"Capturing Life"

Archive for February, 2013

Adjustments

There are times in life when you just have to be willing to adjust.  Maybe it’s adjusting to a new job, a new house, adding children to your life (yeah, that’s a big adjustment!) or even adjusting to the changing seasons.  The past couple of months have been a time of adjusting.

My mother had a bone fusion surgery on her ankle which requires several weeks of casting and no body weight on said ankle.  My brother, sister and I have become her assistants, alternating weeks at her home.  It’s become a time of weekly adjusting for me, being home one week and working to keep things running here then being with my mother the next week and making sure she’s behaving herself.  While it’s an honor to be able to give a little bit back to my mom, who gave so much of herself in raising my siblings and me, it does throw me off my routine and causes a bit of an “out of sorts” feeling in my life.

On the up side, it has provided some great time reconnecting with her and with some of my friends from my past.  It has also given me a lot of opportunities to enjoy views of Mt. Hood, which I have missed since moving from the area and where I learned to ski many years ago.

My 52 week challenge theme last week was “Favorite Snack.  I thought about it for the first few days of the week, trying to decide what is my favorite snack.  You see, when I was in my 20’s and earned money for my time (translated: I had a paying job and not a “mom job”) I worked in an office building that had a small snack bar.  I use to spend my afternoon breaks there with my friends, Sue and Deby, and every so often I would have my favorite snack of a diet soda and a small bag of Frito’s.  Once in awhile I’d add in my most delicious of snacks which were Double Chocolate Grandma Cookies.  The sun would shine in the window of the coffee shop and cause the cookies to get a little warm.  The chocolate chips wold melt just a little and they’d be the softest gooiest cookies around.  It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

An adjustment I’ve made in my life since that time is to reduce the frequency with which I indulge in those most enjoyable of snacks.  Rarely do I eat Frito’s and even more rarely do I enjoy Grandma cookies.  I’m also not a frequent soda drinker but you may find one in my hand on occasion or you may find me popping one or two Pretzel M&M’s in my mouth, my newest flavor find compliments of my son.  These days, however, it’s more likely to be fruit, vegetables or popcorn if I’m having a snack.  This adjustment, while much healthier and helpful in the battle to control my weight, is not always a happy adjustment.  It’s a necessary one.  I hear people say things like “oh, I just love to eat fruit and vegetables” or “I just feel so much better since I stopped eating all those other BAD foods” but I have to be honest: I don’t love fruit and vegetables as much as Double Chocolate Grandma Cookies and I really don’t think I feel that much better without the “BAD” foods.  I just know it’s healthier and conducive to a better quality of life plus it sabotages my fitness goals if I eat too much of the “BAD” foods.

At the end of the day, there are positives in every adjustment in life.  You just have to be willing to look for them and enjoy them.

I will close with another recipe that is consistent with the adjustment to eating healthier.  I’ve commented before about Hungry Girl recipes and how inspirational they are.  One of my favorites is the Egg Mug recipes she uses.  I’ve been adapting them to my own tastes and this past week I created a new one for myself.  I thought I’d share my newest creation with you and maybe it will encourage you to realize that breakfast can be quick and easy, taste great and avoid a lot of fuss.

1 Egg (or 2 egg whites)

2 mushrooms, sliced

1/4 orange bell pepper, chopped

3 spinach leaves, chopped

1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Mozzarella Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Cheese, cut into small cubes

Spray a mug or 1 cup ramekin with cooking spray.  Layer mushrooms, bell pepper, spinach and cubed cheese in mug.  Add egg and gently stir to mix.  Microwave 1 1/2 minute on high, or until egg is set.

Serve with skewered banana and pineapple cubes, greek yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit mixed in, or my personal favorite, a small slice of Killer Dave’s Sin Dawg roll.

Now this is an easy start to the day!

Advertisements

Happy Valentine’s Day 2013!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I openly admit it.  I. LOVE. Valentine’s. Day!

When my boys attended public school it was one of their class parties that I loved helping with.  When we began homeschooling them, it was the one party a year we threw.  We invited friends, played games, did crafts, had lunch, decorated cookies and exchanged valentines.  It took an army of help from other moms and from my own family, but we had such fun and my kids have wonderful memories of those parties.  It was difficult to give the parties up when my youngest son grew too old for them.  In fact, the first year we agreed he and his friends were too old to make valentines crafts we decided to invite them all ice skating instead.  It was just so much fun to have one special day a year that was focused on love.  Not romantic love, just a day to say “I love you” to those we really care about.

Ric and I have never looked at it as our opportunity to get away from our kids and go out for a romantic evening.  Somehow trying to reserve a table in an expensive restaurant, be surrounded by strangers all trying to achieve “romance” and eating food that is sub-par with what I could make for us at home never appealed to us.  Instead, we always have chosen to stay home, have a formal dinner with our best china and decorated table, complete with candle light, and enjoy it all with our whole family.  My boys have always looked forward to it as well and frequently pitch in to help with the preparation for the evening and even dressed up for dinner.  Well, okay, the truth is when they were younger they dressed up for dinner; now we’re just happy they show up for dinner!  ha ha!

So, with my love for this day of “Love”, I thought that, for this blog post, I would share my favorite recipe.  It’s one that I only make when February rolls around.  I’ve hesitated in the past to share the recipe because, like all who love to cook, I count this as one of my “signature” recipes and wanted to keep it as something special from me.  My family always looks forward to these cookies coming from the oven and we all savor every bite of them.  If you like Chocolate and Peanut butter, then you will love these cookies!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

(I think the recipe is from “Taste of Home” magazine.  I came across it many years ago while waiting for a Dr. visit. I think I might have even torn the page from the magazine in the waiting room.  Shame on me!!)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup Peanut butter, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

 In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugars and 1/4 cup peanut butter.
Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, cocoa and baking soda.
Add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Blend confectioner’s sugar with
remaining peanut butter until smooth.

Roll both the chocolate dough and the peanut butter dough  into 24 balls, the chocolate being approximately 1″ and the peanut butter being about 1/2″.

 

 Flatten each into a 3″in. circle.

Place one peanut butter ball on each circle;

bring edges over to completely cover it. (dough may crack; reshape cookies as needed)

Place cookies with seam side down on parchment paper lined baking sheets.

If using a cookie cutter to help shape them, place cookie cutter on baking sheet and then place dough in center of the cookie cutter.

 

Flatten each cookie slightly with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar or press out with your fingers and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 375* for 7-9 min. or until set.

These freeze well and are a wonderful gift for others when wrapped individually.  Chocolate on the outside, peanut butter on the inside.  What could be better?  Well, maybe if it were caramel on the inside but that’s a recipe for another time.


The Importance of Family Pictures

My Dad was usually behind the lens but this particular time my mom was our family photographer.

All my growing up years I have fond memories of my dad, our family photographer, taking pictures to document the wonderful memories of life.  This was “back in the day” of film cameras and, while he knew some basics about picture taking, he was not by any means “professional grade”.  He didn’t need to be.

The photo albums in my mothers collection show moments such as our family trying to have a family portrait on Christmas day via the timer on my dad’s camera.  Invariably the timer would trigger the camera to take the photo before my dad would have time to get back into the picture and we’d have his backside someplace in the frame with the rest of us laughing.  There are the photos of our family at Yellowstone National Park with the lovely Old Faithful in the background and my mother sternly telling us to get down from the railings in the foreground.  There are pictures from our family’s ocean property where we camped with another family on a regular basis.  There are the photos from every Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday, graduation, vacation, family reunion and any other event my dad had his camera ready for.   We have gathered together over the years to view the slides and look at the photo albums that contain all these years of family pictures.  We laugh, we remember and we bond once again.

In my view, family pictures are one of the important elements in the heritage of each family.  They transcend time and help us return to the early days of our family unit, before time and older ages took us each in our own directions.  Ric and I already cherish our own family pictures and the memories they evoke even though our kids have not yet completely launched from our home.

This past Christmas season provided me the opportunity to participate in “memory making” events.  The kids of some very close friends of ours asked me to take secretive portraits of them for their parents’ Christmas gift.  It was so fun to meet up with them, spend an hour or so playing, and provide them with some great family portraits that will hopefully be cherished by their parents in the years to come.  I love these young people and was honored that they asked me to participate in such a fun gift.

I also photographed an intimate wedding just after Thanksgiving, capturing the beginning of many memories ahead.  The bride and groom had both experienced great loss in their lives and found new love.  It was the beautiful occasion of their new future together.

My own family Christmas time was filled with the joyful memories of our first Christmas with our future daughter-in-law.  As you can well imagine, this photographer took a plethora of family pictures, carrying my camera every place we went and trying to capture photo’s on the sly.  Sadly, however, my family is well on to my trying to be sly and discreet and know all my tricks so it’s more difficult to capture them unaware.  Still, I managed a few photos of them living life in their own unique ways and was able to get those memories documented for our family.

Just after Christmas another family arranged to have me do portraits while they were all together for the holidays.They are a growing family as they add new generations and they desired photos to document the stage their family is currently at.  For every family unit there is a unique bond that occurs.  Why not take the time to capture those memories along the way?