All in the Tears

Last night I had one of those eye-opening parental moments. I’m heading out of town tomorrow for four days for business (and a little pleasure too). Didn’t tell Sam about it until last night. At first he kind of just went with it like he usually does. Then a little while later, he looked over at me from the dinner table and said “Mommy, how long will you be gone?” I said, “Four days.” His eyes got really big and welled with huge tears. He looked down and hid his eyes from me. I squatted down and said, “Honey, what’s wrong?” And he squeaked out, “Nuffin!” and sobbed. Of course my heart dropped and I squeezed him tight reminding him that I’d be home before he knew it.    
I think a lot of times we parents start assuming our kids are indifferent about us. We run around trying to meet their basic needs but still have endless requests from them. We give long speeches on how to behave and they seem to be lost in outer space. We are a source of snacks, meals, money, carpool, TV remote controls, and playdate organizers. You start feeling like the vehicle rather than the driver. But, then, they reveal a tiny piece of themselves that proves you are much more than all those menial things. You are needed, but more importantly, you are loved. And then, suddenly, you have the strength to keep the household going another day knowing somehow it will all pay off.

Even at 39, I (sadly) probably still make my parents feel like I am indifferent about my love for them. Truth is, I’d be lost in this world without them. And, Sam will feel a little lost without me for the next four days. But, I’ll be back and I’ll continue to be the snack-fetcher, carpooler, playdate organizer. And when he is ignoring me again, I will remember those tears.


Forced Reflection

Nothing like a funeral to force you to do some reflection on your own life. Last weekend, I attended the funeral of a dear family friend, Darcy, who recently passed away after struggling with an illness that made the last year and a half pretty difficult for her. This lady was loved by so many. Along with raising her own children, Darcy was the only mother some people ever had even though they didn’t share her blood. To my own husband, she was like an adopted grandmother. To countless others, she was a beacon of light, provider of sound advice, preparer of delicious meals, shoulder to cry on… The list goes on and on. A saint? Nah. Her family and friends would be the first to tell you she was a real spitfire who always needed the last word. Someone like whom I would aspire to be? Most definitely.


The funeral service was like nothing you’ve ever seen. There was as much laughter as there were tears. Darcy’s own daughter, who cared for her for the last year and a half, ended her eulogy by saying, “I just want you all to know– I didn’t kill her.” You see, with all the goodness this lady had in her heart, she was stubborn as a bulldog. Her daughter joked that when her mom would fall asleep at night, Darcy would grip the remote so tightly in her hand that it was impossible to get it away from her. This seemingly meaningless anecdote struck me as a pretty important analogy on Darcy’s life. She had the television turned to the channel she wanted, and, by God, it was going to stay on that channel come hell or high water. Unless of course she decided there was something else she’d rather watch.

As funerals do, it made me think about my life. Am I living up to my own expectations? Is my proverbial “remote” set to my channel or someone else’s? I unquestionably make a lot of mistakes, particularly in my relationships. I let my attention stretch way too thin, often times at the expense of my loved ones. Some of my friends lovingly call me “Boss Lady” because I may have a slight tendency to be directive. My brain moves at 100 mph, skipping from one subject to the next, and half the time I am nodding but not fully listening. (I think that may also be called ADD.) But, is it all in an effort to desperately keep the television tuned in to my right channel? The answer for me is, unequivocally, yes. With all my flaws, I care deeply about people and about making things happen in my life and in the lives of others. I may not be fully listening to the conversation at hand, but you better believe that when you get to the heart of the matter I will offer up my very best advice. And, even though I am a take charge kind of gal, I think most people would say they can count on me to get the job done. Our faults are sometimes side effects of our very best attributes.


When Darcy’s son came to the podium, he admitted to the crowded congregation that it had been hard over the years to share his mom with so many. He said she would “step right over her own kids to help someone in need.” In the same breath, he said she followed him throughout every single grade as a very present room mother and school volunteer. She found a way to always be there for him while also being there for everyone else. Many times we have to take a deeper look at what the people in our life are doing for us instead of what they’re not in order to fully appreciate them. Though I haven’t read that popular book about the different languages of love, I imagine this is a perfect example of understanding we show love to others in our own way. Some days I consume myself in the guilt that comes with wishing I could express myself in a more thoughtful way or be a better friend, wife or mom. Sitting at her memorial service, I wondered if Darcy ever had those same feelings.

If she did, I hope she was watching her funeral. The parade of people who spoke about her made it clear that her stubborness, her sometimes overly outstretched arms, her outspokeness — that was the essence of what made her so impactful to others. In fact, in true “Darcy fashion”, she truly did make sure she had the last word right up to the end. As a gift to family and friends, she secretly recorded a video to be shown at her celebration of life. She ended with a reminder to “be good human beings.” She said if she had meant anything to anyone in the room, then the best way to honor her memory is to be true to yourself and to others.

As we did the Conga line leaving the funeral home (and, yes, we really did the Conga line to Gloria Estefan at Darcy’s request), I realized that all the stuff I beat myself up about on a daily basis is just me trying to hold on to that proverbial remote control. Lord knows I am far from perfect. And, besides, wouldn’t that make for a boring funeral if everyone talked about how “perfect” I was? When my time comes (hopefully in the very, very distant future), I want my friends and family crying tears of joy as they laugh about my many missteps in this life. Most importantly, I hope they will say that, like Darcy, I was a “good human being.” If they don’t, Darcy is going to let me have it in heaven.

Cooking (and coping) on a Snow Day

Winter is wearing me out, y’all.

Now I can just see my friends up North in my home state of Maryland rolling their eyes, but I’m being serious!  I am done with this cold weather. Part of the reason I escaped Maryland was to live a warmer existence. I am still cold!

Today was an ice day and we found ourselves quarantined in the house. In an effort to avoid anything that I actually should be doing, I decided to cook. If I wasn’t going to physically clean my home then the least I could do was make it smell terrific.

For several months, I’ve been eyeing this Skinnytaste Crockpot Applesauce recipe. It seemed like the perfect combination of sweet and spicy winter goodness to try out on Day One of Ice-a-palooza 2015. My only problem was I didn’t have the exact ingredients so I ended up making an adaptation of Skinnytaste blogger, Gina’s version. A very successful adaptation, I might add! My house was filled to the brim with a heavenly scent coming from the kitchen.

I looked in the fridge and took inventory of my fruit produce. I often buy ripe and/or bruised produce at the grocery store for a very discounted price. Yesterday during my emergency pre-ice storm supermarket run, I scored huge with a variety of apples, pears, and juicy Florida oranges.


Gina’s recipe calls for only apples, but I thought a combination of apples and pears would be perfect. I peeled 3 red pears, 2 Granny Smiths, and 1 Braeburn apple and placed them into my crockpot. Her recipe also called for fresh lemon, but the only citrus I had on hand was an orange. I peeled a sliver of orange peel off and put in my pot and then squeezed the juice of the orange over the apples and pears. I placed one cinnamon stick on top, and sprinkled a few pinches of nutmeg. I used Gina’s measurement for brown sugar and added 5 teaspoons. It already smelled delectable!


I placed the lid on the pot and turned my crockpot on high. Every couple hours, I gently stirred the ingredients until eventually the fruit starting falling apart. After about six hours, I had a beautiful chunky sauce. If I added nuts and raisins, I could have had a killer chutney.


At this point, however, I decided my family would enjoy it more if I blended it into a finer sauce. I poured the sauce into my Vitamix and gave it a few quick pulses. Didn’t take much to get a perfect creamy texture.

This Crockpot Apple Pear Sauce was a real winner at the dinner table. My four year old was begging for seconds, and my 14 month old couldn’t get it to his mouth fast enough. Even my husband loved it with his pork chops, red potatoes, and baby carrots. I felt good about making a healthier homemade version of something we usually get from the grocery store.

Crockpot Apple Pear Sauce

6-8 peeled apples and pears
5 tsp brown sugar
1 sliver of orange peel
Juice of one orange
1 Cinnamon stick
Few pinches of nutmeg (optional)

Cook on high for 6 hours. Stir occasionally, and break up the fruit as you stir. If you prefer a finer texture, pour into your blender and pulse a few times until you achieve your desired texture. Serve and enjoy!

What do you do to get through the dog days of winter?

xo Jaime

Make ya slap yo’ Daddy on Mother’s Day BROWNIES!!

I think I mentioned that I love dessert.

I also love perusing The Pioneer Woman blog. My world almost came to a stop when I found a brownie recipe accompanied by the always amazing photos that Ree Drummond posts of her cooking.

I decided to go for this recipe which is basically an adaptation of Turtle Brownies. I renamed them, affectionately, Make Ya Slap Yo’ Daddy on Mother’s Day Brownies for the holiday! Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! Pretty excited that I got to celebrate this year too! I started the weekend off by making these brownies, then we did family portraits which I’ll show in my next post. I woke up Sunday morning to a smiling baby and Dunkin Donuts and coffee, bought a dress at TJ Maxx, and had a late lunch at Pie in the Sky with my two guys, followed by couch time with my honey watching Celebrity Apprentice and Amazing Race.

But, back to the day I made the brownies. You have to make these. They will change your life forever.

First I made this for dinner. Too easy. Boneless pork chops lightly cooked in a skillet, then toss in a can of drained and rinsed black beans and a jar of salsa and simmer for ten minutes. I served it over wild rice.

Now onto the more important part of the meal:
First your ingredients…

(This recipe came straight of Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman Blog… she gets all the credit. She is AMAZING. Check out her blog!!)
1 box (18.5 Ounce) German Chocolate Cake Mix
1 cup Finely Chopped Pecans
⅓ cups Evaporated Milk
½ cups Evaporated Milk (additional)
½ cups Butter, Melted
60 whole Caramels, Unwrapped
⅓ cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
¼ cups Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, chopped pecans, 1/3 cup evaporated milk, and melted butter. Stir together until totally combined. Mixture will be very thick. ****THICK, like almost too thick… I added a little extra milk so it melded together a little better.****

Press half the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside.

In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water) melt caramels with additional 1/2 cup evaporated milk. When melted and combined, pour over brownie base. Sprinkle chocolate chips as evenly as you can over the caramel.

Unwrap your candies. duhhhhh lol

This takes a while, but the result is worth it! The steam fogged up my lense!

Turn out remaining brownie dough on work surface. Use your hands to press it into a large square a little smaller than the pan. Use a spatula to remove it from the surface, then set it on top of the caramel and chocolate chips.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready to serve, generously sift powdered sugar over the surface of the brownies. Cut into either nine or twelve helpings, and carefully remove from the pan.

It may look like a mess, but it’s the best mess you ever put in your mouth!!

Love and music,
The Rockstarmama

PS My kitchen helper wasn’t much help!! LOL!