My blog has moved

Please join me at http://kdrausin.com/blog/

Thank you:)

Music Monday // I Won’t Give Up

kdrausin:

This man has a gift for reaching others with his music. Love this song.

Kdrausin.com/blog/

Originally posted on Talk Less, Say More:

It’s not often that I talk about popular music here.  I mean, I guess I do but I also like to share the new stuff you might not have heard of or new music by the artists you have.

And then this song was on the radio the other day and it was like a knife being jabbed into my soul; it struck a chord; I felt something.

Whether you’re a fan of Jason Mraz or not, I don’t care; listen to this.  There’s passion; there’s a story; there’s something to relate to, especially if you’re going through something.  Just listen.  It’s 4 1/2 minutes of your time and I don’t think you’ll beg for it back.  In fact, I think it’ll become an hour of your time as you play it over and over again, but an hour well spent.  At least that’s how I’ve spent many hours this…

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My Blog Has Moved!

Please come visit my new blog at kdrausin.com/blog/.

My Blog has Moved!

We are trying to work out the glitches in the transition from old blog to new.

For now click here to see my new and improved blog.

Those of you with subscriptions to the old blog will need to subscribe again. Sorry. We can’t figure out how to transfer subscriptions. Look to the right to subscribe. Thank you!

New post coming soon! I hope you like the new look. Eric spent many hours learning how to do everything and for that I am extremely grateful. Yep, he can cook and develop blogs. I’m a lucky gal.

Peace

Check this article out on my new blog page.

The hour before sunset is my favorite time of day. This is when I feel a pull to drive to the Cape beach or plant myself on the sidewalk outside our front door. There I sit with five cats lounging beside me, all of us silent. The sky is filled with hues of yellow, pink, orange, and blue. Palm trees wave in the wind. A dove coos. I am grateful. I find that silence heals me from the clutter of life.

Here are the words of Sue Monk Kidd taken from her book, FIRSTLIGHT.

There is an extraordinary need in our lives for silence. The constant noise and chatter, internal and external, causes us to lose touch with the center of our being. When that happens, we become caught in all kinds of unimportant things. We suffer from this noise. Many of us even cling to this pollution of noise because it drowns out painful hungers inside. There is an old contemplative saying: “If you cannot improve the silence, do not speak.”

Epic Fail Fall Cake

Epic Fall Cake

This post can be found on my new blog. Kdrausin.com/blog/.

It all began when I was perusing the Martha Stewart dessert site and I spotted the most colorful cake I had ever seen. It was called the Super Epic Rainbow Cake.

Of course in true Krista fashion I decided immediately I was going to make this super epic cake but with the colors of fall instead of rainbow colors. What better way to begin the season than with a super epic cake? That’s what I told Arielle and she replied, “but you don’t like cake. Maybe you should make recipes you want to eat.” Nah, someone will eat my cake, the fun is in the challenge of making it. That’s what I thought.

I watched Martha’s video. I went to Whisk’s Kid’s page and printed out her directions. Then I went to Publix and bought all the ingredients. Did you ever have one of those days where you felt like everything you did ended up in frustration and there’s really no reason for it? You woke up perfectly happy but as the days events unfold you realize you would have been better off sitting on the couch reading a book. Labor Day was one of those days for me. I woke early and worked on my new blog with Eric. We sat for hours trying to design the header and it wasn’t happening. We discovered we both need to improve our visual spatial intelligence. When given all the tools and skills to decorate, we have trouble seeing where everything should go. Finally, we decided it was time to walk away from the computer and we went to our separate gyms to run and refocus.

As soon as I got on the treadmill, a man I hadn’t seen in a long time came over to talk to me. I didn’t want to be rude, so I took out my earphones. He decided I was going to be his sounding board for all that is wrong in politics. I hate talking politics. I also dislike constant complaining. The negativity that surrounds a barrage of complaints permeates through my skin to my heart and feels like a weight bringing me down. This man wouldn’t stop so I added two sentences to show him I wasn’t going to join in in his bashing, blaming session. Two calm nonchalant sentences meant to show him that not everyone thinks the way he does. Suddenly, a loud voice to my right startled me. A stranger who was listening from the treadmill near me, loudly spoke up after hearing what I said. He was one angry, angry individual who needed to run on that treadmill instead of walk in order to get rid of all his hostility. I had that jumpy energy surge through my body, I smiled, threw my hands up in the air and gave a little speech about how I came to the gym to work out and I certainly didn’t want to upset anyone… everyone is entitled to their own opinions… blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile I’m thinking, how is this happening? What a day I’m having. I just want to run three miles and then make my epic cake.

Now, since I had trouble visualizing exactly what I wanted on the new header of my blog, I decided to use colored pencils to design the layers of my fall cake.

A good example of someone lacking visual spatial intelligence. (I'm no artist.)

Arielle and and her friend chose the winning color combination. Even though I was still feeling a lingering uneasiness about my day, I decided to stick to my original plan. It was around four pm. when I pulled out all the ingredients.

White Cake Ingredients from a coconut cake recipe... See Whisk Kids recipe

If you want to make the epic rainbow cake, click on Whisk Kids link above. She’s already listed all the steps. I’ll show you some of my pictures.

Maroon 5 is on the radio and I'm dancing and mixing.

I can alternate flour and milk while mixing and taking pictures. I rock!

Do I really need to line all the pans with parchment paper? Nah, that's a pain. I'll experiment and try three with and three without.

Look at all the colors of fall. This cake is going to be epic for sure.

This is awesome! I can't wait to make one of these with Valentine's Day colors.

O magazine had an interesting article on intuition last month. I read it. Did I listen when my little voice told me something was wrong. Nope. Did you spot it yet? This could be like Where’s Waldo of cooking. Where’s Krista’s mistake?

There are absolutely no egg yolks in that egg white mixture. And there was absolutely no swearing during the separation of egg whites and yolks.

Lots-o-butter!

It was around this time that I decided to take a little break and eat a tofu burrito from Moe’s.  When I returned to my baking, I was elated because my frosting went from soupy to fluffy.

Putting it all together. Hey, this looks more like a pancake than a cake.

This is when I knew. I had a sinking feeling that the mistake I made could not be undone. The cakes were not fully cooked – possibly not edible. My instinct told me to insert a toothpick and see if the batter was still sticky… I ignored it. I had cooked the cakes five minutes longer than the recipe stated. I assumed they appeared small because I had separated the batter. Opps. There was no turning back. The cake could still look pretty.

Or Not!

Note to self... self, make sure there are equal amounts of frosting in between the layers.

Whatever you do, please don’t click over to Whisk Kids page and compare our cake frosting skills.

Unless you feel like laughing.

It was ten pm. and the cake was finally done. Yep, I spent six hours baking and taking pictures of my Epic (Fail) Fall Cake. The family gathered together and Eric assured me that I was worrying for nothing. (Nice supportive husband.) Then he took a bite and said “oh.” Not what I wanted to hear after six hours in the kitchen. Soon, laughter followed.

Laughter...

Laughter...

And more laughter.

Our cat, Edison, literally made a face and ran away when Arielle offered him a piece of my cake. That’s what sent everyone into hysterics – including me.

I had great expectations on Labor Day for how my blog header was going turn out, going to the gym and making a fabulous cake. None of those expectations came to fruition. The only thing left to do was laugh at myself and know that tomorrow’s another day. And understand that I should stick with boxed cake mixes and canned frosting if I want to make a cake in under six hours. Oh, there will be another six layer cake. I’m determined that way… I’m thinking cream cheese frosting with my favorite football team’s colors. All I need is a favorite football team… Philadelphia Eagles or maybe Miami Dolphins?

Congratulations to Lisa! She won the drawing for last weeks giveaway. You’ll also be happy to know that the new blog design is almost complete. We’ve been working on it every evening and stretching our visual spatial intelligence. Feel free to let me know if you try this recipe and have more success than me. By the way, you don’t need to use parchment paper. Crisco will work just fine.

Moves Like Jagger!

This post can be found on my new blog. Kdrausin.com/blog/

 

I’m lucky because my kids really don’t ask for much. They are very appreciative for what they have and rarely will I hear “can you buy me…”

So when they do ask for something I know they have given it thought and whatever it is they ask for holds meaning to them. One evening during dinner Arielle said, “you know, Matt Nathanson, Maroon 5 and Train are coming to Tampa and there are only accessible seats left.”

A week later we hopped in my car and drove to Tampa because this is Arielle’s senior year of high school and next year at this time I’ll be talking to her on the phone and not sitting next to her at the dinner table (sniff, sniff).

We had a blast! First Matt Nathanson came on stage.

He sings, Come on Get Higher.

Then Maroon 5 opened with, Moves Like Jagger. The girls screamed, the crowd roared and Adam Levine danced across the stage. They played one hit after the next with intense energy. I don’t know if Adam Levine has moves like Jagger. He certainly has incredible stage presence and I thought I saw a tatoo that read, mom. He gets points for that.

Both kids knew all the words to every Maroon 5 song. I sang each chorus. The security guard next to me gave me a thumbs up every time he recognized a song.

Maroon 5 left the stage at 9:45 pm. and that’s when I realized just how late we were going to get home. A huge cup of coffee was in my future. Suddenly the lights dimmed and the thundrous sounds of a locomotive echoed through the night air. Train! I leaned over and yelled to my kids that if they are ever in a band, the should call themselves Jet and have the sounds of a jet taking off in the beginning of every concert and landing at the end. I’m sure they enjoyed hearing my brilliant idea as Patrick Monahan began to sing.

It was obvious Patrick had years of experience on stage. He was a pro with amazing showmanship. He talked to the crowd and seemed to care about putting on a great show as much as playing incredible music. He brought lots of fans on stage to dance with him. During Marry Me he ran down the aisles high-fiving everyone. I waved, my kids reached out and slapped his hand. The security guy laughed when Arielle held up her palm and pointed to where she had touched him.

Before we left I asked Arielle to take a picture of the three of us. It’s a little close. Get ready to see lots-o-teeth.

Me and my babies. Spending time with them sure makes me happy.

80’s Hair-Phobia and a Giveaway

Once upon a time there was a seventeen-year-old girl who had very big, very blond, very ugly hair.

That's her, second from the left with the biggest ugliest hair.

She spent hours in front of the mirror curling and spraying every strand until her entire head felt like cotton candy.

Finally, when she turned twenty she realized the poofy, sticky look wasn’t really working for her, neither were the various shades of blond. So she let her hair grow and vowed never to color it again. It grew and grew over the years and the girl cowered from anyone holding scissors. You could say she developed a bad case of 80’s hair-phobia. Can you blame her? Take another look at that picture.

One day while she was teaching, a beautiful, bubbly, kind mom floated into the room almost like an angel and handed her a gift certificate to a place called, the Rock for Hair and Nails. That’s where the woman (She’s not a girl anymore.) met Raquel, the most talented, most awesome, hair stylist in all the world. Raquel treated the woman’s 80’s hair-phobia with gentleness and kept her hairstyle updated so the woman didn’t look like she belonged in the 70’s. (Really long, really straight, plastered against your head look.)

After seven years, the woman felt like it was time for a change. She sat and discussed the possibilities with Raquel.

Maybe red highlights and spiked... or platinum blonde and shoulder length?

Raquel knew exactly what to do and she began cutting.

When Raquel and the woman get together they always have a great time. Here they’re discussing the differences between the teaching philosophies of postmodernism and social reconstruction.

And here Raquel is telling the woman all about her yoga classes and trying to convince the woman to give one of them a try. The woman’s not so sure about doing a headstand in front of a room full of strangers. What if she falls on her head… wait she’s already on her head. Yoga sounds much harder than Zumba class.

"There's beginning yoga and Bikram yoga, and...well paddleboarding is great too." She's thinking paddleboarding sounds much better - minus the lurking underwater creatures of course.

Raquel snipped and snipped away until it was time for the great reveal. The woman closed her eyes and Raquel grabbed the camera to capture the moment.

Ta-Da!

Perfect! But, it kinda looked similar to the haircut the woman’s had for years. That’s when the woman remembered. It wasn’t her hair she wanted to radically change. It was her blog! Thank goodness Raquel could read her mind so well. The woman’s 80’s hair-phobia might have sent her into shock if she saw red spikes protruding out the top of her head. Raquel saved the day again. She’s wonderful that way.

The woman was so grateful to Raquel that she decided to spread the word and tell of Raquel’s brilliance. She has a $20.00 gift certificate for the Rock. All you have to do to enter the woman’s very first giveaway is share this blog on your profile page on Facebook. (Click the Facebook button at the bottom of this post.) Then please send the woman an email, Facebook message or leave a comment to let her know you shared this post and entered the contest. Next Wednesday the woman will reveal the winner’s name chosen from a hat or bag or maybe even a pumpkin. Tomorrow’s September first which means it’s time to decorate for fall.

For those who are too far to travel to see Raquel, I’m sure the woman will have another giveaway soon. Maybe, Amazon, or an online bookstore. She’s open to ideas. If you have one, please leave a comment and let her know.

Meanwhile, you may notice some subtle or drastic changes to this blog in the next two weeks. The woman may have 80’s hair-phobia – fear of new colors or time-consuming hair styles but that doesn’t pertain at all to her blog. She’s vowed to let her creativity flow online. You may even see some bright colors!

All may enter the contest, I’ve seen lots of men and children at the Rock… good luck! I mean the woman has seen lots of men and children at the Rock… good luck.

Hurricane Charley

Two adults, two kids, four cats, two dogs and a mattress. This is where we hid from Charley.

It was August of 2004. Nine short months since the accident that paralyzed Arielle. School had begun and I had my first third grade class. I was sitting at Bob Evans eating dinner with Arielle and Kai when the waitress mentioned a hurricane. Hurricane? I was too busy with lesson plans and a class full of eight year olds. I didn’t have time to worry about a hurricane.

The next few days were all about Charley. Every time I turned on the radio or the television Charley’s name was being mentioned. He was quite popular. Charley was interrupting my life. My students couldn’t concentrate. Everyone was asking me if we were packing up and leaving town. My kids hoped school would be closed for at least a day, having never had the opportunity to experience snow days, they felt they deserved a hurricane day. When the schools closed, Arielle and Kai cheered. Life was put on hold to await Charley’s arrival.

Shelves at the grocery store were bare. Excitement was in the air. Everyone was discussing Charley.

Most of my friends were staying put so we decided to do the same. After all, Charley was going to be a category 3 storm on track to hit at least a hundred miles north of us. We believed it wouldn’t be that bad. Besides, I had my own zoo with four cats and two dogs. Where would we go? We covered the windows with sheets of wood, bought lots of water, batteries and snacks and waited.

The morning of August 13th, I woke and grabbed the video camera. I was going to get it all on tape. I remember standing on our balcony filming the trees blowing in the wind when I heard on the news that Charley had suddenly been upgraded to a category 4 hurricane and was expected to hit Punta Gorda a town very close to Cape Coral. It was too late to leave. We had no choice but to hope the house wouldn’t fall down around us or on us.

I remember the panic that overcame me. I went from being a little more excited than nervous to outright scared. I turned off the video camera and went into action. The news said to get a mattress to cover everyone. The four of us, with four cats, a cocker spaniel and a greyhound, all hid in a small area under our stairs with the mattress.

We listened to the wind scream and slam against our garage door. All of us quiet and calm. Slowly the howling died down and on the radio we heard that the eye of the storm was over us – they warned everyone to stay indoors. After a short time the wind picked up again and our garage door shook. We waited. Our cell phone rang. It was my friend checking on us. Everyone was fine at both houses.

Finally, they announced the storm had passed. We came out from under the stairs. I peeked through our sliding glass door to find a collapsed pool cage. Pieces of metal were strewn across our backyard and in our pool. Out front,  some of our siding and roof shingles were gone. Minor damage.

Our electricity was out for three very long, hot days. The neighborhood came together to collect supplies for people in Punta Gorda. It was actually the first time in four years that I had seen neighbors meeting and talking with one another. I remember driving to drop off the supplies and seeing  a boat lying ontop of a fallen billboard on the side of the road. Three days without electricity was nothing compared to the damage I witnessed on our short drive. Many living in trailers were homeless. Punta Gorda was hit hard.

My thoughts are with those up north preparing for Hurricane Irene. I have an idea of what you may be feeling. I would highly recommend having a battery operated radio nearby so you can follow the path of the storm and a fully charged cell phone along with all the other supplies like water and flashlights. Those with children, please make sure you keep them away from tempting water puddles after the hurricane has passed. There may be fallen power lines nearby.

Stay safe.

Great Labor Day Dessert!

Yum diddy, Yum diddy, Yum, Yum, Yum!

Here is the perfect dessert to bring to a Labor Day picnic. I was exaggerating a bit in the last post when I said I could eat the whole pan. It seems I had forgotten just how big and heavy the pan was.

It’s called the Democratic Dessert. It has another name, BTS. The B and the T stand for Better Than and I’ll let you guess what the S stands for. If you’re thinking squash, you’re right-absolutely right. (I’m shaking my head no as I type.)

Before I get to the ingredients, I’ll give you a couple Labor Day facts so you can impress everyone at the picnic. The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday September 5, 1882 in New York City. By 1885 Labor Day was celebrated across the country. Then on June 28th 1894 Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday. It was to be celebrated the first Monday of each September with families gathering for speeches, parades and chocolate pie eating contests. Okay, I added the chocolate. The speeches and parades part was true.

Ingredients:
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Cup Chopped Pecans
8 Ounces Cream Cheese
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
Lg. Cool Whip
Med. Cool Whip
2 3oz. Boxes Chocolate Pudding
4 Cups Milk (Use to make pudding)
Glazed Pecans, Coconut, M&M’s, (Whatever you want to sprinkle on top. The possibilities are endless… jimmies, chocolate bits, crumbled Oreos…

Step 1: Make the pudding. I haven’t made pudding from the box in years and when I saw how much pudding comes from two little boxes, I realized I’ve been spending too much on those little convenient plastic containers.

Add some gummi worms and crushed Oreos and it's a bowl-o-dirt!

Step 2: Mix the chopped pecans, butter and flour together.

Step 3: Press the mixture in a thin layer on the bottom of a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Step 4: Mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar together and then fold in the large container of Cool Whip.

Step 5: Pour all that sugary deliciousness onto the cooled crust.

Step 6: Add the chocolate pudding. I happen to notice on my scribbled recipe from who knows when, that I had written mix two and half cups of milk with the two boxes of pudding. Hmm. It was too late. I thought I was being super organized and I made the pudding ahead of time with four cups of milk. I can tell you the four cups worked fine but it’s probably even more chocolatey with two and half cups.

Step 7: As I gazed upon this masterpiece, I had a moment of brilliance. If I only had some Butterfinger pieces or chopped up Toblerone, I’d add it on top of the chocolate pudding for pure texture satisfaction. Smooth with a bit a crunch. Alas, my cupboard was bare of candy bars so I reached for the last container of Cool Whip. (Med. sized) Spread it on top and sprinkled glazed pecans from end to end.

Drip… Kick… Drip… Kick

If you were in Florida yesterday… you probably got wet.

Here we are driving to our first professional soccer game. Um, isn't Florida the Sunshine State?

We were on our way to St. Petersburg which meant we had to cross the bridge. The big bridge. The one the Travel Channel rated #3 in its show “Top Ten Bridges in the World.” The Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Normally, I look forward to the view and when the kids are with me, I make them try to capture pictures of the pelicans that fly alongside the cars as they fish. But this time even my husband was a little nervous about being four hundred feet in the air with sheets of rain pouring over us.

Luckily when we got there. The rain had decided to take a break.

Florida clouds are awesome.

We found the stadium and Elle was whisked away to join the other athletes that were representing CAF. The Challenged Athletes Foundation.

So I took pictures of my beautiful boy who is now as tall as me. It’s a unique experience watching your little boy grow into a young man in three short years. Suddenly there’s facial hair, a deep voice and strength greater than your own. I once made the mistake of trying to wrestle with him. Although, that strength sure comes in handy when I have a trunk full of groceries.

I also took pictures of the soccer players because Elle told me if I got some good ones, she’d post my blog on her Facebook profile for her friends to see. She has a LOT of friends which means more traffic for my blog so here it is…

And here too.

Thank you, daughter.

After a short delay for lightning and rain, the ceremony began. Back in 2007 Elle and Eric ran in a Disney 10K. Elle was in her every day chair. A representative from CAF spotted her, called us, and asked if Elle would like a racing wheelchair. We said, “what’s a racing wheelchair?” Three years later CAF helped us convince the FHSAA that high school track programs should include wheelchair racing. Elle made this video for CAF and now coaches across the state are encouraged to get teens with ambulatory challenges (SCI, Spina Bifida, Amputee) involved in their track programs.

A double rainbow appeared over all the athletes as if to say all is right in a world where able-bodied and challenged athletes compete side by side.

Puerto Rico won the game 2-1. Puerto Rico is a great place to visit. I know because I’ve been there.

Don’t tell anyone but we didn’t stay for the entire game. We would have except it kept raining and even though we remembered our umbrellas we couldn’t take them into the stadium. When the guard told me this, I gave him my “Are you serious? Have you glanced at the sky?” look. To which he replied “Imagine, two thousand umbrellas.” Okay. He had a point. When it was obvious the rain was going to continue, we skedaddled.

The experience was enough to leave us wanting more… so, Eric is getting us tickets to a soccer game in Barcelona. Yep, the Rausin family is going back to Europe. We are Barcelona bound in a few weeks. If anyone reading this lives in Barcelona or if anyone has ever been to Barcelona, please send me some tips. So far, I only have our plane tickets and an apartment.

In the meantime be sure to check back on Wednesday. I’m going to post my favorite dessert of all time. The one where I could actually sit down and devour the entire pan myself. I’m making it tomorrow and I’ve been excited about it for days! Of course it includes chocolate. YUM!!!

An Ending, A Beginning – A Mother’s Tears

I warned him. I told him not to tease my friends. Their first-borns are leaving for college in a few days. Did he listen to me? Of course not. “So when do we break out the slideshow of J’s birth through teen years?” Yep, that’s what my husband said. The reply (with me yelling in the background… “I told you to be nice!”) was, “go ahead, say what you want. I don’t know if you’ll get laughter or tears. I never know which it will be at any given moment. This is a very emotional week.”

It was a quiet gathering of friends. I offered pizza and bean dip and few words. I knew there was nothing I could say to comfort them. I just wanted to show I cared and would listen if they wanted to talk.

I had a glimpse of their pain this past June when I dropped my daughter, Elle, off at Columbia University for three weeks. We had just spent an intense three days together in the city and on a sunny Sunday morning we arrived at the college campus two suitcases in hand. One was hers and one mine. I had two hours to get her settled and then I was off to JFK.

We both were overwhelmed by the newness of it all. The campus was huge and unfamiliar. Worry overcame me. What was I thinking, letting my daughter spend three weeks in New York City? I’d be too far away if she needed me. Sure she’s strong and independent but this is a city – not Cape Coral. I remembered my excitement when I was eighteen, moving into the Beacon Hotel on the Upper West Side. I was more than ready to begin my adult life on my own. Just months before my father had thought he’d scare me and took me to The Big Apple for the first time thinking I’d be intimidated and never want to move there. His plan failed. I fell in love, prepared an audition for AMDA (American Musical and Dramatic Academy) got in and started classes in the Fall. Now, I was walking in his shoes. I understood why he gave me specific boundaries within the city. I was eighteen, from a small town and naive much like my daughter. I suppose it was because of my experience at eighteen that I understood her desire to tackle the city on her own. At least she was in a college environment, she’d have a curfew, and two RA’s looking after her.

We rode the elevator to her dorm. Inside I was shaking. On the outside I was smiling. Usually I am very good at holding back tears but I could feel them building, waiting for just the right thought to open the ducts and let them spill down my face. Every time I pictured us saying good-bye I had to take a deep breath and change my thoughts to buying her extra towels or finding a cafe for lunch. Anthing to keep busy.

We were greeted by two kind young women, her RA’s who had decorated the suite in a disco theme. I tried to talk to them and appear cheery but my mind was in a fog. I didn’t want to leave.

Elle’s dorm was bare. The two of us rearranged her bed and desk to make room for the wheelchair. I placed the PlayBills from the musicals we had just seen on a shelf to add color. Elle said it made her happy to look at them. Then I began unpacking her suitcase and that’s when it hit me. Even though I knew she’d only be gone for three weeks the reality of her leaving after her senior year came pouring over me. It was no longer something that would happen in the very distant future. Something that I could put in the back of my mind. It was going to happen soon and this was a peek into what I’d feel. An ending. An ending of a way of life that I had known for eighteen years. She was not mine to keep forever in the same house, always knowing where she was or what she was doing even though I had convinced myself otherwise. All those years of saying “my daughter” was a bit deceiving. She is her own person and not mine.

In life there are firsts. Exhilarating, frightening firsts and that’s what it is like to have your first child. Suddenly your life is not your own but someone else’s. You can no longer be completely selfish about your dreams and desires because your first priority is your child. The love mixed with the responsibility is overwhelming and like no other. My identity went from Krista to mom. I took on that role with enthusiasm and often struggled with the balance between the two. Mom had a family to take care of and Krista had to sit in the background and not be selfish. Kids first – always.

Next thing I know, I’m in a college dorm unpacking a suitcase wondering how it happened. How did I get to this point? For the first time I’m seeing the big picture. I’m able to see that being a mom was part of my journey and that the path that I thought would go on forever was coming to an end. I look back at almost eighteen years and see the baby in my arms smiling at me . I see the one year old pushing a child sized grocery cart blabbering on and on telling me something very important in toddlereze. I see the girl coming home from school and practicing her violin. I see the tween surrounded by friends climbing on her lap and pushing her wheelchair down the sidewalk. And I see the young woman dressed for the prom sliding into a limo with her friends. I feel sadness because just as I can never return to my childhood in E-town, or relive those precious times with my grandparents when my kids were little, this too is an ending to which I can only look back and remember. My baby, the one I have cared for, laughed with, cried with, given so much of everything I’ve had and love more than she can understand – is leaving soon. I’m looking back, older and wiser, but inside a bit baffled at how much time has passed and how I still feel like the same young woman who used to walk through the Pennsylvania woods alone, listening to the birds sing and dreaming of her future.

Now, that time is almost here for Elle. My role as mom is leading me down a new path, one where I must trust in everything that I have taught her and one where I must have faith that she will make more good choices than bad. I have to have the courage to let go and the belief in the goodness of people that will fill her life in my absence.

My cell phone rang. The taxi was on its way to pick me up and take me to the airport. I hugged Elle and reminded her that I’d drop everything and get to her side if she ever needed me. I told her how proud I was of her, of all she had accomplished, her bravery, and of what she was to become. I thought about our first days at home together after she was born, how scared I was. I hugged her good-bye. An ending. A beginning.

Work Those Arms, Ladies!

Since I spend most of my mornings sitting in front of a computer, by noon, I’m ready to move. I walk right past the piles of laundry, jump in my car and head to the gym. I’m always looking for new exercises. Last December, I spotted a man who spent two hours doing push-ups and bicep curls. He was in his sixties and had arms and shoulders more defined than men half his age. I asked him about his push-up routine. He gave me some pointers and eight months later I’m stronger than I have ever been.

You don’t need to belong to a gym to do these push-ups. You can use a chair at home. I usually complete sets of 10-12 until I reach one hundred. In-between the sets I use free-weights or other machines. If you’re at home you could do push-ups while say… folding laundry or typing up lesson plans or even cooking dinner. Probably what I should do… nah.

Place your ankles on a bench or chair and do 8-12 push-ups. Stretch and repeat.

See how much fun it is! I'm laughing.

Now, when you get tired of the easy chair push-ups, you must try this. It’s become my favorite exercise at the gym. I turn on Pitbull’s Shake Senora Remix and try to do a set of twelve without toppling over. The challenge itself is what makes it so much fun.

Push-ups using a Bosu and exercise ball.


If you place the exercise ball under your knees it’s much easier than under your ankles. Even holding yourself up for more than a minute is difficult. Your arms will begin to shake just like the song says. Here’s a link if you want to purchase the Bosu ball to use at home.

I’m always looking for ways to change up my exercise routine. This past week I focused on the StairMaster. Painful. The week before I tried spin class. Painful. Then yesterday, they had some new posters plastered all over the gym. ZUMBA! I’m there. Somehow I don’t think all of the push-ups I’ve been doing are going to help me master Zumba class. I have feeling that attempting Zumba could make for a very funny post. Maybe they’ll play Shake Senora. In the meantime, work those arms, ladies! I guarantee you will see results if you stick with it. Good luck.

Busch Gardens Fabulous to First Day Blues

Friday was a great day. We woke early, hit the road, and arrived at Busch Gardens before noon.

I prefer not to be dropped from hundreds of feet and jolted and shaken and turned upside down. However, the rest of my family finds it entertaining. Here I am taking a picture of them while they’re waving at me and screaming, “mom!” Funny thing was, I never heard them, was completely oblivious, snapped the shot because it was something to do. Imagine my surprise when I uploaded my pictures. And they laughed at me for not hearing them. Ha, I showed them. Or actually I will show them when they read this.

Montu 3.85 G's!

The boys put up with me peacefully watching the animals and taking hundreds of pictures. Here’s one of my favorites. Probably because she wandered away from the group and did her own thing. I can relate.

Elephants

Did you know some elephants like to dance? I saw it with my own eyes. An elephant swaying to the Busch Gardens soundtrack. I wanted to take video but my camera battery decided it was too worn out. Sitting on the curb, his hand on his chin, my husband interrupted my zen like state with,”they should be playing ___g ____s (that famous AC/DC – Ozzy Osbourne song.) Now that would be funny.” He got a big laugh from teenage son and two glares from me and daughter. See what I’m going to have to live with when the only other female in the house leaves for college? I’m in trouble. Serious trouble.

We found our way to the kangaroos and wallabies after getting thoroughly soaked. You would think after all of these years of living through Florida summers I would have been prepared for the afternoon rain. Nope. We didn’t even take cover. Just provided entertainment for the intelligent guests of Busch Gardens who stood under awnings and umbrellas.

It had been many years since we’d visited Busch Gardens. We used to go every summer when the kids were little. Memories were around every corner. Like this…

Which is now this…

When my son grabbed his stomach and squinted his eyes, we knew he had enough rollercoaster rides for one day. Luckily our hotel was across the street. Unluckily, none of us thought to pack more than one change of clothes in case we got wet. Dinner was a bit uncomfortable. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sopping socks and sneakers.

You know how everyone says that time flies and you get so sick of hearing it and just want to say please come up with a new phrase that ones been done already! Well, I think people say it because they have children graduating and they don’t feel any older and they are trying to figure out how the little baby they held in their arms has grown into the young adult that will soon be saying good-bye. Ouch!

I have two graduates this school year, one from twelfth grade and one from eighth. Monday morning thunder could be heard for miles. Students all over Lee County were waking before dawn to lightning flashes and pouring rain. The trees were happy but these two… not so much. August eigth was way too early to be the first day of school. Of course they won’t think that in May but that’s ten months from now which seems like forever to a teenager. Ten months to a mom can feel like tomorrow because time flies. I mean, time insists upon change whether we are ready or not. So ready or not I’m venturing into my daughter’s last full school year at home with her family. Ouch!

Life

Some people smile, some yell, some grit their teeth. Some hang on tight and others let go.

If you step back and observe.

You’ll realize it’s all a matter of perspective.

Yummy Desserts

Check this article out on my new blog instead.

Looking for a tasty summer dessert for this weekend? Why not try Kiefer’s?

Peach ginger shortbread topped with melba sauce and homemade whipped cream

If you’re keeping up with the celebrity competition, I believe it’s a tie between Brad Pitt and Kiefer Sutherland. I counted votes from Facebook as well as comments from previous posts. Okay, I’ll spill the beans, Kiefer is my husband Eric and he’s making the shortbread again next weekend. Yipee! Lucky me. If you’re in the Cape, stop by, I’ll share. Maybe.

The rest of the celebrities true husband identities must remain hidden to protect them from husbands who don’t cook. As for Eric, well he’s been getting pretty buff lately. I’m sure he’ll be fine. In fact when I told him I was turning him into Kiefer Sutherland for my posts, he gave me his wry little smile and said, “I can take him.” To which I replied, “I’m sure you can, honey.” Have you seen 24?

Back to the desserts. Brad Pitt wowed us with two incredible peach desserts. There was the souffle.

Peach souffle with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce

And introducing: Gare Bears Peach Cobbler Wedges.

Gare Bear's Peach Cobbler Wedges with vanilla ice-cream

When I asked Brad how he made them, he rattled off ingredients and steps (many steps) so fast I didn’t get it all down. I do know the recipe included eggs, flour, cinnamon sugar, and panko bread crumbs. It was the perfect combination of warm, cold, and crunchy. Boy, I would make a terrific food critic!

Well, when John Travolta saw three desserts sitting in front of him he decided to throw in the towel. He was out of the competition. Ashton Kutcher refused to give up and presented us with peach cake and homemade whipped cream.

I believe I listened to the words “I’m so full” about a hundred million times. We glanced at the clock and realized we had been eating for four hours! Suddenly, there was a scratching at the door. Our host went to investigate and returned with the clean-up crew.

Peachy and Keen

Surprise, their names aren’t really Peachy and Keen. I write fiction in my spare time. But I won’t be writing any fiction this weekend because I’ll be too busy dancing and celebrating the fact that school starts on Monday. Just kidding. I love having my kids at home. This weekend I’ll be sitting on a bench in the shade while the rest of my family rides Sheikra, Gwazi, Kumba, and some new Cheetah ride at Busch Gardens. This blog mama does not do rollercoasters.

Have a wonderful weekend and if you see a post you enjoy, please share it with your friends.

Peachy Entrees

According to the comment section of the previous post, John Travolta and Brad Pitt are tied for first place. But take a peek at what Ashton Kutcher made for his main course.

Bronzed Blackened Grouper

Georgia peaches and vidalia onions

Lemon butter sauce

Put it all together on a bed of mashed potatoes, add some crab meat and Voila!

Brad Pitt appeared and held a piece of chicken in my face. Brad is known for his teasing ways. (I’m vegetarian) I shook my head and he smiled. It was pseudo chicken!

pseudo chicken

Brad made a pseudo chicken fajita which gave him about a hundred trillion extra points from the judge with the blog.

Peachy fajita with vegetarian chicken

John Travolta spent the morning fishing and showed up with this…

Fresh trout and some tilapia from Publix

Which he turned into this…

Fish topped with peach salsa.

Kiefer Sutherland created one of my favorite dishes. Salad! By the way, have you seen 24? I love it almost as much as salad.

Arugala, grilled peaches, sugared pecans, balsamic vinegarette with peaches and adobo sauce

Kiefer also cooked up some chipoltle glazed chicken for the carnivores in the group. I bet Jack Bauer is a carnivore.

Just when we all thought our bellies could fit no more, Brad Pitt presented us with something to clense our palates before dessert. I think this is my favorite picture. Click on it. It will make you say, “ooo, ahhh.” Or “Wow, I really want one of those.”

peach sorbet, vodka, peach schnapps, heavy cream, peach puree and a mint leaf

Wait, this is my favorite picture.

Painted by our host's mom

My next post will begin and end with dessert. I hope it’s your sweet day because they’re awesome!

Celebrity Iron Chef II – So Much Food!

It all began over drinks at Berts. Someone said, “let’s have another Iron Chef night.” And someone replied, “absolutely, great idea!” I believe those someones were the wives. Before the husbands had a chance to respond, we had chosen the secret ingredient, the host house, and the date. Each man was to create an appetizer, main dish and dessert that included peaches. The wives would taste and judge. From the opposite end of the table I heard a quiet voice say “don’t you think we should divide up the dishes, that’s a lot of food.” Nah. Guess what… it was A LOT of food! So much food that one wife found it necessary to brave the Florida mosquitos and go for a walk before dessert. Apparently, the smell of the souffle was too much for her full tummy to bear. She needed some fresh air.

The husbands were very competitive in the kitchen while the wives sat on their tushies, sipping their peachy drinks, discussing books, movies, and life. Since I’m really not sure how each husband feels about having his name revealed to millions and millions of readers, I’ve decided to give them each a celebrity name.  Also, we never did get around to the actual judging. I’ll leave that up to you. Peek at the pictures and leave a comment as to which dish makes your mouth water. If you want the actual recipes, let me know and I’ll have my agent call their agent, we’ll do lunch and I’m sure I can convince them to reveal their secret recipes. Although it may take a great deal of convincing from Brad Pitt who created his very own dessert from his peachy imagination. We named it Gare Bear’s Peach Cobbler Wedges. Wait till you see those pictures… in another post because I can’t possible fit all the dishes in this one.

Iron Chef II competitors: Brad Pitt, Ashton Kutcher, Kiefer Sutherland and John Travolta

The appetizers:

John served us a delicious grilled peach salad made of arugula with toasted pecans and grilled peaches topped with gorgonzola – except for one peach which had cheddar because John doesn’t like gorgonzola.

Brad went with a crepe filled with marscarpone, heavy cream and peach chutney – dusted with powdered sugar. On the side Grand Marnier peach syrup and sweet chocolate syrup.

Kiefer created cornbread triangles topped with sharp cheddar cheese, prosciutto and fresh peach chutney which included golden raisins and jalapenos. He left off the “Wilbur” for the vegetarians. Kiefer’s so thoughtful that way.

Ashton started out with a spinach salad with incredible candy cajun pecans, fresh peach slivers and an aged sherry vinegarette. Yum!

One last picture. This drink was Brad’s concoction. I have no idea what’s in it other than vodka, something peachy, and 7 Up. Brad kept walking around the table pouring and then disappearing into the kitchen and then he was back pouring again. Ashton took one sip and yelled, “that’s strong!” I was able to capture some of the pouring. Had to share.

Now can you see why the wives couldn’t vote? They were all spectacular. And that was nothing compared to the main dishes and dessert. To be continued…

Healthy Dinner For Tomorrow

For years I have been teased about my lack of skills in the kitchen. It’s really a simple matter of dislike. I dislike making the effort to prepare a meal when I’d be perfectly happy with a peanut butter apple, bowl of cereal or olives right from the can. Unfortunately, I’m the only one in my family who feels this way. They prefer hot meals. So my husband and I came to an agreement – he does most of the cooking and I do the dishes.

Imagine his surprise when he came home from work and saw me in the kitchen surrounded by ingredients, camera in hand. “I need more blog material. I’m making stuffed peppers but it may be awhile.” That was how I greeted him. He didn’t care. He gave the blog a big cheer and told me I really should include at least three recipes a week.

Turns out I had a wonderful time stopping and posing all of the ingredients, trying to get the perfect shot. However, it was a bit distracting. Dinner wasn’t ready until nine that night. Still everyone was smiling and not gagging after their first bite. Success!

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

  • 4-6 Bell Peppers
  • Yellow Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • Baby Squash
  • 1 Cup Cooked Brown Rice
  • 1 Pound Soy Crumbles
  • 8 Ounces Tomato Sauce
  • 1-1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Wash the peppers and slice off the top.

Dice the onion.

Put the squash inside the peppers for a creative photo. Don’t they look like they’re having a nice little conversation? “Do you think she knows what she’s doing?”  “No way, didn’t you notice? She cooked three cups of rice instead of one! I bet she’ll forget and add all three cups.”

Dice the squash and place them in a pan with the onion and garlic. Then add the rice. (One cup instead of three)

Okay, you can add the soy crumbles first and then add the rice. Basically, just mix it all together. Oh no, I forgot the vegetable broth… add that too.

And the tomato sauce.

Wait, that’s not tomato sauce. Oh, that’s when company showed up and I needed to add more crumbles. But I suggest you cook the crumbles in a second pan and then add them to your already cooked mixture. Notice the frozen crumbles on top. Oops! Take a deep breath, look out your kitchen window and say, “I can do this!” Then put on the theme from Rocky.

After everything is thoroughly cooked, fill the peppers and add cheese on top. Or if you want to get creative, layer the cheese in between the mixture. Bake for 35 minutes.

Guess what happens when you hold a camera up to a steaming pan? You get a mystical picture of stuffed peppers. I like the word mystical. It reminds me of a certain story…

Done diddy done, done, done! Wait! Go back! I forgot a step. You were supposed to whisk together some tomato sauce and vegetable broth in the bottom of the pan before you put the peppers in. I don’t think it really matters though. You could probably just stick the peppers right in there. Go ahead, give it a try.

When the peppers are complete and the family and company are all seated and ready to eat…

Make sure you take a picture of your cat, Hugo, because he’s just so cute.

Hmm, I wonder what I’ll cook next week?

Fail to Succeed

  Please visit me at my new blog kdrausin.com/blog/.

My husband has a saying he likes to repeat to me, “You must fail to succeed.” He said he learned this from going to the gym.  The only way he can improve his strength is by choosing a weight so heavy he is only able to do four to six reps instead of the normal eight to twelve. In failing to lift the weight the full amount he succeeds in building his muscles. Eventually the weight he could only lift six times is lifted twelve and more weight is added. The process begins again.

This saying of his has been on my mind lately. Is it true? Is it in failing that I succeed?

Two years ago I met the most amazing group of women. Seven of us traveled to Honesdale Pennsylvania to attend a two-part writing workshop called, “The Heart of the Novel.” Our teacher was the well known editor Patti Gauch. She was the reason we were all there. On our first visit we listened carefully to Patti’s every word, ate incredible food and then retreated to our individual cabins to write. Our goal was to have a completed novel in six months and send it to Patti to edit before our next gathering.

When we all returned to Honesdale it was like a family reunion. We had kept in touch through email discussing what we had learned and supported one another in our writing. We were all anxious to see Patti’s notes on our novels.

This was my first children’s novel and at the time I was still figuring out the differences between an editor and an agent responsibilities. I had two drafts written of MYSTIC and in my mind, I was done. It was ready.

I’ll never forget the rainy afternoon that I received my notes from Patti. I sat on the bed listening to the ping of rain on the tin roof of the cabin reading through her pages and feeling as though I was the worst writer in the world. I wondered why I even tried in the first place. I felt foolish and embarrassed.

I got out my cell phone and climbed to the top of a hill, umbrella in hand, trying to get more than one bar on my cell in order to call my husband. He would comfort my failure and probably even lie to me and tell me I was a great writer. Because that’s what husband’s do.

When it was time for my meeting with Patti, I asked her if she thought I should take a creative writing class. Here I was at a writing workshop with women who had already been published. Women who had graduated from prestigious colleges and I was just a teacher who liked to write. I was feeling very sorry for myself. Patti said no to the writing class and then said something  I’ll never forget. “You’re closer than you think.”

Saying those words to me made me see her notes in a different light. I realized that everything she was telling me about my story was necessary in order to make the story better. My expectations of what I wanted to read in her notes were unrealistic. An editor is a teacher and a guide. A talented soul who helps writers hone their craft.

We focused on the first chapter. She showed me my mistakes and challenged me to try again. Still feeling vulnerable I went back to my cabin and forced myself to sit down with my laptop. I rewrote the first chapter. The next morning the sun shone bright. The dark clouds had disappeared taking with them much of my insecurity. I was not going to give up. Patti read my chapter and smiled. I learned and improved. The process of storytelling was finally sinking in.

If Patti had told me that my story was brilliant, which is what I wanted to hear, I never would have grown as a writer or as a person. I had to fail in order to gain the strength to persevere.

Isn’t that what life is all about? Perseverance – through the perceived good and perceived bad. If I don’t falter in following my path, I know all my failures are just stepping stones to success.

This morning  I typed J into Google. I wanted to research the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. But when I typed J – pictures of J. K. Rowling appeared. I had to look because last night I watched the Lifetime movie of her life. And a few days ago I wrote about Daniel Radcliffe.  That’s when I found the following in Wikipedia.

Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as “the biggest failure I knew.”[42] Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as liberating:

Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea.
And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. – J.
K. Rowling, Harvard commencement address, 2008.[42]

Bonus, it tied right in with today’s title.

Thanks for reading and here’s to failure!

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Reflections on the Teche

Reflections and poems about life on the bayou

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