Procrastination, Last Semester Baking and Night Owls

I love to bake.  Not cakes and things that have to be decorated, but I love to bake bread: rolls, croissants, cinnamon rolls, scones, baguettes (which are a staple in the McBride house), matzah, tortillas, challah bread, etc.  I have tried bagels and donuts.

Tonight, img_2065-2instead of catching on up on my Aroma Chemistry and my final Aromatherapy class, I am making Pull Apart Bread, just because of some damn photo I saw somewhere on Instagram when I got up.  I found Ree Drummond’s description and decided to give it a chance using the cinnamon roll recipe from my old school Better Homes & Gardens book from 1989.  Obviously, a high school graduation gift.  And it fell apart years ago.  I don’t remember it ever really being bound since I started using it.

This semester is my last for my Diploma of Aromatherapy.  After the first couple of weeks, I got behind because of moving, then no Internet at the house, then travel, then just so much chaos of getting settled in.  I am going to have to file an extension because I am not giving up on these two classes.  I have come too far.
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But for now… It’s baking time so that I don’t have to worry about much tomorrow morning besides throwing it in the oven! (Plans changed. It was cooked tonight.)

Here are their directions for Sweet Rolls, with a few edits from me because it didn’t list ingredients at the top of the recipe:

4 to 4 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 package yeast (I used 2 1/4t. out of a jar)

1 cup milk

1/3 cup butter (I will never suggest margarine)

1/2 t of salt

2 eggs

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Combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast.  Heat and stir 1 milk, sugar, butter and salt until warm (120º to 130º F) and butter almost melts.  Add to flour mixture with eggs.  Beat with an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds, scraping bowl.  Beat on high for 3 minutes.  Using a spoon, stir in as much of the 2 to 2 1/3 cups of flour remaining as you can.

Turn out on a lightly floured surface.  Knead in enough of remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3-5 minutes).  Shape into a ball.  Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once.  Cover and let rise until double (about an hour).  NOTE: I don’t knead that much anymore because I let my KitchenAid Artisan Mixer* do all the work.  I mix it until it’s the same consistency and then let sit for an hour.  Although, if you bake breads a lot, I’d go with a KitchenAid Professional Mixer*.

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From here, I go onto Ree’s directions**.  Here’s where I start, though:

1 stick Butter, Melted

1-1/2 cup Sugar

3 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon

Icing

3 cups Powdered Sugar

2 Tablespoons Butter, Melted

1 Tablespoon Maple Extract or Coffee or 1 t vanilla (I used Maple syrup and coffee)

1/3 cup Whole Milk

Dash Of Salt

“Roll out dough onto a floured surface. Drizzle on melted butter and smear so that it covers all the dough. Mix together the sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle it all over the surface of the dough. (Dough should look very covered.)

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Cut the dough into 6 to 8 strips, then stack all the strips into one stack. Cut the stack of strips into 6 slices. Place the stacks sideways into a buttered bread pan. Do not cram the slices into the pan. (You may have a few leftover.) NOTE: I cut this in this recommended way the first time and ended up with smaller stacks.  On the second batch, I only cut into 4 strips initially and then cut the stack of strips into 6 stacks. You can see the difference in the two bread pans.

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Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, checking at 20 minutes to make sure it’s not getting too brown on top. It’s important to bake the bread long enough to ensure that the middle won’t be too doughy, because if it is it won’t pull apart easily. If the top looks like it’s getting too brown, cover it lightly with aluminum foil for the rest of the baking time. REPEAT: IT’S IMPORTANT TO BAKE THE BREAD LONG ENOUGH FOR THE CENTER TO NO LONGER BE DOUGHY.

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Remove the pan from the oven when it’s done. Run a knife around the edges and take the bread out of the pan. Mix together the icing ingredients and drizzle over the top, allowing it to sink into the crevices. Serve warm or room temperature!” (Pull-apart bread, 2012)

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I started to prep and cook tomorrow, but we are night owls, so I am cooking these at 11:30 pm.  If River eats them while we are sleeping…

The icing tastes delicious, by the way!  River told me I had reached perfection again.  The kids gobbled down and licked their plans part of the one with mini pull-part bread.  Hunter said it could be considered breakfast because it was after midnight.  Our kids.  Thank goodness for our years in virtual school.

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Being Adopted and Looking Back

NOTE: I started this draft over 2 months ago and I could never imagine where life would take me since writing this post. I am publishing this, but I will post on what has happened since.  Some of my statement on my next post will contradict my feelings here about my adopted family, but I do not want to change a thing.  I am setting the date back two months because I want to keep the flow of the time frame.

I watched a profound move last week on Amazon Prime.  It is called Adopted.  If you are adopted, have adopted or are thinking of adopting, please watch it.  It is profound, heartbreaking, yet hopeful.  In the mid -90’s, I got the book Being Adopted.  It was as profound as this movie was, but it did not give me another person’s words and emotions like the movie did. I have not read it since that time because it was too loaded with raw emotion for me.

Although, I did not deal with the cross-cultural issues that were discussed in the movie, I have deeply felt 95+% of what the adult adoptee went through for most of my life.  And I worry daily that my adoptive parents will pass away before anything can be healed and that they see and accept me fully for who I am and allow me to accept them for who they are.  Until Easter Sunday, I had held tightly (probably too tightly) onto the hope that one day, all could be healed.  After a very traumatizing conversation with my father, I realize that nothing has changed between us since I was a young person.  My wish for healing was crushed, but at the same time I feel released from a lot of guilt and stress about not measuring up to what he thinks I should be.

I know he loves me and I love him (and the same goes for my mother), but the trauma that is caused by the initial abandonment by a birth mother can never be swept under the rug.  Adopted kids carry that burden with them and they are expected to just be grateful for the fact that someone chose them to be their child.  What is unspoken is that for someone to choose them, someone first had to choose to give them up.  They are expected to fit in and no one mentions the void in their life from being abandoned.  Added to that is the difference of love between a biological child and an adopted child.  I have older and younger brothers, who are their biological children.  There is a difference in love.  It cannot be helped.

The easy answer for unwanted pregnancies has been adoption.  It makes everyone on the outside “feel better” about the situation.  “Well, So-and-So got pregnant, but she gave the baby up for adoption, so it all turned out well.”  No one looks at the trauma to the mother, the child and the adoptive families.  I have been front line in this argument a few times on social media because I don’t buy into the thought that unwanted pregnancies should just be dealt with by giving the baby up for adoption.  I was grateful that a woman dear to my heart echoed the same words from a different perspective.  She said that babies and people who have been given up (both orphans and those adopted) have a hole in their soul from the trauma of being unwanted as a baby.

Right after that (one of those Universe things), I friend sent me an article called The Primal Wound.”  It was the biggest eye-opener of all and completely put into words much of my experience as a child give up for adoption.  Please, please read that article.  There is also a book.  I have not read it yet, but I have ordered it and look forward to reading as soon as I have a moment.

In my very early 30’s, I got to meet my birth mother, her family and eventually my birth father’s family, including half brothers and a sister.  He had passed away in 1977, so I never met him.  My experience was pretty classic and similar to the author of “10 Things Adoptees Want You to Know” above.  She gave me up and never looked back until I showed up one day by phone calls.  I cannot say that it didn’t hurt when she wasn’t as excited to know about me as I was about her.  It did.  Finding your birth parents is Pandora’s Box because you really never know what you will be handed on the other side of that phone call, email or meeting.

Although I do not have a relationship with my birth mother, it has been healing overall because I see where I came from and why I am me.  Let’s just say genetics wins, hands down.  And I do have a good relationship with a number of aunts, uncles, cousins on my birth mother’s side, plus I have brothers and a sister on my birth father’s side and they are amazing.

There are a few articles on the profound connection between biological mother and child that I would love for you to check out if you are interested.

Scientists Discover Children’s Cells Living in Mothers’ Brains

The bond between mother and child

10 Things Adoptees Want You to Know

Adoption: Trauma that Last a Life Time

(For books linked in this article, please see this for an Amazon Affiliate disclaimer. For the articles listed, there are no affiliate relationships of any kind.)

 

 

The Worst Times Make Us Who We Are

I can attest wholeheartedly to this truth. Throughout the years, I have learned not to question so much of what we have gone through but to appreciate what it has taught us and what blessings that these experiences have brought to our lives, including having to go public about our situation and Geoff’s health throughout the last 15+ years.

If Geoff had been well, we wouldn’t have found Santa Rosa Beach. We wouldn’t have moved here at the spur of the moment because of a chance that the local health food store owners gave us by hiring me. Geoff would not be singing full-time again and so many blessings would not have happened. That’s just the short version.

It’s better to tell your story to the world and make it a better place than it is to hold it in and be ashamed or worried. Our worst moments do make us who we are.  That is why I have a blog.  It’s not to tell you all about us just because I think we are important.  We’re not at all.  We’re just the McBrides.  It’s to share our trials and breakthroughs so that we can spread the love and hope to those around us.  If one single family is helped by our story, we will be grateful.  That’s our amazing adventure.

Social media makes it seem like everyone has a perfect life.  They don’t.  We don’t. No one does.  I don’t care who you are, your life isn’t all roses.  Things happen.  There are ups and downs and craziness.  We need to get back to real and stop watching “reality” on TV.

Here’s a TEDTalk about this subject of sharing who we are. 

I am in the process of writing more, but I have had to have a chance to catch my breath so that I can delve into how we want to give back to the world as a family from all the love and support we have had, but at the same time we have to look to the future.  This is why I have not posted much lately.  Where will we as a family thrive and not just “get by”?  What do we need to do in order to get there?  How can we help others who are going through similar problems and challenges that we have faced over the years?

We all need to consider how we can help others more and more each day, even if it’s just a smile and a touch of kindness.  Tell your story and do what you can to make the world a more beautiful place to be for everyone.

Life is about love and joy. It’s about giving back and paying it forward.

 

Thankful

My last post was about the effects of low income (in our case the roller coaster effect) on the education and health of families. For our family, it also puts our lives under the microscope for us to show us what is really important and what is just junk.

I can bemoan the last decade of living at the beach as pure hell, but it hasn’t been.  It’s given us moxie to know that we can push forwards through anything.  In the long run, the ups and downs have also taught us that we have each others’ back.  I realize that we have always had love but there is more to marriage than just love.  Anyone who has been married more than a month knows that, so I won’t tread down that path today. I can say we both had a lot to learn, as we married and had children very early in our relationship, so we had to discover about our strengths and weaknesses while getting to know each other and raise kids.  I am so grateful that we made it through the hills and valleys of the last 15 years.

Our family is truly the center of our lives.  Seeing them grow up into the people they are destined to be is amazing.  Listening to them breathe while they are sleeping is heaven. Even when we are arguing with them, there is love and dedication.  Feeding them good, wholesome food, while sitting around our table talking and laughing is the best feeling ever for me.  Geoff and I laugh that we have raised a bunch of nerds because of all the debates that go on at the table during our meals.  We love it.

imageThis time has also shown how we want to create our future and also progress in our careers.  In regards to Geoff’s music, it’s time to transform his sound.  Here, at the beach, the need has been for cover songs.  My dyslexic husband, who said he could never learn lyrics, has conquered his inability to remember lyrics.  He has a notebook that is 5+ inches thick of songs that he now performs.  That seems like nothing, but for those with dyslexia, learning that many songs is a gigantic accomplishment.  Without that, he would have never been able to even tryout for NBC’s The Voice.  Even then, he did not use his battle with Addison’s Disease, severe eczema or his dyslexia as “his story” that shows like The Voice build around their contestants.  He did not want to say a word about any of those challenges to bring focus to himself.  One day, he will publicly talk about it when it is the right time for him.

For me, this pressure that makes “diamonds out of coal,” is changing and returning me to my love of natural health and healing.  I am not going to be peddling anyone else’s wares from now on, unless it is a product that is complementary to what I am creating in my own work.  As I delve into my studies of Aromatherapy, I realize how much I already know from my past experience in working in the natural body care industry.  So, look out for new and exciting things coming from me regarding Aromatherapy and Herbalism!  And by the way, diamonds really are not made from coal.

All in all, new chapters are starting for our family.  Geoff is working on reinventing his sound. I am working on my love of natural health.  The kids are doing great in school.  The 9 chapters of “Life at the Beach” look to be coming to an end.  It is time.

What a bumpy year

If anyone had told me how many twists and turns 2014 would take, I would have laughed and quite possibly hid under my covers for 365 days.  Geoff and I have been down many crazy paths before, but this one took the cake.  Overall, it drew us closer together, therefore I am grateful.  All I have to say to the Universe is, “Thanks for the lessons. We learned them.  Let’s move forward!”

We saw the loss of the record company that produced Geoff’s album.  In that, we saw a good guy go bad (really bad) and how one person’s actions can destroy so much.  On the flip side, we saw that you have to have serious internal controls in a company and if you have someone (especially the president) in the company saying, “Oh, just give him/her some more time, they will get it done…” that means that your warning lights should be going off loudly and that the person in charge is not focusing on the business as s/he should be.  When the warning lights do go off, don’t let someone keep you from blowing the whistle on the whole damn thing.  Not blowing the whistle can cause so much more destruction than the damage that is temporary when you do speak up.

That loss is what prompted me to go to business school to get my MBA.  I was tired of being pushed to the side and not included in business decisions.  My MBA is my “middle finger” to those who kept me from being more involved in the business last year because they were more “experienced.”  Well, hell, look where their experience got us.  I have a list a mile long of things that need to be corrected (many of them already done) and things that should have been done that weren’t.

We are thankful for those that reached out with love and support so that we did not fall completely.  Some people in this world have giant hearts.  They are angels on Earth.

Note to artists of any kind: Take business classes.  Be able to run your own business so that you can have more control of what goes on.  It is what we are requiring of our children.  They have the opportunity to get their AA’s in Business Administration before they finish high school.  One of them actually loves her high school finance class (and she’s in 6th grade).  She is thinking about going to business school.  I never thought I’d say this because I was so anti-business school while I was in my undergraduate studies, but I am damn proud of her!  And it means that there is a fall back when there aren’t opportunities in their artistic fields.

My beautiful, spunky mother-in-law, Josephine Pickett Morton passed away a month and 2 days ago.  I still have not had time to mourn the loss of my only mother figure in my life.  She always called.  She always laughed.  She always said, “I love you.”  I miss her every day, but I have not been able to slow down and really cry.  She knew it was her time because she called all of her kids and talked to them that morning.  She was very clear in her message to be good to each other.  Less than an hour later, she was gone.  For her, it was a blessing to go like that.  I am so glad she did not suffer.  There’s just a lot of people who miss her dearly.

The week we went to Baltimore was a whirlwind and we came back to Geoff jumping on stage that night and me jumping into my classwork.  We still haven’t recovered from traveling.

Then comes the final punch in the stomach.  We worked our butts off, had support and kept moving.  We thought we had Geoff booked for a month at the restaurant.  He walked in one day to set up and they said that they are changing things up and do not need him anymore.  No notice whatsoever was given.  We had already been working on future plans, but the cushion was yanked out from under us.  It wasn’t a thick cushion at all and I believe it was crippling our forward movement.

Lots of good things have happened this year, too, including getting through this year and learning a great deal. It is simply time to move on to bigger and better things.  Being a big fish in a small pond can cripple your career and it was never part of our master plan anyway.  We have also learned that having a tight inner circle is quite important to one’s personal and business life. We are developing that right now because it’s true that “No man is an island…”  We have definitely learned that one this year.

Come on 2015!  You cannot get here soon enough!

Be Smart and Beautiful

Raising 3 daughters and a son constantly brings up the issue of beauty versus intelligence and the backlash against telling a girl she’s pretty.  On any given day, this issue comes up in some shape, form or fashion in our conversations.

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American society acts like we have to choose between the two.  You can’t be smart and pretty at the same time.  You can’t have Prince Charming if you have a brain in your head.  There have been essays upon essays about teaching girls to be intelligent and not care about what they look like and that we shouldn’t praise a girl for her beauty, only her intelligence.  There’s also the religious backlash, but I won’t go there.  Someone else can hash that one out and, please, not on here.  And, in this post, I am not talking about boys only because it would be too in depth and I want to focus on the message that our society sends to girls in particular.  I will say that we do deal with these issues on the level that we need to with Hunter also.

Our family has pretty deep roots in the entertainment industry, both with daddy being a performer and with the girls’ interest in dance, music and fashion.  Therefore, the kids are always on display, not from our point of view, but from the simple fact that it happens by default.

But, the ballerina and future fashion designer will pretty much pick up any bug that won’t kill her and she is considering adding writing to her career path.  She follows the 10 second rule about eating anything sweet that drops to the floor, even in public places.  The singer, pianist, guitar player, wanna-be gymnastic loves robotics and technology, yet screams if a butterfly comes near her.  She’s definitely a closet girly-girl, although at times she will use the 10 second rule to gross me out, too.  We have yet to know what Zuri wants, but she definitely is very determined and has her own style.

River gets pretty upset when people talk about her beauty but don’t see her as intelligent.   Zoe is seen as smart, but because she chooses to wear glasses, she isn’t always seen for her beauty up front.  We have talks about society’s hang-ups all the time.  Both have straight A’s, both are sweet and kind (in different ways), both are beautiful inside and out.

10367168_10152490609543658_7658872811235780790_nI prefer the French ideal of intelligence and beauty over the American ideal.  It is acceptable and even celebrated in French culture for a woman to be feel smart and beautiful.  I believe that teaching young women that they have to choose between beauty or intelligence sets them up for a lifetime of internal stress and many times some form of self-hatred.  This can lead to a number of really unhealthy behaviors; including not having any self-respect, dieting too much, dumbing oneself down, even partying too much, etc.  Like many women, I have spent over 40 years working to come to grips with internal turmoil that I wasn’t supposed to be smart and pretty at the same time.  I do not want our daughters or any other young woman facing the same battle that so many women have faced throughout the years.

 As a mother, I want the girls to know that it is good to care about your grades and your beauty.  It is great to have wonderful self-esteem about your beauty and your intelligence.   The thing that is not good is ego.  It isn’t healthy to think you are prettier or smarter than anyone else and/or put someone else down because of one’s opinion about another’s beauty or intelligence.

And that’s it.  Respect yourself.  Respect others.  Be kick-ass smart.  Be beautiful.  Know it.  Love it.  Just don’t think you are better than anyone else EVER.  I don’t care who you are.  Be kind and polite to each and every person, including yourself.