Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bar Success!

Yummy Pumpkin Goodness!

There are many holiday recipes that have become an important part of the season. Pumpkin bars are one of them. Though I've never really understood why they are called pumpkin "bars". It's really more of a cake than a bar. I guess the name comes from the fact that you are to cut it into bar-like squares before serving. When I think of a bar - I think of brownies, blondies, and things like that. Nevertheless - Pumpkin bars are a must during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
So...I was determined not to miss out on that one -but was afraid that perhaps it wouldn't adapt to my gluten-free flours. Fear no more! I mixed up the batter this afternoon and just a little while ago we gave it our best taste test. Chuck went back for a second taste - just be sure his taste buds were not deceiving him on the first serving.

Yummo!!! Moist and flavorful - perfect! Perhaps a bit too much of the frosting for our tastes but that's an easy fix!

I've posted the recipe on my cookies and bars page - Cookies and Bars

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'm a Snob

“You’re a snob”. I was told that once by someone I loved and looked up to. Well – she didn’t tell me that to my face. I overheard it and it was devastating to me. Looking back I understand now that she didn’t know the hell I was going through and how that comment would push me deeper into a trap I was attempting to get out of by my apparent “snobbishness”.  She didn’t know I was trying to avoid moving into a hole in the wall where my hell would be hidden from outside eyes. I was trying to get back to the person I knew I was supposed to be. The little voice inside me said I was no longer listening to my heart – listening to what I knew was right for me.

I believe we are all born with a unique personality. I always felt I was different than those around me. I was a shy, unconfident young person. I felt I had a certain common sense given to me. Learning came very easy to me. I tended to isolate myself from others though. Other people confused me. I didn’t understand how or why someone would lie. I couldn’t do it – and still can’t. I’m a terrible liar. I can’t hide my feelings very well.

Even though we are all born with a unique personality, our environment plays a huge part as well. We all have things in our young lives that shape us into who we are. I was no exception to this. I was very much affected by people and things around me as I grew. I can honestly say one thing made a huge impact on my personality and actions throughout the rest of my life. It crept into and ruined so many days of my young life and then tainted my feelings of so many experiences to come. This thing was alcohol.

I saw nothing good from alcohol as I grew up. It was at the root of pain, hurtful words, poor judgment, tears, wasted money, inappropriate behavior, horrible memories, and much more. Yet I seemed to be surrounded by it. I was a child and there was little I could do. I withdrew more into my own world – isolated myself somewhat. As I grew up and my adult life began that turned to loneliness. I craved the fun and happiness a saw around me at college. I gave in and told myself I was being silly – a prude – allowing my disgust for alcohol to prevent me from having friends, love and fun. I figured I was wrong on what that voice inside me told me was right. I figured the life I saw growing up must just be the life I deserved. So I buried that voice and let go of inhibitions.

I allowed someone into my life that contradicted everything that little voice said to me. Even though the red flags were going up – I desperately needing something and I figured this was what I deserved. So into a trap I fell quickly. Lies were told…I didn’t question at first…I was na├»ve. I didn’t lie so why would others. The demon alcohol played a major role. It was again the root of pain inflicted – mental and physical, poor judgment…the list goes on. Only saving thing for me is that I never fell to it personally – I rarely drank. That voice was still there muffled, but it was loud enough to tell me I didn’t want to succumb to that demon myself. I was ruining me enough just being around it. I was losing who I knew I should be.

That’s about the time I was called a snob. I had clawed myself out somewhat and the little voice was getting stronger – yet I felt trapped. I was afraid to let anyone know what I was really going through. I could not support myself, or my child, at the time and was very ashamed of what I had gotten myself into. I felt it was my fault – I had let it happen. The snob comment pushed me back down. I gave in and moved into a dump of a place where the hell became even worse.

I spent about eight more months in that hell before the last hard blow to the side of my head brought that little voice to a scream – and I left. From that moment on I vowed to never let that voice be silent again. I was gong to be the person I felt I was meant to be no matter what. I was never going to let anyone or anything, specifically alcohol, make me feel uncomfortable or hurt again!  If that meant I would be alone so be it! I also vowed to never put my children into the situations that I was put in as a child. They would not be surrounded by that demon.

This was not an easy task. This meant I avoided gatherings where I knew alcohol may be a factor in. I literally cringed when I was around anyone who was drinking in access. I feel uncomfortable, nervous. Horrible memories flow into my thoughts and make it a very unpleasant experience for me. Now – I’m not talking about having a glass of wine or wine cooler with family or friends at a gathering. But when alcohol plays a major role in the event or gathering or people drink in excess – I don’t want to be there.  Overreaction? Maybe – but that is who I am and I am now happy with that.

I believe my choices since escaping my hell have been good ones.  I was blessed by God with the arrival of a wonderful person into my life shortly after I turned 30. That is when I truly became the person I knew I was supposed to be. I thank God every day for that gift and continue to vow to remain true to myself. This sometimes means that I appear to be a snob once again. I avoid going out with work friends when I know that demon is going to be the main source of fun. I avoid gatherings where I know people will be getting drunk and causing painful memories to stir. I’ve lost out on possible friendships…I’ve probably missed out on some really fun times…I’ve made family members upset with me for not attending special events. They have a right to be upset – but all I can say is that I have to be who I am. If you love me you will have to understand.

We all face our own demons in life. We all have our own quirks and all make mistakes. During this time of Thanksgiving I am thankful most for those loved ones and friends who have the ability to accept and love me for who I am. Even if that is a “snob” every once in awhile. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Let the Holiday Fun Begin!

It's been quite awhile since I posted on this blog. We are into the second quarter of school and I've once again preoccupied myself with work. I've made several blog posts on my art ed blog and have worked really hard to create a website that students and parents can use to see what creative things are going on in my Art Rooms.

I need to find the balance that is so hard for me to find during the school year. My goal is to enjoy every moment of these next couple months. As much as I love the summer - this time of year is very special. As the weather gets cooler and decorations for the holidays go up the fun of the season seems to for or making gifts for loved ones, baking lots of goodies, enjoying cozy nights at home, and visiting with family and friends both near and far.

Chuck and I really love to fill the house with holiday decor and lights - just makes everything seem more cozy and fun. I do believe that even though Thanksgiving is 3 weeks away, our house will be filled with the signs of Christmas soon!

Baking this year will be a bit more of challenge finding just the right way to adapt all the yummy desserts to our gluten-free life - but I'm up for the challenge!  I just may have to try out many recipes that my friends at Washington, Roosevelt, and Willard schools will have to taste test for me. I bet they are up for that challenge.