Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Better Butter

Never mind that I spent my post-Thanksgiving downtime catching up on a few accumulated Netflix, two of which just so happened to be about the business of food, Food Inc and King Corn, and nevermind that I am finding myself more and more tempted to get a backyard chicken coop for humanely-raised fresh eggs, especially after my sister sent me a link to this cute little number, the Eglu...

(Insert image of husband rolling eyes to the heavens. Chickens. In the backyard. Peckin' in the dirt with the cats. But hey, you really owe it to yourselves to try a non-commercially raised egg sometime in your life. There's just no comparison in yolk color, texture, and taste.)

...AND nevermind how shocking it was to find out about the way chickens, pork, beef and dairy cows are mass-raised, what they're fed and how they're treated, that I have the sudden urge to rethink some things around here. Not necessarily to go vegan, but at the very least to get more conscious about what we're buying, and eating.

It's no secret and I readily admit, I'm a sucker for good food, good cocktails. A good slather of butter on a thick slice of crusty paisano bread with coffee in the morning, (or with wine later in the day), is just about heaven to me. But after learning more about commercial dairy, I want to look for other options there too. It's not the fat that scares me. At this point it's the silent accumulation of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that are fed to mass lots of cattle, and that somehow get more concentrated in high-fat products such as commercial butter, ice cream, half and half, cheese...

Hmmm...but what's a dairy-lover to do?

I've already been buying hormone-free milk products for a quite a while now. Rolling up my sleeves and bringing to life that inner "pioneer-homesteader woman" my husband labels me with so often, I get it in my brain that I'm going to try to make my own butter using a more sustainable cream. (Wow. Now that my book's done, I must have waaay too much time on my hands.)

And, what I found out is...

...it couldn't be easier...

...and most importantly, it is most, but most, delicious.

Way delicious.


So check this out:










I started with 2 pints of organic hormone, antibiotic, pesticide-free heavy whipping cream, $1.69 ea (Love Trader Joes! I buy all my hormone-free milk products there.)










Whip it in your stand mixer just like you would for whip cream. Plain. No additives.










Whip it a little further and it starts to thicken.










Whip it further still and you start to see a graininess.










Keep going. It's getting thicker.










Notice the color deepens and you almost start to see little "curds" now. (This is just a few minutes past whipped cream.)










Thicker. More curds.










Curds begin to solidify and they're definitely separating from the whey now.










We got butter, baby.












Strain the butter, save the whey (aka "buttermilk") which can be used for baking, pancakes, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, what-have-you.










Look at all that buttery goodness.










Press down solids to remove all the liquid.










Now we "wash the butter" by returning butter to the mixer, adding clean filtered water and letting it slosh around.










Drain, scrape down, and repeat for several "washings" until the water pours off clear.










Butter baby! Clean, unadulterated butter.










I turned some with a bit of moist and crunchy Celtic Sea Salt. OMG. Take that on a slice of good bread! You won't be sorry.










A near pound of fresh chemical-free sweet organic butter, wrapped up in wax paper, for a mere $3.38 and a few laps around a stand mixer. This should last me a month. Should.

So. Worth. It!

Oh but the time, you say, I just don't have the time.

The whole thing took maybe 20 minutes start to finish and that was with stopping every few minutes to turn off the beater, clean my hands, and snap pix. (Next time, it won't take nearly as long, maybe 10 minutes. And I plan to experiment with other local organic creams.)

Then you need one of these: a beurrier. The Butter Bell. To keep it soft and spreadable. Stays fresh without refrigeration.

Isn't it funny to go so far forward, only to come back to basics. Progress.













So good. A butter you can feel good about. Better Butter.


* * *

For more on the "business" of food:


Watch Food, Inc instantly here.


Watch King Corn instantly here.

Time Mag: Getting Real About the High Cost Of Cheap Food http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1917458,00.html

Sustainable Dairy

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast - a photo essay










For the 2nd Grade Feast last Weds...sliced up and devoured in the blink of an eye. Don't tell me a pack of hungry kids can't discern the hot-out-of-the-oven real thing from the store-bought re-heated over-processed kind or microwaved ham...this thing was gone in about 15 minutes.










The 18 1/2 lber Thanksgiving bird with sage leaves, garlic and butter tucked under the skin, and filled with wild rice apple stuffing












The "use what you have" fruit, nut, pine cone, rosemary clippings harvest centerpiece













Personalized place settings, each anchored with a wisteria leaf, are both simple and welcoming










Our bounteous spread...the brandied-sage-pan-dripping gravy is already in pitchers on the table


















Pear Gingerbread and French Apple Tart with vanilla bean ice cream complete the feast


Not shown?

The half-dozen or more empty wine bottles that followed a couple of rounds of infusion cocktails.... and I'm not going to say how many adults we were....

:)

So much to be thankful for.

Good friends, good food, and good drink just being some of them...

!

Keep scrolling....today it's a 3-for-1 post....

Pear Infusion!

The past month flew by in a blur. I am finally catching up, clearing the decks and, as it turns out, dumping my camera. Here are some goodies I had been harboring....the results of a countertop experiment.

Pear Infusion!













In jar #1 I used 3 Bosc pears, a bit of sugar to jump-start the infusion, and a bottle of Monopolowa Vodka.

In jar #2 I used 3 D'Anjou pears, a split and scraped Bourbon vanilla bean, a bit of sugar, and a bottle of Volganaya Vodka.













Prior to my experiment, I racked up icey shots of Monopolowa (Austria), Volganaya (Estonia), and Moskovskaya (Russia) vodka and did a vodka tasting. (Note: this is not your typical wine-tasting type sip and taste. I mean, vodka, solo, um, it's harsh!)

Hey! No raised eyebrows, 'kay? This was back before I got cranking on that Guidebook deadline...back when I was still in denial that I would have plenty of time to get it done...tick, tick...

The winner? If you're talking straight shots, for me it was hands-down the Moskovskaya, followed by the Volganaya in the smoothness category. The Monopolowa was down-right harsh. But I'm not a vodka-shooter type of girl, so making infusions with them seemed like the natural thing to do. And well, me being me, you just know I'm going to create a couple of cocktails with the final results...being the closet mixologist-er-spirit-enthusiast that I am.


Let the pictures attest that I began the infusion "experiment" on October 21st, left them abandoned under a dark towel on the counter, (alternately they could have been left in a dark cupboard under the sink), and I finally revisited them on Nov 14th.







(They might have been strained earlier if I was paying better attention, more, say, than the occasional sniff and swirl of the jar, but I had to clear out the clutter in preparation for that busstop family happy hour I was hosting, oh, you know, right in the final sprint of my writing blitz, as I was mere days to the delivery. OK, everybody needs a break now and then. It can't all be nose to the grindstone!)

At this time, 4 weeks later, I strained out and discarded the sliced fruit, then poured the liquid goodness through a strainer lined with a damp paper towel, then again through a coffee filter. Triple filtered to get out all the sediment! Then I funneled the results back into their original bottles, dating and labeling them.



Voila! My Pear Infusions worked.

I definitely think the Boscs produce a deeper pear flavor (and a darker color) and the D'Anjou is more subtle, although it does make a lovely combination with the vanilla bean. If I were to do this again, which I very well might, I will infuse the Volganaya with the Bosc, as the Monopolowa is just frankly a bit edgey, although less-so after the infusion.


For those keeping score, in fact, I did do another infusion post-deadline, but this time I infused the Volganaya with 3 or 4 sliced up Satsuma Mandarins from my full-to-bursting dwarf tree out back. For this creation I only needed to steep the fruit in the vodka for about a week...


...for it to transform itself into the most delicious amber-colored tangerine vodka I've ever tasted. OMG. That's a keeper! Right in time for Thanksgiving. And shaken with a splash of cranberry and a squeeze of lime, it's about the best Tango-Cosmo I've ever had! My fave new Tday cocktail.







But again, I digress. Pears. Vodka. Infusion. Alchemy. What to do with all that pear goodness...

Why, a Pear-Ginger.

1 part house-infused pear vodka
1 part gingerale
generous squeeze of lime

Shake, rattle and roll. Garnish with a long sliver of fresh pear.













oo. oo. and ooo! Pass the pears, please....

The Apple Jack

Fall Harvest is here!

In honor of the new crop of Gravenstein apple juice at our local Trader Joes (TJs), I offer up my latest creation, this delightful autumn sipper!

The Apple Jack

In a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice, mix together:

2 oz Gravenstein apple juice (or fresh crop apple cider)
1 oz french brandy (I used TJs Pierre Duchene Napolean VSOP brandy)
1/2 oz Bacardi Spice rum
splash of triple sec
large squeeze of lemon juice
1 tsp raw cane sugar (optional)


Shake well and strain into glass.
Garnish with a thinly sliced round of Granny Smith Apple.

Not your average kiddie juice cup.


Cheers, y'all! To an abundant harvest for each of us...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009










My Middle School Guidebook is finished, back from the printer, and the first 20 copies have already sold. You can find an excerpt here.

I led 10 seminars, a couple of house chats, and a private one-on-one in the past month while also staying up all hours cranking to complete my book by the deadline. I made it. As crazy as that timetable was, I guess a part of me knew I could do it. And I did.

After a few days off (to sleep in) and a weekend spent with my sister who flew in from out of town, I am feeling rested and caught up...except for the next wave of business upgrades I realize I now need. (Cover redesigns, web upgrades, better photos, and manifesting the next big idea of mine...)

In the meantime, I've got a turkey in the oven for today's 2nd grade school feast, and another one brining for tomorrow's friends & family Thanksgiving feast. Got a house full of wine, several house-made vodka infusions, and a fridge that went from bare to stuffed with good food.

Life is good.

Life is abundant.

There is plenty to be thankful for.

Wishing you all a-plenty too....she says as she raises her glass, nods, and kicks back a long, long draught...

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Yee Haw! My Guidebook is written.

I stayed up all night post-seminar to complete the text. Now all I need is a cover design, the headers and footers, a quick final proof, and a run to the printers.

Not to mention a good night's sleep.

:)

yawn.




Sunday, November 15, 2009












Nearing the home stretch, the end is, finally, in sight!

In the next 4 days I have 3 seminars, a private one-on-one, and just 2 days to get that final draft to the printer. Oh, and design a quick cover for it too....and finish those final 3 chapters...and do the layout, font sizes, spacing...and the TOC with its corresponding page numbers.

On Thursday, after I sleep indefinitely, I am heading to the spa where I will commence to steam, soak, bubble, slough, and shower away all evidence of the toll the previous efforts have taken on me. I'm bookin' that baby!

Then, I don't need to tell you, it will be "cocktail:30!" (clink.)

The only question I'll have to answer at that point is, what kind?

Hmmmm, such choices....such possibilities...

Good thing they don't do lotteries for your cocktail choices!

(Hey, now that I think about it, that is a genius marketing concept for one of my public school seminars.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just grinding away on that deadline. This won't be a "cut and paste" of the last one either. I'm taking it further, as well I should. As well I expect of myself. In such limited time.

One more week to go....

Nose.

Grindstone.

I suppose if it weren't for a (self-imposed) deadline, nothing would ever get done!

Sending you all happy wishes....

Now, back to the salt mines....


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Make It Work!

Yes, I'm still the middle of a deadline but no, for this 7-yr-old dynamo, Halloween can't wait. Nor can the school celebration, which came a day early this year.

Desiring to help bring to life a well-loved children's literary character, I searched high and low for either a grey or black pleated skirt, to no avail. The best I could come up with was navy blue. Her size. On sale. $7.99. I grabbed it.

But her robe is black and her sweater is charcoal grey. Navy just wont do.

We're at the corner drugstore the night before Friday's costume parade and I place a last minute call to my left-LA-for-Portland-so-she-could-raise-her-daughters-in-a-decent-different-town costume designer/stylist friend. My go-to resource for all things fashion.

"Hey, I'm staring at this bottle of black RIT dye and I'm wondering if there's any chance in hell it will work on a navy blue skirt that's 100% polyester. I know it says "not recommended for polyester," but I just need to get it to grey or charcoal. Black will work too. I just need to get the blue out. Will this work?"

"Polyester? Um, well, no. You can try it, but it won't take."

"Even if I use the whole bottle and boil it? What about using vinegar? Salt?"

"You can try it, but polyester has so many chemicals in it, it's a different thing altogether. It probably wont grab the dye."

"OK, but what would you do if you couldn't find the right color skirt for a shoot? I'm sure that's happened to you plenty of times before."

"We'd have to make one."

"Clearly that's not an option. I don't even have a sewing machine, or fabric, plus I still have to hem that darn robe."

"There's always fabric paint. And if you're really in a bind you can staple the hem. Just don't forget to use a black Sharpie to touch up the staples afterward."

How Project Runway of her. I never would have thought!

In the inimitable words of Tim Gunn, it's "make it work" time.

After braiding my daughter's hair in 6 tight rows and getting her off to bed, I simmer a soup pot of water, dump in the whole bottle of black dye plus a cup of salt, and stir the inky cocktail. Meanwhile I'm in the kitchen sink washing the stiff skirt with dish soap to try to break down the fibers a bit. At first, water doesn't even penetrate the fabric. It just beads off. Shit. This isn't going to work, is it. I add more soap, agitate it, and keep scrunching it and dunking it in warm water until it softens and eventually soaks through the fabric. I toss the sopping mess into the pot of dye.

Stirring, I turn the heat to low and watch as this navy blue skirt miraculously, all 100% polyester of it, turns to black in about 18 minutes.

Yes! It worked!

Now, about that hem.

The hell with a stapler. Thank God for Stitch Witchery and an iron. But for some reason, after repeated ironings, it didn't take, so here I am hemming the entire circumference of her robe. By hand.

Then I make book titles on the secret compartment faux book "boxes" she'll collect her candy in, a fantastic discovery I found at the local discount store. With some fancy lettering in glittery gold and black permanent marker, the often-referenced volumes, Hogwarts: A History and A History Of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot, come to life on the covers and spines.

Next day, arriving at her school just before the parade, I help her into her outfit and remove the braids. A little back-teasing and hairspray and brown eye pencil create the infamous "bushy" hair and thick eyebrows.

Grey knee socks and a red striped tie complete her English schoolgirl look. I fasten her robes with the fancy clasp. She grabs her books.


It's more than a costume. It's an authentic character transformation...






Straight from the pages of the Harry Potter septogy (that's trilogy times seven), Miss Hermione Granger Lives!











Happy girl.







Tired Mommy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Busy, Busy













Been in a bit of a blur these days. Been building over here. Not much time for posting.

Been working on the website(s)
Been designing my business cards
Received them from the printer today. (They turned out better than expected. Yay!)
Been booking additional seminars.
Been leading the already booked seminars.
Been advancing the upcoming seminars.
Been building on the building I've already done.

One sure way to get me to write that next guidebook is to announce it's release date and book a seminar around it.

After months of procrastination, I have about 2 1/2 weeks to write, edit, proof, and receive back from the printer my next product. Jeez I love a challenge! But if you knew that my first guidebook was raced to the finish line in order to have copies raffled off during a local Mom's Night Out, you'd know this is how I roll. Deadline=Delivery.

Now that I know my way around a Pages layout, you can bet I'll be designing those glossy postcards for it too. (Sharpdots, my new best friend for affordable, delicious promotional materials...biz cards, bookmarks, postcards by the thousands.)

And I just found out I can have a mobile credit card app on my new iphone. Who says I can't become a mobile merchant and an independent bookseller too?

Did I mention that I have to dye and hem a Halloween costume by tomorrow afternoon's costume parade? Without a sewing machine?

Love to my peeps out there. Have a rockin' Halloween!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Message In The Aftermath

winding path
Photo: Winding Path

A little over a month into the new school year, I find myself standing back and perusing the vista. I've trekked a good long way, but only in looking backward do I find clarity in the path revealed.

A couple of comments my new virtual friend Deb posted recently have been knocking around my brain, reverberating. Regarding A Few Small Repairs and things in my life breaking down in clusters:

"There's always a message somewhere..." and "What will you do when you run out of things to fix?"

...hahaha. Indeed.

You see, in the midst of the hailstorm, head down, body tucked for warmth and protection against the onslaught of elements, one is merely managing to get from point A to point B. Forget C, D and E or the long-held vision of WXYZ. No. A...A.5...A.75 and eeking out a B will suffice. If you get to B you've done a good thing. Kick the ball, get 10 more balls, begin again!

Let me try to explain.

I spent the better part of the last 2-3 years giving out... to the little school, to the surrounding community, the blustery district political policy machine, while many stressed-out parents, school issues, and larger district-wide problems felt like a million little hands of need...need, constant need...pulling at me for attention.

I am, by nature, a giving person.

I am, by nature, a capable problem-solver.

I am, by nature, one who doesn't sit idly by. I have to try. Something.

But I am now, at this moment, removed from being entrenched in many of the immediate issues. I am no longer there.

I am, at this moment, for the first time in many moons, turning the focus back inward. Not out there to the wider community, but back here. To my self. My work. My family. My environment. Our homestead.

It feels good.

It feels much-needed and necessary. As if all things, eventually, return home. OM.

I reflect back to this former post, Cleaning House, and sense the mounting disarray and neglect around our home even then. Years worth of repairs and maintenance got displaced during the onslaught. Freed from the many burdens, I am just now getting caught up around here.

We are no longer in a fixer-upper school. Although admirable, although deeply committed to the cause, although I adore the community of like-minded in-the-trench-warriors, I am absolutely and completely relieved, RELIEVED, to be free from the constancy of effort needed at that little place.

I still have great love and respect for the community and the work being done there. I still lend a helping hand and offer support when I can. I still bump into staff and friends there. We're still there every day at the bus stop. I recently helped lead a grassroots letter-writing campaign that actually saved a no-seniority teacher from being fired last month due to increased class size ratios. (Through the grace of God, the powers that be, and the cumulative power of mobilized, outspoken parents, we were able to get her a waiver.) And even though we're not there anymore, I still do CARE.

But I don't have to feel like I'm holding up the walls anymore.

I can LET GO.

I can revert the focus back here. Back to center. Back to me, my daughter, us.

I've been volunteering in her new classroom every other week or so. This is a luxury she sadly had to sacrifice in the past. At the other school I was too busy with the big picture issues like school-wide infrastructure, policy, communications, professional development, community outreach, tours. I didn't have time to work in just one classroom; I worked on behalf of the whole school. At her new school, I work in her classroom, for her teacher, with her group of kids. I can be present in her experience, once a week or every other week, and it's very rewarding for us both. And the class will survive without me if I don't make it in. There's already a TA in every class. What I bring is bonus support.

At the new school, they assign a value system for everything you donate, a point per half hour of volunteer time, a point per every $5 spent on either a fundraiser or supplies, tabulated monthly. There are built-in incentives like class parties for the class/grade with the most points accumulated.

I can't even begin to describe what assigning a value unit to donated time and services has done for me in terms of re-thinking the value of my efforts, and how much I have accumulated over a period of time. It makes me conscious of what I choose to give and how much, because now I am logging it in. I can't even fathom how many points our family would have collected over the past years with everything we used to do for that other school, me with my full-time load, my husband as booster club president.

So as the focus shifts back homeward, trusting that this new school has its systems not just under control but organized and thriving, I am beginning to relax. Catch up. Repair and replace my own fix-it list. Update. And also, gestate new ideas.

We found ourselves sitting around the living room at 9:30 the other night not with a stack of school-related issues to delve into or a 2-3 hour debate about it, but instead deciding which movie to watch. (We ended up playing games on our iphones. Dreaded Word Warp! Seriously, if you love playing with words, stay away!) I actually hosted a dinner party for friends last week and instead of a burden, it felt lovely, fantastic. It reminded me that even though I used to love to host gatherings, I had no capacity to host much of anything over the past few years, so I just didn't. But now I am craving a more relaxed, social, you-know, joy-filled life.

I find myself making homemade pasta, fresh rolled empanadas, and developing new seasonal cocktails. I feel an abundance all around. I am taking time to breathe in the sun streaking through the glass, casting its brilliant particles of vibrancy and possibility all through and around me. At night the moon cuts through the sky in a swath of brilliance, lifting my heart, beckoning me to wake up, embrace the purity of its loving illumination. Lit from within, I become that same beacon of light radiating outward in my life.

I am happy. Possibilities abound.

I spoke to a group of parents at a preschool the other night and walked away on such a high. I get to share my wisdom, my passion with others, and the exchange is palpable. I love what I do. It is meaningful work. I feel I am making an impact. I could go on and on.

I suddenly feel that as I clear through the backlog and get current around here, the path that I had been on becomes even more clear. The work I am doing, and the book I want to write about it all seems just that much more tangible and within reach. I couldn't write it while my head was so deep in the trenches. I had no perspective there. I was just getting by, surviving moment to moment between rounds of mortar.

It is only now that I am removed from it all that I can see the vista, that I can even begin to write about what just took place and my path through it. And there is a lot to tell.

The message is: it takes a lot of courage to chuck out all that work and start somewhere fresh. Sometimes that is the best thing one can do.

In honor of another friend, Ms Link, and her courage to start over as well, may we be filled with the wonder of what is unfolding in this NOW moment... as we gain perspective on where we've just bushwhacked through.

Many thanks...


The stone steps wind through the woods for a long ways.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Growth Of An Idea








It started innocently enough. Back in April '07 I was about to get mentioned in the LAT (LA Times) for my little Westside Guidebook (thanks to Sandra Tsing Loh), and thought hey, what a wasted opportunity it would be if the fine folks of Los Angeles couldn't point and click their way to a site, any site, to find me. Quick! Get me a url.

A You Are What?

Being the nascent blogger that I was at the time, (not even a year into it), I knew nothing about websites. But I knew how to blog, I knew how to post.

So I quick grabbed a Blogger address (I was already GoMama; ok then, GoMamaGuide) used the book title as the blatant title all across the header, uploaded an introductory post announcing the Guidebook, a coupla images, a table of contents, and a quick text link to Paypal in one day. (I'd figure out that "Buy Now button" code later. That was advanced stuff for me.)

Whew. A site. Made it to deadline.

A few months earlier, my Guidebook had been "released" (and by that I mean I was printing it out of my computer at home, burning through ink and staying up nights strip binding batches of them.) It was being hawked locally through email, through word of mouth, through posting on the online moms groups, on yahoo parent groups, other social networking groups, spreading virally, with copies being raffled off at local moms-night-outs or preschool auctions, and of course I was selling them in person at my occasional speaking events. Just doing my part to shed light and help my fellow stressed-out moms on this crazy public school choice thing...

LA. Public Schools. What a mess. Here, I can help...

But over time, my little help-out-a-fellow-mom-with-her-public-school-choices, has led to save-the-little-neighborhood-school-that-could, to use-your-voice-for-change, and then get-involved-in-the-public-school-reform-political-drama... this has BECOME my life. This is my work. This is what I DO. My Guidebooks are just one tiny part of it. I have grown. GoMama has grown. And the GoMamaGuide has become a brand. An identity. An umbrella or lighthouse of many possible opportunities and outcomes.

Meanwhile, this little url was bursting at the seams with added content. It needed to grow too.

One thing that I am very proud of is that every part of this "business" has grown organically, intuitively, from a sudden inspiration to execution, from word of mouth to shared ideas and connections, from solving a problem to growing a new platform, and I am both humbled and amazed by that growth. It's not like I ever sat down and devised a business plan for this thing...it kind of grew me.

But as I/we grew, I began to cram so much stuff into the limited confines of the Blogger template that the site was getting unwieldy and hard to navigate with its endless scrolling content. (And here I was, the mama offering navigational services.) It deserved better.

Time for a url upgrade.

But being the cheap, I should say, non-profit mom that I am, I just don't have the budget to hire fancy graphic designers, or web designers, or find web hosts and the like, and even if I did, I'm fairly certain I would still be leaning over their shoulders, controlling every little detail myself. That's just how I am.

"Minutia," my husband calls it, exasperated at me.

"Detailed-orientated and cost-effective," I counter. A do-it-yourselfer through and through.

So somewhere back a few weekends ago, perhaps feeling a bit over-confident after having played around with adding some widgets and a new custom background to this site, (love my new look here, btw), I decided to give my ole GMG url a makeover too, thinking it couldn't possibly take more than an afternoon or two, right?

Right?

Suddenly that list of a few small repairs mushrooms into a dandelion patch in a windstorm...

I'm not going to go into the whole process here because I've forgotten more than I remember, plus I got a lot of online help, but here's a brief outline of my Project GMG upgrade:

Inspired by the many free background wrapper sites for bloggers, (such as TheCutestBlogOnTheBlock and HotBliggityBlog) I spent hours trolling the web for ideas and how-to's, collecting screenshots of inspiration as I explored the possibilities of change. Many a night I was up 'til dawn. My MacBook desktop looked like someone threw up squares of colored confetti during this phase of Operation Search.

The next part was a big one. Actually making the commitment to dive in. To indeed commit to change.

Change isn't easy. Change takes time. Change requires patience... for the inevitable screw ups and longer-than-expected unexpected learning curves. Change changes the things around it, the things that touch it. Change is contagious. In the middle of it all, change is a mess. You might regret ever stepping into change. I know that feeling well. But then you push through, guided by a vision, some unknown nudging, and the transformation is your reward. That and the power you gain from going through the transition...to transformation.

Change is empowering. Change is GOOD! Change is part of LIFE!

* * *

Steps of Transformation:

Go into Layout. Take everything away. Fade to white. Everything white. It's a virtual white out.

Insert sound of clinking, clanging, banging, frustration, and rapid heartbeat...problems, delays, learning curves, work-arounds....then putting things back, adding content, fixing layouts, streamlining pages and adding links....and eventually, out comes...

Ta Da!

Ladies and gentleman, without further ado I give you:









A new url.

GoMama Go!!

Finally, there's rest for the weary!

Except that business cards need to follow....but hey, I can navigate a layout in Pages now, so....

...and btw, did you see that line-up of speaking engagements!