This moment. {11.30.12.}

I’m joining SouleMama for {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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Humiliation.

It’s taking all the courage I have to sit and publicly recount the events that culminated into one enormous comedy of errors that is soundly the most embarrassing moment of my adult life.

More embarrassing than when I told my former boss my water broke when I had actually just peed myself.

Even more embarrassing than when I passed out at the altar during our wedding.

Today, I thought my house was on fire.

I thought my house was on fire.

I should back up.

This morning, I woke up in a crummy, no good, rotten mood. The girls were equally cranky and I decided that the only way the three of us were going to survive the day was to exit the house as soon as possible and keep ourselves busy elsewhere.

I showered, dressed both girls, packed a diaper back with lots of snacks and beelined for the door. No small feat, I should say. I reached for my keys – no keys. I always leave my keys on the stand by the door.

“E, did you take Momma’s keys? No?”

Hmm.

One quick phone call to J later, it was determined he did, in fact, have my car keys in his pocket.

RAWR.

Homebound with two disappointed children (Have you ever had to recant a promise of Dunkin’ Donuts munchkins? It’s not pretty.), I simmered angrily. Well, if we can’t go, we’ll cook!

I preheated the oven and went about my business of separating two quarreling girls whilst picking up the Fisher Price manger scene for the twelfth time since Sunday.

*Sniff, sniff*

Hmm.

The oven was omitting more than the typical amount of smoke and smell, so I turned it off. Probably remnants of last week’s cooking bonanza. I continued on my separation/cleaning mission.

I head toward the bedrooms to put away some clothes. When I opened the door to B’s room, it was a bit smoky in there, too. Again, something smelled like burning but was somehow different from the typical smell of burnt food that I’ve become all too familiar with.

I peeked my head into our bedroom. Same story.

I began rounding the house and checking outlets, candles, curling irons and Christmas trees. By this point, the oven had been turned off for quite awhile. I remembered that the furnace was acting a bit wonky this morning and considered the possibility of an attic fire.

Somewhat panicked, I called J.

“Uh, I’m not sure but I think the house may be on fire.”

What a great line to deliver to your husband over the phone.

He promised to hurry home and I kept looking for the mystery source of the smell- all while continuing to play referee to the girls.

A few minutes later, my phone rang – it was J.

“I just got pulled over going 50 in a 25. This is going to be awhile.”

Really?!

My panic went into overdrive.

I called 911.

A short 4 minutes later – seriously, these guys were speedy – no fewer than 12 firemen and four firetrucks, complete with a ladder truck (for our one story home) and the fire chief were swarming our home.

Yessssssss.

Apparently the 911 dispatcher misunderstood my “smell of smoke in the bedroom” for “smoke pouring out of the bedroom window.”

It was quickly determined that there was no fire. Smoke, yes, so I wasn’t entirely crazy. But no flames. No attic fire. Nothing.

Just my dirty oven.

I was mortified.

I’m still mortified.

Our neighborhood is about 90% retired military couples. With today’s show, I’m certain they will have enough excitement to last through the new year.

God bless the police officer who let J off with a warning. Either he was impressed with J’s creative excuse for speeding or heard the dispatch while running his license. Regardless, we could not have afforded that ticket.

So, who knows how to clean an oven?

Thanksgiving Photo Dump

With a title like that, how could you not read?!

Pardon my lack of creativity. We’re on holiday hangover and the girls gave their Momma a run for her money today.

Last week, J had a glorious break from work and while I could have used the extra time to update Ye Ole Blog, I unplugged for a few days and spent some much-needed QT with J and the girls. My brain has been scattered and jumbled as of late, so sit tight for a massive photo dump to recap the holiday.

Since the Christmas season is officially here, I need to talk about Thanksgiving before it’s nothing more than a distant memory (despite extra three pounds I’m carrying courtesy of the muffins, dressing and apple pie)

We stayed home for Thanksgiving but despite our small family, made enough food for about 10 people. We never learn.

We spent most of the afternoon cooking and sweating up a storm (our kitchen was not designed with the serious chef in mind) so I called halftime and uncorked a bottle of wine. I thought, “why don’t I always cook with wine?!” Because you’d find me asleep on the couch while dinner burns.

Friends came over for dessert and the girls had a blast. We all went to bed with uncomfortably full bellies. Ah, excess!

I can’t properly recap a Thanksgiving weekend without talking about shopping, right? I fully intended to skip over the whole Black Friday disaster but I did find an amazing deal on E’s Christmas gift at Target that I couldn’t afford to pass up. No really, I couldn’t afford to buy it for her at regular price. So we all ventured out around 11 a.m. and J dropped me at the door so I could run in and snag it while they parked. Surprisingly, Target and the attached mall weren’t that busy so we let E take a ride on the world’s most obnoxious holiday train.

 

You know I couldn’t not support Small Business Saturday so after our last CSA pickup we went downtown. I scored an awesome deal on these Livie & Luca shoes at Savannah Baby Co. before heading to Half Moon Outfitters to find a Christmas present for J. Instead, Chunk and I had a photo shoot and J browsed with his little shadow.

Although I love spending time with my incredible husband when he’s off of work, early morning runs may be my favorite part of his vacation days. I love running pre-dawn but it doesn’t get to happen very often. So I took full advantage and ran a few days through the neighborhood with just my obnoxious flashing red light for company.

Saturday morning, I met up with the MRTT ladies for a 6 a.m. run on the Talmadge bridge.

Bridge in Savannah (Panorama)

Bridge in Savannah (Panorama) (Photo credit: Ben Beard)

Two thoughts on running the Talmadge:

1.) Although it’s fewer than 6 miles to run it over and back (from where we started), that      bridge is no joke. I have no idea what the incline is but my legs and butt were sore.
2.) I had no idea the severity of my fear of bridges. I’ve never been a fan of driving over them so I’m not sure what I thought it’d be like to run one with traffic. Needless to say, I will not be doing the Enmark Bridge Run 10K next weekend. I’ll be keeping my feet running on solid ground.

I rounded out my 6 miles at Wright Square which is always a lovely spot for a photo op.

How was your weekend? Any big travels? Tired of eating turkey?

A Thanksgiving menu.

I’ve been meaning to write a long, detailed, photo-heavy post about all of the glorious dishes I plan to make for our Thanksgiving dinner.

But here we are, 4 days before the big turkey day and that post is yet to be written and time is a-tick-tick-tocking away.

I had the best of intentions and that should count for something, right?

So, how about a shorter post with zero pictures and a nice mashup between recipes and links to recipes that are close enough to my favorites?

Good.

I had a baby shower this morning (I swear, I know so many pregnant women!) so J and the girls picked up our heritage turkey from Hunter Cattle at the Forsyth Farmer’s Market. The market itself will be running through the spring but according to my husband, the vendors and selection was fewer courtesy of some inland frost. Regardless, he picked up our 9 pound beaut of a bird and she’s currently making herself comfy in the deep freeze for a few days.

I’ve gone back and forth about having a dairy- and gluten-free Thanksgiving meal. We won’t be traveling for the holiday so I’ll be cooking for just our family of four so it’s possible to do an entire meal with these dietary restrictions. But it’s Thanksgiving and arguably the holiday most associated with food and their traditions.

With the exception of one dish, our meal will be dairy-free because of B’s dairy allergy. But for one day (and the three days following with all of the leftovers), I’m okay with B having a bit of gluten since that isn’t an allergy. We tried a gluten-free dressing (of the stuffing/bread – not salad – variety) last night and while it tasted okay, it wasn’t great. If I’m going to spend hours preparing a meal, I want it to be the real thing. So, gluten is on the table for Thursday.

Here’s our Thanksgiving menu – recipes at the end of the post:

  • TurkeyThis is a great overview of why I prefer heritage and farm-raised turkeys over your typical grocery store Butterball. Know where your meat is coming from. She’ll be oiled and stuffed with all sorts of delicious rosemary and thyme.
  • Mashed potatoes – Made with your typical russet potato, original almond milk and coconut butter. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • Sautéed green beans with almonds – I start with about 3 cups of fresh and snapped green beans. Sauté with coconut oil, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), salt and pepper for a few minutes and then add about 1/2 a cup of vegetable or chicken broth. Cover and let simmer until soft. Remove lid and cook off any remaining liquid before serving. Toss in 1/4 c. slivered almonds.
  • The Dressing – This deserves a formal title because in my holiday lineup, the dressing reigns supreme. Because we cook it outside of the turkey, it’s considered dressing instead of stuffing. While I have you here solidly in the middle of a bullet point and rather tucked away, I have a confession. I’ve lost my husband’s absolute favorite dressing recipe. I made it two years ago and tried to cover my bottom last year by cooking from memory but it wasn’t the same. So I need to do some serious research in the next few days to try to save face. This recipe has the same solid basis but I’ll add thyme and two or three fresh rosemary sprigs. To make it dairy-free, I’ll be subbing coconut butter for the regular butter. I’ll get my bread cubes from the bakery on Tuesday so they’ll have a day or two to stale.
  • Cranberry-nut muffins – this is a recipe (found at the bottom of the post) from J’s childhood and courtesy of his mother. While I wasn’t a fan the first few years we were together, this little fellas have grown on me. The tartness from the cranberries tasted wonderful against the sweetness of the muffin. This recipe is about has fat- and gluten-filled as they come but it IS dairy-free. Small victories!
  • Candied sweet potatoesA traditional way to use the plethora of sweet potatoes we still have courtesy of our CSA.
  • Sour cream lima beans – Don’t let the name fool you; this dish (recipe below) is ah-ma-zing. Delicious! This is one my favorite of Grandma Irene’s recipes. I’m only on the fence about making it because a.) it’s not dairy-free and b.) it makes a 9×13 dish and that’s a lot of buttery, creamy, sweet goodness for just our little family. But it’s so delicious – I can’t resist!

That’s our main menu. I’m still on the fence about dessert. While I love pumpkin pie – who doesn’t?! – B definitely couldn’t partake because of the condensed milk. But, most generic pie crusts are dairy-free to cut costs, so a pie is still an option.  I’m thinking about a yummy, deep-dish, crumb-topped apply pie made with coconut butter, perhaps?

My stomach is rumbling. After writing a post like this, I definitely need to get a post-dinner snack.

What is on your Thanksgiving Day menu? Are you cooking or joining in with family and friends? Traveling or staying home? Who has a delicious and dairy-free dessert recipe to share?

Cranberry-Nut Muffins

– 2 c. flour ( 1 c. whole wheat, 1 c. all-purpose)
– 1 c. sugar
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 2 tsp orange zest
– 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1/2 c. Crisco
– 3/4 c. orange juice
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1 1/2 c. cranberries, chopped
– 1 1/2 c. chopped nuts (original recipe calls for nuts but I prefer pecans)

Combine dry ingredients, nuts and berries. Blend in Crisco. Add liquid ingredients. Either liberally grease muffin tin with additional Crisco or line muffin tin with aluminum liners and fill tin 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. 

Sour Cream Lima Beans

– 1 pound of dry lima beans, cooked per bag’s directions
– 3/4 c. butter
– 3/4 c. brown sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 tsp dry mustard
– 1 tbsp molasses
– 1/2 to 3/4 a pint of sour cream

Cook lima beans per the instructions on the bag. Add the butter to hot beans, let melt. In a separate bowl, mix the brown sugar, salt and dry mustard. Put beans in a 9×13 baking dish, add brown sugar mixture. Fold in sour cream and gently mix in molasses. Bake uncovered at 350° for 40-60 minutes or until top bubbles and begins to lightly brown. 

Trail of Hope 5K Recap.

I awoke Saturday morning feeling terrible. I’d been hit hard by this stupid virus. My sinuses were pounding, my throat swollen and my chest afire.

Saturday morning was also the Trail of Hope 5K/10K at Skidaway Island State Park.

This was not good.

I hit snooze twice. J told me not to sweat it; there would be other races. True. But I wanted to run this. It was my first race post-babies. And I paid for the race, which is a big motivator. I pushed myself out of bed and promised myself that if I still felt terrible after a cup of coffee and brushing my teeth, I’d go back to bed.

And as it usually happens, I felt a lot better after I started moving. Not great – not ideal – but better. I dragged J out from under the warm covers and told him the run was on.

I loaded the pockets of my running jacket with about 60 tissues and a comparable number of cough drops.

As we were making the 30 minute drive to the park, a funny thing happened. More “funny/uh-oh” than “funny/ha-ha.”

I was driving, trying not to think about my runny nose when J said, “So, a trail run. That’s pretty exciting. The trails out there are really gorgeous. I’m sort of jealous…”

He went on to talk about the state park its great campsites but all I heard was “trail run.”

Wait, a trail run?

Apparently I missed the whole “trail” part of “Trail of Hope.”

Not a big deal. But it suddenly seemed like a huge deal. A typical 5K road race isn’t much when you’re used to running six or seven miles but trail running is an entirely different beast. The surface is different. There are roots and tree limbs and sand just waiting to trip you.

This did not feel like a good idea.

But there was no turning back.

The kid’s run started at 7:45 a.m. and we arrived around 7:30 which gave us plenty of time to park, pee, say hello to familiar faces and get two very sleepy and cranky girls situated.

A very cold 47° for this southern blood.

Even though E is feeling much better, she’s still a bit “off.” She’s lethargic and feeling a bit emotional. I wasn’t sure she’d be up for the kid’s run but she was really excited lined up.

Kids Fun Run starting line. E was waaaaay in the back

This lasted, oh, maybe 50 feet before the rest of the pack pulled away and E was left behind. Tears ensued and daddy caught up to rescue her. She was devastated that she didn’t get to go across the finish line. Melted this Momma’s heart.

There wasn’t much time for coddling because the racers were called to line up. Last minute announcements were made along with a special reminder to us novice trail runners to watch for roots, stumps and gravel. Duly noted. No nerves here. No sir.

Waiting. Not nervous. At all. LIAR. Preparing to fall on my face and be trampled by the masses.

With that, we were off.

The race wasn’t overly crowded and I placed myself solidly in the middle of the pack. Even so, there was a lot of bobbing and weaving around other runners before I found a comfortable spot and pace.

The first half mile or so was through a quiet campsite and a few campers came out to cheer and give an encouraging smile. We turned onto the sand/gravel trail and the group thinned significantly. For the most part, I started and finished the trail portion of the race with the same runners.

I was repeating to myself, “do not fall, do not fall, do not fall” as I navigated over raised tree roots when the runner in front of me took quite the tumble. She wasn’t injured and actually fell quite gracefully but it still messed with my head. But you do what you do, and you just keep running.

The trail was pretty narrow and wasn’t marked well at some points. I tried not to over-think it and kept my eyes on the few feet in front of me. The trail took a strange turn down another short trail before runners turned around a sign and head back to the main trail and back to the paved road. Strange, but mileage is mileage.

Can we talk for a minute about how hard it is to blow your nose when running? Not so much the actual act but the juggling of tissues, the separation of clean and used tissues –  all while being careful not to drop cough drop wrappers on the trail. I felt rude not high-fiving race support but, trust me folks, y’all don’t want to touch my snotty, slimy hands.

Back to the course.

Once I hit the road again, it was around 2.6 miles and I was relieved to have survived the trail portion. The trail slowed my pace my almost a mile at some points so I was eager to pick it up.

When I came into the home stretch, I saw J and the girls waiting and cheering for me. I started waving and yelling like the crazy Momma I am. It was so good to see them.

I run so fast, I can’t be captured on film (or by iPhones).

When I made the final turn towards the finish line, E was going nuts. She was so excited. I remembered how sad she was that she didn’t get to go under the arch and cross the finish line with the other kids, so I waved her out to meet me and we finished the race together.

Having E finish with me slowed my time by maybe 15 seconds but I didn’t care. She had so much fun and having my girl experience that was more rewarding than a better time.

:::Cue sappy music and notify the Hallmark Channel. Made for tv moment right here.:::

E got the sweetest medal for the kids run and she is obsessed. She calls it “her gold” and will not take it off her neck.

E and her gold.

My official time was 29:30 which was 32nd overall, 12th female and 6th in my age group. Not amazing but I was pleased with my time considering I was so not prepared for a trail run and I was running while sick.

My pace was all over the place. My splits were 9:05, 10:00, 9:31 and 8:39. I’m just a portrait of consistency. I blame the trail.

Regardless of it all, I’m really glad that I had the chance to run this race. It was the perfect size of a race and the course was beautiful. Covenant Care Services does amazing work and I’m glad I was able to support them. All of the volunteers were incredibly helpful and the post-race snacks, coffee and information was excellent.

Next up is the Color Run on December 8 and the Reindeer Run on December 15. That’s probably it until January unless Santa and his elves plan on sponsoring some additional races.

How was your weekend? Any must-run races in the southeast?

Tea time.

When I was a wee babe, I like to think I was relatively easy-going. I was the youngest of four girls and learned early on to go with the flow. I loved to meet new people and even a trip to the grocery store was an adventure. But when I was around 2 years old, my mom returned to work and I was sent to daycare.

I hated daycare.

I didn’t like the dark basement playroom. I thought the teachers were bossy. The other kids were too noisy. I was convinced that one day my mother would simply forget to retrieve me and I’d be stuck with those idiots forever (hmm. I wonder where B gets it from?). I made my disdain known and with help from my spectacular persuasion skills, my mom worked out arrangements for my grandmother to watch me.

Grandma Irene was, and is, awesome. She pushed a kitchen chair over to the sink and let me help wash the dishes although now, I realize I probably wasn’t much help at all. She always chewed half a stick of Double Mint chewing gum and when we stopped at the service station – because it was so much more than just a gas station – she would buy me my own roll of Bubble Tape. Sometimes I would spend “darks” at her and my grandfather’s old farmhouse. The best part, aside from telling tales about my imaginary friends, was having some of Grandma Irene’s tea.

I never asked to for tea – it always had to be offered. That was probably one of my own silly rules but it kept the occasion special. I don’t know what made the tea taste so magical. I’m pretty sure it was brewed using just basic Lipton black tea bags. It was never made in the microwave but always with boiling water from the tea kettle. Maybe it was something about the well water that gave it a distinct taste that I’ve never been able to duplicate.

Regardless, my lifelong love for tea was born during those early years with Grandma Irene.

I’ve been drinking lots of tea in recent years. Echinacea and herbal tea when sick, green tea for its antioxidants, red raspberry leaf tea through my pregnancies, mother’s milk tea while nursing, jasmine green tea on cold evenings and many, many more. In fact, I have an entire shelf in my kitchen to house my varieties. I have a tea to meet any mood or ailment.

Lately, my favorite is the Emperor’s Bride from The Tea Room. It’s a black tea with bits of dried orange and pineapple. It has a great fruit flavor without being overly sweet. A perfect bit of joy in a cup.

black gold.

Here is a tidbit of knowledge for you: Did you know that you can decaffeinate any tea at home? Fill your mesh ball (I prefer the pincer to the chain) with loose tea and place it in your cup. Pour boiling water over the mesh ball and let steep for 30 seconds. Toss the tea water and with it goes the caffeine. Then fill your cup a second time and let steep to your preferred strength.

You can get at least two brews from a single serving of tea but the second may have to steep longer. Since I have trouble sleeping, I give him the first caffeinated cup and I enjoy the second decaffeinated one.

We’re drinking lots of tea this week and not a single brew goes by that I don’t think of Grandma Irene. Not just because of her mysteriously tasty tea but because of the incredible memories made with her.

I think one of the best parts of growing older is having the ability and perspective to remember your own childhood with fondness. Not because it was always perfect, but because it created you.

This moment. {11.9.12.}

I’m joining SouleMama for {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Sleepy girl. Crazy Hair.

Running fevers. And a race.

We’re now on day 5… or perhaps day 6… of the most stubborn virus in recent memory. E was feeling better yesterday so she went to preschool but apparently was having downright violent coughing fits throughout the morning and developed another fever by dinner.

Not one to sit in the shadows, B joined in on her sister’s antics and showed up to the party with a fever of her own along with a matching cough and runny nose.

Everyone is grumpy and stir crazy and I’m certain we’ve logged a record number of hours watching Netflix.

At one point today, I became so desperate that I actually Googled, “how to entertain sick preschoolers.” Results? Not so helpful.

“Sick boxes” with special, quiet toys. My grumpy, fevered children would promptly throw the quiet toys at me until I turned Arthur back on.

So we made puppets out of brown bags, drew pictures of scary monster-like Santas and collected every single puzzle piece we own in our Easter basket. Momma is going to have lots of fun cleaning up that mess.

E will miss her last soccer game this evening. I’m sort of relieved. Please don’t tell me that makes me a bad mom.

I’m hoping and praying and resting so that I don’t get hit as hard with this sickness. I’m running the Trail of Hope 5K/10K on Saturday benefitting Covenant Care Adoptions. I was regretting registering for the 5K since my weekly long runs have been over six miles but I’m relieved I underestimated myself with the tightness in my chest.

**It’s not too late to register for the Trail of Hope event on Saturday – registration closes at midnight tonight. This benefits a wonderful organization that gives hope to both pregnant women and families looking to adopt. There will be activities for kids and a children’s fun run. If you’d like to register or donate via PayPal, click here.**

For Granted.

I tend to get wrapped up in the big, show-stealing moments in life that I usually fail to recognize the wonderful comfort in the predictable and easy. I shouldn’t go through life this way because the easy is few and far between and it isn’t until the easy becomes not so easy that I recognize its value.

E has always been a pretty healthy kiddo but whatever illness she has contracted has her down for the count. After two days of high fevers and a cough that is too legit to quit, I broke down and called her pediatrician for an appointment. We were graced with a parting gift in the form of a brand spanking new nebulizer and a script for some heavy-duty, codeine-laced cough syrup.

For real?

Ugh.

This is supposed to be my healthy child.

We had our first breathing treatment at the office and it did not go well, to say the least.

And the worst part?

Knowing that whatever virus that has hit her so hard will probably set its sights on B and me next.

Ugh.

I’m cooking up a storm in preparation for additional sick bodies. Tonight’s dinner was the world’s most expensive chicken and rice soup with chicken breasts from the co-op. Then, I got in a quick 2 mile run in case this thumping my head and tickle in my throat are indicators of what is around the corner for me.

And then I waited an hour to pick up the medicine for E’s nebulizer. An hour. At dinner time. In sweaty clothes.

A girl with her nebulizer. She decorated it herself.

Fortunately, this evening’s breathing treatment went smoother than this morning’s. Thanks to Bubble Guppies on Momma’s phone and a strong snuggle from Daddy.

I’m not taking the good for granted. This life is too hard and filled with too many struggles to not appreciate a bit of ease. And I’m grateful.

Rest.

Life keeps happening. And at breakneck speed. Appointments, activities, running, chores.

We go, go, go and started to feel like Sundays had become a catch-all for everything that was procrastinated the previous six days.

So we’ve been making an effort to keep Sunday as our day of rest.

One sure way to make this happen?

Sickness.

I’d rather have a Sunday filled with church, crepes and catnaps.

Instead?

The Little Mermaid and snuggles.

It’s not all so bad.

My foot needed a break from the pavement and J needed an excuse to spend the day smoking a boston butt on the grill.

We just need E’s fever to be cleared by tomorrow. So we can resume our usual insanity.

Happy Sunday. Promises of a real post soon.