Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Fog Is Lifting

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I wasn't sure if I would start blogging again. I've had a lot of time for serious reflection during my blog hiatus. While the situation in my personal life has weighed heavily on me the last few months, I've also learned what's truly important to me. It's like the fog is finally burning off and revealing clear skies.

The first weeks were pretty bad. I cried almost everyday. I truly hated my body for betraying me. This wasn't the "I hate the physical outward appearance of my body" but the "I hate the insides of my body for not working properly" and "why can't my body be normal?" After many weeks of worry and distress, I'm thankful that the last two weeks have consisted of more good days than bad ones. I never thought it would happen, and believe me there were days when I thought I wouldn’t be able to say this, but I'm beginning to feel like my old self again.

Yet I feel like a completely changed person. I don't sweat the little things anymore. If you knew me you would know how difficult this is for me since I'm totally obsessive compulsive. It's been hard to change the person that I've been for so very long, but it also feels good to be free of my obsessive chains. I feel lighter and happier.

I've always loved, respected, and appreciated my parents, but I truly learned to appreciate them on a whole new level. My mom cooked enough food for me and my husband so that I wouldn't have to cook dinner during the work week. She provided clarity on my situation and comfort whenever I was upset. My dad told me not to worry about our finances if I needed to take time off from my full time job. But I guess that's what parents do for their children. I will never, ever, take them for granted again. I feel surrounded by the safety and comfort they provide.

My dear husband let me cry on his shoulder, handed me tissues to wipe my tears and blow my nose. He did the grocery shopping and picked up my prescriptions. He chauffeured me to doctor's appointments so I wouldn't have to try to find a parking spot (a pretty difficult task in the city). He accompanied me on walks around the neighborhood when I felt confined by the walls of our house. He sat on the sofa next to me for hours each night. I feel honored that we’ve chosen to be together for life.

I’ve rediscovered a spirituality and faith that I thought was long gone. I know many people will turn to a higher power in times of crisis, but I didn’t do the “bargaining” as in “If you make me well I promise to X,Y,Z” since I thought that would be too cliché. I took my own path. Thank you to everyone who kept me in their prayers. I feel blessed.

The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for the overwhelming support. Your comments and emails provided some much needed sunshine on my cloudiest of days. And it is this kindness that has made me decide to blog again.

When I started this blog 2 ½ years ago my intention was to have a place to share recipes with friends and family. And because I didn't want to post the same recipe more than once, blogging would force me to try new recipes. I've become a better baker because of blogging. After some time, people I didn’t even know started reading my little blog. With that increase in readership I developed a sense of accountability. I was accountable not only to myself, but to you, the reader.

I don't pretend to be a highly skilled baker. I'm just a baking enthusiast with a lot to learn. Luckily I have an endless source of willing taste testers. I don't pretend to be a writer. I'm not looking for a cookbook deal. (But I would like to congratulate those who have gotten a deal.) I don't pretend to be a photographer, but I figured that including some photographs would be nice even if my photos are so-so. If I had more time I would try to include more "work in progress" photos. I don't pretend to be a teacher, but I've been touched by the many emails and comments from people who have tried my recipes, learned from them and enjoyed the fruits of their labor. My favorite emails and comments are from people that have never really baked but were inspired by something they saw on alpineberry. So even though it was not my original intention, I hope that I continue to inspire people to get into the kitchen and bake. I hope that you continue to inspire me to become a better baker.

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So I begin this new chapter by posting the chocolate éclairs I made for this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge. The éclairs were super easy to make and were absolutely delicious. I made them a little smaller than the recipe stated because I wanted more servings. I was able to pipe 35 éclairs shells each measuring 3 inches long. I filled the éclair shells with the chocolate pastry cream by using a small offset spatula. It was effective but definitely not as pretty as piping the filling with a decorative tip. But no one seemed to mind since the éclairs tasted so good.

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Thanks to hosts Meeta of What's For Lunch, Honey and Tony of Tony Tahhan for choosing éclairs. Click here to see the éclair recipe. Please go to the Daring Bakers blogroll for links to other chocolate-y posts.

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77 comments:

Kitt said...

Welcome back. You were missed.

The eclairs are a sweet note to return on, and I hope your life becomes sweeter, too.

culinography said...

Welcome back! Your eclairs are beautiful...

breadchick said...

Oh Mary! I am so glad you are back my friend. I've missed you and I'm glad that you are feeling more like yourself.

Your eclairs are wonderful looking.

glamah16 said...

Welocme back. I hope everything gets clearer and continues to work its way out. I bet the eclairs tasted fantastic.

Marie said...

Your eclairs are lovely and a hearty welcome back from me. Yours was one of the first foodie blogs that I got addicted to and I have found you so very inspiring from the beginning. I am glad you are starting to work your way through your funk and am hoping that the road for you continues to be upward and forward! (((hugs)))

Peabody said...

So glad that you have chosen to return to the food blogging world. You were missed.
So glad that you have the support system that you have, many others do not.

marye said...

So glad you are back and feeling like yourself a bit more!

And what beautiful way to come back! Great job.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I'm so happy you'r back! You have been missed a lot! I hope that you are feeling better...

Those Eclairs look really beautiful and perfect! Delicious too!

Cheers,

Rosa

Lis said...

squeeeeeeeeeee! Every time I think of your last email I get a great big smile on my face.. right now I'm grinning from ear to ear. :)

No one is happier that your back than me.

Love you!
xoxxoxoxoxoxoxo

BC said...

What a touching post. Welcome back.

*fanny* said...

Mary i'm so happy you're feeling better.
All my love
- fanny

Tartelette said...

Mary! You were the first blog I ever read and an inpsiration to start one :)
What better way to come back with the DB challenge?!!
Fabulous job my dear...fabulous!

VeggieGirl said...

Mary, I am BEYOND elated that you've decided to come back to blogging, and that you're feeling better after the rough time you've had on your blog hiatus.

Those éclairs look stunning!!

Engineer Baker said...

Welcome back. Now I know it for sure - these are miracle eclairs :)

Enza said...

It is so nice to have you back!

Storybook Woods said...

Welcome back Mary, I was os happy to see a post from you. I look forward to many more. Clarice

pipinthecity said...

It´s great to see you back, Mary. And I´m glad your medical problems are being sorted out so you see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
And the perfect way to return with those amazing eclairs, I´m sure they helped make life sweeter.

Colleen said...

I am glad the fog is lifting. I have been there. You have been missed!!!!

April said...

Your eclairs look fantastic!

Welcome back!

Veron said...

Mary, glad to have you back!!! I missed you so much! Before I started my blog I was stricken down by something so scary and unknown I thought I'd never feel normal again. But the body does heal itself and I hope you are on your way to overcoming whatever has brought you down. Glad to see the fog is lifting :).
Wonderful eclairs and what a way to come back!

linda said...

I'm happy for you that the fog is lifting and what better way to start blogging with a DB challenge :)
Your eclairs look wonderful!

Betsy said...

Welcome back! I've missed reading your blog these past few months. I'm glad you are feeling better and your eclairs look wonderful.

Eat4Fun said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog. I'm new to DB, but reading through your post, I believe you represent the ideals of Daring Bakers. It's not just about baking. It's about a sense of community and sharing - knowledge and laugh, triumphs and stumbles. It's about inspiring even if that wasn't your original goal. I think it's very cool!

Welcome back from a DB newbie! :-)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

So happy to have you back again Mary.
We really don't appreciate our body properly until gets 'foggy'. So glad you're feeling more like the old you.
Great eclairs!!

Claire said...

Glad you're back and feeling better! What a great post. The eclairs look wonderful. Can't wait to see what you come up with now.

rainbowbrown said...

Your post made me smile. And not just because your éclairs look good enough to make me wish I had more.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Welcome back! I'm glad that things are getting better for you. Those lovely eclairs couldn't have hurt. They look beautiful!

Audax Artifex said...

What a story you tell. Great to hear that you are 'better'. Love your honest comments. Love your eclairs.

Adventures in Gluttony said...

Thank God you're back! Your blog was the first I ever read and through it I learned about the Daring Bakers. I absolutely LOVE your recipes and I can't wait to see what other wonderful goodies you are cooking up. Your recipes are always so creative yet simple. I have used your recipes for parties and they have always been a big hit!

I'm so sorry that you are going through some tough times. My family will keep you in our prayers.

Your eclairs look great by the way. They look so professional.
:-)

Jude said...

Welcome back and glad to see you've decided to continue blogging. Stay strong!

Annemarie said...

I hope that life is looking more smooth and positive. Welcome back, everyone is very glad to have you here.

Indigo said...

I'm so glad you're feeling better; welcome back to blogging! Your eclairs are beautiful, unsuprisingly; they look difficult to resist =]

Anonymous said...

oh, you're back! So happy to hear you feel better physically and you found a different outlook on life in parts. Wishing you and your family lots of strength to continue getting better. Looking forward to trying the eclairs and to more writing/recipes/photos from you.

Fortune Cookie (Germany)

culinarytravelsofakitchengoddess said...

Those eclairs are beautiful. Thank you for the lovely comment over on my blog too.

Ann said...

So lovely to see you again. And with such beautiful eclairs, too!

Meeta said...

Mary when you commented on my blog I was not sure if it really was you - but yes it was! i am ecstatic that you are back. While I do not know what illness took you away from us - I am happy that you are back and the rest just does not matter. glad to have you back!
oh yes and those eclairs look grand too!

Bernie* said...

Welcome Back!
Just when I was starting to blog, I found alpineberry. I loved it right away. I was sad when I read your last blog and hoped that you would return. I kept checking since May and I was so excited to find you back this morning!
Praise God. I hope that you will continue to do well. I think this will be good therapy for you. I am sure there are many happy people out there now that you have returned.
The eclairs look great.
Blessings.......

creampuff said...

Mary,

I'm glad that you're feeling better and that you're back to blogging. I think that we all need time to reflect on blogging and the place that it has in our life.

And you're right. We have gifts that come to us on a daily basis that help us through like family and friends.

All the best, Mary!

Jenny said...

I am so glad to see you today Mary. And even more so to hear you are doing better, doing well, and the fog is lifting.
Your eclairs look wonderful.

Lesley said...

Wow, good looking stuff you have there!

I've had a rough time of it myself lately with the death of my sister, so I understand needing some breathing room. Welcome back though!

Tanya said...

This was my first visit to your blog and I came because of the Daring Bakers challenge. I don't know you, but my heart goes out to you for whatever it is you have been going through. Your eclairs look fabulous and what a great way to come back from your hiatus. Take care!

Andrea said...

I'm so glad to hear that you are feeling better and that your family has been so supportive. I hope your hiatus has been healing.

I'm very glad to see you made the eclairs, they are beautiful indeed.

Elle said...

Mary, So good to have you back! Serious illness can be a dark time for the soul...very glad the fog is lifting and you have found the silver lining of knowledge of your own strength, the love of family that does not go away, the support of friends, the sunshine that seems even brighter when the fog has burned off.
Beautiful eclairs! Who needs fancy tips for the pastry cream? Yummy!

Vera said...

Mary, your éclairs are beautiful!
And I'm glad you are feeling better.

Dharm said...

So good to see you back Mary! Your eclairs look just wonderful and I'm so happy that you are feeling better. Keep running the good race my friend!

mathew said...

it's fantastic to see you back, mary. my thoughts go to you.

Dixie said...

I am so grateful the fog is lifting!! Welcome back. You were missed indeed.

Anita said...

Mary, it's so good to hear from you again! I'm glad you are feeling better, and it's wonderful to know you're back in the blogosphere!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Wonderful to see you back.

wmpe said...

I am glad you are back and feeling better. Your eclairs look delicious! Wendy

Kristen said...

Welcome back. You have no idea how much my heart leaped for joy when I saw a new post. :)

I've said some of the exact same things about my body over the past few years. And it's truly a blessing to be surrounded by people who love and care for you. *hugs* Take it easy, and, again, welcome back. :)

Tom in Boston said...

I kept checking your blog to see if you might change your mind, or if circumstances might change. So glad to see a new entry! I really love the way you bake, your photos and your narratives. Your blog really is exceptional. I wish you good health.

silverrock said...

Yum, your eclairs look good enough to eat for breakfast. Way to go on this month's challenge, your ecliars look soo wonderfully full of chocolately goodness.

Emily said...

Welcome back! You were sorely missed.

Belinda said...

Hi Mary! I haven't blogged in nearly a year myself, but I still peek in on my favorite blogs. I'm so glad you returned to blogging and hope you are blessed with continuing betetr health and much happiness. :-) The eclairs look fantastic!

ambrosia ananas said...

I'm so excited you're back! I love your blog. I hope you continue to feel better.

Steph said...

Thanks for commenting on my eclairs. I just read about your hiatus and your comeback and am glad you are feeling better. I can't wait to read your future posts!

Your eclairs look really nice and puffy!

Baking Fiend said...

so glad to see u back, mary...

Anonymous said...

Wonderful .I'm so happy you'r back!

Donna said...

You are a ray of sunshine. It is so good to see you back again. Take care of yourself, you have a lot of good people in your corner.

Rebecca said...

Welcome back, Mary! Yours is one of the best baking blogs on the Internet.

Your eclairs look yummy. Long may you bake!

Stevi said...

You are back! HOOORAY! I hope the good days continue for you for a very long time.

We missed you.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

good to see you back, and glad to hear that the fog is lifting!

Your Foodie Friend said...

Hey APB...welcome back babe! i completely understand where you were. I was there myself nearly a year ago. one day at a time babe...one day at a time. ain't nothing like a good support network.
peace
ff

Molly Loves Paris said...

I'm so glad to see that you are back, and even making daring baker things. Your eclairs look wonderful, fat and everything.

TBTAM said...

Glad you are back, and more importantly,that you are feeling better. Having been trough a serious illness myself, I know that when you are in the midst of it, it seems you will never be better. And then one day, you start to find yourself again.

Make sure, though, that you give yourself the time so that you can continue to heal.

Nice eclairs, BTW...

Audax said...

I find your blog very inspirational and I have checked your blog several times since I saw it a few day ago. While your story is sad and your illness has caused you much pain, I found your story very uplifting and a source of joy and hope. It is because of your absolute honesty and the way you reacted to your plight. Your nobility comes across very strongly and your change as you say has made you lighter and happier. As the book "The unbearable lightness of being" says "Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant." and "The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfilment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to earth, the more real and truthful they become.” I hope things go well for you in the future and this is only a change for the better. Yours Audax

caitlyn said...

Welcome back, Mary! I am so glad that you are feeling better. I wish you all the best for a full recovery.

Bake your cake and eat it too said...

So glad you are back. I've been checking your blog to see if you would post.

The eclairs are beautiful, somehow I do believe you are a baking pro ;-)

Patricia Scarpin said...

It's so good to see you here again, Mary. So, so good.
We don't know each other personally but you are one of the magnificent people I have come across through blogging. People who are miles and miles away and I may never see in front of me, but with whom I feel connected because of the love for food.
I'm glad to hear your family were there for you. That is really, really important.
And be sure that these Brazilian fingers are crossed for you.

Anonymous said...

Most people who left comments for you are into blogging, part of a very active community

I feel strange about leaving a comment, but wanted to say that I've been reading your blog for a VERY long time and was very sad to see you go, without even knowing why.

I am so happy to see you back, please be sure that for every comment left on your site, I guarantee there are many many more that simply never got to be written

thank you for making a difference in my day

~Orlena said...

Aw Mary...you are a wonderful baker, photographer, writer, and teacher! I'm glad that you have a wealth of support and that you are blogging again! Those eclairs look so yummilicious! You rock! =)

Anna said...

I have to agree with Anonymous one post above. There are many people who you have touched with your blog that don't own a blog but just read them. Thank you for what you give to your online readers. You are inspirational! Glad to see you have a great team of supporters.

Tiger Fan said...

Beautiful blog. I just discovered it today while looking for lemon bars. Ironically, I am on a medical leave and am using baking as a sress reliever. Hope you are feeling better.

Elinluv said...

It is so nice to have you back and know that you are better now. Miss you much. :)

Rmb someone out there will be praying for you..good health always!

Regards,

Egghead said...

I am so glad you have come back. I have enjoyed going back and trying some of your recipes and these eclairs look wonderful. Here is to the return of good health.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Mary, I was a reader of your blog much before I started blogging. I was really sad when you "closed" it. I just landed here today by "accident" and to learn that you're back and in full force! THANK YOU for coming back! Finding this now made me very happy!