504 Main by Holly Lefevre: September 2009
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I am just a little bit obsessed over old toys. There is a sweetness about them. A mystery too. When I go to the flea market and see a worn doll I always wonder who, what where did that doll come from? Same thing goes for the bucket of hot wheels cars or that toy train, or the rocking horse or the Little People Farmhouse. Yes, in spite of my house being filled with toys, and the fact that I {and sometimes the kids} are continually picking them up....I do have a fondness for those well-loved toys.

I am always preaching to my kids to take care of their toys...because when I was a child, I of course, took the utmost care of mine. In fact they are in pristine condition {or so I thought}. I, of course, ultimately hope this is teaching them something about responsibility and respect.

I have been very anxious to share my childhood toys with my children. Every time my Mom says "Dad is going into the top of the garage (or the attic)," I ask if he could look for one of my treasures. Well, my parents are all for this - they are cleaning house - time for my brother and I to store our own stuff. So, now, every time they come to visit I can expect at least one new find to come with them. And I am so excited about it! Just giddy, in fact!
 I so wanted my own purple corvette and Ken!

My son looks at me like I am crazy {maybe he knows something the rest of the world can only assume?...hmmm...} when I tell him that I used to "use my imagination" when we played with Legos. When I suggest he can mix pieces from different boxes, he just about passes out {he likes order} - he cannot even fathom it  "But Mom they come in sets. You cannot mix up the pieces!" Of course, we had sets with were houses, police stations, fire stations, etc., but nothing like the $150 sets they sell now {seriously, I am so tired of paying $5 in shipping for a teeny-tiny 45 cent piece, which is necessary to finish building the battleship}.

Over the last couple of years, Puzzle Town, Legos, Barbies, Nerf Ping Pong, and an my Cabbage Patch Dolls have found a new home at my "big-girl" house. Most of them have remained boxed in a closet or garage, but recently we have started pulling them out to play with. Boy was I in for a shocker! These toys that I thought I had left in perfect condition look a little tattered and bruised...all because they were loved of course!
We have unearthed my Barbies - most of who have had a haircut and some even without heads, a purple Barbie Corvette, a Mrs. Beasley with "false" eyelashes - most likely drawn on with a marker, a stained but oh-so lovable Raggedy Ann, a beat-up musical bunny, two Cabbage Patch dolls - one of which is a boy named Carol Lennie that at the time, I insisted could be just be a tomboy...he/she was part of the first run of Cabbage Patch dolls and my mom {try as she might} could not get a girl doll. I now can see he was clearly a boy.

I love these toys and love watching my kids play with them. I am wondering what toy brings back wonderful memories for you? Or what toy have you passed on to your children?
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I know, I know, I can hear you saying it "No more apples!" Sorry, one more..I promised to reveal the result of my challenge to healthify (uh, I know that's not a word but I like it!) the "I Love Apple Cake" Apple Cake. It took me a little longer than expected - it has been a rough go in the test kitchen.

On the recommendation of my friend Renee of Zookini Kids, I was determined to modify this Apple Cake, mainly to remove the refined white sugar. Renee made many suggestions, and I figured, "I'm game." My kids love this cake so why not find a way to make it better for them.

After a trip to Whole Foods to stock up on really healthy ingredients (I have whole wheat flour, organic sugar...but I didn't have the REALLY healthy stuff). I was eager to spend some time in the test kitchen and conquer the Apple Cake.

(For your reference, click HERE for the original recipe)

Trial #1
I replaced... 
...the oil with applesauce -1 cup for 1 cup.
...2 cups of the 2 1/4 cups sugar with brown rice syrup. I left 1/4 cup sugar for coating the apples and dusting the pan.
...all the whole wheat flour for brown rice flour

The "I am Bleeding Brown Rice Syrup" Apple Cake...a.k.a A Gooey Mess! Apparently before you go swapping ingredients you should read the jar and do some online research (seriously, I am on the computer enough!) to find out what the conversion should be...duh! (I am really good at not reading directions when assembling things either.)

 "Uh, Hi Renee...the cake is an oozing mess... what do I do now?"

So with a little more help from Renee...I got it right (at least this family thinks so)

The "Don't Tell the Kids It's Healthy" Apple Cake
2 1/2 cups Brown Rice Flour (or a mixture of flours, see below)*
1/2 cup ground flax seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
5+ teaspoons cinnamon (see taste notes below)
1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Brown Rice Syrup
1/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup Applesauce
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 Apples, preferably Pippin or Granny Smith

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease Bundt pan (I used Pam Cooking Spray for Baking).
3. Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon and dust the pan with the mixture. Reserve any remaining mix to sprinkle on Apple Cake just before baking. (There is always some of this mixture left over...you do not need to use it all)
4. Combine the flour, baking powder, 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon, and ground flax seed n a large bowl.
5. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples, then toss apples in a large bowl with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
6. Using a mixer (a stand mixer is perfect, but a good old-fashioned hand held mixer will work just as well!), mix 1 cup of (melted) coconut oil, with eggs, and orange juice, and vanilla.*
7. Mix together 1/2 cup Brown Rice Syrup, 1/4 cup Honey, and 1/4 Applesauce.
8. Add the above mixture to the oil mixture and beat on medium for about one minute.
9. Add the flour mixture in three batches (this is when the stand mixer comes in handy!), until it is just combined.
10. Add the apples and fold them in gently.
11. Pour into the pan, and if you want sprinkle some of the remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture on top.
12. Bake for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours...start checking it around 1 hour mark for readiness. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.***
13. Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes. Remove it from the pan and let it cool completely on a baking rack.

Notes on baking...
*Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Baking Flour or Buckwheat Flour can be used, or you can combine the flours into a mixture that equals the necessary amount.
**Coconut oil is thick and solid (I did not know that!). Melt it slowly and let cool a little prior to adding to the orange juice mixture.
***The outside of this cake cooked very quickly - possibly due to my rickety old not-quite-ever-the-right-temperature-soon-to-be-replaced-oven or the way the coconut oil reacts.

Notes on taste...
-I thought I was really going to be able to taste the coconut because I could really smell the coconut, but while there is a slight and subtle hint of coconut, no one in my family even mentioned it (they are not fond of coconut)
- I always make extra cinnamon sugar mixture for dusting the pan and sprinkling on the cake.
- If you like, adding some ginger, cloves, or pumpkin pie spice to the flour mixture spices things up a little.
-This version is much moister than the original, so I cut down on the amount of apples.

Ok, that's it...NO MORE APPLES! (Unless I am eating them in the privacy of my own home.)
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wasabi Mommy's blog is experiencing some technical diffilcuties. To assist those wanting to do the letter prompts, I have copied them word for word (no editing) from Wasabi Mommy's blog. All prompts are on this one post.
So this is a 14 day challenge for any or all of my followers to do. If you do decide to take the journey I hope you will post a few of your letters and or thoughts in the comment area. Some of you may begin to read into this post and figure out what it is really about and say---" I am not doing that or talking about that it's morbid." Ok so let's just get to the meat of the discussion... I want to have every mother, grandparent and or father to sit down for the next 14 days and follow my leads for topics and create a letter to your child or grandparent, That's easy what is the catch???? The catch is they are for them to read upon your death... I find letter to be simple and honest expressions of a persons values and a reflection about your life. It is a window for your child or grandchild to see what you were like or how you thought about things, ideas and them.  It can be filled with your hopes for them for the future- the gift of reading some one we loves thoughts is a treasure. I have a few cards my dad wrote me over my life, but no letters and boy do I wish I did.
  Where did the idea come from ???? Well it may have started with my dad's sudden death in 2003 or it may have started with my pregnancy when I was purchased the book Letters for Tomorrow A journal for Expectant Moms and Dads ( my side bar- on the blog has copies of all the books I refer to in this blog.
  Next the idea became to swarm in my head about Aiden having Neurofibromatosis and what if he lived and I died and he had to be motherless with a special needs situation. I began writing him letters to tell him how special I thought he was even with this illness.  Then it was the book called A journal for Jordan by Dana Canedy about a tragic story of love and war. A father writes letters to his unborn son and he dies for our country. "The book is a living , breathing legacy." says author of The color of water by James McBride.
 Finally, my thoughts came today in class when a student of mine's mom was invited to speak about her adoption of him from China. She read a book about orphanages in China. She mentioned about people in China being allowed to have only one child and often if they had more they were sent to jail- I thought about how difficult and painful this would be and how many children are given up for these reasons and for health reasons. This child in my room needed surgery and the American parents believe he may have been placed in the orphanage as the Birth parents may have known they would not be able to afford or get this type of medicine or surgery in China. I began thinking of those birth mothers and if they had or wanted to write letters to their children- I found a book called Letters from China by Bonnie Cuzzolino
  So The challenge if you choose to accept it is simple starting Saturday you will begin a letter based on part or all of a topic I provide to your child, in case you died suddenly. You will hand write them if possible and keep them all bond at the end with a ribbion or string or in a specially decorated box.
  Start brain storming about your values and reflections you would like to share.
 " Why cannot letters inspire? They have souls; they can speak; they have in them all the force which expresses the transports of the heart; they have all the fire of our passions. Letter from Heloise to Abelard
 A word about Procrastination:
  If you have the tendency to put things off until the last possible moment and don't understand why you do this, there are many reasons but try to avoid procrastination. You will be able to begin a process of honest self-disclosure, which is a valuable form of communication.Children even children who have grown into adults like to see you are human and have had problems and are still able to openly communicate about them.

Day 1 
Ok my 12 followers I am counting on you to try this and post some of your letters I too will post a few letters so you can read.
  Take a moment to ask yourself, "When I write,what works best for me? Under what conditions do I do my best writing?"
  You can write short letters or long , it's not the length it's the topic, sometimes a few words can paint such a special memory.
  Things to include in your letters:
How you feel:
Time of day
the weather
the location while writing
Who is with you while you're writing you letter
  "Sit my by a crackling fire and read some of your favorite letters. While sitting there soaking  up all the love and support, think of one person you love and write a beautiful, loving letter to that person. Let the flame in your hearth warm you heart. One letter in  a lifetime to a mother, daughter or a special friend could make a greater difference than you dare to believe."
Alexandra Stoddard   ( Gift of a letter)

Today's Topic
Things I may never have told you about your birth and growing up that I love about you... Things that make you unique and just you.  

Day 2
Topic: Today write a letter about taking pride in what you do. Talk about being humble. Talk about being thankful for the accomplishments you have ....  

Day 3
Write a letter about marriage if you are married and what you have learned about how to keep a marriage together or alive, if your divorced write a letter talking about how being on your own felt finally and why it worked for you and why you are stronger from it. Tell your children or grandchildren about the day of your wedding if you are married a long time, talk about the nerves, the weather, the season it was and where it was. Talk about advice people gave you about marriage and dating...
 Happy writing and remember to give me your email and permission to post any letters you would like to share. I will be posting a few this week.
 Keep those journal letters going. 

Day 4
This letter is one I am sharing with you... The topic is about being pregnant... If you weren't and adopted write about the wait, and the day you went to adopt... etc...

November 04, 2004
  Baby to be,
  I have worried about being able to conceive my own biological child since I was in my late 20's.  I have wanted to be a mother with such a desire. I was an Au pair to a little girl for 4 years, and I had so much enjoyment from her that I knew I could be a good mom. I was engaged to a man before your father and I could have gotten married or pregnant with him, but I did not want to have a child just to have one, although if you want a child badly one might do almost anything.  I wanted  a  loving "family" for you. I felt you having a network of people around you and a father who saw you daily would help you develop. I know some people loose their fathers to death, divorce and more, and I am sure the mothers make sure that there is a grandfather, uncle or brother to stand in and be that network.
  I am 36 years old when I write this and you are finally real to me, You are only just a grain of rice but You are there and you are real.  I feel like I will be old when you are in your 20's and for that I am sorry. I will try my hardest to keep up with you and be young and some what hip.  My own mother is turning 50 this year. She had me when she was 19. I can't imagine having a child that young, I would be such an imature mother if I conceived you at 19.
 I am happy you are here. I am happy to be your mother, I can't wait to meet you.
Your mother to be
Today will be a bit different
First of all a good friend of mine told me that she is not partaking in the letter writing because it's a bit morbid to write to her son maybe a bit superstitious, but she has planned her funeral, written her obituary( this is another day and another post) and has made photo albums of her sons childhood with her. I think these are all important things if you have not done these things, I am not financially able to do all those things but it is important to do some if possible.
Today's letter is a letter strangely enough to yourself ( yes you) It is something your child or children would enjoy reading but it's to you. It is a letter about what I (you) thought work would be like as a child, what I have always wante3d out of work, what I dreamed I would be doing for a living, and what I have actually done for a living. Maybe about what it will be like in the future.  You may consider the ways I have failed and the way I have succeeded.  Think about what kind of person you are, what skills and abilities you have, and whether or not ehat I have chosen for a living will realize the unique abilities I was born with.
The first thing I ever wanted to be was because
When I remember that now, I think 
Other things I wanted to be as a child were
I'm not sure what that means about me; perhaps it shows that
My mother was---------------------
What did I think about her job???
My father was
What did I think about his job
I'm not sure what influence they had on me, but maybe
When I was older I thought of being because
What I wanted from life then was
Now I think
When I think about all the things I wanted to be,, I realize
The people I've met through work that meant the most to me were

Day 6
A friend of mine told me she reads my blog daily, she is a bit younger and she has no children, but she purchased a journal and is keeping a record of our friendship. I would have never thought to do this for a friend. So if you have no children write a letter to you husband or a good friend and tell them how you felt when you first met them.
  I want to tell you about another journal book called Just between YOU and ME it is an interactive journal for parents and their children it's by Tracy Rumpf
the following is from the first page in this book...
"Dear Mom and Dad,
 Have you ever asked your child a question and gotten no response? Have you found at times that communicating with your tween or teenager is next to impossible? I think that at one time or another, all parents have been in this situation.
  When my ten-year old son started to have some problems in school, He did not want to talk to me about it. As much as it broke my heart that he wouldn't share his feelings with me, I knew I had to find a way to help him communicate his feelings. I bought a notebook and started writing down a few general questions about his feelings. We started writing back and forth  to each other and before I knew it, he was opening up to me and telling me what was going on with him.
  We began a journaling ritual. When I was finished writing. I would put the notebook on my son's bed, and when he was finished writing he would put the notebook on my nightstand. We never verbally spoke about it; it was like we were part of a secret club and it was really fun. I began to do the same with my ten-year old daughter, and I now feel that I have a good handle on what is going on in my children's lives. They start middle school this year, and in today's world, all parents need to find a way to communicate with their kids.
 Here's how to use the journal:
Don't feel the need to write in it every day
Typically in our house, we journal when there are problems, but we also journal about positive things. At least once a week I make sure to write how proud I am of them and point out the good things they are doing.
  Between YOU and ME is not only a way for you to communicate with your child, but it will also be a keepsake that you will have forever of the written thoughts and feelings between you and your child. What a wonderful gift to have."
  So there you have it- it also has a letter to the child about how the book works.
I married a man who had an 11 year old son when I moved in, he was very excepting of me-but there arose many subjects over the course of the time living with him that I was not sure how to approach and my husband was not approaching and when he did he was yelling.  I used facebook as my journal I wrote to him in the email area and told him we would not talk about it just write, it worked and I learned a lot of his fears,
and what he was doing and not doing.
Well happy posting
Today's letter can be to your teenager or tween and if they are still small you can write to them about what they will be as a tween or teenager
You may want to include in your letter to your tween or teenager the following:
*Promise yourself to be strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind
*To be just an entusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
*To give so much time to the improvement of yourself and limit criticizing others
Some great websites
Have fun and remember to share them with me.

Day 7-MIA

Day 8
So I got behind on my days and I will catch up but we had a snow storm here and I lost my electric for 4 days. This is another post all together. We stayed at the house until Sunday night when we went to my mother in laws for just the night and I found this taped on her fridge. I think it lends its self perfectly to our letter and journal writing thoughts
"Dear Ann Landers: I had a marvelous mother who loved, sacrificed for and helped me in every way she could. All my years of growing up, through college and eventually marriage, my mother was at my side. When I needed help with my little ones she was right there for me.
 Today we buried that wonderful women. Can you imagine how I felt when I returned from the services and found this poem?
The times is now
"IF you are ever going to love me,
Love me now, while I can know,
The sweet and tender feelings
Which from true affections flow.
Love me now while I am living.
Do not wait until I'm gone
And then have it chiseled in marble,
Sweet words on ice-cold stone.
If you have tender thoughts of me
Please tekll me now.
If you wait until I am sleeping
Never to awaken
There will be death between us
And I wont' hear you then.
So if you love me, even a little bit,
Let  me know it while I am living
So I can know and treasure it."
"Now she is gone and I am sick with guilt because I never told her what she meant to me. Worse yet, I didn't treat her as she deserved to be treated.
I found time for everyone and everything, but I never made time to visit Mom to give her pleasure. The time we spent together was when I needed her. Never once was she too busy to come help out.
When I called Mom on the phone, our conversations were brief and hurried. I feel ashamed when I think of the times I cut her short with, "Sorry, I have to run." I remember, too, the times I could have included her and didn't.
 Our children loved "Grandma" from the time they were babies. They often turned to her rather than to me for counsel and comfort. She understood them. I realize now I was too critical, too short-tempered, too stinkgy with praise. My goals for them were unrealistic. Grandma gave them unconditional love.
  The world is filled with daughters like me or sons. I hope many of them will see this column ( or post) and profit from it. For me it is too late. and I am sick with regrets. I'm signing my letter Guilty and heartbroken.
 Dear Guilty and Heartbroken:
here is your letter- On Mother's day. I was deeply moved by it and am sure others will be, too Bless you for sharing.
Well, that's a lot to think about when You decide to write to someone today. or call. 

Day 9
well many of you won't want to do today's journal and post so if not you can skip it. It is something I always need to do, and find it theraputic.
  My father died suddenly March 10th 2003. He had retired at 53 and had purchased land and build a house with my step-mother in Myrtle Beach. I don't really like to remember his death date, although, I remember the call vividly~ and the shock and sadness that followed. His birthday was in April and I like to remember that. My sister and stepmother are on facebook and they always post pictures of him in March and that is there way of thinking of him and missing him, so it reminded me the day was coming up. So I have decided to tell you all that writing to someone who has passed can be very helpful. I wrote my father a sorry letter and put it in his casket when he died. (did I think he would sit up in the dark and read it, no but the afterlife if still so unknown- for those of you who even believe in that)
so the challenge of the day is to write a letter to someone who has passed and tell them all the things you forgot or couldn't and I will post one of the letters I have written to my dad since he has passed. 

Day 10
So this is a book I read to my class when we start to discuss letter writing. I have a lot of different ones but this one is so funny ~ I thought I would share one of the letters today as my post.
Today You can write a funny letter to a child, husband or friend. You can hide it in there book bag or lunch bag. You can pretend the dog or cat wrote it.
The dog writes a letter to his master when he is put in obedience school.
The dog's name is Ike
" Dear Mrs. LaRue,
How could you do this to me?
This is PRISON, not a school! You should see the other dogs, they are BAD DOGS, Mrs.Larue!
I do not fit in. Even the journey here was a horror. I am very unhappy and many need something to chew on when I get home. Please come right away!
The dog is only gone about a week and he writes about a dozen letters.
Day 11
Some of you may of heard of a movie called Fireproof it was a christian story about a husband and wife with no children and this fascination with porn and there taking each other for granted. They promoted a book called the Love Dare and  I had many problems in my marriage at the time decided to buy the book and take the Dare. I loved the book and purchased a leather copy for myself and a paperback for my husband. I used it as therapy and it helped and restored our marriage for a few months until we reached the next hurtle, and this one was larger so we had to seek counseling outside of the book but I want to share two of the things the book asks you to do with you. One of course is a letter ...
"" Many times when a marriage is in crisis, the spouse who is trying to make things work will go to the other, declaring in no uncertain terms that no matter what has happened in the past. But not wanting to hear this yet, the other spouse holds their position. They still want out. They don't see the marriage lasting long-term. Nor do they even want it anymore."
 the challenge from the love dare which is your Day 11 challenge is...
(I am not condoning staying with a verbal or physical abuser)

What were some of the hesitations you had writing this letter? How do you expect your spouse to respond to it? What did the process teach you about yourself???
The second thing that I want to share with you from the book is not a letter but...
  What has made your resistant to fulfilling your mate's desires in the past? How would it change your relationship if they knew their dreams were a priority to you? What desires are you attempting to meet?

  I secretly want to go back to school for my masters, my husband cannot afford this and neither can I he also thinks it is silly for me to do this at 41 and say I won't ever even use it, but I want it for me.
 I have to think what he wants. He is a beekeeper on the side and always wants to go to a out of town meeting to a bee conference and I know it means a lot to him, so this year I said, "you should sign up." and he did. 

Day 12
Well, it's only a few more days and the 14 day journaling and letter writing "tutorial" will be over.
I am reading a book entitled Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah it's about two teens in the seventies and eighties, and the friendship between 2 women. I find it interesting for many levels, one because of the eighties aspect and 2 because I have many friends who come to my parties, and speak to me on facebook or in person but not any long term life friends. I had a friend from college that was in my wedding that I had known for 13 plus years, we had a falling out and I choose not to include her in my life, sometimes I feel like that may not have been the right decision, and yes, I could pick up the phone and call her or better yet get out some nice stationary and write her a letter but I think about it... and decide no. I do envy some who have long life best friends that don't judge them or give them unsolicited advice. I found a part of the book with a letter in it that I wanted to share here. The reason why I am sharing it is not only because it is a letter but because I have a grandmother who has played a huge role in my life and means so much to me, I lived with her more than my own mother and I was touched by this letter...
"There were things she was supposed to do now, she knew that. She and Gran had talked about this, done this to prepare. Tully knew though, that no words could have really prepared her for this.
  She went over to Gran's nightstand, where a pretty rosewood box sat beneath the photo of Granpa and alongside the battalion of medications. She lifted the lid, feeling vaguely like a thief, but Gran expected this of her. When I go home , Gran always said,"I'll leave you something int he box grandpa bought me.
Inside, laying atop the cluster of inexpensive jewelry that Tully could rarely remember her Grandmother wearing, was a folded piece of pink paper with Tully's name written on it.
Slowly, she reached out, took the letter, and opened it.
My dearest Tully~
I am so sorry. I know how afraid you are of being alone, of being left behind, but God has his plan for all of us. I would have stayed with you longer if I could have. Your grandfather and I will always be watching out for you from Heaven. You will never be alone if you believe in that.
You were the greatest joy of my life. Love, Gran
Gran was gone."
So I encourage you to hide a note some where for your spouse, child , friend or parents today. 

Day 13
So two days left of my series of letter writing
here is a letter I wrote to my 4 year old son, for him to find some day regardless if I am young or old.
Dear Aiden,
 I hope I have been a good mother, and not a disappointment to you. I am sure I angered you or embaressed you once or twice.
 I think of how growing up I envied other families that were not divorced. I hope I am able to give you a feeling of family and home regardless of what happens to or in our family.
  I want you to know how hard I worked to advocate for services for speech and O.T  for you. Some of my family thought I was crazy and said, He's fine it will come don't rush it. I was not trying to rush your delays I was trying to give you the best jump on help I knew how. I struggled silently with A.D.D and a learning disability growing up and although, it's no one's fault it cost me things I wanted to be or do.
 I read to you when you were growing in my "tummy" and I hope I have instilled in you a love of reading as my grandmother , your Nan instilled in me. I have a love of literature and I believe you do too.
  When you don't listen or make me angry I do scold you and sometimes too firmly, but I don't want you to be disrespectful to teachers, women or people and I don't want you to be rude or spoiled.
 You make my heart melt now and I bet you will continue to do that for years to come. I find you so handsome. I love the conversations we have about worms, love, life and being a 'sushi chef". You had sushi with me one day recently and you said," look what he does with that rice, and then he turns it into sushi." it's magic- I want to be a sushi chef when I get big. Aiden you can be anything you want.
 My hopes for you are to go to college if that is what you wish, and I hope you have a good balance of studying and fun. So many men in there 40's are still smoking pot and that is a waste of money and brain cells. I DO NOT want that life for you.
  If I did when you are still young I know it could be difficult and if I could stay longer I would.
I lost my dad papa Steve when I was 35 and not married yet. It was sudden and I did not get to tell him all that I wanted he was only 52. If you think you had so much to tell me if I go early, You can talk to me, I am sure I will be listening. Please keep my memory alive and in your heart.
 I hope our relationship although, it will change over the years stays strong and that you feel you can call and want to call me once a week. I know women in my neighborhood who's son's live nearby and they never visit and rarely call, this makes me so sad.
 I leave you now but know I love and loved you deeply.

Day 14
Almost all of us would like to change some aspect of our lives. Body image is a huge thing most people want to change about there lives. Some people want to change there careers or they want to get married or pregnant.
Many of us don't like certain traits about ourselves. Some people don't like how shy they are or how they are afraid of any kind of confrontation like Rex from toystory.
 Write a letter to yourself about something you want to change or something you don't like about yourself. A trait you want to stop or wish you were better at. Maybe you react too quickly to something and say harsh words maybe you don't stick up for yourself and let people step all over you. No matter what you do write yourself a letter telling yourself you will take some steps and try to actively stop the negative behavior. Maybe you like your life to be private but you talk about other people and share there private life with others without there permission. Think about one or two things you would like to change. It's hard to change but maybe reading a letter from time to time about what you want to stop doing will help you.  Leave the letter in your sock drawer and maybe or clothes drawer.
An author who has spoken about changing your life is Marianne Williamson- One of her books is The gift of change - spirtual guidance for a radically new life.
One Quote she has that I like is...
"to enter the mystery of timelessness is to enter the sanctuary of the here, where we are given a chance at every moment to begin out lives again. Not one of us is perfect, and sorrows press upon us all. But the universe is a merciful one, in which unlimited opportunities for new beginnings are built into the very essence of things."
 So start to heal your self and write yourself a letter you can even add something you LOVE about yourself too.
Happy letter writing and reading 

 If you started reading the book Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah or if you had already read it, did you enjoy the letters from Kate and Tully in the back of the book well, her blog has even more. I thought that it was the perfect culminating project to have you got to www.KristinHannah.com search around and then you will see at the top the word BLOG there when you click on it you can see the rest of Kate and Tully's Letters. If you don't live in the dark ages like me you can even go to her pink ipod icon and go to the itunes store and get all the 80's songs from the book.
 Enjoy the reading and writing of letters don't let it become a dying art form.
All of the above is copyrighted by Wasabi Mommy 2010

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Every night for dinner, I ask the kids "Tomatoes or broccoli?" I give them a choice, because honestly I am just happy that they will eat those two items. I quit making any "new" vegetables because all I was getting was icky faces and a lot of no's...and I will admit I just got a little lazy. With all the excitement the Brussel Sprouts caused last week, I went to the market and and bought more.  Well, we are Brussel-Sprouted-out for awhile...so I have decided to try a "vegetable of the week" theme at our house. So on to the next....

Butternut Squash!
I know it doesn't sound sound that exciting or that adventurous, but honestly, I can say I have never made Butternut Squash! I am a creature of habit myself (hence the tomatoes and broccoli), and no offense mom, but I don't remember trying a whole lot of different vegetables growing up. I remember canned spinach, carrots, and salads with iceberg lettuce. Of course, my memory may not be completely correct...a lot of things (like camping) have been remembered much different from what they were.

Here is what I did...
1 Butternut Squash
1/2 Tablespoon Honey
1/2 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2-1 Tablespoon Butter, melted

*Preheat oven to 400.
*Cut squash in half and place in a baking dish with 1/2" of water
*Bake for approximately 45 minutes...or until fork tender
*Let cool until you can handle it.
*Scoop out seeds (and toss...or save...according to my son we have to save every seed)
*Scoop out flesh
*I used a food processor and pureed the squash, added the butter, maple syrup, honey, and cinnamon.

Ta-Da! Both kids ate it up. I must be a genius! I believe Joe even said "This tastes like dessert!" They ate it up along with tomatoes (yes, that is right 2 veggies tonight!)

The part that really knocked me on the floor was when Joe asked if tomorrow he could try "a salad like you and Daddy eat." (That would be organic mixed greens and veggies in balsamic vinegar) Really? Are you kidding me?...SALAD!...I will stop everything and make you salad right now! Oh, how I have tried to get this kid to eat a salad, but it is all different now...it is his idea.

I'm curious....Anyone out there have a suggestion for next weeks vegetable? Or how they got their kids to eat a new vegetable?

By the way...tick, tock, tick tock the "Don't tell the Kids It's Healthy" Apple Cake is in the oven as I type. I will post the results tomorrow...because it has to be kid-tasted, and even I, maniac-impatient-mom-that I am, will not be waking up the kids to taste is at 11pm tonight when it is ready!
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

I was a lazy blogger but a busy wife and mommy this weekend....

I also took a little time off to celebrate my 12th wedding anniversary. Yipppeee for us! So, until next time...hop on over to check out my wedding story - I always love hearing other ladies "Tales from the Aisle" -  on my wedding blog, Hip Weddings: The Savvy Bride's Glam Guide, that covers all things weddings and features personal stories on Sunday!

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

I have a tendency to overcommit. Good news is I usually always "over-deliver." Bad news is I sometimes don't know which end is up.

Well, yesterday I was opening a can of tomato sauce for my Turkey Meatloaf - it only called for 1/4 cup - and I was being lazy, careless, wasteful (pick a name, any name!) and turned to rinse out the can (so I could recycle it, of course!) with 3/4 of the sauce still in it, because I was in a hurry. I didn't have time to get a container out and save it - I am a busy mom!

Well, I caught myself and thought that was dumb. Then I thought I was crazy having this "moment" over some canned tomato sauce. Anyway, for some reason this tomato sauce incident spoke to me. I packed it up and put it in the frig (to add to some pasta sauce this weekend) and have been thinking about being more thoughtful ever since...more thoughtful to what my kids really need, to what my husband needs, my neighbors, and my friends...and yes, even myself.

I urge everyone to just be more thoughtful in their day, you never know what it means to someone else. Even just experiencing excellent customer service when I got my MOCHA!, or when I was at the home improvement store changed my outlook on a crazy morning.

Think about how you can be more thoughtful and what that could mean to someone else? Anyone have any stories to share?

Ok, this is as about as deep as I get publicly, so don't get used to it.
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Friday, September 25, 2009

...and now I think I can really cook...or bake as the case may be. Yes, I promise to "stop with the apples already." After all, soon it will be strawberry season, and then I can go on-and-on about strawberries.

Well, back to the point...I was "challenged" by my friend Renee, a Certified Holistic Health and NLP Practitioner, AADP, to go into the test kitchen (I am chuckling when I write this, as up until 4 years ago, my idea of cooking was to make my husband a lasagna that would last the whole week and always make sure I had hot dogs in the frig for my son, and now I say I have a "test kitchen") and make The "I Love Apple Cake" Apple Cake healthier.

So, I am game...with some suggestions, I loaded up Jules and headed for Whole Foods (don't tell my husband) to gather up the supplies. There are some pretty amazing and healthy ingredients sitting in my kitchen write now.

Sorry to tell you this post will end anti-climatically...I am concocting The "I Love Healthy Apple Cake" Apple Cake recipe as we speak (or in about twelve hours).
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Over the Labor Day weekend Joe and I attended a Slow Food USA Eat In (I am not going into what they do, etc. here, just PLEASE check out the link !). I was thrilled with what we heard and saw at the community garden where the Eat In was held. After the informative portion of the program, we were treated to a FANTASTIC potluck lunch. There were some really talented cooks there - everything was so fresh and yummy...I could eat that stuff all day.

To continue on with my ramblings...I really, really wanted Joe to try Brussels Sprouts. He had asked about them before and I was a little intimidated to make them - I had never personally done anything with them and all I could imagine was me spending hours in the kitchen to have Joe eat one (that's the rule - you must chew and swallow the "new" food before you get to say "yuck!") and walk away. He reluctantly ate one, and then looked at me and said "Those are good. Can I have more?" Seriously, if a kids asks for Brussels Sprouts or any vegetable run and grab more, even if it is the last one.

So, I am not sure who brought the Magical Brussels Sprouts, but I thank her (or him)! Better yet, she (or he) brought a copy of the recipe - only one copy though! Luckily it is a simple recipe, and even more luckily (clearly not a grammatically correct term, but you get the picture), my friend Jenn and her family were there and she had her camera, so she snapped a photo of the recipe. Yipppeeeee! And now, I share it with you, with a big, humongous thanks to it's creator, whomever that may be.

Magical Brussels Sprouts
(Oh, yeah, did I mention it is not real scientific or specific)

1.  Brussels Sprouts: Amount varies on size of group you are feeding. I started with 1 1/2 pounds.
2.  Olive Oil: Again, no measurement given.
     I drizzled about 1 Tablespoon over the sprouts, add more, sparingly, as needed.
3.  Fresh Ground Black Pepper: To taste.
4.  Salt: I used Kosher Flake Salt, sparingly
5.  Fresh Lemon Juice: again to taste. How much do you like lemony-flavor?

To Prepare:
1.  Preheat oven to 400.
2.  Slice Brussels Sprouts. The first time I made this I had small sprouts, but this last time (see photo), they were huge so I quartered them.
3.  Put sprouts in a bowl and drizzle Olive Oil over them. Mix to coat the sprouts.
4.  Add pepper and salt, to taste.
5.  Spread sprouts evenly on a cookie sheet.
6.  Bake until fork tender...it didn't take long, maybe 15-20 minutes for the little ones....just keep checking!
7. Remove from oven when ready, place in a serving bowl and toss with lemon juice (we used a lot of lemon juice...it is one of the magical liquids in our house!)

Seriously good stuff..Joe asked for them again and we tried drizzling Balsamic Vinegar instead of lemon juice (Balsamic is the other magical liquid in our house).

Let me know what you think? Do you have any other great Brussels Sprout ideas? Be sure to check back..Joe is trying Butternut Squash next (he's had it before he just doesn't know it, but this time he will.)

P.S. As if you cannot figure it out, this is Jules above...Joe would not pose for me!
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I am always on the look out for new projects, especially fun little crafts and am thrilled that my friend Jenn at Rook No. 17 posted this adorable flower fairy tutorial on her blog . Double Bonus!!!! - I already have the supplies for these little fairies! In fact, I pretty much have the supplies for any craft, but that is a whole long (other) story about my addiction to paper, paint, ribbon, button, fabric, etc.

Well, this craft is too cute to not share, so here it is the Flower Fairy Tutorial. Hurry and check it out...she is having a contest that ends October 1, 2009.

I personally have not made mine yet, but as Halloween draws nearer, I am thinking of making witch fairies with little point paper witch hats..ooooohhhhh I am so excited!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Did I mention I love pizza...I mean LOVE pizza (more than Apple Cake)!

Every once in awhile I feel the need to make pizza from scratch - the whole thing including the crust...and every time I do, I wonder "Should I have just called for delivery?" Well, I guess the reason I keep doing it is because the kids, mainly Joe, think I am SuperMom when I can make a "whole pizza all by myself." I really never knew that would be the standard by which my mothering was measured, but I will take what I can get.

The pizza was wonderful and we all sat around in the family room for "Movie Night" and ate pizza. Joe set the room up for us and it was the first time Jules watched Toy Story and she shrieked with delight - it was so cute when she recognized Woody!

As for the PIZZA...
CRUST: I used the recipe from Honest Pretzels and 64 Other Amazing Recipes for Cooks Ages 8 & Up by Mollie Katzen (yes it does say for Ages 8 & Up, and last time I checked I really qualify in the "Up" category), but it is by far my favorite crust recipe. I love the simplicity of it and the really easy geared-toward-kids instructions. My kids love it, and when I am feeling adventurous, I will add herbs and/or honey to the recipe.

SAUCE: I cheated this time and used a store bought sauce and then doctored it up myself - added more garlic, basil, a little red wine, etc. (more on that another day)

TOPPING: Mozzarella cheese, of course!...with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan. The hubby and the kids choose pineapple and ham for their toppings. I grilled up some zucchini and red onion for mine.

Oh, yeah, don't worry I made the kids eat broccoli with the pizza and have an apple for dessert.

So, one last thing...I firmly believe the best pizza EVER can be found at Rizzo's Pizzeria located in Torrance, CA. Really, I have never had better pizza...and then they have these breadsticks smothered in butter and garlic or butter and cinnamon and sugar. YUMMMY! (Yes, I am yelling that!) My brother worked there in high school, we ate there at least once a week, and on more than one occasion my parents have been called upon to help serve (I will just have to do a Rizzo's post later on! It is worth it). So if you are ever in Torrance, Rizzo's is located at 2350 W. Sepulveda Blvd.

What's your favorite pizza topping? Hmmm...anyone out there have anything unusual to share?
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

When life gives you apples...make Apple Cake!

So, yes, that is what we did. My son LOVES (really, if I could make the letters even bigger and bolder I would) Apple Cake! I was holding off on making it because I love Apple Cake too (and so does my husband and daughter), and what's a mom to do when the kids are at school and there is a whole Apple Cake sitting on your counter? And, really, the smell of this cake baking can just about put you over the edge as well...but I succumbed and we have actually shown some restraint (surprisingly there is some left and I made it two days ago! - that's a record!).

So, I thought I would share our love of Apple Cake with you...here's the recipe.

"I LOVE Apple Cake" Apple Cake
2 1/2 cups flour (I use white whole wheat, but all purpose is OK)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
5+ teaspoons cinnamon (see notes below)
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
2 1/2 cups sugar (see notes below)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Apples, preferably Pippin or Granny Smith

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease Bundt pan (I used Pam Cooking Spray for Baking).
3. Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon and dust the pan with the mixture. Reserve any remaining mix to sprinkle on Apple Cake just before baking.
4. Combine the flour, baking powder, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and ground flax seed n a large bowl.
5. Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples, then toss apples in a large bowl with the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
6. Using a mixer (a stand mixer is perfect, but a good old-fashioned hand held mixer will work just as well!), mix 1 cup of oil, with eggs, and orange juice, and vanilla.
7. Add the 2 cups of sugar and beat on medium for about one minute.
8. Add the flour mixture in three batches (this is when the stand mixer comes in handy!), until it is just combined.
9. Add the apples and fold them in gently.
10. Pour into the pan, and if you want sprinkle some of the remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture on top.
11. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours...start checking it around 1 1/4 hours, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
12. Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes. Remove it from the pan and let it cool completely on a baking rack.

Honestly I think this cake is perfect as is, but just imagine it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel!

Some notes...
* I always make extra cinnamon sugar mixture for dusting the pan and sprinkling on the cake.
* If you like, adding some ginger, cloves, or pumpkin pie spice to the flour mixture spices things up a little.

ENJOY! Let me know what you think or if you made any variations...I'd love to hear about it!
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Saturday, September 19, 2009

I am just in love with blogs and all the creative and amazing people out in the blogging world. Tonight I came across a great blog, Reclaiming the Home. It is a interview with Weeks Ringle (what a great name!).  One of the things on my to-do list is to learn how to quilt...well...these quilts are AMAZING, and just might be what I need to get me moving on my own quilting journey. Check them out at FunQuilts and read her interview for a little inspiration yourself.
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Friday, September 18, 2009

I loaded up the kids and the husband on Sunday and we went apple picking. Now, if you ask the hubby, not his idea of the best way to spend a Sunday, after all  football just started, but nonetheless he played along...and we had a really good time. It was busy but out in the orchard, it didn't feel that way.

With two kids "going to town," we quickly - very quickly - had over 25 pounds of apples. I was all excited about the things we were going to make. I LOVE apple butter and that was part of my plan. I went to the store and bought canning jars and even found platinum lids and bands without writing or fruit printed on them...oh the excitement!...but the rest of the family looked at me like I was crazy (OK, crazier than I normally am). So much for that idea...I can not eat all that apple butter myself, and quite honestly the more people I told about apple butter the more people I discovered didn't like it at all. Are they crazy?

At this point, I'd say we have eaten about 5 pounds...we do love apples! But I must still figure out what to do with the rest. Check back tomorrow and see what happens!
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