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The Admiration Project ~ 2015 Issue #4

 

from pablocalderonsalazar.com

from pablocalderonsalazar.com

 

Gosh, if I had a nickel for every time I have heard this phrase in the last 10 years.  It has been used so often that it now produces an instinctive eye-roll.  The kind of instinctive reflex that was initiated when you heard as a kid and swore you’d never repeat once you had kids of your own… but you do.  You know, like, “if you stick that lip out any further you’re gonna trip over it…”, “you better be careful, your face is gonna freeze that way…” or the ever popular “make sure you have on clean underwear in case you get in an accident.”  Oops, maybe that’s just my “East Tennessee” showing and you did not grow up hearing those endearing tidbits of wisdom.

Ahh well, I digress – I’m quite sure none of those sayings have much to do with where I’m going with this post, other than,

Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves

“it is what it is… until it ain’t anymore.” 

 

What does that even mean?  To me, it means

  • to settle,
  • to accept what is presented to you,
  • to give up,
  • to believe there is no hope for anything better.

Dramatic or extreme?  Maybe… but to have experienced the highs and lows of what I have seen exhibited by the people I am admiring in this post, they are more than worthy of being described as extremely admirable, not people who live by “it is what it is.”

The management of the facility where I have worked for over 25 years announced in January that it would be closing its doors on May 1 of this year.  I drove away for the last time on Friday.

I want to use this edition of The Admiration Project to admire those co-workers and friends whose paths crossed with mine over the last 25+ years BECAUSE of this place.

This is a photo of where I began my career with Check Printers in July 1989.

Circa 1986

Circa 1986

I was a fairly new mom with a 17 month old heading back into the work force; and I had landed a new, flexible position that allowed me to work just two days a week.  The way the story I’ve been told goes is that the programming manager that hired me asked one of the other programmers if they should hire me and he said, “yeah, we don’t have any girls.”  I’m guessing if that comment from 1989 had been made in 2015 it may have been a tad politically incorrect, but I thought it was quite humorous.  I also took it as a bit of a challenge — to prove “a girl,” at least “this girl,” wasn’t an “is what it is” kind of thing.  Those two men proved to be some pretty great guys in spite of their reason for hiring me, and provided me with an environment in which I was able to learn and advance.  I admire them to this day.

There were many other admirable and amazing folks employed at Check Printers back in the late eighties and early 90’s.  I am fearful to start dropping names because I KNOW I will leave someone out.  That being said, there is ONE name I cannot omit…

Jim Knight – There is no end to the number of people who passed through Check Printers, be it, the Nashville location, the Winston-Salem location or the Jacksonville location that his generosity and Southern gentleman charm did not touch in a positive way.  I’d also venture to say that this man has never uttered the phrase, “it is what it is.”  He taught me that nothing should ever be “settled for.”  He was a proponent of  lifetime learning while giving you enough space to explore a better way, but still maintaining the importance of capitalizing the word Customer.

By 1990 my two day a week part-time gig had turned into a full time career.  There were people I worked with during this time that I was still working with in January of 2015 when the closure was announced… people who are now dear friends, friends that had been with me through the birth of my second child, a divorce, a second marriage, two bonus daughters, the loss of two adored Chessies and the birth of two precious granddaughters.  People I admire because they know when to give you a hug, they know when to say nothing and they know what it means to be a friend.

Then there are the admirable folks who were around during the loss of our naivete associated with moving from working for a privately owned company to one that is publicly traded.  The beginning of several false endings for some of us and unfortunately, the beginning of the end for many, and the beginning of the use of the phrase, “it is what it is…”  These folks knew when it was time to laugh, time to put your head down and work and how to offer a hand when their work was done.

Circa 2009

Circa 2009

 This photo shows the building after the name change from Check Printers to RR Donnelley.  It was taken at the peak blooming time for the pear trees, trees that have also seen their end.  They were cut down several years ago.  There were no saplings of another kind to replace them, another “it is what it is” moment, I suppose.

Through the last 25 years, there have been many people pass through these doors that I admire.  The reasons are as varied as the personalities.  Some for the way they handle anything life throws their way, even their own end of life.  Some for the extreme generosity they have shown me.  Some for life-lessons they taught me, both professional and personal.  Some for their ability to make me laugh.  Some for their knack of giving nicknames, (mine which I will not share here).  Some for upholding their work ethic when it would have been easy to take a short cut.  Even some to push until I thought I would break, but became stronger in the process.

June 2015

I have driven to this building to report for work for 2 weeks shy of 26 years.  The only thing I have done longer in my lifetime is to be my parents’ daughter and my son’s mom.  It was bittersweet as I drove away for the last time on Friday.

My contribution for this post is being made to The American Heart Association.  Check Printers and RR Donnelley have had teams participate in the local Nashville Heartwalk for many, many years, and I want to show my admiration for my co-workers with this donation.  If you are a former Check Printers employee or a former/current RR Donnelley employee of the Nashville facility, I hope this post has made you smile today.  I hope this post will inspire you to tell at least one person who has your admiration that they have made a difference in your life.

P.S.  My team now consists of 4 “girls” and 1 guy.  I guess that warrants an “it is what it is.”   Please know that I admire each of you in many ways.

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The Admiration Project ~ 2015 Issue #3

Image from hellogiggles.com

Image from hellogiggles.com

So I had this list… a list I started compiling in December of 2013 of my “admiration project” nominees… in the beginning I had grand aspirations of being able to do one a week, well since I am tying the posts to a donation (and I still have my day job) – I cut the goal to once a month.  It was a good excuse for me to be able to “lower the bar” and actually set a goal I could achieve… so it’s once  a month, and here is the March installment (albeit 1 day late).

Back to the “list,” well it’s a good thing it was in pencil.  For those of you that know me, and more importantly know my husband and/or my parents, you have to know they are at The Top of any admiration list I could ever compile.  Spoiler alert:  Parents coming in October for their anniversary (and my birthday) – Husband coming in June or July (our anniversary or his birthday, respectively).  In my book blog, anyone who has lost, or loses a child or parent, automatically goes to the top of the list.  Thus the March post…

I’d like to say “my best friend,” but I think we all have “best friends” at different times in our lives, so to label a person as “the ONE best friend” is difficult.  The handful of people I have called “my best friend” at different times in my life were important for a reason at that time.  Less than a handful have remained what I’d still call “best friend” at this point in my life, but they were ALL important.  I am glad to say that this is one of the people who taught me what it means to be a best friend, AND, she is one of a handful of ladies I still call “my best friend.”

“My best friend” lost her dad last month.  Surviving that, which most children will have to do, is a feat I admire.  It is also a life-changing event I cannot fathom.  My dad “hung the moon,” as did hers, I am sure.  I knew him, and I’m quite positive he hung a moon over her bed every night while she was a child and looked at the moon and wished her well every night once she was an adult and gone from his home.  We live states apart now and I hope she is able to feel the warmth of my admiration, love and support through this post.

It was not likely that a friendship would have organically developed between us two.  After all she went to the RIVAL high school and could/should have been considered an enemy from the start, but somehow, through divine intervention we were assigned to the same floor in the same dorm just an elevator apart as freshman at UT Knoxville.  Somehow, we overcame the rivalry of “high school” and became friends, allies, sounding boards, strong shoulders, silly sisters, and confidants.

I have many memories I cannot share here for the safe keeping of many embarrassing “best friend secrets” that come from young, extremely naive, girls being away from home for the first time.  (There’s probably a reason our dad’s let us live in the dorm… after all, it was a 30 minute drive, at best, from home.)  But…

  • Remember when we were sitting on your bed in the dorm and President Reagan was shot?
  • Remember the “Tang” under the door?
  • Remember the mattress in the elevator?
  • Remember Spring Break in FL after I had moved to Nashville?

To this day, over 30 years later, we are still in touch.  Do we call regularly?  Shamefully no.  Do we see other at least every 3 years?  Shamefully, no.  Do we exchange Christmas, birthday, and holiday cards?  Not regularly.  Do we call or text once a month?  No.

Do we call or email when there is a crisis?  YES!  Are we looking at that same moon and sending good thoughts both ways every full moon?  YES!  Do we send an unexpected gift that means much more than a regular/obligatory token?  YES!  Are we VFL?  YES!  Are we BFF’s?  YES! YES!

My dear friend, I admire you.  You were so much more mature than me, “back in the day,” (I sure hope I’m mature by now.)  I admired you back then… I mean you had the coolest car… you taught me to clog… shoot, you even had a declared major your freshman year!!!  I admire you now.

I would like to challenge anyone who is reading this to reach out to someone you admire.  Send them a note, make a phone call, let them know they are or were an important part of your life.  Then, if you are able, please make a donation in their name to something important to them.  Share this blog with others so that the word will spread and admiration can spread far, far beyond my small universe.  Life needs to be full of more positive, loving, giving messages.

My friend, In honor of you and your father I am making a donation to:

The Dream Connection, Inc., P.O. Box 10924 Knoxville, Tennessee 37939

The Admiration Project ~ 2015 Issue #2 ~ Coach Campbell

Mr. Campbell

Mr. Campbell

The second person I will recognize in my Admiration Project passed away in February of 2014.  (I did not realize that the anniversary of his passing would coincide so closely with my post – just another one of those coincidental moments that seem to follow me around.)  This admirable man was one of my favorite high school teachers.  He primarily taught me numerous levels of mathematics, but he also taught me the arts of patience, compromise and giving.

Mr. Campbell was my Algebra II and Geometry teacher during my sophomore year of high school.  Coach Campbell, as he was also known, coached every sport available at the time, basketball — both girls and boys, football and baseball.

Patience… I am of the opinion that to be a teacher, especially a high school teacher, one must be blessed with more than an average share of the trait.  Aside from my own father, I’ve not met many people with such an abundance of the stuff.  Mr. Campbell was the epitome of patience; he had me in 2 of the 6 classes he taught a day back in 1977-78.  He taught me patience by exhibiting his own never-ending poise, restraint, self-control and fortitude for EVERY student in the class.  He miraculously enabled each of us to learn at our own pace.  He taught us to be patient with ourselves while we were learning and how to be patient with one another as he devoted time to each “best method” of learning to the students in the class.  He was a champion of being able to engage the full room on all levels.

Compromise… He taught us all a lesson on not only how to compromise, but when.  I was ten years out of high school and twelve years past the teachings of Coach Campbell when I came upon this Far Side cartoon.  It remains one of my favorites and immediately brought the memories of this man to mind.  He had quite the dry wit.  math phoebicIt was our Geometry class that was in need of some compromise – those “proof” exercises were going to be make or break for several students in the class.  Coach Campbell made a compromise with those students… it allowed them to still be successful and pass the class, it allowed the rest of the class to have the benefit of extended learning, and it allowed him to fill everyone’s needs.  A definite master of compromise.

 Giving... There were a handful of us math aficionado’s, for lack of a better word, (like geek), who couldn’t get enough of the stuff.  Mr. Campbell recognized that, and in turn, gave of himself to us.  He gave up half of his lunch hour to hold a “private” class for less than 5 people!  I think it ended up being only two of us, but as long as anyone showed up, he gave his time and knowledge.  I’m sure he could have used that time to prepare for the afternoon classes, grade papers, work on “things” that coaches do for his team, or just simply take a break.  But he didn’t, he gave as long as anyone was there to receive.

Mr. Campbell was a man who made a difference in this girl’s life.  He was an amazing example of many things, but selflessness is what comes to mind.  I am disappointed in myself for never telling him how much I admired him, but I hope that he somehow knew, since I kept showing up for “lunch-time math.”

He continued to give after his teaching career ended, and in his honor I am making a donation to Blount County Community Action Agency’s Meals on Wheels.

The Admiration Project

This entry is just over a year in the making.  In November 2013 a friend of mine from high school lost her daughter suddenly and unexpectedly.  I had a daughter the exact same age and could not begin to imagine that kind of loss.  I drove the three hours to be there for my friend, give her a hug and try to say something comforting.  However, it was her who was there for all of those in attendance; it was my friend who comforted those who came to be with her; it was a strong and admirable woman standing before us, honoring her daughter.

In what I should no longer continue to see as odd or ironic, I saw in that service something I never expected, a reference from a recent dream that became what was the spark to this year long project I have committed to begin, and more importantly, finish… The Admiration Project.

A few days before that dream, I was having a conversation with a co-worker who said that she “admired” me.  That word stayed with me for several days because in my mind, “admiring” someone is not something I have ever done frivolously.  An admiration of someone came from a place of deep respect.  That compliment given to me days earlier, while sincere, I processed as undeserved.  Or maybe I was uncomfortable with it simply because I felt it was an honor I had not yet earned with this person.  Anyway, back to the spark…  Just days before I made the drive to the celebration of life for my friend’s daughter, I had a dream.  In this dream I was going to South Africa on a trip and this person in my dream was “admiring” my adventurous opportunity.  (Noteworthy here is that I have never thought / wished / mentioned traveling to South Africa.)  As I often have very vivid dreams, I try to put the pieces together and figure out how they apply to something going on in my waking hours, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Then on November 18, 2013, as I sat in the church watching a slideshow of the exciting life this young girl had lived, a photo came up of her sky diving in South Africa!  My mouth dropped open for an uncontrolled instant, then I leaned over to my mom and said, “I just had a dream about being in South Africa!”

The service began and I listened to this young lady’s parents and others give an account of her life, her accomplishments, and her dreams for the future.  My admiration grew that evening.  It grew for my friend and former classmate, a person I had only seen a handful of times since we graduated 30+ years ago, as she stood before us so strong in her grief… to extend to the daughter she raised, a person I will never know.

And so the “admiration” compliment I had received a few days earlier along with the random reference in a dream to a place I had never been before became connected, just as suddenly and unexpectedly as the death of this young woman.

As I drove home that next morning with only my thoughts to keep me company, The Admiration Project was born.  This project is a challenge to myself to take time and write a letter, (handwritten) to the twelve people I admire most.  Along with that letter I will give a donation to a charity or project in their name that is inspired by the way they have had an impact on my life.  That letter will also challenge them to send just one similar letter to a person they admire within the next year.

If you are reading this, I challenge you to do the same, send just ONE letter of admiration to a deserving recipient who may or may not know the impact they have had on you.

Part of my waiting a year to start was I wanted a way to track how far this spreads – I wanted to know where these “admirable” people live and what organizations or projects they inspired people to contribute to.  Reality is, I’m not going to be able to program an interactive map on a blog – and it’s just an excuse to not take a risk and follow through, so instead, I’ll just ask that you leave a comment and tell me where you are, where the other person is and any organization you may be contributing to as a part of your admiration for that person.

“I am in Nashville, TN; my admirable person is in Maryville, TN and I have contributed to the Abbie Jane Harper Memorial Scholarship Fund.”

P.S.  If you are reading this and recognize yourself, your letter is in the mail.

Can you believe it’s almost here?

fist_full_of_money_svg_med

 

No, I’m not thinking about Christmas!  Although that is just around the corner, but I’m one of those people who like to celebrate my holidays one at a time, so no lights, decorations or stockings at my house until Thanksgiving has been thoroughly enjoyed with family and dear friends.

The “IT”  I am referring to is tax season.  That dreaded time of year when dear Uncle Sam decides it is time to “settle up.”

I have spent the last eight months working towards being ready to take on this tax season with the launch of a new business.  I am taking on clients and will work with you to make this tax season pain-free.

There is no one size fits all in the tax preparation business.  I will only work with clients for whom I can provide quality service specifically for their needs.  There are several keys to finding a perfect fit; ask these questions of any potential tax preparer.

  • Do you have a PTIN?  (A tax preparer must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number issued by the IRS.)
  • What records or documentation will you need from me?  (A qualified preparer will insist that you provide your W-2, 1098, 1099 and other verification of income and expenses.)
  • Can I file electronically?  (It is the fastest way to get your refund.)
  • Who will sign my return?  (Don’t trust a preparer who will not (or cannot) sign your return.)
  • When will I receive a copy of my return?  (You should receive a complete copy of your return within a reasonable amount of time following your submission of documents.  You should ALWAYS receive a copy for your own records.)
  • How do I find you if I have a question after tax season is over?  (My business is not confined to tax preparation; I am available all year.)

You want to end up creating a relationship with your tax professional, just as you would with your hair dresser or doctor.  Do your research and ask questions; it will be worth it.

If you are interested in tax preparation or other money management services, please submit the contact form below.

 

 

 

The Colorado River – Grand Canyon Rafting Trip

Image Ummm — Check

This trip for hubby’s birthday was BEYOND expectations!  I mean, really, how does a high maintenance girl like me spend 4 days and 3 nights without any electricity, running water (well I guess those rapids on the Colorado could be considered running), potty, shower, mirror, and heaven forbid cell phone or internet access???  What was I thinking when I said, “sure honey, I’d LOVE to take this trip of a lifetime with you for your birthday?”  I’ll tell you what I was thinking… I was thinking, “this martini tastes pretty good!”

So we sign up for our little adventure and off we go, just like to summer camp, “2 pair quick dry shorts, 1 long sleeve fleece top, 1 pair socks, sturdy water sandals, hat, sunscreen… you get the picture.

First up is to arrive at a small airport on the outskirts of Las Vegas.  After each person is weighed, separate from their expertly packed duffel bag, we are assigned a seat so that the weight is equally distributed on our little cigar plane… wouldn’t want this baby flying sideways.ImageWe take the 40 minute or so ride to Whitmore International Airport in Arizona, landing oh so carefully on the dry dirt runway, 80 miles from the nearest town.ImageWe arrive at the Bar 10 Ranch for lunch and a debriefing on the activities for the evening, (horseback riding, 4 wheeler tour down to the river, cowboy lasso school, hike over to the original cabin on the ranch for a history lesson, and the evening’s entertainment by the staff at the ranch).  Just a little chef note – dinner included beef from the cattle being raised on the ranch – it was quite tasty.  The evening was relaxing and we all got to mingle and meet our fellow rafters — you know scope out who you think will and won’t “rock the boat” so you can kind of make your way to the right side of the group when they are dividing you up into groups for the rafts.  For me, that’s basically people who want to get their hair wet versus people who don’t.

Our first night’s accommodations.  Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning after a hearty cowboy breakfast prepared by the fine folks at Bar 10, we were again, weighed, measured and grouped for our next transport.  I can’t begin to describe the exhilaration of getting into a helicopter that literally comes to your doorstep and then leaps off the mountaintop as you make your way down through the cabin landing on the banks of the Colorado River.  

ImageImage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we meet on the banks of the river for our next debriefing… distribution of our day dry bags, night dry bags, sleeping bags and an introduction to the guides that will be responsible for keeping us alive for the next several days, both on the water and off.  Our existence is literally in their hands… from picking a campsite, to cooking our meals, to helping locate a missing camper the first morning (SCARY), to treating those suffering from dehydration and hyponatremia (the opposite of dehydration).  Luckily, dear hubby and I were spared of any maladies.

Second night accomodations:  Image

And one of the most invigorating showers ever… 

Image

There are just soooo many great pics, but none can show what it was really like to experience a trip like this first hand.  Here is the group we shared this wonderful adventure with on our last day ImageSo while that hot shower back at the hotel felt REALLY, REALLY good the next day, the four days spent completely enveloped by nature touched all of my senses and gave me and hub memories of a lifetime.  I am so blessed to have someone in my life that makes me push the envelope and get out of my comfort zone… and have a bucket list worth sharing. 

Just a few of those memories… ImageImageImageImageImage

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the Coolest Cabins ever…

We recently rented this very cool cabin on the Toccoa River in Blue Ridge GA for our anniversary.

Toccoa River Cabin

Toccoa River Cabin

While a cabin that sleeps 14 would be considered a bit excessive for a party of 2,  the cool factor was just too much to resist for my architect husband and me.  There were walls of window facing the river… a two story windowed garage door that opened up the dining area to an outside deck… an indoor / outdoor fireplace… a hot tub… and a beautiful kitchen with concrete countertops.

We spent the first afternoon lounging down by the river soaking up some rays, relaxing and reading.  It was some much needed down time for us both and the comfort communing with nature brings doesn’t come often enough.

River reading chair

River reading chair

anniv

Vintage cookware

We spent the next day taking a scenic train ride into the Copperhill/McCaysville TN/GA area and explored the old mining towns.  While there we enjoyed a burger and onion rings at one of the local establishments, “Roger & Carol’s,” picked up a souvenir train themed necklace for my granddaughter and rummaged through the numerous antique shops, where my amazing hubby threw down some cold hard cash for this beautiful set of vintage enameled cast iron cookware from the 60’s. It was a perfect turquoise color that I just so happen to be using as an accent color throughout the house and it cooks like a dream!  (He conveniently had not already bought me an anniversary present, so this just worked out perfect for everyone!)

The day was finished off with an evening around the fire-pit, eating a delicious homemade pizza from “town,” smoking a cigar (well hubby did, not me) and enjoying a nice bottle of wine.  We completed our long weekend adventure with a two hour rafting trip down the river in a funyak… (basically a kayak shaped blow up inner-tube with room for two).  We started upstream in the Toccoa River and finished 6 miles down, just across the Tennessee state border in the Ocoee River.

The weekend definitely made it an anniversary to remember.

Next up… white rafting down the Colorado River!

“C”olorado River Raft Trip!

I’d like to think that this counts as a “cabin” although the cabin will be a tent on the banks of the Colorado River deep in the Grand Canyon.  First off, I feel very, very lucky – this trip is booked solid throughout 2013!  In fact, back in March when we booked our trip, I think we snagged some of the last slots available and they just so happened to be during DH’s birthday week!  Check out Western River Expeditions here.

photo from www.examiner.com

photo from http://www.examiner.com

So here I am, a self-proclaimed “high maintenance” kind of gal, in a weak moment agreeing to go WAAAYYY out of my comfort zone for several days with what seems to be a trip that will be sans makeup, shower, electricity, running water… you get the picture, to celebrate my husband’s birthday.  (I hope he understands that I like my birthdays to include things like a steam shower, hot tub, wifi, a printed menu… (oh yeah, a food truck — some of you will understand), but I digress  He gets the idea for this birthday adventure from a book I bought him – (I should read the synopsis on Amazon a little more carefully).  He read in the book about an adventure of this kind on the Colorado River, and how the guides do ALL of the work — even preparing your meals, river-side.  Being the foodie/chef that I am, he won me over with the “how will they provide us three (gourmet) meals a day on the banks of the Colorado river?” — if I can’t even take a shower or flat iron my hair!?!?!?

So we make our reservations and get our information packet.  Now I think I’m going to summer camp — 2-3 quick dry shirts, 2 piece rain suit, 1 pair socks… oh and did I mention your suitcase / aka duffle bag can weigh no more than 20 lbs?  WHAT?  This girl needs 3 outfits a day / 4 if there is water involved… day outfit, swimming suit, dinner outfit and sleepwear… multiply that times 4 days and I think that’s in excess of 20 pounds, even without the makeup, hair styling tools and coordinating shoes!  No wonder I never went to summer camp after the year in 6th grade when I spent a week at Treemont in the Great Smokies and broke off my front tooth on the first night!

The countdown has begun – DH and I are both looking to lose a few lbs before the trip to prepare for all of those gourmet meals and so far so good!  He’s down 12+ pounds over the last several weeks and I’m starting on the 5 & 1 plan this week.  And just in case we don’t get those promised gourmet meals on the banks of the Colorado, there’s always the All You Can Eat Buffet’s in every hotel in Las Vegas!

C is for Change

Hugging my best buddy, Tabasco

Hugging my best buddy, Tabasco

I’m sure there’s a reason I happened upon an old posting of mine today which reminded me that I once started a blog and so I went to read it and found that I seem to have been triggered to post in “recent” years when it was a dog-day.  Well, I am sad to say that this big fella just passed last month and so we are empty-nesters in the dog world.  The good news is that now Tabasco is up in doggie-heaven playing with RocksAnne and telling her how much we still miss and love her; the bad news is that Tabasco had to go way too soon due to cancer.  When we lost RocksAnne, we already had Tabasco, so while her loss was painful, we still had someone to greet us when we came home from work, finish our dinner plates (with our without permission and sometimes before we were actually finished, or even started), take our spot on the couch the minute we got up to do something and comfort/protect us by sleeping in our bed at our feet at night… not to mention taking up more and more space in the bed during the night and kicking us when he had those all too familiar “chasing rabbits” dreams.  (I miss those bruises on my legs.)

So here we are… dog-less.  For the first time in 15 years… sad times, but I would not trade one day of this sadness for any of the days of joy these dogs brought us day after day after day… remember, dog is God spelled backwards.

Getting Back in the Swing of Things

Tabasco2

Tabasco

It’s been a rough few weeks – everyone in the house is missing RocksAnne – including our other Chessie, Tabasco.  He’s our 4 year old baby, so hopefully we’ve got a long wait before having to endure this kind of heartbreak again.

I was doing ok until the following Tuesday night when I went to make dinner and RocksAnne’s rug in the kitchen was empty… she loved lying there watching and waiting — watching for me to drop something on the floor, knowing it would be “hers” as soon as I turned my back, and waiting for me to bring her a sample of whatever concoction I was cooking up.  My girl was the best mop on the market – she left not a single crumb on my floor tiles!

So the rest of the time has been filled with lots of neighborhood walks with Tabasco – in fact on the Thursday after we were about 15 minutes into the walk, he dug his heels/paws in and just said, “no, mommy – I can’t do this walk again today.”  Remember, you only “negotiate” with a Chessie, so we promptly headed back home.  I gave him a few days off before starting “occasional” walks after.

In addition to the walking, I’ve been cooking, testing recipes to add to my personal chef client menus.  I’ve had some great inspirations from my fellow chefs at the USPCA (United States Personal Chef Association) as well as looking for recipes to use up the goodies brought in this weeks basket from our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Delvin Farms.

Amongst the goodies I cooked and stocked in our freezer this week is my first attempt at “raw” cooking.  Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it?  A raw food diet (or living foods diet) is a dietary regimen consisting of uncooked and unprocessed organic foods.  I made a “raw” Key Lime Pie.  This dessert concoction was made from a host of ingredient, some seemed common, some not so common.  The crust was a mixture of coconut, macadamia nuts, lime zest and agave nectar… the filling ingredients included lime juice and zest, cold-pressed coconut oil, more agave nectar and avocados!  At this point I’m thinking the calorie and fat content must far exceed it’s “processed” counterpart, yet reports are that eating a raw diet is healthy and often results in weight loss.  Healthy — yes, weight loss — I’m not convinced.  However — I’m basing that on this one recipe experience.

The tasting:  I thought it was a great substitute, but obviously not the real thing.  Middle daughter (who is totally interested in this kind of thing) wants no one else to eat any of it.  In fact she scooped up 3/4 of the pie and took it to her vegan friends.  A few days later we went to a gathering at her space, Little Hamilton, and at the door when I said, “I’m Laura’s mom,” three people immediately said, “OH! You’re the one that made the key lime pie!  It was amazing!”  I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel to be known for my food!

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