Pancake Pleasures and Memories

One sweet memory from growing up is ‘helping’ my Mom make pancakes for breakfast.  I realize now, in hindsight, that my notion of help was pretty great.  You see, I stood alongside the stove while she cooked and ‘helped’ her prepare beautiful, round pancakes with one critical job … I ate the little scraps that she trimmed off the edges of the pancakes!  :-)  That was some serious work, let me tell you!

I have always loved family weekend breakfasts.  The slow pace, home-baked goodies like scones or pancakes or muffins.  Coffee, Mexican hot chocolate.  The Sunday New York Times where everyone has the favorite sections.  Small weekend pleasures.

But back to the pancakes … well, truth be told, we were a Bisquick family.   For me, growing up, that was the taste of homemade pancakes and they were – in fact – very tasty.

But I am a made-from-scratch, buttermilk pancake convert.  Now maybe you have been there for many years and I was just slow to catch on.  But for those still thinking they are taking the short-cut, let me tell you that it is just as fast and SO much tastier to make from scratch.   This isn’t one of those ‘it takes a lot more effort but its worth it’ recipes … seriously quick and easy.

The trick: to remember to buy and keep buttermilk in the fridge!

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Here is the super simple recipe that I have been using.  It really is lightning quick.  Easy for the kids to help mix it up too.  Try it out and thank me later for all the compliments from the family :-)

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Recipe:

Dry Ingredients:  1 cup of flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredient: 1 egg, 1 1/8 cup of buttermilk, 2 tsp melted butter

  1. Mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Add in the wet ingredients and mix gently
  3. Pour the batter into round or other interesting shapes on the griddle.  (mine are never perfectly round and not a single complaint yet) :-)
  4. Enjoy!!

Quick tip: if you use a microwave, just pop the butter in the microwave for 20 seconds to melt.

Sunset on the Beach

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Another lovely sculpture from the Ritz Carlton Naples.  I love walking down a path and coming upon one of these sculptures – lovely surprises around the bend.

 

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Naples sunset

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Love the way the setting sun shone through the wispy clouds

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This was the view from my perch waiting for the sunset.  I think its my favorite.

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Lovely spot for a reception … wouldn’t that be a gorgeous setting for a wedding?

Staying Open in Crisis Mode

What part of you shuts down when you go into problem solving or crisis mode?   Does it help or hurt your goal to show up as your best self?

When we jump into that problem-solving mode, lots of things can happen very quickly within us.

  • our focus narrows
  • we come highly alert
  • we prepare ourselves for anything
  • brace ourselves for battle
  • feelings can take a backseat to analysis

This is exactly what we need when we are in danger.  But if our immediate safety is not at risk, the way we steel ourselves for problem solving may prevent us from showing up the way we really want to – as present, open, aware, insightful, wise.   By getting out of our self/soul/heart and into only our head, we can leave behind parts of ourself that we need of we are going to be authentic in those situation that require is to make decisions, solve problems and resolve crises.

To be at our very best,  we have to stay focused on both HOW we solve the problem as well as WHETHER we solve it.  Some days we will be happy with how we showed up, others we will take stock of what we want to do better next time.

Ultimately, our relationships and careers are made up of a series of moments strung together – so how we show up day to day in these situations translates into the quality of our life decisions and the health of our relationships.

Like so many things, this is a discipline and a practice – something we try to be self-aware and mindful of.  For me as someone who is analytic by nature, it requires mindfulness – daily practice.

A passage in Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening focused on this question of our minds and hearts in crisis, and was a wonderful reminder to be watchful of how we show up in these situations.  book_of_awakening

 

The Book of Awakening is an inspired and insightful book of daily reflections – a lovely book that I definitely recommend.  I come back to it all the time when I need to get quiet and grounded.   Book Link

 

 

Maple Bacon Braised Brussel Sprouts – yum!

I try to prepare our meals seasonally, eating as much locally grown fruits and veggies as we can when they are in seasons.  When its time for autumn veggies and I want my dear husband to eat Brussel sprouts, I have to be creative.  I love them, but need to make them a bit more appealing to have other takers.

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This week we had a gorgeous bunch of Brussel sprouts in our CSA basket from the amazing gals at Farm Chicks Produce.  So they are on the menu tonight, and I went in search of a new recipe to try.   Well I think I may have hit on the perfect recipe – it is SO good I might just finish them before dinner.  This is a must-try autumn recipe.

Here’s my version.  (It has bacon and while I’m sure you could use something else its definitely part of the flavor of the dish, but would still be tasty without I think.)

Ingredients

bunch of Brussel sprouts, washed, dried and quartered (I used about 2 cups, wish I had made more they are so good)

2 strips of applewood bacon, cut into small 1/2″ bits

1 Tablespoon of butter

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

3 Tablespoons of maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Saute bacon bits until crisp and remove from the pan.
  2. Remove bacon bits to paper towel (and try to keep your kids from eating them all!)
  3. Add Brussel sprouts and shallots to the pan and sauté until lightly browned over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  4. Stir in the 1/2 tsp mustard and blend in thoroughly, then add the bacon bits and maple syrup.
  5. heat until the syrup begins to caramelize and coats the Brussel sprouts.
  6. Serve – delicious!

The recipe I started from was larger, so just adjust to size as needed and have fun experimenting.

 

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YUM!

Kids & Water = so much fun!

The kids had such a fantastic time splashing around in the pool at Maddy’s 9th birthday party.    Especially love the synchronized jumps and the silly chicken fights!

Marissa, the kids all had a GREAT time.  Thanks for including us!

 

 

The small things we take for granted …

One of the many things affected by autism is social interactions.  The easy and natural ways that people engage in discussions, or share a joke, or just casually converse are much less natural.  Discussions with people outside of the family can be awkward, direct and typically short.  (Unless he’s telling them a story …)

Well this year Justin has develop a close friendship with his buddy Jacob.  And I have loved watching their friendship grow and seeing them interact so very much.  Makes my heart smile!

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They share a love of movies and can trade facts on movie history and trivia like the best of them – release dates, producers, casts, production facts, you name it.   Their personalities are not the same – my guy a little quieter and more shy outside the family, his buddy more talkative and expressive.  But when they are together I just love to watch the chemistry – Justin is drawn out a little more, laughs a little louder, is more talkative, and seems so at ease.  Nothing awkward about it at all.  Typical and taken for granted for many, HUGE for families with kids on the autism spectrum.

So this week was Justin’s birthday, and his buddy called to wish him a Happy Birthday.  I expected a 30-second call that would go something like “Hi.  Happy Birthday.  Thanks.  Bye.”   Not at all …

But much to my surprise, what happened was completely different.  They talked … and talked … and talked.  We had to end the discussion to head out to his birthday dinner – reluctantly.  Lovely conversation – about Halloween costumes, carving jack-o’lanterns, and upcoming movies to see.   I could hear encouragement “that sounds really fun!’ and connection “we need to see that movie together!” and laughter.

I can’t even say just how much I smiled listening one side of the discussion.  Phone calls with friends … one of the small things we can take for granted …

 

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