Spilling the beans.

I have not been posting regularly and haven’t shared many recipes. Every time I start a post, I end up staring at the screen, typing a few sentences, deleting them and then snapping my laptop closed. The past month delivered some major life changes and things have not been easy. I was reluctant to be overly personal on Whipped but our current situation is all consuming so it has proved impossible for me to post without acknowledging our circumstances.

In January, I wrote about some major life changes I was putting in place. I followed through and I slowed down my work, started writing more and truly found balance between motherhood, blogging and professional endeavors. That lasted about a month. And, because it was short lived, I think I will always put that month on a pedestal as one of the happiest in my life.

Mid February, things started falling apart. We had some trouble with schools that left us wondering if we would have a place for Mini Whipped to go next year. Then, on a random Tuesday after lunch, my husband found out that his job was being eliminated. He works in banking and his situation is not unique but it completely blind-sided us. For the past year, he worked more than ever, was succeeding at his job and felt like he had just hit his professional stride. Wrong industry, wrong time.

We’ve learned that the shock of such change is worse than the actual change itself. Because I had severed many of my professional contracts in an effort to balance my life, we found ourselves suddenly disconnected to the daily lives we were accustomed to. I was not tied down to contracts, school decisions were up in the air and my husband had no job. A roller coaster of emotions followed bringing writhing fear and panic followed by a vacant calm that things were out of our control. During breakfast I would feel deeply sad about losing the newly acquired, wonderful life I had just worked so hard to put in place and by lunch I was elated and free as I searched online for international house swaps.

Often people say that things happen for a reason and that something better is waiting for us. I was feeling SO happy in January that it was hard to see that something better was possible. But, as the weeks have passed and my husband has spent more time with the kids and we have explored new life plans, things are starting to fall in place and have meaning. He is looking more alive and has a sparkle in his eye that I now realize had been dimming due to his busy work schedule.

(This is where the story turns from a little sad to very hopeful.)

Just recently, we made a big decision to move forward with an entrepreneurial idea we hatched about a year ago. There were so many signs that we were meant to take action but our status quo was too comfortable to take the leap. Perhaps, just maybe, things DID happen for a reason? As my husband put it, “I guess we weren’t listening to fate so life gave us a big sock in the nose.”

It is a little early to divulge what our idea is because some initial steps could still turn up roadblocks that halt our plans. But, I feel a little tickle in my tummy as I write (and it isn’t because I am craving a doughnut.) We have done a lot of soul searching and no matter what happens this year and beyond, we have confirmed a few things. We accept that change is inevitable. We are not afraid of a little sacrifice and hardship, especially if it is needed to make change. We will spend energy on the things we can influence and we will not waste energy on things beyond our control.

So, there you have it. Now that I have been honest with you, perhaps I can begin blogging properly again. I waffle about how much personal information is appropriate to share on blogs. It is certainly a lot of fun to learn that people are expecting a little one (like Luisa and Molly both recently did!) But, it feels a bit awkward to share difficult news. However, I am learning that one of the satisfying things about blogging is connecting with other people. And, long ago, I chose to put myself out there and connect with all of you who are interested enough to spend time visiting my site.

From the outpouring of support we have received from friends, colleagues, family and neighbors, we have learned that most families have found themselves in similar situations at one time or another. Though shock and unexpected change can feel isolating, it ironically unites us all. Something is waiting for us and we are determined to use our energy to make sure that it is the “something better” people are talking about.

Emeril Lagasse’s Refried Beans Recipe

1 cup dried pinto beans, soaked overnight in a large bowl with water to cover by 2-inches, and drained
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup bacon drippings or lard
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced, seeded jalapeno
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne
1/2 teaspoon chopped oregano
1/2 cup grated queso blanco
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, garnish

In a medium, heavy pot, combine the beans, bay leaf, and enough water to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding more water as necessary to keep covered. When the beans are soft, mash in the pot with a potato masher or the back of heavy wooden spoon. Remove from the heat.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add the beans and any cooking liquid from the pot, and the oregano, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring with a heavy wooden spoon, until the mixture forms a thick paste, 5 to 10 minutes, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time to keep from getting dry.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a decorative bowl. Sprinkle with the cheese and cilantro, and serve.

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9 Responses to “Refried Beans”

  1. Doris Says:

    Best wishes of luck in your endeavors. Thanks for your blog..love reading it.

  2. Stolk Says:

    So excited for your new endeavor, and big props to you and your hub for having the courage to take that plunge. You have a Portland rep if you need one!

  3. Stephanie @ Macaroni and Cheesecake Says:

    I’m so sorry for your husbands job loss and the difficult time your family has been going through. Thank you for being open to share as I’m sure your story and how you all are looking at it as an opportunity for change will make such a difference in the lives of others. Excited to hear more about your new venture!

  4. Eva Says:

    Hi Whipped,
    My husband and I went through a similar situation a few years ago and are staring to rebound. I started my own business and he finally found a job that fulfills him in a different industry from what he was laid off from. I could totally relate to this post and I think that everything happens for a reason and we have truly found that the simplest things in life are the best- corny but true! I hope this new endeavor helps you find the bliss!

  5. Heather Says:

    Cant wait to hear about the new adventure. And I know exactly what you mean about sharing personal info, but I agree – at the end of the day, that’s what your blog is for!

  6. Claire Helene Says:

    Hi Caroline – I am so sorry to hear about all the hardships, but am hopeful for you and your husband’s new endeavors. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, but usually don’t comment and usually it’s through my google reader. Thanks for sharing what you’ve been going through, so I can send some positive vibes your way. I’m pulling for you!

  7. Nina Says:

    Mrs. Whipped,

    As a fairly recent fan of yours, I just wanted to state that I love your blog, and I think you are fantastic, and I just KNOW things are going to work out in your favor. Because I can tell from the way that you write that you are a smart, friendly person. And I can tell by the way that you cook that you have a big, beautiful heart.

    How can I tell, you ask? Oftentimes, I’ve found that those who don’t care for their food don’t care for much else. You pay attention to what goes into your food, how to make it right, and how to really create something that is both beautiful and delicious. This proves that you really do care for your readers, and the people in your life, because you provide them with everything they need to create the beautiful things that, I am sure, come out of your kitchen.

    I want to wish you luck, and offer you all the good karma I’ve got. I am absolutely certain you won’t need it, though. :) You have plenty of your own.

  8. Love To Crochet Says:

    Sometimes life just has a way of making refried beans out of our daily routine. But if the truth be known…they are better tasting than just plain ole pinto beans. Put a little seasoning on those plain ole beans or our everyday rut we so often get in, and boom the taste can be good. Hang in there and best of luck in your new adventures!

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