Scratch “Near-Disasters” in Baking

Have you ever told somebody about some cool thing you did, then the next time you tried it, it was an utter mess?

Well…

I think I may have jinxed myself. If you read my story called “Near-Disasters in Baking” yesterday, I essentially may have bragged a little too much about my totally accidental pancake pizza.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to make it again, onIy this time I tried to double the recipe. Mistake! Huge bust! Forget pancakes. They looked more like scrambled eggs.

My grandmas could roughly estimate the ingredients they needed when they baked. Some scoops of this. A pinch of that. And, substitute? These ladies could find a substitute for anything.

So, one disaster down, I thought I’d bring out my Iowa baking skills and just do it right. There I stood at my counter with various grain free/gluten free ingredients and I got busy.

Staying true to my Iowa roots, I started pouring stuff into the bowl and mixing. Ten minutes later I was rather impressed with how it turned out. It wasn’t quite traditional pizza dough, but it actually looked pretty good. Into the oven it went.

My goodness, when it was done cooking LOOKED like a pizza. A real pizza? Please bear in mind that the last time I had a real, hot, gooey, cheesy pizza on a crust you can actually pick up to eat, was last January. I could hardly wait for this one to cool off. It looked so delicious.

Are you sitting down?

It was absolutely awful.

I mean bad. Really bad. Like “peel the cheese off and leave everything else on the plate” bad.

All I can say is, it’s a good thing I didn’t write down the ingredient amounts as I went, because I can guarantee you, I will never make THAT again!

The good news is, I skipped trying to bake anything for supper last night and instead stuck with straight vegetables.

Oh, and I still had one egg left out of my three eggs! Woo hoo! Guess who had one fried egg for breakfast!

Near-Disasters in Baking

Any gluten free/grain free friends out there?

If so, you may get the humor in this. Last February I started eating gluten free and about two months ago I went grain free as well. Since then, I’ve tried my hand at baking GF/grain free.

Hmmm. Now there’s a concept. The first time I made banana bread with coconut flour, I was so proud of myself! Unfortunately, I didn’t know anything about coconut flour. Which became pretty apparent when it was done and I tasted it!

Y-U-C-K! Sums it up quite well. I figured out quickly that coconut flour isn’t a cup for cup equivalent! In fact, you don’t need much of it at all!

This baking ‘learning curve” is tricky for me. My Iowa grandmas taught me to bake with good, old fashioned flour. With regular flour, I can bake with the best of them. Homemade cinnamon rolls? Oh yeah. Homemade gluten-filled pizza dough? Definitely. Homemade noodles full of wheat flour? I can make those all day long. My Aunt Esther’s family recipe banana bread? Not as great as hers, but I can pull it off. Some yummy looking Pinterest cauliflower pizza crust?? Um. No. That was a total disaster.

However, I am determined to make something that remotely turns out like the photographs of gluten free/ grain free deliciousness I see, yet can’t seem to duplicate. It’s hard when a recipe calls for 3 eggs and you only HAVE three eggs and you know the chances are pretty good that the recipe is going to flop. Three eggs could make a nice omelette.

Maybe some day I’ll either have enough practice at this or just flat out get lucky doing it. For now, I’ll settle for my accidental invention of pancake pizza. Yes, you read that right. What was nearly a failed attempt at making coconut flour flatbread and coconut flour tortillas, actually ended up more like pancakes. Topped with red sauce and a few pinches of cheese, voila! Pancake pizza! Sounds odd, but it is actually quite tasty!

If you’ve had success at gluten free/ grain free cooking, please let me know, any tips would sure be great!

Mommy May Need Glasses

Does anyone remember those fake lips that they used to make that were made out of wax? You know, the ones you could put in your mouth, wear, and when you got tired of that you could chew them up?

I remember them from when I was a kid. They were so cool. Chew on them, spit them out, and that was that. We loved those things.

So, the other day Little Bit and I rounded the corner at the dollar store and saw the gag gifts on the end rack. He immediately picked up the lips. I told him those were so cool and after you wear them, you can chew them up because they are wax.

We finished shopping and paid for our things. After we got in our truck, he opened his lips package. I was so excited! I said, “waxy lips”. He said, “Not waxy lips, wacky lips.”

Oh… Apparently, I may need glasses.

Hilarious. I laughed so hard. In fact, I am laughing right now.

Unlikely Places

~Lovely Sunflowers~

~Lovely Sunflowers~

Where do you go to find your “center”? Do you have a place where you can of let go of your worries and gather your strength, all the while feeling completely at home in your heart? 

Some people find this in church. Others find it being with a favorite pet. Music or art is a good way to revive one’s soul. Maybe your place is in your favorite hobby. Some of my friends find their “center” when they go running.

It seems to be different for each person. For me, being in nature drops the worries and refreshes my mind. Standing on the top of a mountain is bound to be absolutely so freeing. Even a hike in the woods on a brisk fall day, with colored leaves blowing about, will sweep the negatives right out.

Like many, I’m sure, nature is my go-to. Which is why recently I was more than surprised to find a place where I could connect with my heart and my purpose right in the middle of the small town where we live.

An unlikely place, it is actually something I’ve never heard of or even considered. It is called:

Holy Yoga

Now, I’ve been to church. And, I’ve been to yoga. But, both at the same time? That was quite a new concept for me. I was intrigued, so I went.

It’s a rare occasion when a writer like me can’t think of how to accurately describe something. Adjectives don’t even seem touch it.

When I left the first class I got in my truck and said, “I found my church.” And, that’s a pretty profound statement for me. I’ve spent many Sundays sitting in various pews looking for the right church fit.

This is different. The instructor is humble, honest, and sincere. It is easy to tell that enlightening others in whatever they believe is her passion. She is very clear that it isn’t about her ideas or beliefs. It’s hard to explain, it’s like the lessons just radiate the room. Then, there’s twenty-some people doing yoga as a united group, but at the same time the “Holy” is very individual.

At the beginning of class I felt like I walked in with my worries in buckets. As the class went on, I almost literally felt myself set them down. She spoke of foundations and rocks. One yoga pose is called Mountain Pose. Basically, you are standing tall, hands at your sides, and palms out. I remember her saying to clench our fists really tight, then let it go.

It was as easy as that.

Here’s to mountains, un-clenched fists, and finding our “heart’s center” in unlikely places.

A Quieter Road, For Now

~ A Quiet Afternoon ~

~ A Quiet Afternoon ~

Does life have you stuck in the land of busy?

Ahhhh. Yes, I know that land well. Sometimes I think busy deserves it’s own zip code. Over the past couple years, we spent a lot of time there.

We were certainly blessed by all that running around we did. Friends were made. The homeschool field trips were fun and educational. We learned a lot at our Wednesday Spanish classes. We were social. We attended all kinds of events. And, we were busy.

Today I was thinking about those busy days. Our life has taken a much quieter road lately. As I sit and type this, we are at home. Home? On a week day afternoon? That certainly never would’ve happened last year. The only ones busy around here right now are the birds chirping outside my window.

Since we have slowed down a bit, I find myself thinking about when I was a kid. Mom used to take us roller skating in a nearby Iowa town. We’d all pile into our station wagon and off we’d go! I can still to this day remember what it looked like in there. But, mostly what I remember about the place is, that we must have been really fast skaters! Anyone that grew up with me will totally remember the gentleman who ran the skating rink and his famous words:

“Sloooooooow doooooown!”

Well, that is definitely a typo according to my keyboard. My computer does not like my spelling. However, “slow down” just  simply doesn’t get the point across. I’m sure if he’d said “slow down” we may or may not have listened. But, he was rather smart with his pronunciation and we knew he meant business. Funny how even years later, his two words still make me stop and think.

When my kiddo was a baby, someone told me to enjoy him because it goes by fast. Boy, were they ever right! I had no idea how fast it would go! That “slooooow doooooown” doesn’t go slow enough where life is concerned. At times, I find myself wanting to jump on life’s imaginary brakes!

Best I can tell, we are all in our own version of the land of busy or maybe your road is quiet as well. Seems like a few of my friends’ families are extremely busy and I find myself remembering being in those shoes.

Less busy is a welcome break for us. Honestly, I am savoring this one on one time with Little Bit because I know busy will come around again soon enough.

The Gift of Monday

~A Beautiful Monday~

~A Beautiful Monday~

Are you a fan of Mondays?

Seems like Mondays always get a bad wrap. The beginning of a long work week for most, I know lot of people who’d love to skip Monday.

Today Monday is a gift for us. It was a rare occasion, a family day! We started our day at a local lake and saw these amazing ducks looking for their breakfast. They didn’t seem to notice it was Monday. It’s funny how nature doesn’t get caught up in what day it is or isn’t.

It just got me to thinking about the name of a day versus our perspective of that particular day. If you work weekends, then Monday may be your “weekend”. Maybe today was your birthday and you took the day off work to celebrate. Or maybe it’s just a plain, old regular Monday but you noticed the blueness of the October sky or felt the brisk fall wind on your cheek. Perhaps, like we did, you saw the gift of a Monday, too.

History Lessons

~The Rock House on Rocky Ridge~

~The Rock House on Rocky Ridge~

Don’t you just love learning about generations that came before us?

Part of our homeschool history lessons reside in the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I got the boxed set of her books for a few dollars at a thrift store before he was even born and we read them together last school year.

A few weeks ago, we went to the cemetery in Mansfield, Missouri where Laura,  Almazo and their daughter, Rose are buried. It’s just a little country cemetery that sits right in the middle of town. Surrounded by the Ozarks hills, it is a quiet and beautiful place.

From there, we ventured on to the gift shop at the Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home. After purchasing a few books we found out we could tour the Rock House.

There’s just something about stepping back in time. I found myself wishing my mom’s parents house was still standing. What I wouldn’t give to walk through my grandma’s kitchen once again.

The tour guide told us the history on the Rock House. The interior is bright, cheery, and welcoming, Indoor photography isn’t allowed, so I hope to always remember the quaintness of the rooms.

We ended our day at a conservation area not far from her home. While hiking those steep hills, we questioned how horses pulling wagons could’ve gotten up those hills back when the Wilder’s moved to Mansfield.

Reading her books opened our minds up to her childhood and her journeys. Being able to actually step into her homes, seeing Pa’s fiddle and even the pennies Laura and Mary got for Christmas at the museum, really brought her stories to life.

The Homeschool Plunge

Have you ever wanted to do something, but were scared to just try it? Even though your heart was set on it, you just couldn’t decide if it really was the best move?

I always wanted to homeschool Little Bit. Even when he was a baby, I remember telling someone I wanted to. Fate took us down a different road, and we did public school for a while.

Then, my husband and I started talking about homeschooling. We were trying to figure out things like: Will Little Bit like it, he’s used to going to school. What about his routine? What about curriculum? What about friendships and being with kids?

Seems like when you’re single and making decisions for yourself, it’s just easy to try something new. Add two people in and those “once-easies” get tricky.

I don’t know if this happens to you, but sometimes big decisions keep me awake at night. Being torn between the what-to-do’s is tiring.

Well, we did it. We took the homeschool plunge! And, I have to tell you, for us it is the best thing we’ve ever done.

It’s so amazing! What a gift it is to learn beside him. And, all those questions we had worked themselves out. We all adapted well to the new routine. Our curriculum is wonderful because it’s interest led. And although socialization is a big concern with homeschooling, we actually have more friends now than we ever did in public school.

The thing I learned by jumping feet first into homeschooling is, taking a chance is necessary. Was there a possibility it might not have worked out? Of course! Whether it is homeschool, a new job, or even a move, change can be a bit frightening.

Sometimes we just have to do it. For us, ultimately it came down settling. Staying where he was would’ve been settling for so-so, for average. Well, who wants to settle?

Life is this huge, beautiful opportunity! Everything we do and try is an opportunity to grow, learn, and experience wonderful things.

We stepped over the questions, the self doubt, and the fear. Going with our hearts led us exactly where we need to be. Isn’t it funny how that happens?

Safe on 2nd

~vacation mural~

~vacation mural~

Any baseball fans here?

Monday we went to Little Bit’s baseball game and there’s nothing quite like watching kids that are beyond excited, play baseball.

We play in the Miracle League. It is a league that takes kids of ALL abilities. It is the most wondrous thing I believe I have seen. There are kiddos in wheelchairs, walkers, and kiddos running like there’s no tomorrow. They are just so happy! Some of them run base to base, like in a regular game and some just go for it, bypassing everyone and scoring each time they get it hit! I just LOVE that!

I have been thinking about the story I wrote yesterday called “Being You on a Tuesday”. If you’ve had a chance to read it, you know I have what I like to call “walls on standby”. Well, I had a wake up call of sorts a couple of months ago while we were on vacation  and knew then that I needed to work on getting rid of those bricks.

Because here’s the thing, as parents we try to protect our kiddos. And, what I’m realizing is if I put bricks up around me, there’s a pretty good chance he’s in there with me.

So, our first real family vacation was at beach house on Dauphin Island in Alabama. On the north side of the house was Mobile Bay and on the south side was the Gulf of Mexico. We chose that particular house because it was on the bay side and had calmer seas.

One sunny afternoon we decided to go over to the Gulf side and swim in the waves. The waves were pretty big and I got a bit nervous about Little Bit being thrown around by them. So what did I do? I got between him and the ocean. I can just hear my conversation with the ocean:

Me: “You are not going to knock MY son over!”

The ocean: “You wanna bet?”

My husband on the other hand was happier than I had seen him in forever! He was jumping in the waves, riding them, getting knocked completely over, and joy was just radiating around him. He was laughing out loud and smiling. Same for my son! He was having a ball!

There I was, fighting with the ocean. Trying to get it to calm down. Like I was saying “Hey, I’m in control here and I really need you to calm down”. I can just hear the reply. “Yeah right, lady.”

We stayed a few hours and then returned to the beach house. I was EXHAUSTED! Later that night I started to think about some things. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to be in self protection mode all the time. Sure, it keeps us safe, but are we missing out on things? What if we’re missing out on pure joy? New relationships? New friendships? New life experiences? New opportunities?

Not only that, but all of those things are missing out on us. On OUR light. On OUR amazing-ness.

So, what did I do? The next time we went to swim in the Gulf, I stood BESIDE Little Bit and BESIDE my husband. I held their hands and I let the ocean knock us down. I got sand in my hair. I laughed wildly. We all did.

Letting go of control and the feeling of being safe is hard. Knocking down those bricks is a bit scary. But, I feel we owe it to ourselves to try it. I stepped over fear quite a few times during our vacation. Little Bit and I even parasailed 400 feet in the air behind a boat! That, and standing in those waves are among the most freeing things I have ever done.

When we got home we painted a mural of our vacation on our wall. Every day I am reminded that there is an opportunity for joy in every instance.

I hope you give yourself a chance to see it, to really feel joy. And perhaps like the Miracle kids, when you get to 2nd base you won’t get stuck where it’s safe. Instead you’ll keep on running for home.

Being You on a Tuesday

Don’t you just love being in a place where you can be your true self? Just you, being free to self express, being free to show your flaws and your strengths all in one breath?

Wait a second here… Does a place like that even exist? In this big world? The same place where judgment seems to set up a tent on every corner?

Doesn’t seem likely. Especially when its so easy to go into self-preservation mode before we even know we’re in it.

I have noticed that about my own self sometimes. 

I have what I like to call “walls on standby.” I catch myself trying to be ready for someone in case they’re less than nice.  

Sometimes those imaginary bricks are on alert, ready to come up around me if need be. I’d venture to say that’s true for those who have been hurt before because  defense mechanisms tend to kick in. 

As humans we have a tendency to be our own worst critics. That, in turn, can make us wary of others even if we don’t mean to be.

I laugh a little when I think of the difference between animals and people. 

Take our dog for example, he has no self doubt whatsoever. He can go trudging through the pasture, swim in the moss covered pond, stop for a roll in something quite stinky, and reappear at the door with a smile on his face! 

Then, there are Sophie and Lulu, our cats. I can promise you, there isn’t even a scale to measure their self confidence. 

According to them, they are the queens of this world! If only we had a little more of what they have!

Recently I’ve noticed a resurgence of people becoming aware of the fact that it’s ok to be yourself.

  • Don’t eat meat? It’s ok.
  • Night owl? It’s ok.
  • Eat chocolate for breakfast? It’s ok.
  • Jaded past? It’s ok.
  • Sleep until noon? It’s ok.
  • One flaw? It’s ok.
  • A thousand flaws? It IS ok.

Maybe it’s as simple as feeling “at home” in our own skin and having the guts to be our 100% true, authentic selves.

Hmmm. Well, that is definitely a tall order. Are you sure about that? Like all the time? Even on a Tuesday? What about weekends? What about at the store, or at work, or at family gatherings with people you’re related to but barely know?

Yikes! That seems like scary proposition! Who would do such a thing? 

Well… I have been trying it. 

At first it seems a bit overwhelming to let go of what you think everyone thinks of or expects of you. However, there really is a grace in doing so.

All my life my parents have always told me “just be yourself”.

That’s quite a concept. 

“Yourself” is quite amazing. 

Each of us is a unique work of art. We all have our very own talents. We all have beautiful hearts and brilliant minds. Not some of us, not two of us, but all of us.

We are amazing every single day. Every. Single. Day. YOU are filled with amazing-ness today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

What I hope you’ll be able to take out of this, is that maybe you’ll give your true self a chance to shine. 

That maybe if you have those bricks on standby, you’ll just step over them. 

That you will be able to take a deep breath in the authenticity of your true self. 

It seems like in those moments, the tents come down and you shine. Even on a Tuesday.