Monday, March 28, 2011

Cupcake Break!

The lazy days of Spring Break have been a much welcome respite from the rat race of the school year. I've been sleeping in until 11, rolling over to find Mica still in her clothes from the night before passed out with her thumb hanging out of her mouth, and JT flung across my feet with his hawk half smashed down on one side, the puppies going nuts in their crate and my dogs curled up in little balls, not even glancing at any of us. At this point, Paul has been gone for 5 or 6 hours already. We've visited family, stayed up late watching movies, and drank way too much wine. Well I did, not the kids. When the days got long and the kids got bored I pulled out my Nook and we opened up Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. We have been gorging on cupcakes for weeks, and my pot belly is loving it...

First up on Mica's last Thursday of school I volunteered to bring the cupcakes for the "Green
Day Party." The teacher was hesitant because she doesn't allow any sugar, the party menu consisted of various green veggies with
ranch dyed green to dip, green sugar-free jello and some plain
chips. I knew something had to be done to save Green Day! I busted out my Nook and made... wait for it... 4 dozen Vegan & Sugar-Free Green Agave Cupcakes with Mint Chocolate Icing! Oh yes, I went there. I hauled them all in and they were a hit, with everyone but Mica who said they were gross. Then at dinner when
we played "high/low" her low was that "Mommy brought me a cupcake and I thought it was going to be SO good and it wasn't Daddy, it wasn't, and I was like
what is this what is this!!!'" Then she shook her head ruefully. Whatever Mica Stinka, everyone else devoured them and a
teacher with a diabetic husband took some home for him. My only mistake was using Mint instead of PEPPERMINT extract. Duh.
These are the only cupcakes we didn't finish, they dried out super fast, but they were unique!

Next were my attempt at self-control... the Sexy Low Fat Vanilla Cupcakes with blackberry
jam, a quick swirl of Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, and drizzle of simple icing and a few dark
chocolate chips for garnish. Mica added (non-vegan) pink heart marshmallows to hers but everything else was animal free, low fat, and delicious!
Most recently Mica and I got back to basics, enough of this low fat sugar free crap, am I right!? We picked up a package of vegan oreo knock offs and made Cookies N Cream cupcakes. They are amazing, modesty is futile, we added crushed cookies to the basic chocolate cupcake batter, and then more crushed cookies to the
basic vanilla
buttercream frosting, along with a tiny bit of almond extract. We piped the frosting
on to the cupcakes in huge, chunky creamy swirls and topped each cupcake
with half a cookie.

Spring Break is only half over, this year JT got 2 weeks and Mica got 1, but I made the executive decision to keep her home for the 2nd week as well. Her teacher agreed, she isn't missing anything but playtime at that school. No matter what happens to me in the coming years I'll always cherish the simple things I do now with my kids, and look back on these lazy cupcake days as some of the best, most fattening and delicious days of my life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hair today, gone tomorrow?

A month ago I sat with Dr. Kim at my Gamma Knife consultation with a list of questions. I don't remember any of them now, but I survived so I am pretty sure none of them mattered. I do remember very clearly Dr. Kim saying something, and looking over to Paul as he made a face at Dr. Kim. He shook his head as if to ask why he would say such a thing, and with an odd grin that only people who have sat through oncology appointments could really understand he relayed that I could possibly lose a large patch of hair. I remember my Mom losing chunks of her gorgeous hair after Gamma Knife. The parade of hair products that came along shortly after. Within a year she had given in and cut it all off. In time the bald spots grew fine baby hair, but her full head of hair never recovered. I thought it had something to do with some archaic version of Gamma Knife, but apparently the issue is related to how close to the skull a tumor is, as well as how large the area to be radiated may be. Dr. Kim was telling me that I could possibly lose my hair over the areas to be treated, which happened to be directly on top of my head spanning most of my crown and a large area of the front top. Really? Paul suggested a reverse mohawk, and I slapped his arm, Dr. Kim chuckled and shook our hands as he took his leave.

The following day I had Gamma Knife, and other then the pain it was mostly unremarkable to me. I remember feeling trapped inside my head, but I tend to feel like that a lot since I lost my hearing. The next few days my scalp burned, I had always dealt with the deep pain from the head pins, but this was the first time my scalp reacted. I stood in front of my bathroom mirror staring at my hairline, combing delicately near the treated areas and searching for signs of change. I always lose a lot of hair in the shower, so before washing my hair I reminded myself of that and purposefully ignored the thick strands laced around my fingers as I ran my hands through my hair's length. I towel dried gently and laid off the teasing. Everyday I tried to not look as closely, tried to ignore the continuous burning along my scalp. Finally, this past weekend I parted my bangs to french braid them to the side and as I pinned the braid into place a large white spot of skull stared at me from the area I had parted. I thought I had braided too tightly and quickly undid the braid, loosely redoing it and scruffing up the surrounding hair near the patch. When my hair was completely done I noticed a nickel size spot of hair missing on the other side as well. I ignored it, put on my lipstick, and enjoyed my evening.
Last night I finally let my hair completely down after a lazy day of purposeful avoidance. Most of my hair is the same as it has been since I had babies, very straight and flat with no volume. But now the front is just sparse, when I part my bangs any which way the line between the chunks of hair is just thick and glaring. The remaining hair doesn't seem rooted, each strand stands alone and weakly clings to my damaged scalp. There are 3 tiny, almost dime-size, patches missing. One above each temple, and one in the very front smack in the middle of my forehead. They are not noticeable unless I pull my hair to either side, yet. I don't know what tomorrow will bring but I have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
The way I see it I have 2 options. The first is to be incredibly dramatic and go all Rosemary's Baby
on my hair. Part of me is excited by the aspect of such a radical change, a larger part of me hated having short hair and remembers how easy it is to chop it off and how difficult it is to grow it back. Option two is to baby my hair, apply hair regrowth serum, and wear it up a lot until it
starts to fill back in. If any more does fall out then option 1 would really become more of a necessity because regardless of what Paul thinks I am not ready to rock a reverse mohawk.

By the way, I think it is absolutely infuriating that the hair has to fall out right on top because
if my sides were falling out I would already be rocking my new hawk...

Monday, March 21, 2011


I'm surrounded by people and uncomfortable in a pair of heels I can't really balance in anymore. I try not to lean on Paul too much and comment to someone near us about something random, drawing them into a conversation. They say something, I tell them I am deaf and try to read their lips, but generally they look to Paul and he then explains to me what they said. My smile tends to be unharnessed and my mouth moves a slight beat quicker then my thoughts, so I enthusiastically reply and notice the person has a slightly confused look on their face. I remember to draw my volume from my stomach and not my throat and try to speak clearly, but they smile at me wanly and glance at Paul, waiting for his explanation. He tells them what I am trying to say and then we all stand awkwardly for a moment before they smile and escape.

We stand looking at yet another painting, and the man next to Paul comments to him. The two strike up a conversation and I try not to look as though I want to know what they are saying. I busy myself looking intently at a speck of dust and when I furtively glance at Paul he immediately tries to explain what they were discussing. I don't really understand what he is saying and as Paul tries to fingerspell it and put a 5 minute conversation into a 5 second nutshell his newfound friend excuses himself and escapes.

At some point Paul has to excuse himself to the men's room and I busy myself with my phone, I have no job and my few good friends know where I am so I fiddle around on facebook when I realize someone is standing near me and apparently talking. I look up with a smile and apologize for ignoring them, and explain I am deaf and didn't realize they were talking. They smile awkwardly and apologize for bothering me. I tell them they weren't bothering me at all and please to go ahead with what they were trying to say. They wave their hand dismissively, smile pityingly, and escape.

Paul comes back with a warm smile and his strong arms quickly wrap around my waist as his lips brush my neck and for just a moment I relax. Right then a girl in a fabulous dress appears right next to us, and I insist Paul asks where she found it. He tells her his wife is deaf but would like to know where she found her dress. The girl pauses for a moment to understand and then with a preschool teacher smile turns to me and tells me where she bought it, and then how beautiful I am. She then flashes Paul a sympathetic smile and escapes.

We walk around amusing ourselves, noting the conversations flowing around us, and both admit to being a bit tired at the same time. We escape...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Goes On...

How many years ago did my Mom die? 6... 7? I remember the day in spurts of clarity and rhythms of pain, but I cannot place it in context with any other events or dates. It was St. Patrick's Day, and Tish was making her corned beef and cabbage, which I was really looking forward to. My Mom had gone in for a simple procedure but had insisted I not make the hour drive with JT since I had been there a week before and was planning dinner at my Dad and Tish's. That's right, I was already living with Paul and JT was about 2. Mica was not even a pipe dream yet. I was young, in and out of community college, and just learning about providing a stable home for my baby. We were at the table eating, I was devouring a huge plate of meat and potatoes, my Dad took a phone call and mentioned that my Mom's procedure had not gone well. I was only slightly concerned, NF2 sucks and she had something new wrong every day for the last 5 years it seemed. I had spent years rushing off to hospitals only to sit and wait for hours, and assumed I could at least just finish my food. So I did, I sat and I ate that corned beef and cabbage. I chatted with Tish and took care of JT. Paul and my Dad probably talked about beer or work, I don't remember at all. After that everything is fuzzy. I know my mom slipped out of consciousness and into a coma, which she fought until they tied her down. I know the last person she saw was the owner of her nursing home. I know that her hands were really cold and I know that I got there too late. I don't know when my grandparents arrived, but they did. I have no idea who had JT. I think maybe a day even passed, but the only thing I really remember is the panic that rose in my chest when she actually died. Somehow I think I thought she would pull through like she had for so long. Instead I sat in a hospital hallway crying and everyone else disappeared. I can see all of it like a movie playing in my head, and then I am missing huge gaps of time.

Every year I avoid St. Patrick's Day in alliance with my guilt for letting my mom be alone in her last moments. Every year I count the years, I write, I spend some time on my couch just resting. I don't cry, I ran out of tears a long time ago. I never eat the traditional foods or wear green, I do the bare minimum of my Mommy duties as related to the holiday. I make sure the kids have green shirts and buy something pre-made for their potlucks, that is all I have to give, because I can't avoid the guilt every time I start to enjoy it.

This year something shifted, and I noticed it but chose not to acknowledge it until I was sure. When the potluck sign-ups came around I signed up to make green vegan mint chocolate cupcakes. I spent a lot of time on the recipe, shopping, and finally baking. I baked for almost 4 hours and when I was done there was green St. Patrick's Day glitter mixed with smudges of fudge all over and 4 dozen green cupcakes sitting pretty ready for the potluck. I helped dig out green shirts for the kids this morning, and realized I really should have bought new ones. I felt guilty again, but for dropping the Mommy ball, not for something that happened 6 years ago. I took Mica to class and instead of heading home I stayed and volunteered. While the kids had story-time I googled "vegan St. Patrick's Day" and my eyes immediately hit a corned beef and cabbage recipe. I jotted down the ingredients I would need and decided to make an entire meal out of it tonight with roasted red potatoes and Irish soda bread shaped like a shamrock. I don't think it happened at any one moment, but at some point I let go of the guilt and life filled the space it had been occupying.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over my Kitchen!

Like many other bloggers the movie Julie and Julia has inspired me to blog through a cookbook. I saw the movie a while back, and every cookbook I have flipped through since made me think "I should make everything in this book!" Then I find a recipe that looks disgusting, or I just plain forget and never get started. I basically assumed I am a bit too ADHD to really make it through an entire cookbook. Paul bought me a Nook Color for Christmas and I just bought Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World on it! There are a ton of amazing cupcake recipes, and suddenly it hit me that there is no such thing as a disgusting cupcake, and this would be the best book to do! As the book says, I could totally use a little more padding on my butt, and cupcakes seem like the best way to do so! Luckily, I have a little kitchen helper in Mica, so once a week we will take over the world with our cupcakes... or at least this blog...
This week Mica and I started out with the most basic chocolate recipe in the book as well as the chocolate buttercream frosting. Everything is vegan, but I admit we don't buy any special sugar. Apparently regular sugar is sifted through bone char!? What the heck? I mean seriously, I can only do so much.
I used no actual animal products and we are following each recipe to the letter. We took the recommendation of decorating with sprinkles and sliced strawberries, half of which we ate dunked in the frosting before it could possibly make it to a cupcake! We made a huge mess,
got sprinkles all over my kitchen, and slaved for several hours, but in the end it was so worth it! That night Paul begrudgingly took a bite and his face immediately changed when the taste hit his mouth. They were absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself. (and I do.)
*FYI I don't think I can post the recipes, that is like plagiarism, but there is this thing called Google that may help LOL

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Another Almost Vegan Weekly Meal Plan!

As I was chopping sweet potatoes today I realized I had another weekly vegan meal plan to share! Well, it has eggs twice so it is not 100% Vegan, but there is no meat, milk, cheese, butter etc. If you wanted to be pure about it you could use tofu in the breakfast scramble and buy a vegan sausage patty instead of the Morning Star brand which has egg in it. The kids have been busy with dance and taekwondo, so I am in the habit of cooking everything in the early afternoon, then turning it off when I leave and simply reheating when we get home at 7. When I do this I am still able to get the kids in bed by 8! With meat dishes I don't think that would really work, but with vegan dishes a little heat and extra seasonings brings everything back to life!

The more meal plans I post the more you will notice I cook the same things over and over, like most moms, with the occasional wild card! This is what I set out on the table this week:

Monday: Soyrizo, bell pepper & black bean mix; heated corn tortillas; homemade guacamole; chopped romaine; Daiya vegan cheese; Dessert: TJ* Fruit Bars.

Tuesday: TJ Whole Wheat Gnocchi; marinara from Anthony's Ristorante; sauted kale; yam chips. Dessert: TJ non-dairy Mochi

Wednesday: Sloppy Janes (made with tempeh); chopped romaine; pickles; whole wheat thin-which for Momma, TJ whole wheat buns for fam; steamed broccoli.

Thursday: (not quite Vegan) Breakfast for dinner! Whole Wheat Pumpkin & Flax Pancakes; Morning Star Farms veggie sausages; hashbrowns; Reddi-Egg omelettes with Daiya vegan cheese.

Friday: Pizza & Family Movie Night!! Vegan Berkeley Calzone from ZPizza for Mom, Papa Johns for Fam. Popcorn & candy for everyone! (I'll be noshing on my fave vegan candy bar, a Mahalo**)

Other things I am cooking this week:
SO Delicious Coconut Yogurt with chilled quinoa and cinnamon
Falafel & hummus on pitas with cucumber & tomato for snacks/lunches
Vegan Cupcakes and Vegan Banana Bread

*TJ= Trader Joe's!
** I buy all my vegan goodies at Viva La Vegan, a new local vegan store that has saved me from having to go to Henry's every week!

Related Posts with Thumbnails