Friday, January 18, 2013

A Piece of Advice

I'm considering a career change. Sure, being a homeschooling mother and part time lazy blogger is glamorous, but the pay stinks and the hours are horrible. I was thinking about becoming a relationship counselor instead. This would combine two of my favorite things - telling people what to do and listening to other people's problems so that my own problems seem not nearly so bad by comparison.

As a relationship counselor, I could hang out my shingle and people would pay me to listen to them complain about their girlfriend/boyfriend/parent/child/teacher/co-worker/or whoever. This is pretty much what I already do for free. I'm good at it, too. People who paid for my services would get top quality head nodding, concerned and sympathetic smiles, and lots of "tell me more."

Then, when the relationship has been thoroughly examined, the problem extrapolated, and the dynamic explained, I would swing into action and give extraordinary advice. Some people feel that you need letters behind your name before you're qualified to give advice. I disagree. I've got an Mrs. in front of my name and an MOM after it, so I feel supremely qualified to wade into the murky waters of troubled relationships. Plus, I watched a soap opera back in college, so I know exactly what NOT to say.

The easiest clients would involve work relationships. Employee making you nuts? Fire them. Boss making you crazy? Put a laxative in his or her coffee and get a new job. Co-worker driving you round the bend? Watch a few episodes of The Office. I'm sure you'll get some ideas.

I think I might have to go into practice with a partner. Then I would pass off all the parent/child/teacher problems to that person. It's not the I'm not qualified. More like overqualified. I've been there, done that, and have the wrinkles to prove it.

I think my favorite group of clients would be the love-lorn. So easy.

* How do I get a girlfriend (or boyfriend)?
~ You don't. Go make friends, both with boys and girls. Hang out with people whose company you enjoy. Talk to them. Listen to them. Have fun together. Maybe something will come from it. Maybe not. But at least you'll have friends that you can hang out with.

* My boyfriend (or girlfriend) doesn't call me every day. If they really loved me, wouldn't they call every day?
~ Maybe. But more likely not. Unless you're on your honeymoon, you can't expect that other person's thoughts to be on you 24/7. If it's a healthy relationship, that other person has other things going on besides waiting by the phone to talk to you. If they are waiting 24/7, taking the phone in the potty so they don't miss your call (not just to play Angry Birds like normal people do), that's obsessive, unhealthy, and they should get a hobby.

* Where can I find the love of my life?
~ See the first question. When you find a really good friend, you might have found the love of your life. Potentially. So, make friends. Who knows what could come of that great conversation you had on Tumblr when you found out that you weren't the only one who thought a cross-over between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Anne of Green Gables would be the best thing ever? But if you go to a bar looking for the love of your life, you're guaranteed to come home smelling like cigarette smoke and most likely without the love of your life. Unless you've always wanted to be hitched to a drunk.

* My girlfriend (or boyfriend) is super whiny. How do I change her (or him)?
~ You don't. You upgrade to the non-whiny version.

* I want to break up with my boyfriend (or girlfriend). How do I do it without hurting their feelings?
~ Go with the classics. The tried and true "let's just be friends" has stood the test of time. And if you say it nicely enough, it might take him (or her) till you get a new boyfriend (or girlfriend) to figure out that he (or she) has been dumped.

That's just a sampling of the superior advice you'd get when you come to Cookie Baker Counseling services. Interested? Call or email to make an appointment.

Not convinced? Here's a freebie - a solid piece of advice is to try these shakes. They are like everything a GAPS girl or guy wants in a mate: rich, sweet, and satisfying.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Milkshakes
 - adapted from Eat Like A Dinosaur
 serves 4

(Because this recipe calls for chilled and frozen ingredients, you need to plan ahead)

2 dried dates
1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk, chilled (to be GAPS legal, it can't have added thickeners)
1 cup ice
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1 ripe banana, frozen
1/4 cup cocoa powder (preferably raw)

1- Place dates in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them sit for 15 minutes.

2- Remove the dates from the water and pat them dry. Remove the pit and place them in a blender.

3- Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender. Purée until smooth.

4- Serve in small glasses with straws.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

All Done Whining

I love watching my daughter parent. She's an awesome mother, much better than I was at her age. She sets clear boundaries and is consistent in not allowing the flopping of a toddler shoe across the line. One of the things she does not allow is whining. I have to bite my lip not to laugh when my granddaughter says, tears streaming down her face, "All done whining! I be happy girl!"

I take this toddler lesson to heart with GAPS. It's easy to be sad when grocery shopping, wandering the aisles of forbidden foods. It was especially difficult at Christmas, when Trader Joe's had tempting chocolate treats and peppermint hot cocoa right by the check out aisle. There were times that I came close to tears, but then I'd put on a brave smile and say to my kids, "All done whining. I be a happy girl."

Being a happy girl is a choice. And a big part of making that choice is looking for things to celebrate, things about which you can genuinely be happy. I could have ruined our Christmas with whimpering and whining about all the treats we couldn't have (and don't think it would have taken the rest of the family more than 5 seconds to follow my lead), but instead I looked for ways to make our Christmas wonderful, even without the forbidden foods.

Instead of baking cookies for the neighbors, we used the time to do some much needed cleaning and decluttering.

Our stockings were hung with care (on the windowsill, because we don't have a fireplace in our living room), but they were not filled with chocolates or hard candies. I had to get a little creative and dig through the dollar bins at Target to find sparkly nail polish, a Rubik's cube, earrings, erasers, and other small, inexpensive but fun items. The kids didn't miss the candy and I didn't miss the sugar-induced melt-downs.

The biggest concern was our Christmas Eve dinner. Since the early days of our marriage I've refused to do a big Christmas dinner. It just didn't seem fair to have everyone else in their pajamas, reading books, and playing games, while I had to go into the kitchen and work for hours to produce a feast. Instead, our special Christmas meal is on Christmas Eve. And the tradition is crab and clam chowder. The french bread on the side we could live without, but the crab and the clam chowder are non-negotiable.

Crab is no problem, as far as our diet goes. We were even far enough along on GAPS that we could have butter with our crab. Yeah! Another reason to celebrate!

But clam chowder... how do you make clam chowder without flour or milk? A daunting task, yes, but not impossible. I turned to my go-to friend, the internet, and found an almost paleo recipe for clam chowder. One minor tweak and I made GAPS-friendly clam chowder that was amazing.

We served up the feast and I took a tentative first sip. Christmas would still be Christmas, even if the chowder was kind of yucky. But it was good. Really good. I think I even like it better than my old reliable Joy of Cooking recipe. The coconut milk made it creamier without the heavy floury taste that a roux can give clam chowder.

I can't promise that I'm all done whining for good. You know me. I love a good glass of whine. But for our Christmas, I was a very happy girl.

GAPS-friendly, Paleo Clam Chowder
  serves 8

6 Tbsp butter (from grass-fed cows)
6 slices bacon (from clean, pastured piggie), chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery with greens, chopped
8 sprigs thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme, if that's all you've got)
salt and pepper to taste
4 tsp. hot sauce, optional
1/4 cup blanched almond flour
2 pints coconut milk
4 cups chicken broth
1 celeriac root, peeled and shredded
4 cans whole or chopped clams and their juice

1- Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the bacon, onion, celery, and thyme. Season with salt, pepper, and optional hot sauce and cook for 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.

2- Add almond flour and stir to combine. Cook 1 minute.

3- Add coconut milk, broth, celeriac, and clams. Raise heat and bring to a boil, then lower and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and remove thyme.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Random Neuron Firings

I was discussing writing with a writer friend of mine who was frustrated with the concept of writing a book. I pointed out that not all writers shine at producing a work the size of a book. Many writers excel at writing short stories or magazine articles. I've found that I best express myself in something the size of a blog post. Short and sweet.

Recently, though, I've had trouble putting together my thoughts. It's been really difficult to compile my ideas in an organized and hopefully entertaining fashion, long enough to complete a

So, my first post for the new year (since one of my New Year's goals is to not let my blog completely die) is going to be random neuron firings.

* One of the hardest things in my life right now is doing the remembering for 4 people. I have to remember and remind the family to start the day off with a glass of water and probiotics. One person has to be reminded to take a heavy metal detox liquid 10 minutes before every meal. That same person also has to be reminded to get out and rinse off the ingredients for morning juicing. And to empty the dishwasher. And to brush his teeth.

I have to remember parasite cleanse pills 3 times a day and remind 3 people. And to thaw meat and broth for the next three meals. And to have soup once a day. And to put olive oil or butter over everything. And to order and take (and remind everyone else to take) the fermented cod liver oil supplements.

(If you need to order any of those, or other pills, food, cleaners or whatever from iHerb, use the code RUC080 and save some $$ on your first order. It helps me too!)

I guess I have job security. Because there's no way they'd survive longer than two days without me. Especially after they figured out the laundry doesn't wash, sort, and fold itself.

* I hate washing dishes in the winter. Because our house is always cold, I always have long sleeves on. And when I wash dishes, the water splashes on my sleeves. I hate having cold, wet, cuffs. I'd rather go change my shirt than walk around with cold, clammy cuffs. Or let the dishes pile up beside the sink. Which is what I usually do.

* I love it when people randomly say and do nice things.

* Pinterest is a huge time suck. It makes me feel productive, pinning pictures of clever crafts and helpful household tips. But it's deceitful. I won't refinish those cupboards or turn old Scrabble tiles into charming decorations. But I suppose I can pretend. And maybe somewhere along the way I'll get super motivated and actually finish one of those projects. Or at least click through on the link and read the how-to post before deciding it's too much effort. (And if your life doesn't have enough random stuff in it, you can follow me on Pinterest - Lynn Craig.)
* Parenting involves a certain amount of schizophrenia. During December I found myself wanting to shout at my children, "Go away and leave me alone. I'm stressed out from having so much shopping and wrapping to do because I'm buying so many presents for you because I love you so much. So go away!"

Perhaps the answer is to buy less and spend more time with the kids. That's the Good Parenting Magazine answer. The real answer, of course, is that I love to give my kids gifts that will make their eyes sparkle as they say, "Thank you!!!" My favorite part of Christmas is watching them open the gifts I've been sooooo excited to give.

This year's gifting involved sewing, which is a major "Go away!" activity. It's hard to keep gifts a secret when they watch you making them. But wasn't it worth it?

I found some fabulous red, sparkly material and made a dress, and matching mommy and daughter leggings. How cute are they? (They being daughter who is auntie to granddaughter.)

* Wine is proof that God loves me.

* Sometimes pain brings you gain. And sometimes it's just pain.

* Christmas without cookies is fundamentally wrong.

(These are from 2010. Nothing like this showed up in my house this Christmas.)

* Stealing is mean and mean people suck. My daughter had Christmas packages stolen off her porch. Several times. Really? How low do you have to be to take Christmas presents???

* It's amazing how my sweet tooth has diminished. We've been craving chocolate, but in order to be GAPS legal, it can't contain added sugar or soy. I challenge you to try finding that! And when you do, send it to me. They all have sugar and soy lecithin. So we've been reduced to gnawing on unsweetened chocolate. It's just a tad too bitter for me, but it's better than no chocolate!

* If you go through the holidays with GAPS, there's no need to go to diet purgatory in January.

* Why did anyone freak out about the Mayan end of the world? Why would you trust people that ripped people's hearts out?

* I don't have control over the debt ceiling, which politician is currently trying to steal my children's futures, or whatever crisis is currently in the headlines, but I can make sure my family eats well, that the toilet is scrubbed, and the laundry gets washed and folded.

Next time I'll post food. I promise! Till then, stay warm, safe, and count your blessings.