Family and friends

I am honored by the friendships in my life. I feel so fortunate and somewhat proud of myself to be able to say that I am surrounded by many deeply satisfying relationships that serve me greatly. I feel that among the people whom I call my friends I am likewise considered by them and the peace that this gives me is profound.

I know, Blah blah blah and all that mushy emotional stuff. But seriously it feels great to look up and around at my life and say out loud, that this is what makes my world go round… the love that surrounds me.

There have been times in my life when I felt alone in the friend department. Not because I didn’t have any, but because everyone I kept near was simply an acquaintance and the people who really mattered and loved me, I kept on the fringes because I didn’t know what to DO with them. Have you ever felt like you shouldn’t bother the people who love you with all of your boring, messy day to day junk and so you put your head down and just “get the job done” by yourself instead of inviting in the loving support. I have done this on more than one occasion and blocked myself into some lonely corners. I tend to be a fairly solitary person most of the time. I like and need my “alone time” very much but if I’m not aware I can isolate myself too much. Sometimes it just takes me a lot of time to “get the job done” of daily living and I forget to lift up my head, take a breath and invite in the people and things who and which could simplify and intensify the joy and reality of my life. Whenever I get tremendously overwhelmed, the solution lately seems to be be very simple (why it always feels like a monumental new discovery when I look back after doing these simple things is still a mystery to me but that is another topic). Drink less coffee after 12 noon, drink more water, eat better/ healthier food, put myself to bed earlier (that’s a big one) take some vitamin D or get a healthy dose of sun and ENJOY MY FRIENDSHIPS. Why does it get so hard to just say “F” the little things? Because it is hard sometimes. Do you agree? All of the little “don’ts, I shouldn’ts, I don’t have time’s, why bother’s” and so on can start to crowd in and obscure the real joys in life. They can build up and become habits that just start to feel natural and numbing. I find that when I don’t cultivate the joys in my life actively, the days just start to run together into a big mass of time that, when I look back at it, just seems like truly wasted time!

Thank goodness that I have all of the wonderful people surrounding me, friends and family alike. You are what truly gives my life it’s joy and meaning. Thank you all for being who you are, sharing that with me and the world and letting me be (as well as reminding me sometimes) who am am. It is a blessing to look up and see you all there.

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a little grey house

There is a little grey house in Pasadena with white shutters and a picket fence. When we moved into this little doll house there was no grass in the front yard. In fact there was not one green thing growing on the property save the giant 1 story tall weed inhabiting in the fence. The walls inside had about 6 shades of whitish paint ranging from primer to high gloss …on each wall no less. There was a severe lack of maintenance hanging all over the place and yet, there was charm. Inside the front door with it’s original beveled glass were hardwood floors, coved ceilings, built in book shelves and all of the original moldings from the 1920’s. My daring and darling husband had found this rental in the town of our dreams for us while working 40 hours a week and couch crashing during the first weeks of his new temp job. My spirits were high and low all at once when I took my first walk through. I was trying to imagine all of our large furniture and crazy amounts of stuff in this tiny abode and when I really let my mind sink into the miniscule dimensions of the kitchen ….well, I was overwhelmed.
Elliot and I drove in from Palm Springs for 2 weeks, before we moved in, to get the house cleaned and walls painted. Not long after we managed to get (most of) our stuff moved in we put in a front lawn and a deliciously charming border of flowers as well as a small herb garden. We had created yet another home (The 6th in 13 years) and gotten ourselves into the town we have wanted to live in for years now.
I can say with certainty that I do not like moving. It’s hard on everyone’s nerves and I get myself all worked up over the little things like timing, cleaning and packing, packing, packing!!!!! …Ahem.
But I can also say that I do enjoy reinventing our space and I actually think I’ve gotten better at letting go of the junk that doesn’t serve me body and soul. “How many times do I really want to move box of fabric scraps from the 90’s?” I’m proud to say that my culling skills have improved…somewhat. I have a love hate relationship with stuff. We still have a load of it and all of that stuff has overwhelmed me throughout the many moves but really, it has been a lot of fun to put this house together. It really feels like a comfortable space that I am happy and proud to call our home….for now. 😉

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Welcome! Have some pudding.

So, since the first month of the new year is coming to a close and I have not yet lost my crazy craving for chocolate. And since my pants are growing ever tighter I have decided to look through some of the piles of old forgotten recipes that have sat lonely behind the more usual picks to see if I could find a more hip and butt friendly version of some chocolate treats. I was starting to think it was a lost cause when I came upon a homey, comforting, memory of childhood sort of recipe that although has not been made by me in quite a while always hit the spot when those late night chocolate demons popped up in college. It passes muster on a few points. First it is quick (this is very important because when you want chocolate you often WANT CHOCOLATE NOW !!!!!) Second, it is easy and can be a platform for other more decadent treats. Third and fourth it is low calorie (compared to it’s cousins) and made from stuff we all usually have on had at a moments notice….What is this magical food of which I speak? Rich, chocolate pudding! Warm or cool it hits the spot on nights that still hold a chill. But it should help us all feel a bit better about that sinful indulgence grabbed from the fridge at midnight.

Chocolate pudding need not be some crazy, hard to figure out dessert. It can be simple and sublime all at once. The only utensil  you will need to make this simple pudd is a pan, a heat safe spatula and a whisk. This will not be a mousse or a pot-de-creme, it will not need to be handled with kid gloves, and it will not have butter, eggs or cream in it…unless you want to really dress it up which you can but wont need to. this is an old fashioned pudding thickened with only cornstarch and chocolate. This is most likely the best chocolate pudding recipe out there and it has been around for quite a while. it’s by John Scharffenberger of Scharffen Berger chocolate and it will most likely become one of your ‘go to’ weeknight treats.

So without further hesitation, lets get to it.

Ingredients:

4 Tbl cornstarch

1/2 to 3/4 Cup sugar

1/8 tsp salt

3 Cups whole milk

4 to 6 oz Scharffen Berger 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 tsp vanilla extract

Prep:

mix cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a double boiler  slowly stir in the milk and chocolate. Place over boiling water and stir constantly until thick and smooth. cover and cook 15 min longer, stirring occasionally. Stir in vanilla. portion into small serving dishes or place in one larger bowl for family style. Refrigerate until chilled and enjoy!

Now for my amendments:  If you are on a budget forget the expensive chocolate and go to Trader Joes and get yourself a bag of their brand name bittersweet chocolate chips or even a big bar of their imported Belgian bittersweet chocolate and chop that up instead. I doubt you will notice a difference at all. Aslo a double boiler is just a metal or pyrex bowl that fits snug on top of a pan of water. and if you are a bit more advanced you can just make the pudding right inside the pan over very low heat being extra careful not to let the bottom scorch!!!) and please be sure to use the good vanilla…the real stuff DOES make a difference here folks. And you can use low fat milk but the final product will not be quite as firm.

If you like a skin on your pudding then just pop it in the fridge as is and enjoy the chewy goodness. If you want a more refined pudding then place plastic wrap on top of each bowl making sure that it is smoothed down and touching the top of the pudding. Keep in mind that small bowls cool MUCH quicker than that big family bowl….just in case you need that fix quick! will keep for up to 3 days in the cooler….yea right! like it will last that long.

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