Life

Mom’s Applesauce

This is a blog from my drafts from last fall. Today I am making my mom’s top secret applesauce for the first time this season so it seemed appropriate to resurrect it here.

My mother never used a cookbook. This was especially disconcerting to me as I left home and needed her stock of recipes to carry me into adulthood. Thank goodness for the phone as she would only be a call away when I needed her guidance about how much sour cream to put in the beef stroganoff (a couple large spoonfuls) or what was the secret ingredient to her applesauce (red hots).

Fortunately by the time she passed away in 2016, I had a pretty good handle on her recipe collection and had even written a few of them down so I don’t forget the ones I grew up on. There are lots of dashes of this and that here and there. A bunch of “add to taste”. Some of these have moved into my own family’s favorites (cue the beef stroganoff and beef stew) although Liam has put a bit of a wrench in things by forgoing meat in his diet the past few months.

From the beginning of fall until Christmas, you could always find my mom in the kitchen making her special applesauce (either on the stove or in the slow cooker) and this was one of Liam’s favorites. I have tried to reproduce her simple recipe on many occasions but it seems to be missing one thing: Grandma’s love.

I recently became the proud owner of an Instant Pot and it had been about a year since I attempted the secret sauce made famous by mom. I bought the apples but was unsure how I could obtain the red hots which don’t seem to be a staple of the candy aisle any more. Luckily I discovered Walmart carries them and sent my husband on a mission to pick up a box so I could give the Instant Pot applesauce a try.

The final product was right on for color and texture but Liam proclaimed it was a little too spicy so I’ll have to be a little less heavy handed with the red hots next time.

Mom’s Applesauce (in the Instant Pot)

5 lbs of apples, peeled and sliced
1 + 1/4 cup of water
Several red hots (to taste)
Sugar (to taste – I added about 4 packets of stevia)

Add the first three items to the Instant Pot and select Manual, High Pressure for 10 minutes. Release the pressure before opening.

Add sugar to your taste and enjoy!

MC

Advertisements
Life

Fall-ing back in love with my kitchen

I love our kitchen. If you were following my blog at all last summer, you might recall we were just finishing up our renovations a year ago. We had work done in a few rooms that started right around Memorial Day and it wasn’t until Labor Day weekend that our house became our own again. It was fifteen years in the making and worth every bit of inconvenience and struggle though. Continue reading “Fall-ing back in love with my kitchen”

Life

Decluttering other people’s stuff

A415CD66-A691-4874-B98C-3BADAE688F6A
The things to keep pile

I feel like my writing has been all over the place these last couple of weeks. That is just the way life is, at least for me. I don’t have anything anchoring me down other than life as a wife and mom so my days are a bit at my whim, especially since Liam has been away at camp this week. There’s the ever-present tidying. Keeping an eye on Murphy who seems to be doing better – I honestly thought we were going to lose him this week. Trying to tweak my vision board which led me to Barnes and Noble yesterday, poring over the amazing variety of magazines they offer. I am so grateful I have time for things like this.

Continue reading “Decluttering other people’s stuff”

Life

Losing a (wo)man’s best friend

6037D912-5356-4FC0-99E1-19E516D4C512

Born on September 11, 2008, Murphy came into our lives eight weeks later, a small bundle of golden fur. It was just a few weeks before my son Liam was turning two and winter would soon be upon us. I couldn’t think of a worse time to bring a puppy into our household but my husband was certain every boy needs a dog. He surprised us on a crisp fall day by dropping by a farm to take a look at a new litter of Golden Retrievers and my heart was won over.

Continue reading “Losing a (wo)man’s best friend”

Life

Showing up

Over the weekend I was honored to partake in two celebrations: one of a new life and one of a death. Our nephew and his girlfriend (who I hadn’t met yet) are having a baby and this past weekend was a perfect time for everyone to get together to celebrate the new baby girl to come. I used to have all sorts of anxiety over attending showers (too long, too boring, too many crazy games!) but several years ago I had a mind shift about them and saw them for what they were: an important moment in a person’s life as we honor a transition to a beautiful new life stage. Whenever I am invited now, I think of it as an honor bestowed.

It’s also an opportunity to reconnect with people we haven’t seen in a while. To put away our phones and our Facebook timelines to make new (in real life) memories. There are always new people to meet too and the nephew’s girlfriend (and her parents) are wonderful and a balm to the family they are joining with. My nephew lost his twin brother in 2016, to addiction, and it has been a heartbreaking journey for them. To witness this happiness in their lives is a joy. And yes, there were games, and I came away with a prize or two.

Continue reading “Showing up”

Life

Summer is almost here!

Life accelerated on me in the past couple of months. How is tomorrow June 1st with only one week of school left?! There have been concerts, field trips, a book sale/mini-concert, grandparents day, a special mass and countless out of school activities. As I write, my son is at Taekwondo, working on his hours toward membership on their coveted leadership team. When he’s done we’ll pop home for a quick change before heading to the end-of-the-year sports banquet. How do people do this with multiple kids? I am in awe of them!

Did I mention we’re also in the final run-up to having braces installed? We had both an orthodontist and dentist appointment in this very short week. I don’t even pretend my time is my own anymore. But while we’re running around, I CAN carve out time while I’m waiting. Usually I will read or watch YouTube videos but I could spend some of that time writing (and I’m not talking to-do lists). I need to put my writing time back on the schedule and I’ll start today.

Other than operating as chief transportation officer of our household , I have been doing a few different things. I’m still unemployed so I’m looking for a job and I joined a job club that is basically a support system for and by the unemployed. It’s been interesting to say the least. I have no clue what I’m going to do next professionally but I’m hoping to figure that out over the next few months.

Being that I am unemployed and hope to spend some quality time with my twelve year old this summer, we have a few trips planned starting with a visit to our home in Florida after school ends next week. This is what’s keeping me going right now. For two weeks there will be absolutely no orthodontist appointments, Taekwondo classes, lacrosse games or homework to be done. Hello pool, shuffleboard, reading and relaxing.

In early July we’re going to visit Williamsburg, VA and this will be the first time just he and I will be on such a long road trip (about 8 hours one way). My husband bid on it at a charity auction but cannot join us because we have a vacation in Delaware the following week. This is going to take a bit of organization due to all that we need to bring to Delaware but I’m sure it will be worth it (and fun). I’m trying to compile a list of podcasts or audiobooks we can listen to on the drive.

Our annual beach vacation in Delaware is always something to look forward to and we’ll meet my husband there along with a couple we always vacation with. That is a laid back week where sitting beachside with a book is the top priority.

But the very best getaway is saved for last because that is when I go to Greece with my longtime friend to a yoga retreat on one of the islands. And THAT is what’s keeping me motivated. To prepare, I’ve embarked on a health/nutrition/fitness program, but I’ll save that for next time.

What are your plans for the summer? I hope you make some time for a little (or a lot) of R&R.

Life

Lazing about

lazing.jpg

Hello, dear blog! Sorry it has been a while but I cannot say I’ve been too busy. I’m not sure exactly what I have been doing these past few weeks but I certainly got away from writing and blogging. I was trying to keep a schedule of posting on Tuesday and Thursday because I could do that at a minimum, right? After we returned from vacation, however, I was out of my groove and kind of went off the rails as far as a routine goes. I’m not going to lie. I spent a lot of time laying around and reading. It may be just what I needed at that particular time. But all the while, what’s swirling around in my brain is: what am I going to do next?

I’m not ready for a full on job search right now as I decided to take the summer off so I could be home with my twelve-year-old, Liam. He has not had a single summer where he could be a carefree kid. Sleeping in, going to the pool, riding his bike in the neighborhood. We don’t have many of these times left so we’re going to embrace this summer as a (mostly) camp-free zone. For the past several years it has been a jigsaw puzzle of camp planning. Lacrosse, baseball, basketball, extreme (they do obstacle courses – very army-like) and just about every other activity under the sun to keep him busy from the last day of school until labor day weekend. I’m sure he’s enjoyed much of it but at the end of last summer, he was starting to show the strains of camp fatigue.

I’ve got a few more months until summer though, so how will I keep myself busy in the meantime? Lately, I’ve been scouring youtube for content that sparks an interest for me. I love style blogs and vlogs but I’ve found only a handful of women who do it successfully for my age group (over 50). I can no longer dress like a teenager, twenty or even thirtysomething (nor do I want to) and I see plenty of content for that demographic. Nor do I aspire to dress in high-end designer clothing. I do think a person can look great no matter their budget or stage of life though, so I’ve been tinkering with starting my own vlog on the topic. I know virtually nothing about being a youtube-er so I think I’ll do some research on it and see what I would need to get started.

I’ve also been rekindling my love of old movies. When I was in my teens, my mom and I would watch old films on A&E and TMC and I grew to love them so much. It’s great our library system has such a robust collection of old movies and I’ve been going through their DVD shelves in search of some new treasures. Last week I pulled out Mrs. Miniver (a movie about WWII that took me by surprise as it started out innocently enough with the main characters spending money they didn’t have) and The Big Sleep  (starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall). I love to google the actors and read about them on Wikipedia. Did you know Bogart was 45 when he married 20-year-old Bacall?! Clicking on all the links can take up an afternoon in itself! Well, I’m about to go back to the 1930s with Grand Hotel.

MC

 

 

 

 

Life

Treating post-vacation sadness

Me and dad on the Norwegian Bliss

Last week our family (plus my dad) went on a cruise to the Caribbean. It was a great week of sunshine, relaxation, reading and eating (of course). If you go hungry on a cruise ship you have no one to blame but yourself. Liam (the sixth grader) broke his wrist a couple weeks before our departure so I was worried he might be miserable even though we had a waterproof cast protector. Well, this broke at the hotel the morning of the cruise and I frantically called around to area drugstores to no avail. Then I was even more worried about his misery. Quick tip: if you have a broken boned kid, bring two cast protectors if you’re going on a vacation that involves water!

Everything turned out fine and Liam made fast friends with some boys from New York City and we barely saw him for the week. The ship we went on had a racetrack on the top deck and they spent the majority of their time doing that. They also played board games and cards in the library. Every once in a while he’d come find us by the pool and grab a bite with us.

Ready to race

My favorite part was relaxing by the pool with a book (this probably won’t surprise you if you follow my blog). It was great spending the week with my dad too. He has always wanted to go on a cruise and I think it exceeded his expectations, especially in the food department. The cruise had freestyle dining and several very good restaurants and every night he would say that was his favorite.

Enjoying teppanyaki on our last night

We ate way too much and enjoyed many shows including The Jersey Boys (I love a good back story and Frankie Valli’s did not disappoint), comedians, a Beatles band and a musical set in Cuba. We didn’t do much off the boat although we stopped at St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau as my dad has trouble walking very far. I think it made the cruise more relaxing and the ship is much easier to navigate when most everyone else debarks for shore excursions.

As we were having our final buffet breakfast (if I don’t see another buffet for a while, I’ll be good), my dad said he was feeling melancholy which surprised me and I told him don’t be sad it’s over, be happy it happened (you know that saying). I didn’t want him to be sad. But guess what?

Monday morning It was my turn to feel melancholy. Vacation was over and I’m alone in my house with piles of laundry and all the detritus from our week away. We were also out of half and half for my coffee. I know these aren’t life’s biggest problems but still, I was feeling sad, a bit paralyzed about where to begin while also fighting the urge to simply go back to bed.

There is a saying, “move a muscle, change a thought” and I decided to employ it right away. Get up and move. Start somewhere. Anywhere. Do it, little by little. Start a load of laundry. Put away the sunscreen and sandals. Untangle the cords and put the passports away. I also needed to make a few returns so I got those organized and then I went out and did it. Usually they would have sat until the window to return them was long closed. I even managed to get to the gym.

Here’s the thing I have to remember when I feel overwhelmed or unmotivated – just get going. Once I’m going, it’s easy to keep going. The sad thoughts disappeared and my home looked better than it had a few hours earlier. And at the end of the day I scanned through our vacation photos and felt happiness that it happened and we created some great memories.

MC

Life

Ballroom dancing… for kids

As my son entered fifth grade, we received a mailing about dance and etiquette lessons being offered for local schools. A group of women initiated this program over twenty five years ago where they teach kids in fifth and sixth grades the ins and outs of etiquette along with some traditional dance moves. Dancing with girls! The boys were not a bit interested but the moms banded together and coaxed (bribed) our sons by offering them a fun night out (bugers & ice cream) after the hourlong monthly lessons.

Year one was interesting. It went over well (with only a few groans on the evening of lessons) and if there wasn’t complete joy in the process, there was the camaraderie of the boys getting together monthly. I didn’t know exactly what went on behind those closed doors but at the end of the hour, the kids (probably 50-60 of them) came bursting from the gym in a stampede of energy.

Near the end of the school year, a dinner dance at a local country club was arranged for both the kids and parents to attend. They were deftly handled by the instructors into groups by grade and demonstrated the dances they had worked on through the year – the foxtrot, tango and waltz. It is as cute as you could imagine. The boys dressed in jacket and tie, the girls in fancy dress, hair and makeup as if they were on the way to their first prom.

However, this was as serious of an affair as ever and it looked excruciating for some of the kids as the parents looked on filming every second of it. The night appeared way more enjoyable for the parents who spent the early part of the evening sipping their beverages of choice as they caught up on school gossip. After the kids dutifully performed their dances with each other, we got to dance with them in mother/son and father/daughter variations. I savored it because I was quite sure he’d never agree to doing it in sixth grade.

Fast forward to the beginning of the school year and once again we received the mailing. To my surprise he wanted to do it this year even though most of the boys in his class dropped out. Last week I had the privilege of acting as a chaperone and got a glimpse of the process first hand and I was more impressed than ever.

The first part of the evening was all about etiquette and how to introduce yourself to grown ups. I stood in place as a line of 25 boys of all sizes shook my hand and looked me in the eye as they announced their name and their pleasure to make my acquaintance. I wanted to hug every last one of them.

Then the lesson began. The steps were practiced, the boys and girls in a line opposite each other and the they were paired up to practice for a bit until the music came on. It was easy to tell who didn’t want to be there. It was fun watching the interactions and I have to say there wasn’t a lot of chaperoning involed. We were the only ones from our school at the event because of ski club (my son’s broken wrist kept us off the slopes). We’re about halfway through the lessons but I can already see how they have improved. These are wonderful life lessons for these middle grade kids.

MC

Writing

A New Routine

writing

Today is day one of my new, unemployed life. What came before, these last two weeks was just the trial run. A period similar (but certainly not as devastating) to the events experienced after the death of a loved one. The period that is suspended in time where your tribe gathers around. Makes daily inquiries as to your well being. There is much to do in those first few days. Organize and prepare for what lies ahead. A pre-planned getaway to Florida followed my first week away from the job and there was a flurry of activity awaiting me there. But now I am home and everyone is back to work and school and I’m here to let the dust settle around me and find a new routine.

This is exactly what I have wanted for months on end. Time to write. Time to see if I have what it takes to birth a book. I’m hopeful because it is early days and I see nothing but time stretching ahead of me. I have a bit of money saved and with unemployment kicking in soon, I’ll have enough to get me through the next few months. I know how lucky I am. If I can’t make it work now, I don’t see how it’s going to happen for me. I know I have to sit my butt in front of my computer and let the words out, even if they are gibberish and nonsensical.

Continue reading “A New Routine”