I am a foodie/Am I a foodie? cont…

From the Merriam Webster website, a foodie is “a person having an avid interest in the latest food fads.”  The Collins English Dictionary writes, “(Cookery) a person having an enthusiastic interest in the preparation and consumption of good food.” In the light of those definitions, I am definitely a foodie.

Sometimes, I think my avid interest in the latest fads set me a part from most in my community. Years ago (maybe 17 yrs), a restaurant opened in my town of 8000 people. This was a dream come true for me. They served Portobello mushroom burgers, bruschetta, foods that were on the cutting edge back then. I loved it and thought,’ finally a restaurant in my town that I can really enjoy.’ It stayed open less than 6 months. Residents of the community said that they just couldn’t grasp eating a “burger” made of a mushroom. My heart sank. I was once again relegated to driving to Omaha for foods that excited me. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good steak on the grill or tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on a cold winter day. But to have something unique, something that I would not make on an average day, does get me excited.

After living here for 21 years, I have come to the realization that the only unique foods are going to come from me. And that is what I have set out to do, serve unique, not your normal run of the mill food, when we have guests. I also make it for my family when we have a little time to share the dinner spread.

My most recent venture was during the Annual Progressive Dinner that our church holds as a fundraiser for special programs . The money generally goes to the residence facility (retirement home) that is associated with the United Methodist Church (UMC) in our community, the church camp sponsored by the UMC  and a homeless shelter where one of our parishioners works.

The dinner is all about the 3 F’s ; fun, fellowship and fundraising. On average 100 people participate annually. There are numerous homes that provide the first course, the main course and then we all meet up at someone’s home for dessert.

Over the year’s we have done the main dish but my favorite part of the meal is the first course. In the explanation of the dinner, it is usually called the salad course but I very rarely serve salad so I always refer to it as the first course.

This year my theme was mini’s. I purchased mini bowls, tasting spoons, mini plates to provide a variety of flavors but still not fill my guests so they are too full for the main course. My goal was to provide four cold soups that did not fight each other for taste and a “bite” to go with the soup. The bowls were three ozs. so there would be about 1.5 c. of soup with one bite each of 4 items. I would have extras of everything so if someone wanted more, it would be available.

The search was on for soup ideas. I decided on two savory soups and two sweet soups. My idea for the first soup actually happened in July when I was visiting my husband who was working in California. When there we ate lunch at Sides Hardware and Shoes, a Brothers Restaurant in Los Olivos. Our soup was a chilled sweet corn soup with chipotle sorbet. I decided I would do my best to copy it so I at least got the ingredients for the soup from them and then created the sorbet myself.

The second savory soup needed to be colorful. Since the corn soup would be pale, the second soup needed to POP! I chose a roasted red pepper soup. The sweet soups were fairly simple, a pale and a bright soup. The pale soup would be an apple and pear and the bright would be a mixed berry soup.

Chilled soups are fairly easy to create. Find flavors that you like, put them together, puree’ them and then strain. That really is as simple as it gets but it is time-consuming. To strain properly, it takes time. At the end of my blog I will share the ingredients for the soups.

After picking out the soups I needed to find good pairings. I already knew that with the berry soup I wanted chocolate, I decided on a chocolate mousse with fresh berries. That was the easy decision.

Next I thought of the corn soup. I wanted something like cracker sticks. Instead my thoughts went to a cracker recipe that I have used for years using cheddar cheese and Rice Krispies. I decide instead of making the crackers round, I would make them look like pfeffernusse. Pfeffernusse is a ginger-type cookie that my grandmother made at Christmas time.

 Two down and two to go. I started thinking of the apple pear soup and thought, ‘something with nuts’ oh ‘and cheese’. I then created a brie wedge with a sugared walnut and homemade caramel drizzled over the brie.

It was time for the Red Pepper Soup. My original thought was a mini cream puff with chicken salad. Then I saw a recipe for a red pepper piece with crab salad. My menu was complete!

The interesting thing about the puree’ and straining, you never know what is left. I was straining the apple pear soup and saw that the leftover kind of looked like mush. Just because I am a curious sort, I tasted the leftovers. WOW! What a wonderful surprise. It was a cinnamon-y, luscious taste of apple and pear; in essence an apple pear sauce. Needless to say, it did not go in the trash. My son actually inhaled the concoction. He has a good palette and picked out the pear first, then the apple.

Now was the moment of truth. It was the day of the dinner and I spent most of the afternoon prepping for the meal. I was excited. I had the table setting established and it was just getting all of the items set just right.

Our guests arrived and I received a positive response on the experience. While I don’t know that anyone would do this for themselves, that is what it is all about. I wanted to create an experience that they would not have in their home. Most everyone finished their tastes (there was one teenager. She tasted everything but is not a vegetable fan).

The good thing is, all of these items I would make again. They passed my test which can be rather difficult. I especially like the apple pear soup and will make that again when apple and pear harvesting comes around.

I am giving you the ingredients for the soups. Like the chef at Sides Restaurant told me, ‘I really didn’t use a recipe, but here are the ingredients.’

Chilled Sweet Corn Soup – Sweet corn, onion, water and cream

Apple Pear Soup – apples, pears, Ginger Ale, lemon, sugar, cinnamon, cream

Red Pepper Soup – Roasted Red Peppers, onion, boiling potato, cumin, chicken broth, tomato, water

Berry Soup – Your choice of berries (I used strawberries and raspberries), orange juice, sugar, fruity wine, plain yogurt.

My latte’ for the day was gingerbread.

BTW…Happy Haloween from a proud foodie!  Our three pumpkins…BOO!

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I am a Foodie/Am I a Foodie?

I am a foodie. Or am I? Food evokes wonderful memories for me. Everything about food fascinates me. I relish in learning how foods are prepared, the background/history of a recipe and the experience of a new taste. I also am a food snob sometimes. I hate it when a person tries to place their recipe or restaurant in a category that just doesn’t fit. But….they think that some are not well-educated and they think they can get away with their deceit (that explanation later).

I am in no way a gourmet but I do appreciate the finer foods of life. When I have people over for dinner, I try to make a meal that will be memorable for them. I do try to stay away from traditional Midwest cooking, the standard rump roast with potatoes and carrots or chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. While those are foods I will make for my family, I try to be more creative with guests.

This propensity may come from my upbringing. My grandmother and mother were/are great cooks. New recipes were always just a meal away. When my grandmother died, I was chosen to be in charge of all of her cookbooks. I now have hundreds of cookbooks in my home just waiting for me to peruse. I am to look through them to make sure there are no side bar notes in recipes or loose leaf recipes in the pages. My problem is I want to look at every recipe and see which ones I want to keep.

Family dinners were always something to which I looked forward.  In my family, there were certain foods that were only made during certain holidays. We only get creamed pearl onions on Thanksgiving. Same for mashed sweet potatoes with pineapple. A full turkey was only roasted at Thanksgiving and “real” ham (bone in smoked) was only done at Christmas. Pumpkin pie…only at Thanksgiving.

When I became an adult and was married, my husband and I began our own food traditions. Some from my childhood were gone away. Others were created. For instance, we usually purchase more than one turkey at Thanksgiving so we have one in the freezer for a later roast (or smoke), likewise with ham. No one time a year, for us. Same goes for pumpkin pie, we have it when we want. There are just some foods that are too good to have only once a year. If my family like creamed onions, I would make them. As it is, I have made them only once in the eleven years that we have celebrated Thanksgiving in our home. My husband likes sweet potatoes whole with brown sugar and butter only. No fancy, mashed with pineapple, sweet potato for him. That is fine. While I do like what I grew up eating, I am also fine with undoctored sweet potatoes.

When we were first married, we split our fall/winter holidays. If we spent Thanksgiving with one side of family, we spent Christmas with the other. Our small family started celebrating Thanksgiving with just us when we lived in Spain. We liked the time together and found that, after moving home, we missed not having that intimate time to celebrate in our own home. While we have never limited the number of guests in our home at Thanksgiving, we do not go to someone else’s home. There are some years when there are just four of us. Other years may find 8-10 celebrating.

Now I get back to my food snob designation. We lived in Spain just under a year. But in that time, our life was greatly impacted and changed forever. I cannot speak for my other family members, but I found that I am truly a Spaniard at heart. When I am here, I long to live in Spain. When I am in Spain, I do not long to be back here. I often tell my husband that if he dies before me, I will move to Spain.

We immersed ourselves in the Spanish life. Our children went to a local, private school, not an American school. We lived in a Spanish community, learned the language, ate the native food, ate fast food only rarely and learned as much as we could about the history of Spain while we lived there. For all intense purposes, I became Spanish. I actually have a hard time saying Spanish, because we lived in Catalunya where the language is Catalan and it is rather different from most of Spain. (for those of you who do not know, Barcelona is in Catalunya. We lived about 26 km up the coast from Barcelona)

When we moved home, we looked for Spanish wine, Spanish food, anything Spanish and it was not to be found. As the years passed from our life there, Spanish things began to show up in our area. We were so excited when a Spanish restaurant opened in Omaha. We went there one night and found out that the owner had an uncle that owned a restaurant in Catalunya. In fact, my husband would eat there every week on the day they served paella. We had a wonderful time. It was so good that when friends, who lived an hour away from Omaha, came to visit, we made reservations.

We made early reservations so they could get home to their young children at a decent hour. About an hour before we were to arrive at the restaurant, someone calls and says that we had reservations but that we would have to give up our table after an hour! That is unheard of in Spain! Once you are at a table, for the most part, it is yours. In Spain, an evening meal will last up to 4 hours and we had less than an hour to eat (taking into consideration the time to prep the food). I explained to the person that was not the Spanish way and how could they expect us to enjoy a traditional Spanish meal in an hour. They said they didn’t care and we would have to relinquish our table after an hour. I got know where with the manager either, so needless to say, we did not honor that reservation and never went back with that owner. We went back under new ownership and the food was just not that good so now we have never been back.

Years after that fiasco, a lounge opened that touted that they served tapas. My anticipation for a true tapas bar was dashed when I went online and looked at their menu. Now if you say tapas, you should think Spanish, just like when you see an Italian restaurant, you would think pasta. Not the case, this “tapas” bar had french fries, nachos, chicken wings on their tapas menu. Those are not tapas, those are appetizers. As someone who lived in Spain, I can tell you that I never went to a tapas bar that had nachos or chicken wings on their menu. Their menu would have pan con tomate (bread with tomato), aceitunas (olives) almendras (almonds), numerous types of fish/seafood but not nachos! I really was concerned that people in the area would actually think that what they were getting was tapas. Their definition of tapas did not give a proper representation of the true experience. I frankly, was offended.

That is how I knew that I had become a food snob. I believe that if you say that you represent a certain ethnic food, you should be loyal to that country. If you are Mexican, serve Mexican, not Tex-Mex. If you serve Tex-Mex, say so. You can have other items on the menu to appeal to the masses, but don’t say you are one thing and then not have it on the menu.

Maybe that is one reason why I have so many cookbooks because I want to be an informed cook. I would not say that I am a purest because there are many times that I make a modified ethnic food. My daughter says she loves my refrigerator Chinese. That is where I open the refrigerator and see what I have that is fresh and then stir fry it with rice, definitely not authentic Chinese. But I do not represent it as anything other than what it is, using what I have in the frig before it goes bad.

I think I have gotten myself into a food blog mindset so keep checking back for other thoughts on food or foods of thought. I already have streaming in my head thoughts of food from Spain, my “mini’s” theme on a Progressive Dinner in which I had the first course, cookies and oh the list could go on….

Latte’ for the day has no name. I combined some end of the bottle flavorings and ended up with chocolate, white chocolate, toasted marshmallow and coconut. Pretty tasty!

It Takes a Little Kneading

 

 

There are many things that I do for my family, friends and people who I do not even know. One thing that I enjoy doing for others is cooking/baking. While I like the process of taking not very good tasting ingredients by themselves (have you ever tasted plain flour or vegetable shortening, YUCK!) and making them into something that tastes divine, my joy is in the act of giving. I feel that this is one thing that I do well; people can enjoy this gift and it can nourish them both physically and emotionally. Is there a favorite food that you had growing up that when you have it now it takes you back years?

When my family smells those warm, sweet fragrances wafting from the oven, their first question is, “Is this for us, or is it for someone else?” I have to admit that more than 50% of the time, it is for someone else. I do feel guilty and there have been times when I make twice as much so they can enjoy some for themselves.

There is one smell that drifts out the kitchen and throughout our home that everyone knows is for no one else but them, bread. When that light, fresh smell melds in with the other familial scents in our home, they know it is for them and only them.

I have now gotten to the point that I make fresh bread every four or five days. It is the most basic of recipes, milk, bread four, salt, pepper, butter and yeast. How can you go wrong with that? What I have started doing is using the white spongy dough as my canvas. An artist would never leave a canvas blank. It is filled with life, their joys, and sorrows, or poured out on that blank slate. I would not say that I have gone that far, no sorrow in my bread making but I have used a lot of love and joy in this new venture.

Sometimes my bread has a theme. One loaf I named “Four Shades of Red.” (Had a hard time visualizing gray bread!) Then there are breads that are themed based on the week. There was a loaf in honor of the beginning of fall. Then there was the purple and white loaf in recognition of the high school‘s homecoming. My last loaf was orange, white and black in anticipation of Halloween. I did make a completely orange loaf of bread. The family was not very fond of that. They definitely prefer multi-colored bread.

You would think that I would have thought of this when my children were younger. How fun it would have been for them to pick out their colors for their special loaf of bread. But NOOOOO, I had to wait until they were in high school. They have a lot of fun with it though and sometimes they will ask me why I chose the colors I did. It should be noted that my children take a sack lunch to school. With the new government guidelines on school food, they say that the meals are bland and not filling. They relish the thought of taking their own food, chosen for their likes, to school. This also means that all of their friends, classmates and teachers see their artistry bread. (Notice I did not say artisan.) Teachers have walked up to them and asked, “What is wrong with your bread?” My son commented back when asked that question, “My mom is just bored.”

The funny thing is that I am far from bored. It takes a lot of extra time to knead in those colorings. I don’t use gloves so I can go a couple of days with colored hands. While to save time I do use a machine for kneading the bread, I do the last kneading and forming by hand and then bake it in the oven. This does take time out of my already busy schedule. But they are more than worth it.

I do this out of love. If my family didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t continue. They know that I do this especially for them. If they did not know that or appreciate it, I would still bake bread but it would probably be plain ol’ white bread. I would find something that they did appreciate. I would find a gift that would make them feel special. I have thought about marketing my artist bread but realized it would no longer be special for them.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up. You can bet there will be more brown, gold and orange bread and green and red bread. I will probably even make blue and white bread as a recognition for Hanukkah. I may have high schoolers for children but I am still that mom who wants to make her family feel special. While I may bake a lot for others, I have found this one thing that is exclusively for them.

What do you do that is exclusively for your loved ones?  Do you have traditions that are a treasure for you? Let’s talk about that. I will share in my next post family traditions from when I was growing up to traditions that have been created for my family. Think hard and I look forward to sharing.

Believe it or not I have only made coffee twice this week. That is why there have been no coffee posts. It is mid afternoon so my first cup of coffee for the day, may have to contain some Irish Creme. I’ll let you know.

Bread ingredients:   4 C. bread flour, 13 oz. warm milk, 2 T butter, 2.5 T sugar, 1.5 t. salt and 2.25 t. active dry yeast.

Humbled by Life

We all live busy lives. We all have stress. My stress maybe less (or more) than yours. But it is my stress, no more (or less) significant than yours. Years ago I had someone try to tell me that my stress wa nothing compared to theirs. I looked at this person and said, “Don’t tell me that my stress is nothing. Your stress is nothing compared to a CEO of a company and I don’t disregard your stress!” I think that we need to keep that in mind when we deal with people when we think that we have a harder life, or a more stressful life. What I do know is that I am extremely blessed.

I para subbed for the first time this week. It was for a special education classroom. I had sub taught before and thought, “I know this. I had done it before.” In fact, I have sub taught for special ed in the elementary level, the middle school level and the high school level. It was just a para job; I got this! WOW was I wrong. I mean I did my job and I felt I was of benefit to the classroom. This was not a class like I had subbed before. My previous subbing jobs in a SpEd classroom was as a resource class. Students are integrated into a class and then attend their resource class when English or Math is going on and they come to the SpEd class for help. That was my previous experience. This class was a contained Special Education classroom. These children were in the same class all day (except for P.E., Music or Art). These are children that cannot be in a traditional classroom because of developmental issues. These children are a handful.

There were 7 students in the class, 1 teacher and 3 paras. I should have known by that ratio that this was not going to be an easy day. I was assigned Mike (not his real name). It was my job to keep him on track. He is known for wandering both physically and mentally. There was a lot of hand holding and saying, “Look at me. Let’s get back to work. No we can’t be over there right now…”

The day begins with checking in on the Smart Board. They mark what they want for lunch on the SB and then go do some physical activity. Now let me tell you that the Smart Board always bites me in the hiney when I sub. I am a PC girl so I freeze up and worry that I am going to do something wrong with the classroom electronics. And here we have children that can’t even be in a traditional classroom but can work a Smart board better than me.

Next the students stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance. Not only do they say it but they sing it. When I heard those students singing at the top of their lungs the song of our country, it brought tears to my eyes. Even now it is very touching to think about.

After the Pledge, they go right to work. All 7 of these children know the routine. Even though they may lose track of what they are doing at any given time, they know where they are to be and know what they are to be doing. The next step is to go over the calendar and the weather outside. This is all done on the Smart Board and they ALL know what to do. I am considered an intelligent person and these Special Ed kids (I think kindergarten age. I was never told and it really did not make a difference) know electronics better than I. I was humbled on that day.

It might be noted, that all of these children are being taught sign language and the teacher often communicates using her voice and her hands. The purpose fo this I am not quite sure and frankly, there was not time for personal chit-chat. Throughout the day I was amazed at the capability of these children and also the lack there of.

I did have a chance to work with all of the children when they went through their stations for the core subjects of math and reading. The reading station was individualized for each student. Their skill level ranged from computerized reading to sign language letter recognition. Except for Mike who exited out of the computer program and opened all kinds of windows, the students stayed on task . One child, who I assume is autistic, would zone out, for lack of a better description, and it was difficult to ge them back on task, but I did with help from another para.

Math went well. My job was to have students look at the size of paper sea shells and estimate how many of these sea shells it would take to measure the sink. My first group guessed spot on. It was a very basic task but it was part of visualization and estimating for math. One boy was very disengaged. He has a habit of just lying down and becoming a wet noodle. Picking him up and trying to get him to stay standing was very difficult. I did get help from another para when this happened. I do not think he was picking on me. Obviously he had done this in the past but I felt very helpless.

After lunch the class had recess and they played on the playground, kicked balls and played chase with all of the other classes. I thought that they would not interact with the other students as they are in the contained classroom and don’t interact with other students during the day. But it was just like a 2nd grade classroom. They play with their classmates but it extends out to other classes.

The day ended and I looked at the paras and said that they must be exhausted by the end of the day. I would not say that I was exhausted mentally or physically but it was one day for me. They do this five days a week and I have to imagine that it can be trying.

My thoughts went to the families of these children. The challenges that are faced in the classroom are faced exponentially at home. The teachers are there for the students 100%. Parents and siblings have other things going on at home. There is house cleaning, cooking, paying bills, coming home from full-time jobs, spending time with a spouse and other children, homework or outside activities. I wonder how it can all get done. And for these families, it is 7 days a week.

I may have stress but I am sure that it seems nothing to the families with children that have different abilities. My children are independent. They are teenagers and really don’t need me anymore. They cook, do their own laundry, drive. I still guide them and do for them, but they are able to do almost everything themselves. That may never be the case for some families. I am sure that there are many blessings in these families. These children are blessings and have many lessons to teach the world. I learned a lot in that classroom. These students taught me a lot.

We all have stress. Mine may not seem as important as yours but I know after subbing in this contained Special Needs classroom that, right now, my stress is insignificant. I am truly blessed. Are you?

Never have a city girl feed the goats.

Never, and I mean never, send a city girl to feed the goats. That is the lesson I learned this weekend. Now it all worked out okay. We all got a good laugh but it was a lesson in life and a good topic to share.

I am a city girl. While I do not live in a town, my housing development probably has 1000 people living here. I would not even call myself rural. I live in between a city, Omaha, NE and a smaller city, Blair, NE. I have never lived on a farm. I grew up in the Omaha area. I am not necessarily fond of farm animals. I will walk through the livestock barns at the state fair but that is more for the family than myself. I would rather be in the quilting building or the building that has all of the canning items or the retail building.

The Girl Scouts in my county had an overnight to celebrate the birthday of the founder of Girl Scouting, Juliette Gordon Low. I organized it so it was held at Camp Fontanelle, the church camp where our family volunteers and our children attend. We are very devoted to this camp.

This camp offers a lot in the fall. There is a corn maze, a pumpkin patch, tree climbing, hiking, outdoor evening movies, overnights and there is even a petting barn that houses numerous types of animals. Our troops were taking advantage of these opportunities. As we are Girl Scouts, we wanted to perform some type of service for the camp. Some of the things that were suggested were a little too difficult for the younger Girl Scouts so I suggested we go to the petting barn and take care of the animals. The director and asst. director of the camp thought that was good and said that we could feed the goats. They said I need to feed them two leaves and I would find them under the tarp, that they were square. I heard what they said, but not really. I went on my merry way to get help from the girls.

I, with another adult, looked under the tarp and could not find any small squares of hay. All I could see were bales. My thought was, “Oh, they must mean 2 bales and they just used ‘country’ language.” Now mind you, there are four goats and one sheep. No way could they eat 2 bales. But I was doing what I was told. I told my friend that we should just put one bale in and then check to see about the second bale.

This is when the girls could help. I got my camera out and snapped away while my friend and the girls dropped the hay bale into the pen. We were so proud! I snapped away photos of the goats eating the hay (above), of the girls posing outside the pen. This city girl can do country work; so I thought.

I found the director and asst director working with the girls and their tree climbing (BTW, not the way that I climbed a tree. This is more like rock climbing without the rock, just the ropes hanging from sturdy limbs. photo  below) I told them what I did and asked if that is what they meant. They both laughed and said that I gave them enough food for about 5 days! I immediately headed back over the barn to correct my error.

Those goats never looked so happy. They were gnawing away at the bale and if they could have talked, I think they would have told me they were delirious with joy. Such a table we had spread for them. We needed to get that bale out so I took 2 leaves (which, by the way, is a section of the bale that is naturally made in the baler when it is being formed. You just have to grab from the end and it will naturally break) and threw them in the pen to get the animals away from the bale. My friend jumped in the pen and lifted the bale to me and I put it back under the tarp. Crisis averted! I couldn’t imagine how miserable those animals would have been. And to think I thought two of the bales was what was needed!

So what is the lesson. There are many. The obvious is, don’t assume that you can figure out what is meant. If you don’t understand, ask questions.

Secondly, you don’t always know what is best. Those goats and that sheep were excited to have so much food. They went to town and were being very gluttonous. I think they would have eaten on that bale until it was gone. That would have been very bad for them and made them very ill.

Thirdly, it is okay to not know everything. There are many things in which I excel: cooking, baking, singing, organizing/managing. I know my limits at home. I choose not to use the riding lawnmower. It scares the livin’ daylights out of me.

And lastly, don’t send a city girl to feed the goats. Except now I know what a leaf is so I actually could feed the goats now! Let’s hope that this lesson is remembered when I run into the next time when I think, “I can figure it out when I get there.”

After the Girl Scout event was over, I, with 3 of the women that were at the campout, went shopping for fabric to make a quilt for the annual fundraising auction for Camp Fontanelle. Hours later, my friend was still laughing so hard about the escapades that tears were streaming down her face. We definitely had our fill of laughing for the weekend.

Life is good!

My latte’ for the day was chocolate, almond.

Mad Libs – A Lesson for Life

In honor of Mad Libs and in the memory of its founder, Leonard B. Stern, who died this week at the age of 88 years, I write this in the true Mad Libs form. I will fill in the blanks with my words. You may choose your own words to fill in the blanks.

Mad Libs (noun) is like life (noun). The skeleton is (verb) there and it is up to you (pronoun) to add color (noun), action (noun) and variety (noun).

You (pronoun) can decide whether you will have a beautiful (adjective) day (noun) or a yucky (adjective) day (noun). Will you (pronoun) gracefully (adverb) meet (verb) your struggles (plural noun) or will you fall (verb) short? While many (adjective) people (plural noun) feel (verb) that they do not have control (noun) of their own life (noun). They feel (verb) powerless (adjective) in their attempts. Over (preposition) time, they lose (verb) confidence and day (noun) after day (noun) their self-esteem (noun) is lost (adjective).

What can be done (adjective) to ensure (transitive verb) you (pronoun) control (verb) your life (noun)? Feel (verb) good (adjective) about (preposition) yourself. You should exercise (noun) at least five (number) times a week and get enough rest (noun); seven (number) hours (plural noun) a night. Eat (verb) a proper (adjective) diet (noun). Try to laugh (verb) every (adjective) day and find (verb) love (noun). With those steps (plural noun), you can be on the road (prepositional phrase) to a great (adjective) life.

Composing that Mad Lib was not easy, and neither is life. Some struggle with major issues; how do I protect my children from bullies, where will I come up with the money to pay those medical bills, how come I can’t find a job? Some have minor problems; how do I get my child from Point A to Point B this week when I am so busy? And sometimes we just have annoyances; I need more time in my day to get things complete.

No matter where we fit in, whether we have struggles, problems or annoyances, all of these things, or any combination of the three, we must remember that what you have, the person next to us has. Their problems may be multiplied exponentially. So when we think about how disconnected that person is, or maybe rude, or moody, it may be that they feel at a loss. Kindness begets kindness, Maybe if we show kindness and caring, it will make the person feel better if they are having a bad day or it may make you feel better.

In the end, try to do something nice for yourself every day. It may be reading a book, snuggling with your child (ren), spouse or loved one, taking a long bath, laughing, or crying. Every morning, I make a nice BIG latte and it helps start my day on a good note. Today my latte was Toasted Marshmallow Pumpkin. It was very nice on this blustery, rainy day.

Remember that you have more control than you think. You have the chance to choose the adjectives and adverbs for your life. Try to make them positive and uplifting, not words or thoughts that are downgrading and negative to you and those that you effect.

Take control. Remember those days when you played Mad Libs and laughed and laughed and laughed because of the words you chose.

Bread Pudding

I said I might write about bread pudding today and decided it was a quirky topic and I should just go for it. Who knows how this will develop. We will go on this journey together.

I love bread pudding! Whenever I see it on the menu, I will order it for dessert. That is quite the commentary because I generally never order dessert from a restaurant. I then make a judgement of the restaurant based on how I liked the bread pudding. I do the same when it comes to eggplant parmesan in Italian restaurants and tamales in Mexican restaurants.

I like my bread pudding to be moist but not so moist that you can’t differentiate the torn (or cut) pieces of bread. It has to have the perfect consistency that doesn’t taste mushy in my mouth. It needs to be not too dry, not too wet. Just like Goldilocks, it needs to be just right.

It can be chocolate bread pudding or banana or just plain ol’ bread pudding. What is a delicacy, but really adds to my enjoyment, is a warmed rum butter sauce. In fact, I would say a standard bread pudding with a warmed rum butter sauce and oh yea, nuts sprinkled on top is the best of the best.

I guess I am somewhat like bread pudding. I am just a plain ol’ girl from the Midwest. I like to think that I have good values that are simple to follow; be nice, give back to the community through service, and raise a family that is respected by the community. I think that whatever you believe in, you need to be consistent and follow through. As a Christian, I believe I should be in church every Sunday. Yes, there may be days that I would rather stay under my nice warm quilts, but going to church is the least I can do to thank God for allowing me to wake up every morning.

I would like to live a simple life. How wonderful it would be to not be tied to a computer for communication or a cellphone for that same reason. How nice it would be to wake up in the morning and only need to worry about making the best home for my family and volunteering to make my community a better place to live.

All very simple. You know there has to be a but coming though don’t you…

BUT that is not the reality of our world. We need to be connected to our electronic world. That is just the way it is. If it weren’t for the internet, I would not be blogging and you would not be reading this post right now. If it weren’t for the cellphone, I wouldn’t be able to have a sense of security knowing that I can get a hold of my children when I need that connection. Our family has been able to learn about the world and our country because of our traveling. What a wonderful opportunity we have had that many have not.

Those things are the rum butter sauce and nuts. Without those extras, the food is good (life) but the extras help me appreciate everything that this world has to offer. Without the internet or our traveling, our world would be so small. I am so glad that we have been able to expand our children’s scope of the world because of those extras.

So while my simple rules for life are good, because of the rum sauce and nuts, my life does seem more complete. There are days when I just am bread pudding and have no toppings. I clean my home, run errands for the whole family, bake/cook and do all of those domestic things that I just love. More times than not, there is so much more going on that it gets crazy. There are days that not only is there rum sauce and nuts, but sprinkles and whipped cream or maybe a flambe’ is made by adding rum and catching it on fire. Those days when I have added a little too many extras, make me a little crazy and I feel overwhelmed. The simple life helps me appreciate those extras and conversely the extras help me appreciate when things are simple. In that way, my life is complete.

How is your life complete, are you a plain bread pudding or are you someone with a few toppings or an overload?

My coffee latte for the day was Almond Joy; chocolate, almond and coconut.