Utter Decadence

This morning, I popped out of bed (no, really!) and went to work making something of a work of art in the kitchen. At least, it felt that way. I'm certain that the Daddy will disagree, as he's the one who cleaned up the "makings" afterward.

But I digress.

And speaking of popping, I have one word: Popovers.

As a child, my Mom and grandmother used to take me over to the Beach - to this really fancy-schmancy area of town - and in this one shop, there was a place that served popovers and strawberry jelly. We would go there sometimes, on a whim, or when we wanted to celebrate, or were feeling happy. It was delightful, and sometime during that time, my Mom acquired a popover pan and began making them at home.

There is nothing quite like them, warm from the oven, all egg-y and light and steaming. Mmmmmm.

Anyway, I'd forgotten all about them for a good long while, but about a year-and-a-half ago, rediscovered my love for popovers and have begun making them every couple of months as a special Sunday treat. And today I made some more.

And by more, I mean, MORE. I pulled out all the stops today: popovers with maple-vanilla whipped cream, strawberry syrup, and fresh strawberries (besides bacon and eggs and an outstanding morning cocktail involving pomegranate). Oh, MAN.

Don't they just sing to you? (They certainly sang to me!)

I don't make my popovers in a popover pan, though... I just use a regular, well-greased muffin tin. Which works great, because it stretches the batter further, and they still "pop."

So now that I've got you drooling, I wanted to share my recipe, because, really, it's SOOOOO worth it. I promise. And on top of all that, they're SUPER easy to make!


1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour*
1 tbsp. olive oil or melted butter

*I believe gluten-free oat flour would work as well, although I don't know if they would "pop" as well... Today's were made with 1/4 cup oat flour to 3/4 cup regular flour - which for me is a mixture of whole wheat and white.

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Grease a muffin tin extra-thoroughly, including the top area, as sometimes they come over the edges. I use a combination of butter and bacon grease or butter and olive oil, depending on what I have available.

Then fill each cup in the tin with the batter, about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way. Do not fill all the way or they may puff up TOO big.

Bake for 8-10 minutes on 425, then lower heat to 350 for another 20-35 minutes, or until puffy and golden.

Serve piping hot with maple-vanilla whipped cream and strawberry sauce (recipes below).

Maple-Vanilla  Whipped Cream 

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 tsp. maple syrup
1/8 tsp. vanilla powder or 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whip as normal. Yum!

Special Strawberry Sauce

In a small saucepan, combine:

1-2 tbsp. butter
4-6 tbsp. strawberry jelly or jam (I used some homemade low-sugar jam that we made last year, and MAN. It was awesome!)
1 tsp. of vanilla agave inulin (optional)
1 tsp. of vanilla extract or 1/8 tsp. of vanilla powder
1 tbsp. maple syrup

Stir and watch until thick and bubbly, then drizzle over hot popovers and fresh strawberries sprinkled with vanilla inulin powder.

Scarf it all down with a breakfast cocktail made of 1 part strawberry-infused sparkling water, 2 parts orange juice, and a good shot of pomegranate liquor for good measure.

And since I know you're probably wondering, my blood sugars did pretty good today, despite all that - the OJ cocktail really was over the top, but I was feeling... Inspired. And who says the "Big D" has to take that away from me, anyway?

So. Go make some. Then come back on here and rave to me about how awesome it was. I'll nod knowingly and then we'll have to make plans to make some TOGETHER next time. And add more alcohol.

Flowers for the Living

For Danielle. Sort of... But it's for everyone who has lost someone... And all the rest of us.

Why is it that it takes somebody dying before people come together - I mean, REALLY come together - to celebrate that person? I want to know. This has been circling the back of my mind like a flock of vultures and picking away at the edges of my thoughts for literally, weeks now.

It is so frustrating.

Anyway, I got to thinking about death. What death means, and how we respond to it. What life means, and how we respond to that.

It all started because a friend of mine died quite suddenly recently, and... She was such a fun, awesome person, and now she's gone. And I can almost guarantee that the hundred or so people in the room at her funeral had never ALL been together in a room before.

And that made me really angry.

I guess part of that is my grief showing up, because I'm still sad about her, but it's more than that. It makes me angry that when we die, all these people show up to talk about how great we were. Really?

I mean, seriously, it's retarded.

Ya'll (Sorry guys, my Southern "roots" show up a little more when I'm mad.) can't bother to show up for a holiday get-together or a birthday party or a fun weekend or whatever, but hey, I'm dead now, so let's all show up and talk about how awesome she was and how much we miss her...

No. If she was that awesome, you'd have made time for her while she was still freaking alive and wanted you around. (And don't get me wrong, I *know* that plenty of people DID make time for my sweet friend before she died. It just frustrated me to think that they were probably never all in the same room together to celebrate her while she was alive.)

That's what's at the core of this for me, I guess. That the "Hey everybody, let's get together and CELEBRATE each other!" thing doesn't happen nearly as often or as beautifully as it should. And that often we are made to feel as though we are imposing on others' schedules when we *do* ask for that time...

We get so caught up in the minutia of our microscopic lives that it takes the DEATH of young, vibrant, beautiful, giving and compassionate woman before everybody's willing to take a pause, take a breath and go, "Wait up. She was awesome. And we didn't bother to tell her enough before she was gone."

It was enough to make me stop, shake my head, and wonder. Who am I? What will people say about ME when I die?

Honestly, I could care less what people think of me when I die. Or what they say. You know why? Because I'LL BE DEAD. And here's a little secret for you: dead people don't care what the living have to say to, for, or about, them.

It's now, here, in the land of the LIVING that I actually care. Here, in this place, where I still breathe the same air as you do... Where I'm still able to laugh, and cry, and wash the same damned laundry day after day after day after day, and yell at my kids. Here is where I care.

So tell me now, or don't tell me at all. Because once I'm dead, it's over. There'll be no more telling then.

And I'll tell you. Let's make a deal of it, k?

I think of that almost every day now. I think of it every time I say goodbye, or goodnight, or whatever... "Did I tell them that I love them? Did I make them feel special enough... Just in case there is no tomorrow?" Not always in so many words, but the thought is still there, peering over my shoulder to make sure I haven't forgotten.

This is especially poignant for me, because in living with diabetes, you learn really quickly that most people who know about diabetes, including - and maybe especially - your doctor, don't really expect you to live all that long. Which kind of sucks. Like, hardcore sucks. You become aware of your mortality a lot more quickly than others may... Even more so when you've had a brush with death through DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis. It sucks, trust me in this.). *I* expect to live a long time, but that doesn't mean anything either. Even if I didn't have Type 1, there's no guarantee that I have another hour or another day. I just live a little closer to te reality of what death is than many people do because I have Type 1.

And being a parent with this... WHOA, Mama, it really brings it home.

So I want to start a new tradition. A new way of going about things. Because the land of regret is for the dead. And I don't ever want to go there... I'm not afraid of death, but I am afraid that I'll look back again sometime and say, "I wish I'd told her how much she meant to me." 

The dead don't care about our wishes. Our love that we didn't express, our hopes that we never shared, or the laughs over that last margarita that we never had.

So why do we wait until someone dies to shower them with beautiful flowers and equally beautiful words?

Life gives to the living, and the dead care nothing for it. Our words of affirmation and love and beauty are best spent on the spirits of those around us who still draw breath and can be affirmed and loved and receive beauty.

When I was a young teen, I went to a summer camp where we had a project where we had to give "Flowers for the Living." What this meant was that we each were given a box, and every person at some point during the week of that camp had to write at least one thing about someone else that they appreciated and admired. This was almost 20 years ago, and I still have some of those little slips of paper. They were precious to me, and carried me through some very hard times. And I still remember that experience clearly. It rocked my world in an awesome and powerful way.

So starting here and now, where I have become lax and apathetic and unappreciative... Or where I have held my words to myself, thinking I am too effusive - I want to shake that off. I want to give my flowers to the living.

I want to follow the wisdom of Henry Ward Beecher: “Do not keep alabaster boxes of your love and tenderness sealed up until your friends are dead.  Fill their lives with sweetness, speak approvingly, and cheer them with words and deeds while their ear can hear them and their hearts be thrilled by them.”

Oh, yes. I want to thrill the ears and hearts of everyone I know. Lord grant that I may do so.

Isn't It Always The Little Things?

Good Sunday evening, friends.

In case you missed out, today was an INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL day. Knock-your-socks-off gorgeous. Full of all the things that are beautiful about living here: sunshine, warm air with a cool breeze, springtime singing in the air... Ahhh. Gloriousness.

It really is these little things that make me so grateful to be alive and able to enjoy what God has put in this world for us to enjoy.

So of course, we decided to go to a local nature preserve/park thing and take a good, long walk... Too perfect of a day not to, right? And it was... Just perfectly lovely.

First, just let me say that the "mountain," as KayKay called it, totally kicked my butt. But I'm glad for it,  because I definitely needed the exercise. Certainly *not* a little thing, but a good one, nonetheless.

We explored the lake and the trees and the rocks and looked for deer tracks and fox dens and chipmunk... Nests? Lairs? I don't know what they're called, but chipmunks are evil, and therefore it seems logical that they would have lairs. Although, I suppose a nest could be equally as evil and menacing, amIright? (In case I haven't mentioned it before, I used to think chipmunks were all cute and furry and adorable and "Awwww, wouldn't it be awesome to have a pet chipmunk?!?!" ... Until we had Chirpy the Chipmunk move in and CHIRP RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR WINDOW FOR HOURS - and I mean HOURS - EVERY FREAKING DAY FROM SPRING UNTIL WINTER. Chipmunk society as a whole is dead to me now. There could be a worldwide chipmunk extermination and I wouldn't bat an eye. Chirpy has ruined the whole species for me. The only enjoyment I get from them now is to imagine what one might taste like if properly stewed up.)

Anyway... Train derailed. MUST. GET. BACK. ON TRACK.

So. We had a fun, happy time.

We saw a turtle. (He chose to show us his butt. I guess turtles can be snooty sometimes.)

And we saw lots of trees. Dead trees. Live trees. LOTS of trees. Yay for trees! (I love them, really! Although I did *not* go about hugging them as the Ladybug did... I felt like it, though. Just... THAT HAPPY.) Anyway, I thought this log was pretty darn cool. I love moss, don't you? 

So we walked and walked and walked, and talked about the rocks and the trees and what if Reddy Fox lived under that fallen log? And Paddy the Beaver? I'll bet his dam is in the lake somewhere! And was that Sammy Jay I saw flitting through the trees over there? (We are very much into the books by Thornton W. Burgess  right now - they are wonderful stories with short chapters about a variety of animals. They have a definite Beatrix Potter-esque feeling to them, but also contain great - and often funny - moral stories that are perfect for young children. Both the girls have been enjoying them.) 

Then we saw this cute little guy, who wasn't doing much pecking, but was spending a lot of time calling. He doesn't have a name, because I don't know if Thornton W. Burgess wrote a story about a woodpecker. But that's okay, it was still a joy to watch him and listen to his quiet calls. I did not know woodpeckers had such soft, sweet calls. Simply lovely.                                                                                                                                                         There were about ten thousand people at the preserve today, but fortunately, up where we spent most of our time, there were very few people, so it was easy to imagine that we were (very nearly) alone in the woods. The Ladybug and I have started reading Little House In The Big Woods together, and I'm sure she was thinking of the description of the little house all alone in the woods while we were walking... She's quite taken with the story, and is insisting on reading large(r) chunks of it aloud to me, which of course, I am thrilled with! 
We also saw a few bright and happy little cardinals flitting about in the trees, although, rather disappointingly, no bluebirds this time. The last time we headed out that way, we saw a half-dozen of them, brilliantly, beautifully blue and so close we could almost touch them. But the red of the cardinals seemed to better suit the mood of today anyway: warm and bright and tinged with the fire of dancing sunlight and joyful skipping little girls.

On an aside, the trip uphill was the most exertion I've put forth in some time, and other than a large amount of huffing and puffing and feeling rather like a whale being unwillingly rolled out of its natural habitat, I also had an extreme drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia). I had specifically checked my blood glucose levels right before embarking on our little adventure, and had also made certain to throw a few extra carbs in my body beforehand without compensating for them with insulin... And still. A ninety-point drop in 45 minutes. That's pretty intense. Eeep!

Fortunately, we'd brought some snacks and had a little impromptu snack-stop at the top of the ridge. It was an amazingly beautiful few minutes... Just us - the Daddy, the girls and I - at the top of the ridge, overlooking the world (it seemed), surrounded by quiet winter trees and the calls of little birds, wrapped in the golden light of late afternoon, a cool breeze fluttering through the leaves as we shared grapes and bunny crackers and dried fruit. So many little things make those moments a shining memory in a corner of my mind.

At the end of our hike, we had a few minutes of fun for pictures while the Daddy was getting the car, so I snapped a couple of (as usual) silly shots... Because of course, no trip anywhere would be complete without my children showing THIS side of them... So I give you these:

We're thinking about making these a part of our next holiday card(s). What do you think?

And really... Isn't it always the little things that make life so tangled and glorious and gripping and beautiful? Those little moments of perfectness that drop into our laps - just waiting to be exclaimed over and remembered and tasted and lived?