Let’s talk about the difference between opportunities and obligations.
An opportunity is a chance you are either given or take in order to accomplish something. Opportunities are usually pretty exciting because of the possibilities they can create. For example: If the opportunity to have lunch with a stranger arises, take it! Especially if that stranger is a person that you’ve been wanting to get to know better. Chances are you’ll leave that lunch totally inspired by her (or his) story, and excited to have made a new friend. Mission accomplished if you ask me!
An obligation on the other hand, is something you have to do. Obligations are not nearly as fun as opportunities, and more often than not they are kind-of a bummer. Example: Sometimes eating vegetables can feel like an obligation, especially when all I want want to eat is ice-cream!
Here is the funny thing about obligations, with a little imagination they can almost always be turned into opportunities! Example: I want my kids to eat fresh vegetables everyday. Some days this feels like a huge struggle (obligation), as some of boys will happily eat their veggies and some of them will not. On the flip side all of them love to eat popsicles. So what if I crammed as much spinach as I can into a smoothie, and then make that smoothie into a popsicle?!
Is it me, or do the best opportunities usually start out as the worst obligations?
I hope all my talk about health and granola hasn’t scared you away from this place. My intention here has never been to discourage or make you feel guilty about what you’re eating, but instead to inspire and encourage you to cook for yourself and for those around you. I also always want to be 100% honest with you about what I am currently feeding my own family. Yes, on occasion we order pizza, go through drive-thrus, and treat ourselves to Taylors milkshakes and hamburgers.
So just because I am constantly sharing ways on how to add more spinach to our diets, or trying to figure out how to make healthy snacks for my boys doesn’t mean I don’t love junk food every now and then! The thing that I don’t love about junk food is the way it makes me feel. Sluggish, tired, and all around blah. So when it comes to junk food I have two choices, 1. Eat/enjoy the fast food and don’t complain about the stomach ache it might give me. 2. Figure out how to make the junk food minus all of the funky ingredients that make me feel kinda gross.
Notice I didn’t say a word about making these treats less caloric or “skinny”? Sometimes diet substitutes are just as bad for you! I don’t indulge my junk food habit everyday so when I want to dive into a basket of animal style fries, a big plate of nachos, or a crispy, sweet funnel cake it better be the real thing!
Take this frozen peanut butter, chocolate, pretzel pie for example. Yes, there is a whole stick of butter in that crust. There is a thick layer of chocolate ganche, and and even thicker layer of whipped cream, real sugar, and peanut butter on top of that buttery crust. Did I know what I was getting myself into when I cut myself a nice big slice for desert? Oh yes, and every bite was worth it because I knew exactly what was in this creamy, frozen slice of heaven!
My experience competing in the Mrs. California pageant was nothing short of amazing.
No I did not win the crown, Miss Congeniality, or even best gown. Not to take away from any of those accomplishments, (or the amazing women that did win!) what I chose to walk away with has been more valuable to me than any title or sash.
First there is the bond we contestants created during the three full days of rehearsals, photo ops, and backstage pep talks. Opposite of what you see on pageant reality shows these women were encouraging, kind, helpful, and prayerful. It was a lot like summer camp, but instead of hiking boots and bug spray we wore high heels and spray tanner!
Then there is the memory of my family cheering me on all weekend long. Thanks to my sweet husband and boys I was fed, emotionally stable, and felt like a million dollars every time I walked on stage. I love cheering my family on with all of their endeavors, but along the way I had forgotten that I also need that kind of support from my family and friends. This was not an adventure that I could have braved on my own. Because I let my guard down and accepted help I was reminded that I am deserving of that kind of attention and support. Hearing my boys cheer me on is a sound that I will treasure for life.
Lastly, because of this pageant something inside of me has come alive and I have no choice but to be obedient to what has been uncovered. Don’t ask me to explain it because I can’t. All I can say is that I feel as if I have finally found my light and now all I need to do is learn how to shine.
This funnel cake is dedicated to all of the sweet and hardworking women I met a few weekends ago. I hope you have been enjoying your post pageant pig outs we all talked, dreamed and drooled about! I know I have!!
I’m just going to tell it like it is and let you know that there is nothing new or exciting about this banana bread recipe. While it is an incredibly moist, delicious, dark chocolate filled loaf of banana bread, it is not anything that you haven’t seen at least one million times before. I know what your thinking, “So if this banana bread isn’t some kind of kooky, super healthy, low calorie, apple sauce and blueberry version why are you insisting on telling me about it?”
I’ll tell you why. This banana bread, like all run of the mill banana breads, was the perfect vehicle on which to slather the most amazing, unique, game changing, peanut butter glaze on.
This glaze and this glaze alone is what makes this particular loaf of banana goodness worth taking a second look at in a world filled to the brim with awesome banana bread recipes.
So how do you feel about one more holiday treat recipe?
What if I told you that there will be zero baking involved?
What if I said that you could give these away as last minute gifts to your neighbors and friends?
Hold on! I almost forgot to mention that these are super fun to make with your kiddos!
Still not buying it? Hmmm…
Dark chocolate, creamy peanut butter and salty pretzels.
Ha! I knew that would getcha!
You know me, I’m not a baker.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy baking every now and again, it’s just not the kind of cooking venture I often feel called to. Up until a few Sundays ago I was more than happy to purchase a grocery store cake for my boy’s birthdays. I loved picking up a beautifully decorated sheet cake with their name and new age artfully written in frosting. I loved unveiling it at the birthday party and snapping photos of our birthday boy blowing out the candles on his race car, dinosaur or Transformers themed confection. But what I really loved was cutting into this cake, serving it to our friends and family and enjoying a little slice of sugary heaven with those we love the most.
This love for grocery store cakes came to a screeching halt at my son’s 5th birthday party. Yes the cake was beautiful but that’s where it ended. I could taste the freezer burn in the cake itself and the raspberry filling was nothing more than a red gelatinous mess. The overly sweet buttercream frosting was slightly gritty and I got more “no thank you’s” vs “yes please’s” when cake time rolled around. After that birthday party I vowed to never again torture my family with a kind-of expensive, super gross grocery store cake ever again. While my cakes will never be the perfectly airbrushed (stale) works of art found at the bakery department they will most definitely be fluffy, moist and deliciously made with love!
Sounds like I have a new birthday cake calling and this simple vanilla bean sheet cake with candy cane buttercream frosting was a good place to start.
Almost a year ago a childhood friend of mine gave the editor at Sacramento Parent magazine my name and contact info in response to a question she had asked on Facebook. The editor at the time wanted to know if there was anyone out there that would like to submit a recipe to the magazine for mother’s day and my friend thought of me! Soon after that I was emailed and asked if I was interested in putting together a piece for them. Of course my immediate thought was “Yes!!!” My second thought was “Wait….No. Who the heck do I think I am ?! A magazine?? I don’t write for magazines, I’m a blogger and a small time one at that.”
I am so thankful that I told my second thought to go pound sand. I am also super grateful to my friend for giving the editor my name, and I can not thank that editor and the magazine enough for giving me a chance (and for not laughing at me.) Since that mother’s day recipe I have whipped up a Skillet Apple Crisp, and a Roasted Butternut Squash & Cauliflower Soup, just to name a few of the almost dozen dishes I’ve created for them.
What did I have up my sleeve for them this month? These pretty, chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside Molasses Spice Cutouts. My family fell in love with these spicy, full of holiday cheer cookies the minute they popped out of the oven. And I’m thinking a certain man in a jolly red suit will love them too!
Sometimes I need to remind myself of my limits despite how much I think I want to sign up for something.
While I love having all four of our boys on four separate soccer teams (love?) I know that I am simply unable to volunteer to be the soccer mom for any of their teams. Do I feel kinda lame when I look away as the coach cheerfully begs for a volunteer at the beginning of the season? Of course I do! But I know that I would feel even worse if the trophies never got ordered at the end of the season because it had slipped mind due to the million other things I have going on. Instead I am happy to be an awesome snack mom when my turn rolls around and to also respond to all the the team mom’s emails in a timely fashion.
As much as I would love (yes, love!) to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal for my family and friends, I know that I am simply unable to do such a crazy thing. Instead I’ll focus on the items that are super important to me; the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce and yams. I’ll then put my husband in charge of the appetizers and I’ve been told that my friend Patti can whip up a mean green bean casserole. Our dinner rolls will be bought from the grocery store, the decorations will be minimal and the napkins will be paper. As far as dessert goes my other girlfriend Michelle is an incredibly talented baker so I know she’ll come up with a beautiful chocolate concoction. I’ll also grab a few apple pies from Newcastle Produce and maybe even whip up this almost no bake pumpkin pie. The only baking required for this pie will be the ten minutes for the graham cracker crust and after that we are simply layering a creamy pumpkin filling under a fluffy whipped cream.
Here’s to a stress-free, under-committed, totally enjoyable, I-think-I’m-going-to-take-a-quick-nap, kind of Thanksgiving!
I am not the biggest fan of scary movies. I don’t like jumping out of my seat in fear, or feeling frustrated with a character because she obviously should not be walking in the woods, alone at night. I mean really, hasn’t she seen enough scary movies to know that a person should never, EVER be alone at night? Jeez!
I really don’t like scary costumes either. Zombies with blood dripping out of their mouths, killer clowns, the guy from scream… Ughhh! No thank you! While we’re on the subject of costumes I am not into the whole sexy costume thing either. Ladies, we are just too smart and creative to be dressing up like sexy nurses or hamburgers, right? There are a million wonderful people or things to dress up as, and there is just no reason to turn these people or things into slutty people or things.
It kinda sounds like I’m hatin’ on Halloween huh? I promise I’m not. In fact I love Halloween! The parties, dressing up, the four huge bags of candy that my boys will collect after a night of trick-or-treating that Ryan and I will pillage from for the rest of the year. The amount of candy that sits in our pantry after Halloween is down right crazy and I’m guessing the boys won’t miss a few candy bars so that I can make this Halloween candy caramel corn again! The traditional caramel corn recipe is pretty amazing, but a few Kit Kat’s and some candy corn mixed into it really makes it something special.
I hope you have a wonderful Halloween. I hope your kiddos come home with more candy than they know what to do with and I hope you do not dress up like a sexy milkshake.
I get my haircut about twice a year, and sometimes I’ll squeeze in a third one if I have a special occasion coming up. Pathetic I know. When I do finally get around to trimming my ends I always promise my understanding hairdresser that I’ll see her in six weeks and I properly scold myself for waiting so long.
At my last hair appointment, Cassie (my super cute, super hip hairdresser) and I were chatting about our kids. We were comparing notes on the stress’s of having a kid involved in soccer, baseball, or any other organized sport. The practices, the volunteer time, the weekends spent at the field, not to mention the cost of it all!! Of course it’s all worth it. We both grew up playing sports and we wanted our kids to enjoy these same privallages as well. Thinking of the sacrifices we are starting to make for our kids made us thankful for the years of sacrifices our parents made for us to play sports. Cassie and I then decided we should call our parents and thank them for all of the snacks, cheers, practices and uniforms they loving gave us.
So thank you mom and dad for the countless hours you spent on and off the field encouraging me to do my best. Thank you for shouting from the side lines even though I was totally embarrassed by it and thank you for continuing to do this for my boys. Even if that means taking them to their swim meets that start at 6:30 in morning!
While we are on the subject of heartfelt thank you’s, thank you mom and dad for watching our boys while we dash off to Hawaii for a few days! I am beyond grateful and excited for this bit of time away with my husband. So much in fact that I even got my hair trimmed for it.
See you in week, until then Aloha!