Earlier this week, I was looking through a recipe book my mom created for my sister and I when we set out on our own. The book is full of all the dishes she used to make for us when we were growing up. I love it and it has been my go-to for years. Even after our dog, a Boston Terrier named Yogi, chewed it up and the book finally had to be re-printed. Seriously, that dog drove me bananas! (Sigh)
One of the recipes in particular holds special memories for me. When I was little, my mom would make Raw Apple Cake for my birthday. Interestingly enough, I’m not actually sure why it’s referred to as “raw apple”. The apples are obviously cooked when the cake is baked? Anyway…
I have only made this cake a handful of times as an adult. Sadly, my family doesn’t particularly care for walnuts and I really don’t think it’s wise to have a 9″x13″ cake, just hanging around, for me to snack on, all by myself!
I love using #Gravenstein apples for this cake when they’re in season (late summer here in Northern California).
Raw Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
4 cups Granny Smith or Gravenstein apples (unpeeled and diced or VERY thinly sliced)
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (I reduce the walnuts to 3/4 cup)
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
1/4 cup of butter (softened but NOT melted)
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups of powdered sugar (sifted)
1/8 tsp (or less – it’s really just a dash) kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add apples and stir until well blended.
In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to apple mixture 1/3 at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in walnuts.
Pour into ungreased 9 x 13 pan and bake 55-60 minutes.
While cake is baking, mix up frosting. Cover and set aside in refrigerator.
Notes: Be sure to allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. You can also use two 8″ cake pans, or make 18 cupcakes. Adjust baking time accordingly. I like to use the directions on the back of a boxed cake mix to help adjust baking times. Two batches of frosting may be needed depending on how thick you prefer the layer(s) to be.
Happy Friday! Whew. It’s been a whirlwind since finals.
I spent last week in Texas, with our youngest daughter, to surprise her best friend for graduation and then celebrated my birthday yesterday.
My husband asked me if I woke up feeling any different. Nope. I looked in the mirror; no new wrinkles or age spots, so that was a relief. Still, it’s funny how some birthdays sneak up on you.
It’s not a monumental number or anything. It’s just 44, but it comes with the acknowledgement that 50 really is just around the bend, and frankly, I have a lot of things on my personal “before I’m 50” to-do list!
I have been tossing around what the future looks like for awhile now. Dangling ideas in front of myself and allowing each one to hang in the air for a bit. I kept wondering why it’s so difficult for me to pinpoint. I’m the donkey with the carrot on the stick, but the carrot isn’t working its magic. Mostly because I’m stubborn and (beyond carrot cake) I’m not a huge fan of carrots.
Then, while visiting Texas last week, my friend Kim made a comment about working hard vs. being ambitious. Our husbands are both very ambitious people. Their brains are always working on the next great idea.
On our flight home, I realized it was how I had been trying to explain who I am for years.
I work hard, but I’m not ambitious. Does that make sense?
Ambition is one of the qualities I admire most in my husband. I also think one of the reasons our relationship thrives stems from the balance we bring each other. It’s not that I don’t have hopes and dreams. I definitely do! There are many things I want to accomplish and experience during the remainder of my (our) life, but I don’t aspire to be Bill Gates or Oprah.
Maybe that’s why I have only ever been able to clearly picture myself as a mom and not the CEO of a major corporation. I work hard, but I’m not ambitious.
Maybe that’s why I can’t always understand my husband’s point of view when it comes to taking time off, or saving instead of splurging. (He’s really good at saving. In fact, he’s too good sometimes.) I work hard, but I’m not ambitious.
I think it’s ok to be someone who is willing to work hard, but doesn’t necessarily feel the pull to work 80 hours a week and climb the corporate ladder. There are plenty of people who want the corner office with a view. It’s just not me. I’m “too old” for that now.
I want to be successful in my own right, doing something that allows my husband to take some well deserved time off. I want a career that brings me joy 90% of the time. I want to help reach our life goals, while still having some flexibility to enjoy time with my husband, daughters, and eventually, our grandbabies.
I want to find the balance. Is that too much to ask?
Around this time last year, I set out to reach some goals. My theme was “You can do this”. I am well on my way, so I decided that this year the theme will reflect how I feel in this moment.
“Well why the hell not” seemed the most appropriate.
I plan to figure out my career path and take some of the financial pressure off my other half. I want do more things that scare me. I want to travel to places I haven’t seen. I want to continue learning. I plan to spend more quiet time and go on more adventures with my husband.
I feel like I have writer’s block this week. I don’t know why. I took the last of my finals last week, and Monday was my last class for the semester. I should be buzzing around my house, gleefully singing pop tunes at the top of my lungs!
But I’m not.
I tried to put my finger on what was nagging me for a few days. I had a list of possibilities. Nothing fit until just now! I sat down to write this post about feeling uninspired, but I actually believe I am having some kind of weird homework withdrawal. I laughed out loud just thinking it. Is that even a thing?
I think it is.
GASP! Uhhh, what? Surely, you can’t be serious…
I guess what I mean is, for the last five months, my life has been structured around the classes I was taking. I got used to checking the website for my assignments each Monday and blocking out time during the week for homework.
Now, I suddenly have all this “free” time. It’s not actually free, it’s easily filled up with life – errands and laundry and the scrubbing of bathrooms, but for the moment it sure feels like it’s free.
Don’t get me wrong. I know I am ready for a break. By the end of the semester I was exhausted. I nixed summer school, but it still feels a little strange to not have any homework. You know that feeling you get when you’re sure you forgot to turn off the flat iron, the bathroom light, or the oven? Or when you can’t remember if you fed the dog? (Maybe that’s just me…) At least once a day, I feel as though I have forgotten something.
I really didn’t see that coming. I was so worried about getting started that I hadn’t given any thought to what would happen at the end of the semester. In fact, in the back of my head, I just assumed there would be relief. And there is, just not the type, or level that I imagined. I have already planned out my fall semester. Don’t judge me. Or do, I can own it!
If I’m being truthful, I wasn’t always a great student. My kids don’t read this, so it’s OK for me to say that. (I reserve the right to edit as needed!) When I was younger, if something really interested me, I was all over it. If not, well, let’s just say there might be one or two classes I need to retake.
We have a rule in our house that if our girls get anything lower than a ‘C’ and need to retake a class, they have to pay for it themselves. It was designed to keep them from traveling the same path I did. With the exception of one class for our oldest, it has worked out pretty well. That is part of the reason I feel so damn proud finishing with two A’s and a B. Back then, when I realized I didn’t have an interest in anthropology, I would have checked out. I make it a point to remind our girls that the general education can be tedious, but while there will be classes they dread, some of them will result in interests they didn’t realize they had. I wish someone had taken the time to tell me that.
So 595 words later, it appears that there’s no #writersblock here. I just needed to let it all out. My husband calls me his “hot nerdy wife”. Who’d have guessed!?
About a month ago, I finished planting our garden. Truth be told, I think this is the earliest I have managed to get everything in the ground in many years!
Yesterday I noticed some teeny tiny zucchini! It will still be several weeks before they’re ready to harvest, but they made me think of a recipe I found a few years ago, on one of my favorite blogs, Lil’Luna.
I love making this bread year-round. It’s delicious with tea, or as a dessert bread, and it makes a really nice housewarming treat. I must confess, in the winter, I sometimes have it for breakfast! Yum!
Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread
2 cups cake flour
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
½ cup canola oil
1⅓ cups sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
½ cup buttermilk
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup powdered sugar
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB milk
Preheat oven at 350 degrees and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.
Mix flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add oil and sugar until well blended.
Add lemon juice, buttermilk, and lemon zest. Blend all together.
Fold in zucchini until it is mixed well.
Add dry mixture and blend all together until well combined.
Pour batter into greased 9×5 loaf pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Make glaze and spoon over the bread. Allow the glaze set up before cutting and serving.
If you’re interested, you can find the original recipe here.
You guys!! I took the last of my finals for the semester today! I can’t believe it’s already May! When I clicked submit and the grade came back on my anthropology final, I exhaled. In celebration, I thrust two fists triumphantly overhead as I crossed the finish line!
I remember pulling the door open to my Intro to Social Media class that first Monday night. I had been looking forward to taking the class for months, but when I walked in, all I could think was, “Holy sh**! What am I doing here!?” Looking around the room, I suddenly realized I probably wasn’t the only one thinking that. In fact, there’s a good chance some of my younger classmates might have even wondered what they were doing in a class with a bunch of “old” people.
Fifteen Mondays later, here’s what I’ve learned about myself…
1) I waited and waited to take the leap, and go back to school, because of fear. It turns out that ALL those fears were unfounded. Yup. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
2) I’m even stronger than I thought! My combination of classes meant that I had A LOT of homework each week. One class in particular really tested my resolve. By the end of the first month, I was so frustrated, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through. No joke, it felt like I was learning a foreign language and it wasn’t even a language class! My instructor was a fantastic resource and I finished that class with an A!
3) My family and friends are even more patient and wonderful and supportive than I realized! They cheered me up, cheered me on, and they even let me whine when I really needed to. I appreciate all of them so much!
4) Education is more valuable now that I am an adult. I have always loved learning, but as a young adult I never considered its value. School is so much more rewarding the second time around!
5) Anthropology is not as riveting as I thought. I used to say that if I could get a degree in anything I wanted, just because, it might be in anthropology, art history, or geology. Truth? I love fossils. If anthropology was just the study of fossils, I’d be all over it. It’s not, so today I crossed anthropology off that list.
6) Carrot cake is my favorite homework treat. Period.
7) I need to invest a little bit of time and energy in myself and my environment every day. The more time and energy I spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control I will have over my#lifelist.
8) Not everyone is happy for you. I know, right!? WTH? That realization was really hard to swallow at first. For every congratulations I received when I told someone I was going back to school, I was faced with, “Wow! Why would you want to do that to yourself?” Here’s how I handled those inquiries. I would say: “Well, it was time to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself.” Of course, I would be thinking something snarky like: “Well, I’d explain it to you, but I’m all out of puppets and crayons.”
9) Procrastination has no place at this table! I have said before that I can be a bit of a procrastinator by nature. Uhh, that’s a no-go. I have begun to learn how to better manage my time. Better time management lowers stress levels too, who knew! OK, probably everyone but me.
10) I have talents that I didn’t know about!
11) Stepping out of my comfort zone was the best thing I have done for myself!I challenged myself this semester. You can’t hope to change yourself if you aren’t willing to move outside of your comfort zone!
12) I really love to write!
I started this blog as an assigned project for my social media class. I had considered blogging before, but was too overwhelmed to try. Where do I begin? What would I blog about? What if no one reads it?
In the last few months, I realized that I can do this and I plan to continue writing my blog! I’ve made new friends through blogging and writing has given me an outlet. An outlet that I didn’t know I needed in my life. So thank you Professor Laird, for assigning this project, and thank YOU for following along!
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I don’t know about you, but I intend to celebrate at home, outside in the sunshine. No computer, no tablet, no phone, and I don’t plan to check my email, or phone messages until Monday!
New moms: Pat yourself on the back, you’re doing a great job! The first year of motherhood is a unique set of challenges. Say yes to offers of help. Keep taking it one day at a time and do not subscribe to any predetermined list of expectations. Very rarely is any part of this job “by the book”.
Toddler moms: “Terrible two” isn’t really that bad. It’s three that you need to watch out for. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and a hug. Nap time is your friend, an extra 30 minutes in front of the TV won’t “ruin” them, and time-outs (even for you) are OK! There will be public tantrums. This too shall pass. If I see you in Target, or the grocery store, looking frazzled, the first words out of my mouth will be “we’ve all been there!” You’re never alone in this!
School aged moms: Being “Supermom” is overrated. Being “Mom” is absolutely enough. Take time for yourself. Whether you head off to work during the day, or work from home; with laundry, cooking, homework, errands, and other household chores looming, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that if you’re not “busy” you’re not doing your job. Wrong. Do something daily, weekly, or monthly that improves your personal well-being. There is some truth behind, “If mom’s not happy, nobody’s happy.”
“Obsolete” moms: Embrace your emotions. You have turned the corner, the role shift has begun and you have earned the right to feel all of those feelings. What now? Reinvent yourself. Congratulations if you have your next act figured out! If you’re still on the edge of the pool, put your life jacket on and jump in! Paddle around in that pool until you figure it out.
To all moms: Thank you for the things that often go unnoticed…
Getting up early to make breakfast and lunches.
Those who mother alone or without much support.
Kissed elbows and band-aids on knees.
Reading Goodnight Moon or Harold and the Purple Crayon for the 1000th time.
Stopping to wonder if you’re doing all of this (or any of it) “right”.
Getting back into the car to drop off at practice, or pick up, or both.
For Dads who “Mother”.
Rocking colicky babies.
Going without so your children can have what they need.
Finding the lost blanket, pacifier, shoe, stuffed toy, bouncy ball, favorite shirt…
Pushing forward even when you think you might break.
Extra time in the morning braiding hair.
Teaching them how to be kind.
Cheering them on.
Helping with homework, when you still need to do your own.
Wholesome dinners prepped when you don’t feel like it.
Nights spent sleeping in a chair, holding a sick child.
Giggling and belly laughs.
Volunteering at school, for sports, or wherever you are needed.
Strength when they are vulnerable.
Movie nights, cuddled up under blankets, with popcorn.
Standing up and defending your child when necessary.
Tucking them in every night.
Baking cupcakes at 11PM.
Showing them how to appreciate the beauty in the world.
Worrying about all of the little things.
For hugs and kisses that are second nature.
Encouraging them to work hard and follow their dreams.
The smile on your face and doing your best, even when you’re exhausted.
And ALL that you do to make their world a better place.
You are enough and more than enough. You are a #mom and you are incredible!
Being a mom is the best job I have ever had and it has also been the most challenging. I have struggled with the motherhood role changes the passage of time brings. If you’re not familiar with my story, you can read my very first post here.
I still miss our babies cuddled up in my lap, listening to a story, or the muffled patter of the rain in the middle of the night. I miss the “baby smell”, their sweet little faces watching me intently while we sing quietly in the rocking chair, baking cookies with them, and regular family movie nights with all of us snugly tucked into our bed.
The other day, I was in the midst of writing another post and our oldest came buzzing in from work. She sat down to chat with me for a few minutes about her day and then she proceeded to make something to eat, before disappearing to shower.
In the moments after that interaction, I came to the realization (several of them really) that being an #obsolete mom, and parenting kids 18+, has some real advantages.
15 Realizations about parenting kids that are 18+…
1. They do their own laundry!!! Enough said.
2. Going out to dinner isn’t a crap shoot anymore and the restaurant doesn’t have to be family-friendly. There’s no worrying about the possible no-nap meltdown, who has the green crayon, or fighting over which fork belongs to who.
3. The only butt I have to wipe is my own. If you consider this TMI, sorry. With the exception of changing the toilet paper roll, they handle their own bathroom business. I mean what could anyone possibly miss about wiping someone else’s behind? The end.
4. I no longer have to watch Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Pooh’s Grand Adventure, or The Jungle Book 585 times in a row. Disneyland is truly one of my FAVORITE places and I love Disney movies, but I don’t feel the need to see any of them on repeat anymore.
5. When not at school, or work, they sleep in. This allows for extended coffee time with my other half, or time to clean house without any interruptions. It’s glorious!
6. They can cook the basics. Even if it’s just eggs & toast or grilled cheese. If they’re hungry and it’s late, or my other half is traveling, I’m not on the hook for a whole meal!
7. I don’t have to lug around a diaper bag loaded to the gills with 8 changes of clothes, diapers, wipes, toys, and snacks. While we’re on the subject of diapers, there are no poop “episodes” just as we’re leaving the house. Seriously! I don’t know how many times I was heading out the door, late, and just as we’re locked and loaded in the car, the stench would waft from the back seat, and it was all the way up their back and down their leg. Screw you peas and sweet potato!
8. Profanity is no longer censored. I was so strict about language when our girls were young, my friend Jessica used to call them the “word police”. Let’s face it, sometimes “shoot”, “gosh darn it”, and “fudge” just isn’t going to cut it. In fact, my desperate need to use a swear word is how our younger daughter got her nickname. (That’s a story for another post – she’s always been a bit of a firecracker.) Frankly, none of the kid-friendly “swear” words have the same effect that the F-bomb does, and now that they’re adults, it’s actually funny when they slip and let one fly too.
9. Their homework is just that, THEIRS! No late evening trips to the local Walgreens for glue sticks, glitter, and posterboard (which they WILL inevitably be out of because every kid in the neighborhood is frantically doing the same damn project). That’s all I have to say about that.
10. Privacy in the bathroom! My mantra was always “I get to pee by myself!” No more knocking on the door, or little eyes peeking under. No answering questions about body parts and bodily functions. Just ME. ALONE. IN. THE. BATHROOM.
11. No more driving lessons and late night pick-ups. I served my time white-knuckling it in the passenger seat; grasping the oh-sh** handle, holding back expletives, eyes squeezed so tightly closed my brains might pop out my ears. I have also racked up my share of frequent flier miles shuttling them from here, to there, and back at all hours.
12. They help around the house. They unload the dishwasher, vacuum, dust, rake leaves, take out the trash, and did I already mention THEY DO THEIR OWN LAUNDRY!
13. I am not aimlessly wandering the Target toy aisles, dodging strategically placed end caps full of My Little Pony, or daydreaming of tropical beach vacations while passing the “Luau Barbie” display. BONUS: Sometimes we divide the list at the market to speed things up. Woot! Woot!
14. No tantrums, no time-outs in the corner, no potty breaks, and they pack their own sports bags and suitcases. Period.
15. They’re even more fun to talk to! They’re witty and sarcastic, and it’s often hilarious even when it shouldn’t be. Our girls have opinions about what’s happening in the world. This ultimately leads to some great conversations and it’s enlightening to hear their views.
Are you parenting, or almost parenting, teens and/or young adults? If change has been a challenge for you you, there is hope! If you have already parented through this stage, would you add anything to this list? I’d love to hear it!