GF/CF Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies (and Week 16 Review)

NaNoWriMo Day 21 Word Count: 37,869

I know that many of you eat raw cookie dough even if there are eggs in it. But I’m certain I’m not the only overly-cautious person who will not even entertain the idea of eating raw any kind of anything with eggs in it. My daughter has been programmed so well that when we cook together, she says, before I even have a chance to say anything, “This has eggs in it so it’s not safe and sound to taste it.”

When we made these cookies, we were both thrilled that I could say, “Guess what? There are no eggs in this recipe, so we can eat the dough!” I imagine trippy psychedelic colors undulating in my daughter’s brain with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida playing over it. I highly doubt that actually happened, but she was excited about eating raw cookie dough nonetheless. So was her brother.

Oh, and the cooked cookies were excellent, too. And since they’re sweetened with maple syrup and have rolled oats in them, they’re health food, so you can eat the whole batch, which is only one dozen. If you whip some up after the kids go to bed, you easily will have gotten rid of all of the evidence by the time they wake up. The perfect crime.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair

Reprinted from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair (Sasquatch Books, 2008)

I’ve put the modifications to make this GF and Vegan in parenthesis after the original amounts.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Makes 1 dozen 3-inch cookies

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (I used Gifts of Nature GF oats)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (to make GF, sub 3/4 c brown rice flour, 3 T potato starch, 1 T tapioca starch, and 1/2 t xanthan gum, or 1 cup of your GF flour mix of choice + 1/2 t xanthan gum)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (I used coconut oil to make them dairy-free)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine oats, flour, and salt together in a large bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl mix together maple syrup, butter (or coconut oil), and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients to dry mixture and mix well. Stir in nuts and chips.

With moist hands form dough into 3-inch cookies and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until edges turn golden.

These cookies are delicious and soft right out of the oven and turn kind of crispy once they’re cool. The flavor reminds me of Russian Tea Balls, which I think are similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies. I would almost prefer raisins in them than chocolate chips. Almost.

Week 16 Review:

This week has been a little challenging. I’ve just been kind of low energy and irritable. I’ve been ignoring many of my resolutions from previous months as I focus all of my attention on NaNoWriMo. I’ve not been working out much because my knee has been bothering me and walking just doesn’t do it for me the way running does. Maybe if I don’t run until the beginning of December, my knee will be ready for action again. I’ve been going to bed late and not being as mindful as I was. I’m still aware of judgmental thoughts, which has been helpful, and I’ve started eating better again (namely, I’ve stopped drinking coffee again. I drink decaf, so I don’t think the caffeine was a problem, but I feel better without the coffee anyway).

I don’t think all of my malaise can been attributed to my self care or lack thereof, though. I think some of it is just a result of the psychological roller coaster that I’ve heard participants in NaNoWriMo ride as the month progresses. Here I am at nearly 38,000 words. I’m in the home stretch, and while I know that, if I keep this pace, I’ll finish in plenty of time, I find this fear creeping up that I won’t be able to do it. I’m doing my best to be gentle with myself and to recognize this naysayer for who she is (my inner critic trying to protect me from disappointment by keeping me from really trying to succeed at a goal I’ve set for myself. She seems to think it’s better to say, “I gave up,” than it is to say, “I tried as hard as I could and still didn’t finish.”)

NaNoWriMo Day 20 Word Count


I should have written 18 more words. Then it would have been a palindrome.

Not so Green “Green” Smoothie

"Green" Smoothie. It's good. Trust me.

When I offered a taste of this smoothie to my husband, he was enthusiastic.

“Oh! You put chocolate in it?” he asked.

“Um, no.”


“Do you want me to tell you what’s in it, or do you want to try it first?”


“I’ll try it first.”

He ended up liking it. I just share this exchange to illustrate that I know this smoothie doesn’t look supremely appetizing. But really, it’s my current favorite. If you’re feeling adventurous (or if you don’t mind that it’s an odd color for a smoothie that does not contain chocolate), my recipe is below.

Not so Green “Green” Smoothie

makes 5 cups

Place in your blender (mine’s a VitaMix. I don’t know how other blenders handle this concoction):

1/2 bunch dandelion greens (I used organic red dandelion from the grocery store. I don’t use dandelion greens from the yard. They’re a different variety from the ones at the grocery store.)

1/2 pineapple (leave the core, cut off the spiky peel)

1 banana

3 frozen plums (These are probably optional. I use them because we have a golden plum tree in our yard, and I have a bunch of plums in my freezer.)

10-15 frozen strawberries (I’m pretty sure it’s these that change the smoothie from green to burnt ochre. Perhaps if you used something with less color, like yellow raspberries or something, the smoothie would stay green)

Turn that baby on and crank up to High and jam everything into the blades with the approved tamper. Blend for 30-60 seconds. I usually drink about half of it and leave the rest in the fridge for lunch.

A Year with Frog and Toad

Panther, a cat using toilet, photographed in S...

If my cats did this, we could have left the house on time this morning (Image via Wikipedia, Photographer: User:Reward.)

NaNoWriMo Day 19 word count: 33,208

We went to see A Year with Frog and Toad, put on by the University of Utah Youth Theater this morning. We were supposed to meet some homeschooling friends out front at 9:20, and against all odds, we were making wonderful time. I stopped to fill up some water bottles (I have a thing about having enough provisions for any outing). I heard my daughter yelling from the laundry room.

“No! Put that down! No! No!”

I set down the water pitcher and walked to the doorway of the laundry room. I saw my daughter standing about a foot away from my son as he reached into the litter box with his hands, grabbed cat poo, and then put it into the small covered garbage can we have next to the little box for that purpose.

“Oh, for Pete’s sake!” I yelled (or something of that nature).”Why didn’t you stop him?”

“I was putting on my jacket,” my daughter explained. Well, I guess I did only ask her to watch him, not to actually intervene if he was doing something that needed intervention.

I grabbed the baby and shook his hand to release his grip on the turd he held, then I took him in to the sink to wash his hands, saying over and over, “We’re gonna be late, we’re gonna be late.” I must have scrubbed his little hands for a good three minutes before I felt satisfied that they were clean enough.

I got our water bottles and stuffed them in the diaper bag.

“I’m thirsty!” my daughter said. I pulled out her water bottle and shoved it towards her.

“Here, take it!”

Then the baby signed “water” and I handed him his cup, which he promptly dropped on the floor.

“Please carry that water for your brother,” I directed my daughter.

“I can’t,” she said, “I need to open the door. Mommy, why are you wearing your brown shoes instead of your shiny black shoes?”

“Because we might need to park far away, and my shiny black shoes aren’t very comfortable to walk long distances in.”

“My shiny black shoes are comfortable. What does ‘walk long distances’ mean?”

I stammered trying to figure out which part of that statement she was having trouble with.

“Let’s just go to the car,” I said, propping the baby on my hip, shouldering the diaper bag, and opening the door.

“I want to be the first one out!” my daughter whined.

“Fine!” I yelled. “Just get out there! We’re going to be late!”

I locked the door to the house while my daughter stood at the car pulling on the door handle repeating over and over, “Mommy, unlock the door! Mommy, unlock the door!”

“Does that help unlock the door?” I asked her as I hit the button to unlock the car. “The yelling and whining. Does that work? Because if it does, maybe I’ll try that next time instead of using the key.”

My daughter laughed. I fastened the baby into his car seat as he grabbed a stuffed giraffe from beside him. My daughter screamed.

“Dear God, what is it now?” I asked.

“That’s my giraffe!” she said and yanked the toy from her brother’s grip. He began crying, but calmed again when I handed him his Doggies book (by Sandra Boynton).

“Fine,” I said. “Let’s just go. We’re going to be late.”

“Mommy, it’s OK if we’re…”

“No! It’s not OK if we’re late! Have you ever been to a play? Do you know if it’s OK to be late?”

I didn’t wait for an answer. I shut the baby’s door, then went around the car and got into the driver’s seat.

“Don’t go yet!” my daughter yelled. “I can’t buckle it! I can’t buckle it!”

“You have got to be kidding me!” I yelled as I got back out of the car, opened her door and fastened her buckle. She started to cry.

“Don’t talk in that voice!” she cried.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I just don’t like being late.” I hugged her and gave her a kiss, then slid back into the driver’s seat.

As we backed out, my daughter asked, “Mommy, does it really take a half an hour to get there?”

We ended up getting there just after our friends arrived. We found them right away, checked in, and got seats with no trouble. The play was lovely. It was a musical, which I didn’t expect, but which kept the kids’ attention better than a straight-up, non-musical play would have, I think. The costumes were adorable, although perhaps a little subtle for the younger kids. There seemed to be kind of a 1920’s theme to the clothing and the music and the dancing. It was cute and quite enjoyable. The baby watched a good portion of it, grew restless, and then nursed to sleep. My daughter was frightened of the Terrible Frog (just like she is when we read the book), but otherwise loved the show.

After everything turned out so well, I was left wishing I could have gotten us there without the yelling that went along with our departure. Sure, it was stressful, but in retrospect, it was actually kind of funny. I’d like to be able to see the funny part better in the moment.

I’ve been anxious lately. I’ve managed to keep my inner critic fairly quiet about my novel, but that seems to have got her working overtime criticizing everything else I do. I’m just trying to sit with my imperfection and see all of the positives, but it’s a pretty big challenge. I’m fairly confident it will be worth it, though. It kind of already is.

But I’d still like to yell less.

Perfectly Exhausted

NaNoWriMo Day 18 Word Count: 31,187

Tonight, I am tired. It took a lot of mental energy to get myself to write. Yesterday was so easy. The baby napped for 1.5 hours straight and my daughter entertained herself for most of that time, and I got my writing done before my husband even arrived home, which gave me tons of time to write a long post about a real-women’s Victoria’s Secret catalog.

This morning, the baby woke up at 4:30 with his daddy. Of course, his daddy was going off to work. I suggested he take the baby with him, but he thought I was joking. My son and I finally got back to sleep around 6:30. Then my daughter woke us up at 7:30. Well, she didn’t think she was waking us up. She was hugging the baby as he slept and whispering in his ear how much she loves him, and she was rubbing my forearms gently with her cold little fingers while I tried to sleep.

And then the baby decided that all he needed was a 40-minute nap today.

So, I’m tired. And kind of cranky. But I feel somewhat better now that I have my writing done. And I’m glad I’ve been working ahead because I didn’t have to write a full 1,667 words to meet my Day-18 goal.

OK, now I’m done complaining.

Last night I found this post by Brené Brown entitled 12 Tips to Becoming Your Authentic Self. I’m generally not a huge fan of the “9 Secrets to a Slimmer Waist” and “Increase Your IQ in 3 Easy Steps” type things. They seem, for the most part, over-simplified. But I do find value in some things that are in numbered lists (this from a woman with Seven Personal Commandments), and Brené Brown’s list is one of them. Or maybe twelve of them.

Her list is all about letting go of perfectionism. I think her tips are a great starting point. They’re not the full answer, but they’re not meant to be. Just little jumping-off points to get a person thinking. Little things like, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best,” andPerfectionism is not self-improvement.”

It’s good stuff. Enjoy! And get some sleep. (That last one’s a reminder for myself, but if you’re tired, you can apply it to yourself, too.)

I’m Guessing Victoria’s Secret Wasn’t Stretch Marks

NaNoWriMo Day 17 word count: 29,956

I have no idea what in my recent history caused me to be flagged as a person who should be receiving Victoria’s Secret, but clearly someone thought it was worthwhile for me or Current Resident (also me) to receive the catalog because there was one in my mailbox this afternoon. This is the first Victoria’s Secret catalog I’ve seen in, I think, about a decade.

Victoria’s Secret is a strange catalog. The women’s mouths are all partway open and everyone’s hyper-extending their backs. And I had no idea over-the-knee boots went with hot pants. But then, what else would they go with?

Perusing this catalog, I started wondering how nursing-friendly these clothes would be. Some, like the button-up PJs, would be quite nursing friendly. In fact, there was a model wearing some satin PJs the way I often wear my plaid flannel PJs (with the top completely unbuttoned and nothing on underneath). Maybe she’s a breastfeeding mom whose baby still wakes to nurse several times a night, just like my baby does. If that’s the case, I really want to know what exercises she did to get her belly so flat.

My mom actually wears as pajamas a velour warm-up suit like the ones they were selling in the catalog. She bought one for me when she was visiting. It’s quite comfy, but I have a suspicion we don’t look much like the models in the catalog when my mom and I are wearing our velour warm-up suits. My loose belly skin always kind of hangs over the waist of the pants more than these models’ tummies do.

I began imagining the catalog with real-life moms as models, something like a Victoria’s Secret meets The Shape of a Mother. In this imaginary catalog, stretch marks and green and purple veins radiate from the tops of push-up bras. Thighs are rippled rather than taut, just as nature intended. Calves resemble topographical maps with varicosities forming the contour lines. The exposed midriffs look deflated or doughy, depending on whether the model is contracting her transverse abdominals or not. Flesh yields to elastic waistbands. I know some of these models are moms, but I don’t understand how they’ve avoided stretch marks, cellulite, and that inelastic skin on their bellies that I thought was universal.

I think maybe I’m not getting adequate sleep. Combine this with the waking-dream state I enter when I’m working on my novel, and weird things happen. Weird, but kind of awesome, too. I would appreciate a catalog with models in it whose bodies look more like mine. Maybe.

Book Review: Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride

Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride : A Psychological Study (Studies in Jungian Psychology, 12.)Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride : A Psychological Study by Marion Woodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It probably isn’t quite fair to give a book four stars rather than five simply because I couldn’t understand all of it, but that’s what I’m doing. I think if I read it again, I would absorb more of it, partly because there’s so much there and it takes a while to percolate and make sense to me, and partly because I had very little exposure to Jungian psychology before reading this book, so the language was a little inaccessible to me at first.

Some of the take-home messages I got from Addiction to Perfection:

-We are each, man and woman, made up of masculine and feminine sides of our psyche. The masculine side is the intellectual side, and it’s also the side that strives for order and control. The feminine side is based in the body and the earth, and it’s more intuitive. Neither is better or worse than the other, but if they get out of balance in our selves and/or in society, weird, off-kilter things happen (neuroses, if I’m understanding the vocabulary correctly).

-The impulse toward perfection is the result of an imbalance toward the masculine side. The “cure” is to awaken the feminine side, build trust with it, and bring it out to help integrate the psyche.

-Perfection is static, unlike life which is constantly changing and moving. Therefore, perfection is more closely related to death than it is to life, and the pursuit of perfection can be seen as the unconscious pursuit of death.

-When we begin the transition from an overly masculine psyche to a more integrated and balanced psyche, we can expect to pass through turmoil and fear before we attain the balance and peace on the other side.

This book was very well-timed for me. The practice of shifting my focus from my mind and the intellectual, with which I am most comfortable, to my body and my intuition dovetails nicely with the mindfulness practices I’ve already begun.

One passage in particular resonated with me, as it echoes an impression I got about modern birth practices as I compared the hospital birth of my first child with the home birth of my second. It’s actually a quote from R.D Laing’s The Voices of Experience in which Laing describes the reaction of an obstetrician to a woman’s description of her home birth. The obstetrician didn’t understand why the woman would want to go through all of that when she could have experienced no pain at all in the hospital. The birthing woman explained that she wanted to have a home birth because she wanted to have the full birth experience.

“He [the obstetrician] could not see how such a sentiment could have any value. He evidently sniffed some hysterical-masochistic heresy. Birth: abolished as an active personal experience. Experience: dissolved into oblivion. She is translated from feeling subject to anaesthetic object.

The physiological process is taken over by a chemico-surgical programme. End result: the act, the event and the coherent experience of birth has disappeared.

Instead of the birth of a baby, we have surgical extraction.

This domination and obliteration of the feminine by the masculine in modern obstetrics could go some ways to explaining why women who receive pain medication during labor report lower satisfaction with their birth experiences than women who receive no pain medication. The problem isn’t one of location (home birth vs hospital birth) or whether a woman receives pain medication or not. Rather, it’s based in the marginalization of the experience and the removal of a woman’s participation in her own birth process. For many women, this marginalization is decreased or eliminated with unmedicated and/or home births. That certainly was my experience.

At any rate, I really liked the book.

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(By the way, my NaNoWriMo word count for Day 16 is 28,456)

NaNoWriMo Day 15: The Quiet Center


Image via Wikipedia

Word Count: 26,705

The first verse of a hymn from Worship and Rejoice, the hymnal at the First Congregational Church in Salt Lake City, Utah:

“Come and find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead, find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed: clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes, that we can see all the things that really matter, be at peace, and simply be.”

I wasn’t a big fan of this particular hymnal, but this verse really spoke to me. In all of my decluttering last month and writing this month, I’ve had a tendency to forget to take a breath and just be.

Week 15 Review and Some Thoughts About Religion

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 24,809

I’m now two weeks into National Novel Writing Month and less than 200 words from the halfway point. I find that I have a fair amount of fear and hesitation around writing when I’m not doing it, but so far, I’ve been able to continue showing up at the computer every day. Once I’m here, it’s easier to play.

My mom suggested that I’m writing a novel in the same way most people read one. There’s a different feeling to writing this novel than there is to reading one, but I get her point. There’s a certain amount of discipline and faith that goes into both the writing process and the reading process. And both give me that sensation of being in a dream. When I wake from a particularly vivid dream, some of the dream sometimes gets mixed in with reality for me. I’m having a similar experience with this novel.

My characters seem to be taking on something of a life of their own. I always thought it was a little precious when an author talked about his characters doing something unexpected. The past two days of writing, my main character has surprised me by taking some different paths than I expected her to. There may be a lesson about judgment in here.

In other news, I attended another church today in my ongoing church-hopping adventure. So far I’ve been to two Catholic churches, an Episcopal church, a Buddhist temple, a Baha’i Center, and, today, a Congregational church. I’ve been somewhat surprised by my reactions to the different churches I’ve visited (for simplicity’s sake, I’m using the term “church” generically to mean “the place where the religion stuff happens”).

For example, the Congregational church had no gendered language in their materials (except for the readings from the Bible). They repeated the word “God” rather than using the pronoun “Him.” When I was in college, I thought this would be a major factor in whether I chose to attend a church or not. Turns out, it doesn’t seem that big a deal now. I like that they don’t have gendered language, it’s just not as important a factor as I thought it would be.

The places I felt most comfortable, theologically, and the most challenged (in a good way) spiritually were the Catholic churches and the Buddhist temple. The most friendly places were the Buddhist temple, the Baha’i Center, and the Congregational church.

There are some things that have turned me off in a few of the churches. One of the Catholic churches was a little too large a space and laid out in such a way that I felt no intimacy with the rest of the congregation. The Episcopal service began with a comment about the election that I thought was a bit too political for my taste. The Congregational service had more intercessional prayer than I was entirely comfortable with.

This church-hopping has helped me to better define what it is I’m looking for in a church. I’ve narrowed it down to four things:

  1. A community in which I feel comfortable developing my spirituality.
  2. A community in which my children can develop relationships with their peers and with caring adults.
  3. An atmosphere of curiosity about and openness to spiritual growth.
  4. A community in which my children are welcomed not only in the places designated for children, but also in the spiritual life of the congregation as a whole.

So far, the one that most closely meets all of these criteria is the Buddhist temple.

One thing that really appealed to me about the Buddhist temple was how different it was, but how comfortable it felt in spite of (or perhaps because of) this difference. The dharma talk was about the ordination (if that’s the right word) of an Episcopal bishop that the minister had attended. He described his disorientation sitting in this service, but also his surprise that, although the other ministers sitting with him were from Christian denominations other than Episcopalian, everyone seemed to know when to sit and when to stand, and they all knew the same hymns.

His anecdote struck a chord with me. Not having grown up attending religious services, I often feel a similar sense of disorientation in church services. I didn’t feel disoriented in the Buddhist service. Or rather, I felt a little confused upon walking in (Should I bow? Should I take one of these little books? Does it matter where I sit?), but the demeanor of the other people in the service put me at ease almost immediately.

Another thing I loved about the Buddhist temple: the Sunday school happens after the service. The children are expected to be part of the service, and then are in class while the parents socialize at coffee hour.

The reason I’m on this quest is because we were asked to leave the service at our Unitarian Universalist church earlier this year when my then 6-month-old decided to sing along with the choir. It’s only the feeling that there is a gap in my life without a spiritual community that’s brought me back out to risk that kind of embarrassment and humiliation at churches across the city and across denominations. Of course, I’m going to the services without the children first, so I’ve not risked much child-related humiliation just yet.

During the coffee hour after the service at the Buddhist temple, I asked if it was OK to have my toddler in service talking and running around. (I don’t tell people at the other churches why I’m no longer attending the UU church, I just ask about kids in the service.) The woman I spoke with said, “Of course! Look at our kids! They’re crazy!” gesturing towards the kids running around and shouting all around us. “Unless he’s crying, he’s fine in the service. Eventually the children will learn what’s expected during the service. And how else will they learn unless they’re in there with us, watching what’s going on?” This woman’s answer and the fact that the temple’s commitment to having children in the service is backed up by their having Sunday school after the service are very reassuring to me. I’m planning to go back, and I’m planning to bring the kids with me next time I go.

My husband will be thrilled to have his Sunday morning back. He’s been waiting patiently for me to find somewhere I felt comfortable taking the children.


Book Review: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

CoralineCoraline by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This may seem strange, but I found many similarities between Coraline and Marion Woodman‘s Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride.

In Woodman’s book, she deals with two archetypal mothers, the positive mother and the negative mother. The positive mother is that which nourishes us, is authentic, and brings us the balance we need between the feminine and masculine aspects of ourselves. The negative mother is inauthentic, greedy, misleading, and if it feeds us at all, feeds us poison and lies.

In Coraline, there are also two mothers, Coraline’s real mother and the “other mother.” Her real mother isn’t perfect, but she loves Coraline and does her best for her. The other mother loves her, but in a greedy way. Gaiman writes, “It was true: the other mother loved her. But she loved Coraline as a miser loves money, or a dragon loves its gold.” The other mother wants essentially to devour Coraline, and will use whatever tricks necessary to accomplish this.

Woodman describes a process of birthing ourselves as whole individuals, nurturing ourselves with our own inner, authentic mother. In the end of the book, Coraline escapes the other mother by running through a dark, warm, damp tunnel. Seems somewhat similar to a birth experience to me. Once on the other side again having vanquished the other mother, Coraline has become more herself. She’s not perfect and neither is her life, but she recognizes the joy that exists in her life and accepts and believes in her own power and wisdom.

There’s even something of a theme of hunger and eating/not eating in Coraline, which relates to Woodman’s focus on eating disorders as a way of trying to feed a starving part of ourselves.

I’m not going to revert back to my college English-major persona and write a 10-page critical essay with citations about images of the “mother” in Gaiman’s Coraline, but I thought it was interesting enough to give it a little time in my review here.

I initially picked this book up thinking it might be something I could read aloud to my five-year-old daughter. It’s rather too scary for her, I think (she still talks about how scary the scene in E.B. White’s Trumpet of the Swan was when Louis’ father crashes through the window of the music store, and it’s been probably six months since we read that book), but I can see enjoying reading it with her in a couple of years. It’s a modern story written in a classic fairytale style. I quite enjoyed it, willy-inducing images and all. And it was an enjoyable break from all of the “heavy” reading I’ve been doing lately.

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