:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

COFFEE Project Post Five: Recipe for Regress (Tawni)

I realized I was due to post this morning, as I was drifting off to sleep last night.

“Wait… today was the 22nd?! Oh crap!” I exclaimed to myself.

I’m really bad at keeping track of the date. I have three organizers, and calendars in every room of the house, and I still forget. It’s a real problem.

I even bought a gigantically geeky men’s watch specifically for the day of the week and month feature, but I forget to wear it. Ha.

So I suddenly realized it was my turn to post. But then I decided that I would just write this late-morning and post it in the early afternoon, no big deal. There is no deadline other than some time today. We’re all casual like that. It’s cool. Right?

Right. Except that I have an eerie internal alarm clock I can set to any time I want just by visualizing when I want to get up. I say eerie because it has repeatedly spooked people who live with me throughout my life. I don’t think it’s creepy; it’s just how I am. Some people are good at math, and I’m good at waking up.

But it can backfire. Like if I’m lying in bed, trying to go to sleep, but thinking about how I could get up early and write, but no, that’s silly, just go to sleep, Freebird, you can still write tomorrow after a good night of sleep, no need to be extreme and wake up at 3 in the morning to meet a self-imposed writing deadline. I know you have shopping to do, and many pies to bake tomorrow, but you’ll still find time to write something. Just go to sleep, girl! Don’t wake me up early to write, please, oh, please, stupid internal alarm clock! It’s not that big of a deal if I don’t post a blog first thing in the morning! It’s not! IT’S NOT.


And the next thing I knew, it was 2:45 a.m. and my eyes popped open. The Body is ready to wake up, because that’s what you wanted… right, Tawni? whispered my stupid brain. (That last sentence would be said in a “2001: A Space Odyssey” Hal the computer voice, by the way.)

Noooooooooooooo! Let me off this spaceship!

(This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.)

(Just what do you think you're doing, Dave, er… Tawni?)

I made myself stay in bed, tossing and turning until 4, and then gave up. You win, crazy brain. I’m up, damn it. I’m going to have a strung-out, exhausted, headache-filled, burning-eyed, up-since-2:45-in-the-freaking-morning kind of day, but I’m up.

(And I have hyphens! Weeeee!)

But hey, I’m writing, so there’s that.

And I’m awake and drinking coffee during my favorite time of day: the silent hours of pre-dawn. So peaceful.


I came off my last post feeling motivated and ready to unleash some serious creative force on the planet. Reading about the efforts of my fellow COFFEE Write Club members and documenting my own goals really pushed me in a positive direction. I got my focus back.

We have also had many unseasonably warm days lately (meaning in the 50s, don’t get too excited), and that seemed to pull me out of the winter funk I’d slipped into, however temporarily.

I wrote a few quick pieces for the no-editing picture-prompted blog I started.

Many evenings I played guitar and sang my little heart out in my bathroom, the only place I don’t wake up the sleeping child, a.k.a. My Toilet Songs. (It’s not very dignified, having to perch on the closed lid of the porcelain throne while you sing, but the acoustics are surprisingly choral in the shower area. And the sink counter makes a good place to set a guitar tuner and a beer. Bright side!)

I was sitting down at the computer and writing a little every day. The self-expression felt cathartic and good.

And then my son got sick. He had a fever of 103 degrees F and the croup-tastic barking baby seal cough that all parents know and dread. He ended up missing his last week of school before Christmas break, which also happened to be one of the most fun weeks of the whole year.

I felt so bad for him. He missed the Christmas program he’d been rehearsing his songs for since November. He was supposed to be one of the three kings, so they had to scramble to find a replacement kid to wear the gimpy costume I made him. (I pinned together a Snuggie for his kingly robe, and made his crown out of foam and glitter. He looked like the king of the Dollar Store, but I am not spending $40 on a child’s king costume.) He missed the book exchange, the class party, stockings full of treats from his teacher; all the good stuff. Instead, he got a rotation of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Zicam, Mucinex, steroids, and albuterol nebulizer treatments. Poor kid.

The king of the Dollar Store can list 6 reasons why his mom is a cheap woman, starting with his Snuggie robe and handmade crown.

I know that these children will get sick, and illness is just a part of life - building immunities, and all of that happy horseshit - but man, does it ever break your heart, and jack up the life routine.

Instead of time to write, it was time to snuggle and take care of my sick little buddy all week, so I don’t have too much more progress to report. Except that he’s doing better, and will most likely be healthy enough to enjoy Christmas this year. He got H1N1, and I got shingles all over the left side of my face and head for Christmas last year, so some good health all up in here will be greatly appreciated.


After I mentioned winning recipe contest money in my last writing entry, a few lovely ladies asked me to share, so I think I’m going to post one here. (That's right... I just jumped from shingles to food. Be repulsed impressed.) Cooking is creative, right? I feel like cooking is totally a part of the Creative Collective we have going on here (just check out Amy’s delicious creations!), so I will end with that.

I got $100 for creating this recipe. The required ingredient was corn, and the theme was grilling, so I used grilled chicken. I wouldn’t normally use corn, and would probably replace it with red peppers. I would also add onions and mushrooms, but there was a ten ingredient limit. I think that if you pulled out the chicken and added more vegetables, this would be a great no-meat dish. Fake sausage crumbles and scrambled eggs would make it a vegetarian-friendly breakfast dish as well.

(Can I just say that fresh cilantro makes me ridiculously happy? I love the way it smells. My husband brought a bunch home from the store for me before I created this dish, and I think I liked getting a cilantro bouquet even more than getting flowers. And I really like getting flowers.)

Corny Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla Squares


12 sheets phyllo dough, thawed
8 tablespoons butter, melted
7 oz. (half can) corn
2 chicken pieces, grilled and shredded (about 1 cup)
7 oz. (half can) black beans
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
½ onion, finely diced
1 cup finely shredded cheddar
Salsa or sour cream for garnish


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Brush large cookie sheet with melted butter. Place one sheet of phyllo dough on sheet and brush with melted butter. Repeat layering for a total of 6 phyllo sheets. In a large bowl, mix together corn, shredded chicken, beans, cilantro and onion. Spread mixture over top of 6 layered phyllo sheets. Sprinkle cheddar cheese evenly over mixture. Place one sheet of phyllo dough over mixture and cheese, and brush sheet with melted butter. Repeat layering for a total of 6 phyllo sheets. Bake phyllo quesadilla 7-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer phyllo quesadilla to large cutting board. Cut into square pieces and serve with salsa or sour cream garnish.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day, and Happy New Year to everybody. Enjoy your holidays!


amy said...

So many things to say about this wonderful post, Tawni! So! Many! Things! I need to do a list:

1-That creative recipe looks ridiculously yummy. I feel some corny chicken and black bean quesadilla squares in my kitchen's (and tummy's) future (minus the shingles). Why has Food Network not discovered you??

2-That is a frickin' cute Dollar Store king. I'm pretty sure Baby Jesus would agree. Also, I think people who go out and spend $40+ on things like 3 Kings costumes are missing the whole point of that nice story.

3-I will be very frowny with you if you ever release a CD of songs and do not title it "My Toilet Songs." Very frowny!

4-I *hate* that burny-eyed/head-ache-y/I-didn't-get-enough-sleep feeling!

5-I do not have a magic, freaky internal alarm clock. I just get sidetracked by the internet and before I know it, it's 2 AM and I have to get up in 4 hours. That is not magic, just freaky.

6-I predict only healthy holidays for you, husband, and Dollar Store King from now on.

7-Happy all the holidays to you & yours, Ms. Freebird!

T-Free said...

Hahahaha. Your comments made me laugh and laugh and laugh. Especially #3. I promise you I will never title a CD "Toilet Songs" ever, although it has crossed my mind for a solo acoustic album. But I won't. Just for you. I promise. :)

Happy all the holidays to you and yours too, beautiful Amy! xoxo.

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

Oh T-Bird, I am so impressed with you on so many levels and lasagna levels. First, I have to proclaim my absolute amazement and awe at your internal alarm clock! YES! This is freaky and AMAZING! Do you know how much of my life I have spent jerking awake, panicked glance to the clock, only to hurdle out of bed yelling "CRAAAAPPPPPP!" Story of my life, really, story of my life...... Ok, so, there's that. I also love that you have some sense around money. Good for you, I mean, couldn't our culture use more of this anyway?? Plus, I love The Dollar Store! I think if we all shopped there first, we would have smilier people all around. :)

I hope your little guy is completely feeling better. I love his little pic. He is so the king, please tell him some strange woman in KC thinks he rocks that crown, because he truly rocks it! I am also so sorry to hear about last year's illnesses... that is just awful. :( I will send out some prayers for the best of the best of health your way.

Ok, so the recipe. That looks delicious! Of course you won! I showed it to my boyfriend's daughter and told her the name of it. We both giggled, and we decided we'll make it. The best part about this, Tawni, is that I don't cook.... so this means my sweet Grace, 11 yr old Grace, will be helping me, 36 yr old no cook talent.... COOK! :)

Thanks for a great post! Happy Holidays to you!

patresa said...

OOPS! Tawni, i thought i responded to this! sorry about that!

first i will say that i am very glad cute mr. miles is on the mend. he looks like such a sweet little guy there in his paper crown and his snuggie royal robes. i'm sorry he had to miss all that fun stuff.

next i will say that i WANT SOME CORNY CHICKEN! oh my that looks delicious. i want to lick my computer screen.

and finally, your internal alarm clock is COOOL! annoying for you, yes, i'm sure, but ultimately, that's pretty cool! do you ever have to set an alarm clock?

looking forward to what's ahead for you in 2011!

and hey, are you going to post a link to your literary lampshade blog?

T-Free said...

Oh my goodness! I didn't realize there were more comments here! Sorry for my rudeness! Thank you for reading. xoxo.

Tanner May and Captain P, I also forgot to mention that there are more recipes, winning and not, up at this website: http://www.phyllo.com/community/contest.php

If'n you wanna see more of them, I mean. My recipes are posted under the name "tawnysea" and my mom's are under the name "zarlene." I would recommend checking out my mom's because she is amazing in the kitchen. We always had great, creative dinners growing up. She wins cooking contests often, and has even been on the local news to cook her U.S. grand champion SPAM recipe. She is a SPAMPION! I'm so proud of her.

I also forgot the Literary Lampshade link. Or maybe I was feeling too shy when I wrote the last blog. Anyhow, I need to get over that, so I will mention that it is here: http://literarylampshade.blogspot.com/

I hope you ladies had an amazing holiday season, and I look forward to reading more about your lives and successes in 2011! :)