Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Much Anticipated Visitor

Tonight, I will drive the 30 minutes from my apartment that is literally at the base of a mountain to the tiny city airport and pick up...

wait for it...

MY MOM!!!!!

I adore my mother. I think almost every young girls says their mom is their role model. And I parrot that line too, all the time.

But my mother didn't just take me to ballet and art classes when I was little and she didn't just make sure I survived school and showed up on time for the first day with the hippest new outfit (although all these things are SO important to a 12 year old girl). She did these things all on her own.

When I was 10 years old, my dad passed away. My mom was devastated and I could see it. But the point isn't that she was sad, the point is that she was terribly sad and kept living anyway.

By doing so, she taught me how to find strength within myself and use it to power forward. I can do that now because I saw her do it then. (It's helped me keep going while Greg is gone.)

She taught me that even if your world is going up in smoke all around you, don't stop moving and you'll eventually make it out of the burning forest. Did she mean to teach me these things? Maybe, maybe not. But she did.

The best thing I learned from watching my mother, the thing  that sticks with me day in and day out? The most powerful strength comes from inside you and shines out, not the other way around. You are your most powerful force in your life and you can do anything if you tap your gut and pull from within.

Princess Cat hiding under the bed seeking refuge from the vacuum
My mother never gave up on her life and now, she shines like the reflection of a pool in the hot desert sun. Sure there are difficult months and sometimes her job gives her agita, but she gets through it because she draws her forward motion from her heart.

I've been in a cleaning and cooking frenzy preparing for her visit. Pooch and Princess cat are very confused!

Here's a sample of some super easy recipes I tried last night.

 Veggie Baked Ziti

You will need:
  • 1 large bowl
  • 1 large glass baking pan or 2 smaller pans
  • 1 box penne pasta
  • 1 can Progresso minestrone soup
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups mixed shredded mozzarella & parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
How to make it:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Cook pasta in boiling water, drain and pour into large bowl
  3. Open soup and pour on top of pasta; add tomato sauce and garlic to bowl; mix well until all pasta is covered in sauce and garlic is evenly distributed throughout mix
  4. Distribute pasta mix into pan(s) evenly
  5. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top
  6. Bake for one full sink-load of dishes and below brownie cake preparation (about 15-20 minutes)

Almost-Guiltless Brownie Cake

What you need:
  • Reduced Guilt Brownie Mix from Trader Joe's
  • 1 cup nonfat vanilla yougurt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips 
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon coca powder
  • 1/4 cup of skim milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 8" pan or pie tin 
  • 1 mixing bowl
How to make it:
  1.  Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Add brownie mix and yogurt to bowl and mix until smooth and shiny.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips
  4. Pour mix into pan (or pie tin)
  5. Bake about 20 minutes 
  6. While mix is baking, combine sugar, coca, milk, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl
  7. Stir until smooth icing forms
  8. When brownies are done, remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes
  9.  Pour icing on top of cake and spread with a knife
  10. Serve and enjoy! 

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