Confessions of a Chocaholic

For those of you who didn’t visit the grocery store today or turn on the news, just a reminder that today is Fat Tuesday. For many people in my area this means eating fausnaughts until the heart is content – or possibly in cardiac arrest. For me Fat Tuesday does not mean 4am trips to the bakery. More than likely you’ll find me trying to figure out how to finish up the last bit of Valentine’s Day chocolate. Almost every year I give up chocolate for Lent…not because I have any religious conviction about it. No, there is nothing “holy” about the next 40 chocolate-less days. I do this mostly because I hear my mother’s voice ringing in my head – “With all the chocolate you eat, you’re going to lose your gall bladder by the time you’re current year of life+1 year.” Thanks for caring mom.

 
Yes, I admit it – I am a chocaholic. For those of you who aren’t and for the few of you who don’t even like chocolate, let me enlighten you – chocolate absolutely has the power to addict. If chocolate had the same effect on the body as alcohol does, I’d be under the table by noon each day. By the time we’re through the holidays (during which time I  consume more than my  daily pre-holiday allotment of chocolate) and past Valentine’s day (another great excuse to indulge), I begin to feel like the liquid flowing through my veins probably resembles chocolate syrup more than it does blood. My body longs for detox, even though my brain really does not embrace this idea at all. Lent offers the perfect reason/accountability system to put myself through detox – otherwise, I’m sure I never would. It’s a lot easier to pass up the chocolate dessert at someone’s house or at a restaurant by simply saying, “I gave up chocolate for Lent.” This is acceptable – even in non-religious circles. To say, “I’m in chocolate detox” at any other given time of the year isn’t quite as acceptable – nor am I sure I could actually do that if I didn’t have Daniel holding me captive to my “Lent” commitment.

 

Speaking of Daniel, I have spent the day dreading hearing the cry of agony from the office where he will read this post. (Sorry babe, once again – the chocolate has to go.) My man was under the impression I have something else in mind  for Lent, which I do (more on that later) – but will also be adding my yearly detox into the mix. I do feel sorry for him and the kids during detox. Of course they feel the effects of a chocolate-less house (and the effects of a mom/wife in withdrawal). Although I do stock a few chocolate candy bars and plain M&Ms which do not appeal to me, I do not bake anything with chocolate in it – including using chocolate chips, which is an automatic addition to almost everything I usually make– pumpkin bread, apple cake, cherry cobbler, etc. Essentially the four of us go through detox to varying degrees.

 

Obviously, it’s no surprise that I have been scheming for the past several days as to how to finish out the chocolate in the house by midnight, so that there won’t be any to tempt me tomorrow morning. My plans have worked out pretty well. For lunch today, the kids and I finished the pb brownies, which were amazing if I do say so myself. I finished the last of the dove truffles my mom gave me for Valentine’s day – one single truffle savored after Ian was in bed for nap. But I was still stuck with a large bag of Hershey kisses that I had gotten last week when I took snack to share with the women’s group at my church. The women didn’t do the best job of cleaning them up for me, leaving me with well over half the bag, which usually wouldn’t be a problem. But it was this week. And then lo and behold, I noticed a recipe on the back of the kisses bag for mousse. Exactly what I need to use up 36 kisses – ok, so I threw in a little more. (You can never have too much chocolate.) I cannot wait to taste this tonight. This was a little more work than I usually like to put into a dessert for such little end product. If I were to do it over again, I would double the batch. However, if you think about the nutritional “value” of this dessert, it’s probably best we’ll only be having it one night. For everyone else out there getting ready for detox (or doing something more legitimate for Lent), good luck! For those of you not giving up chocolate for the next 40 days and hoping to use up some of those hershey kisses that were intended for peanut blossoms you never had time to make in December, here’s the link for the recipe. Chocolate Kisses Mousse

Happy Valentine’s Day – a little late

Disclaimer: Daniel read this one and said it’s pretty intense. Proceed with caution.

This year, our family is vacationing at the beach in June. While I am! looking forward to this vacation (Family – don’t get upset by the next statement), I’m not overly excited about the beach. My beach experience in a nutshell – the gritty, burning sand… the baking, eye-squinting sun… the itchy, stinging water… hours of wondering when and where to use the bathroom and dehydration for trying to avoid going at all… fun times (insert sarcasm). I do enjoy reading a good book while listening to the waves and the movement of the never-ceasing wind. But all I have to do is think about a bright, sunny day with the sun reflecting off the sand, and I can feel my skin turning pink… nay, lobster red. I watch everyone else apply SPF 15 every 6 hrs while I slather on my ridiculously protectant SPF 55 every hour and still end up with some rebel body part fried to a crisp. Three summers ago Daniel and I went to the beach. I stayed under an umbrella and wore a t-shirt and pants overtop of my swimming suit the entire first day. Yup – you guessed it, as red as can be on day #1. And so I’ve been plagued my entire life with seriously uncomfortable sunburns almost every single beach trip – not fun.

Must-Have beach gear

Along with the daunting inevitable sunburn, the beach experience leaves me pondering other things… things I am not. I am not a woman with sunkissed skin (obviously); elegant wind-blown hair; long, thin legs; or any (much less – lots of) cleavage – the desirable beach traits for most women. Daniel recently talked of a woman he finds so beautiful he can barely stand to look at her. I’m in total agreement with his assessment and reaction to this woman’s appearance, but maybe more because I see my own beauty flaws yelling at me from every angle of her beauty, something I tend to see at the beach as well. I’m generally not so superficial as to count my worth by my looks; however for some reason my brain went a little haywire as I thought about the beach goddess that I am not. While I’ve been trying for over 2 weeks to put these thoughts to rest without embarrassing myself by publishing them, for whatever reason, my brain and heart aren’t co-operating with that idea. So here goes…

I am not a wonder wife, a super mom, or an awesome friend. I don’t have a career, don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, and didn’t earn more than $200 in 2011. I’m not a diligent card sender, a great gift giver, nor am I gifted with the perfect words of encouragement or overflowing with hospitality. I’m not a cook – by almost any measure of the word, a pastry chef, an extreme couponer, a master gardener, an accomplished photographer, or an outstanding musician. I do not sell anything on etsy or turn trash into treasure. I cannot make my own curtains, use power tools, draw a picture to save my life, decorate, or dress fashionably. All the mom-types gaining popularity – tiger mom, organic/make-it-from-scratch-mom, homeschool mom, large-family mom, home-party-independent-business mom – nope, not me.

And yet I long to be almost all these things – or at least one of those things to a note-worthy degree. (I’m certainly not putting you down if you fall into any of the above categories – I esteem and would love to emulate you.) In a society where we are what we do, what we produce, and how we look, how do I measure up when my daily worth would appear to be wiping noses and bottoms all day?

I’m not fishing for compliments here. My point is more what I think about myself – not what others think about me, although it’s apparent I’m measuring myself by what others think is worthy. Don’t most people have these thoughts from time to time, stacking ourselves up against each other to see who is the tallest? Some may say my thoughts are immature – there will always be someone else better than I am at X, Y & Z – no matter how much of my life I devote to X, Y & Z. I agree whole-heartedly with this observation. So the goal becomes not to fall into the trap of comparing myself to others; but it still leaves me wondering if my value is actually wiping body parts and cleaning up the house.

Then during a recent conversation with a friend, I had an “aha moment.” My friend stated that when she dies, she wishes to be remembered for her love of God and people. Plain and simple, yet profound. How many times have I heard this in some form or another and yet glossed over it? The incredible value of living a life of love is not something society values highly. No one introduces himself as “Mr. Smith, Lover of People.” And yet don’t we look to Mother Theresa and her legacy of love as a shining example of a lover of people. How much value was her life, her actions, her words? When I leave this world, almost no one will remember what I was or wasn’t; but to have loved so much that I leave behind lives forever changed because of love is something of insurmountable worth.

Even though Valentine’s Day won’t come around again for another 364 days, I will continue to live a sincere life of love and try to forget about all the things that I am not. May I be remembered as a lover of God and people.

My valentines over the years

“I want to live my whole life like that. I want to love with much more abandon and stop waiting for others to love me first.” ~J. Eldridge