Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The big question...

All through college, while my friends commented on how they wouldn't work after they started birthing babies, I would reply with my "My Mom worked. So I plan to work. I don't think it'll be a big deal."
Then my mom waits until I have kids (or maybe I just never really asked, I just assumed) that she barely worked when the 3 of us were growing up. "Oh yeah, I was a part time RN. I was actually home with y'all alot. You just remember me working because I started working more full time as y'all become more independent." May I point out that full-time for a nurse still leave 4 days open. Things that are good to take into account when you make life decisions - right? Well, apparentely I didn't really think it all out like that.

This time last year I was getting ready to be home with my child for 12 whole weeks. (That's right, my little man will be 1 very soon!) And at the end of 12 weeks I came back to work and remembered why I love the challenges of work - the whole adult interaction (because I am exiled to the country otherwise).

But in March I accepted some new responsbilities - some of which I was excited about, some not so much. Whatev... that's life in career world. "Hey! You could probably handle that," - or "Would you be interested in fill-in-the-blank?" Or my personal favorite, "I think you'd be really great at it." "Oh, you will!? Good. Because I need you to do that too (translation: that was really your only option.)." I'm all up for learning and growing, but the new challenges have left me with this giant question sitting on my chest -

Where do I want to go from here?

Up, down, sideways? What do I want to be good at? Do I need to go back to school to gain some street cred? If I was to look down my career path right now, I couldn't tell you where it was going. It's becoming a position of jack-of-all-trades, master to few. Honestly, right now I feel like I'm staring aimlessly at a dead end wondering where I missed my turn.

 Mostly, the answer is home. And I don't mean stay-at-home because I think that through all the time. (Though I am the only one of my mom friends who works). But I do mean home more often - or longer. Maybe its not my time to save the world with my amazing hair-brained thinking or blunt-yet-professional tongue (as it has been called lately). I am starting to think that my heart is telling me to put that on hold and stop putting the pressure on myself. Be ok with where I am. At a place where I can take a day off to trudge across the sand dunes with an overstuffed wagon and a kid on each arm. Or I can actually play with my kids before I drop them off with the sweet lady around the corner.

It's not giving up on a dream or lifestyle. It's giving in to all the amazing things that are already right here in front of me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Going Green

The 7 Day Green Smoothie Challenge hosted by Peanut Butter runner (college friend) and Real Food Runner is 3 days in. (So much great inspiration!)

So how am I doing?

Great! Its really nice to have my breakfast planned. Otherwise I'd be grabbing a bagel or croissant from the cafe at work - which is starting to show up on my bottom half. What every girl dreams of, I know.

But I didn't join this to loose weight - I joined this to really get some control of my mornings.

Good thing is - Green Smoothies are good! And they don't taste much different from a regular smoothie, they just look different. It's kinda like the 'sneaky chef' concept. I get several servings of fruits and veggies right at the start of a hectic working mama's day. What do I have to loose really?

Day 1 - Recipe Fail. Won't even share it. Almost gave up. Looked at other blogs, got re-energized.
Day 2 - 2 cups loose spinach, 4 strawberries, 1/2 banana, 1/2 avacado, 1/2 cup almond milk. YUM! Dark green, but good.
Day 3 - 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 avacado, 1 cup loose spinach, 1 cup chopped pineapple, 1/2 banana, 1 packet Stevia. The cucumber really threw me off so I added the sweetener. This was better the longer it sat and the pineapple sugars came out. Bright Green!

I am planning on another iteration of this tomorrow. Then I am going to be brave and switch from spinach to kale. Or maybe even try the chocolate/banana version by Real Food Runner.... hmm..

So I challenge you to join us! What do you have to loose?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Work + Life + Health

Can a working mom be healthy?

And spend time with her kids?
And be a high performer at work?
And put dinner on the table?
And show devotion and love to her spouse?

I struggle with this more now with a family of 4 than I ever did as a family of 3.

With E, we would load up in the jogging stroller and go. The afternoons were no big deal. At least when she was younger. But now that she's 2 (going on 22), she doesn't want to ride in the stroller - in fact, I may have the only 2 year old who will be able to run a 5k by the time she's 3. She insists on "I push Wyatt, mom!" and "It's my turn to run!"

We've tried the bike riding thing. She made it halfway around the nearby neighborhood. So did Wyatt. So Hubs and I walked home, pushing a stroller loaded with a training-wheeled-bicycle - a kid with each parent.

But I love running and playing with my family. And I want to continue to be able to do that for my life. I want my kids to see a healthy lifestyle modeled for them (amongst the fro-yo outings). So how do I squeeze that in without forcing them against their will to sit in a stroller for at least 30 minute? And how do I strength train without giving up more time with them?

It's a working mother's struggle. It's my struggle.

So I am making a commitment. First answer to my prayers - the onsite gym at work is now hosting a 30 minute quick fix class at 12:10 two days a week. I can get sweaty and still have time to go back to my office. We'll try that.

Next, I am getting up early, before (and the sun) rise to get a run in. Turns out, its a lot easier to get in mileage when you aren't pushing the double stroller parachute. We'll try that too.

It's an uphill battle. But its important to me. Like church and quality family time. I will make it work - even if I am a working mom.

This morning I started out with a green smoothie - part of this challenge. Kind of a fail the first day, but tomorrow my mix will be better.

And then for lunch I ate 2 pieces of pizza. But I did sign up for a mud run and have a 5k on Saturday. So they cancel each other out, right?

Like I said, and uphill battle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In a slump...

Obviously - it's been a while.

I'm in a slump. Potential Reasons:

1. I don't carry a camera every where I go - so I don't capture a lot of the stuff that is blog worthy.

2. I haven't been crafting much lately - but I am hoping to change that (Easter outfits abound!).

3. Sometimes I look at my house and think "Oh, I should clean that." And then I think "Oh, I should do that craft that I've been wanting to do so I can get it off the table." Next its "I haven't checked pinterest in a while to look for more crafts." And Finally its "oh yeah, people blog. I have one of those. I should do THAT!"

4. Then I don't do any of those, because Sometimes I fall asleep at 8:30 on the couch while Dora is exploring.

5. The working mom guilt is even stronger with 2 kids in the mix. I have vowed that my time home I will be completely present. There is no room for feeling guilty about not chornicaling my life here.

I think my hiatius is putting things in perspective. I'm ok with that. So - maybe I blog, maybe I don't - but I will do it for fun when the mood hits me.

If you read this little page - I'll be around. Sooner or later.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Test Kitchen Tuesday: Adventures in Strawberry Bread

There is a very good reason this post is delayed (just FYI, it's not Tuesday, but whatev).

With an ill little boy at home, I didn't actually make it to the grocery store this weekend. We're not eating ramen noodles yet, but there was definitely no trip to get the items needed for a full meal on Test Kitchen Tuesday.

Looking in my fridge I saw strawberries on the brink of disaster, and a box of eggs (note: check inside the box when assuming you actually have eggs. Just sayin.)

So I did a quick search for the most logical answer - Strawberry Bread. A version of the classic banana bread but, ya know, with strawberries. Easy enough right.

Apparently If baking is an exact science, then I my friends, am a no Einstein. Surprising I know.

So here's the grocery list and then I'll share how this Strawberry Bread went down.
(Original Recipe)


  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 3 1/8 cups all-purpose flour (I only used 3)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (I recommend the Greek Yogurt substitution)
  • 4 eggs, beaten (this is debatable - see below)
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans (totally optional, right?)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter and flour two 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. No problem here, simple enough.

Slice strawberries, and place in medium-sized bowl. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, and set aside while preparing bread mixture.Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in large bowl: mix well.
Got it covered. All strawberries sliced and bread mixture ingredients prepped.At this point, we're moving along nicely.
Now I'd like to introduce the idea of a 2-year old sous chef. Great for learning. Not for bread.

Dressed like a Rock Star. That's her words, not mine. Promise. And Yes it's past her bedtime, but remember, she's a rock star.

Ok, blend oil and eggs into strawberries.
I open up the egg carton to find only one (1!) egg left. Refer to your notes above - you need four (4!). Ok, don't panic. We like our neighbors. They like us right? So I put in a quick call. And miraculously 2 more eggs appear at my door. With my handy highschool education, I devise that I now have 3 eggs. Still not enough - but we're gonna wing it. Me and E. Until I turn my back and E decides to "crack the egg myself mama." Oh good. And in slow motion I watch one egg crack and ooze to the floor.
Even.better. So 2 eggs. Had I deployed the other half of my highschool math I would have realized that I could have halved the recipe and saved one half until I got more eggs. But it fails me at the most convenient times... so I went with it. All 2 eggs, me, and the sous chef moved to the next step.

Add strawberry mixture to flour mixture, blending until dry ingredients are just moistened. Stir in pecans (we did not). Divide batter into pans.

OMG! It looks like paste. Whoopdie-doo.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn loaves out, and cool completely.
And Ta-DA.

It actually doesn't taste bad. I've been eating it for breakfast. Maybe not a disaster, but not the finest moments in Sugarbritches land. I loved every.stinkin.minute!

Ratings (out of 5):

Weeknight Worthy - 4 eggs. Really simple. Maybe make sure your sous chef is off duty. And you have all the ingredients.

Family Friendly - 4 eggs. We really do like it. E asks for it for breakfast. Too much sugar though. I recommend cutting it down (half or 2/3 maybe?)

Clean-Up - 3 eggs. Baking is a mess. But this was relatively simple. Clean as you go. Or as eggs break. Whatev.

Freeze-ability - 5 eggs. Absolutely! I love to freeze breads for a quick breakfast when I didn't get to the store all weekend. Throw some almond butter on it head out!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Test Kitchen Tuesday

My personal new year challenge it to get out of a cooking rut. Therefore, welcome to "Test Kitchen Tuesday."

As a family, we are trying to eat at home more. But running in the house at 5:00 and hoping to have quality time, eat, baths, bedtime stories, and sleeping children by 8:00 (9:00 if I'm being honest) is quite overwhelming.

Searching my cookbooks, blogs, and pinterest there are so many inspiring food ideas. But pair being a not so fabulous cook with a meat-and-potatoes husband and a add dash of borrowed time you have a recipe for disaster - or Wendy's. Take your pick.

So here is my first Test Kitchen Tuesday. I'll be sharing a recipe and a true-life assessment of how it fared in Sugarbritches land. Here we go...

First recipe -

Pablano Chicken Chowder
(Paula Deen's recipe. Because when you its cold outside, I reach for my comfort food cookbook. Lady.and.Son's style.)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 5 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/8 cup minced garlic
  • 2 to 3 small poblano peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules
  • 3 quarts chicken broth
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, minced
  • 3 cups diced (large pieces) grilled chicken
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream


Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, poblano peppers, salt, white pepper, cumin, and thyme. Saute for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.

Stir in the chicken bouillon. Add the chicken broth and cilantro, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chowder is thick and the chicken is heated through. Shortly before the chowder is done, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes to cook the flour. Do not allow the mixture to brown! Ladle 1 cup of the hot liquid from the stockpot into the skillet, whisking constantly.

When the first cup of liquid is incorporated, add another 2 cups of liquid, 1 at a time. Pour the mixture in the skillet into the stockpot, whisking to blend. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until the mixture begins to thicken.

(Note: This is where I got really nervous. "Begins to thicken" looked like biscuit dough. I thought it was over right about here. But I followed the next directions, wisking thoroughly, and all was well. Don't be scaeerrrt.)

Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the hot sauce, then the cream, and serve.

(Note: For meat-and-potatoes Hubs, we added some rice to the soup to make more of a gumbo. It has to be hearty for Hubs or as for as he's concerned, we didn't eat. Just saying.)

Ratings (out of 5 ):

Weeknight Worthy? 2 spoons. The prep takes a minute, so make the night before. (In fact, we grilled the chicken a couple of nights before while we had it fired up for some burgers and fish. Think ahead.)

Family Friendly? 5 spoons. To quote the family "Best soup you ever made," and "I wike it, Mom!"

Clean Up? 4 spoons. It's not one-pot, but it's close.

Freeze-ability? 5 spoons. It made such a huge pot. We ate it for lunch and I had it again for dinner one night. Still put 3 bags in the freezer. Quick dinner fo' sho.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Give it a try - the little starter herbs that could

Now that Biggun (Wyatt) is eating food I have all of these little food cups sitting around. I really feel like a slacker mom this time because I put so much effort into making E's food it seems like Biggun is getting the short end of the stick.

I do make his food when I can, but it isn't as consistently as I did with E. C'est la vie.

So back to the little plastic cups. They were everywhere. Now that we have curb side recycling (hallelujah) they won't go into the landfill. But they are such a good size - there had to be another use.

So I decided to use baby food cups as little planters. It's winter in south Georgia - so it will be gone before you know it. And it will be fun for the kids to watch something grow and then use it in the kitchen.

In theory.

So - we gathered all of our materials. Some potting soil, seeds, and the baby food cups.

Let E assist in filling the cups. Disaster. But it's a learning experience , so the mess is part of the process.
Marked our cups so we would know which herb is in which cup. What a disaster it would be to grab the basil when you really wanted cilantro. Unthinkable, right?!
Watered them and set them out for a little sun time before I took them in to rest in the window until the cold passes by. I will be taking them out on the warmer weekends to get some unfiltered sun.

Good luck little seeds! You will need it in Sugarbritches land. If you don't get pulled out of the window and dumped into the dog bowl it will be a small miracle of sorts.