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The End

After a lot of careful thought and consideration, I’ve decided leave this blog.

To all of you who have enjoyed my blog and recipes and craftiness, the blog itself will stay here.  Feel free to share my recipes with anyone you think will enjoy their allergen free goodness.  If you’d like to follow along with me on Facebook, please leave a comment and I’ll e-mail you my real name and we can stay connected that way.  I can also be reached, for a while anyway, through direct private e-mail.

Gratitude

Hello.  I have a confession to make.  I’ve been a terrible blogger for the past year or so.  Or maybe always.  But really terrible this past year with all the sporadic posting and mystery weirdness.  I’m hoping with some recent changes, life will be settling into a nice rhythm soon and I’ll be back to making, which means more fodder for posting.  I guess this is a craft blog since I moved my baggage out to the other blog and since I’ve not really been crafting, well, no posting.

My cousin is due to have her baby soon, very soon, and remember that sweater and blanket I was going to make the wee nugget… yeah… I have maybe 10 rows of the sweater done.  Curse the moving and life changing bro-ha-ha.  The weather here is turning crisp though, and the leaves are falling in a wrinkly brown carpet in this new back yard, and my fingers are twitching with the want of needles and wool and rhythm.

This new place is still a bit of a shambles.  Since I have no rich relatives or ex-husbands to suck dry (not that I would if I could), and the powerball still eludes me, this single momma has to actually work for financial sustenance. This means many days I have little left in me to unpack a box or organize a room.  It’s slow going folks.    The poor kids don’t even have their room unpacked yet.  Well, beds, clothes, books, and a few toys, but they still have about 6 big boxes for me to go through and organize.  Oy. It will come along, hopefully soon so I can get some making in.  I am determined to make several gifts this year.  I know I say that every year, but this year I really mean it.  Really.  I have ideas, lots of ideas.  Hey, maybe I should get the Nobel Craft Prize.  Heh.

I think what brought me here today is that this has been a really introspective, quiet day for me.  A year ago I experienced a very profound loss on this day.  I look back and know that my philosophy that “everything happens for a reason” still holds true.  Even so, the pain of that day, and the days following, still resonates.  Especially today.  Yet, I am grateful for so much.  Grateful for all of the things that life has given me that don’t have dollar signs or price tags.  Grateful for the warmth of my daughters laugh, the softness of her hands as she grabs my face to give me a kiss, the squeeky sweetness of her voice.  Grateful for the evolution of my son’s autism to the place it is, for his flexibility, for the sweet innocent love he has for so many people and so many things.  Grateful for the amazing man in my life, for his love and for the prosciutto wrapped dates, stuffed with goat brie that he just seared on my stove and is now drizzling with a balsamic vinegar reduction.  Grateful indeed.

Hack

Ah, Sunday.  The rain is rapping on this new roof and we are stretching out into new walls, new floors, new space.  I’m so horribly not unpacked.  It’s my goal today to get some stuff situated.  Change is coming and I’m bracing for it in all the ways I know how and trying not to avoid, because I am good at avoiding (hence, the large number of boxes and misplaced furniture throughout my new space).

I’m listening to Bub hack like in the other room.  I noticed it intermittently Friday night and took the conservative approach (ahem, did nothing).  Saturday morning he seemed okay, still coughing a bit, and off to soccer we went.  Oh yeah, Rec Soccer.  It’s an experience that is for sure.  He likes to spin in circles on the field, however, will really get in there and go after the ball when he pays attention enough to know where it is.  His coughing was there, but not concerning enough to pull him or hop him up on meds.

Yesterday afternoon was Banana’s 12th birthday.  She’s the niece.  We hung out there most of the evening and since my sister has a cat, the boy was a bit worse for the wear by the time we left.  I still didn’t anything about it other than listen to his lungs for wheezing (none) but since he was no better this morning and was resembling a 70 year old, 3 pack a day smoker, I bit the bullet and pulled out the X*ponex (rescue inhaler). After the second dose two hours later, he wasn’t much better so I called the on-call ped.  Not my favorite thing to do (it pains me to inconvenience people).  Thankfully we had meds left over from last year so Bub had a date with the neb for some Albuter*l and 4 puffs of Fl*vent.  Steroids.  Ugh.  He was almost immediately better, though in an hour backsliding rapidly.  Another call, another neb, more puffs and he was better again.  So now we’re resigned to nebs every two hours until bed, more steroids before bed and calling in for a plan for the week tomorrow.

Usually this asthma stuff is not a big deal.  Bub has his rescue inhaler on an as needed basis and only once in a while do we get into a tricky spot like this.  He’s been running upwards of 3 miles with my sister and has done two 5K races this summer with stellar times.  What I realized today is that for the last 3 years, this time of year has been our witching hour.  3 years ago, pneumonia… last year, rough spell where we came very close to the ER and landed ourselves on a regimen of steroids for the winter… and now… here we are again.  Perhaps it’s the germy, weather changing, high allergen content air trifecta that does it.  I don’t know, but I don’t like it.

I guess just keep the C and D going for the rest of the winter and cross my fingers that we can avoid another winter of steroids.  Trouble with asthma is that it is seriously slim pickings for natural remedies.  Hmph.  Any ideas?

Presto Pesto

Ooof… it’s been a while.  Sorry about that.  I got all caught up in this whole moving thing and am just now brushing the cardboard dust off and peering out to say a quick ‘hey’.  There’s been a lot of wonky stuff happening, the universe is hammering some curve balls in my direction.  But it’s all good, I’m ducking some, catching a few others.  Trying to do that whole “go with the flow” thing.  It’s working out okay.

And because I have no energy left for effective segway, I have a story.

This summer we planted a garden at my moms.  It was a sad little garden, but what seemed to fair well were the 25 basil plants we stuck out there.  This past weekend, after a loooooooong drive to the airport, I stopped in on my way home and shopping bag in hand I collected the major ingredient for the pesto I was planning on making.

Half way through my harvesting, I happened upon the most peculiar little spider.  It had a bright yellow triangle shaped shell like abdomen and two big spikes shooting out back two points of the triangle with a couple smaller spikes midway up the abdomen.  I tried like the dickens to get a decent shot of it, but the aside from it being camera shy, my iPhone and my moms camera were not cutting it.  Lesson in bringing my camera everywhere with me… check.

Anyhow, after I showed it to the kids, I continued picking my basil and we went home.  The basil lived in the fridge for a couple days until I got the gumption to make pesto.  It was to be a first time for me, inspired by Bub’s desire to eat whole fresh leaves of basil last time I brought some home from moms.

Wednesday night I pulled the bag out of the fridge and set it on the counter.  I brought the kids up for baths and bedtime activities and when I returned to the kitchen to start the process of washing and preparing the basil, I found this:

Clearly a little spider friend decided to hitch a ride on some basil leaves.  The one I saw in the garden was bigger than this gal.  Oh, she is a gal.  She’s actually an Arrowhead Micrathena and only the chics have those cool spikes.  That’s my kind of spider.

Now, the ex would have run screaming from the house refusing to come back in until it was dead, maybe not ever.  I, on the other hand, thought it was dead and peered at it.  Closely.  I blew on it a little and it moved a tad, so slightly I wasn’t sure it was really movement.  Apparently three days in a fridge makes spiders a bit logey.  Huh.  Long story short, definitely alive, definitely caught it into a jar and covered it with cheesecloth and a rubber band, definitely brought to Bean’s preschool so they could check it out.  The kids both approved and thought it was pretty cool.  I specifically wanted them to see it up close in a low anxiety way to combat some of the ex’s ‘spider freak out paranoia’ that runs rampant over in those parts.  They didn’t even flinch… happy momma.

So last night I made pesto, without  the spiders, and my sister and Bub agreed it was delish.  Bean and Banana… well… they liked their chicken.

This is the recipe I used.  It made 2 cups of vegan pesto (at least I hope it was vegan and there weren’t any more stowaways.  Gulp.)  I like it the way it is, but next time I might try a bit of nutritional yeast for some more cheesiness, or even soaking the cashews so it’s a bit creamier.  I love experimenting.

Vegan (I hope) Pesto

8 cups basil

10 Tbsp olive oil (could have used about 2 more,at least)

6 cloves of garlic

1 cup raw cashews, lightly toasted

salt and pepper to taste

I had to split it into two batches to fit it in the food processor.  I tossed a cup of the finished product with some rice pasta and served with bone in chicken breasts.  When I cook bone in breasts/thighs I generously salt the skins and check for doneness by temperature.  Perfectly juicy every. single. time.

Sorry, no pesto pics, every last bite is gone gone gone.  And it was a bit brown.  I think because it needed more oil.  I look forward to trying again, sans spiders next time.

You still here?

No, I haven’t dropped completely off the face of the earth.  I’ve been working, and packing, and parenting, and working and packing some more.  I’ve learned that I’m really good at gathering boxes from all sorts of avenues and figuring out what should go where and visualizing the process complete… but I totally suck at packing.  Totally.

It’s bittersweet at times, pulling stuff from where it has sat for the last two years and carefully wedging it in boxes.   I can’t help but flip through old journals, my fingers running across words that might as well be someone else’s they are so old and faded, swirled edges bleeding ever so slightly, memories of lifetimes ago filled with people who now only live on those pages.   And the pictures and trinkets, rocks and shells, post cards and books that point a lazy finger at chapters of my life.

Change is hard for me and there are a lot of changes that come with this move.  More than I think I realized at first.  But now that the lease is about to be signed, check written, and metal keys will soon be in my hand, the other facets of moving are coming into focus.  The endings, the beginnings, the new, the old.  It is good, I know this, but there are parts that are sore and a bit achy and will take a bit to feel normal again.  I just have to allow myself to see them for what they are, perhaps rest an ice pack on them or request a healing kiss from my love, and give them time.

I will be silent here for a bit, perhaps I’ll post a few snapshots of the process or the product.  Depends on whether or not my new neighbors will let me sneak a bit of their wifi.  Off to pack my fabric… that should take a few days in itself.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but we’re gearing up to move.  I’m trying to keep from bringing more than I absolutely need to into the house so I’ve decided to go on a grocery exile. If you’ve never been on a grocery exile it’s a great way to use up what’s in your pantry and freezer (and save money!).  Basically you only buy the perishable essentials.  Tonight I did the last grocery shopping I hope to do for about 2 weeks. I bought a couple loaves of GF toast, some veggies, some small chickens that were on sale and that’s it.  By the way, the kids don’t know so it would be awesome if we could just keep this between you and me.  Great, thanks.

Not having been prepared today, I spent a few more dollars than I should have at lunch, but it was worth it because I bought myself a little inspiration.  There is a little health food store in the town I now work in and those gals can make some mad soup.  I’m a soup girl, 365, can’t get enough soup even on 90 degree days like today.  I tried one of their new-to-me soups called something like Indian Lentil Stew… yeah, that sounds good.  I knew I had 5 lbs of red lentils in my freezer and well, why not give it a whirl? It came out lovely and, since I had everything I needed right here, basically free. Now I have lunch for the rest of the week.

Indian Lentil Stew

2 large carrots, chopped to your desired choppiness (nice if they’re kinda chunky, 3/8 inch or so)

1/2 cup coarse chopped onion (1 sm or 1/2 medium or 1/4 large onion)

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 tsp curry powder

1 medium tomato, chopped (I’d use 2 next time, or maybe 3 Romas)

2 cups of red lentils (you should probably pick them over and rinse them, I kinda forgot)

5 – 6 cups chicken stock (or water, or veggie stock)

1 small bay leaf

1/2 tsp salt (to taste)

coconut oil for sauteing

coconut milk for finishing (optional)

Saute carrots, onions, garlic and ginger in coconut oil for a bit until the onions start to turn clear.  Add the chopped tomato and curry powder.  Stir and cook for a minute or so.  Add lentils, toss to coat with rest of ingredients.

Add 4 or 5 cups of broth, bay leaf and salt (optional).  Bring to a slow boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occassionally.   Add more broth as needed and watch for sticking on the bottom.  Keep stirring and checking every 5 minutes to see if the lentils are cooked through.  They will break up quite a bit, unlike french lentils, and you will know they are done when they don’t have the solid looking center anymore.  Remove bay leaf and serve with a drizzle of coconut milk, if desired.

I plan to bring a jar of this to work tomorrow with a jar of coconut milk and play with the ratios.  It’s really yummy without it so either way, mmmm.  Free lunch.

I’ve made a decision to not talk about ‘serious’ stuff here, too much.  The truth is, I have a lot of ‘serious’ in my life, more than I would like really.  It’s part of my love life, it’s part of my kids lives and it’s part of my every day.  The nice thing about the ‘serious’ is that if your heart is open, you can learn a lot about the world and yourself.

I don’t talk about what I do for ‘work’ (ie. financial sustenance) because it is shrouded in a great deal of confidentiality.  I work to protect people who cannot protect themselves.  Children.  It’s hard work, really hard some days, and other days it’s enlightening, uplifting even.  There are a lot of people in my field who give the field a bad name and scary mythology surrounds it.  Those are the folks who abuse the power, have a false sense of superiority, and feel holier than thou.  I come to this work open, having been in the trenches of depression, challenged to the edges of parenting, I sympathize, I empathize, I hear, I learn.   When decisions about safety need to be made, I am part of balanced, team decision making.

Last week I met a family who had come across my desk.  At least part of the information I had about them turned out to not be true, perhaps all of it.  I spent an hour or so talking with the dad, hearing his story of once being a professional in an alternative sport only to have his dreams shattered by an injury that would seem like an inconvenience to the rest of us.  I sat across from him, many of his teeth knocked out from his days spent living his dream, covered nearly head to toe in body art.  I heard him talk in a soft voice about doing anything (legal) he could to get money for his family, taking odd jobs, getting shorted but taking whatever money he got just because it was more than nothing, walking miles to get to a job site.  I heard the sadness in his voice when he spoke about missing his family who lived many miles away who he hasn’t been able to visit in a long time because his finances prevent it.  I listened to the lilt in his voice when he talked about his new dream doing something he was not only good at, but that clearly brought him joy.  I sat humbled as he talked about scraping money together to move this dream forward.  I was looking at a person whose fingers are white as he gripped the edges of poverty yet he is still motivated enough to find something he loved to do that would sustain him financially.

When I wrap up with folks, I ask them if they have any questions for me.  The typical question is “are you taking my kids?”.  He asked “do you have any tattoos?”.  It caught me off guard a bit and I showed him the few I do have, somewhat trivial tats, full of meaning for me, but not exactly what I would call artwork.  His face lit up, he commented on them, especially the one I have on my thigh which is the same one my oldest and dearest friend has over her heart.    We chatted like people who were perhaps waiting in line at the market together, or sitting at a bus stop.

I left a bit enlightened.  This guy, this family, on the fringes of society, pulling and scraping to keep their life as normal as possible, he was happy.  I see so many people in the world who have seemingly everything.  They have health, they have a roof over their head that they are not in danger of losing, they have enough food to feed themselves and their kids, they go on vacation several times a year, they lack none of life’s basic needs.  Yet they complain about not having enough and about life being unfair to them; they go on about what they should have in this world, wanting better, faster, shinier, but none of it making them truly happier.

I think I’d much rather sit on that guys dirty back porch with him talking about tattoos for a couple hours than sit and listen to someone who has more than they need drone on about their distorted woes and the next big thing they’ve convinced themselves they must have.  Because what those kind of folks are really lacking is humility.  And that cannot be bought.

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