Monday, January 30, 2017

Valentine's Day Treat: Mini Chocolate Raspberry Trifles

With V-Day fast approaching, I wanted to share a quick and easy dessert I recently made for the holidays that was a huge hit. I took this trifle recipe and shrunk it down a bit to accommodate what I was going for with these little edible pieces of heaven.

If you're making dinner for a loved one, or having a small group of friends over, this is a great option! It's gluten free, but can also be made dairy free if you omit the TruWhip (which is basically Cool Whip) and get a dairy free pudding pack instead. Or, you can add all the gluten you want by putting some chopped up brownie pieces at the bottom! Options are endless with this bad boy.

Mini Chocolate Raspberry Trifles 

 - 1 pkg (4 serving size)  GF chocolate pudding 
 - 1 tub (12 oz) Cool Whip (or TruWhip)
 - 3/4 cup raspberry jam
 - 1 carton of raspberries

I used shot glasses but any small glass will work. If you go with the shot glasses, be sure to pick up some of those cute little spoons they sell at the grocery store too. Normal sized spoons work, but let's be honest...sometimes it's fun to eat with tiny utensils. 

1. Mix all four containers of chocolate pudding with raspberry jam and whisk until well blended.

2. Mix the Truwhip/Cool Whip with the chocolate-raspberry mixture.  Fold until well incorporated. Try not to over mix.

3. Place the mixture into the shot glasses (or other small glass cups of your choice).

4. Add fresh raspberries to the top of the dessert for decor.

5. Chill for about 3-4 hours in the fridge before serving. 

With the small shot glasses, you should get about 10 or so of them full (depending on the size of the shot glasses). With a normal sized juice glass, for instance, you'd probably get 4 glasses in total. 


Friday, January 27, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Bring You To Yourself

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments
Bring You To Yourself

Does sadness cloud your sky,
With dark clouds moving fast?
Do all the thoughts that flood your mind lead further down this path?
Is hope a secret word,
That's hidden in your heart?
Have all your dreams of lovely things begun to fall apart?

You won't fail.
I won't let you fall.
I am right behind you when the darkness starts to call.

It hurts now-
I am here to help.
I have been placed here for you to bring you to yourself.

Does each breath make you ache?
Do days end in despair?
When you are running are you chasing memories in the air?
Is happiness a threat,
That leaves you full of doubt?
Has every glimmering light inside you started to burn out?

You won't break.
I won't let you hurt.
I'm beside you, fighting with you, through the dust and dirt.

You are strong-
I will help you see.
I should know since you're the one that brought me back to me.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday Mantra: The Things We Know, The Things We Don't

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Pay attention
Mikio Murakami

Have you ever considered the weight of knowledge? Of what knowing or not knowing something really means in the big picture?

Once upon a time, Japan released upon us the deadliest hot air balloons known to man. In an attempt to terrify and kill us, they created Fu-Go weapons that would float, thousands of miles in the air, from their country to ours. Silent weapons of death sent by the gods in the sky.

You probably don't know this story because it was a secret for many, many years. At the time, and for decades after, the government kept it a secret on purpose. This was done intentionally and strategically. Almost no one knew what had happened, that is, except for a small group of very unfortunate people. There was no hysteria in the United States, no fear, and Japan thought they had failed. That same lack of knowledge, however, is what killed a pregnant woman and several innocent children. Had they known these weapons were out there they never would have gone to investigate the strange thing in the woods that they spotted.

The knowledge we possess, or the lack thereof, comes with a price. It is powerful. It is what tips the scale one way or another. Very often, it's the deciding vote in life or death, good or bad, dangerous or safe situations.

Consider a time before fossil fuels. An era before we had electricity and power as we know it today. For most of us, it's unimaginable. Now, consider what it was like for the people that realized they could literally power the world with fossil fuels. I am certain their intentions were primarily good. I am certain it never even occurred to them what that would mean to the world decades into the future, the price we're all paying right now- the rush to find a renewable means of energy. What we didn't know then, we know more about now.

The key to this Puzzle of Knowing lies in what comes after our frame of knowledge changes.

We decide who we are by the actions we take. Do we acknowledge the errors we made along the way and move forward toward better things? Or do we pretend we don't know any better, still, when the evidence is so clear?

This is where you need to pay attention; to how you see things, to how other people react, to what comes next. This is why you need to pay attention; right now, immediately, always.

We can't know everything, it's impossible. That isn't an excuse for us to throw our hands up in the air like we just don't care.

Instead, we must remain open minded and we must look at every angle possible. We must be willing to change our minds when new facts and data surface. We can't get stuck in the old, in the past, in what worked once upon a time. We must hold ourselves accountable to find the facts, not rely on social media as our history lesson in life. When we are shown that we are wrong, that there is a better way, regardless of the effort, we must work towards that new and better way. And when we see something that we know is wrong, we must stand together until it is made right.

I mention that last piece because it feels vitally important in this very moment.

I can't tell you how many times I've recently seen or heard "Give our new president a chance. Whether you like him or not, he's our president and we need to support him."

Normally, I would agree. Normally, it's not that big of a deal. Really, it's not.*

However, nothing about our new president is normal.

To all those people who are telling everyone to give him a chance, to see what happens over the next four years:

 - Think of Rosa Parks. Would you have told her to calm down, that everything would be just fine, to give it a few years and see what happens?

 - Would you have stood behind Hitler when he promised to return his country to its former greatness?

I hope your answer for both of those is no.

Knowledge is power.

What we know about our new president is: He's a blatant liar, he doesn't conduct himself as a leader, he's using Nazi terminology in a modern way (Don't believe me? Read this and this), and that he has ill will towards a variety of people.

We know the White House website changed its page in less than 24 hours of him becoming president, with a QVC ad for his wife and the removal of certain info related to LGBT and climate change. We know people around the world, in numerous countries, have expressed concerns about his presidency and, just over the weekend, showed a tremendous amount of support for women's rights, among other things. That single point alone should speak volumes.

What we don't know is what he's capable of or what the future holds.

Here's to knowledge. Let's see where it gets us next.


For everyone around the world who has been standing by our side, supporting the people of America, using your voices and fighting with us- thank you. Those two words don't adequately sum up how appreciative we are. Thank you for helping us fight, not just for a better America, but for a better collective world.


*By which I mean voting is a big deal and getting the right people in office is a big deal, but typically the opponents are on a more fair playing field, which is to say: There's normally a lot less crazy in our candidates. In most instances, we're going to be fine either way.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: Judgement Day

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

Judgement Day

J is for the judging judgers who, themselves, will one day be
Judged by others who beyond this realm decide eternity.

U is for the universal ignorance we thrive upon, 
Laughing, smiling, masking, hiding all we know that's here and wrong.

D is for the damaged doing, damage done, and yet to be- 
The roots of thoughts that shape our moments where we're never truly free.

G is for the good, the kind, the meek who often find the way
When all the bad, the dark, the evil seek to ruin every day.

E is for enough, it's over; give it up and let it be.
No elixir, drink, or fixer lets you pass through life so free.

M is for the measures taken, taken for our souls own good. 
Not one apple, not one snake could ruin such a thought out world.

E is for eternal freedom from the choices we have made, 
Had we only given, given of ourselves in such a way.

N is for the night that comes, that lets us dream of brighter days
When every sin and every thought have cursed us from our infant gaze.

T is for the time that's passing, ticking by with every breath,
With every moment, every passing, our lives line up as they're meant.

D is for the damned denying all that comes and soon will be, 
Thinking they can outrun Father Time for all eternity. 

A is for the angels calling, beckoning us one and all
To listen closely, tip-toe carefully, through the valley of the fall.

Y is for the year of measure, when our sins shall all be weighed, 
When each and every one alike will see the final path they take.


Fun Fact: Judgment vs. Judgement: They're both right, but there are a lot of people who freak out over the difference. Calm down, people. It's fine. Move on with your lives.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Mantra: And I Don't Want the World to See Me (pt. 1)

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: "I will love the light for it shows me the way, but I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars." - Og Mandino
I feel like I have writer's block. I don't, not really, but it feels that way. I have started and stopped this post countless times. I've erased, started over, tried to write something completely different.

It's not working.

I've written about this before, but mostly I try to avoid the subject. When I do broach the topic, it's in times, like this, when I feel like I've lost, that I'm losing, that I will never win a battle that doesn't even belong to me. And, so, I write. I write because I know others also feel this way, possibly for different reasons. I write because the process of writing somehow always heals me a little bit. I write because no one should feel alone, regardless of which role you play.

I suppose we should get started.

Part 1

My mom has severe OCD. It's undiagnosed, but that doesn't matter. We don't need a doctor confirming what we both know. She has it, it's intense, and it's unavoidable.

Last week, my mom had one of her more severe episodes. Part of it involved her calling my phone over and over and over again. Call, hang up. Call, hang up. This was new. This hadn't happened before. When she finally stopped, and I was able to call her, she burst into tears. We talked about all the thoughts in her head, some of which I can't even go into now because they're just too complex.

Anytime something like this takes place, one of two things happens: Either I use humor to lighten the mood and try and get her in a better state of mind or I completely lose my cool and become unavoidably frustrated. I don't prefer the latter, but you have to understand- I have been dealing with this, by her side, my entire life and, the key to my frustration in all of this: she refuses to get help. Even though I wish I could always remain calm and collected, there are times when I simply am unable to muster that kind of energy. There are times when I can't control my own emotions in this never ending war with her mind.

In this particular scenario, I was able to talk her off the ledge, a little at least. I told her to go outside and look at the clouds. To stare at the sky and ponder it's vastness until no other thoughts consumed her.

And then, after we'd hung up, I proceeded to cry.

I know some of my tears are selfish. Some of them are brought on by the past; memories of all the years growing up with her lost in her random and strange and sometimes unbearable moments. Some of them are brought on by what I think will be the future of her, of us, of my children growing up not getting to have the same grandparent experience I did. Some are brought on by my complete and utter lack of having any way to help her.

This last one is what broke me most recently because I know; I know there are things she could do to get help and I know she never will.

If you look up the categories of OCD, my mom has all of them. Every single one. This means her life is difficult, painful, and overwhelming. It means she lives in a way most people can't even contemplate. It means being her daughter, her only child, her only immediate link to this world, is also quite difficult in different ways. It means I desperately want things for her - better, happier, healthier things - that she won't allow or accept in her life because of her refusal to seek out assistance. It means I have to learn, over and over and over again, that this is her life. She has to decide how to live or not live it.

And that's the part that consumed me last week, as I Googled every possible option and treatment, and ran across an article another daughter, in a similar set of shoes, had written. Her same concerns, her same worries, and the truth we all know:

There is only so much you can do for someone else. Ultimately, their life is in their hands.

You can have endless conversations, point out all the reasons, all the ways, all the options. It's still up to them. You can offer your assistance, your time, your help. It's still up to them. You can offer logic and reason and fact checked data, but they have to make the choice. That's the only thing you can't do for them.

And, so, I must continue learning to offer assistance to her in other ways that will help on the surface but never in whole. I must continue learning - remembering - that this is her life, not mine.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Reflection of Shadows: I Will Not Settle, Will Not Fall

The Reflection of Shadows
A collection of moments

I Will Not Settle, Will Not Fall

I will not settle, 
Will not fall.
I'll build the walls, 
Then break them all.
I'll fight the fight
And keep on living-
I will not settle,
I will not give in.

I will not forfeit,

Will not break.
I won't deny
My destined fate.
 I will not let
The demons rage,
I will not rush
Where I must wait.

I will not settle-

Settle never.
Not for you
Or your endeavours.
I'm worth the battle,
Worth the distance,
Worth the challenge-
Curse resistance.

I know my value,

Know my reasons,
Know that I can
Fight these demons.
Know that I am
Worth it all-
I will not settle.
I will not fall.