Holiday Happenings

I’m baaack!

Well, that was quite an extended hiatus from updating you all on the daily happenings of A Potter Life. One of my last posts talked about still being on the wagon, but let me tell you – I fell off and landed hard at rock bottom. I won’t go into all the details here, but I am glad that life is finally starting to get back on track. And with that, I’m going to try and get back to posting on a more regular basis.

With the holidays in full swing, I have been experiencing a multitude of emotions. Joy, thankfulness, sadness, contentment, grief, love, and so many others. This will be my first holiday season without my dad, and even though I hadn’t spent the holidays with him in quite some time, it’s difficult knowing that now I can’t. Luckily, my husband, son, and friends are doing a pretty good job of keeping my spirits high and for that I am extremely grateful.

Like many of you, we spent the long weekend getting our home ready for Christmas. We bought a new tree for the front window, retrieved our other tree and boxes of decor from storage, and started transforming our new kitchen into a holiday haven. (I’ll post about the new kitchen soon!)


To cap off the weekend, Bennett and I spent the evening making homemade holiday graham crackers – YUM! Many of you have asked for the recipe, so I though I would share it here. The original recipe is from a cute little blog called Baking with Boys. I adjusted the flour amounts for our taste. Below is how I make them. Try them out and let me know what you think!


Homemade Graham Crackers

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup graham flour (Springfield locals-I get this at Harter House)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 cup water
A dash of vanilla

In a food processor, combine dry ingredients. Add butter and pulse until mixture is dry and crumbly. (I put a towel over the top of my FP, otherwise flour dust goes everywhere)

In a small bowl, combine honey, molasses, water, and vanilla. Pour into food processor and run until a ball forms.

Wrap dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. When ready, remove dough and roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. If dough is too wet, massage in some flour. If too dry, get your hands wet and massage dough.

Cut with cookie cutters or a knife. Using a fork, tap lightly all over the cookies (if you don’t do this, your crackers will rise and be all cakey). Bake at 350* for 11-13 minutes, or until GBD (golden, brown, delicious). In my convection oven, I set it to 325*. Transfer to a cooling rack or enjoy warm.


Still on the wagon…barely

I’m now on day 4 of my Whole30 restart (which is only going to be a Whole12 because I’m stopping when vacation rolls around). The first 12 days flew by with no problem. I kept wondering when I was going to have some of the difficulties many people mention when doing the challenge. I wasn’t starving, hangry, or tired. I didn’t hate the cooking (just the cleaning) or get food bordem. I wasn’t really even tempted to cheat (except for breaking that last rule and stepping on the scale when I noticed my clothes fitting better). I was fired up, focused, and excited to continue my journey.

Then life happened and I put the program on hold for a week. I could have made better choices that week, but instead I chose what I’m dubbing “grief eating”. Frozen custard at 3 in the afternoon, late night cookies and milk with my sissy, donuts for breakfast, and a greasy, cheesy burger at Steak and Shake (did you know they have really good shakes there?*).

I promised myself that upon returning to real life this week, I would resume the program and assumed I would jump right back where I left off. Boy was I WRONG! I am just as dedicated to it as I was before, but man, this time is starting out much more difficult.

Example: Yesterday I had to verbally talk myself out of a candy bar. Seriously! I was standing in front of the vending machine, dollar in hand, and after a solid 2 minutes of internal turmoil, I finally said “I’m worth more than a 3 Musketeer.” It was a successful tactic to beat my temptation and also made me look a little crazy – since it was loud enough for the other person in the breakroom to hear (though she tried to pretend she didn’t). Small victories, right?


I'm worth more than 240 calories, 36 grams of sugar, and creamy, chocolaty goodness. At least for the next 8 days...

I’m hoping to get back on the track I was on the first time. I’m afraid if I follow the typical time line, I won’t make it the rest of this week and a half before vacation. Between grieving and working and mothering and wife-ing, I may not have the mental capacity or strength to talk myself off the candy bar cliff next time.

But so far today, I haven’t wanted to kill anything, so maybe I’ll be ok after all…

*The newest inside joke in my family. Grammy took my siblings and me out to lunch and wanted to make sure everyone knew the shakes were “really good” by repeating it 4-5 times before we ordered. Even the lady at the table behind us was giggling!

Pushing buttons

Ever wish there was a remote control for life? The past 10 days, I’ve never wished for anything more. I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions, from the high of spending a weekend with family to the low of my father’s death and just about every level of emotion in between.

If I had a life controller, here are the buttons I would use:

Record: Oh how I wish I could have recorded the laughter and stories from my Grammy’s 85th birthday party last weekend! With all my cousins and their families there, it was an afternoon that I would gladly watch on repeat for years to come.


Queen for a day!

Rewind: I would give just about anything to rewind the clock and go back to the days when I spent my evenings curled up in my dad’s lap. Or to go back just a few days so I could tell him I love him one last time.

Mute: Every loss results in the “would have, should have, could have” thoughts from loved ones. An untimely one makes those thoughts even more loud. Even though I know it won’t bring him back, these things are drowning out any other thought in my head.


Pause: Boy, this one would get used A LOT. In terms of last week, I put my Whole30 on pause. I could have stayed the course, but since I was staying with my sister and eating with family every night, I didn’t want to add any more stress or burdens to the situation. I’m back on the wagon this week and plan to keep it up until vacation.

Guide: Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just flip through the guide and pick what aspect of our lives we want to focus on right now? Change the channel when the one we’re on isn’t entertaining us anymore? Or use it to see what’s coming next? Lately my brain seems to be constantly channel surfing and I can’t control where it lands. I’m back at work, trying to get my house back in order, and mothering a toddler on the verge of his terrible two’s. The scattering of my brain is making these tasks almost impossible.

As the days go on, I’m sure the grief and sadness will subside, but I’m not sure I’ll ever stop wishing for these buttons. I don’t know that I would use them if they were available, but sometimes I think it would be nice.

I’m sure many of you have been through similar times in your life. What buttons would you use (or not)?

The 7th Grade Science of Parenting

One of the last things my OBGYN said to me before discharging me to embark on this glorious world of parenting was this:  “I like to call the first child the great American experiment.” Thanks, Dr. B.

But after 19+ months, I’ve realized he’s right. Here’s how it goes. You get all this advice from family, friends, doctors, and Google, then you have to figure out what is going to work for your family.

• You create a hypothesis.
• You test it.
• You evaluate the results.
• You adjust accordingly based on your conclusion.

And you thought you’d never use the scientific method in real life. 

I’ve been doing this cycle for longer than I want to admit, with a full night’s sleep as the goal. Lately, my observations led me to begin a trial during which we do not turn the tv on until after the nugget is in bed. And so far, it had been working pretty well.

Enter March Madness. If you know me, you know I really like MM. And my son has inherited this from me. The kid LOVES “backey ball”. So I had to make a decision.

Stick to my experiment and miss a couple of games.
Give in and turn on the tube.

You can probably guess which option I chose by the mere fact that I’m writing this. We put the game on, and I proceeded to become a human basketball goal for my tiny tot for the next hour. When the tv would catch his eye, he’d turn around and snuggle into my lap to watch approximately 90 seconds before he would be back up and staring in his own game. Those moments of holding him and seeing how intently he was watching the game are moments I will cherish.

I realized I needed to savor that moment of happiness because I would probably need it in the middle of the night when he was crying and kicking Adam in the face. But the eternal optimist in me still hoped that maybe tv wasn’t the variable that was affecting his sleep. Maybe he’s just getting better at it. WRONG.

Maybe it is the tv being on. Or maybe it’s the stuffy nose. Or maybe there is zero correlation and it’s all dumb luck. But after last night, I just don’t have the energy to try and figure out if my experimental deviation was a failure or not.


Bath time backey ball

A Tale of Two Tenders

More evidence the hubs isn’t actively participating. Last night I was leaving the gym after work. Adam was already home with the kiddo, so I asked him what to pick up for dinner. After the usual back and forth of “I don’t care” and “Just pick something” (I swear, if we ever get divorced, it will be over deciding what or where to eat!), I said I had leftovers I could eat, so I would stop and get him and the nugget something at a drive-thru.

His pick? Popeyes Chicken.

My leftovers? Almond flour breaded, baked chicken tenders.

It was seriously all I could do not to tear into that box of greasy, fried goodness and macaroni and cheese on the drive home. Not that my meal wouldn’t be good, but it would be pale in comparison to what my family was about to eat. But I held strong, kept both hands on the wheel, and drove like hell to get that stuff out of my car!

We sat down at the table and the tiny one dove fingers first into the Mardi Gras Mustard spicy mustard dipping sauce. I don’t even think he wanted to dip his chicken in it – he pretty much just ate it with his spork. All I could think about was how terrible my night’s sleep was going to be with both of the men in my life having heartburn.

On a more serious note, I am currently wearing pants that haven’t fit comfortably in 6 months. After just 6 days on the program, I am feeling great and already starting to see results. What that tells me is just how terrible my eating habits must have really been.

Everything but the kitchen sink…

If you’ve ever done a Whole30, talked to some who’s done one, or read even just a little bit about it online, you know there is A LOT of cooking involved. The program prohibits any type of processed foods, and that rules out all the quick and easy meals I’ve been eating for the past, well, lifetime.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “You married a dude with a culinary degree. The cooking can’t be that hard.” But as I menitoned in my first post, he’s only mostly onboard – translate: he supports my ambition and will cheer me along, but he’s not really an active participant.

Evidenced by our Sunday lunch. I picked up pork chops for me and Oscar’s baby back ribs for him and the little guy. So while he’s chowing down on smoked, meaty heaven, I’m in the kitchen trying to cook my lunch. Have I mentioned I’m not that great at cooking? I have a few staples that I’ve perfected – of course none of those are Whole30 compliant.

Basically, he had the greatest lunch ever, and I had overcooked pork and undercooked butternut squash.

But I had cooked three pork chops and wasn’t about to throw them away. So I decided to experiment. I was already planning to try some new recipes Monday night, so while at the store, I grabbed an extra avocado and tomato. Threw those in the food processor with the pork and voila! Pork salad! It’s actually pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.

Now that I’ve set the stage, let’s get to the title of this post.

One of the biggest complaints I’ve read about the progam is all the food prep and cooking. I’m here to tell you the food prep and cooking is actually the FUN part. What REALLY sucks is having to clean up your kitchen afterwards!

I made my pork salad, paleo mayonnaise, and a zucchini based hummus recipe last night, leaving kitchen in shambles! I had mayo splattered up the cabinets, hummus on the floor, and even though I only used one plate, I was up to my neck in dirty dishes. All this while feeding, chasing, bathing, and rocking a toddler to sleep. Did I mention I also did a load of laundry-I might be done with my wife/mom duties for the rest of the week!

The worst part of the story is that the faucet in our kitchen has the worst water pressure. My handy husband tried to fix it this weekend and only made it worse. It literally drips into the sink when turned on full blast! The plumber came yesterday afternoon, but of course the part we need is out of stock. Just my luck.

So there I was. My child asleep at 8pm, my husband out having a guys night, and me in the kitchen – attempting to clean hummus out of a food processor using a drizzle of luke warm water. Safe to say my goal for the next few days until the sink is fixed is to not dirty a dish that won’t fit in the dishwasher.

Moral of the story: everything was great…but the kitchen sink. On the bright side, the hummus and mayo both get 2 thumbs up!

Thanks for reading. If you try either of the recipes, let me know what you think in the comments.


My yummy lunch with all 3 of last night's concoctions

A nice little weekend

When looking forward to the next the 30 days, I felt like my biggest risk for failure would be the weekends. Dinner and drinks with friends, afternoon snacks with my little nugget, and the donut table at church – so many temptations packed into 2 days.


My girlfriends and I went out Friday night for dinner, drinks, and a rocking 80’s cover band (which was just as fun sober). The menu at dinner didn’t lend itself very well to the program, so I felt like a jerk being so picky. Probably won’t be eating out much for the rest of the program.

Saturday we went on a bike ride with some family friends. It was such a pretty day and Bennett loved being pulled in his trailer.


The ride wore him out. Too bad those 15 minutes was the only nap he took the whole day.

Sunday marked Bennett’s first trip to the zoo! He loved seeing all the animals, and we bought a family pass, so we’ll be going back soon.

I also tried a new recipe tonight. Chicken and Bell Pepper Burgers. The execution needs some refinement, but the flavor was excellent. The avocado on top was just the right touch, and I didn’t even miss the bun.


All in all, this was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. Four days down, 26 to go.