I’m Back! And This Time, I’m Staying!

Brooke and Jake at Epcot's Candlelight Processional

Hello, Big Beautiful World!  BabblingBrooke has missed you more than you know!

So, I’ve been writing like a fiend for DisZine lately.  Much to the exclusion, of, well, pretty much EVERYTHING ELSE.

But with a new year comes a new commitment to posting here every single day.  As an outlet, as a way to share.  As a way to give back.  As a way to express.  And hopefully encourage.

So, that’s that.  Happy New Year!  I can’t wait to get going, to tell you what I’m up to, to hear what you’re up to.

Let’s go!

Posted in Disney | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Oatmeal o’ the Week: Banana Chocolate

Happy Wednesday Thursday!  How is it already Wednesday Thursday and I haven’t talked about food yet?

(Well, for one…because this post was supposed to go up yesterday.  But it clearly didn’t.)

In this iteration of my blogginess, I envision sharing with you many blogs that are parts of series.  One series that I’d like to do is an oatmeal o’ the week.  I figure we all need to get some good soluble fiber into the old diet, but oatmeal can be so…dreadfully….boring.  Either that, or it’s so tasteless that you heap cupfuls of sugar on top.  So, just in case you need a little inspiration to make your oatmeal taste less like duty (ohh you!  you know what I mean) and more like a treat, I’d like to give you some ideas.  This week, submitted for your approval:  Banana Chocolate Oatmeal.

Some basics first, though.  I saw an excellent tip from a dietician recently that you should make your oatmeal with milk rather than water.  This increases the protein of the dish significantly, but it also slows down the absorption of carbohydrates, which, if this occurs too quickly, can cause a spike in blood sugar and a subsequent spike in insulin production.  So here’s my basic recipe that we’ll use with modifications as we add different flavours every week.

Brooke’s Basic Oatmeal

1 cup skim milk

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (please…don’t bother with the pin oats.  Yes, they’re yummy.  Yes, they’re trendy.  They are also more expensive, go rancid very quickly, and have no more fiber than the rolled oat-jobbies that we all grew up eating.)

  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring milk just to the boil.
  • Add oatmeal, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Now, to make this week’s outrageously good oatmeal, you’ll need:

a small (six inches or less) banana, mashed up in the bottom of your oatmeal bowl

a serving (about 30 or so) semi sweet chocolate chips

a dash of cinnamon

a sprinkle of kosher salt.

  • Once the oatmeal has cooked, let it stand for a minute or two in the pan.  This will allow the oatmeal to finish absorbing the liquid.
  • Place oatmeal in the bowl, and mix in the mashed banana.  Top with chocolate, cinnamon, and salt.  (Feel free to add a little more milk if you’d like.  I don’t.)

Delish!  I mean, and I’m not telling you a fib…I look forward to this breakfast!

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Happy eating!

Posted in Fitness, Food | 1 Comment

Top Ten Tuesday: Fabulously Lame Excuses Not to Work Out

Originally written 3 October 2008, isn’t this timeless?  Who among us hasn’t made lame excuses?  Because I’d really like to meet you.  No, really.  This is even more appropriate after yesterday’s post about fitness goals.

Since I haven’t yet sprung for the fancy underwater MP3 player yet (oh yes, it does exist), my mind wanders while I swim laps.  This morning, it wandered to all the excuses that I’ve made lately for not keeping up my fitness routine.  For your superiority-to-me-because-you’d-never-not-exercised-for-such-stupid-reasons-pleasure, I submit to you my Top Ten List of Fabulously Lame Excuses Not to Work Out:

Number 10:  It’s too hot.

Number 9:  It’s too cold.

Number 8:  It’s too early, and I’ve got such a long day.

Number 7:  It’s too late, and I’m full from eating dinner.

Number 6:  The three-year old doesn’t want to go for a walk.

Number 5:  It’s really bug-gy out there.

Number 4:  The lakefront street is closed, so I can’t possibly ride my bike.

Number 3:  It’s really windy, so I can’t possibly ride my bike.

Number 2:  I don’t want to wash my hair today/my hair looks great today/I’ve already put on makeup today.

And the Number 1 Lamest Excuse Not to Exercise:  I don’t have any batteries for my MP3 player and how could I possibly walk/run for 30 minutes with no tunes?

Cue loud, atonal music.

Try this little exercise – pardon the pun – and test your excuses to see if they sound stupid out loud/look goofy on paper.  Maybe, just maybe, it will motivate you to get off your butt, too.

Posted in Fitness | 5 Comments

Being Honest With Myself

Hi, I’m Brooke. (Hi Brooke.)

I eat a well-balanced diet, get seven hours of sleep per nite, I don’t watch more than 30 minutes of television a day, and I don’t eat too much salt. OH – and I walk two miles in 30 minutes.  That 16 minute per mile pace for the Disney Princess Half Marathon?  No problem.


So, I’m on a kick lately to, as Dr. Phil would put it, to get real.  And on my realness journey, I’m finding out a couple of things about myself:

  • I spend far too much time on Facebook and Twitter.
  • I don’t eat oatmeal nearly as often as I think I do (or at least I didn’t before I started logging every bite into a swell new app I found.)
  • A twenty hour work week, at home, with a baby crawling around, is difficult.  Not impossible, certainly, but difficult.
  • I don’t walk the 15 minute per mile pace I thought I walked.  I walk a 17.5 minute per mile pace.  And that’s only for two miles.  I’m pretty sure it would get slower if I were to walk, oh, say, 13.1 miles.

And that last one?  That’s a problem.

See, I really want to do a half marathon.  To be specific, I really want to do a Disney half marathon.  In fact, I wanted to do the Inaugural Wine and Dine Half earlier this month, but childbirth followed by a hot summer took their toll.  So I have my sights set on the Disney Princess Half next February.

Cue the “You can do it!”s.  Well, yes, I can.  I can certainly walk 13.1 miles.  But can I do it in the just over three hours and change that they’ve allotted?  To be honest, at this point, I don’t know if I can.  And I’d rather be honest than hugely disappointed.

So….for now, I keep training.  For now, I work on getting my pace up, and then I work on distance, and then getting the pace up on the new distance, etc.  I can certainly do it eventually. 

For me, this is the year of honesty.  But it’s also the year of something much bigger, something much more valuable:  it’s the year of really understanding that just about everything in life worth having or doing cannot be had or done overnite.  It takes diligence.  And incremental success.   And focus.  And tenacity.

So, that’s the update.  The cat’s out of the bag on the big fitness goal.  Along with training for the half, I am also working toward weight loss.  The goal is eighty pounds.  Will I get there overnite?  Nope.  Will I maybe have to settle for sixty pounds, or fifty, or forty-five?  Possibly.  But I know that, if I attack it step by step, a little at a time, I’ll get somewhere along the goal continuum.  You see, I suppose the real goal is to be better tomorrow than I was today or yesterday.  And, if I achieve that…well, that’s something to be proud of.

I’ll keep you posted :-)

Posted in Disney, Fitness | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Oktoberfest Fehr-Family Style

Um, k….so “real” Oktoberfest ended a few weeks ago. And “real” Oktoberfest doesn’t celebrate the Fehr family at all; it commemorates King Ludwig I’s marriage to Therese of Bavaria. But if I can figure out a way to make a nice little ritual for my family, especially if it’s in the name of celebrating heritage, does it really matter if I bend the rules a little? There is plenty of time for history lessons later.

We are pretty consistent with this meal; and since it’s not the healthiest lowest-fat meal I make, we don’t have it often, so there isn’t a lot of room to improvise. It’s a shame, because there are a lot of delicious, comforting German dishes out there, and it would be fun to try something new.  Hmm…maybe our Oktoberfest needs to last more than one night…

Homemade applesauce ready to go

At any rate, we take this meal seriously, and every year, as late September spends itself, and the temperatures here in Florida cool to a chilly 85, our thoughts turn toward polka music and bratwurst. So what if I’m not actually German.  I’m not Mexican, either…heck, neither is Rick Bayless, come to think of it.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t don my peasant blouse, grab the accordion (okay, not really) and polka down with the best and rest of them, right?

So…back to the meal.  Since we started doing this – and I want to say this little custom goes back to the very first year we were married, and maybe the year before – we have always had the same meal.  It consists of bratwurst (of course!), potato pancakes, homemade applesauce, and braised cabbage.  (Hey, I said it was traditional.  Not fancy.)  We’re not, regrettably, big sauerkraut fans, and we like to add a little color to this-otherwise-khaki-colored meal, and so we use red cabbage. 

Red cabbage, braisin' away. Isn't it pretty?

That’s it.  No wienerschnitzel, sadly.  No apple strudel, which is uber unfortunate.  And usually, no beer, owing to the fact that Jeremiah doesn’t like it (again – gasp!  He’s German, for goodness’ sake) and I find better uses for the calories.  But it’s beautiful, and comforting, and makes me all happily-bubbly inside, because it’s our tradition.  And no matter WHAT in the WORLD is going on outside our door, we can have this meal, and celebrate where we’ve been, and who we are, and the little people around our table, who we hope will carry on these traditions as they look back upon them fondly.

I will say that, God bless my husband, he let me off the hook this year on the potato pancakes.  (Jake’s favorite trick du jour is pulling up on me as I cook.  Not a particularly safe trick.  But I suppose understanding consequences of one’s actions lags behind actually learning certain skills.)  So we had mashed potatoes instead, which you will see in the picture below.  However, because the pancakes are so darn yummy, and are worth the aggravation if you aren’t dealing with a monkey-like nine month-old, you should make them.  I’ll share the applesauce, pancakes, and braised cabbage below.  Use the best bratwurst (or other German sausage of your choice) that you can find.

Guten Appetit!

Yum! Don't forget the mustard!


4-6 apples, peeled and large diced (I used Gala this year, but I’ve also used Granny Smith, Fuji, and Golden Delicious.  Use what you like.)

light brown sugar to taste (depending on preference and sweetness of the apples)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

Dash of cinnamon (opt)

  • Combine all ingredients and cook until apples are tender and the liquid is slightly reduced, approximately 15 minutes. 
  • Mash with an old-fashioned potato masher, leaving a chunky consistency. 
  • Stir in cinnamon if you like (I skip the cinnamon to let the appley-ness shine through.) 

Makes approximately 3 cups.

Braised Cabbage

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter or bacon drippings if you have them

1 small head red cabbage, julienned

1/4 cup yellow onion, julienned

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup water, plus additional water as needed

  • In a large saute pan with a lid over medium high heat, heat fat; add onions and saute  for 5 minutes.
  • Add the remaining ingredients; cover and let cabbage cook for 20 minutes, or until cabbage is completely tender. 
  • Remove lid and allow most of the liquid to evaporate.

Yields enough to feed a small army.

Potato Pancakes

5 medium potatoes, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons finely grated onion

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/3 cup all purpose flour

oil for frying

Applesauce and Sour Cream for serving

  • Press as much liquid as possible out of the grated potatoes. 
  • Combine potatoes with all of the other ingredients.
  • Heat a thin layer of oil in a large, heavy skillet until shimmering.
  • Drop potato mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls into the oil, flattening slightly with the back of a spatula.
  • Fry pancakes about 4 minutes on each side until crisp and golden brown.  You will notice that they change color from the outside edges toward the middle as they finish cooking.
  • Drain on  paper towels.  Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if you’d like.
  • Serve hot with applesauce and sour cream.

Serves 4-6 generously

Posted in Family, Food | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Wednesday Bonus Post: Finding Out I’m Not German, Just in Time for Oktoberfest

For those of your who have been reading me in all of my previous bloggy lives (My Space, BlogSpot, FB Notes), this will sound eerily familiar.  You are not imagining things; you have seen this before.  But once again, our family Oktoberfest has rolled around, and once again, I’m thinking of this post.  And since I’m writing an updated Oktoberfest piece that references this information…well, it just made sense to post it again.  I like to think it’s pretty interesting.  Please, don’t shatter my delusions if you disagree.  I still tease Jeremiah and Elle – and now, Jake –  that they are the only real Germans in the household, since I am alledgedly apparently of British descent.

05 Oct 07 Friday
Finding Out I’m Not German
Current mood: pleased
Category: Life

“You are German…you hail from the Motherland…we’re not exactly sure where or when, but the name was Americanized and you are German.”

So I believed until a few months ago. Knowing our heritage and embracing it was very important to my late father, even though, as far as I know, he never did any genealogy work. Whether or not he had a choice in where he was stationed, I have no idea, but he reveled in the time that he spent in Celle, Germany, during his Air Force stint. We went to German street festivals and I tried (and failed) to like sauerkraut. I even took German Civilization, a !@#$ 300-level course at Bethany, second semester, SENIOR YEAR (okay, so I needed a 300-level course for my minor. But still.) This sense of heritage, of knowing where I belong, has always been important to me. So when I visited my stepmother last July, and she casually mentioned that Cousin So-and-so has documentation of our genealogy, and by the way, the Buckners aren’t German, I was flabbergasted. No, really. I was in denial.

I came home and told my mom, who was the only person I thought would take this seriously (actually in retrospect, my brother, Lee, would have felt the same way, but he’s been pretty busy lately, and I don’t think I mentioned it.) But I wasn’t ready to call the finding fact until I saw it and confirmed it, as if I’m some great and knowledgeable historian.

A few days ago, I arrived home from my WV trip to find a copy of this report, sent to me by my stepmother (sent to her by my aunt, to whom I rarely speak, sent to her by someone I don’t know.) Sure enough, right there in black and white, documentation that the Buckners emigrated to America from Oxfordshire, England, in the 1660s. Philip Buckner came to Virginia and had sons. One son stayed in Viriginia, and his ancestors eventually migrated into the northwestern part of the state, while the other headed to South Carolina (even then, we liked the beach.)

This probably seems trivial to you, but to me, I felt like my foundation was shaken. I’ve told others about this lately; their reactions have been uniformly, “Oh, that’s nice.” But to my personal sense of history, it’s jarring on one hand…and a pleasant surprise on another. I have always loved, and pursued knowledge about, England and things British. I was fairly obsessed during high school, college, and early single years. I planned to study at Oxford, but the plans fell through (a badly broken leg – mine – being involved.) I always felt that this interest wasn’t…justified. But now it is.

I’m sure that all of this reveals something deep and dark about my psyche, maybe about my need to belong, or my belief in fate…or maybe it’s pointless and meaningless.

Last nite, when I couldn’t sleep, I did what experts say to do – I got a boring book out and started reading. The Oxford History of Britain – I swear! – should have put me to sleep in about five minutes! But it didn’t. Suddenly, the chapters about demographic changes in the 17th century, and the fact that more people emigrated than immigrated – they were alive. I wondered why Philip and his wife Elizabeth left England, two years after being married in a London church…

Maybe this is the book I have in me? Or maybe it’s a great time for a future vacation? Who knows?

For now, I am happy to report (why? WHY? why does it matter?) that the Buckners came to Virginia with a land grant, and were neither indentured servants nor thieves.

Who says math and science are the confusing subjects? History certainly has enough twists, turns, and perspectives to keep us all on our toes.

Posted in Family | 4 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: The View of Lake Monroe on My Morning Walk

Lake Monroe, just after sunrise

Sweet Baby Boy, letting Mommy walk

Posted in Fitness, Wordless Wednesday | 2 Comments