The Perks of Being Leftovers

Leftovers suck.

Forgive my ineloquence, but popping last night’s meal into the microwave and slapping it down on the table certainly conjures images of limp chicken breasts,  soggy green beans and the inevitable lump of cold in the middle mashed potatoes. Not the most appealing option.

Even as a child, I despised leftovers. Unless you were pizza, you had no love from me if you were cooked yesterday.

But then, I grew up.

And had a child to feed.

And a husband to make take to work meals for. It no longer seems feasible to make from scratch  meals every night.

Enter the concept of repurposing leftovers!

Imagine,  turning tuesdays chicken breasts into Wednesdays chicken Pasta into Thursdays chicken pizza?!

I get excited about cooing, it’s true.

So, what were we faced with, this week? Leftover porkchops, peas and mashed sweet potatoes. We had turned some of the meat and peas into an Alfredo pasta, which was well received,  but with another meal to make and too much remaining to justify tossing it, I was faced with a challenge.

A tour of the pantry left me with a can of coconut milk and another of pineapple,  and a bag of rice, and a container of bred crumbs. The gears began turning. Maybe a little smoke billowed from my ears.

The result??

image

Coconut fried rice with pork, peas and pineapple (the letter of the day is P) and parmasean and sweet potato fritters. A dollop of Greek yogurt for dipping (topped with pepper sauce for mom).

Is there a Nobel prize for leftovers?

On a barely related note,  anyone else watching this season of The Leftovers? Madness abounds.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Auld Accquaintance

As it comes to a close, we’re,  most of us, lucky. More often than not, we reflect on the highs of the year, and unless plagued by life changing lows, we can often forget our woes.

image

2015. Like all the years before, we never emerge entirely unscathed, but the scars and wounds are structure, no?  Our trips and falls build next year’s you, someone who looks a lot like last year’s you, but, let’s face it, she’s a little wiser. One more year to grow,  and to age, to become, perhaps a little more tired and weary in body, but, hopefully, enriched in mind, soul and spirit.

Who among us can manage to meet this day without reflection? The very young, of course, because new years will come and go forever. Even 20 year old me felt excitement for the party of the day; drinks, dance, awkward sweaty selfies. Before, of course,  we called them selfies.

But as the years add up, and time lets us see that were not infallible, we must take more away than a hangover. A new year lies in wait.  Maybe this will be the year you read 50 books. Maybe this will be the year you lose 30 pounds. Maybe this is the year you get married. Or divorced. Maybe this is the year you make no promises, but time lets you grow wiser anyway.

image

If the only gain we wander out of 2016 with is another year under our belts and 365 more experiences, let us hope that in one year,  still, we can all find things to be grateful for.

In this year? This 2015? A list:
Baby steps,
Mountain lakes,
First words,
A dear friend’s wedding,
Flour,  sugar, kneading,  making,
Ink and art, expression,
Road trips, motels, diners and new paths,
Family,
Friends,
Work (sometimes…. )
And home.

Maybe not so unlike the years before it, but another list of days, moments and experiences to warm the heart. Slow walks in the woods, Pep’s memorable trick or treating, my 30th birthday in the mountains, a lot of ground covered under foot and in heart.

image

To you, 2015, may your successor bring us joy and love and happiness.  Wishing all of us wisdom and peace, and a good book and a cup of coffee.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Big kid, now

Today, I found the husband’s socks in the couch as I straightened up. 
‘Oh, socks.’ Said Pep.

‘Dad’s socks.’ I replied, balling them up.

‘Oh, Dad.’ She said.

‘Can you please put these in the hamper?’ I asked, handing them out to her.

Without question,  she took them from me and scampered purposefully away, returning quickly.

I thanked her and gave her a kiss, somewhat incredulous that my tiny baby is, fully, a kid. We’re having conversations (she chatters about colors,  shapes,  letters, puppies, kitties, ho ho aka Santa,  and a host of other topics).

Today, we painted. She declared ‘rainbow!’ and slathered streaks of color about,  then asked mom, ‘rainbow song?’ (Somewhere Over the Rainbow ).

image

She was playing at the table this morning, dropped a toy, grunted dramatically, declared ‘reach’ in a defeated tone (as in ‘can’t reach’). I suggested she pick it up. She gave me a cheesy smile, squinted her eyes and chirped, ‘ mom do it!’.

Christmas is coming, quickly,  and I’m busying myself daily doing as much handmaking and gift baking as I can. Every time I haul out the flour, Pep announces, ‘bread!’ and attempts to climb the counters to help.

She occasionally kisses the ornaments on the tree goodnight. 

image

She has figured out that cookies are plentiful right now.

She did not appreciate Santa.  She proclaimed, ‘oh no!’ But was excited to wave goodbye. ‘Bye, ho ho!’

This year, Christmas is going to be amazing.

She’s a full blown kid, alright. 

I wonder if those socks are in the garbage…..

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Remembered Day

My morning started, early,  with sleepy cuddles in bed, my sweet Pepper curled below my chin as I grasped for just a few more minutes of sleep. Her deep breaths synced with mine, and, gently, she curled her fingers around my hair. And I was so, so grateful to have her in my life.

Today is a holiday in a Canada, Remembrance Day, a day to acknowledge our country’s veterans,  thus, a day off from school. A day I was lucky enough to spend with my baby.

image

But I found myself growing irritable.

Weepy.

Panicky.

Lonely.

You can try to get a 1 year old to hug you, but they’ll only do it on their terms,  not yours.

It took some time to click in to me that my mood may, in fact,  be an annual occurrence.  Today is my first, lost baby’s due date. She might have been two.

Leafing up to today,  I didn’t expect anxiety or pain, I was sure the hurt wouldn’t be lying in wait, eager to pounce. And, so, it caught me off guard.

I couldn’t shake my mood, and of course  felt guilty for my grief, all while I had my wonderful rainbow in front of me.

I felt a desperate need to be acknowledged, I needed someone to validate my pain, to say,  I remembered, too. I’m sorry it hurts,  and I understand that you’ll always think of it, today.

image

My husband was, and is, unaware of why I’m acting so strangely.  I couldn’t bring myself to remind him. If he wasn’t hurting, why hurt him? And, admittedly,  I worried he’d roll his eyes and shrug it off. And that would be so much worse than feeling alone.

I felt this great urge to shout it out. I had a baby, once, who’s gone, and today might have been her birthday. She was real, she was here, and she mattered. And I’m hurting.

I posted on a Facebook group I’m a member of, for loss moms.

And as the hours and hours went by, without reply, from the only venue literally set up for my comfort,  I began to feel seriously invalidated.

It’s been 2 years.

You never even met that baby.

You have another child.

It was ‘just’ a miscarriage.

You have nothing to complain about.  You have another daughter.

I let those imaginary comments,  that hateful inner voice grow louder and louder. Pepper, semi oblivious to my mood began to take note.  ‘Cry.’ She’d say, pointing to my eyes.

Then I got a text.

From the one friend who really did remember. She remembered that I would be remembering.

‘I’m thinking of you today.’

And that made all the difference.

Someone remembered that life,  not just me. The tiny ripples made by my first child made a connection with someone else on this earth, even if only through me.

And I realized that having a rainbow baby, while a blessing, a wonderful joy in my life, is not going to make my pain go away.

And it shouldn’t.

Because, while she’s healed my heart so much, it’s not Pepper’s job to carry me when my heart is heavy.  It’s not her job to erase the past.

Those hurts were real.

And they still are, sometimes.

And, on this Remembrance Day, someone remembered.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Beat by Beat

I. Love. Halloween.

image

Always have. I love horror movies (yeah,  I’ve got a blog for that, too). I love dressing up. As a kid, I was drawn to Goosebumps and Fear Street novels, thriving on the gloom and doom, savoring the scares.  My costumes tended towards the gruesome, vampires, zombies, fake blood and wounds.  Even as an adult, I felt more comfortable covered in gore than I did attempting to pout and be coy with sexy animal ears and risqué necklines.

I love the parties, the buzz, the excitement; pumpkin carving,  handing out candy, the cheesy soundtracks featuring Monster Mash.

The husband proposed to me on Halloween. 

I love Halloween. 

Two years ago, on Halloween, I had my second ultrasound with Pep.

The first pegged her at 6 weeks.

This scan was just a few days past 12 weeks.

This scan had me anxious, shaking. This scan had me in tears on the way to the hospital.

This scan had me dredging up aching memories, had me hearing an echo, an eternal echo that will ring in my mind forever.  A distant echo, softly saying, ‘there’s no heartbeat. I’m so sorry.’

And with it, more than an echo of a hurt that still exists and still shocks me, even now.  A Fracture on the time line of my life, on my heart. That jolt that shuddered through me as I knew my baby was gone.

Two years ago, I waited. Tears pushed against my eyes, eager to burst forth and free. My breathing was shallow and staggered. 

I walked into that room, where my heart once shattered. I could hear that sharp crash resounding in the dim light,  the memories of joyous moments and devastating losses permeating the very walls, my own tragedy just one of a million.

My heart pounded furiously as I recalled that fateful scan at 17 weeks that revealed a child dead at 11w 6 days.  Heart breakingly shy of the proverbial safe zone of 12 weeks.

Dread hung over me, heavy like cement, as I lay waiting for information.  Trying not to be certain that this baby,  too, hadn’t made it to 12 weeks.

The silence of an ultrasound tech can be the loudest silence some of us will ever hear.

That Halloween,  two years ago,  is when I heard Pep’s steady, healthy heart,  beating strong,  healing my own, just a bit, with every tiny thud.

Two years, I saw the image of my sweet, strong girl,  alive. She had lived. She was living.

Somehow on this Halloween,  I believed that she could.

image

We floated home, giddy, on a cloud. We spied excited trick or treaters, and headed in to make popcorn and watch some cheesy horror as our little Pep carried on and on, right there with us.

image

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Gourd As It Gets

It’s autumn, the pumpkin spice is in the air. Cinnamon, nutmeg, awkward orange dye. Pumpkin is in the spotlight as THE fall flavour.

I say, nuts to that, let’s get squashing!!!! (For reals though,  pumpkin overnight oats?! Yes ma’am! )

Ladies and gentlemen,  I think I’ve just created Butternut Squaffles. Patent pending.

image

There are times when breakfast deserves to be dinner. I love it, you love it, for goodness sake,  kids love it.

The bad news? It’s tough to make breakfast-dinner feel like it’s even a little good for you. You know, not dessert?

Enter, the butternut squaffle!

The way I see it, if you can make a pumpkin pancake,  a pumpkin donut, a pumpkin oreo, even, why not try adding a little velvety, sweet,  cinnamon spiced butternut squash?

By adding last night’s roasted squash puree to a fairly straightforward waffle batter,  adding a heavy dose of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla and a hint of nutmeg,  I’ve ended up with crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, rich,  sweet and earthy waffles.

So they’re still waffles, but squash! So, at least we can feel a little better about waffles if vegetables are present.

Served with a huge pile of blackberries, a sprinkle of homemade pumpkin spice granola  (ok,OK,  I like pumpkin too ), a drizzle of honey and a spoonful of Greek yogurt,  butternut squaffles were a hit, and managed a bit of good for you too.

Butternut Squaffles

2 1/2 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
Dash of salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I probably doubled this. I never measure cinnamon and nobody ever complains )
Dash nutmeg

1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
I tsp vanilla (see :cinnamon )
3/4 cup butternut squash puree  (last night’s leftovers!)
1/4 cup sunflower oil

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a large measuring cup, mix wet ingredients  (except squash)

Add wet to dry, then add squash. Whisk batter to break up and distribute the squash. Batter should be thick.

Spray waffle iron with cooking oil before using.

Enjoy! 

This made us a batch of 10 waffles, most of which will be frozen and reheated in the toaster.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Every Leaf’s a Flower

My sahm immune system has no business being out of it’s bubble, let alone in a kindergarten full of runny noses. Good lord.

image

Two days spent back at work resulted in a cold that completely and utterly took me down.  On the brightside, I fell right back into the routine at work, and I’m feeling positive about challenging my little buddies to learn new skills in class.

My first week back was insane. Not only was I out of the house at work for two days, but every other day was booked with meetings and appointments, or essential mom naps (because I was barely functioning with this cold). To top it off, we got roped into hosting a very early thanksgiving  (skillfully prepped and prepared between naps ) at the end of the week. I pulled it off, I’m proud to say, though the jury’s still out on whether or not the pumpkin pie contained my cold germs.

But poor little Pep.

Dad did a great job and held his own at home, tidying up and prepping dinner. But after 15 months of mom’s routine, those little changes in the day left me with a rather cranky, clingy, angry creature who refused to sleep. Yikes.

A number of nighttime meltdowns and failed attempts to keep the girl in bed finally led me to see that she’s just not ready for one nap  a day. Or at least not in the midst of these changes. We jaunted back to one morning and one afternoon nap and what seemed like a crazy early bedtime of 7pm for a few days and, thank God,  we are back on track.

Why not just cosleep?  I’ve tried, and let me tell you, if Pep and I are sharing a bed, only one of us is sleeping while the other is getting pummeled in the face.

What I’m feeding my kid had dissolved for a time into a lot of leftovers and the dreaded chicken nugget. Turns out Pep has good taste, she wanted nothing to do with those breaded lumps of ‘chicken’. To be fair,  when I’ve made my own chicken strips from scratch,  she balks at the breading.  Eggs became a vehicle for vegetables,  and a means for mom to rest her congested head a little longer.

We will get back on track!

image

As for now,  being at work has been exhausting though enjoyable. I’ve missed it, but it does make me grateful to have days at home with my  girl. We’re soaking up the colours of autumn, bundling up against the wind.  We’re crunching leaves and listening for geese. Dad and I are enjoying the yearly ritual of trying to figure out where the mice are getting in, and now,  where to put the traps so they catch rodents and not kids. Or lazy cats.

I will find my groove. Autumn is brief,  I’m holding tight to these chilly days before the snow flies. Beyond that, Halloween and Christmas loom (we’ve got some exciting ideas for Pep’s gift this year).

image

I just need to stop, take a breath,  crunch some leaves and tackle my girl with tickles.  Her deep,  throaty giggles being me back and put things into perspective. She helps me see that the laundry can wait a little while. 

And if you’re wondering will I ever get back to kid friendly recipes? Eventually. In time, in time . We had some good successes with zucchini tuna taco boats. For now, check out http://hellolunchlady.com.au for a recipe for Puftaloons  (pan fried scones,  easy to personalize). I served them this morning with a pile of fresh berries, cinnamon and a drizzle of maple syrup.  No, they do not contain vegetables and are basically a socially acceptable donut, but they were made from scratch and with love,  and went over well at our table today.

image

Till next time, folks! 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment