In the summer of 2014, I took the plunge (figuratively, I have yet to end up in the lake) and joined the Omaha Rowing Association. 2014 and 2015 summer seasons I've rowed with the Adult Rec team, this summer - adult rec and masters.
As a very un-athletic person by nature and coming off a pretty bad 2014 Lincoln Marathon, I was looking for a) a new hobby b) something I thought was going to build up my upper body strength and give my legs/knees a break and c) a new fun group of people.
Well I learned pretty quickly rowing is not for the faint at heart, doesn't have much to do with your arms, and when you really like chatting with all your new rowing buddies - your form starts to go to hell. I did find exactly what I was looking for - amazing people and a whole lot of fun (and sweat).
Most nights we row in 4 or 8 boats with a coxswain.
There's nothing better than having "Crew Rowing" as your hobby.
Also "Boys in the Boat" might be one of the greatest sports books of all time. I would give this book my highest recommendation - heart, soul, character development, incredible descriptive writing, direct history references, drama, and the quest for olympic gold. Everything you could want in a book. Plus it fully explains rowing in a way you could only capture from experience.
These names are hilarious... I'm not sure what you know this deliciousness as, but I grew up with Puppy Chow. It seems like an easy thing to make but I swear, mine is the best. It's all about ingredients and technique. And I'm going to finally share my secrets.
If you want the best, it has to be as follows:
Rice Chex (Chex brand, general mills) - 6 cups
Skippy Natural Super Chunk peanut butter - 1/2 cup
semi-sweet chocolate chips - 1 cup
1 stick of butter (salted)
2 cups of powdered sugar
Listed above are the measurements, however I tend to be quite heavy handed. Begin by SLOWLY over low heat, melting the stick of butter in a small sauce pan. I always seem to buy salted butter, I just prefer it. Once melted, add a heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and the peanut butter. I probably end up with closer to 3/4 a cup or even a cup of peanut putter. And to truly have incredible puppy chow, it does need to be Super Chunk. (and I've tried it with the fancy natural brands, it doesn't work... I'm loyal to Skippy now - forever).
In the meanwhile, pour 6ish cups of Rice Chex into a very large bowl. Also line a cookie sheet with foil (personal preference here, I just find it's easier for cleanup).
Grab a paper grocery bag - if you don't have one, I really have no suggestions. This is literally why I don't use the cloth bags at the store, I need paper grocery bags. Fill the bag with 2-3 cups of powdered sugar. If the grocery bag has handles, carefully remove them, it's just easier.
Once the butter, peanut butter, chocolate chip mixture is completely melted - remove from the heat, add a splash of vanilla (for love). Using a spatula, pour the mixture over the bowl of rice chex and fold/stir gently until completely coated. You will need to work sort of quickly but also let this mixture sit for just a minute or two once it's completely coated, I think this lets the chocolate soak in... makes the clumpy ones - and you know those are the really good bites.
Scoop the chocolate coated chex into the bag full of powdered sugar. Fold the top of the grocery bag down a couple times to ensure it's closed. (This part is more important than you think. I've had some pretty serious disasters at this point in the process - twice maybe, I still notice powdered sugar in random places in my kitchen from the last accident.) Shake the bag vigorously coating all the chocolate/pb chex in sugar.
Open the bag carefully, check to ensure coverage. If the chex looks "wet" or dark, just add more powdered sugar and keep shaking - too much powdered sugar is never a problem. Once it looks great, carefully cut the top of the grocery bag straight across to access the puppy chow easier. Then pour in an even layer onto the foil covered cookie sheet. Allow the puppy chow to dry/cool as long as you can.
I found Crazy Gringa Hot Sauce at the Old Market Farmer's Market last season for the first time (they are still a vendor for 2016)... I'm completely in love. My first purchase was the Jalapeño and small batch Scotch Bonnet - they threw in a couple printed recipes to try and I couldn't wait to test the cole slaw. I'm a die-hard lover of all things "slaw." Went straight to the store to collect all the necessary ingredients for the recipe as listed.
Here is their original Scotch Bonnet Recipe un-altered:
16oz Package cole slaw mix
6 green onions - sliced
1 small red pepper - diced
3/4 cup diced pineapple
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce
1/2 cup mayo
salt and pepper to taste
*Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
I follow the recipe for the most part.
1 package Cole Slaw Mix
6 sliced green onions - white and green parts
1-2 red small red peppers or green or yellow
1 can pineapple tid bits (juice reserved)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro*
Toss all this together in a large bowl
for the sauce:
1/2 cup mayo
3 tablespoons Scotch Bonnet Hot Sauce*
3-4 tablespoons pineapple juice
salt and pepper to taste
Pour over the salad and toss together. Best if it can sit for a bit but also great immediately.
Finish with sunflower seeds for crunch! Don't forget this part.
*I've made this completely without cilantro because I forgot it and I've also made it with the cilantro fresh paste (added it to the mayo sauce part) honestly still works both ways.
*Depending on who's eating this, for me - I take it up a couple notches and add more hot sauce. I've also made this with the Jalapeño sauce, slightly more mild. Tastes amazing either way!
This slaw is just a beautiful balance of flavors...spicy sauce, sweet pineapple, crunchy cabbage, and a hint of salty from the seeds. You will not be disappointed. Perfect as a side. I could literally eat an entire bowl of this...well I have before.
*This hot sauce is available at Hyvee. I saw it recently, but the Scotch Bonnet was limited small batch so I'm not sure if it's still out anywhere. I swear the Jalapeño works perfectly!
If I could un-do the first three months of 2016 and probably the last couple of 2015 - or even erase them completely, I absolutely would. However, if I've learned anything about change recently it's that whatever was done can usually be un-done.
Back in September/October of 2015 - I made a number of decisions that I thought would greatly enhance my "quality" of life. These decisions were fairly well-thought-out in my mind, although may have appeared impulsive to those around me. I'm not the best at explaining myself - especially on things I've been thinking about internally for quite sometime. Things that seem rational, intentional, and purposeful internally - externally present at the drop of a hat because I haven't told anyone what I'm doing. The biggest one - my decision to move. This along with a number of other smaller changes I made all at once over the course of a month or two.
I moved on November 30th, 2015. By the second day, I was painfully aware of my mistake. I thought it was just moving day nerves/anxiety. I unpacked as quickly as possible, thinking once all my stuff was in place, I would start to feel better. If anything, it just made my anxiety worse.
I hated everything about that apartment and I couldn't explain it. I couldn't sleep in there, I couldn't work in there, I didn't like the noises, the darkness, the space. I would sit in my car in the evening after I got home at night, sometimes for an hour or more just because I didn't want to go inside.
I decided I couldn't risk staying in an environment where I felt so unhappy, where I had to struggle every day to stay in the light. It wasn't good for me and I needed to feel in control of the situation especially if I had the opportunity to change it.
But how do you explain that? How do you explain that mistake to your family and friends?
Well, I didn't. I just told everyone I was moving back. Then I was really unhappy that no one was being very supportive and that everyone was questioning me.
Lessons in managing expectations: I've been listening to the Jess Lively podcast since about August of 2015 - she's amazing and you need to check it out! I don't listen to them in any particular order but recently I listened to #108 (conscious uncoupling) where they discussed managing expectations when you're delivering news (good or bad). It made me reflect on my most recent experience with this - my moving news (other many professional applications as well). The theory isn't necessarily about explaining yourself (which is hard for me), it's about setting the stage for what you need after you give the news.
For example - instead of me just blurting out, "hey I'm moving back." and waiting for all the Why?s and other questions which eventually just upset me more. I could have started out by saying "I'm in a stressful situation and I really need your support on this first and foremost. I'm planning to move back - can you support my decision?" By directly asking for support, it can help limit the negative why questions and will hopefully start the conversation out with "yes, I support your decision - what's our next step..."
If only I had noticed that podcast sooner!! By not managing expectations (mine and others) when I shared my somewhat sudden news, I turned a negative situation into an even more stressful one (mostly for me). It did eventually all smooth over, but could have gone better.
I moved back April 1, 2016. And I'm a little nervous to type this into black and white... but things have NEVER been better. It's shockingly weird. I understand many things align to create good v bad days / good moods / that high on life feeling... but things are back to where they should be.
Some people would power through, make the best of the situation, whatever you want to call it... it's settling. You have to trust your soul, your gut, your intuition to know when things just aren't right and believe when you need to fix it. Life is way too short to be unhappy.
Also, I hated wordpress. I'm back on blogger as of Sunday. Someone got in my head about giving up on this blog so I'm here, I'm writing again.
So much change is happening in my life, I can barely begin to describe it.
The blog first. I could bore you with how I've been neglecting LBD for the last two years… yes it's been TWO full years since I've been posting regularly. And don't think I haven't been thinking about it every day. I have, and I'm fully aware (no need to guilt trip me). Well no more! LBD is heading towards bigger and better things -- and by that I mean the big old move to WORDPRESS.
This is scary for me - I've been researching it for the last couple months and I'm ready to make the plunge. I think I've figured it out - at least past the part of losing everything (maybe). So please bare (bear?) with me as I transition… The new lilybitdifferent.com will launch in January of 2016 in full force. You won't have to do anything different, the site will just look all new and fancy. Or maybe it won't -- maybe it will disappear! Hopefully everything will transition smoothly. It may come and go in the next couple months as I work through the bugs. But I am VERY very Very excited about this.
Here's a little preview:
New branding strategy, new mission, new concentration… just cleaning things up a bit. Still everything gluten free, still me… It's just been two years -- new year new you right??
New me… So I'm moving. I'm soooooo over Omaha. Omaha's been great for the last five years. Wow, FIVE years. I blew threw a lot of jobs in that first three years, learned what I loved in a job, met so many great people, built deep true "grown-up" friendships, not to sound cliche but I "found myself" in a way - grew up as much as I could through board service, volunteering, mentoring, new hobbies, arts, cultures, big city life, and on and on.
Now I have the job I felt I was always destined to find - the one that uses every last ounce of my talents, that challenges me every day to be better than I was yesterday - true Job Love. And to truly do my job to the best of my abilities, I'm better off in Lincoln. I'm packing up my millions of books and cookbooks (it's really all I have packed right now) and heading back - closer to home.
In a large bowl, cream together with an electric mixer:
12 tablespoons (room temp) butter
2 1/4 cups of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of vegetable oil
Then to the large bowl…
3 (room temp) eggs (add in one at a time)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon (or more) of red food coloring
*be very careful adding the food coloring, it will splashing and stain!!
Slowly add the flour mixture to the large bowl a little at a time along with 1 1/2 cups (room temp) buttermilk. A little flour mixture, a little buttermilk, mix… until you have it all incorporated. This batter is VERY thick and sticky. You may have to give up on the mixer if you're using a hand mixer and just combine the rest with a spoon.
Using a scoop or spoon, put the batter into lined cupcake pans. I ended up with almost 36 cupcakes from this recipe. I think it was actually 35.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Use the knife test for doneness. If it comes out clean, you're good to go.
Remove immediately from the pans and cool on a rack.
Once COMPLETELY COOL… you can add any type of frosting you like. I usually use 7 minute frosting as I did in my previous cake post, but sometimes it's a bit temperamental and it makes a huge mess (maybe that's just me!). I decided to try something new yesterday :)
Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting:
2 cups heavy whipping cream (cold)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whip the cream until it's just about to medium peaks… the mixer will leave significant tracks in the cream but not quite at the stiff peak stage.
add in one 8 ounce container of (room temp) Mascarpone cheese
Mix until throughly incorporated but do not over mix (you'll end up with mascarpone butter!).
Frost the cupcakes!
I used a piping bag but you can certainly just use a spatula as well.
This frosting is amazing! I thought it would fall the way whipped cream does after about 30 minutes, but there's something magical in the mascarpone that keeps it very stable and beautiful! It's the lightest, fluffiest frosting I've ever eaten. It's also not overly sweet - it's perfect for red velvet cake!
*because of the frosting, I would keep these in the fridge!
**Also the frosting only covered about 24 of the cupcakes, so I put the other 12 (unfrosted) cupcakes into a ziplock bag and into the freezer. I've always been impressed how well this recipe freezes!
I hope you enjoy these! I made these yesterday and then shared them with friends and coworkers, in a conscious effort not to eat them all myself!
You definitely want to make these for valentine's day!! :)