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The Fertilizer of Life




I had the opportunity to go to a half day retreat at our church this past weekend. Sister Charlotte White was the retreat leader and the retreat was entitled "Stardust and Pig Wallows." This retreat came at such a good time for me. I was feeling slightly overwhelmed by life, gloomy because of the winter weather, and was in need of a good "pep talk".

As the tiny little Catholic nun stood in front of us sharing her wisdom, she asked a question... "What makes plants and flowers grow?" Well, the obvious answers were thrown out there... water, sun, soil, etc. She then said "Anything else?" Everyone looked around perplexed and then someone in the front said "Fertilizer". "Exactlly!", exclaimed Sister Charlotte. "Fertilizer...which is also known as sh*t. Just like plants, it is the sh*t in our lives that make us grow." The room burst out in laughter, shocked to hear a little Catholic nun use such language, but the point hit home like nothing else. In order to grow, we have to go through the sh*t. We are challenged during those times, we are put to the test, and when we survive those struggles, we grow and become the individuals we are meant to be.

How do we get through those times though? It is one thing to be in the thick of the sh*t, but how do we survive and come out of the sh*t feeling like a beautiful rose? One thing that I think is important to have is a good friend or confidant to talk to.  Just having someone to vent to...someone to share your struggles with can help you to get through the tough times a little easier. I am lucky to have always had that in my mom, and I can tell you that just having a sounding board really does help to make times seem a little less tough.

The other thing that I think is important is chocolate. Seriously, have you ever gone through a rough patch in life while you were dieting? It isn't fun, is it? I think not having the chocolate makes the patch all the more bumpy. Chocolate is like good therapy... sit down and savor some the next time you are down on life and I guarantee you that for even just a minute you'll feel a bit better!

Mark over at Culinate informed me this week that one of my readers had nominated Dine and Dish for the Death by Chocolate contest. Thank you, whomever you are! A trip to Napa Valley would cure my winter blues and what could be better than going to a Chocolate Festival? Seriously... I never knew there was such a thing! Details from Culinate: The winner among readers will be chosen at random from all entries. Readers will vote for their favorite blog posts, and the winning food blogger will be selected by a panel of judges from the top 10 reader favorites.

So, head over to Culinate.com and enter to win a trip to Napa as well as some other great prizes! I'll be submitting my "Fertilizer of Life" post as my Death by Chocolate entry.... if you feel so inclined to vote, please do! I'm sure there will be some great chocolate therapy to choose from!

Brownie Trifle

1 (19 7/8 ounce) package fudge brownie mix
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon dry instant coffee (dry)
1 package chocolate flavor instant pudding and pie filling mix
2 cups milk
1 (6 ounce) package English toffee bits (reserving 2 tablespoons for garnish)
3 1/4 cups whipped cream
  1. Heat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package for 13 × 9-inch rectangular pan, using water, oil and eggs and stirring coffee into batter.
  3. Bake and cool as directed.
  4. Cut brownies into 1-inch squares.
  5. Place half of the brownie squares in the bottom of a 3-quart glass bowl.
  6. Prepare pudding mix as directed on package for pudding, Pour half of the pudding over brownies in bowl.
  7. Top with half each of the toffee bits and whipped cream.
  8. Repeat with remaining brownies, pudding, toffee bits and whipped cream.
  9. Sprinkle with reserved toffee bits.
  10. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
  11. Cover and refrigerate any remaining trifle (if you have any left, doubtful).
Posted on Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 10:59AM by Registered CommenterKristen | Comments34 Comments | References13 References

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Reader Comments (34)

How true! It's the trials in our lives that produces faith, perserverance, character, and growth...even if we don't like going through them. :-) My mom makes this trifle except without the coffee. It is one of the few chocolate things that I like.
February 2, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterclaire
Oh wow. Can you send one of those to Italy? ;)
February 2, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbleeding espresso
Ha! I LOVE this post! Yes--we need to treat the crap we are dealt with as fertilizer to help us grow for the better!!! So true! Chocolate DOES help, I must say! :)
That chocolate looks so good....
I just registered to vote for your blog--hope you win!!!
February 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa : )
I love hearing nuns curse.

I feel strongly that I've developed quite enough character at this point, so life could lay off the fertilizer for a while. But since that's out of my hands, at least I have chocolate.
February 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterUs vs. Food
That is a great analogy...I love it.
February 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpeabody
Your dessert looks so yummy and so easy to make!! I'll have to try it sometime.

I read at a friend's blog about the adopt-a-blogger event. I know the deadline was in December, but I was wondering if I could still join? I'm a newbie blogger, been around since April 2007.
February 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarla
Your trifle looks delicious and your story was such a pleasure!! You DEFINITELY have my vote. :)
February 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterclumsy
Go for it, Kristen!!!!
February 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlululu
An inspiring lesson and a bit of chocolate sounds like just the prescription to fight off the late winter blues. Thanks for sharing the story of your retreat and a great recipe too!
February 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
I love this recipe! Everytime I make it, people practically lick the trifle bowl. It's addicting :)
February 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkelly
Coffee and toffee bites, I can go for that one!!
February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMyKitchenInHalfCups
Thank you for sharing this uplifting mid-winter gem. I live in a very wet, gray climate and the winters almost do me in. Now, when I get depressed, I'll remember about the sh*t we need to grow!
BTW - love the brownie trifle photo!
February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChristine
This is just the kind of chocolate therapy I need!
February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah
Awww....Kristen...your post was EXACTLY what I needed to read today....Thank you!! Off to vote for you. ~Jen
February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Mullinax
gotta love it...Sh*t and chocolate...never quite looked at it that way!
February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. L
yeah, that would be a nice way to get over a bad day! I sent my raspberry-centered cupcakes for the event:)
February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMansi
Too much! ;) Though not the trifle. Who could ever have too much of that? Looks splendid.
February 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan from Food Blogga
Thanks for reminding me of that, Kristen! Sometimes, I seem to forget about that... And now I need to get myself some fertilizer..;-)
February 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEva
Good luck in the contest -- that's a most elegant dessert!
February 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLydia
Chocolate can indeed be the answer to our pains. Especially your trifle! Goof luck with the contest Kristen!
February 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWarda

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