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Monthly Archives: January 2012

On grief, death, loss, and judgement

This week, I haven’t been around a lot, on here or online in general. I’ve had much on my mind, and this has tended to occupy the majority of my scattered waking thoughts lately.

Specifically, death. Death and grief.

Recently, a sweet friend of mine lost her husband to cancer. My heart breaks for her – in some big ways, as well as in a million little ways (more on the little ways in a bit). Not only for her pain, but also for the pain she must certainly have as a mother, seeing your young child experience such grief as well. It is a double-dose of a heavy burden.

As a parent, watching your children grieve truly takes you to another plane. It clears away a lot of the cloudiness and the clutter and almost entirely focuses one’s heartbreak, on both the person you’ve lost as well as the pain that your child or children are experiencing.

Sometimes, as parents, we do things a bit differently when it comes to kids and grief and death and loss. We take more pictures and share them. We talk about it. A lot. We may celebrate memories differently with them. We do things that perhaps aren’t orthodox, or that perhaps you won’t approve of. Why? Because we value our child’s heart higher than we value a critical stranger’s sensitivities or gossipy family member’s opinions. If you don’t want to see, then don’t look. Don’t ask them to change, don’t ask them to remove a heartbreaking photo from Facebook, don’t ask them to avoid mentioning the deceased in your presence. Have some compassion and leniency.

Grief and loss are inevitable. We all will experience it, in many different ways. We all will process it in very different ways and forms as well.

It saddens me greatly when I see others judge those who are knee-deep in their grief. When we use our own expectations and opinions towards death and grief to view others through the window of our own biases, we aren’t seeing them clearly. More importantly, what we think doesn’t matter. Everyone embarks on their personal journey of grief alone in a sense, no matter how many loved ones are around them and supporting them. It can get quite lonely. It shouldn’t have to be said, but it isn’t the time to critique how they are coping or to pass judgement on what you think about how they are handling it. It isn’t the time to criticize. It is the time to hush up your critical mouth and hold open your arms.

Just a few days ago, the topic of grief and coping came up in conversation with a dear friend of mine. He had also lost his significant other, quite suddenly in an auto accident. He was asking me about how I dealt with grief, and if I had any advice to share. I really didn’t have much of great worth to share, in my opinion. And I hate that. Because I know what it must take to ask that question of another, when your heart is aching.

Let’s talk about muscle.

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My friend Amber’s guns. She’s incredible. ❤

What I did say to my friend, that he sweetly called a beautifully accurate description, is that in my experience grief is a lot like a muscle. We all have it. And when we use it, when grief and death and loss occurs, our muscle fibers and flesh rip, tear, and break. It hurts. It burns. Then, our body miraculously attempts to heal this tear, to make repairs, and in turn the muscle gets stronger. It is a never ending process though. Ripping flesh, healing, tearing muscle, repairing.

We experience setbacks, more tears, sprains, strains, and aches. But that muscle gets stronger throughout it all. Grief and memory hurt. Always. But….to me, it almost becomes a natural movement, moving with that ever-present grief. We find a groove, moving in and out of sadness and heartache and strength. Graceful in a way, with moments of clumsiness and brief episodes of panicky free-falls. And then, one day, you find yourself doing something that not long ago would’ve sent you into a bawling messy heap on the floor, and you realize that you are doing it and doing it competently, and that once in a while, it almost feels…well, good. Good is not the right word though, is it? More like…familiar. Becoming familiar.

You’ve now trained your body to cope in new ways. Ways that only someone who has ever experienced a great loss can begin to comprehend.

Grief can show up anytime. Feelings of loss can hit anyone. It isn’t just those expected big events, anniversaries, and memories that work that muscle, either. It shows up in a million little ways, as well. The memories that show up unannounced and barge right in on you when you’re in the middle of a speech and your voice breaks. The too-vivid dreams that wake you up feeling too-strong longing juxtaposed with a hint of thankfulness. The moment when you glance across the restaurant and see someone spooning sugar into their coffee in the exact same way as your lost loved one, and you drop your own spoon with a clatter. The child whose grin echoes another one that you haven’t seen in years and for a moment you can’t breathe. Overhearing someone calling their child by a nickname that your deceased parent used to affectionately refer to you, and your heart skips a beat. A million little ways that rip that flesh over and over and over again.

Grief is personal. Loss is personal. Ultimately, it is us. It is me. It is you. You and your loved one. The best any of us can do for someone grieving is to listen and to be there, open arms. Your grief muscle is growing and growing, and you will need that support system and those understanding hearts around you – to hold you up when weak, to lend a hand when needed, to admire your strong muscles that you are building.

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Make your own dipping oil

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Since I am gluten free, there are some things I miss terribly. For instance. I love love love the oil served at some restaurants before the salad course. Love.

You know. The oil they serve with warm crusty bread? That tastes terrific? I know you know what I am talking about. The stuff that you (I) can make an entire meal out of. Yes. That dipping oil. Well, turns out it is super easy to make, and paired with a good GF bread, you won’t be missing a thing. I love Canyon Bakehouse’s Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia, and that is the bread that is pictured for this recipe. It is a fantastic GF bread!

You can make the oil as simple or as complex as your little heart desires. Have fun with it. This is my basic recipe for it – but feel free to add, subtract, adjust or whatever to suit your particular tastes. I keep meaning to try this with roasted garlic, I think that would be fantastic.

I used freshly minced garlic, fresh basil leaves, ground black pepper, crushed red pepper, a bit of salt, some vinegar, and some olive oil. I use organic when possible. The actual quantities of what I use:

1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 or 5 basil leaves, torn
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

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Add the dry ingredients, mince the garlic into it, add the vinegar, and then stir the oil into the mixture.

These photos are taken immediately after preparation, so I could get this post up on here and share with you. I would hate for anyone to be deprived their own garlic dipping oil this weekend! That said, here is a little hint. This stuff, covered and left out for a few hours, deepens in flavor immensely. So if you want to serve it as an appetizer course before dinner, prepare it around lunchtime for an amazingly flavored oil.

Please let me know what adjustments you make, additions you add in, ideas you have, and otherwise! ❤

Enjoy!
~glutenvygirl

cashew butter chocolate strawberry bites

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Press cashew butter (Mmmm…cashew butter=new favorite food) into small cups. Pour melted chocolate chips into the center. Place chopped strawberries atop the chocolate. All gluten free, of course. Enjoy!

1 spoon of cashew butter for each “bite”
1 tablespoon melted GF chocolate chips for each “bite”
2 strawberries, quartered, for each “bite”

With My Sincerest (IR)Regards

Hilarious post. Enjoy!

Joe's Primal Scream

I am not the only one that gets a little irritable about this. There is a quiet anger seething beneath the surface of seemingly calm Americans. It’s about word/phrase/idiom abuse, misuse or even overuse. The other day I witnessed an old lady at a local shop sitting to the side, silently absorbed in her crossword puzzle. The English language for her isn’t simply a means of communication. Each time she picks up a crossword puzzle it is a sport. A linguistic and lexicographic Olympiad. It is with pride that she fills out the tiny blocks in with her palsied hands, the cumulative knowledge of decades immersed in her culture and language scrawled letter by satisfying letter.

A group of young men stopped briefly, purchasing drinks and some snacks. I would like to think it was to fill them out. For some reason all of them had a lot of trouble…

View original post 726 more words

Battle of the Blogs, Round Two: Bacon and Eggs

Joe over at Joe’s Primal Scream and I had so much fun last week doing our asparagus/mushroom food blog challenge (here and here) that we decided to pick it up again this week. We chose two more ingredients, and whipped up some new recipes neither of us had ever made before.

We have a ton of fun, and get to play with our food and creatively invent things. Let us know if you have any ingredient suggestions for future challenges! You can find his bacon&eggs entry here.

So. Bacon and eggs for this week’s challenge.

Here is what I did.

Cheesy Basil Bacon Bread Quiches

I preheated the oven to 375 and started with bacon, organic eggs, and Udi’s gluten free sandwich bread. Ingredients used were: four strips of cooked bacon, four eggs, four slices of the GF bread, a small shallot, a clove of garlic, four leaves of basil, a tablespoon of heavy cream, half an ounce each of sharp cheddar and parmesan, and a tablespoon of butter.

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Divide butter into 12, and place each portion into the bottom of a mini-muffin pan. Press the butter into the pan.

Next, using a mini-biscuit cutter, cut out a dozen mini circles. On the Udi’s bread, I could fit three to a slice.

*NOTE* I saved the bread remnants to use later. Probably soaked in milk for a panade for meatballs.

Press the mini cuts of bread into the prepared pan.

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Combine the eggs with the cream and the clove of garlic, minced. Whisk until the mixture turns a pale yellow.

Chop the shallot and the bacon. Shred the cheeses, chop the basil, and then combine all ingredients into the eggs. Spoon over the bread coins in the pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

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Remove and allow to cool a bit. Serve and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

4 eggs
4 slices of bacon
4 slices of Udi’s gluten free sandwich bread
4 leaves of basil
1 small shallot
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 oz Parmesan, shredded
1/2 oz sharp cheddar, shredded

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375.
Divide the tablespoon of butter into twelve and press each portion into the bottom of the mini muffin pan.
Cut out a dozen mini circles from the bread, using a mini biscuit cutter. Press the rounds into the muffin pan.
Combine the eggs, garlic, and cream. Whisk until pale yellow.
Chop the shallot, bacon, and the fresh basil leaves. Shred the cheeses. Add all to the eggs. Stir.
Soon into the muffin pan onto the bread rounds. Fill almost to the brim with the egg mixture.
Allow this to sit for a minute, and then pop into the oven.
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and pan, and allow to cool slightly. Serve and enjoy!

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The Man Trip

So, this weekend my husband and our two boys decided to go on a “man trip.” They do this every once in a while. According to my boys, it’s a trip just for guys, where they’re allowed to consume gross non-Mom-approved junk food, to fart and belch, where they use neither their manners nor silverware, they do wild and crazy stuff, get covered in dirt, and not have to take baths.

About 3:30pm on Friday, both boys are keyed up. Can’t wait! Can’t wait! Can’t wait! When can we go? When can we go? When can we go? When will Dad be home? Are we going shopping for junk food first? Can’t wait!

Now. Enter my baby, my love: my glorious vintage camper. It’s a 1964 Streamline and I absolutely adore it. I got it this last summer. It was very affordable (read: needed lots of work) and I fell in love with it immediately.

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I adore it so much, that I have a pinboard on Pinterest devoted to all the ideas I’m gathering up to inspire me in ways I will redecorate and remodel it.

NOTE: most of my ideas and inspirations on there are girly and glitzy with lots and lots of white. In other words, will never work with my family of wild boys. But hey. A girl can dream. Leave me alone.

Anyways husband gets home late, we eat, they pack their bag of “essentials”, along with a couple sacks of food and snacks, and I’m positively thrilled to see that toothbrushes were packed without prompting. This is huge, people.

So. The guys borrow MY camper to go on this Man Trip. They decide to park it at my husband’s company parking lot (I knew there was a reason he installed those electrical hookups on the building) since it is already late before they leave.

They had dinner with me first, and then excitedly left. They’re roughing it, right? Ten feet from the bathroom. Smack dab in the midst of civilization. Which only goes to show you that you can rough it virtually anywhere. Or something like that…

They called me a few times. Little things. Having a ton of fun. Great. Wonderful. Fantastic. I curl up in bed and go to sleep, then get irked at both of my parents for waking me by each texting me after 9pm read some poetry, do some research, and catch up on correspondence.

The whole king sized bed to myself. No restless sleeping husband. No children coming into my room because something woke them. All. To. My. Self.

It’s ridiculously easy to make a bed in the morning when it’s only you who slept in it.

Speaking of morning. They called at 7-ish. In the morning. Guess why. Go ahead. Guess. Well, because they were hungry of course! The quick breakfast items they’d brought wouldn’t fit the bill. These wild cavemen were HUNGRY, to a point that grits couldn’t satisfy. So, husband puts the youngest on the phone, knowing I cannot resist. Ah, what a sneaky ploy. Youngest, in his sweetest voice and with a drawl that melts butter, requests that I bring them bacon and eggs.

“You know, Mom. REAL breakfast. Not this stuff that Dad brought. Please?”

Fine. Fine fine. I crawl out of bed, and threw on some old jeans and a tee. I grabbed some eggs from the fridge and a pound of bacon. I stop at a convenience store and pick up some orange juice for them. Aren’t I nice? Yes. Yes I am. Say it or I’ll take the bacon and eggs right back.

While delivering food, husband suggests I stay with boys and he goes home. No way, buster brown. “Isn’t the big game coming on soon?” he queries me. Nope. Ha. Dream on.

I return home, to do nothing laundry, dishes, and dust the chair railings.

It doesn’t last long. I make a few more trips to them, all urgently necessary. I take them to lunch. I bring Nintendos. Chargers. Drinks. To check yet again to see if somehow they’ve rescheduled the playoff games at the last minute to today instead of Sunday. About the time I’m considering dropping my iPhone into a toilet, they decide they want to come home and the trip is finished. What? So soon? When you had delivery for every possible need?

From what I’ve been able to gather from my boys, the youngest one tried to teach the older one how to fight. The youngest is involved in every sport that comes to town, and love karate. The older one, not so much. So. My youngest trustingly shows his older brother the appropriate stance, and a basic punch.

Now. The oldest one had suddenly had his interest in fighting piqued by their father and his tall tales family history stories shared on this particular Man Trip. Supposedly, back in the dusty annals of his family genealogy, there was some loose connection to a gang called the Marlow Gang.

So. Older brother is wide-eyed with fascination over these certainly-embellished stories, and is thrilled to now know how to effectively punch. He decides to test his skills out.

On his younger brother.

Tears commence.
*No blood. Just tears.
**in Mom-triage, no blood means a hug and some reassurance. It’ll be fine.

They are home now. Sent to take baths immediately upon crossing the threshold. Tired, dusty, muddy, and done with yet another much-fabled Man Trip. They even supposedly used those toothbrushes.

I know that someday, they’ll look back and remember these weekends with fondness and joy. I hope that they will smile as they remember all the fun, all the messes, the time spent with each other, and all the stories.

They’re happy. They had fun. So I’m happy…just with lots more laundry to do now.

Roast with winter vegetables in slow cooker

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I love winter vegetables, and the ease of throwing them into a slow cooker in the morning with a beef roast and basically not having to worry about dinner.

I started with some assorted vegetables. NOTE: This is an easy way to test out a new vegetable – by including it in a dish that is familiar to your family. My kids hadn’t really ever taken to parsnips, but throwing them (the parsnips, not my kids) into this roast dish helped to make parsnips not seem so foreign.

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Place the roast (I used a 2.5 lb beef bottom round roast) in the slow cooker. Surround with the prepared vegetables, add some salt and pepper and a cup of water, and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.

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INGREDIENTS:
1 fennel bulb, sliced with a few fronds reserved
1 medium shallot, quartered
1 bulb of garlic, top sliced off
28oz fingerling potatoes (or small potatoes cut into quarters)
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
3 parsnips, peeled and sliced into coins
1 cup water
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Place roast in slow cooker.
Surround with vegetables. Pour in water. Sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Place reserved fennel fronds on roast. Cook over low for 6-8 hours. Serve.