Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mac and What???

I tried an experiment last night and, oh, how successful it was.

Let me take you back to the beginning of my research…

When Pace was just a couple weeks old he turned into a crier. We thought he would grow out of it in a few days like Savannah did and just have a brief spell of colic. No such luck. It was hard to soothe him for several weeks and we were at each other’s throats due to lack of sleep.

After a little Googling and reading and talking (to myself usually – I do that a lot), I decided to cut out dairy and see if it would ease our baby boy. Of course almost everything I love contains some kind of dairy, so following some very frustrating days I found a couple of books on Amazon to see if I could gain some tasty recipes to help me through this “sacrificial” time. Yes, I’m wringing this out for every bit it’s worth, and, yes, I’ll remind Pace what I did for him when I need an upper hand.

I purchased a dairy-free book. It was pretty much soy replacements everywhere. Not quite what I was looking for, although I don’t know why I thought it would be different. And then I found a vegan cookbook. The Amazon reviews raved about it, especially over the “Mac & Cheeze” recipe, stating that recipe was worth the price of the book.

I used some of her soup & Mexican recipes (no soy in sight - yeah!) and all have been delicious, but because it was summertime I used that as my excuse not to try the Mac & Cheeze. I didn’t want to heat up the, I feared the gag reflex: my families and my own.

With a resolution to make my family healthier and to incorporate more vegetarian & vegan meals in our weekly diets I decided to give the Mac & Cheeze a try last night. To my delight it didn’t have any soy cheese or milk in the ingredients list. Instead it was nuts & veggies that made the “cheeze” sauce. I have to admit I did worry when I poured it over the macaroni and I was very hesitant as I dished it out on to our plates, even though it looked exactly like mac & cheese as we know it.

The first test – Savannah: "Mmmmm. This is soooo good!" as she stuffed another bite in her mouth.
(She still has no clue there was no cheese in it, so sssshhhhh!)

Next up – Sarah: "I no want it!"
(She wouldn’t want it even if it had real cheese in it, so no surprise there.)

I had the next taste: "Wow!" Seriously! It was so good. Not cheesy and gooey, but moist and very tasty, and it had a slight sweet flavor to it as well from the pureed onions & carrots.

Then came the big guy, the carnivore, the past Atkins follower: "Oh man. What a great meal!"

That’s right folks, the vegan Mac & Cheeze was a hit in the home of a meat-loving, dairy-guzzling family! I’m so impressed I have to tell you the name of the book:

“Quick and Easy Comfort Food” by Alicia C Simpson.

She seriously rocks! Check out her book. You won’t be disappointed.

You can always do what I did and serve your vegan side dish with pork chops & and green beans cooked with bacon. Kind of an oxymoron, right?

I know what you’re thinking…

Who the hell are you? And why are you coming back so nonchalant, like you haven't been missing for weeks???

I realize you were tempted to put my face on a milk carton, but just trust me when I say that things have been crazy and pretty much hellish.

I sure did miss you, though.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I admire my mother for many reasons.

She’s immensely talented in music and word.

She’s highly intelligent.

She can laugh at herself.

She found her calling after having kids.

She’s a pioneer in her career.

She‘s given several of the best sermons I’ve ever heard.

She’s a calming presence.

And one thing that gives me hope: she found a way to live out a dream after she qualified for a Senior’s Blue Plate Special.

My mother has had a love affair with England for many, many years. Throughout my childhood and teen years Sunday nights were reserved for British comedies. There was no getting around it, no matter how badly I tried.

She wanted to travel to England throughout her life, but first came college, then came love, then came babies, and then came a career with a not-so-high salary. Dreams of travel drifted further and further away.

Then one day after retirement she heard of a program that sent retired preacher’s to the UK. She applied and, of course, was accepted. A year living in England followed. And she had the time of her life – aside from all of the amazing times she’s had with me, of course; frustrating teen angst and all.

Being a tall, elegant, American lady, she was treated like the Queen herself. Who wouldn’t love that? She lived by the Black Sea, whipped around the roundabouts (going the wrong way, I might add!) in a Mr. Bean car, developed many lasting friendships, and fell in love.

Of course her favorite time that year was when Savannah and I came to stay with her for two weeks.

(I love this picture of Savananah @ 4!)

She’s given me hope that those dreams I’ve yet to accomplish may still come true.

One other thing - she’s showered me with love my entire life.

I love you, Mama.

Happy birthday!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Year of No Fear

Happy New Year!

It’s another beginning.

Another clean slate.

Another chance to make lifelong changes.

At least that’s what millions like to believe.

I’m no different. Every year I make new resolutions, with the exception of last year, and I didn’t accomplish much in 2010 except for managing to hang on to the baby weight after Pace was born.

Now that I think about it, though, dealing with a demanding baby, a preschooler who’s stuck in the Terrible Twos, and a tween filled with attitude, not to mention my demanding full-time job with a boss I can’t stand, and not killing anyone by Dec. 31?...that’s quite an accomplishment!

This time next year, however, I’d like to be able to say that I have a busy toddler, a sweet preschooler, and a teen whose attitude I can deal with a little better, AND a job I love, plus a book that’s ready to be considered for publication.

The secret to the last two, or three?

Conquering fear. Or at least not allowing it to block me. I don’t know that I, or anyone, can actually conquer fear, but we can find ways to push past it. Me being the Self Help Queen should be able to manage that.

According to the hundreds of books I’ve read on career changes, living a more creative life, conquering clutter, getting fit, looking younger, being a better mother, being a better wife, being a better employee, being a better writer, and on and on and on (Yes, I do a lot of reading and not much doing, but I can coach anyone to almost anything they want to accomplish. Hmmm….maybe that’s a possible new career!), one of the first things you need to do is find support. For me, that would be my husband, my great friend Crystal, and my family – my mother, my sister, and my aunt.

You also need to make yourself accountable to someone so that you’ll work to keep from embarrassing yourself. Looks like that’s you guys!

Next, you need to have some kind of map. I’m working on monthly goals and at the end of each month I’ll check in with myself to see what I’ve done. For instance, by the end of January I hope to have applied for three positions (God willing there’s three I’m interested in) and my updated resume posted on a career website. I also want to have two more chapters completed for my book.

Those are completely doable goals that will help move me forward. I just need to make the time and push past my fear of getting a new job (What if it’s worse than where I am? What if I hate it, too? What if I’m no good at it?), or the fear that I constantly battle in my writing, both my book and my blog. (I have nothing to say! Is this any good? Did I ever learn proper grammar?)

Are there any changes you’ve wanted to make, but have allowed fear to stop you?

Join me on my quest this year. Let’s battle fear together and make 2011 the year we conquered those HUGE goals.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do a little decluttering.

Did I mention I’m a procrastinator?