Monday, January 20, 2014

Eggs In A Basket

This is one of my son's favorite recipes to make and eat! It's easy, inexpensive and kid-friendly. And it can be made the night before.
Eggs In A Basket

Eggs In A Basket

6 eggs
6 pieces of bread, with crusts cut off if you prefer, buttered on one side
Grated sharp cheddar cheese, around a cup
Salt and pepper to taste
No stick cooking spray

Leftover, cooked potatoes cut into small cubes, maybe a cup or so
Bacon bits or crumbles to sprinkle on top

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Very lightly spray a muffin tin, preferably a large muffin tin, with no stick cooking spray.

Place one piece of bread, buttered-side down, into each tin.
Break one egg into each tin. (It doesn’t matter if the yolk breaks.)
Sprinkle salt or pepper over egg.

Add optional potatoes, around a tablespoon, to each tin.
Add bacon bits or crumbles, around a teaspoon, to each tin.

Sprinkle cheese to your liking on top.

Bake until egg is done, approximately 10 -15 minutes, depending on size of muffin tin.

Remove from oven and let sit for a minute or two before serving.

Be sure to take some photos of your product and the smile on your kid's face!

Note: You can use a regular sized muffin tin but the food tends to overflow and harden or burn. If you use a regular-sized muffin tin, you will need equal pieces of bread and eggs for each “basket”.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Moving Forward

That's my boy.

And me. (I'm the one pulling him on the sled.)

Across the yard. Across the field. Of nearly two acres.

While it was exhausting for me, he had a blast. And I'm so glad we spent time in the snow together. I could have easily stayed inside, warm and cozy. But it was worth the effort as my son still talks about how "Mommy kept falling down in the snow when she was pulling me."

When you fall down in the snow, it's cold. So, you need to get back up. And quickly. And as with other things in life, sometimes you just have to keep moving forward. And those things behind you, well they're usually there for a purpose.

As I plan for my upcoming trip (aka Adventure!) I still get a little nervous about how it's all going to work out. Okay, honestly, what I really mean is IF it's all going to work out. But it's moving along. Just this week, I've finalized someone to watch Alejandro, someone to watch Della the Dog and someone to take care of the office. To rely on other people to do what they say they will do is a huge step for me. It's a huge leap of faith.

Now, I just need to buy the plane tickets and book the hotel. That's where things get a bit sticky. If clients pay their bills on time, if other monies come in like they should, then I'm all set. So, I'm continuing to plan the trip trusting that even if I don't look back, I'll still get up if I fall. Besides, the view isn't so bad.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Contained Life

My life contains a lot of projects right now. I'm working on projects for school, putting together proposals for possible consulting jobs, planning upcoming workshops and simply trying to figure out what I'm cooking for dinner tomorrow night. Often times this spills over into other areas such as whether or not I will have time to take my son to a movie or play with him before bedtime. And taking care of myself falls by the wayside amidst all of these projects.

Like a lot of you, I've often taken on more than I can manage, professionally and personally by offering to help this person with their job search or that person learn social media or that group promote their cause.

And the results of my efforts?

I'm tired. And cranky. And sleepy. And frustrated that not getting a damn thing done in the way or to the extent I want to get it done.

Lately, however, I've been making a conscious effort to assign a value to almost everything I do. For example, would taking on another volunteer project enhance my resume or skill set or would it simply be another added responsibility keeping me from doing what matters most right now? On a scale of one to five, with five being the highest and of most value, taking on another volunteer project would rank a one. 

So, I've decided to put all of these projects, these life projects I'll call them, in containers. A container for my son. A container for my personal life and self-care. A container for work (my day job). A container for school. A container for my business. A container for volunteer work. And a container for quite simply, fun.

Each of the items in these containers will be carefully reviewed and selected to ensure they are necessary and of high value. I will water and feed each container taking careful consideration of its potential and ability to give back to my common good. If a container starts becoming overgrown, I will weed out the unnecessary growth and trim back in other areas.

In some areas of my life, Spring is just around the corner. I can't wait to see new growth and opportunity as I rake winter's leaves out of the containers. Which areas of your life are you feeling overwhelmed or overgrown?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pride and Joy

This picture was taken in 1982.

I was 17. And fat.

Can you spot me?

That one. Right there. The fat one. With the big hips.

I probably had a big meal on the day this photo was taken. I probably ate two pieces of bread on that day, instead of my usual, one. And washed it down with water - no lemon.

And after school, I usually walked the two miles home to burn extra calories, rather than ride the school bus.

I eventually got used to eating a cup of rice or so for dinner after I got off the phone with my nightly phone call from my boyfriend.

He was 22. And thin.

I was big-boned he said. With birthing hips.

My best friend's mother would remind me to stand up straight so people wouldn't notice my hips as much. Her husband would say how beautiful I would be if I could just lose some of those hips.

Sometimes when my father would introduce me to people he would retrieve a photo of his pride and joy from his wallet. Beaming and proud, he would say how impressed he was with his pride and joy, how beautiful she was, etc., all the while keeping me close to him as if at any moment, I was going to shake their hands. They assumed, of course, that he was going to show pictures of me.

When he finally revealed the well-worn, black and white photo, it was of a very unattractive old woman named Pride. Her sister was named Joy he would say, laughing.

I usually slipped back into the background after those types of introductions.

Next month I meeting someone very special.

For the first time.


Over the last year and a half, we've swapped photos, Skyped, sent videos and stalked each others' Facebook pages, trying so diligently to show who we really are to one another. The distance between us (several oceans, continents and time zones) has allowed us, or rather demanded, that we get to know each other from the inside out. And we are smitten with one another, talking on the phone at least three or four times a day. Every. single. Day.

I'm 49. And probably fat by somebody's standards.

He's much younger. And thin. By my standards.

He says he LOVES my curves, especially those hips.

I'm in love with that fabulous mind of his.

But old memories die hard.

When we meet, I hope I have the courage to introduce myself, as MY pride and joy.


Have you spotted me yet?

I'm the one on the far right. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Free Rider

Years ago, I would roll down the windows of my car, turn up the music and sing like it was nobody's business. That freedom and sheer pleasure, admittedly, has been replaced with CDs of nursery rhymes and radio talk shows.

I am blessed to have had my son later in life when I could focus on and appreciate who and what he is. Most of the time.

The day this photo, he had just finished playing at the park while I worked on my laptop. The air was filled with "Mommy, watch me!", "Did you see that Mommy?", "Here I go, Mommy!", and "Mooommmmyy, are you watching me?!?!?"

I am shamed to say that I wasn't.

Well, I was. But I was watching him while working on my laptop so I didn't really get to see his joy, his laughter, his fun - him. I had missed the most important moments. The most fleeting moments. Of life.

Lesson learned.

So, I put my laptop in the car, sat down and watched his joy, his laughter, his fun - him.

"Mommy,watch me!"

And indeed I did.

Go Free Rider!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Biscuits, Butter and Pure Cane Syrup

My grandmother will be ninety-six years old this year. She is one of my favorite people. She is well known for her pan-fried chicken, black-eyed peas and cornbread, sweet tea, and biscuits.

Grandma could whip up some biscuits in no time (as she put it.) She kept a mixing bowl with flour in the huge flour tin, ready to whip up biscuits at a moment's notice. And as she cooked, she shared. 
She shared simple things like how long she had been making biscuits (since she could push a chair up to the counter to stand on), how long she had been making butter (since she could stand and hold the plunger on the butter churn) and how long since she had seen me. (I've always enjoyed being the topic of her conversations.)

Growing up, I saw my Grandma every other weekend, summers and holidays. She lived next to my father whom I visited often. No matter what was going on, no matter how busy she was, she always had time to visit with me. And she insisted, like most Southern women, on feeding you. Even if you weren't hungry.

Biscuits were generally served with homemade butter (until her arthritis set in), Steen's 100% Pure Cane Syrup and good advice. Describing herself she would say that she was a Christian woman, God-fearing, a wife and a mother. And that's all she ever wanted to be. Like biscuits and butter, those things go together she said, with syrup to keep them sweet and hold them together. 
Grandma believes in the sanctity of marriage. Shedoes not believe in divorce. No matter the circumstances. And she didn't have a problem telling you or anyone else what she thought about divorce. She had married Grandaddy because he had asked her. And her brothers were friends with him. She never mentioned anything about love, just that when you married, you stayed married. And you had to work things out. I remember hearing her berate family members (mainly the women) if they so mentioned divorce, or worse, got a divorce. (I come from a very dysfunctional family, full of divorces.)
The day before I moved across the country after ending a failed marriage and distancing myself from an unhappy soon-to-be-ex-husband, I went to Grandma's house give her the news of my departure. 
She was "fixing" to make biscuits. As we caught up, she gathered the ingredients for the biscuits, mixed them and talked about how easily the ingredients mixed together and how simple they were to make, just like before.

"Biscuits are like relationships. Biscuits and butter, those things go together with syrup to keep them sweet and hold them together," she said.

This wasn't going to be easy to say to her, I thought. How was I going to tell her that I was leaving home. Leaving Louisiana. And leaving my husband.
I was hesitant to tell her fearing her condemnation and certainly not expecting her support. But I went straight to the point. 
When I finished telling her (without any of the horrid details) that I was leaving home, Louisiana and my husband, she asked only one question.

"He ain't living right?" she asked, cocking her head to one side with the all-knowing glance.

"No, Grandma, he's not," I replied.

"You go on now. Get going. And don't forget to call."

That simple conversation released me from the last seven years of marriage and sent me joyfully on my way across the country.

With a jar of syrup in my boxes to tide me over until the next relationship.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's Not Who You Are That Holds You Back

It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not.

Ain't that the truth? At least for me.

For decades the one thing that I wasn't, held me back. My boss, co-workers, friends and family didn't seem to mind that I didn't have the one thing that held me back.

And that one thing? A college degree.

I had never needed one. I did well at all my jobs. I was often the "go-to" person for leadership, new skills training, etc. But something was missing that kept me from applying for positions inside and outside of my company. I tended to stay put for fear of having to compete and thinking that I didn't have all right pieces to even do that. So for years, no, decades, I felt less than. Unworthy. Not smart enough.

The birth of my son, Alejandro, changed my perspective on education. Or rather, on opportunities. Wanting to give my son every opportunity meant that I needed to give myself the same. In 2010, I started going to school full-time. I took a semester off after I finished my undergraduate degree, started on a Masters and now, I'm starting a second Master's degree. (Yes, there's probably a Doctorate Degree in my future. Overkill, I know.)

So, now that that one thing holding me back isn't a thing anymore, I'll take a look around for other things (and even people) that are holding me back.

This should be an interesting year. And you'll hear all about it if you stick around. I would love to hear what holds you back. And hope to be able to help in whatever way I can. So, tell me, what holds you back?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Mr. Possibility

That's Mr. Possibility.

Yeah, him. That adorable little boy. His name is Alejandro. And he is my joy. And my everything. Yes, I know. That's what most parents say. And that's okay. I don't mind being another one of those parents regaling about how wonderful their kid is. Isn't that what it's supposed to be all about?

Alejandro is a good kid. He's kind. He's bright. He's funny. And a bit shy.

I'm a little worried about the shy part. I'm hoping that his shyness doesn't mean that he isn't assertive when he's in danger. You know what I mean - that he would be assertive if someone wasn't nice to him or worse, if someone was trying to hurt him. I always tell him to yell, kick, scream and run away if anyone tries to hurt him or make him go with them. And to find a mom, because moms have kids and really understand things like this.

Today, he desperately wanted to play outside in the snow. Since I chose to have a Snow Day yesterday, I really needed to focus on things today. I normally don't let him play alone outside.

We live near a very busy street. There are always people walking along the road, mainly transients. Just last week someone stole gifts we had placed outside for the guys who pick up our trash. During the summer, a SWAT team roared into our driveway in full gear, with canines, searching our yard for someone running from police after a theft. So, you can see that given what's happened in the past, there's a possibility of something happening to Alejandro. Of someone taking Alejandro. If he's outside alone.

But Alejandro really wanted to play outside. And I really needed to get my work done. So, he played outside. Alone. And I worked. And my mom watched him a bit through the window.

And he was just fine.

Soon, I will be leaving him for my very first vacation. It's a special trip that has the potential to change everything I know to be truth in my life. And it involves another Mr. Possibility. A very different kind of Mr. Possibility. But a very big possibility nonetheless. I can only hope he turns out to be as incredible (and safe) as Alejandro.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snow Day

Like a lot of people, I lead an exhausting life. I work full-time, go to school full-time (and will be beginning another Masters soon), own a small business, hold workshops throughout the state, mentor and coach two young professionals, teach at a local college and volunteer for two organizations.

But mainly, and most importantly, I'm a mom.

It snowed last night. So my office and my son's school were closed. It was an official Snow Day! Today would have been a great day to catch up on personal business work. You know, paying bills, planning out next week, catching up on emails, posting on Facebook, etc.

But it was a Snow Day. And my son was begging to go outside.

So I bundled up my boy in two shirts, a pair of pants, two pairs of socks, a scarf, a hat, a coat, shoes and a snow suit. Like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, he could barely move. But he played and played while I put a pot of chili on to cook. Soon, he had "played" so much that he ended up shoveling most of our driveway - for fun.

And then I got bundled up. And we played and played until our toes were numb and our noses red. It was cold and there were a ton of things I could have been doing. But on this day, there was only one thing that I really needed to do. And this was my reward.

He's a pretty good artist, isn't he? My Sweet Boy.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

From Nothing to Something

It's taken me nearly fifty years to realize that nothing is going to happen if you don't get started with something. I know, sounds a bit elementary, but it's been a hard lesson for me to learn in some areas of my life.

While I do a good job at planning when it comes to my job and business, it's always been a challenge to plan for the things I really want to take a vacation. So, I've never taken one.

Somewhere inside me I have this voice telling me that I shouldn't allow myself the indulgence of fun because somehow, some way, it's going to get cancelled. And I will be deeply disappointed.

I know this stems from some deep-seated issue as a child that should have been worked out in therapy. But hey, I'm getting there. I sent out my passport for renewal today, so I'm getting something done.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Year of My Fifty

2014 is a long way away from 1964.

But it's here. I'm here. And I'm going to enjoy every minute of it! I plan to do fifty different and exciting things in 2014. So,I'm starting this year of adventure with reservations to Malaysia.

I have a short time span to plan. But here's what I know so far.

It's my first, very first, official vacation. Evah! Yes, that's right. I've never been on a vacation in my adult life. Every trip I've taken has been for work, to visit a family member or for professional development.

This trip, yes, this trip folks, is for me. Oh, and another very special person. More to come...