Monthly Archives: October 2012

Happy Halloween Treats!

Image
Young Family Kitchen & Doughnut Shop

I awoke to a grey and rainy day here in the Northwest. It was difficult to tell that it was actually morning as the sky remains dark and ominous. It’s perfect! Now that I don’t have little kids, the idea of the rain on Halloween is not at all disappointing. We will make a fire, we will listen to Allen Parson’s Project’s Tales of Mystery & Imagination. We’ll read Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven (and maybe The Cask of Amantillado).

And we will make spudnuts.

But first, the explanation: My small town upbringing was charming in so many ways. We knew our neighbors, we walked to school. It was a safe and Rockwell-ian piece of the American pie. One of my all-time favorite memories is of my maternal grandmother, who lived with us, making spudnuts (think potato bread fried into doughnuts) every Halloween for the kids in town.

She would start first thing in the morning and our kitchen would be magically transformed, for the entire day, into a doughnut shop, where ALL THE DOUGHNUTS WERE FREE! My friends and I would gladly eat the hot, sticky treats all day long. Young stomachs are guts of steal. I have no idea how we did it without dire consequences. Grandma literally made hundreds of these delicacies. If my memory serves me, they were so fluffy and light, to pick one up was to have it begin to melt even before it made it to one’s mouth.

Nearly 20 years ago I started the same tradition in my own home. While we’ve never lived in a place it would have been appropriate to make the homemade treats for visiting kids, we would make the spudnuts for family, friends and neighbors, making it into a party. I would keep the kids home from school and all day long we would enjoy the traditions we still enjoy today.

I have delicious memories of all of my children with me, in the kitchen, making doughnuts and moaning when I got out the poetry book. Later, when the kids were costumed and ready for family and friends to descend upon the house, I would force them to eat an actual meal, though looking back I wonder if they received any real nutrition despite my efforts.

Today is a calmer day. We live so far out in the country that Trick-or-Treaters are a non-issue. Three of my five children are grown and gone. And yet, the traditions live on!

Under these rainy skies, if you come to my kitchen this day, you will find, albeit a smaller doughnut shop, a doughnut shop nonetheless! Max and Chase are happy participants in working in this one day family business. There will be Edgar Allen Poe. There will be too many treats.

Zoë called last night asking for the recipe. Though she is many miles away, she is creating a day that is quite similar to the one she grew up with.

My grandmother died when Zoë was just a baby. Even before that it had been many years since she had made the confections. So it pleases me no end to think of her cornflower blue eyes and her award winning whistle, the puffy doughnuts in a warm autumn kitchen. Although my children didn’t know her, she is an unseen influence in their lives, not to mention of their taste buds.

I love Halloween. I love the cute kids in costumes and the sense of community. I love the sugary treats and I love the traditions. I love making doughnuts and adore the fact that my kids remain active participants. The best part of every Halloween is that in a very real way, we’re conjuring ghosts. Thanks, Grandma.

Image
The recipe complete with stains and notes.

It’s A Major Award! Kinda.

My super awesome blogger buddy Jackie nominated me for a Liebster Award. I’m SO honored as I love the others she chose and she has some great action you should check out on her blog, Change For Better Me. Part of the deal is that I answer Jackie’s questions, then I nominate other awesome blogs and they answer the questions themselves. Jackie asked some doozies! Check out my answers below, and remember, no judging.

But first, my nominated blogs are…

http://ironicmom.com/   This is a fabulous and honest account of one mother’s adventures.

http://stuffitellmysister.me/ This blog is exactly what it says it is. Let’s just chat about the stuff.

http://sarahjaneprosetry.wordpress.com/ Sarah Jane’s blog is a plethora of angst-y, real poetry.

http://mylifeinsnaps.wordpress.com/ Well, this one is exactly what it says it is… her life in snaps.

http://itstartedwithaquote.wordpress.com Each post starts with a thought provoking quote.

http://irishkatie.wordpress.com/ Katie is a charming Irish mother sharing day to day insights

1. What got you into blogging?

There was a perfect storm to bring out my inner blogger. I have a very talented niece and a very talented nephew who have excellent blogs and excellence always inspires people. Then I met with an insightful life coach who told me I needed to write down my life journey. Of course one of the best ways to do that is to do it in an open forum. Right? And then there was the fact that I’ve always wanted to be a writer but I’d never let that genie out of the bottle. No going back now though!

2. What have you learned about yourself through your blog?

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned about myself is that I have way too many thoughts to keep them locked up inside my head. I feel… emancipated by getting things out of my head and into print. In other words, it’s therapy.

3. When you aren’t blogging what do you do?

I homeschool my  8th grader part time, I paint watercolor, I take classes, visit my granny and travel with my hunka-hunka-burnin’ love, Aaron Young.

Image
Perfect strangers couldn’t be happier!

4. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?

Everywhere! I LOVE to travel. I do have a specific goal to live in Italy for a while. I’ve visited, but I’d like to live there and feel “local”. And Tahiti is one of the most magical places on earth. Just sayin’. Oh, and an African safari too.

5. What’s your greatest vice?

I cringed when I saw this question, because I like to be real, but THAT real? Okay, I’m willing to throw it down. I would  give myself two vices. One is Coke Zero. I know it’s not good for me, but it’s the thing I turn to when “I deserve a treat”. The other… as painful as it is to admit… I swear like a truck driver. Not all the time and not in front of everyone, but it’s true. I’m not proud, but I am honest. Plus, I’m really good at it. And you know what they say, go with your strengths.

6. Who is/was your greatest influence in your life?

Hands down, the greatest influence in my life is my husband. After 25 years I still have a bit of hero worship with the man. He is funny and kind and sometimes, when Evil Michelle takes over my body, I look at this loving and gentle man and wonder why he loves me so much. No worries, other times I totally get it, but he is a constant example of kindness and honesty and love. He is my world.

7. Who is your favorite author?

Jane Austin is your girl in any situation. But then, Barbara Kingsolver writes lovely prose. I love a good Dean Koontz, sci-fi mystery. And so many more!

8. What music do you prefer to listen to?

I’ve always had an eclectic taste in music. I’m a big fan of 70’s and 80’s music and I dig a lot of older folk rock, but recently my tastes have definitely leaned toward indie music like Cage The Elephant, Katie Herzig, The Shins, etc.

9. If you could, who would you like to have cook for you?

I choose… Rachel Ray! Just because I’m sure we would be best friends if we ever met.

10. Imagine that you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you say?

I feel like this is a really difficult  question. It’s that there are so many good answers but if I write one out it excludes all the other possibilities. So, I don’t think I’ll get in trouble for breaking the rules, I choose more than one. As a Christian, obviously I choose Jesus. Further down the religious line, Eliza R. Snow (known as the prophetess in Mormon culture). I would love to meet Maya Angelou and just sit and listen. Who doesn’t want to meet Oprah? And last, as well as least, I would ask O.J. Simpson, “What the heck?”

11. Are you happy?

I think I tend to be neither a glass is half full, nor a glass is half empty kind of girl. I’m an “I am so glad there’s a glass of water here, cuz I’m thirsty,” type of person. So, yes! I am happy! I have a wonderful family, a delightful marriage, I live in very favorable circumstances, and I’ve been around the block enough times to know that happy is a choice and it’s absolutely where I choose to live.

Image
Everyone’s excited!

 

Ten Dates

I am an introvert by nature. I always think this needs some explanation as when we meet, you will find me outgoing and talkative. I don’t fear public speaking and am comfortable taking control of meetings if need be. But a psychologist recently explained to me that introvert versus extrovert is simply a matter of how one recharges one’s batteries. Is it alone or with people?

I am a full blown introvert and need my alone time of which, if I’m being honest and possibly just a tiny bit whiny, I don’t get very much.

Image
Trust Yourself!

Along with this, I also have a very strong belief that we all need to take some time for ourselves, completely alone, introverts and extroverts alike, and amuse our inner selves. Our souls need service as much as we need to serve those around us.

With that, I give you Ten Self Dates. However, I hope you’ll illuminate me on what you like to do, as these are only my ideas. They might not resonate with you, and I could use some fresh thoughts in this area. Without further ado:

  1. Spend an hour or two at your favorite thrift store.
  2. Take yourself to a matinee. Extra butter on the popcorn, please.
  3. Go to a downtown café for lunch and people watch.
  4. Get to your favorite bookstore for a hot chocolate and read trashy magazines.
  5. Make use of your local art museum.
  6. You know that place you wanted to go, but no one else thought it sounded interesting? Why not take the one person you know will love it? You!
  7. Go for a sightseeing drive and take your camera.
  8. Take your “inner child” out for a treat. Go to the grocery store and buy your favorite snack from when you were a kid (Warning, this may or may not be delicious, depending on your immature taste buds).
  9. A pedicure. If you are of the male variety of reader, all I have to say is don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
  10. Even the easiest of hikes (read, you don’t even need to wear special shoes and it could certainly be at a park or nearby green space) rejuvenates the soul in nature.

Okay, seriously, I want your thoughts. Don’t be shy. What sounds like an awesome Self Date to you?

Worth The Effort

I am coming to the end of my visit here in Boise with my daughters. We had so much fun on the Color Run. I’d never heard of one before we signed up, but any chance to do a fun activity with my family is one I want to take.

Because the “color” part of a Color Run is made of died cornstarch, the event would have been canceled if it had been raining. It’s funny, I drove all the way here and I was enjoying being here, but late at night as we made our obligatory tutus, I was hoping it might rain. I was tired. Even stronger was that feeling in the morning before the run when it was time to get out of bed after a questionable night’s sleep. I was cold, it was dark. We were getting dressed up to go out into the brisk, dry Idaho morning. I did not want to go out into the unknown. I was sorry it wasn’t raining.

However, as soon as I was up and awake and I knew I wasn’t going to freeze to death, there was music, youthful energy and anticipation. I was SO happy to have gone to the trouble. The weather was beautiful and I am a lucky woman that my kids invited me!

Dakota, Carrie, Zoe and I were all talking about how hard it is to get up and go out. We were specifically talking about outdoor activities, like snowboarding or anything else that takes effort or makes one feel exposed.

I am quite certain this is a universal feeling. The feeling before a big trip, when there’s all the work of getting ready to go, and none of the passion to actually leave one’s safe zone.

I cannot count the times when I’ve had those feelings, just like I felt before the Color Run. But once I finally get to where I wanted to go from the beginning, I’m so thrilled to have made the effort.

Life is worth the effort. I’ve never spent an afternoon watching TV and thought, “Yeah! That was time well spent!” But without exception when I’ve taken a risk, gotten up early, made arrangements, worked hard to make something happen, that’s when I’ve known I was really living.

Michelle, Zoe, Dakota, Carrie

Color Run Fun

This morning I got up early. Long before I even wanted to. I had a rough nights sleep as Zoe was slapping me in the middle of the night. I choose to hope this is not a subconscious anger towards me.

I ran a 5 k with my daughters in Boise. It was a lot of fun.

This is less of a post and more of an opportunity to wish everyone a happy weekend. Go out and make it an awesome day!

image

Traditioooooooon, Tradition!

Image
Max, Chase & Aaron at the Flower Farmer
Image
Michelle, Chase & Aaron

Last night we went on our annual pumpkin patch excursion. We’ve been going since Adam was just a little guy, so you know that’s a long time ago as he himself will be a daddy here pretty soon. What’s interesting to me is that even though I have just two boys at home, both of which are confirmed teenagers, they still love the traditions started so long ago.

All of my kids are big tradition fans, and it’s likely because we are a family utterly fraught with traditions. We have a traditional First Day of School Cookie (Buried Cherry Cookies, I’ll include the recipe if I get industrious), an amalgamated song we sing on our weekly family night (think Happy Family type song which morphs into Frosty The Snowman which morphs into Skida-ma-rinky-dinky-dink, it’s a classic), a traditional roll recipe for Thanksgiving (Aaron and I actually had a fight about this one year when I suggested we try something new. FYI, the kids all sided with their dad on that one.) as well as a detailed Christmas plan that starts early evening Christmas Eve and goes through Christmas evening. Perhaps the most infamous tradition is our post-Thanksgiving dance to a song called The Hooch, followed by an impressive collective Solja Boy rendition. I’m sure I’ll detail these the closer we get to the holidays. If you ask me to, I’ll take pics;)

I once read that traditions are important for people as it gives them a feeling of belonging. I’m a strong proponent of them as long a the traditions don’t become more important than the people. That is to say, traditions should change with the family, not the other way around.

So here is my plug for traditions. It’s never too late to start them. I think they’re important if you’re living alone, if you have little kids or big kids or grandkids. I think we each feel a sense of belonging and safety even if we only belong to ourselves. Plus, it’s a good excuse to have treats. I’m thinking of having a Chick-o-Stick day where we sing folk songs and stick pull. I really feel like this might catch on.

Tell me please, what are your favorite family traditions?

The View

Image
http://www.koppdelaney.de

It takes very little to please me. I think this is a good personality characteristic. My guess is that it’s an inherent part of who I am, but it crystallized while Aaron was at Rock & Roll camp (So named after a Simpson’s episode. It sounds better than “jail”).

During that time I felt robbed of peace of mind. I am especially aware of those feelings now as I feel a great sense of wellness in my life. While I would never claim a flawless existence, my family is flourishing, there is peace in our home, Aaron’s business is growing and I feel well both physically and emotionally. After almost 10 years of some pretty dramatic tumult, it feels very much like the “season of peace” I so often prayed for.

But back then all I could find was the small things. Today the pleasure in the small things stays with me, even as I bask in the joys of today.

Things that please me: A sunny day, laughing with my kids, a great thrift store find, a twenty dollar bill in my pocket, lunch with “the girls,” Chick-o-Sticks, eating foods that make me feel well, meeting new friends, a good workout, family dinners, poetry, leaves changing color, a favorite song on the radio and sushi.

The great news is that “the little things” are available to us every day. I talked with a friend of mine who just beat breast cancer. Cindy told me that at the end of the day she would look for the good things no matter how small. Her “fabulous” as she calls it, might have been as simple as not throwing up the soup that day. No matter. It was something to smile about.

I am so grateful for today. I am so happy to have big things that please me right along with the small ones. And I’m grateful for the days that taught me those values. While it sometimes felt like a constant hike up a jagged, ugly mountain, the view is always spectacular.

Ten Life Lessons

Image
Aaron & Michelle
February 14, 1986

Just this last week I attended a wedding reception of some young friends. While the groom is in his late twenties, the bride was a brand spankin’ new young’un. Don’t get me wrong, I was the exact same age she is when I got married, so I’m not criticizing. But seriously? Was I ever that young? I suspect I was not, as this bride had an innocent, wide-eyed way about her that I had shed a few years previous to  my marriage.

As the bride exuberantly told me all about how they had met, compete with bubbly “oh my gosh” ing, I was reminded of an old joke. A young woman comes to her mother after her wedding and says, “Mom, I’m so excited to be at the end of all my troubles.” The sage mother looks at her young daughter and says, “Yes, but which end?”

Make no mistake, I wish for this young couple all the excitement and fulfillment of a glorious life together. But 25 years down that road, I also know that the fulfillment and glory comes even more in the difficulties than it does in the times of tranquility.

With that, I give you Ten Life Lessons I’ve Learned:

1. Being real is way more fun than being perfect.

2. There are bullies in the school yard, and bullies in the boardroom, and they’re scary no matter where you are.

3. People care way more about what they’re wearing than what you’re wearing.

4. The happiest moments of one’s life are ALWAYS with people we love in moments of pure bliss and rarely have anything to do with worldly successes.

5. Pizza is a “super” food regardless of nutritional value (this post was written for you while eating pizza).

6. Worry is, without exception, a wasted use of energy and imagination. Now preparation and action, those are worthy causes.

7. We are all going to die sooner or later. Might as well make peace with it, do our best to avoid it and live our lives with purpose and joy.

8. Happiness, love, faith, they’re all choices. Choose well.

9. If you know it all you’ve stopped growing.

10. Being brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared, it means you’re scared but you pull your shoulders back and do what needs to be done.

Dear Blog Land:

I know it’s early in our relationship, but I just need to say it: I love you. I hope this doesn’t scare you. It’s just that you fulfill in me, things that nothing else ever has. Sure there was therapy, but sometimes I would Imagelook over at Dr. Brain-Well, and think, “I’m not sure you’ve got what it takes to meet my needs. It’s not me. It’s you.” Also, I have to admit that I was paying Dr. B. I feel so ashamed.

But you, Blog Land, well, you just seem to get me. Remember the time I had my feelings hurt because mean people were mean to me? Not only did you patiently listen, but you responded (thanks, dear readers) with support and understanding. You were like, “Mean people suck!” Okay, my words, not yours, but I read between the lines.

It’s not just that you’re a great listener and a huge support, but it’s like we have the same interests. I want a little political fix, you’re on it with whatever flavor I may be craving. Sardonic? Check. Liberal? In spades! Religious? You bet! Whatever I want, you’ve got it.

But do you know what I love best about you? It’s your family. Yes, Blog Land, your family is A-W-E-S-O-ImageM-E! And such a big family too! With artists and grandmothers, crazy aunts, young rebels and pithy writers, if everyone got together for the holidays (we’d include Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanza and Festivus), it would be the roudiest, most opinionated and colorful celebration ever. Count me in! And count in any visitors dropping by. You, Blog Land, are inclusive of all.

So I’ve laid it out on the table with the L word and all, and I’m going to dig myself in even further by asking you to take me as I am. You see, I’m feeling a little vulnerable in our new found relationship. As I was perusing over our time together, I recognized a theme in my writing. Sure, it’s why you’re so good at being my therapist, because you let me throw it all out there through my fingertips, but I hadn’t realized until my feelings became so strong for you, just how much I’ve revealed of myself.

You’re just so easy to be with. All I’m asking is that you accept me, warts and all. All my weird neuroses, my funky view of the world, my wild dreams, even my aversion to declaring my political views and religious leanings.  It’s an “as is” deal with me.

But please, don’t rush to a decision. Take all the time you need. I know I’ve just dumped this out there and I would never ask you to make a snap declaration just because I have. But I’m just telling you, I think we could be great together. I’m seeing a real future for us.

Blog Land, I love you. I love you. I love you! (Jumping on the allegorical Oprah Couch).Image

With all my heart,

Michelle