22 April 2018

The Not-So-Obvious Stuggles

Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to head up the Spring book fair at my son's elementary school.  It was a serious blessing that I didn't have to run the thing alone because, as it was, I felt like I was run off my feet.  From 8:00 in the morning until nearly 5:00 in the evening I was at that school, freezing my tush off in the gym, and helping people buy books on inefficient registers.  It was fun, because I love books and love talking to people who love books, but I'm telling you, I felt like a dead and beaten horse at the end of every day.

To add a little touch of aggravation, our washer died.  Completely and unexpectedly.  So, I've been trekking to the laundromat for about a month and a half, once a week.  During the book fair, my husband came to the laundromat with me, and we didn't finish with the clothing until midnight.

The next night we went and bought a new washer. *snort* Nothing like lighting a fire under the right bottom.

Twice that week I woke up in tears because I didn't think I could handle another day.

It was also a very busy weekend following the book fair.  So, no rest for the weary.

When I finally had a normal week in front of me, I crashed.  My children were at school and I tried to get things done and be a productive, normal, individual, but it didn't quite work out that way.  I spent a lot of time sitting and lying down. I didn't even have the energy to write. After three days of struggling to be normal, I gave in to what my body wanted to do anyway, and slept for fifteen hours straight.  I was groggy for a few hours afterward, but then I actually did feel normal, instead of just trying to be.

I tell you this whole saga of my busy week, and the ensuing crash, not because I want sympathy or anything similar to it.  It's just life.  Everyone has something they struggle with, and I felt like I needed to share what I struggle with, since it isn't obvious to most people.

I was talking to my sister-in-law yesterday and she and I thought it would be great if anything that was wrong with you physically showed up on the outside.  You could look at someone and immediately know.  Oh! They have the stomach flu.  Or, That back pain isn't getting any better.  Or, They have the same stuff I do!  But because we're all able, to varying degrees, to disguise our ailments, most people have no idea we have ailments at all.

I have ailments.  I ail.  Just like each of you.  Let's not be afraid to share those ailments with each other, because through our sharing we become stronger, more honest with ourselves and others, and more able to cope with the things we struggle with.

07 April 2018

Free Your Cornbread

If you're looking for some witty life lesson or book recommendation or a controversial opinion, I'm sorry to disappoint on this occasion. But if you try either of the following recipes, you'll love them.

I am a baker.  I love the challenge of seeing a recipe and knowing I could make it.  I love the idea of only using ingredients I know the names of (nothing of the four syllable variety).  It's cheaper than going to a bakery. There is nothing quite like making something for the people you love and having them lick their lips and look for more.  And the last couple of years, there is also the challenge of taking a recipe that isn't gluten, sugar, or dairy free and making it so.

(Please note that I did not make the cornbread in the picture I used.  I can make things taste good, but it rarely looks good.  Making things pretty is not a talent of mine.)

The latest recipe I've "freed" is cornbread.  Trust me when I say that the cornbread I've always made is more like cake than bread.  It's sweet (sorry to all you Southerners who prefer it savory) and moist and lovely.

Here's the original recipe as it was given to me by my friend Sarah:

Mormon Cookbook Cornbread
1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 C. cornmeal
1 1/2 C. flour
2 tea. baking powder
1/2 tea. salt
1 1/2 C. milk
** Cream butter and sugar, add eggs.  Add dry ingredients, and milk. Whisk or beat until smooth.  Place in greased 8X8 inch pan.  Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick come out clean.

It's a simple recipe.  This is how I changed it.

1/4 C. coconut oil (You can taste a hint of coconut in the finished product and it's lovely.)
1/4 C. applesauce
1/2 C. honey/agave (or less)
2 eggs
1 C. cornmeal (not masa flour.  It's different, as I learned the hard way.)
1 1/2 C. GF flour blend (I've been using the blend from America's Test Kitchen and substituting millet flour for the white rice flour.  It works well.)
2 tea. baking powder
1/2 tea. salt
1/2 tea xantham gum (only three syllables, so it's allowed.)
1 1/2 C. soy/almond/rice milk

The method is the same as before, but the batter is slightly runnier.  It may take a minute or two longer to bake.  Trust your toothpick.

I've experimented with flavoring it as well.  Try adding 1/2 tea. of nutmeg or cinnamon.  Or add blueberries or other fresh fruit. Using maple syrup to sweeten and flavor makes for a delicious deviation. For those who prefer savory, try decreasing the amount of honey/agave and add chili powder, cumin, or rosemary.  Although, the rosemary would taste great in sweet or savory.

If you're looking for a delightful variation for breakfast, break up leftover cornbread and pour milk (or your milk substitute) over it. Mmm.  For an upcoming dinner at the Ellsworth home, I'm going to use leftover chili I made, put cornbread overtop and bake it in my own version of tamale pie.

Basically, make it however you want. Go crazy.  That's a baker's right.

Maybe that's why I like baking.

26 February 2018

My Son: Pin Cushion

It has been a life-changing couple of months, at least for my older son.  Two days after our new insurance kicked in, I made a doctor's appointment of him.  He'd gotten the flu over Christmas break (which must be some kind of cruel joke) and never got feeling completely better.  So, his first day back at school he called me during first period and asked me to come get him.

For some teenagers that would be a hard and fast no, but for him it was a clear signal that he was really sick. Hence the doc.

Just before we walked out the door to the appointment, my son filled up this enormous bottle of water to take with us.  We were just going for a ten minute doctor's visit and he needed a two liter bottle of water?  Suddenly a light bulb went on in my head.

Getting my blood glucose meter out, I tortured him by poking his finger with a tiny needle until we got a drop of blood.  The way he moaned, you would have thought I was using a machete and his finger had come off.  I sincerely wish that was the worst of what happened that day.

His sugar levels were so high that my meter couldn't read them.

We got in the car and I started grilling him about how he was really feeling, because I knew it wasn't just the flu anymore.  The doc confirmed it... my son is diabetic.

He spent the next four days in the pediatric unit of the hospital, and while we had a few exciting moments -- like when he dosed up for a massive meal and then couldn't finish eating it, and when he had an allergic reaction to some medication, and when his stomach started cramping so badly he thought he was dying-- mostly he lay in bed watching movies and eating whatever he wanted.  He thought it was the best vacation ever.

When asked, he will tell you that he knew that if any of my children were going to get diabetes, it would be him.  He said he wasn't even surprised.  Since coming home from the hospital, he has pretty well adjusted to life as a pin cushion.  He does everything he's supposed to without complaint and willingly measures and weighs his food so he can dose up correctly.  He's a superstar.

So, while I'm glad he's doing so well, I still feel bad that my genes brought him such a crappy disease.  It makes everything he attempts for the rest of his life "high risk" and that's just stink. Stink. Stink.  So I'd like to take this moment to apologize to him publicly because I am sorry.

At least he doesn't whine about sticking himself with needles anymore.

08 January 2018


Stepping onto my soapbox...

I fully appreciate and support the idea that women be empowered.  I never want a women hurt simply because she's a woman. The ideas I take issue with are that women feel like they have to push everyone else down in order to give themselves the power they think they deserve.  That isn't empowerment, that's all kinds of bad things, like sexism, suppression, and prejudice.  Women don't have to knock other people down to prove our power.  We are already powerful.

The initial feminist movement wasn't about making women better, or higher, than our male counterparts, it was about making us equal, giving us choices.  I believe that initial movement was right! And in large part, I believe it was successful.  Women have choices to be whatever we want to be: doctors, lawyers, underwater basket weavers, explorers, exhibitionists, or homemakers.  We have the power to go out into the world and create for ourselves what we want to be.  That, my friends, is empowerment.  Being empowered has nothing to do with how powerful anyone else is.

So men?  Yeah, they're different from women.  Just like black skin is different from white.  But those differences don't make one side better than the other.  Differences just make us different, they do NOT make one better than the other.  We can be different and still be equal.  Everyone, every human, should have the power to make of themselves whatever they want to be.  To be empowered.

But my choice to be an author in no way should diminish the right of someone else to choose what they want to be.  If a man wants to also be a stay-at-home parent who writes, they should not get any backlash for that choice.  If I wanted to become a psychologist, I should receive no backlash about that because of my gender, my race, or anything else that I have no control over.  That means that those men who imposed their wills on women were wrong, but so also are the women who are making it impossible for decent men to be what they want to be. Choices mean empowerment.

That is why I am so annoyed with the direction celebrity and the media have taken things over the last few months.  They've vilified all men because there are a few bad eggs in high profile places. In fact, the one or two men who have spoken up to say that not all men are bad have been blasted right off the internet. That is called sexism.  By placing women above men simply because we are women is sexism.  And it's wrong.  It's hurtful. It isn't helping ANYONE.  It shouldn't happen.

Let's begin by making everyone equal, not making a wrong even wronger by perpetuating it.

Let's return to that picture I posted at the beginning to point out a matter of irony I can't let pass by.  These women are standing together by all wearing black, to support women.  Right?  Well, let's think about this further.  They have lambasted men for objectifying and harassing women, but look at the dresses they're wearing!  How can a person, man or woman, look at someone wearing a dress that shows so much skin in such a provocative manner and NOT objectify that woman?  They're saying one thing with their mouths and completely negating it with their actions.  Just saying.  Let's be consistent people!

Thank you.  I'm stepping off my soapbox now.

20 October 2017

Black Bean Brownies

I am completely and totally flabbergasted. For the last several months my husband's Aunt Sherrie has been telling us to try her Black Bean Brownies.  I don't know if I need to explain why we didn't try them right away.  Black Bean + Brownies? Ew, right?

Well, it just so happens that we were being unnecessarily prejudiced against these no flour, no sugar, black beanies. They are amazing! And I'm not the only one who thinks so. (I usually have to ask other people if something tastes good to them too. Since I've been eating gluten-free, sugar-free for so long my taste buds are severely skewed.)  My husband and daughter both thought they were delicious and they're the most discerning tasters I know.

Seriously, everyone should try these guilt-free babies.  You'll be feeling chocolatey and happy in your healthy gloating.

I just say "you're welcome" now.

1 15 oz can (1 3/4 Cup) black beans (well rinsed, drained)
2 large eggs
3 TBLSP coconut oil
a pinch of salt
3/4 Cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 C. honey, agave, sugar (or mix and match)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
**Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Puree bean and other ingredients in a food processor or blender for three minutes, or until smooth and well blended. Fill muffin tin, or small baking dish. For muffins, bake 12-15 mins. For baking dish bake 20-25 mins.


14 October 2017

The Blue Castle

Occasionally I'll be cruising around the book section of my local amazon store (which, as everyone knows, is located at our kitchen table in our pajamas with messy hair) and find something I am shocked, appalled and delighted to see.  For example:

The Blue Castle

The Blue Castle is written by L. M. Montgomery, the same beloved author who wrote the Anne of Green Gables books.  Most of her books are difficult to read as stand-alones because they're part of a series, but this one... this one is a gem.  One of my favorite books ever, and I mean EVER.

Ms. Montgomery was always known for writing characters that leapt off the pages and became real, full-blooded friends and neighbors and the characters in this story are no different.  I really feel like I know Valancy.  I lived with her through the trials and joys and heartaches of the year she lived when she thought she would die. I snuggled in the cabin on the island in the lake and watched the moonlight sift the leaves through each season.  I felt the anguish in her broken heart when she felt she'd betrayed the one man she had ever loved.  And I laughed with her when she told her family all the thoughts she'd kept inside her head and watched as they reacted to her words.

Truly, this story is a joy, a constant refreshment and reminder that we have control over our lives and can make our own happiness.  And some times, that happiness lands in our laps when we've done nothing to deserve it except live as best as we could.

Have I gushed enough?  I don't think it's possible to gush enough about this book, but I'll stop anyway.

The major reason I'm bringing this book up in a blog post is, not only did I find it on amazon, but it's one dollar.  ONE DOLLAR!  So... click on the link, right now, and buy it.  Sometimes when we see books that aren't expensive we figure they must not be worth very much.  Don't let its price fool you.  Just be happy you have access to a gem that'll knock your socks off at a price that allows you to keep all your limbs.

23 August 2017


I wish this picture didn't describe my first day of school reaction every year, but it's spot on.

Every year, I sit around and wonder what I'm supposed to do with myself now.  My kids are gone.  My job is sitting in front of the computer in my imaginary world, but I can stand up and walk away whenever I want.  Truth be told, I probably walk away more often than I should.  But mostly, after three months of having my kids home all day every day, I miss them.  They give me purpose, along with something to do.  Also, I like them.  They're among my favorite people.

And one of the worst things is that I feel like I'm one of the only people who feels like this.  It seems that everyone is busy, constantly running from one duty or activity to the next. They don't have the time or need to wonder what they're going to do with themselves because they're already doing it. Does that mean along with missing three pieces of my heart that there's something wrong with me? Really, does anyone else feel this way?

So, go ahead and ponder that while I mop up my face. I'll try to buck up and give myself some direction for my life sans enfants.