Wednesday, July 27, 2011

bragging.....WHAT??? you don't already know how awesome I am? For shame, for shame....

I have recently discovered (as in yesterday) a blog that I find irresistibly charming and relate-able (that's a word, right? No matter, it is now): Flourish in Progress.  In the last 24 hours, I have read pretty much every post she's made . I know, I know, pathetic, I am truly not trying to stalk her and I promised her the white truck parked down the street from her house wasn't mine....really, I swear!!!

Liz, I hope she doesn't mind my calling her that, has a segment, where every week - specifically Mondays - she will be doing something that she's never done before or isn't very good at - her Monday Dares. "Dares" rather than challenges or goals, because I agree with her those are rather daunting words.  Coming from a previous corporate job, where we had to write our own yearly reviews and come up with goals for the coming year - the word "goal" is despised.

This particular Monday is about bragging. Bragging is viewed differently all over the world and in many cultures looked down upon.. Though I am a white Anglo-Saxon American female, bragging, particularly about myself, has never been my strong suit - now my kids are a totally different story. Those awesome kids are just that, AWESOME! As for myself, I have always seemed to think that if someone doesn't know already how awesome I am; my telling them about it isn't going to change their obvious lack of intellect. Liz (aka the Queen of Awesomeness, herself), challenged her readers to brag about themselves. So, I,  being her newest BFF, felt obligated to oblige. (admittedly she's not completely aware of this fact, but she'll come around to the idea after I untie her eventually....) The following is what I posted:
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Just over two years ago, my brags would have looked like this:
I'm proud that I have raised a beautiful, talented and smart 16 yr old daughter, essentially on my own. I'm proud that I worked for ten years at a job I despised to ensure my daughter had everything she needed. I am more proud that 8 years into said job, I finally figured out that I wasn't going anywhere, started going to college part time and working full time. Then finally quit my job to focus on school, met the man of my dreams, helping raise my step children (the youngest from the age of 9 months), had a baby and graduated cum laude (that's a good thing, really). Also, I am proud I rocked my teacher certification tests and I haven't slugged the mother of my step-kids, yet (HUGE emphasis on yet).

Then, my eldest daughter died; overdose, suicide, whatever one wants to call it, it doesn't matter the method. The child that I lived and breathed for was gone.

Fast-forward, 2 years, to the present:
I'm proud I get out of bed everyday. I'm proud that I have been able to function mostly...sort of...(ok, truth) sometimes in the real world. I'm proud that I have friends and family that can see past the facade of a functioning individual, kick my ass when needed and love me anyway. I am still proud of all of the previous entries, though I have new perspective on all of it. Mostly, I'm proud that I am raising yet another beautiful, smart and talented (now) 3 year old girl, that in many ways reminds me of my eldest, but is, in her own right, her own individually beautiful self, with a man who has been the epitome of a knight in shining armor, two (most of the time) wonderful step-kids and I still haven't decked the mother of said step-children (though she really really REALLY deserves it on occasions and LORD Almighty knows I would feel better). My step-kids have no idea how much I love them. :)
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One other thing that I thought of after the fact, I am proud I haven't allowed the guilt of my daughter's death completely consume me. It really could have and sometimes I am fearful that it still will.  I have to function, for my kids, for my husband and most importantly for myself.  The guilt, truly, isn't as much of a factor as it was right after her death, but it does rear its ugly head on occasion.

Now its your turn, what makes you puff up your chest about yourself?

UP NEXT: 1 chicken = 3 or more meals!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Back to blogging...lets see how long it will last and Mango Bread

So I guess its been awhile since my last post...ok over a year.  :(   I haven't stopped cooking or living for that matter, still around. I've been working on and off, taking care of myself (mentally) and my family.  "They" say that the second year after a loved one's death is the hardest, and "they" are right.  There are so many missed opportunities and milestones that hits home the hardest, the "what could have beens" really stink.  Seeing my daughter's friends go to prom, graduate high school and move on to college has been the hardest of all. I miss my  Lauren everyday.  As much as I would love to hide in my room and wallow in my sorrow; I know, not only my hubby, but pretty much every single friend of mine would be banging down my door to drag me out of bed (Thank God!).

So back to cooking, we participate in our local Bountiful Baskets. If you haven't heard of it, its a food co-op where you donate a particular dollar amount, the organizers purchase in bulk fruits and vegetables (sometimes other items like bread, granola or cases of particular fruits/vegetables or specialty packs) and then the participants pick up their baskets at an ungodly hour in the morning.  Yeah, I get my husband to do that fun part. I on the other hand get to prep and put away all of our goodies.  A lot of the basket is seasonal and we've had some interesting produce, brussel sprouts, kale, santa melons, etc.  If its not something you are used to cooking on a regular basis (i.e brussel sprouts for me) it can certainly expand your horizons, make new friends or waste food, the latter is not an option in our house.

The last two baskets we received had 3 or 4 mangoes in each, which in it of itself is not a bad thing, but it happens to be the two weeks we don't have my step-kids (they are huge fruit eaters, whereas Miss J is not as thrilled with mangoes as the other two).  So the mangoes have been just hanging out ripening to the stage of "use me now before I go bad or start to root." So off to Google I go in search of something to do with them.  I peeled and sliced about half of them to dehydrate (love my food dehydrator!) and I found an interesting mango bread recipe. Its along the same lines of banana bread, but with mangoes!!!! I found it on All Recipes.com which can be hit or miss as far as the reliability of the recipe, but thankfully this bread turned out very well.  So much so that my husband really enjoyed it and that says a lot!

To ensure credit is given as its due, I'll only post the link to this lovely sweet bread. the only thing I did differently was to add a splash of milk to the batter, only because I was a little paranoid about it not being 'batter-y" enough but if the mangoes are ripe and juicy, it will add enough moisture to the batter! Enjoy!!

Chinky's Mango Bread