Sunday, February 17, 2013

Expect the unexpected

I have a standing date on Sunday nights to meet Jeremy at the couch at 9:00 to plop down in front of the tele and down a glass of wine.
Or, ice cream.
 Not both, both doesn't work so well, as I've come to find out. They are not complimentary no matter what you try, and always ends with a bloaty tummy ache. I always think I am going to blog sometime during the week and be all tidy about the blog, but, it is a rarity that I find the time during the week to sit down, and write. So, in the essence of being under time watch (it is 8:22), I will write fast and furious about what is on my mind.

What is on my mind, is my neighbor. Days ago I received a call from his wife to let me know he had been in a terrible motorcycle accident. It is news you never want to hear, and find yourself holding your breath until you exhale slowly, as you digest the info. The good news is, he is alive (so incredibly grateful), and the major parts have been spared. The bad news, his body has been broken in many places, and the recovery is going to be long, and hard.

The accident was sudden, something no one anticipated, and it got me thinking on expectation. You expect to wake up in the morning. You expect your car to start when you turn the key. You expect to breathe in and out, easily, and continuously. There are no guarantees any of these will happen, but there is expectation, and that is what I believe keeps us from constantly tripping over the fact that we all live very fragile lives.

A sudden event like this can bring expectation to a quick, jerky, halt. Expectation fades to narrow the eyesight on the things that really matter. It is a shearing of a lot of little things, and even some big things, to let the mind center on what is really important when you cut the big picture into two peep holes for your eyes to see what expectation can hide. Love. A binding contract of the heart.

It is hard to know what to do to help sometimes. I bake when I'm nervous, and cook when I feel fidgety. I browsed through recipes to see what I could send along to appease the tasteless hospital food, and decided to make a batch of sweet chipotle mixed nuts to snack on, and a big batch of our marinated lemon ginger chickpeas.

We send them lots of healing prayers and love, and as speedy as recovery as one can have. XO

 Since the chickpeas are so delish, I thought I'd pass along the recipe to y'all. They are good on salad, just plain, scooped up in pita crackers, mixed with a drained can of tuna, as a healthy lunch, or a snack to send along with your littles.

                Marinated Lemon Ginger Chickpeas

            2 Cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

                6 Tbsp olive oil

                2 large cloves of garlic, minced

                1 tsp finely grated ginger root

                3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

                1 tsp. kosher salt

                3-4 Tbsp finely minced red onion

                2 tsp finely minced rosemary

                1 tsp dried parsley

                Juice of 1 lemon

                Fresh ground pepper to taste



                                                             Drain your chickpeas

                        Cut up your rosemary, garlic, and red onion, fine. So fine, it'll blow your mind

  Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, and store in the refrigerator. They will keep very well for weeks, and get better as they age.


On a totally unrelated note, I came outside yesterday to find my daughter doing this:

 When one wants to surf so badly, why not make your own board to balance on??? This is how we surf down in the PNW. In 50 degree weather. With Bog boots on. And, fleece.

A bit hillbilly, is it not?

It's 9:22 now, and I am late for my date. I'm taking next week off to find some inspiration and ideas.

See you in two weeks!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bowl of Comfort

I though I'd have bragging rights as to not getting sick this time around.

No such luck.

I opened my big fat mouth to a friend this past week when she was surprised I dodged the flu that hit the household. We both know I have an immune system no better than a Chia pet, so this was quite an anomaly. I didn't brag much, but the minute I said, "No, no, I feel fine. I must have had it already," my throat felt strange as the words tumbled out. For serious. It was that fast that karma backhanded me, and made me eat those words, as they scratched their way back down my throat.

The next day I awoke with a rocky tummy, but, went on a trek across the water to Trader Joe's, anyways. By the middle of knocking out my shopping list, my limbs felt very jello-y. I wanted to unhinge them and throw them in my cart. They felt too heavy to carry.

Long story short, three hours later I was on the couch with a fever, aches, and a very, very sore throat. When I finally got the guts to take a flashlight and look back there, my tonsils were twice the size they should be, and covered in white. Ugggghh. Tonsillitis. There are some things, when you are sick, that you just shouldn't look at. It makes it worse. Don't look next time. Yuck.

Swallowing hurt, so only one thing sounded good for breakfast the next morning. Since hamburgers was out of the question, the next best thing that came to mind was, oatmeal.  Mmmmm. Oatmeal. (Think Homer Simpson's voice as you say this in your head)

This isn't just any oatmeal, this is comfort in a bowl.


                                         Mmmmm. Oatmeal.

                              1 Egg, lightly beaten

                              1 3/4 Cup milk 

                              1/4 Cup lightly packed brown sugar

                              1 Cup Quaker Oats

                              1 Tbsp. Unsalted butter

                              1/2 tsp. Vanilla

                              Pinch of Kosher salt

                              Toppings such as nuts and dried berries


                             In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg, brown sugar, and the milk. I use whole milk for this usually, but have made it with 2 percent, and it turned out just fine. After you have whisked it together, add the Quaker Oats, the vanilla, and a pinch of kosher salt. Place the pan on your stove top, and turn your heat up to about medium, and heat it up slowly, whisking lightly and slowly, as it heats. Heating it slow is key, as you don't want that egg to scramble ( Jeremy does this every time. I've watched him make it, and we can't figure out how he does it, so, I don't let him make this oatmeal anymore. I kinda think that was his plan all along). Think, creamy. This is a creamy oatmeal.

Bring it up to a slow boil. It will thicken quickly, so keep watch, and pull it off the stove once it has reached the consistency you like. Once off the heat, mix in the unsalted butter. Ultimate creaminess. Plate up your oatmeal (this makes about two servings), and top with your favorite nuts and dried berries. My fave is mixed nuts and dried cranberries, but, go on. Sista' can get creative with this.

And, there you have it.

Mmmmm. Oatmeal.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Go shorty, iiiiit's your birthday!

Dear Grace,

As you grow up, memories tend to hide themselves back into the depths of your brain. New memories take precedence, bumping the old ones back, filing them away, until they become distant, and almost unreal.

 Did that really happen?

 Is that how it went?

Am I remembering this right? I really can't remember the details...

 All those questions and more surround the mystery of memories. The brain is a funny machine that can backfire, and trick you into thinking that a memory is lost, but it is there, it is all there. Somewhere.

Since memory cannot be completely trusted upon, this little reel will tell you what happened the week you turned eight, so you can look back on the blog, and do what your brain might hold you back from.


On the day before your eighth birthday, you wanted to get your ears pierced. So, I made an appointment weeks earlier, and you had a countdown, and counted down every day until the big day. You were squealy and excited, but as the days grew nearer, you quieted. On that Tuesday, you awoke that morning darned near silent. You spoke very little that morning, and also barely looked at me in class when I helped out in art. You were a bit scared, but didn't want to show it, and turned stoic and focused on the afternoon ahead. Our little conversation in art went a little like this:

me: " You're acting weird. Are you OK? "

you: "Yes...." Then silence.

me: "Is there something wrong? You are very quiet.."

you: "No." Then more silence.

me: "Are you sure? Are you a bit scared about this afternoon? To get your ears pierced? It's totally okay if you are. If you want to wait to do it, it's no big deal at all. There is no hurry. If you are scared, it's okay to be scared, too."

you: "Pshhh!! No!!! I'm not scared!! No, I wanna do it!"

me: "Okay.....Do you have to go to the bathroom?"

you: "Mo-om!!! NO! Sheesh!" Looking sideways to see if any of the kids next to you heard.

Yup. I am that kind of mom. I will always be Momming you, no matter what age, or where you are.

I picked you up after school with your bud who you wanted to go with you. You had two braids in your hair, so did I, and so did she. She had her ears pierced a couple months earlier, and was happy to hold your hand, as she already knew the ropes.

Next came the big decision of which posts to pick. You asked me which ones I liked, but I didn't tell you. I wanted you to make your own decision, and not want to please me with my favorite (the stars with the diamond in the middle). You picked the garnet birthstone, a very fine choice, and your dad's favorite color.

You listened carefully to the schpeal about the care and responsibility of having your ears pierced. Your heart was pounding, but you kept your cool.

As supplies were gathered, the big mirror proved to be too much fun.

And then it was time. We held your hands as she brought it up to your ears, and counted down. And then POP! The first one was done.

And my little girls' earlobes have holes now. You didn't cry, or scream, but your little chest heaved a bit as you had been holding your breath since you got out of bed that morning. You were so happy to have them done, and looked into the mirror all dreamy-like." My ears are pierced! " You whispered over and over, up until the time you went to bed that night, as if you couldn't believe it.

You were so happy. And much to my chagrin, so grown up already.

When you were three years old, going to the store was, to put a nice word to it, tricky.

On one particular shopping trip, you really, really wanted to pick out cereal. I loathed the cereal isle, and avoided it at all costs, with it's flashy cartoon-y faces, and loud writing. You asked, and pleaded, but I wasn't going to cave, and I was so tired of saying no, so I said:

"You can pick out any kind of cereal you want. On your birthday. When it is your birthday, I will bring you here, and you can pick out any cereal box you want, but only once a year, and only on your birthday."

So, ever since that day, it has became a birthday tradition that we all look forward to.

 Grace's birthday cereal.

Your actual birthday was on a Wednesday, and also per tradition, playing hooky was also an option. But, you chose school. You wanted to be at school for your birthday, to be with all of your buddies, so I brought a plate of Birthday Brownies to your classroom, to share. I stayed, and then took you to your Girl scout meeting after school. We then dined at Casa Bonita, and you had birthday flan, and went to bed happy, and full, and still so happy about your earrings.

It was then time to party with the family on the weekend. You asked for Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting. I had never made Carrot Cake before, and it didn't turn out too pretty, but it was tasty.

I spent that whole day in the kitchen cooking and prepping for a Tostadas birthday dinner. We are still noshing on the leftovers for dinner two nights later. I never know how much food to feed a crowd, so I just cook, and cook, and cook. Same thing with guessing how much spaghetti to add to the water. Always, always way too much.

And then it was time to open presents. Or, pick your nose, whatever.

You couldn't believe what Grandma and Grandpa got you.

And this is where it all started. And, you have been making music ever since.

This was also the birthday your Nana took you on a very special trip. It was that birthday, that she took you to the American Girl store. What a nice Nana!

The store was a bit overwhelming at first. There is a lot to see, and a lot of it looks the same, but when you look closely, it is all very different indeed.

                                  Cute, or creepy, cute or creepy? I couldn't make up my mind.

You took your girls' to the salon, and had your girl, Moonlight, get her ears pierced too. The beauticians also brushed the snarls out of your girls' hair, and gave them bows in your choice of colors.

The beauticians were so nice, and gave you the historical rundown of Molly. They were a fun bunch of gals.

Then it was time to go to the Bistro, and get your girls' something to eat.

They weren't that hungry, so we ate instead. You had a mini burger, curly fries, and then ate a good portion of my burger. Then, a protein snack pack from Starbucks an hour later. Your leggings have turned into capris. You are going through a mad growth spurt right now.

They brought you out a cupcake, and had the dining room help and sing Happy Birthday to you. You turned beet red, but couldn't hide your smile.

And before we left, I asked you to stand, look at the camera, and smile.

This is your eight year old cheesy grin that I love so much.

And that, my dear, was a reel of your eighth birthday week.

You are literally sprouting right in front of me, each year a petal unfurling from your bloom. I run my fingers down your slender arms, and remember the chubaroo little arms I used to kiss. I brush your long hair and remember the wispy curls I used to nuzzle in. I look at you, and find myself drawn into the fibers of your being, as your eyes get wiser, and time gets bolder.

Please, please don't grow up too fast.

I love you so much, so very, very much.

Happy Birthday my sweet Grace,

Love you mucho, mucho,