Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

How to Make the Best Chicken and Noodles

For many, many years, chicken & noodles was a rare treat. I didn’t think I could make it and C&N done right can be hard to find. Especially since I grew up eating my grandma’s homemade noodles every Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, yes, I’m a C&N snob. To me, it’s the height of comfort food so it must be perfect.

I’m delighted to report that I now make it all the time and it’s really easy. Here’s what I do:

First, I buy a rotisserie chicken—why do all the work myself? These chickens are tasty and, usually, I can get two meals for myself PLUS a pot of C&N to share with my family from one $6-$7 bird.

Next, fill a good-sized pot about half full with chicken broth and bring it to a boil. You can use some water, if needed, but broth is the best way to go.

While the broth is heating up, pull the meat off the bones and shred it. I suggest doing this when the chicken’s at room temperature or close to it. Your fingers will thank you.

Once the broth comes to a boil, add noodles. I recommend homemade Amish ones like this, if at all possible:

Amish Noodles

Let the noodles cook for about 15-20 minutes, then add the chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Also, at the bottom of the chicken container you should find juices that came from the meat as it cooked—throw that in too for more flavor.

The last thing I include is a can of cream of chicken soup. I only discovered the beauty of this addition a few years ago, but it really takes it up a notch.

To provide a vegetable as well as a little color, I like shredded carrots. Any form of carrot is fine, of course, but the shredded cooks faster and, I think, is easier. Peas are good as well. I would add the veggies about an hour before you plan to eat.

Go ahead and let it simmer on low for a while. The longer it cooks, the more broth it will need so make sure you have an extra can or carton you can use. Keep checking and stirring—for several hours if you have the time. That’s how you end up with something like this:

Chicken & Noodles

Yum! Let me tell you, my family loves it when I show up with a pot of C&N. And if you don’t want to share it, only make half a bag of noodles and store the leftovers in those freezer-to-microwave plastic containers I mentioned a few months ago.

Do you have a favorite meal you wish you knew how to make?

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Changing Seasons

image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/freedigitalphotos.net

Usually, I look forward to the late year change of seasons. Everything was something to anticipate. From autumn’s cooler weather to creation’s flamboyant autumn display of rich, changing colors, to the memory of autumn school days and the new television season.

This year, however, I did not look forward to the arrival of fall. Indeed, I am still not ready for the change.

I have not made the dietary shift. In the supermarket, I have been shocked these last few weeks to see that the price of berries has doubled, and the plentiful variety of melons that were prominently displayed all summer have gone. We are in the days of squash and pumpkins and sweet potatoes.

I have not made the fashion shift. I’m still reaching for t-shirts, and breezy white dresses beckon to me from my closet to give them one more wear. But navy slacks and caramel sweaters are the order of the day.

I have not made the mental shift. I spent this summer enjoying driving vacations to New York, to Ohio, and to Western North Carolina. On my list of places to visit, also, were Colorado and Houston. I never managed to get to either one. Now the days of travel and visiting have given way to days of mundane routine.

But this is how life is, right? No matter what is happening during one season, whether delightful or dreadful, that season will not last.

Sometimes it seems as if the season of singleness refuses to come to an end. But perhaps, singleness, for we older, perpetual singles, is less like a season and more like a climate. Perhaps within the climate of unpartnered life, we experience many different seasons. Fledgling careers, renting and roommates, getting “out there,” nesting in here, grieving losses. Our seasons have changed and are still changing.

What season are you in in your singleness?

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I Have Never …

Have you ever played that game? It’s a great icebreaker. You fill in the blank: I have never ________________________. To keep it simple, just go around the room, having each person share something they’ve never done. Or you can make an actual contest out of it. Everyone gets a predetermined number of tokens—like M&Ms. When someone says, for instance, “I have never been on an airplane,” you have to sacrifice a candy if you have, in fact, been on an airplane.

Lawnmower by foto76

Image courtesy of foto76/freedigitalphotos.net.

This week I was reminded that I have never mowed a lawn. I grew up with a dad and two brothers so I wasn’t needed for that task. The same can be said with every place I’ve lived since … and there’ve been dozens. Yet each time my house or apartment had a yard, there was someone else who was more than willing to take care of cutting the grass.

Anyway, this week one of my sisters moved her belongings into my garage while she house hunts. Including her lawnmower. Up till now, I’ve typically hired local kids to mow for me and didn’t own a machine myself. As we unloaded Kris’s stuff, my other sister, Susie, said, “I’ll mow your yard while I’m here.”

Well, I thought, here’s my chance. She’ll show me what to do and I’ll take care of my own lawn and it will no longer be on my “never” list. So, Susie gave me a quick tutorial, then I grabbed the handle and gave it a push. The machine went two inches—maybe—and coughed to a halt. It just died. No matter what we did, the thing refused to come back to life.

And so, I have still never mowed a lawn. We all had a good laugh over it, although Kris will certainly feel better once her lawnmower is working again.

Still, other things on my “I have never …” list aren’t so funny, and some are hard to admit, even to myself.

  • For instance, I have never been “in love.” Oh, I have liked and wanted and romanticized about a few good men and even thought I was in love with one of them. But he didn’t want me, so I’ve decided it must not have been true love. My romantic heart can’t bear the thought of unrequited love, which means it was merely a case of heavy duty “like.”
  • I have never had a child. This one is closely related to the last but, in several ways, more devastating. Falling in love will always be possible. Having a baby gets more and more unlikely each day. Doctors would say that, at my age, it’s not going to happen, but I stubbornly cling to what little dregs of hope I have left.
  • And, adding insult to injury, having children hasn’t been possible because I have never participated in the act required for pregnancy. Yes, I mean sex. Never. Never, ever, ever. Each passing year this becomes harder to admit because it’s like a neon sign flashing my undesirability.

We don’t plan to have these “nevers” in our lives. In fact, up until a few years ago, I saw these desires as “somedays.” The dream was possible. “I will … in God’s timing.” It’s like I was climbing the Mountain of Wish Fulfillment, expecting to, eventually, reach the top. But now I feel as if I missed it somehow on the way up and am standing here, looking back, saying, “I have never …”

It’s a negative way of looking at my life. And I don’t like it.

How would you complete the phrase “I have never ________________”? Are you disappointed by the things you feel are missing, especially as a single woman? If so, how do you handle it?

For more on the topic of dealing with the struggles of singleness, I hope you’ll check out my book Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40, which is available on Amazon.

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What the Devil?

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

I heard Priscilla Shirer say something about fear recently that has helped me tremendously. The general idea was that whenever she is afraid of doing something, she recognizes the fear as a signal to run toward the thing she is afraid of. God does not give us a spirit of fear, she reasoned. So if fear arises it must come from the enemy. If the enemy is interested in blocking her from something, then it may be that God is involved in that very thing, which turns out usually to be the case.

“Fear not,” the Lord instructs us over and over and over again in Scripture. Probably He keeps telling us this because we need to be instructed to be fearless over and over and over again. Not just because we are hapless humans, but because our enemy is crafty and shrewd and lies to us without ceasing.

A huge door of opportunity just swung open for me. While the door was closed I stood in front of it and prayed and prayed it would open; I was terrified it would not. Now that the door has opened, I should be elated. Instead, I am more afraid than ever. What if I walk through the door, and right over the threshold is a pit that I fall into and can’t get out of? What if there are monsters on the other side of the door? What if all the sunshine and light I thought I saw on the other side of that door turns out to be stage lighting, totally fake, and the place is actually darker and gloomier than I can bear?

What a lying wonder the devil is! He lies and tells me I have no hope of the door opening, that I should give up hoping and spare myself the disappointment. Then, when the door opens, he immediately switches lies and tells me I must not, under any circumstances, go through the open door or dire consequences will follow.

“Fear not,” says the Lord.

Run toward the feared thing, says Priscilla Shirer.

I am putting my right foot in front of my left, and I am moving forward.

What lies has the enemy used to lead you astray?

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Abundant Life

burglar-157142_1280_CC0The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~John 10:10

Life can be brutal these days. Our fast-paced lives often leave us depleted and exhausted. It is in that state that the enemy moves in, sidling up next to us and whispering lies. He is intent on dragging us down to his level.

We single women have a unique tender spot the enemy loves to prod when he moves in. He’ll spin tales of how God doesn’t love you because He hasn’t given you a husband. Wouldn’t life be easier if you were part of a couple?

Those falsehoods are just words that are blown away on the wind of God’s voice beckoning us to join Him. He offers not only life but abundant life. This life has nothing to do with marital status or bank account balance. It’s found in the resting and trusting in Him that our life makes sense, and when life is based on the sense the Lord provides, the enemy has no power.

So, the next time life gets overwhelming and the enemy slithers in, turn away. Lean into God and find the abundant life He promises.

 

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A Foolish Seduction

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.                                                                                                                                                                           ~ 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 (NASB)

Roaring Lion

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/freedigitalphotos.net.

While retreating with 200 other singles in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC, last weekend, my carpool pal, Jill, wore a cap with the initials SKAD on it. Of course, I asked her what it stood for and she said, “Steal, Kill And Destroy … because that’s what Satan wants to do to us.” Then I read a Facebook post along these same lines from my friend, Bonnie Cozadd, and it seemed like a good idea to share her thoughts with you:

Satan is a tricky bugger. And he has a motto: “Whatever works.” If you’re looking for him in a crowd, just ignore the guy in red tights carrying a pitchfork. That’s a fellow with serious issues, but he’s not the enemy.

No, Satan fools people best when he comes dressed as an angel of light. He comes as a friend. A pal. A Judas. He’s an entity that comforts your poor, sagging soul, pats your head and sympathizes with your problems. He’s your best bud.

You hear background whispers of, “You deserve this. No one can blame you. God will forgive you anyway. Everybody thinks it’s okay.” Then … one day … in comes the kiss. Right on the cheek. And Judas betrays you. You see him for who he is, and he isn’t pretty.

My word of caution is just this: If you are a believer, the more powerful your testimony, the more Satan will be after you.

There is a seduction, as noted in the 2 Corinthians passage above.

Yes, you are protected by God … but you may be dabbling. Instead of fighting fire, you’re playing with it. Dangerous … dangerous.

God tells us to “Test everything.”

***

We have an enemy who is indeed out to “Steal, kill and destroy.” The best defense, as they say, is a good offense. Be on the alert, my friends, for “your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

How do you guard yourself against the enemy?

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Words Aptly Spoken

image courtesy of boy kung/freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of boy kung/freedigitalphotos.net

It took a couple of weeks, but a date, an actual in-person dinner-date, resulted from my online dating escapades. The date was casual and relaxed. We talked for hours and hours. I had a great time.

My date seemed to like me a lot. He seemed to want something serious. He seemed eager to move forward. I felt less eager. He didn’t have much to say about the deeper things of life–God and the Spirit and such.

Over the next few days we talked. It was uplifting and revelatory to talk to him. I loved how direct he was in our conversation.

He told me I was not only beautiful but intelligent, funny, sexy and a good woman.

“You don’t even know …” he marveled.

“Know what?” I asked in puzzlement.

I told him he seemed more serious than I wanted to be right now.

He responded that women almost never said those words to him. He could move slow. He could be a friend. He could be whatever I needed him to be right now.

I said I felt slightly pressured by his intensity.

He said he meets a lot of women who are interested in him, but he does not share their interest. If he seems intense it’s because he likes me. I excite him.

“You are the whole package,” he said. “You are wife material. You don’t even know …”

I don’t know. No one has ever told me.

This man does not really interest me, mostly due to our mismatched spirituality. But, ironically, talking to him was like hearing the voice of the Lord.

As I foolishly continue to lament the loss of the love of the man I want and mourn with feelings of rejection, it is as if the Lord wants me to hear and to see something different. Despite the disinterest of the man I want, and the other men I have wanted before him, despite my long, hard, march of singleness, my worth as a woman is far above rubies.

God wants me to know.

God wants you to know, too.

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Have You Been in a Friendlationship?

In her new book, The Dating Manifesto, my friend Lisa Anderson talks about the friendlationship. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s when a girl hangs out with a guy as friends. They are both unattached and do many things that may seem like they’re dating, but they aren’t in a relationship.

 

girl-690614_1280_CC0

Oftentimes in these situations, one secretly hopes the other reciprocates their feelings and that one day their friendship will grow wings and become a relationship. We’re supposed to marry our best friends, aren’t we?

Unfortunately, the outcome is usually one person walking away heartbroken.

It’s easy to fall into this dating dilemma. I know because I’ve been there and many of my friends have also. Sadly, it’s not really dating. It’s biding time, and it clouds our vision.

Breaking free from this situation was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. There wasn’t anything wrong with the man I was involved with. In fact, he was a great guy. He was charming and treated me like a lady. He made me feel like I was part of something special.

All the while, neither one of us was telling each other our true feelings. He didn’t know how I felt, and I just kept hoping his feelings would turn toward me.

They never did. He eventually began dating, really dating, another woman, and I was left with the pieces of my broken heart. To this day, he never knew how invested I was in our friendlationship.

I lost a friend, but he gained a wife.

I did learn a lesson from this whole situation. It was a tough but valuable lesson.

 

What about you? Have you been involved in a friendlationship?

 

 

Photo courtesy: Pixabay

 

 

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Making Lemonade

Lemon

My sister turned the real lemon — their old van — into lemonade when they upgraded it to this little bug.

Last week, for the first time since we started this blog in January of 2014, I didn’t get a post in at all. It’s not because anything major happened in my life—no one died, fortunately. I didn’t get hurt. I certainly didn’t receive any bad news. In fact, just the opposite for I learned a story I wrote about my mom was accepted into the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas! volume releasing in October.

No, it wasn’t any of that, but it was a combination of things. One, I was working on a post that is tough to write, and I hit a roadblock. I just didn’t know how to say what was on my heart. As a result, I felt I had to set it aside until it was ready. Two, I decided on Thursday to have a yard sale on Saturday … and that’s a lot of work, as you probably know. And three, when I was finally ready to focus and get it done, my internet shut down.

Sometimes life goes that way. You don’t plan on it so you’re not prepared. Sure, not getting a blog post done on time is, without question, a minor thing. But some of those just-because-I’m-human snags can hit us pretty hard.

My biggest snags lately have been work-related. I keep getting potential job possibilities, and I let my hopes soar only to crash when they don’t come through. This has been a particular rough summer. Sometimes I am so tired of constantly striving to bring in enough to make ends meet. And sometimes I don’t make it. Hence the internet problem.

Don’t get me wrong—God continues to provide. I have a roof over my head, plenty to eat and I had a fun, active summer thanks, for the most part, to family assistance. It’s wonderful to have that kind of support, but I’m tired of needing it.

This Labor Day weekend, I’m acutely aware of my lack of work. It’s frustrating, but I’m a natural optimist. One of my favorite movie lines is from the Tim Allen comedy Galaxy Quest: “Never give up. Never surrender!”

The tough days and big snags will come. They just will. What shows our true character is how we handle the surprises and disappointments. Do we only see the lemons or can we trust God to see a whole lot more?

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Dating Starts and Non-Starts

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

For most of the usual reasons, I find myself back in the cycle of seeking love through electronic means. Online dating. There has been a steady stream of interest but not too many viable prospects.

Here are some highlights:

There was “YouknowyI’mhere.” He was cute and his introductory message made me laugh. But he mysteriously stopped communicating with me after a few contacts.

There was “Telebeat.” He seemed sincere and direct in his introductory message. I admired that, like me, he had returned to school in his 40s to change careers. We were communicating for not too long online when he gave me his number and invited me to call him. The next evening I texted to ask if he was free to chat on the phone. He replied that he was in class and would call me later. I never heard from him again.

The abrupt disconnect is a “thing” online, apparently.

Because my quest for love, or even like, was not progressing with the men who initiated contact with me, one evening I decided to do some initiating of my own.

“AlphaOnyx919” got a short “hello” message from me since his profile was humorous and intelligent, and in his photos he looked gorgeous. He sent a brief reply right away. The next day, during our first conversation (via text), he asked me what I was looking for. I said something along the lines of friendship with potential. AlphaOnyx919 said, him too. “No pressure at all.”

Right after this he asked how I felt about intimacy. Not wanting to presume anything, especially that he was simply hoping for a hook-up, I inquired as to what he thought of as intimacy. Two days later he got back to me and said he had not seen my text. Then he said that by intimacy he meant cuddling, kissing and sex. My response was that it might be better to have a conversation about sexual intimacy after, say, we had actually met. Like, in person. He never responded.

Then there was “Squireman1963,” or as I like to call him, “6-2-52,” which describes his height and age. I liked the laid back read of his profile. In his photos he seemed stylish and comfortable. He looked like a man who took care of himself and enjoyed life. 6-2-52 reached out to me early one morning with a few sentences admiring my beauty. It was a strong start. Compliments are always good. I thanked him for starting my day off with a smile.

The next morning he sent another cheerful flattering message. This garnered another smile from me and a longer note in response. On day three we had our first conversation (via text), which went well. The next day we had a longer conversation by text, which went even better. He was polite, engaging and had a good sense of humor. I suggested we talk on the phone. He gave me his phone number and said call anytime.

That was earlier today.

I will let you know how it goes.

How have your online dating adventures gone?

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