Recipes makes approximately 6 one-half cup servings.
Growing up, potato salad was one of my favorite comfort foods. I loved standing by my grandmother, watching as she processed ingredients in that old mason jar-type chopper. I still love potato salad, but unfortunately, it doesn't agree with my health. This light alternative still has that wonderful potato salad taste, but minus the high calories, carbs, and fat count.
Recipes makes approximately 6 one-half cup servings.
Such an honor to be interviewed by multi-talented illustrator/author and friend, JD Holiday.
I’ll admit it. Jealousy is my companion when friends embark on vacations. With smiles that rival beauty pageant contestants’, my girlfriends and their families pile into perfectly packed vehicles, leaving pasty faced and returning Coppertone spokespeople. I endure days (okay, an hour…max) of DVDs showcasing their Brady Bunch type adventures where the only mishap was leaving the cap off the toothpaste.
The vacations gods don’t smile on my family, and at times my children do their part to ensure the latter. There has been hide-n-seek with the pet mouse among the suitcases, spit wad art decorating the car windows, and several choruses of “I’m bored,” all before we leave the driveway.
In the past we’ve lost our older son in the elevator of a hotel, and pulled him off a plane bound for Cancun (our destination was Missouri). I’ve learned through the years of family trips that the smell of boys’ feet and day-old spilled ice cream embedded in upholstery are indistinguishable, and the funk of both have the power to render the other car passengers speechless.
Admittedly, I’ve done my part in adding to the mayhem. Blessed with all the skills of a drunken navigator, I’ve read maps upside-down, and miss-programmed the GPS resulting in a detour through a farmer’s cornfield, courtesy of a narrow gravel farm road. I’ve humored hotel employees with suction-cup animal impersonations by running face-first into clear glass hotel doors. And once I provided “the biggest thrill in a while” (according to the manager) when I flashed an entire rural restaurant because my dress was unintentionally tucked into the back of my dress.
After the dress episode, my dear hubby John decided that we should perhaps take a break from our adventures. “A year off will allow us to regenerate our financial resources,” he claimed.
“Regenerate resources” my tater tots. This, coming from a guy who breaks into a sweat at the mention of us all taking just a trip to the grocery store. The truth is, he’s scared of his face appearing on the side of a milk carton or on the news—a victim of our misadventures.
I made it my mission to prove we could have an uneventful, normal vacation. For the next year I clipped coupons and cut back on unnecessary expenses, except for coffee. Mr. Coffee and I have been in a steady relationship since college, without him I couldn’t remember my name and I was unwilling to end the affair for anyone—even my family.
Finally, with money in hand, I pleaded my case to John. “You’ve been working too hard, we never see you. Plus,” I reasoned. “Ever thing that could possibly happened has.”
He sighed and stared at the ceiling. “Well, we haven’t been hit by a meteor or run over by a herd of bison. But go ahead and plan a trip. I’m a glutton for punishment.”
The night before the trip I packed the car with organizational skills Martha Stewart would be envious of. I played a marathon of Leave it to Beaver episodes for my boys, and ensured their good behavior by bribing them with promises of trips to Chuck E. Cheese.
Everything went as planned the next day. The boys, with visions of pepperonis dancing in their heads, read and quietly looked out the car windows. Convinced our streak of bad vacations were over, I convinced John to stop at a gift shop in a small town, an hour into the trip. Oblivious to my family’s whereabouts, I browsed aisles of books that stimulated the imagination, and regal-looking figurines that begged the heart to buy them.
Finally, I emerged from the store and watched as my family began to drive away in our Durango. Annoyance replaced shock. John and I always teased each other, and no doubt this was his way of letting me know I’d taken too long.
Aww well…can’t give him the satisfaction of seeing me irritated. Might as well play along and give everyone a good laugh. Screaming like a woman possessed, I raced after the SUV, arms waving over my head. I wondered, as my sandals slipped over the pavement, why my husband was accelerating. Didn’t he know when to stop a joke?
As I ran, I heard a voice call out, “Ah…Mom, we’re back here!”
At that same moment, the Durango stopped, and an elderly man stuck his balding head out the driver’s window, confusion plastered across his wizened face. I was chasing the wrong car.. In my haste to one up my husband, I had been chasing the wrong car.
Our record for misadventures grew. Clark W. Griswold has nothing on us.
Check out my article at Mother's Always Write_!
Check out my essay at Mothers Always Write!
Laughter could indeed be the best medicine. Researchers are finding that humor has health benefits such as boosting the immune system, and attributes it to providing the same results as physical exercise.
Humor was a constant companion throughout my childhood, thanks to my father. Always a smile on his face, Daddy made it a point to try and find the laughter in any situation. "There's few things that a little levity can't help solve, Sweet-Sweet," he'd say. "And, it takes more energy to feel sorry for yourself." True, he had critics faulting him for this philosophy, but those closest to him knew that he was a deep thinker, somewhat of a worrier, and finding laughter in daily life ensured his happiness and mental wellness.
Finding the humor, especially when raising two adventure-seeking boys (so like me) has been beneficial to me as well. It's sometimes either laugh or find a margarita glass big enough to swim in. My parenting humor book, The Toilet's Overflowing and the Dog's Wearing My Underwear will soon be released by DWB Publishing. Stay tuned!
And they haven’t.
Thirty years ago today my father was taken from me. Yes, he died, but to say he "was taken" more accurately describes the deep pain I feel in my heart.
The morning of the accident he told me "good-bye", but I was too sleepy to utter three simple words: I love you. As a parent now, I know my sometimes rebellious teens love me, but to hear them utter those words is a gift and a blessing, and I wish I could've given that final gift to my father.
If I could have had a glimpse into the future prior to that morning, I would've pleaded with Daddy not to go, basing my case on the fact that I needed his praise, his guidance. I'd need him there to snap pictures, evaluate the guy taking me to my first dance. Years into the future I'd need him there to walk me down the aisle to my groom, and to be the first to hold his wailing grandson, shortly after my boy's birth. Those things were never meant to be. But in the short fifteen years he graced my life, he taught me a lifetime of lessons.
1. Almost anything can be accomplished, just as long as you try.
As a youth growing up just after the Great Depression, my father didn't have a storybook childhood. My grandfather was financially comfortable, but he feared another Wall Street crash and didn't bother investing in hired help. Instead, Grandfather worked his children from before the rooster crowed until long after dark.
Education wasn't as important as money to my grandfather. He demanded Daddy assist with the crops, and forced him to skip high school classes. The result was devastating. My father missed too many classes, and was forced to drop out of high school.
Relief from oppression came in the form of the military. While in the Army, Daddy obtained his GED, and quickly rose though the ranks to Sergeant Major before he retired. But his tenacity didn't stop there, and for a good reason--he now had a wife to support.
Mother told me in later years that it was Daddy's goal to become an engineer for the state highway department, and he did everything he could to achieve his dream. Advanced math wasn't taught in rural high schools, because it wasn't thought to be needed. Staying up until early morning hours, my father taught himself trigonometry, geometry, and algebra. Eventually he achieved his goal of designing roads for the state of Texas.
"The only real failure is never trying at all," is something Daddy always stressed. "You can do anything, just as long as you try." His words, his history, and watching him trying until her succeeded at his goals has always been my inspiration for overcoming obstacles.
2. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
My father never met a stranger, and as a result was a well-respected figure in our community. Daddy believed that a person's race, religion, or gender was not a deciding factor in how they should be treated. And he believed in looking deeper than physical beauty, and instead at the person's heart. "We all bleed the same, have the same emotions, the same desires," he always told me. "You treat every person with the same amount of respect you'd like for yourself, if not more."
3. Enjoy the little things in life.
It's no secret that Daddy was a workaholic. Not only did he toil as an engineer for the highway department, his spare time was spent working on our ranch. Some family reunions were missed as a result of the latter, but he always made it a point to attend every high school drama performance I was in, every athletic event I played in, and every band concert. Daddy had a very loud voice, and I didn't have to look in the crowd to know he was sitting on the front row, leading the cheers and applause.
And there was the Sunday walks I took with him through woods. He delighted in every bird song, and every animal print stamped into the ground we encountered. On one of our treks, I asked my father why he insisted on being at my school events, and why he exclaimed on the things we found in nature.
Taking my chin into his work-roughened hand and looking into my eyes, Daddy smiled and said. "Because life is too short, and it's important to realize and appreciate what matters."
My father has been gone physically for thirty years, but his lessons remain in my heart, and it's that legacy I gladly pass on to my children.
Having gluten sensitivity can be a drain emotionally, physically, and on the wallet. A lot of restaurants still don't have a gluten-free menu, and if they do, the choices are somewhat limited, and each entree comes with a heftier price tag.
But what hits me hard is not being able to enjoy sweets, especially around the holidays. In the past, I didn't expect relatives and friends to tackle tedious gluten-free dessert recipes, nor did I expect them to mortgage their homes just to satisfy my sweet tooth with a store-bought confection. So I told them I no longer wanted dessert. That was a lie. I'd trade one of my children for a slice of Aunt L's pecan pie. Let's face it, the sharing of desserts is an communal affair. Secrets are told, advice give, memories made. all over pie and coffee. So without a sweet, I felt like somewhat of an outsider, until I researched and found flour-free alternatives. I've mentioned one version of a cookie in a previous post. Below are two different variations.
I thought I was, for once, prepared. Armed with enough women's magazines to supply a library for a year, I poured though every article about fitness I could find. I lunged when I reached for veggies out of the fridge, and squatted to the point my family thought I had toileting issues. Yes, I'd have that beach body every 40+ year-old woman craved. Too bad I started toning a week before our vacation to the coast.
There are times in everyone's existence when Life slaps them in the back of the head and yells, "What were you thinking?" l got my wake-up call when I stood before a full-length mirror, clad in a peach-colored one piece swimsuit at my friend Calli's house. "You look pretty good," she assured.
It was obvious either she'd put friendship above honesty, or she'd gone temporarily blind. Calli wasn't seeing the same reflection I was. Cellulite decorated my upper thighs like lumps of rancid cottage cheese, and my butt hung like a couple of flat bean-bags.
I struggled to pull the Lycra over my thighs, wincing as it snapped my skin. The peach-colored suit made me look and feel like the grandmother of an Oscar Meyer weiner. "You've got to be kidding."
Calli cleared her throat and walked around, studying me at every angle. "Well...you could wear shorts, and perhaps a short-sleeved shirt..."
"And maybe ankle-length pants, and a bag over my head with the words 'PG-14 rating; alarming image' written across the front?" I grumbled.
My friend and I agreed that with time (and help from Calli's fashion sense) cute beach outfits could be arranged. Calli sighed and shook her head. "But those legs," she began.
I frowned and crossed my arms. "What about them?"
She pointed at my tanned arms. "Your upper body looks like it belongs to another person. I almost need sunglasses to look at those white legs."
With her help, I applied self-tanner to my legs. Three hours later I looked like an Oompa-Loompa.
"There's always tanning beds," Calli suggested. I dismissed that idea, partly because of the ultrav-voilet rays, but largely because of the fear of being forgotten. I'd once seen a forgotten chicken breast on a George Foreman. and the look wasn't pretty, especially not for me.
During the rest of the week, I researched ways on the internet to darken the skin on my legs. Finally the morning before the trip, I saw the solution: coffee grounds mixed with olive oil. And my husband and I had just finished our morning java. My heart sang as I almost danced my way to the bathroom. Humming, I smeared on the mixture, imagining the tropical tan I'd have, making me the envy of the beach.
I was just smearing on the last bit when the door flung open. There stood my twelve year-old son, mouth agape as he took in the sight of his mother, clad in her nightshirt and covered in coffee grounds. Silence blanketed the room as we regarded each other. I broke the spell by clearing my throat. "Umm...Mama got really excited over coffee this morning."
Joseph blinked then shook his head. "Wash your legs please. You smell like a Starbucks."
At that point, I was considering handing out free sunglasses at the beach, courtesy of my blinding-white legs.
A little info about me...
Award-winning author (and sometimes illustrator) Debbie Roppolo grew up in the Blackland Prairie region of Texas, where miles of grassland and her horse stimulated very imaginative adventures and served as writing fodder for later years. She had to do something with those memories; having tea parties with chickens was too good to keep to herself.