Apple Fest 2016 – Part 1

Every year I attend a local park’s Apple Fest.  I took Tanya with the boys the first time I attended the fest.  The boys were 15 months old and 3 years old.  I remember that’s the weekend the Wee One stopped nursing and the Imaginative One declared he wore underwear because he wanted to start potty training. Continue reading “Apple Fest 2016 – Part 1”

Date Nights

Since I still dealing with the death of my sister and with my mom living with us, Hubby has made it a point to start taking me on dates. We went on a couple during the summer, but nothing to regular. Now he feels as though it is a necessary part of our relationship. 

Do the dates have to be a big drawn out affair?  No. We’ve gone on two so far. On one of them we went to his favorite quick Italian “fast food” restaurants and then got custard. We then watched the sunset. Okay I watched the sunset, he played Pokemon Go. 

The second date was to Red Lobster, Half Price Books, Best Buy, walking across a walkway over one of our busy highways, and then sitting in his mom’s hot tub. 

We are going to make a point to go on a date often so we can keep our relationship strong through this trial of life. 

In fact, we are planning a weekend away when I have a long weekend in October. We are going 3 hours away just to get away from every thing. We are going to work on our bucket list of visiting zoos while we are there. 

It’s important to work on your relationships while going through the trials of life. 

Mom, What’s For Dinner? – Week of September 25

It’s been almost a month since my sister died.  Right before her death, I had started a menu plan for the month of September but had not completed it.

Continue reading “Mom, What’s For Dinner? – Week of September 25”

The Time I was Rick Rolled (Before Rick Rolling was a Thing)

When I was about 13 or 14 years old, I got money for a Christmas or my birthday.  I can’t remember why I got the money.  So I decided to buy George Michael’s Faith album.  I had liked George Michael since his days with Wham!  My favorite song when I was my youngest son’s age was “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”

On the Faith album, there was a song called “I want Your Sex.”  I was so naive so I didn’t think anything of that song.  Well, soon after I bought the album the tape in the cassette tape decided to break.  We went back to return the tape.

Grandma had not seen the tape when I bought it but when we got to the store she had seen the names of the songs.  Boy was she mad at me.  I was not suppose to be listening to songs about sex at my young age.

I was not allowed to buy another Faith album.  I was allowed to return it and get a different album by a different artist.

So what did I get instead?  I ended up with Rick Astley’s “Whenever You Need Somebody.”  I can remember opening that cassette tape and my grandpa playing it on the radio of his Astro Van.

I was Rick Rolled by my grandma.  To be honest, I liked the album at that point in my life.

I think the Faith album was the first album I ever bought.  If my boys bought something like that I would be so upset.  It was not an appropriate album for my age.

This was the time I was Rick Rolled.

Let’s connect on social media:

Instagram – @Believeinthemagictraci
Facebook – @imhungry15
Pinterest – @imhungry75

I hope you have a great day.  Thanks for reading my blog post.  

Happy eating,

Dear Tanya (9/13/16)

Dearest Tanya,

Since I can’t call you, I’ve decided to write you another letter.

Did you see the Celebration we held for you?  So many of our Rainbow friends came to remember you.  Did you see that Amy got us a cake with the picture of you and I on it?  Family came to the Celebration even our family from Pittsburgh.  Mr. and Rev. B.even came.  Jamie decided Mr. B. looks like the E Harmony man.  Too funny!

Did you hear us singing to you and see the purple balloons we released in your memory?  Doug came from Nashville for the Celebration.  He decided that he was going to release his balloon first.  You probably got a big laugh about it from Heaven.  Todd decided he was going to take the string off first and then release his balloon.  He ended up releasing his balloon last.

Cindy from church gave a beautiful frame that says sisters on it.  I’ve placed it on my desk at work.  My students have said we looked like twins.  Can you believe that?  Do you remember the year mom had us get the same haircut.  Then for picture day she dressed you and I up in green turtlenecks.  We really looked like twins.

Today I’m extra sad.  Do you remember my student who drowned back in 2009?  It would have been his 26th birthday today.  His mom reached out to me when she heard the news that you had gone on to Heaven.  I got to talk to the mother of another young man who was touched by the news.  Anthony is still broken up about Renier’s death just like me.  It’s been 7 years but I am still heartbroken over the news.

On Saturday after the rain, Todd and I decided we were going to chase the sunset.  We got up to the Huffman Interpretive Center 10 minutes prior to it closing.  I captured a gorgeous shot of the sunset.  However what was more impressive was the small little rainbow to the west.  Was that you letting me know that you are okay?  Please tell me that it was you.

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I miss you so much!  I miss being able to call you so I could annoy you with stupid details of my life.  I miss asking you to go on adventures with us.

Until next time!

Your annoying big sister,


P.S. I still think Jon Knight is the best New Kid on the Block.  Yes, I know he’s gay but when we were still teens he had not come out of the closet.

Whenever I hear “Step by Step,” I’ll think of you.

Cajun Chicken Pasta – Secret Recipe Club (September 2016)

A year ago, I made the decision to restart using my blog.  It’s been a roller coaster year but I am glad I made that decision.


#Secret Recipe Club

Every month, I’m assigned another blog to check out.  After checking out their blog, I’m to find a recipe to make, photograph, and then post.  Since I’m in group B of the secret recipe club, I post my Secret Recipe Club on the second Monday of each month.  

This month I’ve been assigned to Lemon and Cheese.  Nicola is a librarian in London.  She enjoys lemon and cheese hence the name of her blog.  

Nicola has a list of books that are related to cooking.  The list contains both fiction and nonfiction books.  So if you want to read a book related to food or cooking, check out her list.

The Recipe that I Choose

I enjoyed looking through Nicola’s blog.  I finally decided on a Cajun chicken pasta dish.   My mom is currently staying with me so I’m trying to find dinners that everyone will enjoy.  While I was cooking up the chicken, she was cutting up the bell peppers and onions.for me.  The Imaginative One only wanted to eat the plain pasta and the Wee One wanted to eat only the chicken.  The three adults in my family ate and loved the dish.

I made a few small adaptations from the recipes.  I added some cheddar cheese to the dish before serving it.  Since my mom was helping with cutting the veggies, I had her dice the onions and peppers instead of cutting them into slices.  I also left the second pepper out because Hubby is not a big bell pepper fan.

Thank you Nicola for a great recipe!

Doesn’t this chicken look delicious? The Wee One certainly thought so when he kept stealing pieces of the chicken.

Cajun Chicken Pasta


Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 large chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 box small pasta
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Place the chicken in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. of the Cajun seasoning.  Toss the chicken to coat.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Cook the pasta as directed on the box.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the pan over medium heat.  Add the oil.
  4. Saute’ the chicken until lightly browned and cooked through.  Set the chicken asie.
  5. Add the onions and peppers to the the pan.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Set the onions and peppers aside.
  6. Turn down the heat to medium low.  Add the tomatoes, 1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning, and the cream cheese cut into smaller pieces.
  7. Stir the sauce until the cream cheese has melted into the tomatoes and had created a creamy sauce.
  8. Add the chicken and veggies back into the pan.  Stir until combined.
  9. Add the pasta into the sauce.  Stir until combined.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
  10. Serve!

 Other Recipes

Other recipes that I found interesting on Nicola’s blog.

Oatmeal Brownie Bars

Chocolate Mug Cake

White Bean, Mint, and Lemon Dip

Zesty Macaroni Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

For more Secret Recipe Club recipes, click on the blue frog.

Let’s connect on social media:

Instagram – @Believeinthemagictraci
Facebook – @imhungry15
Pinterest – @imhungry75

I hope you have a great day.  Thanks for reading my blog post.  

Happy eating,

This post has also been linked up to Miz Helen’s Full Plate Thursday.

My 9/11 Story

It was a Tuesday morning. I had just finished teaching at the middle school and was on the way to Westbrooke Village Elementary School (WBV).

I was listening to Mix 107.7.  After I turned on Olive Road, I heard the news. At first I thought it was a joke but then I realized it was the truth just as I was passing a Baptist Church about 3 minutes from WBV.  

Once I entered WBV and went to the classroom I was going to be working in, I informed the teacher what had occurred.  We turned on the tv’s in the classroom.  The fourth graders didn’t pay attention. Meanwhile the adults realized life was changing. I can remember that at one point, one of the adults said “That’s not New York City. That’s Washington D.C.”

When it was time for me to go back to my room. I was going to be putting the radio on but was informed not to do that. We were told not to let the students hear what was going on.  There was no outdoor recess on that September day.  Fortunately we were able to tell the children, the playground equipment was being worked on because at that time they were fixing the playground.

Later in the evening, I was supposed to go eat dinner with my grandparents and then spend the night at my mom’s house. I had brought baked mac and cheese to share with my grandparents. So I went over there and ate with them. As I was going to leave, we heard the sonic boom from them clearing the air space for Air Force 1. In a panic, I made a decision to spend the night with them. I remember sleeping on their blue couch and being tucked in by my grandma. I was 26 years old but I that night I needed to feel safe and secure.

Whenever I think of 9/11, memories flood into my mind and tears roll down my face. It’s truly a moment in time that changed my life. I will never forget.

I live by one of the biggest Air Force Bases in the nation.  I can remember for months afterwards the lines at the Air Force gates.  Security was amped up in my area.

Tanya refused to come over to my house because she was afraid of the base being bombed.  You could see the base from one of my windows in my townhouse.


It was a scary time in American history.

I’ll never FORGET!

What’s your 9/11 story?

Tanya’s Celebration of Life Photos

Last week, we had a celebration of life for Tanya.  A week after her death was what would have been her 39th birthday.

We had people visit from all over.  Our relatives came in from Pittsburgh, PA.  My aunt traveled down from Albany, New York.  My youth leader/ father figure  and his wife traveled from Columbus, Ohio.  One of the young men from my youth group traveled from Nashville.  We also had people from all over the area.

It was a wonderful way to celebrate a life that was cut short.  She didn’t realize how loved she was when she was here on Earth.

We also released purple balloons in her memory.

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Boston Creme Poke Cake

I have been neglecting posting recipes during this difficult time in my life.  I’ve been lucky that I made crock pot freezer meals or food left over from our picnic we had last week.  So we have not been eating out.  I have not had to do any grocery shopping.  With an extra person at our house, this is amazing.

Continue reading “Boston Creme Poke Cake”


I’m hit with the question why while dealing with my feelings about losing Tanya.

My father was not a nice man especially when it came to dealing with me and my stubborn streak.

When we lived with my grandma, I was often the one to be in trouble instead of my sister.  She was often not impressed with whatever mischief I could get myself into on a daily or weekly basis.  I was either grounded or yelled at a lot as a teenager/ young adult because of my behavior.  (I still love and miss her.)

Then when I was in college, I was told by two of my professors that I should not be a teacher.  They didn’t think I had it in me to be successful.

In all of those situations, I had to overcome the obstacles that stood in my way.  Which at times were a lot.  I dealt with abuse and being told “you cannot do it.”  I had to pay my own college bills so I worked 35 to 40 hours a week at McDonald’s while taking a full class load at school.

With faith in God, I was overcame those obstacles to make me a stronger person.

Tanya was unable to overcome her obstacles.  Towards the end of her young life, she shut herself off from the people who loved her the most.  We had so much fun when we were younger traveling from place to place, exploring the world.  I may have gotten mad at her from time to time because I’m one who wants to experience as much as possible.

We had fun visiting places around where we lived.  We had fun exploring the Columbus Zoo with the boys.  We would speak to each other on the phone.

But then something changed, the demons she was experiencing in her life overwhelmed her.  Instead of allowing people into her life who truly loved her, she began to shut them down.  If she had only spoken to our mother about how she was truly feeling, she might still be here.

Why was I able to overcome those obstacles in my life?  I could have surely shut myself from the world because for a long I felt as though the world was against me.  One thing I know for certain is that it was because of God and for me allowing people into my world.  God also sent me a man that has stood by me during those difficult times.

So even tho I feel as the world is against me, I need to remember the words of the song “Overcomer.”

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer

God has something special planned for me.  He wants me to overcome the obstacles that come in my way.

However, I’ve got to question.  Why didn’t Tanya overcome her obstacles?  Why didn’t she trust the people who loved her the most?  Why couldn’t she tell mom how bad she was feeling?  Just Why?  Those answers wouldn’t be answered.  However, they will haunt me.  Why?  Oh, God, why?

I love you Tanya.  I miss you so much.  I just wish you could have trusted us enough to tell us that you were not feeling well.

Dear God,

No matter how many curve balls you throw at me, I need to remember to trust in you.  You will help me over come adversities that I am facing.  You will remind me that Satan cannot win.  You will remind me that you have a plan for me.  All I need to do is trust in you.

In Jesus name,



A Review and the Top Recipes of August 2016

Here are the recipes I shared during August:

Plus I shared 6 More Breakfast Ideas and Lunch Ideas.  I also shared two Sunday prep plans.  #1 & #2

The top recipes of August 2016:

#5 – Snickerdoodle Bars

#4 – Copycat “Blimey Limey”

#3 – Baked Spaghetti

#2 – Ginger Pineapple Smoothie

#1 – Sausage, Peppers, and Onions – Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker

Let’s connect on social media:

Instagram – @Believeinthemagictraci
Facebook – @imhungry15
Pinterest – @imhungry75

I hope you have a great day.  Thanks for reading my blog post.  

Happy eating,


God’s Presence?

Have you ever felt God’s presence in your life?  With the tragedy of my sister passing, I feel his presence in my life.  He has something big planned for me.  And even though I have an inkling of what it might be, I don’t know how it’s going to go down.

One of my dreams is to be a writer.  It’s not a dream that I share with people.  I’m afraid that my grammar or poor spelling at times will get in the way so I’ve tucked that dream away.  I also have a fear that no one would want to read what I have to say.  I’ve always had a lot to say.  Sometimes people just tune me out because I can ramble on FOREVER.

Then I wrote the letter to Tanya, straight from my heart.  I know there was problems with my grammar but everyone got message I was trying to get across.

People are also calling me the historian.  I have a lot of memories tucked into my heart and mind.  I need to share those stories to the world instead of keeping them locked away.  One day I won’t be here to share them anymore.  My words will live on if I write them down.

As I said, I know God has big plans for me.  What they are and how they work themselves out is unwritten.  It’s up to me to trust in him to lead him down that path.

It’s been said to collect moments, not things.  I have both.  Some of the things I have are memories of moments that I have collected along my journey of life.

Jesus and God have heard my struggle through this difficult time.

As Robert Frost wrote

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I need to take the road less traveled during this difficult period of time in my life.

The Day I Told My Grandma that the Rubber Broke

Since my sister passed, I’ve decided I needed to share family stories.

When I was a child/ teenager, our family would go to my grandpa’s sister’s house; aka the Farm.  We would have potluck dinners with my grandpa’s family.  The potluck dinners often had Aunt Janet’s baked goods, white salad, deviled and a tray of pickles and olives.  Aunt Janet also would have a big pitcher of sweet ice tea.

One night, my grandma brought a crock pot full of yummy food to the potluck.  It was one of those round crock pot.  The lid was held on by two rubber bands.  When grandma brought in the crock pot, I noticed one of the rubber bands had broke.  So I announced loudly in the presence of all of my family, “grandma, the rubber broke.”

Then I realized what I said.

I retracked my words and told her that the rubber band broke holding the lid onto the crock pot had broke.

That is the day I told my grandma that the rubber broke.

Dear Tanya

My sister died unexpectedly on Sunday the 28th of August.   I have been asked to give the memorial or remembrance about her at her simple graveside funeral.  My mother-in-law suggested I write it as a letter.

Dearest Tanya,

It’s with such sadness that I’m writing this letter to you.  You are now in Heaven shining down on me.  I’ll miss so much about you.  I don’t know if you realize how loved you were when you were here with us on Earth.  So many people have left remembrances of you and your kind heart and sweet soul.

The way I remember you is so much different.  I have lots of memories of us growing up and then as adults.  In Philippians 1:3, Paul wrote “I thank God upon every remembrance of you.”

I can remember the RTA trips to downtown to either play Putt-Putt, shop at the Arcade, or visit the Salem Mall.

I have memories of us traveling by bus to Charlottesville, VA as children.  We would stop in Washington, D.C. on the way there or back.  Also of us traveling to Walt Disney World in 1990.  One of my favorite memories was of us telling mom that the Big Thunder Railroad was a simulated roller coaster.  We ended up in the front seat of the Railroad.  Boy was mom mad at us afterwards.  Mom should know that the back is far worse than the front of the coaster.  Do you remember those Boy Scouts from California that were on the train back to Ohio from Orlando?  We spent a lot of time in their railroad car.  

We went on three Mission trips with the Clayton United Methodist Youth Group – Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati, South Carolina, and Athens, Ohio.  The South Carolina trip was the most memorable.  From Ambo, the train traveling hobo, to people stealing from us, to you being a fake girlfriend to Doug, to traveling to Myrtle Beach, to the Chinese buffet, to losing power at the church we were staying at.  I will always keep those memories in my heart.  Your life was one of Service, one of your favorite bow stations in Rainbow.

For 7 years, we were in Rainbow together.  Traveling from here to there – Making friends and memories.  I know you got amused with me when I could mess up a room during a weekend away at Grand Assembly.  We were only there for three or four days and the room would look like my clothes threw up in it.  All the dances and installations we attended.  The friends we made who have stepped up to offer condolences or help during this time.  They are not just friends but family.  Family that just hasn’t seen each other in a while.  If you see Mom Gray up in Heaven, please tell her I miss her dearly.  

You and I traveled so much to Pittsburgh to visit family.  When we stayed at grandma’s house, one of us had to be the unlucky one and get the bed with the mattress covered with plastic.  If you were that sister, you had an unsettled night of sleep because the mattress would move every time you rolled around.  Do you remember grandma getting on us about going to church or her telling us about all the boyfriends she had before grandpa?  I will treasure our pictures at the Overlook in Pittsburgh.

Do you remember the one Easter eve that I called you?  I said you have an hour to pack because we are going on a road trip.  We ended up in Illinois for the night before traveling up to Chicago and then onto Kenosha, Wisconsin for the other night.  We went to the Kmart in Kenosha to get our Easter candy.  Such memories.

Our super trips in 2001 and 2002 with mom will remain in my heart.  Listening to Backstreet Boys at their concert, visiting with our grandma in Pittsburgh, and driving through Gettysburg.  Do you remember changing the calendar in grandma’s house with Jamie?  I don’t think grandma realized we did that.  My favorite picture of the two of us is from that trip.  We also created a list of 50 boyfriends for mom on the trip in 2001 – one in each state.  There was also descriptions of a few of the fake boyfriends.  Do you remember how we actually ran into a guy who looked like one of the fake boyfriends?

Thank you for your help with Nick when Will was born.  Do you remember how Nick slept for 12 plus hours the night Will was born?  We didn’t need to worry about Nick and were able to concentrate on our new baby boy.

Thank you for all the times you watched our house while we were traveling.  I’m sure Dobby will miss you.  He does love you so.

I know that I was an annoying big sister.  I was the first one to tattle on you when you did wrong.  I was the one who made you do math problems at Melody Pool.  You were not allowed to swim until you got them done.  Then I allowed you to get the pool.  You thanked me later for tutoring you since you were able to understand the math while in middle school.  I made you help me pack for my Disney College Program on your 18th birthday.  Boy, were you upset with me.  Hey, at least you got rid of me for 4 months after that.

I think most of all I am going to miss calling mom’s house.  If she was unable to talk or was gone, we made up excuses to why she could not answer the phone.  Most of the time it was that she was on a date with some made up random guy.  That random guy always had a Latino name like Raul or Julio.  

When I see a rainbow in the sky, I will think of you.  As it written in Genesis 9:13, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”  You will be my rainbow in the sky.  

I love you so very much.  Teasing mom about her fake boyfriends won’t be as much fun.  

Give a kiss to both grandmas and grandpas for me.  

One day I’ll see you again but until then I’m going to be homesick and miss you so much.  As the song “Homesick” from Mercy Me says “You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times.  And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you.  But the reason why I’m broken, the reason why I cry is how long must I wait to be with you.”  

Love your annoying big sister,