Love Waffles

Love Waffles           I have this friend.  Mr. O.  I met him a long time ago through my brother.  And although at first our friendship existed solely because of my sibling, our connection has morphed and changed into something that’s completely ours.  Which is lovely.  But its not until lately that I’ve realized what an amazingly good friend and person he is.  Recently, after the event with Mr. R… Mr. O was the person that checked in to see how I was feeling.  He was the person that listened to my pros and cons and anxiety filled monologues.  He was the person that texted to see how my doctor appointment went.  He was the person that came over and sat with me drinking coffee when I didn’t feel good and distracted me with funny stories and flirting and sweetness.  I’m not even sure why I’m writing this except maybe to take note that not every man is Mr. R.  And that I have people around me that are good.  And that my life is full of so much love.  Not necessarily in a romantic sense.  Just… love.  I just need to let it in.

In honor of that realization… I’m making some Love Waffles for breakfast!

 

LOVE WAFFLES

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 warm milk

1/3 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together all the dry ingredients then add the milk, butter and vanilla.  Beat together with the mixer.  Add eggs.  Mix again.  Cook in a waffle maker and tadaa!  Perfect waffles.  I like to eat mine with butter, fresh strawberries and powder sugar.

 

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Punching Bag Bread

Punching Bag BreadI spent the day cleaning my mom’s house today. I donated her bed set. I donated her coats. I sorted her gazillion books. I swept. I’m exhausted. And I’m all out of sorts and sad. But I kind of feel like punching the shit out of something. So. I’m baking bread.

Punching Bag Bread

This is my boys’ favorite bread for breakfast.  And for me there’s something really therapeutic in making it. I usually make one loaf plain and one loaf with cinnamon and raisins.

2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon dry active yeast

2 tablespoons butter

5 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon salt

Cinnamon and raisins (optional)

Put the water, sugar and yeast in a bowl and whisk together. Let it sit for 10 minutes until it looks a little frothy. Add the butter and salt and flour and knead until it feels stretchy and bouncy (if you’re using a KitchenAid mixer, knead it for 5 minutes). If you plan to add raisins or cinnamon do it now! (I usually remove half the dough and only add stuff to the other half. And eyeball the additions. No measuring.) Put the dough in a bowl that has been greased with a little olive oil, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise for an hour. Once risen, punch it down. And if you haven’t already split it in half to add stuff, go ahead and split the dough now so you have two plain loaves. Knead each half… I kind of fold it over and over and finally leave it in a loaf shape. Put your loaves in two greased loaf pans. Let rise for another hour. Once the second rise is done, bake for 45 minutes. Done!

Tripping and Falling

Do you ever have those moments in life where you trip and you think its just a small little stumble, but then you can’t quite catch your balance and you trip again.  And what started out as something small and unnoticeable becomes large and embarrassing and way way more painful than you thought it would be?

I wasn’t going to write about this… because its ridiculous that this would have happened at all.  And also because I have friends and family that read this blog and I am horrified at the thought that I might receive well-meaning concerned messages about it (if I know you and you’re reading this, please don’t do that.  I will block your ass from ever reading my blog again.)   But.  For so long I’ve had this image I protect.  That I’ve got things under control.  That I don’t get emotional.  That I never ever fail.  Or fall.  That no matter how difficult things are, I don’t let it affect me.  And then I started this blog because it was a moment in my life where I needed…something.  And every blog I came across was about perfect moms doing perfect arts and crafts and making perfect gluten free treats with their perfect kids and loving every minute.  Even their failures were funny adventures.  I didn’t want to read about that.  I needed to read something that I could relate to.  Something that would make me feel that I wasn’t the only person that felt what I felt or failed as I failed.  I couldn’t find it.  So I wrote it.

I’m not sure how to start so maybe I’ll just say it.  I got pregnant.  Like a dumb teenager.  At almost 42 years old.  All because I had a perfectly timed moment of weakness.  And I know what you’re thinking.  I had two miscarriages a few years ago.  I should be happy that I now got pregnant again.  But when I was pregnant before I was in a relationship with someone I was madly in love with.  And that I believed loved me in the same way.  Having a child together somehow felt solid and good and not terrifying and isolating.  And where a few years ago my brain could only think of the magical beautiful things that a baby brings.  Cuddles, joy, baby laughs, sweet baby kisses, first baby steps and first baby words.  Now my brain could only think of the negatives.  The long nights, the financial stress, the physical difficulty, my age, the loneliness.  I’d done it alone before.  I did not want to do it that way again.  And after a very short, very awkward conversation… Mr. R made it immediately clear that he wanted nothing to do with any of it.  We have not spoken since the day I told him.

And so the decision fell to me.  Which made for many sleepless nights.  I made pros and cons lists.  I prayed.  I consulted my doctor on timelines and decision deadlines.  I turned it over in my brain again and again.  Following my mind down the two roads over and over.  And.  I finally decided to terminate the pregnancy.  I thought it would be easier to do it before too much time passed.  Before the baby grew.  Before I became attached.  I read about heart development and brain development and nerves.  And my doctor was straight forward, no nonsense and kind, providing information about 5 little pills that could end my problems. 5 pills.  That’s all it took.  And now I’m not pregnant.  Now, although I’m still bleeding… I could almost convince myself its just my period.  That I’m not awful and heartless and irresponsible.  Almost.

So why am I sharing this story?  Maybe because it feels like less of a burden to share it.  Maybe also because carrying the image of someone who never fails is a burden too.  I’m not perfect.  Far far from it.  I fall all the time.  I guess the trick is to keep getting up.

My Weepy October and Comfort Food

Tuesday Night Pasta.jpgOctober is turning out to be a very emotional month!  And its only fucking day 3.  I should start off by saying my birthday is this month and my mom’s is as well (her’s is the 4th and and mine is the 5th).  So we’ve always celebrated together. This is my first birthday without her.  To say I miss her, doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The other event that’s causing some emotional turmoil is that I am now moving into my mom’s home.  And leaving the home that I am completely in love with and so very very proud of.  There are a ton of reasons why this is happening… financially it makes more sense, its a slightly larger home so the boys get to have their own room and (this is the kicker) I promised my mom that this would happen.  That I would take care of her home.  It really makes sense all around… its just that… I’m leaving MY home.  And oh God… the packing, the moving, the painting, the decluttering of my mother’s things, the making space for my own… and the fact that this new house will forever be My Mother’s House.  Stress.

The last thing that’s making me lose sleep, is Mr R related.  Of course.  I’m not going to go into details because honestly I’m pretty sick of the the whole thing. Lets just say… there are many things I do really really well.  I’m great at my job, my kids think I’m awesome, I garden,  I fix shit, I make my own fucking jam for fuck’s sake… but relationships?  I fail.  I don’t just kind of fail.  I fail epically.  I mean… gravel in the face kind of fail.  And this time I’m kicking myself because it should have been over a long long time ago and somehow this situation keeps tapping me on the shoulder and I keep turning around.  I feel like I’ve turned around and around so much, that I’ve literally drilled myself into the ground.  I have got to stop turning around and just climb out.  Simple right?  It’s just a matter of making a choice.  Then why do I always feel that no matter what I do, there’s always a whisper of a thread left linking us.  And now its more than a thread.  Its a chain.  More on that later.  For now that’s enough.

I think tonight calls for some major comfort food.

 

Tuesday Night Pasta

For some reason, we always end up having pasta on Tuesdays.  My younger son has Kumon on Tuesdays so I’m always searching for something quick to cook. We do a bunch of pasta variations but this is my kids’ absolute favorite.  It’s simple, quick and enjoyed by all… Definitely a winner.

5 Italian sausage

2 cloves garlic

pasta (we use a package of the Penne Rigate from Trader Joe’s)

pasta sauce (we often have our own homemade sauce that we’ve made from the crazy amount of tomatoes in our garden, but we also love Trader Joe’s Organic Marinara)

Boil pasta according to package directions.  While that’s happening squeeze out the Italian sausage from the casing and cook it up in a large pan along with 2 cloves of minced garlic.  We like a lot of sausage AND a lot of garlic in our pasta, but if this is too much, feel free to adjust!  When the sausage and pasta are both cooked, add the pasta to the pan where the sausage is.  Add your sauce (I promise I will add the recipe for my own pasta sauce soon!) and mix until warm.  Serve!  Mmmmm! Comfort food.

Goodbye Noodly Arms!

FullSizeR (2)As I mentioned before, I’ve been completely neglecting my health and fitness for a very long time.  I hadn’t done anything that could remotely be called exercise for about a year and a half.  But lately I’ve felt a gigantic shift inside of myself… I craved healthier food, I was able to focus and perform efficiently at work, I engaged with my children with a joy I hadn’t felt in ages, I reached out to friends I had shut out and finally… I got my butt in gear and started exercising.

I decided to start small, with a program that I could do from home.  I wasn’t sure I was quite ready to shell out the money for a gym membership and I knew I had several fitness books in my bookcase and weights in the back of my closet that had been sitting unused for years… so I decided on a program that had been really effective in the past for me.  Body-for-Life.  I don’t know if any of you are familiar with this 12 week program, but basically Bill Phillips (the author) gives you a series of exercises that you can choose from and every day is scheduled for either Upper Body, Lower Body or Cardio.  He also provides food recommendations, but I am more interested in just feeling strong again.

I’ll be honest.  The first day of exercising was tough.  My arms felt noodly and weak.  And I cursed myself for losing the strength I was once so proud of.  I felt like my entire body was made of lead.  Heavy.  Stiff.  And all I wanted was to stop the torture, lay on the couch and order a pizza.  But I told myself it was only 30 minutes.  I could do 30 minutes, right?  I used to run five miles a day I told myself.  30 minutes was nothing!! Don’t be a wuss!  So I made it through that workout.  And the next, which was cardio (a 20 minute run that my oldest son had to drag, pull and prod me through)  And the next, which was included ab work that had me laughing/crying on my exercise mat… And the next… and so on…

I’m on my fourth week now and its amazing the difference I feel.  My arms feel strong, my abs feel tighter and my ass is reforming itself to its former bubbly state!  I have more energy throughout the day and I sleep like a baby at night.  And although my weight has not changed… my clothes are definitely looser.  I know I sound like an infomercial!!  But I can’t even begin to describe how good it feels to be myself again.  If I’m brave enough, perhaps I’ll post a picture of the final result in 8 weeks (although I didn’t take a “before” pic.  Sorry!).  The best part is that my kids love to exercise with me (although my little one does not incorporate weights, but adores the cardio and sometimes just stands beside me cheering me on with “looking GREAT mom!”) and its become a nightly ritual that we all enjoy.

Since this is a health/fitness type of post… I’ll end with my favorite post workout beverage.  No, its not wine (although… um … yum!).  Its my Chia Lemonade!  Delicious!  Refreshing! Hydrating!  And … it does amazing things for your… digestion… haha!

Chia Lemon Water

I grew up putting chia seeds in my lemonade (it’s common in El Salvador) so I’ve always liked their strange texture and this is a modified version.  This version is  less sweet and more of a lemon water than a lemonade.   Still very yummy.

1 lemon

1-2 tablespoons chia seeds

water

honey

Squeeze a lemon into a large glass (I use a giant mason jar).  Add 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds.  Add water to the top.  Sweeten with honey to taste.  I use only a teaspoon of honey, but feel free to add more.  Let sit for 10 minutes so that the chia seeds puff up.

 

 

Dramamine, Peace and Swedish Pancakes… just because

swedish pancakesSunday we went to sprinkle my mom’s ashes in the ocean.  Of course, my mom had already paid for and arranged everything (because that’s who she is) so it was just a matter of choosing a date and showing up.  I know you would imagine this day to be incredibly emotional and that I would be sobbing over my goodbyes to my mom.  No. This is not how it was at all.  I tend to get very very VERY terrible motion sickness.  I can’t even stand on a dock without wanting to throw up.  So going on a boat to scatter ashes had me in a high state of serious anxiety.  I was so focused on not barfing, that I couldn’t think of anything else.  I took Dramamine, I wore anti-nausea bracelets, I had a bottle of sparkling water and a cut up lemon with salt to suck on (this works – trust me).  I was still terrified I would toss my cookies over my mom’s ashes.  I didn’t.  I made it through.  But it was definitely distracting enough where I was not consumed by sadness.  I was consumed with keeping my breakfast in my stomach.  In the end, it actually turned out to be a beautiful day, gorgeous weather, perfect company… and … fun.  Can I call sprinkling my mom’s ashes fun?  After a while, I think we all momentarily forgot that it was the reason we were all together on a boat in Sausalito.  My cousin even brought a speaker and we listened to oldies as we lounged in the sun.  I’d like to think that my mom would have been pleased by all the laughter and conversation and music.

And its strange, but… the next day I woke up with such a feeling of… freedom?  I’m not sure freedom is the right word.  But … for so long my mom was the person that grounded me.  That brought me back down to earth when I was over-freaking, over dreaming, over-in love, over-worrying, over-angry… And I found a great deal of comfort in that. But now… I don’t have that tether.  So it feels vaguely like I’m floating through space.  Bouncing gently and randomly through life.  Everything feels very far.  Its not unpleasant.  In fact, nothing feels unpleasant. Which is bizarre in itself, considering I’ve spent the last year and a half in a continuous state of emotional unpleasantness.  Its almost as if my brain has had enough and now it feels strangely easy to find the funny, the good… even the miraculous… in the things that would have thrown me for a loop in the past.  Maybe the word I was looking for before is “peaceful”.  I feel peaceful.  And quiet.

Ok.  Also… I know this is a terrible segue, but the last few posts, I’ve focused around food… and I think I love that trend!  Food has always been just an important part of my life and when I think of important moments, I think of the food that came along with it! So here is today’s food memory.  When I was very little, my mom dated this guy named Richard, whose mom was from Sweden.  We called her Mrs. Palmer.  And even though the relationship ended, my mom stayed in touch with Mrs. Palmer for many many years.  In those years, Mrs. Palmer shared a gazillion recipes with my mom.  One of those recipes was for Swedish Pancakes.  And so, that’s how this Salvadorean girl, grew up eating Swedish Pancakes and knowing that the secret was just 1-2-3.

 

Mrs. Palmer’s Swedish Pancakes

This recipe is so so simple and so delicious.  And ridiculously easy to remember!  I like to eat them with freshly cut strawberries, brown sugar and a dollop of sour cream.  My boys like melted butter and brown sugar.

NOTE!  In the picture, I folded them like crepes, but Mrs. Palmer always said I should roll them… She would have not been happy!

1 cup milk

2 eggs

3 tablespoons flour

Dump it all in a mason jar and shake.  Melt butter in a small non stick pan (or a crepe pan if you have one).  Pour a thin layer of the batter and tilt the pan so that the batter spreads evenly.  Cook for a few seconds.  Flip.  Cook a few more seconds.  Done.  Fill with your favorite fillings!  Delish.

Ensalada de Nopales

FullSizeRender (10)I had an exhausting day today.  Full of a million errands and cleaning and playing at the park in the sunshine with my son.  But… I just had the best salad I’ve ever made and I am literally writing solely so I can share it… and also to never forget how I created this deliciousness!

I won’t take complete credit,though.  A few years ago I used to work in downtown San Francisco and my office happened to be across the street from this little hole-in-the wall that made sandwiches and salads.  I had a habit of grabbing a salad every now and then from this place, whenever I hadn’t had time to pack a lunch, and the salad I ordered most often was their Cactus Salad.  It was delicious and filling and fresh and my creation was an attempt to bring together all those flavors I remembered.

Ensalada de Nopales

1/2 head of Romaine lettuce

1 Roma tomato

1/2  cup of black beans or red beans (I make beans at home all the time, so I had these at the ready… but feel free to use canned beans.  Just rinse them really really well)

1 green onion

nopales (my local mexican market sells nopales peeled and chopped ready to cook, which is amazing and makes this salad super easy to put together)

1 small avocado

cilantro (skip if you don’t like it)

1/2 lemon

queso fresco

salt to taste

One of the things that has put me off nopales in the past was that I’ve always found them to be a bit… slimy.  But I found that if I cook them a certain way, they are not slimy at all!  So.. here is my tip.  Take the peeled and chopped nopales and cook in them in simmering water for 15 minutes and then rinse them really well under cold water.  TaDaa! Not slimy.  While the nopales are cooking, chop the lettuce, tomato, cilantro and green onion and dump them in a large bowl.  Rinse the beans and the nopales and dump them in the bowl as well.  Add the avocado and sprinkle the queso fresco on top.  I’m not much for dressing but I did put a squeeze of lemon and salt to taste and it was PERFECT!  Eat it with some tortilla chips. YUM!