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Loss

Outspoken.  Adventurous.  Curious.  Inspiring.  Funny.  Talented.  Entertaining.  Down to Earth.  Genius.  Complicated.

Bourdain quote

I would have like to have known him.

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I would have loved to share a meal with him.

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He was one of a kind.

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When I make boneless, skinless chicken in the crock pot, I always make too much.  I’ve been experimenting with fun ways to use up the leftovers, such as the burritos, egg rolls, empanadas, and now this super easy pot pie.

Chicken Pot Pie

4 C. shredded chicken

2 packages frozen mixed vegetables

1 package Simply Potatoes Steakhouse Seasoned Potatoes

1 c. baking mix (such as Bisquick or anything intended to make pancakes, biscuits, etc.)

3/4 c. cashew milk

Rinse the frozen veggies in a colander until defrosted.  Toss with potatoes.  Stir in chicken.  Mine had enough sauce, since crock pot meats are so wet, so I didn’t have to add anything.  If yours is dry or in need of liquid, you can use a homemade gravy by making a roux of butter and flour, and adding chicken broth to it and thickening it.  You can also use one of those handy pouches of sauce they sell nowadays or a canned soup.  These are just a little higher in sodium than we are comfortable eating on a regular basis, but can certainly make life easier in a pinch.

Pour chicken and veggie mixture into a 13 x 9 baking dish (such as my Bobby Flay lasagna pan – to which I must bid adieu – a fine crack appeared and I’m not taking any chances!)  Mix baking mix and cashew milk.  If you want to spruce this up, you can add shredded cheese and an egg.  Spread evenly over the chicken and veggies.  Don’t worry about holes, because as you can see, the chicken bubbled up through in some places.

Bake at 375 until a toothpick through the thickest part of the crust comes out clean, and then turn off the oven and leave it in there 5 more minutes to help eliminate doughy parts.

 

 

More Baked Egg Rolls

We had some leftover chicken and rice that I froze so it wouldn’t go to waste. I defrosted it today to make some egg rolls. I sauteed some stir fry bok choy cabbage etc etc and stirred it in with the leftover chicken and rice and rolled it up in egg roll wrappers. Brush with oil and bake at 400F for 20 minutes. A great weeknight meal and a great way to use up leftovers.

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Thinking of mom and dad today and missing them.  Dad’s birthday was yesterday and today being Mother’s Day, well . . .

Yesterday would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday.  Sadly we lost him over twenty years ago.  He was not a saint, but he did do some saintly things in his life.  Some would say putting up with and loving my mother unconditionally was one of them.  This year, for the first time in years, I am thinking of my mother on Mother’s Day and can miss the good things and let go of dwelling on the not-so-good.  Mom’s been gone over 10 years.  My parents were perfectly imperfect, as are all parents.  It’s part of being human.  Just like I am a perfectly imperfect mother.

I was the 3rd child out of 4, born after my mother reportedly had been told she shouldn’t have any more.  She had my sister, who was beautiful, smart, and sassy, and my brother, who was handsome, brilliant, and talented.  Susie was always Dad’s favorite, and Donnie was always Mom’s favorite.  Their view might be different (perhaps they saw me as the spoiled baby), but I knew ‘favorite’ was already taken.   Then, when I was 3 or 4, we lost my baby brother six hours after he was born.  That tragedy would define the rest of my mother’s life.   She never recovered from the loss.  Never stopped blaming herself.  I shudder to imagine what it is like to suffer a loss of a child and to blame yourself.  It took me all these years to have empathy for my mom,  instead of blaming her or judging her for not being the mom I thought I wanted, that perfect mom I actually thought existed.  There was a funny kid’s movie with Sissy Spacek called “Mommy Market” where three kids turn in their mom and try out different moms (all played by Spacek) and end up realizing their own mom was the right one.  I had a perfectly imperfect childhood that led to who I am today.  I am thankful that despite all the things I perceived as imperfections.   I always knew I was loved.

I’ve learned after years of personal growth work and therapy that accepting and understanding the strengths and faults of others can lead us to empathy instead of judgment.  I’ve come to believe that letting go of judgment of others, and more importantly, ourselves, is key to the peace I hear so many say they are seeking.

I want to share a writing by Rachel Macy Stafford.  If you are a parent or are thinking of becoming one, please read this in its entirety and re-read it often.  I wish I had read this sooner and forgiven my mother and myself for being human.  This excerpt from Rachel’s Only Love Today really spoke to me.

The Day My Child Lost Her Joy—and What I Did to Revive It

I let my joy get sucked away—then I saw despair in my child’s eyes.

THE DAY MY CHILD LOST HER JOY
In an especially chaotic rush out the door to go on a family vacation, I sat in the passenger seat fuming. Mad because I didn’t have time to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Mad because we were late getting on the road. Mad because the garage door was acting up. I’m talking trivial, insignificant, minor inconveniences here, but that was the state of a distracted woman who could no longer see the blessings, only the inconveniences, of her life.

Before we were about to pull out of the driveway, my husband looked at me as if someone he loved very much had died. In a barely audible whisper he said, “You’re never happy anymore.”

I wanted to defend.

I wanted to excuse.

I wanted to deny.

But I couldn’t.

Because I knew he was right.

Where had that happy woman gone? The one who smiled at people she passed on the street just because. The one whose friends often spoke of her positive outlook on life. The one who felt happy simply because she heard her favorite song or had a pack of strawberry Twizzlers in her purse. The one who could laugh off mistakes because mistakes happen, and they are certainly not the end of the world.

Where had she gone?

And that’s when I glanced to the backseat to see if my children, then ages six and three, had heard my husband’s words. Staring back at me was my older daughter picking her lip with worry the size of a small boulder weighing down her small shoulders.

As she pinched that tiny piece of fragile skin on her upper lip with wide eyes, I could practically read her mind:

Mom’s mad.

Mom’s tired.

Mom’s stressed.

But there was more. I could practically hear how a young child would interpret her mother’s unhappiness.

Mom’s mad at me.

Mom’s tired because of me.

Mom’s stressed because of something I did.

That’s when an even more powerful question hit me.

Where had my happy little girl gone? The one who woke up with the most gorgeous bedhead and good morning smile. The one who beamed at the words “sprinkler,” “cotton candy,” and “pet store.” The one who laughed so hard tears came to her eyes. The one who licked beaters with sheer pleasure and danced happily to any song with a beat.

Where had she gone?

I knew.

Because my happiness was based on external measures—on tasks being completed, plans running accordingly, goals being met, hairs being in place—I was continually disappointed … upset … impatient … and stressed. In the process of making my own life miserable, I’d funneled my unhappiness straight into my daughter’s once joyful heart and spirit. Her pain was a direct reflection of the expression I wore on my face.

I desperately wanted to bring a smile back to my daughter’s face. I knew I must bring it back to my own. I began praying for small steps I could take to become a more positive, present, and peace-filled person. On brightly colored sticky notes, I posted daily goals and positive mantras that came to me during morning prayer time. Especially prominent on my mirrors and cabinets were these two go-to phrases: “Only Love Today” and “See Flowers Not Weeds.”

I used the phrase Only Love Today to silence my inner bully. Whenever a critical thought would come to my mind or my mouth, I’d cut it off with Only Love Today. I used See Flowers Not Weeds as a pathway to gratitude, to see what was good in situations and people.

As Only Love Today and See Flowers Not Weeds became a daily practice, I felt a profound transformation occurring in my heart and home. No longer were my goals exclusively items that could be measured or checked off—they consisted of immeasurable items like listening, laughing, dreaming, playing, connecting, and loving. With a more meaningful daily goal, I was able to see the blessings in my imperfect self and in my imperfect life. My eager-to-please, helpful older child looked different too. I saw her for who she was, not an annoyance or a bother, but a loving child with clever thoughts and ideas. For once, I could see all the things she was capable of doing—not perfectly, but good enough for today. The tightness in my face relaxed and the smiles came more easily for both of us.

One morning, I looked out the kitchen window to see her making a little garden right there in the middle of the yard. I watched as she tended to her miniature plot. Her joyful smile made me take pause. Clearly, she was at peace tending to her garden. I took a picture and sent it to my parents. Nothing could have prepared me for the response I received. My parents wrote:

“Thank for this precious picture of our beautiful granddaughter. Over the last two years, we have seen a tremendous change in her. We no longer see a scared look in her eyes; she is less fearful about you being upset or impatient with her. She is much happier and more relaxed. She is thriving and growing into a content, creative, and nurturing person. We know for a fact the changes we see in her coincide with the changes we have also seen in you.”

I covered my mouth to muffle the sobs.

When I was struggling to breathe beneath the weight of perfection, distraction, and self-induced pressure, my child was too.

My daughter had absorbed my tension.

She had absorbed my frustration.

She had absorbed my anxiety.

She had absorbed my unhappiness.

And as my negative emotions were being filtered down to her, they impacted her ability to grow, thrive, and blossom.

If I didn’t know it before, I know it now:

Our children are our garden. They absorb our stress, just as they absorb our peace. They absorb our negativity just as they absorb our joy. And we have the power to control what they absorb, but first, we must tend to ourselves.

It might sound like this:

Dear one, you have feelings. They are worth listening to and acknowledging.

You have limits. They are necessary to keep in place as a means of valuing your time and honoring your health.

You have dreams. You are worthy of time to pursue what makes your heart come alive.

You have needs. You deserve affection, rest, sustenance, and grace.

Perhaps you forgot that it is necessary to look after YOU. It’s okay. I forget too. But we still have today. Thank God, we still have today.

Today let’s tend to ourselves as we do our loved ones. Perhaps we can make it a habit. We’ll never know how much we can grow and flourish until we take time to tend to what is most precious.

💞by Rachel Macy Stafford (Only Love Today)💞https://foreverymom.com/…/when-my-child-lost-her-joy-rache…/

To all of the Moms out there…I know this is touching you, it touched me too. If you notice, this post is dated 2017, yet recently someone commented on it and made it start back up. I believe this is happening because I needed to see it again, but apparently all of you did too! Due to the overwhelming response, I am starting a group for Moms called “the Mom Squad”. If you go to my timeline, you will see a post about it and I would welcome you to join this community of Moms, like you, like me who need to breathe and know we are doing it right and that we deserve to be lifted up and cherished through the hard times as only another Mom or Mum can understand! NEW REQUEST! I Cannot keep up with the comments, so a smarter me is posting the group link here: ☺️https://www.facebook.com/groups/230146250902781/?hc_location=ufi

 

 

 

 

Matilda Cake!

Tonight is Girl’s Wine Club night.  Olivia and her boys and Tricia are coming over.  Molly and Lein made a Matilda cake.  Apropos since Olivia’s boys serial watch Matilda!

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Yum!

I had to update this post to share this pic of the Matilda cake once it was cut!

Matilda cake cut

So, this is what happens when you have a daughter (and surrogate daughter) who are bakers!  A little puff pastry in the freezer, some Tofutti cream cheese and sugar, some peanut butter and organic jam, and viola – danish!  Thank you Molly and Lein!!

 

 

 

 

What took me so long to go check out Yellow Green Farmers Market in Hollywood, Florida?  I’d heard great things from everyone who went there.  Again, Molly and Lein being here made it a good excuse for checking it out!  So glad we did.  What a great place.

Donut Worry

We saw a friend at her Donut Worry Eat Happy booth with those amazing injected donuts!  Beyond amazing, actually.  Kit kat, oreo, s’mores, etc.  Yummmmmmmm.

There were so many amazing booths, great food, fun stuff to see!

I bought plants too.

I can obviously only go there if I’m prepared to spend money!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molly (the Baker) and Lein are in town for a visit, so it was the perfect excuse to go to Chef Jean-Pierre’s!  The only night during their visit that had any seats available was Chicken night, so boy did we eat some delicious chicken.  By far our favorite was the Crispy Tarragon & Garlic Chicken, which I’m going to try to recreate this weekend.  The sauce was amazing, but was made with heavy cream, so I’ll be trying a non-dairy version so Donnie can eat it.

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For those of you who’ve never been, a local legendary chef named Jean-Pierre Brehier has a wonderful “Cooking School” in Fort Lauderdale.  Before going there the first time, I imagined making the food myself.  Fortunately, it is more like being in the audience of a cooking show and having the chef cook amazing food for you, and teach you how it’s done and give you the recipes.  All the while, Jean-Pierre entertains with a wicked, funny way that seems to come naturally to him.  Jean-Pierre, who operated a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale called The Left Bank for 22 years was on two PBS cooking shows,  Sunshine Cuisine and Incredible Cuisine.  As for his “Cooking School”, all I can say is –  Great entertainment!  Great food!  You can’t go wrong.  I love bringing out of town guests there.    The link for his webpage is http://www.chefjeanpierre.com/

We also had some amazing Chicken and Chorizo Cassoulet

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And Harissa Braised Chicken with Nicoise Olives with Silky Smooth Buttered Mashed Potatoes

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Once I try nightshade versions of these two recipes, I’ll let you know how it works out!  I’m also going to try the mashed potatoes using an almond milk.  He ran cooked potatoes through a ricer and it made the mashed potatoes incredibly smooth and light.

chef-jean-pierre-cooking

I found this picture on TripAdvisor.  The reviews there give you an idea of why he has 5 stars (Yelp too).  Such a fun evening.  You bring your own beverages such as wine, or drink the bottled water they serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayers for Parkland, Florida

In the wake of another tragic, senseless act of violence, I find myself sad beyond sad.  I worried about school violence when my children were in high school because our local public school had a reputation for problems and fights.  But now that another local school that many considered a shining star has become the latest scene of a horrific nightmare, it is apparent that nowhere is immune.  My heart goes out to the families who lost loved ones.   I resist the urge to point at the political issues swirling around us and become involved in a debate.  Instead, I choose to focus on the amazing reaction in our community.  The coming together and support people have provided to each other is a reminder that there are a lot of good people in this world.  People who care.  Thank you to the heroes.  The teachers who protected the children.  Thank you to the first responders who provided exemplary care and comfort to the victims and the survivors.

hug your kids

Sunday morning, I helped out by watching my 5 and 2 year old grandsons while their parents went off to work.  Their other grandma, Tina,  lives there, and treats them to homemade fare regularly.  She’s the one who deserves Grandmother of the Year for all she does.

The boys wanted Mickey waffles, and luckily, their mom had some shake and pour pancake mix on hand.  However, never being one to use just water with any mix, I added an egg, some vanilla, sour cream, and (don’t laugh) coffee creamer.  It makes for fluffier waffles, and beats straight mix.  Grandma Tina had strawberries and whipped cream on hand, so they had the option of a strawberry shortcake Mickey waffle, or simply Mickey with maple syrup.  Yummmmm.

Mickey waffle

I introduced them to the movie “Matilda” and they loved it.  We all love to hate the nasty Miss Trunchbull, right?!?  We all love Miss Honey too.  They were glued to the screen (eating PB&J for lunch).  Hard to believe it’s a movie from 22 years ago.  It really holds up well.  We had it on VHS when my kids were little.

Matilda

Being the food-obsessed person that I am, I offered to prepare the ground meat my daughter had in the fridge.  It’s always harder to work with someone else’s ingredients, but by the time I left, they had precooked meatballs that were in a baking dish with doctored up marina, ready to throw in the oven.  I also prepared cooked taco meat (with instructions of how to make burritos like I make) and meatballs for a night when they wanted Asian inspired teriyaki meatballs.

They just had to cook some spaghetti and garlic toast to accompany the meatballs when they got home.

Sunday dinner

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