Fruit and Cheese Dip

This recipe has been altered slightly, but credit must be given to the Betty Crocker company as it belongs to them. This makes a great appetizer for a holiday meal or fun party platter for New Years. I love it because it’s super easy.

And the mystery behind this recipe? DIP THE CHEESE TOO!! Many guests of mine have enjoyed dipping the fruit, but the cheese is also really good and is meant to take the plunge as well. You can also use apples, pears, or bananas if the fruits below are hard to come by. However, we’ve found that the three below seem to work the best with the dip. Bananas are excellent, but brown quickly so may not be the most attractive choice for the party. Below you will see “chunked” fruit…is that even proper recipe language? Not sure, but I do know that you want those fruit pieces big enough that they can be dipped without falling off the toothpick. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Oh, and one warning: it is super filling…so go easy!

Chunks for fruit platter


  • 1 container (8 oz) of strawberry cream cheese
  • 1-2 cups lite cool whip
  • ~1 cup frozen raspberries, slightly thawed (frozen raspberries in sauce is best)
  • Cubed Gouda cheese (not smoked gouda!)
  • Cubed cheddar cheese (mild, medium, or sharp depending on preference)
  • 2 cups chunked fresh pineapple
  • 2 cups chunked kiwis
  • 2 cups halved strawberries (ok, you can “chunk” these as well if you’d like)
  • Optional: Frozen or sugar coated raspberries and fresh mint for decoration

Ingredients for dip

Directions: Cut up your cheese and fruit as described above and arrange on a platter. These can be skewered, alternating fruits with cheeses, or you can simply put toothpicks out next to your serving platter. To make the dip, simply use a hand mixer to blend the raspberries with the cream cheese. If you do not have the raspberries in sauce (hard to find these days), then simply add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the raspberries and then add mixture and blend with the cream cheese. You can add more raspberries to taste. Then stir in the cool whip. I usually start with about 1.5 cups, and add more raspberries or cool whip to my liking. Scoop into a serving bowl, put it in the middle of your fruit and cheese, and enjoy!

Fruit and cheese platter


Tay Rock Wall

Hunter Hayes has a song on the radio that induces my manic state: “I want crazy.”

Yes! Yes, I do. Ah, he’s speaking my language. How many times have I been told that I’m nuts or insane or crazy for the things I pursue.  And I laugh because it’s all given with lightheartedness and even admiration at times. But this manic side, this side of me that gets a little crazed and aims for the improbable, is a very real part of who I am and it brings meaning and fulfillment to my life.

While Hunter is referring to romantic love (he’s young, we’ll give him a break), if we generalize his song lyrics to a broader life motto, I wonder how many of us have that level of desire? Do we reach for something “crazy” in our lives?

 Or, do we more often sell ourselves short? Do we settle for what’s “reasonable”?

This is a delicate line for me. To walk the tightrope between reaching for the things I’m passionate about, and crossing into the place in which other aspects of my life suffer, is a daily challenge. Yet, I crave the crazy. I confront the reasonable. I want to grab hold of life and soak in all it has to offer. I think we all do to some degree.

First, I need to own that perhaps this idea of reaching for crazy is based on a privileged position. “The American dream” right? To reach beyond our circumstances, to rise above and do what we or others did not think possible. Some goals and passions may require certain resources, opportunities, and freedoms that may not be available to all.

But maybe not. I’ve certainly seen this desire, this passion and energy, in multiple circumstances.  I’ve heard countless stories of people across the world reaching for more, taking risks, and achieving their victories with full hearts and big smiles. People who we couldn’t predict would surpass their situations. But, they do and that inspires and motivates me. Those stories move us. We cannot help but feel good and smile ourselves. I crave that boldness and courage for my own life; to overcome fears and improve the quality of life for others and myself.

To clarify, the type of crazy I’m talking about is not a long list of respected accomplishments. It does not necessarily involve accomplishment at all, especially as it is so narrowly defined. No, the type of crazy that speaks to me is when I embrace a desire within me, when I hear a voice saying, “wouldn’t that be great” and it feels congruent to who I am and what I want to stand for.

And I get tempted to turn away and ignore that voice. I miss a week at the gym and give up for several months. I avoid reaching out to a friend…what do I have to offer anyway? I think many of us can relate. We let that project sit because we feel overwhelmed or discouraged, not believing we can really accomplish it anyhow or that it will be any good when completed. We hold back on sharing ideas because we’re not experts or couldn’t possibly have anything worthwhile to contribute.

And there is usually some truth to it. We all have our challenges, our weaknesses, and even our limitations. We are “only” human after all and we must come to terms with that. We must “embrace our limits” as a professor of mine would remind us.

However, here’s the error I’m liable to make. I stop right there. In my experiences, it seems that we embody one of two methods of dealing with the boundaries of being human. Either we (a) believe we are incapable of anything more or do not possess the ability to strive for something we want; or (b) we believe we should be able to do everything, but get let down often enough when we can’t that we totally give up on trying. If I cannot do it perfectly, I’m not going to do it at all.  We all do it. In fact, we sometimes embody both methods of being, vacillating between the two depending on the day or situation.

But, here’s the mysterious part…my paradox. When I truly own my limitations, I also understand my incredible potential. I strive to step beyond the doubt and reach for what I know is possible. I think my professor left out the most important part. Don’t simply embrace your limits. Forget that. I say, know your limits, and then fully embrace your potential.

When we grasp what we cannot do, we are then free to capitalize on that which we are capable of doing. And there is of course a balance. We cannot do everything and when we try to, something suffers. I know that struggle very well. I knew that there was no way for me to be a mom and a graduate student in a PhD program without the help and support of others; without making some sacrifices and doing some things in which I’m not comfortable or confident. But, I knew it was possible and believe it to be something I’m meant to do. So, I seek out what I need and I move forward with faith and the courage I can muster. I also cannot simply run a half marathon with natural skill or quality I somehow possess. I need time. I need encouragement. But, I can do it; I want to do it. So, I begin training.

We all have the struggles and obstacles in our lives that can hinder us from taking bold steps towards that which transforms us in beautiful ways. But, human potential knows very few boundaries. And within those boundaries, we have the opportunity to contribute to a beautiful existence, to be an inspiration to others around us.

So, get on with it! Reach for the crazy because you know you can. Be honest about your limits, and then take that next step towards your potential. Make the phone call. Start that document. Take a class. Seek out that which brings you joy and victory. What gets you excited? What’s your next adventure? I’d love to hear all about your crazy.

“Do not dilute the truth of your potential. We often convince ourselves that we cannot change, that we cannot overcome the circumstances of our lives. That is simply not true. You have been blessed with immeasurable power to make positive changes in your life. But you can’t just wish it, you can’t just hope it, you can’t just want it… you have to LIVE it, BE it, DO it.” ― Steve Maraboli

 Cam and Tay carrying boards

Drama anyone?


It has a negative ring to it, doesn’t it? A less-than-positive connotation.

I know I’ve caught myself telling my children to “stop being so dramatic.”

The expression of emotions, especially strong ones, evokes an interesting array of reactions in us. At least in my experience, a whole spectrum of behavior has transpired after someone expresses anger, despair, elation, or fear.

One doesn’t need to go far to see a number of people displaying a range of emotions. In fact, we don’t even need to leave our couch to see anger, lust, joy, and sadness in their heightened forms. The extreme, dramatic emotion is often what draws us in to television series, attaches us to our favorite movie characters, or keeps the songs running through our heads.

Yet, what do we do with emotions in our daily lives? When someone slams a door or weeps in public, what is our first response? When we feel frustrated or heartbroken, what do we do? I would propose that we often like to get away from it. And not just because we fear for our physical safety or find ourselves too busy to deal with it.

No, we tend to turn the 180. Get the heck out of there. This is particularly true for the “negative” emotions as they are unfortunately named. Anger, sadness, disgust. We don’t show those off.  And when we see them on others, we frequently feel uneasy and do the about face.

Yet, I’m not sure about you, but there’s always a curious eye that looks back or peeks in. There is a part of us that really wants to see it. We like the drama. We crave it to some degree. I would venture to say that we even long for it in our own lives. The best movies, TV shows, songs, and books, are the ones in which the characters’ emotional lives capture us. We are pulled towards it. We want to connect with them and particularly with the dynamic that is built from the emotional exchange of the characters.

As I was driving one day, a woman in a car perpendicular to mine at a four-way stop threw up her hands in disgust as I took my rightful turn at going first through the intersection. Not only was it clearly my turn (I arrived a good 5 seconds before her), I was somewhat astonished at her visual display of disgust towards me. “Wow, that was a little overdramatic,” I said out loud.

My 11-year-old daughter, being the ray of light that she is, came back with a shrug and a very wise rebuttal: “Everyone needs a little overdramatic at times.”

Huh. I chewed on that for several days.

And I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s exactly right.

We need the extreme at times to catch our attention. In a world in which we often find ourselves a little numb to one another, a little deadened inside, it makes perfect sense why we crave the drama on TV. Why we can let ourselves go at music concerts, movies, or broadway shows. We want to feel it. We want to experience the emotions to know that we are truly alive.

Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to believe that emotions, at either extreme, represent a weakness. Too much emotion is bad. The extremes are meant only to be displayed at “appropriate” times, such as the birth of a baby, the death of someone close, or… the superbowl (Go Broncos!!!).

Guys and gals are stuck with certain rules regarding emotion. Ladies, hold it in. Don’t even think about showing anger towards your coworker. You’ll get labeled a “bitch.” Or perhaps be the star of rumors in which you’re having trouble in your marriage, problems with finances, or spilling over with “feelings” for the coworker that are now affecting your job.

And guys, don’t you cry. “Men don’t cry.” Unless your son or daughter is being deployed. Unless your parent is dying from cancer. But, not just because you’re having a really rough week. And no giddiness or excitement allowed. Not until we get to the game man. Keep it together.

Keep it contained, we tell ourselves. We are taught that a wise, mature person controls his or her emotion. And sure, it is true that emotions are not meant to control us. We’ve seen the negative repercussions in our world when they do. Extremes can indeed be detrimental. Yet, to say that emotions are bad, or should be significantly muted, distorts the truth and can leave us feeling empty inside. Unattached.

I would argue we naturally have strong emotions. Our brains are wired to use emotions as signals, as adaptive mechanisms. If we repress or stuff those natural instincts, they will come out in other ways.  And often, not in ways that edify relationships or connect and attach us to one another.

So, embrace the drama. Express the emotion. Do it in healthy ways, but let’s not hide the natural drama of life from one another.  We need it. My daughter and I recently took a plastic blow-up mallet, brightly colored with monkeys on it. And to Miley’s “wrecking ball”, we let out the frustrations of little brothers on clothes, pillows, and an assortment of random objects in the bedroom. It was fantastic.

I’m still working on letting myself cry in situations where I feel like I want to. I’m working to not fight the tears when they come. What or who am I trying to please anyhow? What am I trying to hide, my humanness?

I’d love to hear your ideas on this subject and any healthy ways you have of expressing emotion and being dramatic.

“Do not let another day go by where your dedication to other people’s opinions is greater than your dedication to your own emotions!”― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free


goofy-eyed excitement
goofy-eyed excitement