today I am nervous. For the first time in 21 years, my art will be on display in a public place. My work. I will be so close to those viewing that I may hear critiques and harsh words, and I’m trying to decide if I can handle that. My art is just that- MY art. It is deeply personal and each of my newer pieces includes a passage written by me. Passages that in effect begin to tell my life story. So I’m a little worried. But all I can do is hope one of them sells. Wish me luck!!

hi. I just saw that it has been almost 4 years since I have been on here and written anything. I think in a way I decided my voice wasn’t worth it; but I have just read some of my old posts and they are pretty funny. I’ve grown in the past few years and have decided in that process, that my voice needs to be heard wether I think it is worth hearing or not.  

We finally escaped the hell that was Conrad and now reside in Great Falls.  Still the middle of Montana, but at least it’s a city. My life is an emotional whirlwind right now, and I’m doing my best to struggle through, but I also have much to be grateful for.  Our son is doing spectacularly in his new school- getting leadership awards and almost straight A’s. He has made a few friends here in town and seems to be adjusting alright.  I’m so proud of him. And he makes me laugh so hard. 

Our band Hell City Kitty is doing well and playing a lot of shows, and our screen printing business (Electric Kitty Printing) is also picking up nicely. We are not lacking in things to keep us busy. I have my own art studio, that I have not made a priority, but that is beginning to change. Anyway, I guess this was more of a reintroduction and a hihowareya? Kinda deal.  I’m not sure the manannieoakley is still a fitting moniker, I gave her up a few years ago.  Maybe I will change it if I can come up with something that fits. Talk to you soon!!!

Day 10 – Share your favorite recipe (or two)

Read more: Day Ten Summer Camp: Mac and Cheese that’s Different Green Bean Sauce http://creatingmotherhood.com/2011/07/10/i-am-going-to-feed-you/#ixzz1RpGtcvwW



Mmmmmkay – so the other day I shared my super secret gumbo recipe, and today I will share with you my favorite right now recipe.  I volunteer on a local organic CSA farm and right now the greens are in season!  Rainbow Chard, Swiss Chard, multiple varieties of Kale and your salad greens.  Now I’m not picky, i will use ANY green I have on hand in any sort of quantity, and I will mix and match.  In fact a couple of weeks ago I used Kale, Chard, Black Sampson (?) lettuce, baby greens mix, parsley and cilantro in this salad and it was delicious!  You got greens going bad?  Whip this up!


1 lb of any type greens, cut into strips and boiled until crisp tender

1/8 c soy sauce

1/8 c rice wine vinegar

splash of toasted sesame oil

2 chopped cloves of freshly roasted garlic if you have it, if not a healthy dashing of garlic powder

tsp or to taste of garlic chili paste (from the Asian foods section)

a really good smattering of sesame seeds


So drain your greens.  While they are draing mix together everything except the sesame seeds.  Dump your warm greens in and give a good tossing to coat all the greens with the sauce.  Sprinkle on your sesame seeds and either eat right then, or put in the fridge until you are ready and then they really soak up the sauce.  Ohhhhhh so delicious!  And just so you know, this recipe is totally to taste… in other words substitute away!  And enjoy all that this season has to offer!

A notice

I will be traveling to Helena today for an overnight trip to perform for the Harley Owners Group.  I am terrified. I don’t know exactly how big this thing is going to be but I am envisioning at least a couple hundred motorcycle badasses. And don’t get me wrong, when I say perform I mean 45 minutes at 5 p.m.  Not the 5 hours we did on the 4th of July.  But still… it will be the bigget exposure we have gotten yet.  Next week even bigger exposure when we play a Natural food festival.  I’m really excited that we are starting to get noticed I just wish everyone in the band were on board.  I also wish I were capable of addressing the situation.  OK – anyway, just wanted to say I’m out for today, and I start work at a bar tomorrow…. also scary.  URGH!!!

I would just like to pat myself on the back for having made it 8 days without skipping a day.  Don’t they say that if you do something for 2 weeks it becomes habit?  Let’s hope that holds true!

Day 8 – If you had to teach something, what would you teach? (If you DO teach, when did you discover your love for teaching/the subject?) Do you think blogs can play a role in education?
Read more: Day Eight of Summer Camp: Teach http://creatingmotherhood.com/2011/07/08/teaching/#ixzz1RX1GdDGl



If I had to teach something I would loooove to teach cooking classes.  You know I say that but I know myself.  I don’t know that I would have the patience to actually teach others how to do anything.  But assuming my attitude wasn’t a factor, I would love to teach cooking, specifically comfort food cooking.  Like hand rolled dumplings for Chicken and Dumplins’, and pulled pork.  Mmmmmm…. It’s hard to be so obsessed with food.  I mean I even dream about food!

Although I don’t read food blogs, I may start.  Inspiration NEVER hurts and further instruction is always a good thing.  Does anyone have some good ones to start with?  I saw mention of SmittenKitchen, and I am going to hop on over and check that one out.  So holla if you have any other good food blogs!

Day 7 – What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Do you read food blogs or would you ever consider writing one?

Read more: Day Seven of Summer Camp: You May Feed Me http://creatingmotherhood.com/2011/07/07/food-glorious-food/#ixzz1RRHp7r1W



Ok – food to me is not just a topic, it is life.  I read cookbooks like novels and discard everything I learn, I subscribe to multiple cooking magazines, and get food e-mails.  I do not however read food blogs because quite frankly writing these summer camp blogs is the most time I have spent on a computer in ages, and I don’t really like being on it.  But to stay on topic:

For Breakfast – if I could have anything I wanted it would be… the most simple and delectable turkey sandwich ever.  Mmmmmhmmmm.  Ciabatta bread spread with mayo and dijon (or pesto if it’s basil season), herbed turkey breast sliced super thin, lettuce, tomato and avacado.  That is all.  I hate cereal, I don’t enjoy french toast or pancakes.  I like eggs but prefer them in a scrambled egg sandwich or in egg salad with curry and mayo and yes, piled into a sandwich.  I am a sandwich kinda girl!

For lunch it would be soup.  My homemade chicken soup loaded with fresh garlic, ginger, black pepper ,cayenne and thyme, some cut up celery, carrots and onions and whatever greens I may happen to have in the fridge and of course chicken.  I can make an entire soup pot full and eat the whole thing myself.   It’s funny how much I love food and yet how simple my tastes run on my favorite things in the world.  Maybe it is comfort.

For dinner- if it had to be only one thing it would be – Mexican pulled pork with soft flour shells, homemade pico de gallo, homemade gaucamole, and a dab of sour cream served with refried black beans and homemade spanish rice.  That to me is heaven.  Of course so is homemade pizza, lasagne, gumbo, boulliabaise…. I mean seriously, I love food.

I try to cut down on processsed food, the majority of what we eat is homemade, but some things like velveeta mac and cheese –  just can’t get by without it!  And if you turn that mac and cheese ino tuna casserole – mmmmmmm….  I really am a very simple girl – hahahahaha.

This summer I was talked into cooking for a couple of families once a week.  We live in a very small town and the restaurants here are all shit!  So they asked me to once a week prepare a meal that they could take home to their families and have a restaurant experience.  It has been challenging but as of this week I think I have got it down!  And just so you know, next weeks meal is: Swiss chard wonton raviolis with marinated vegetable salad on greens and rhubarb strawberry cobbler – the majority of which will be harvested by me from the organic farm I volunteer to work on weekly.  Oh YEAH!!!  Loco for local!!!  So glad growing season is here! And I will even share a recipe with you!

Mandy’s Gumbo – and this is a secret so don’t tell anyone!!

Get yourself a big cast iron dutch oven.  Pour in a cup of oil (I prefer canola but anything that has a high smoke point will work), let that get really hot.  The way to test it is to drop just a tiny pinch of flour in it and if it sizzle and dissapears then it is ready. Then slowly add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of flour as you carefully whisk it so lumps don’t form. Continue to cook and stir constantly until the roux becomes a deep chocolate brown or mahogany color. This can take upwards of 45 mins and yes your arm will get tired!  You can make it lighter if you like but remember the depth of color adds depth of flavor (I will add that if you start to see black specks your roux has burned and you have to start over).  Once you have the roux ready immediately dump in your holy trinity – that is 1 cup each of  chopped onion, celery and bell pepper plus about 3 cloves of garlic chopped.  Stir constantly until your veggies get soft.  Then dump in a big can of diced tomatoes, a regular can of tomato sauce and a small can of tomato paste (and here’s a little secret, sometimes I put the tomato paste in before I add the veggies to let that tomato taste get good and caramelized).  Now you want to season the gumbo.  And I am a BIG BIG fan of Tony Chacheres Creole seasoning – I eat it on everything along with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. So just season it to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne, smoked paprika, really anything you can get your hands on!  If you have creole seasoning use it, just remember that it has salt so keep tasting.  And as you cook the flavor intensifies!    Alright now, let this concoction simmer for about an hour stirring every once in a while.  Meanwhile start to get whatever meat you want ready.  I sometimes do shrimp and crawfish tails if I’m feeling wealthy. Or smoked sausage (andouille if you can find it) browned off with cut up chicken meat also browned with salt and pepper.  Also start  your rice.  I have found that white rice tastes the best.  I normally eat brown rice, but it does not jive with the gumbo flavor.  Right towards the end of the hour throw your cooked meat or your fresh seafood into the gumbo and give a good stir, you should feel it thickening up and oooh I can almost smell it now!!  Get a big bowl and a big spoonful of rice, pour a ladleful or two of gumbo over the top and sprinkle on some chopped green onions.  Serve with hot sauce, sliced baguette and a simple green salad – and a cold beer if you have a mind to!  Oh Lawd – ENJOY!!!!

Day 6 – When was the last time you  tried something new?  What was it and what was the result? Have you ever done something JUST so you could blog about it?

The biggest new thing that I have tried lately was being the head camp cook for a children’s bereaveament camp for 7 days this past June.  There have been other firsts but this was by far the biggest.  Prior to this undertaking the largest group I had ever cooked for was my wedding to Cale and there were I think only 55 people or so, and it was only ONE MEAL.

First off this camp is amazing!  The idea of children who have lost someone very special to them coming together to learn grieving techniques and life strategies, to have the support of one another and the staff of the camp who have all lost someone close to them, to learn that crying is not only o.k. but is transformative… it makes my eyes well up just remembering.  So needless to repeat, it is a magical beautiful place and I got to be a part of it this year.

A little over a year ago I took the training to become a hospice volunteer due to the inspiration of those who cared for my Dear “Sweets” in her final weeks and hours of life.  This past early spring hospice called me and asked if I would like to help with the camp they do every year for children ages 7-12.  I without hesitation said “Sure, of course I would!”  They asked what I could offer and I told them my passion is food, they said “OH!!!  We need a new head cook!” and I said “A-OK!  You have one!!! ” .  Oh hahahahah – silly silly me.  Leaving my boys alone for a week was hell, I literally had to force myself to go when the time came.  I was terrified!!  And never could I have imagined the sheer amount of work that it takes to sustain 73 people, 3 meals a day, 3 snacks a day, for 7 days in the wilderness.  Thank Goddess, I had 3 mostly PT volunteers though some really toughed it out.  I am not a morning person, and that is putting it mildly, yet I was up at 5:45 every morning to get the breakfast started and the kitchen up and running.  We usually shut the kitchen down for the night after last snack around 9 p.m.  For those of you adding – it’s a long freaking day!!  But you know, I would not trade the blisters, and chapping and extreme exhaustion for anything in the world.  It was one of the most profoundly beautiful and absolute most challenging experiences I have ever put myself through.  And I told them I’d be back next year!

I learned that I am stronger than I thought, I CAN wake up at 5:45 a.m. and be mostly cheerful toward others, I learned that small mistakes are not tragedies when put in the perspective of a lost life, I learned that adults can go without s’mores as long as the children are happy, and I learned that according to some 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 year olds – I’m the best cook in the world!  YAY ME!!


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