally, the jumping and mouthing can be a lot. They are, no doubt, a handful.
At the end of the day – KNOW what you are getting. They are a LOT. You need to be strong, be consistent and patient.
Follow the blogs that are specifically about GSDs. Make sure to read up on the forums with the Kennel Club, and ask your vet.
One of the newest things Tim and I are doing at home is turning off the TV by 7pm. It’s a new concept for us. We have, for the past 4 years, been escaping into random reality series and binge watching shows on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. We realized so many things weren’t getting done.
Just last week, I finished the book, “Ribbons of Scarlet” which you can read about HERE. It took me about a week and I simply could not put it down. Since I am more of the biographical, historical fiction kinda girl, I opted for another great option that kept coming up in my Kindle “You May Like” category. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is the one that kept reappearing.
I ordered it from Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle. While driving to Macon on Saturday for my hair appointment, I finished the Ribbons of Scarlet and thought what a good idea it would be to go ahead and start my new book. Unfortunately, I forgot I needed access to wireless, so I had to wait until we got home from Macon.
That night I got all cozy in my bed and began, what would become, one of my favorite tales from WWII. Incredible story telling and it is all based on a true story.
Without giving away too much, there is a main character by the name of Lale and he is a Jew and is from Slovakia. When the war began, before Jews were officially being taken away and put in “work camps” or “concentration camps” there were actual calls for men to volunteer to go and work in these camps. Lale, due to his family’s circumstances, chose to volunteer. He ends up at Auschwitz (of all places!!)
I remember as a child learning all about concentration camps. For one, my maternal grandfather fought in WWII and had many, many stories to share. My sister performed in a play about the camp. I saw Schindler’s List and visited the Holocaust Museum in DC. And even more importantly, I have a relative, Judge Shake from Indiana, that was a judge at the Nuremberg Trails. My ancestry on my dad’s mom’s side is German and according to my DNA test, I am 29% German. As you can imagine, anything to do with Germany is of interest to my family.
This story shares how Lale, by the grace of God, was given the job of Tattooist at the camp. With this position came lots of privileges, and luckily, Lale was really good at manipulating the system. Yes, he witnesses many atrocities that you will read about in great detail and yes, there is a love connection that is beyond a fairy tale! (To think it is true.) Lale was a very brave man and there were many times throughout the book that I kept thinking to myself, “What would I have done?”
I think that is the beauty of reading. I got a firsthand account of what life was like in a concentration camp and I kept trying to imagine how I would handle the situation.
I just don’t know.
Needless to say, I high recommend this book. And more great news, there is a follow-up book that explore a life of one of the characters by the name of Cilka. It is called Cilka’s Journey. When the Russians came to liberate the concentration camps, Cilka was actually found to be a collaborator with the Nazis (which she was not,) and sent to Siberia to the work camps. I JUST started that book last night and now I find myself in Siberia in the 1940s. Mama mia!
As promised, I wanted to throw in one recipe for you and it is a super easy one!
2 c. shredded chicken (I used the pulled chicken that is frozen from Tyson)
1/3 cup of Ranch (Sometimes I try different flavor ranches)
4 slices of cooked bacon
Butter or Boston Lettuce (used for wraps)
Combine chicken & ranch in a bowl.
Spoon into lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with bacon (and I usually add shredded cheese.)
You guys!!!! I have so much to share with you today. Including some delicious recipes to help you have a morning that you start off with “Hey Guys!!!”
I am down 17.6 pounds. That point six may not seem like a lot, but I am getting closer and closer to being down 20 pounds!
How am I doing it? I’m going low-carb!
As promised, I planned to share a few recipes with you, some that are super easy and count as low-carb. I have not included exercise as of yet. I’ve been nursing a torn MCL and wanted to give myself a chance to take some pounds off of my knee and to get this new medication I am using to start working.
Let’s get to the food portion, shall we?
Keto Taco Casserole
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 lbs ground beef (I go for lean)
2 tbsp kosher salt
Ground black pepper for taste
2 tbsp taco seasoning
jalapenos, chopped (I use a jar of nacho jalapenos.)
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
1 c sour cream (for serving)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large skillet, heat the oil on a medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add ground beef and brown with the onions.
Sprinkle taco seasoning & jalapenos (as many as you are comfortable with.) Cook another minute.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, then add the meat. Spread the mix in an even layer in a casserole dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook 25 min.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro & top with sour cream.
Buffalo Chicken Casserole
1 block (8 oz) cream cheese
2 c. cooked, cubed chicken (I buy the bag of Tyson pre-cooked, cubed chicken.)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup Buffalo Wing Sauce
3 tbsp heavy cream
4 oz. shredded cheddar
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Add cream cheese, buffalo sauce and garlic to a skillet. Heat at medium, and whisk. When the cream cheese has melted, add in the chicken. Mix well and remove from heat.
Spray a casserole dish with coconut oil and spoon in the mixture and smooth it out.
Pour heavy cream over the top and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes!
These are two super easy recipes to make that most kids will enjoy. Big on flavor, low on carb and easy to make!
This past weekend, I happened to finish an extraordinary book titled, “Ribbons of Scarlet” A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, E. Knight, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and the forward by Allison Pataki.
I first discovered Stephanie Dray when I read America’s First Daughter, a fantastic biographical, historical fiction piece about the daughter of Thomas Jefferson. So when Amazon recommended this book she collaborated on, I decided to give it a try.
First of all, I simply could not put this book down. It was incredible. The way the authors were able to cover a wide variety of women in different socio-economic situations, as well as piece together the entire revolution. The brilliance and ability to share historic facts and create such a compelling narrative was simply outstanding.
There are six different characters that the authors introduce you to. There is Sophie de Grouchy, an aristocrat, that wants to see equal rights not just for women, but for everyone in France. There is an interesting love story attached to her and guess who her crush is? None other than Lafayette! You will also meet Louise Ardu, a fruit seller that becomes a student of Sophie’s. Louise reminds me of the rough-neck girls I went to high school with. Smart, feisty, and not afraid of anything. You will even get to peek into Princess Elizabeth’s take on all of the political upheavel. (She is the King’s pious sister.) She wants to be a nun, is 100% a royalist, and is not a great fan of her sister-in-law, Marie Antoinette.
There is Manon Roland, one of the most prolific writers and ends up being the ghost writer of her husband, Jean-Marie Roland de la Platièr’s, speeches. She is not exactly a royalist and not exactly a revolutionary. I could relate so much to her – a true Independent Moderate. Where we differ is how incredibly brave she was.
You will also meet Pauline Leon, a woman who owns a chocolatier and is blood thirsty and a true-blue revolutionary. And one of my favorite characters is Charlotte Corday. Strategic and her story flows almost like the visions of Joan of Arc. Then there is the beautiful Emilie de Sainte-Amaranthe, who is capable of turning any man’s head. Unfortunately, she turned the head of the fearsome Robespierre and that did not end well for her.
OMG… you have to read this book. Even if history is not your thing, this book about the French Revolution is so incredibly timely. With the state of our nation and with women’s rights and factions trying to gain control. Between our protests and their protests, you will feel like you understand what the French were going through.
Give Ribbons of Scarlet a try. I think you will be very pleased!
At the end of the day, all we can do is forgive and move on.
I don’t know about you, but I am just so sick and tired of feeling so passionately about this issue or the next. Even when it comes to politics, I fall somewhere in the middle – I’m a moderate independent. I can honestly see both sides, hear all of the arguments, and sometimes, just think, “What does it really matter?” Just be a good human.
After last night’s city council meeting, I got to thinking about the moving of monuments and memorials and racism and all of the other things in between. If you move the fallen police officer memorials, you might satisfy one group of people. If you don’t move the memorials, you will satisfy another group of people. Each side has valid points.
Here is an idea – What if we just forgive one another and move on? Are we fighting someone else’s battle? Are we paying for the sins of our ancestors? What is the answer?
My co-worker Qaijuan and I chatted about it this morning.
Solution based thinking.
We know what the problems are. We understand the hurt and the pain. We can see it from both sides of the coin. What are the solutions? Where is the compromise?
That’s what I want to see.
I know when I lead tourism retreats, I always say, “Yes, we know we have problems. And you can bring me your problem. But when you bring the problem, give me an option to help solve the problem.”
And discuss. Open dialogue and open discussion.
I often find when I am around people who only hang out with people just like themselves, their ability to see both sides is limited. Me have to make friends and spend time with all types of people from all of the different backgrounds. We just have to.
Again, I don’t have all of the answers, but talking about it is the first step.