Happy New Year!

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On New Year’s Eve, right at midnight, my kids and I run around the block with our suitcases, in hopes the new year will bring us more travel. This was us last year and guess what? This year we’re celebrating New Year’s Eve in Peru! Try it.  You never know. You might enjoy it as much as we do… plus you might even travel somewhere unexpected. Here’s to going places! And by the way, I hate resolutions, but I do plan to write more in 2016. I’ve been a little lost and out of habit but I’m finding my way again. Stay tuned.

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Granola Girl’s Granola

167051_1797792475514_1247275_nFor years friends called me “granola girl” because I couldn’t stop making granola and sharing it. One friend liked it so much he started making it at his cafe, in place of a version he was buying, to put on top of yogurt and fresh fruit.  I don’t make granola nearly as often as I used to, but something about the damp cold weather we’re having this week makes me long for my granola girl days. In fact, I’m thinking about putting some in the oven right now. Every so often someone asks me for the recipe so, I thought I’d share it here. Enjoy!

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl: 9 cups of rolled oats (not quick cooking), 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 cup coarsely chopped raw almonds, 1 cup coarsely chopped raw cashews, and 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds.

In a small sauce pan on medium low heat combine 1/2 cup vegetable (canola) oil, 3/4 cup maple syrup, 3/4 cup honey and 2 Tbs vanilla until they blend together nicely (the honey melts into the syrup) and it just begins to smell.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix them together thoroughly.

Spread the mixture evenly on two cookie sheets with edges (if the sheets don’t have edges the granola will slide off when you turn it and you must turn it).

To begin, bake for about 10 minutes and then you turn the granola with a metal spatula (metal works best to get the good sticky sweet stuff up each time from the bottom of the cookie sheet). Then bake it for another 7 minutes and turn it again. Continue to bake it for 5 minutes and then turn it …bake it for 5 minutes and turn it. As the granola gets darker, start turning every 3 minutes as it will very quickly get too dark so you have to pay attention and take it out when it’s as brown as you like it. I sometimes switch the two sheets in the oven rack around 30 minutes in… depends on how evenly your oven cooks.

Turning it regularly is the KEY to successful texture. It usually takes about an hour but sometimes it’s less. Even if it seems like it’s taking forever and not cooking, don’t stop watching it and turning it.

After it cools add a handful of dried cranberries or raisins.

Some lessons learned:

If you don’t turn it often the texture will be inconsistent… ie. overdone and crispy on one side of the oat and damp on the other.

If you use butter or olive oil instead of canola it won’t taste the same.  In fact, don’t do it.

Any nuts are good so you can pick and choose what you like. I just mentioned my favorites. Sometimes I don’t even add nuts which is fine too… just less yummy.

If you use agave instead of maple syrup, that’s fine but it will taste different. Personally, I prefer Vermont maple syrup… the good stuff.

Enjoy with milk, plain yogurt, ice cream or just by the handful.

(note: I found this recipe in the Esalen cookbook many moons ago… I think they suggest a cup of rye flakes in place of one cup of oats but I never have rye flakes on hand so rye bother? whacka whacka)

My 14 year old son doesn’t answer his cell…

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My 14 year old son doesn’t answer his cell. He uses it mostly for text messages which I think (at least with me) is the preferred use of cell phones for kids his age. I admit I sometimes call him, like I did just now, knowing he won’t pick up. I do it so I can hear his voice when he first got the phone and recorded his message in 6th grade. He sounds so young and innocent. Then, after I listen to it, I leave him a message that I pretend he’ll actually listen to, usually about how I love him.

I know he hasn’t even thought about changing the message because if he had thought of it, he would’ve changed it by now or maybe not. Maybe he doesn’t care he sounds like a really little boy (as opposed to the boy who is taller than I am now and has a much deeper voice– one his younger sister insists he is faking)?  I’m thinking I might say something before he starts high school on Monday just so he doesn’t get teased about it (i.e. by girls who ask for his number?). It’s funny how I want to protect him in all the ways I’m still able. Then again, maybe it’s not worth it? I bet his new friends won’t even call him on the phone. They’ll text too…or google hangout or whatever they do.

Anyway, I have a few days to think it over.  Maybe I will record the recording on another device to keep it as a reminder of his younger self.  I’ll see if he even listens to the message I just left saying “Hey. Remember me? It’s your mom. I love you baby. Call me back, K?” and if he even returns my call.

Shine Baby Shine

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

– Marianne Williamson

Let’s slay the dragons that hold us back so we all shine baby shine!

A Food Dream

I dreamed I was at a party eating a brownie that was layered first with a chocolate graham cracker crust, then a fudgey brownie, then a layer of pillowy marshmallow and all that drizzled with caramel and topped with nuts. (I must’ve seen one waiting in line at Starbucks, though I hate to even admit ever being in line there.) It was delicious until I realized what it was and that I had swallowed it! Pretty certain I would explode from both ends, as I tend to do when I eat wheat, I panicked. I woke up running to my bathroom, grateful it was a just a food dream.

Looking Forward to 5

That moment when you get home from the dentist, the numbness has worn off and you’re trying to decide if the new crown is right or if it’s maybe a little too high? Knowing you can’t go back now, you’re looking at your inbox and then your calendar for the rest of the week, wondering how you got so old to have such worries and mainly when it will be 5, because today you’re really looking forward to 5.

Letting Myself Be, At Least Until the Fog Rolls in Again

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A friend once commented he couldn’t believe how many people just let themselves go, referring to all the lazy unfit people in the world. His words have clunked around in my head longer than I’m sure either of us imagined they would, when he uttered them to me twenty-some years ago. We were workout partners and had just ridden some crazy long-ass ride in the Marin Headlands. Standing there next to our bikes overlooking the Golden Gate bridge, feeling invigorated and proud of our hard sweaty bodies, he said that. Like most people, I like to be in control, but I also have this Midwest voice in my head that says you’re a bad person if you’re lazy. So, when he said that, I remember thinking to myself,  I’ll never ever be one of those people who just “lets themselves go”.

Well, right now, I’m sitting here wondering how terrible it would be if I let myself let myself go? I mean not completely of course, just a little. Would it be so bad to sit around in the sunshine on my deck and luxuriate over the Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times and maybe skip yoga for like a month or two or six? At what point of “letting myself go” would that idea change from good to bad… would there be a point where it would mean risking it all…would I get too smart-mouthed (I tend to get crabby and mean and depressed when I don’t exercise) and/or too curvy that nobody, including myself, would love me anymore?

It has been exactly six days since I got any real exercise other than walking my dog, which frankly doesn’t count, but I have no desire to move from this spot I’m in at all and I don’t see that changing any time soon. I guess what I’m really wondering is whether I will instinctively know when it’s time to move again? or will I have to wait until my favorite jeans are too tight or someone tells me I’m acting like a complete jerk? Or I’m crying? And maybe most importantly, either way, will I still be lovable?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sick. I’m not depressed. I don’t need someone to lift me up and drag me to do anything. I’m just tired, damn it. It feels like I carried around a heavy rock (okay a few) for years and I finally put them down for good. And now it’s like I’m sitting at a vista point looking out, pondering my desire to simply sit still with myself and read, write, listen to music and soak it all in (for an unknown period of time) which may mean, God forbid, I “let myself go” for a bit.

Funny, as I write this, John Legend is on Pandora singing “All of Me”. The lyrics make me long to be with someone who loves all of me… all my curves and all my edges. You know someone who doesn’t care if I go to yoga every single day to maintain my flat abs. Someone who thinks I’m beautiful even if I’m crying, around through every mood. Maybe someone who says I’m their downfall and their muse, their one desire, their worst distraction, their rhythm and blues. Someone who will love my perfect imperfections. I swore I’d never say this again, but I’d totally put all my heart cards on the table for someone who thinks like that….

Conveniently, as if on cue in some sappy movie, the beautiful vantage point of being a middle age, post-divorce woman becomes crystal clear. Ha! Suddenly sitting here on my deck I can see that this someone is already right here. That someone I desperately want to do all that loving of me with all my perfect imperfections… is me. That’s so awesome. And so, then I say, yes, let yourself go a little Julie. Enjoy the sunshine. I’ll always love you no matter what.

And don’t worry, you’ll know when it’s time to move again… probably when the fog rolls in (it never is this nice for longer than a day or two anyway). Then the only place for refuge from the damp chill that will go straight to your bones, is the hot yoga studio where your friends will welcome you back with open arms like they always do, even if it turns out to be six months or six years from now.

Maybe instead of thinking of it as letting myself go, I can think of it as letting myself be, here in the sunshine without worry or judgment, at least until the fog rolls in again.

48 Hours Into it

Morning. Hey pretty U. Goodday dear. Hi. Beautiful :-). Hello. Hi dear. Hey you look so beautiful. Hi Ms. Hot Damn! Hello there! Hey Gorgeous! How about we chat?

My best (guy) friend said it would happen. He has been telling me to get going with the on-line dating thing for years. Annoyed with my insistence to stay with the familiar, he started begging me to stop obsessing about this one loser guy in particular I’d been seeing, and go find someone more deserving of my time. “You’re acting like you live on a Greek island in the 13th century with three men to choose from Julie. Will you just set up your on-line profile and start entertaining yourself with the emails that will come pouring in?” HAHAHA… pouring in? Yeah right! Screw you I thought. I’d rather be miserable.

But now, several years later, and just 48 hours into it…I’m laughing about his prediction and thinking, I should’ve listened to him when I was so upset with loser. Not that I’m finding anyone all that interesting to replace loser, but at least I feel somewhat less hopeless about the thought of dating. I mean there are so many fish (many of them oddballs, yes) in the internet sea and needless to say, if I can avoid getting depressed over it, I am, and will be, totally entertained by them.  Here’s a sampling of what I’ve received so far…

The first guy, apparently a nerdy cook, asks if I like accents? He tells me the most beautiful ladies are from Michigan. He’s Eastern Eurpoean, 27 and wants to buy me a drink… or if I don’t want to go out, he’ll happily come to my house and rub my feet.

There’s Angelo from Cuba who thinks I’m “stunning!!!” He’s tall, dark and does research in a lab. He’s 30. He says girls in his age group play a lot of games and bs and that older women tend to know what they want and are more open, adding that he’s a “huge little perv in bed (wink wink)”.

There’s the noname with the lovely torso but I’m not sure about his head (his only photo is without one)? He says he’s “in a sexless marriage looking for a like-minded playmate for his insatiable sensual side. Not looking for a long term love affair but not a one-nighter either. More of an on-going FWB sorta thing”. He says he’s doing this on-line thing on the “down low with no plans to fall in love. This is about nurturing his need for regular good sexual and passionate compassion.” I felt sad for him because well a sexless marriage is sad but I only wrote to say I wasn’t interested in such a silly arrangement. I suggested he consider a divorce. He liked my candor but said it would be a “terrible time to break up the family”. Well, hello Torso, is it ever a good time? And how do you think this plan of yours is going to help matters anyway? He has since deleted his profile. I found myself wondering if maybe his wife is dying? Oh god.

And there’s CasssanovaBeastieboyz with unusually broad shoulders and a freakishly skinny waist. His profile is a shot from behind without a shirt making him look like a cartoon. Curious but horrified, I didn’t read his profile. Both Beastie and a guy called Chris or Christen678 say they are “Speechless” after reading my profile… and in fact, they say nothing but that and “hello”.

There’s Todd who wants a little bit of my time to chat, but says nothing else and his profile is empty.

Daniel who goes by Ima_headaches says “a beautiful woman originally from the midwest, has kids and volunteers as an art teacher” makes me one of his favorites. Sadly his profile sucks.

Ross likes my green strappy sandals and wants to spoon under the blanket I knit by hand. (He’s actually the only winner on this list. Not that my bar is super low or anything, but I honestly liked that he noticed and mentioned liking my shoes. I also am partial to anyone who both notices my knitting and wants to spoon. Spoon. That’s so much more appropriate to say to someone you don’t know than some of the other things people say they want to do under my blankets. Take notes boys.)

Jackson, the estate lawyer, knew about how critical it is to massage raw kale in a salad which was impressive. Then he said he needed a knitted scarf and added a (hint hint) which was a turn off. Knitters don’t just knit for men, especially men they don’t know. Hello!? (boys take notes). I told him that and he said he’d trade a ditty about my grandmother’s love life or an updated will. I paused and considered an updated will but decided no. In his profile he says he likes to swear. I like to swear too, but he has a photo of himself eating ice cream with his daughter titled “don’t I look like gangster fuck?”and I don’t know call me a prude, but I didn’t really like that. I didn’t get it really.  Plus he looked at least 25 years older and much different than the first picture in which he looked like a young strapping Greek god with blue eyes. I took an average of those two shots (being generous as I should’ve probably just thrown out the first as a ploy to get women to even look at his profile), and I weighed the title with the little girl in the shot and decided I didn’t need to update my will or hear anything about my grandma’s love life… at least not that badly.

Then there’s the African American guy with a pink octopus hat who says “something feels dirty about summarizing myself, like if I do it too much I’ll go blind”. LOL. I actually loved his entire profile– if he were a standup comic…just not my date. Or maybe I can go back to him at some point? He was hilarious!

There’s the guy called areopresssvitamixx who likes my garbage cans, but then his profile was deleted.

There’s Edward who thinks we have a lot in common, being divorced and having two kids and all. He rambled something about his joint custody fish and said I’d look better without a hat.

There’s the crazy looking 65 year old man originally from Chicago who thinks, because I’m from from Detroit, we’d make a handsome couple.

There’s Longmanny in Calgary who can’t do without his bible and wants to talk.

There’s the guy from Texas and the one from Maryland… and several from New York.

There’s Shawn the doctor who said ” your genuinity makes your profile easy to read”. (Say that ten times real fast. LOL) He likes my knitting and would love to “know me”. Call me picky, but I just couldn’t get over the fact that he used the word genuinity in a sentence and didn’t put it in quotes. And you call yourself a doctor?

There’s Toby with an introduction (one he admitted in an immediate follow up message was idiotic) that said it looks like I mostly “knit, lie in a chaise lounge and kiss my dog”.  He wants to know where to sign up? and if he can be my dog? (At this point I wasn’t responding to losers so I just figured this one is going on my blog…)

There’s the guy from Sonoma in a light blue tux. He likes to sip red wine and play with his three boys. Sorry but more than zero kids and the Brady Bunch theme song starts playing in my head…you know the one… “There’s the story, of a man named Brady, Who was busy with three boys of his own, They were four men, living all together…” I can turn it down for up to two kids, especially if at least one is a girl, but then it’s hard to hear anything else plus, I sort of hate light blue tuxes (boys take notes).

There’s Lawrence who likes to be dominant and Sam who is submissive. Oy.

There’s John who is in a “very healthy happy marriage to his beautiful dream wife” and he’s looking for another. (Hello John, Are we in Utah?)

But seriously, I had no idea there were so many amazingly darling men out there who have traveled (random question: unless your a Brit doesn’t that word have one “l” or did I miss the memo?) the world, love to cook healthy meals (and do the dishes!), who love their mothers, have successful careers, enjoy living life to the fullest, play guitar, like to rub feet, enjoy long intimate emotion-filled conversations with their female partner, do yoga, fly airplanes, hang glide and ski and on top of all that they even list “sex” in the things they are good at. Yawn.

I hope this gets better because right now, boys, 48 hours into it…Detroit chick, she ain’t impressed.

(note: All true except I changed the names at least somewhat… though man there are some serious winner user names out there and I hated altering any of them. I bet some of these guys have no clue how good their user name is. LOL. Also, I feel compelled to say, in case anyone wonders, the referenced “loser”, who will never be named, is absolutely not my ex-husband. My ex-husband is not a loser.)

Toothy Grin

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After the dentist appointment we decided to browse the local Goodwill to kill time.  We needed to wait for the numbness to wear off and the bleeding to stop before my daughter could drink a milk shake from the ice cream place down the block.

It wasn’t until we got home that evening that she realized she was missing her tooth necklace, the one that contained her newly extracted tooth. If it weren’t for the tooth fairy thing, she probably wouldn’t have cared, but instead, naturally, she wanted to find it. Fortunately it didn’t take long for her to recall hanging it up on a hook in the Goodwill dressing room while she tried on clothes. It was too late to go back that evening but I was able to call and they said they’d hold it for me until the next day. I promised her I’d go get it first thing in the morning.

When I got there in the morning I told the clerk I was there to pick up a necklace my daughter had left there the day before. He said he remembered me and proceeded to announce fairly loudly over the store PA system “the lady who left her teeth here yesterday is here to pick them up”.  Did he really just say I was here to pick up my teeth? Suddenly it felt like everyone in the store was trying not to look at me but couldn’t help turning their heads to stare and I couldn’t blame them. A lady showing up at the Goodwill to pick up her teeth she left the day before? I would’ve taken a look at her too!

As I was standing there waiting, I felt like grabbing the speaker to clarify, “Sorry that was a mistake. I’m actually here to pick up a tooth necklace– you know the kind dentists give kids– a white plastic tooth box on a red string? My daughter left it here yesterday after a baby tooth was extracted. We were here killing time and she left it on the hook in the dressing room. I’m not here to pick up my teeth. Knock on wood I still have all my originals in my head…just sayin’. You can go back to shopping now.” But instead I stood there, imagining what I would say while running my tongue over my teeth and silently thanking my parents and my adult self for all the years of investing in good dental care.

When the clerk returned with the necklace and handed it to me I thanked him with a big toothy grin that I flashed around the store for longer than I might normally while I put the necklace around my neck. I brought it home to my daughter along with a good laugh.

Erasing Age Cream

At 40 something, I figure a little product can’t hurt, especially when I’m going out of my house in the evening without my kids somewhere other than Safeway. Unfortunately, I have no experience with any of it. I mean, sure, I’ve purchased stuff over the years, but generally speaking, with the exception of lipstick, it sits in my bathroom cabinet unused.

Today I decided to wander into Origins to see what they had. I like the way their things smell and it seems pretty natural with the tree logo and all.

The young woman there looked at me with what I can only assume was pity when I admitted to her I had no idea what I was looking for. I tried to keep my cool while, bless her pointy little head, she steered me to their “Starting Over Star Collection” section saying “my mom is totally addicted to it” Oh wow! That’s so nice to hear (NOT). Instead of telling her to stuff it, I listened to her whole spiel about how this cream is an ‘alternative to injections’ and this one ‘reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles’ while I also tried not to laugh. I mean she took it all *so* seriously.

But then, she pointed me to the collection’s ‘Age Erasing Eye Cream’. OMG! There are creams that erase age? I was sold. “I’ll take that. That’s exactly what I was looking for. I just didn’t know what it was called”… and I left spending more money than I did at the farmer’s market that day. And if you’ve ever been to a farmer’s market around here…you know you can easily spend a fortune on a bag of vegetables and eggs.

Now I’m heading out to meet some friends at a bar …with my age erased with my new eye cream. Here’s to starting over!