Give me all the sports

The world is… Hold on, I'm weighing my words here… A bit off-kilter these days and it's a lot to process. If you know me at all, you will know who this hippie did not vote for, but that's actually not what is on my mind. 

I feel that in these rough, unsure and scary times, we all need an escape. Something that takes our minds off of fear or worry or anger. For me, it's sports. Yes, I'm still at yoga every Tuesday night, but it turns out that wasn't enough. 

So, I turned to sports. To know me is to know my love of football - and I don't mean I like it, I L-O-V-E it. My love for the New Orleans Saints is very real. Troy and I went to New Orleans on our honeymoon in 2004. I fell in love with every aspect of that city, and then Hurricane Katrina came and I was devastated. I can vividly remember sitting down to watch that first home game back in the Superdome in 2006. It was a Monday night game, and they played their bitter rival (a.k.a. hated with the fire of a thousand suns): the Atlanta Falcons. In an historical play, Saints’ safety Steve Gleason blocked that kick, the Saints scored their first home game touchdown, and I sat there and I cried. I knew then that I had found ‘My Team’. 

Every Sunday, I watch the game in my Saints gear and scare my children by screaming at my television and I love it so much, but I don't take losses very well. At all. Ever. I'm what you would call "emotionally invested".

As I'm writing this, the Saints fell victim to not one, but two losses this week, which did not bring me joy. But being mad at football is a whole lot better than being mad at the world, so I have learned to appreciate the loss anyway. 

It's not just Sunday Night NFL games, though. My high school football team is undefeated. So I’m constantly checking their stats. The school my daughter attends only has one loss this season. So naturally I have to read about how they did and where they’re going. Troy and I will watch Penn State games together, and my New Orleans love has carried over to college football as well (I’m talking to YOU, LSU). 

But wait, the Flyers are on? I'll watch it! The hockey highlight channel where they flip around and show the best hockey plays of the night? Yep, I'll watch that, too. Is there a basketball game on? Who's playing? I don't care, I'll watch it anyway. And look, the Cubbies just won the World Series after 108 years! Fly the W!!

There's never much on TV these days anyway, and the news is just so… Depressing. Sports are my way to give myself a break. By cheering for something, or even against someone else, (I'm talking to you, Atlanta) I'm giving my head a rest. 

The ways of the world have me tired these days so be sure to do something that makes you happy. WHO DAT!

Not A Baker

What a jerk of a pie.

I am not a baker. At all. Baking requires patience and the ability to precisely follow directions - both areas where I come up short.

I adore cooking. I will kind of/mostly follow a recipe the first time, but after that, all bets are off. I will make substitutions if I don't have an ingredient(s) or just want to mix things up a little. I will read through a recipe once, then use it as an inspiration to do my own thing. I love the creativity and freedom that cooking has to offer.

But baking is a completely different ballgame. A baker needs to be exact and precise, and if they are not, your cake will fall or whatever and I just can't do it.

But, every year for her birthday, my mother hints around at key lime pie. I have a recipe via Emeril Lagasse that I got years ago. While there are a bunch of steps, I have to keep mumbling to myself whilst making it: "It's for Mom, so if that's what she wants, a key lime pie is what I will make."

I started on Wednesday and made my own sweetened condensed milk. Yes, I can buy it at the store, but my daughter, Maya, is a Type 1 diabetic, so I try my best to tweak recipes so that they're a little easier on her blood sugar numbers. Sweetened condensed milk has a truckload of carbohydrates in it, and this recipe calls for two whole cans, so I made my own with Splenda instead.

Friday morning, I crushed up the graham crackers in the food processor, mixed them up with some sugar and butter, smooshed them up against the sides of a springform pan, and made the crust.

After it cooled, I mixed in my homemade sweetened condensed milk, a bunch of lime juice, and eggs. Baked the pie in my new oven at the 325° as Emeril instructed, let it cool, wrapped it up, and put it in the fridge.

I even made my own whipped cream with sour cream and confectioners sugar and lime zest. I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

Saturday morning, I got the pie out of the refrigerator, went to put extra foil on the top and discovered it was complete liquid inside. It never set and I was devastated. All that hard work, my time, and a birthday gift for Mom no less—ruined.

I now refer to this pie as The A-hole Pie. I have never dealt with such an jerky baked good in my life. What did I ever do to this pie but love and care for it??? Why would it wrong me in such a way?!? I wanted to hurl it out into my driveway.

Mom told me to bring the pie anyway; if necessary, she would drink it through a straw.

We ended up re-baking it, and believe it or not, while the crust was too soft, it actually turned out OK. Extra sour, just like Mom likes it. Charley, my youngest, kept asking for more "sour pie", and Maya, my oldest, got to enjoy a whole piece without it affecting her blood sugar.

This pie really did try to do me in. I'm even less of a baker than before, but I'll probably make it again next year anyway. You know...For Mom.

Summer Skin

S

ummer!! It's finally here, y’all. Sunshine on your shoulders, making your garden grow, weekends at the beach and big-girl drinks on the back porch. As northerners, we wait all winter for this. While I adore winter, part of me always thinks that if I can just make it through that tough, cold, gray month of February, I'll be that much closer to feeling the warm sun on my skin. 

But with summer, there's so much more skin to show-off to the world. Shorts and sundresses and once June hits, I refuse to wear sleeves until October. All that extra skin is lots more upkeep, work, and sometimes, apprehension. 

Recently, a picture popped up on social media. The photo was of a woman, a mother, and her belly full of stretch marks. The caption was directed towards men, and asked them what they thought about this belly full of, what I like to call, tiger stripes. To be honest, I braced myself for the worst. 

Thankfully, the men of my Twitter feed, 90% of them southern Saints-loving gentlemen, didn't disappoint me. The consensus? They didn't care at all. And I mean, AT ALL. 

This got me thinking about how much we as women are our own worst critics. I have a few tiger stripes of my own, but I earned them! Instead of being embarrassed or self conscious, we should be embracing our bodies and appreciating them more. (I now know that men sure do!)

Here's my thought: love yourself. That's it.! You want to work hard and eat your veggies and go to yoga class?  Do that. You'd rather eat whatever you feel like it for booty fuel and work those beautiful curves of yours?  Please, please, do that. Are you one of those lucky ones that can eat whatever and still be a string bean? Then strut your stuff. 

Whatever your shape, throw on the swimsuit and own it, work it, love it. Beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes. Be proud!  You'll be an inspiration not only to young girls, but to the rest of us and most importantly, to yourself.