Monday, March 21, 2011

38 years now what?

So last year I wrote a pretty good post on my birthday thinking about where I've come from and where I plan on going.  Looking back at this last year I have managed to meet some of the goals I've set for myself and I feel pretty good about it!

The most important of them for me was finishing my Labor Doula training and beginning to attend births.  I have had such amazing experiences so far on this journey.  It has been a true honor to be a part of the miracle of birth in all it's forms.  I've been witness to a baby born drug free while mom used hypnosis, twins born virtually unassisted at home, and a baby born via a cesarean! I've expanded my knowledge and my network tenfold it seems in the last year.  Each and every family that invited me into their lives has been a blessing to me. I can only hope that I've been able to give back to them as much as they have given to me.

While I LOVE being a doula I am feeling more and more called to midwifery as a profession.  The last few months I've been reading like crazy trying to "know" as much as I can about birth in order to be better informed and prepared to support my doula clients.  All of this reading keeps reinforcing the feeling in my heart that I am meant to do more than I am to help women have the births they want.  So to that end I'm working slowly on obtaining the text books I need, getting in on as many teaching moments as are offered locally, and looking for ways to expand my knowledge in preparation for taking classes to become a midwife sometime in the near future.  That timing is still up in the air a bit though.

With Marc actually having finished his Bachelors Degree this past fall he is actively looking for work back East. (East of the Rockies and South of the Mason/Dixon line if you please)  Where we land will have a lot to do with how I go ahead with my schooling, and if I go to nursing school or midwifery school. The midwifery laws very so much from state to state that it really does make a HUGE difference.  This factor has also ruled out a few places that we could have looked for work, but due to the fact that home births are illegal I won't live in those locations. (I.E. Illinois, Kentucky, and North Carolina to name a few)

So the next step for me is to work hard on getting my writing/blogging etc in order. I've applied to be a content writer to a couple of websites, and I hope to get some writing gigs to help finance my doula practice!  And to that end I also need to finish my website and continue networking in order to bring in clients consistently for my practice. So IF you know of anyone expecting a baby in August or beyond have them surf on over to my availability calender and doula profile on Doula Match and contact me for an interview!

In August I hope to go to instructor training for Dancing For Birth up in Seattle in order to expand my offerings and bring in a bit more revenue.  I truly think I'd enjoy teaching this type of childbirth prep class, and it is very very hard to work as a doula full time financially.  So many people have no idea what I do still, AND don't realize the value of hiring me.  So until those things change I won't be able to make a living at just doing births.  I've got some other ideas of how to add value to my practice without adding a lot more time consuming work. We shall see if they pan out or not.

This year has other exciting ventures ahead as well. A trip home with the whole family, training for a 5k, Marc training to do the Portland Triathlon, lot's of camps and hopeful enjoying the Oregon countryside as much as possible.

Tri-tip Steak Soup

It's no secret to my friends that I LOVE Tri-tip. It's an amazing cut of beef that is a luscious steak dinner one night and transforms into so many different things the next that it is really a frugal cooks' dream.  Here's what I did with our left over tri-tip last night!

 I made soup. It was really good and even the kids raved. What I love about soup is that you can pretty much use any veggies you have on hand.  I just try to "cook a rainbow" of veggies, so an orange, a green, a white, a red, etc. Other options would be asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet potato, parsnip, turnips, beets. . .The choices are endless!  If you don't have potatoes throw in some rice for the starch instead.

Here is what's in the bowl above:

Tri-tip Steak Soup

  • 1 pound of Grilled Tri-tip cut into bite sized cubes.
  • 4 med. potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 3 large carrots peeled and cubed
  • 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of green beans (or a cup of fresh or frozen green beans)
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 med onion diced
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1 14 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 4 cups of veg. stock (or 2c veg and 2c beef broth)
  • 2 T butter or olive oil
  • 2T red wine (or if you don't use alcohol just use some of the broth or stock) for deglazing
  • 2 T prime rib seasoning (rosemary, black pepper, salt, paprika, garlic)
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • 1T Steak Sauce -- THIS is what I think makes it taste like "steak soup"
  • 2T brown gravy mix (to help thicken up the broth)
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  • Heat butter or oil in a stock pot over medium heat. 
  • Saute Onion until translucent then add the garlic to caramelize. 
  • Deglaze the pan with the wine or some of the stock.
  • Pour in the tomato sauce, stocks, seasonings, and steak sauce. Bring to a boil
  • Add in the carrots and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the potatoes.
  • Cook at a slow boil for 15 minutes and then add the soft veggies (tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms etc).
  • Ladle out 1/4 cup of the broth and whisk it with the gravy mix, then stir back into the pot.
  • Cook until the potatoes and carrots are fork tender.
  • IF you want to use rice instead of potatoes I recommend cooking the rice first and adding it in the last 5 minutes of cooking or you will loose all of your broth to the rice!
Serve with a big slice of buttered crusty bread and enjoy!!

Easy Tri Tip Fajitas with Cilantro-Lime Rice


1 onion
1 bell pepper (I like red or orange better than green!)
Grilled Tri-tip sliced into thin strips
1 pkg Fajitas seasoning
2 T olive oil

In a large frying pan heat the oil over medium heat.
Slice the onion and pepper into strips

Sauté the onion and pepper stirring occasionally, but letting them caramelize slightly before each time you stir.
Remove to a dish and cover with foil.
Add the meat and heat through. Add seasoning mixed per package directions. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and return veggies to the pan and toss to cover.

Serve over rice or in warm flour tortillas. 

Cilantro-Lime Rice

1 cup rice 
1/4 cup chopped fresh Cilantro
zest and juice of 2 small limes
2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup of water

Cook the rice with the lime zest, juice, broth, and water using your normal method for rice.
Add the cilantro and stir and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Top with lettuce, cheese, pico, sour cream, guac, what ever you like!

Grilled Tri-Tip


1/4 cup veg oil (I use Canola for it's high smoke point since I'm grilling)
2 T Worchester Sauce
1T lemon juice
1t ground black pepper
1t kosher salt
1/2t red pepper flakes
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
4-5 green onion chopped fine

Whisk all ingredients together.

Marinade meat for at least 30 minutes, over night is even better.

Tri-tip is a cut that likes to be cooked hot and fast and on the rare side.
So temp it at 155 and let it rest to 160.
6-7 minutes per side at 500 degrees under the broiler if you aren't grilling outside should do it.

Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
Slice thin across the grain of the meat on a bias for the best tenderness.

I recommend making more than one at a time since there are many wonderful ways to use the left overs!

Friday, March 11, 2011

What I wrote for my grandpa's funeral

When trying to think of something to say that would capture my feelings and what it was like to have Carl Pittman as a grandfather, so many thoughts swirled in my mind that I was quite overwhelmed. I was advised to pick a single memory, something that would bring joy to others, and to quote, keep it short.

The trouble is that there are too many memories to choose from, too many moments that brought me joy, and that in the retelling would share some of that joy with all of you. Moments full of laughter like the game of “stealing Papaw's chair”, moments of wisdom passed down like being told to “always get the name of everyone you do business with”, or moments of learning shared like teaching me how to whistle the “red bird's song”. I struggled over the last couple of days with which one to choose.

I finally settled upon the sunflowers. Which isn't surprising really since they will always be the flowers I associate with my Grandpa.

You see when I was little, I would sneak out to the bird feeder near the garden and take some of the sunflower seeds, then plant them in the corner of the garden by the fence. Every year a few would sprout and grow. I'd laugh, thrilled to see them tall and bright in the sunshine, and Grandpa would pretend to be surprised at them being there at all and in a mock scolding “tsk tsk” at me wondering what “little birdie” planted those flowers in his garden. Even when I went away to college and then later moved out of state, every year a sunflower would still grow. I'm not sure to this day if the birds did the planting or if Grandpa did it just to be able to tease me about them despite swearing he never planted them there to take up precious space for his peppers!

Sunflowers for the funeral from Marc, the kids, and I

In then end it doesn't matter. In the end when it comes right down to it, the sunflowers brought us both joy and helped us feel together over the miles that separated us. Just like each of the many memories and stories that are shared today, will bring each of us a bit of joy on a day of sadness and remind us that in our grief we are not alone.

Having Carl Pittman as a grandpa blessed my life. I have been blessed by his humor, wisdom, patience, and knowledge, and blessed by the presence of man who never failed to show his love for me. I love him deeply and will miss him always.