Thursday, December 27, 2012

If...... Then

If you eat a bagillion of these:
(which I have)

Then at some point you must recognize that your body is going to go into a diabetic coma if you don't make some changes - and you decide to make this:

I am actually looking forward to it.

Nowthen, I am very protective when it comes to recipes that involve my children. This does not, so I gratefully share it with you. You will be the hit of the next dinner party, New Years Eve party, or party of 1 in your basement with your pajamas. Don't worry. I don't judge. I don't like phony baloney conversation anyway.

Without further ado, the best "balls" ever.

Crown Royal Maple Balls

2 Cups Vanilla Wafers - crushed
1 Cup Pecans - finely chopped
1 Cup Powdered Sugar - plus more for rolling
1/4 Cup Crown Royal Maple Finish Whiskey
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon plus 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Corn Syrup

Dissolve Corn Syrup in Whiskey and set aside. In a separate bowl combine Wafers, Pecans, Powdered Sugar and Salt. Drizzle Whiskey mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until uniform. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. When fully chilled spoon out teaspoon sized balls and roll until round. Toss formed balls in powdered sugar until covered. Refrigerate until cold.

These are really, really good. The salt makes them addictive. The alcohol makes them addictive too, but that is another post for another day.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

When You're Standing Over My Coffin

When it comes to baking, I have a very tenuous reputation. I have earned my baking cred recently, but I came into this marriage with lofty ambitions and terrible output. This might or might not have something to do with the fact that my amazing mother taught me to bake with the anti-wisdom, "If you need to measure a cup, just use a mug.  Most mugs are about 1 cup." (Happy Birthday, Mom.)

As the years have passed I have buckled down, purchased official measuring cups, and followed very basic recipes to a tee. The result has been very pleasing - to my husband, to my children, and to yours truly. So much so, that I have developed an increasing infatuation with the idea of developing my own delicious recipes and having my children love them so much that they will brag and swoon after them to their own grandchildren - long after I'm gone.

When they're standing over my coffin they'll be thinking, "We'll miss her smile, her warmth, but most of all we'll miss her killer pumpkin bread."

And I think I've done it, folks. Cue evil laughter.

I started with this recipe:
Allrecipes - Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread
and it is really, really good.

And then I started tweaking it and after a couple of major modifications - I have refined this humble loaf into something that the kids (and husband!) lust after.

And if you think I will tell my modifications, you, my friend, are insane.

This morning, I lacked the necessary ingredients to make my version - so I had to revert to the original. Josh took one bite and said, "Mmmmmmm. This is good, but it is not yours."

I said (glowing with pride), "That's right! But it's ok?"

And he said, "It's great. But what is in yours that makes it so good?"

My answer, "Secrets."

Not quite done!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Kids Table

As I sit here and type this my house feels like one of those '90's mini-trucks. Remember the ones that would woof their woofers all the way through your neighborhood and literally rattle the house windows? Right, you remember. Welcome to my home.

Even though the kids are supposed to be homeschooling - my niece is here and our world is getting rocked. The kids are ebullient with excitement and enthusiasm - they love this girl. So, I let them have their break early to play together and the shouts of glee radiating from my basement are almost alarming. Make no mistake, however, this is pure joy.

It makes my heart so happy that these kids are thrilled to just be kids. When given a choice between hanging out with the grownups and hanging out with the kids? Pssssht! Forget about it! Kids win. Every time. They make annoying noises, they play irritating games, they shout, they wrestle and in the end? The relationships they are forging are the lifelong kind. These are forever friends - and they are so, so lucky.

So today, school can wait. I am going to let them make their memories.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Changes of Heart

Last year I wrote an article for an online Catholic magazine entitled I'm Not Wearing Pants. It was a fun article to write, but the response to it was even more fun. It garnered a lot of attention (for me!) and was even given a tip of the hat by the book author who I referenced in the essay. Here's the kicker: I take it (well, most of it) back.

It has become very obvious to me lately that one's outward appearance has almost nothing to do with the inward state of one's soul. Everyone is on his or her own journey toward God and the costume that we put on the outside is representative only of how we want others to perceive us.

These thoughts have been percolating around in my head for a few months now. They have come to a full boil recently as I have watched some of the most perfect looking people be exposed as duplicitous - while nearly simultaneously realizing that some of the most unassuming, quiet, under-dressed, plain people I knew were such deep well-springs of holiness that had I not been seeking, I would have missed out on their intrinsic wealth completely.

Deep Breath.

All of this was forming into conscious thought in my head when this came about. One of my favorite bloggers C Jane Kendrick has recently written a series of essays where she has realized that she is indeed a feminist. A practicing member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS), Kendrick is on the cutting edge of Mormon bloggers who traditionally display an almost unanimously united front when it comes to motherhood: Traditional is Best. Kendrick's latest essays have underscored a level of restlessness with the availability of opportunities for women in the Mormon church, outside of young marriage and motherhood. And apparently she is not alone.

In order to demonstrate their discontent, a band of likeminded LDS feminists staged a "Pants In" of sorts. In breaking with societal norm, but not necessarily church teaching, many women came to church on Sunday wearing...

Feminism. Hmm. It sure took them long enough.

You see, feminism and Catholicism have a long, ugly history together and part of my Pants piece was in revolt to what feminism has done to Catholic motherhood. It takes that flame of discontent that is part of the human condition, and it fans it with, "You are better than this! You are smarter and more capable than this dirty work of raising kids" and the fires of inequality rage. But here is what I know now to be true: Life will never be equal nor fair. There is no fairness when it comes to infidelity. There is no fairness when it comes to infertility. There is no fairness when it comes to the early onset of a terminal disease, to discontent, to depression. We are all on our own road. We are all called to our own level of holiness - and nobody else's. One's decision on how to dress should be a matter of holiness rather than defiance. Because defiance will take you down a bitter and ugly road.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and it's righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. 
There is inherent beauty in being a woman, that I will never recant. I do believe that women are called to accept their femininity with grace and ownership - but there are so many ways to do that. Some of them may not look on the surface like I might expect them to look, and who am I to decide what is feminine or not? There is only one thing I do know for sure - a woman is at her worst when she is trying to be a man.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Better Off Dead

Yesterday, while I was trying on earrings and lipstick in my beautiful home surrounded by my five innocent children, an emotionally deranged young man was walking into a Kindergarten school room in Connecticut and opening fire on them. He stole them from their families, he irreparably broke the hearts of this country, and he snatched the innocence and security away from all of the other children who had to witness this mindless act of carnage.

And then he turned the gun on himself.

Adam Lanza is better off dead.

A friend of mine asserted that, on a national level, the right to gun ownership does not trump those children's right to a healthy and uninterrupted life. When faced with a problem, in this case unfiltered evil, I think that the human mind immediately seeks to fix. Taking away the right to gun ownership would fix the problem of people getting shot, right?

Here's the problem I have: The word "right" gets my hackles up. To what do we really have the right?

I posted a picture on Facebook last year of plastic medical bins being wheeled away from an abortion clinic with the label "Hazardous Medical Waste." The picture was difficult to look at, but when you got past the emotions that it evoked, you were left with the reality. Scared, poor, single young women walk into abortion clinics every day having decided that their life isn't good enough to support a child. Their own life is in shambles. How could they possibly give of themselves the necessary means to nurture new life?

The life growing inside of their womb is better off dead.

I read a Facebook post from a friend that said until we start talking about the root causes and societal problems that lead to these massacres - they will never end. Even in Japan, where guns are outlawed, a man walked into a school room and killed bystanders with a knife. Guns and knives don't kill people - people kill people.

RU486 and Vacuum Extractors don't kill fetuses - mothers kill fetuses. And until we start talking about the root causes and societal problems that lead to this genocide - it will never end.

A few months ago, somewhere in rural China, a mother walked into an orphanage and abandoned her 6 year old daughter. After a couple of weeks, it because clear that she is never coming back. Last week, my 60 year old childless, American friends got a call that they had preliminary clearance to come to China and pick up this little girl. Their daughter. 

But that is ridiculous, right? They're 60. They are going to die. But not before they give a new life, new hope, and love to this little girl.

And the three of them will be all be better off. Alive.

So next week, let us welcome the coming Christ Child to his teenaged, unwed (at conception) Mother and his aging foster Father. Let us contemplate this poor, mixed family and their status as eventual refugees from their homeland. Let these things sit in your soul as you try to heal your very own wounds - whatever they may be - and then decide if anyone, anyone is truly better off dead.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Flashback Friday

Four years ago, this very day, I wrote the following post. I loved it then and I love it now. I believe it wholeheartedly even though - tonight, 4 years later, me, Grant, Max Azria and that red lipstick YOU voted for are hitting the Ritz.

Color me fortunate.

The Last Will Be First - 
   and the First Will be Mopping Up Vomit.

After all of that vanity, all of that ridiculous self-analysis - I am not at a swanky party tonight in downtown DC. I have spent my day and night taking care of my two sick kids. We cancelled our long held plans and surrendered to parenthood. My day consisted of scrubbing toilets, wiping noses, washing sheets, applying eyedrops.... holding my children, stroking their hair, reassuring them, preparing their favorite treats, watching movies. I have not looked in the mirror once today - nor have I brushed my teeth, taken a shower, brushed my hair or put on shoes. Let me assure you, however: this is real beauty. These are the tenderest and most lovely moments of life. Today is a day that I feel beautiful - no primping required.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Country Mouse Goes to Town

When I was in college I used to play a super fun game with my roommates. It was called "First Impressions." We would go into a drugstore and I would try on sunnies without them seeing and then come around the corner to get their "First Impression." Get it? Like "If I saw some chick wearing these sunglasses, what would be my first impression of her?"

I thought we could play the same game here, because I have a FaaNCY party to go to tomorrow night and I need some lipstick advice.

Are you ready...............
I give you the first ever
As I See It
First Impressions Party!!!!!!
Red Lips

Shimmery Nude
Mauve Gloss - Hair up
Chocolate Brown - Smoking

And lest you think me joking in some way - let me assure you - this is fancy. I have a navy blue Max Azria dress that fits like it was made for me. Let me give you a mental image:

zee lounge
zee ballroom
This joint is at the Ritz! You pick the lipstick. I am trusting you, here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


It is the middle of the Advent season, right? We are preparing our home for the coming of the Savior. We are preparing and adorning and concocting delicious food to be served at the Birthday Feast of the King.

But my oven broke.
Big-time Advent Fail - Photo Courtesy of Diocese of Washington

Big time broke - no heat whatsoever. So I called my bestfriendforever I mean our uber-trustworthy appliance guy and let him work his magic. Except his magic was contingent on a special order part - and had to wait for a week.

A Week!
and like Our Lady, we had to wait in joyful hope of the part that would fix our oven.

Today was our day.
John, from All-Star Appliance Service arrived early this morning, part in hand to fix our stove. After a week(!) of cooking meals on an electric griddle (Hello smoke detector!) his smiling face was like medicine. Reallllly good medicine, perhaps the illegal kind.
Photo Courtesy All-Star Appliance Service

Let me gush on John and All-Star for a minute. I found them by accident when I called Sears on a warranty problem. He was the contractor that was dispatched to our house and WOW! He's fab. He is punctual, friendly, and efficient. And he loves his family, to boot. And there is nothing I like better than a man who is candid about his affection for his wife and child. Rockstar.
Photo Courtesy of Lucy's Wicked Sense of Humor

So tonight, in celebration of our newly hot oven, I decided to make a special feast. Thanks to some online inspiration, I opted to make Beer Can Chicken. It smells fantastic and my heart is full of thanksgiving.

Something tells me this poor violated chicken doesn't echo the sentiment.
Photo Courtesy of Some Sadist Somewhere

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Family Photo Gone O So Wrong

Tonight we went to get our
Christmas Tree.

It went just fine, thank you for asking.

But when we got home and I was looking at the picture that the kind lady took of our "family", I noticed 

2 huge problems.

First, where is Lucy? No really. Where is she? Because I swear to goodness she was standing right in front of Josh and Michael. I even smoothed her hair down for the picture.

Second, who is that guy photobombing our family picture? (The one in the red rectangle.) Somehow we traded an adorable blonde little gal for a smart A teenage boy. Not a fair trade, friends and family. Not fair at all.

Not to worry. We came home with the girl and not Mr. Smartypants. oh, yeah, and one boss of a Christmas tree. Photos I am sure will be forthcoming.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's Not Me, It's You.

Dear Cheese.

Ok, it's not cheese, but I probably shouldn't be drinking Bloody Maries, either.

I have to break up with you. I know, I know. You didn't see this coming, did you? I'm sorry, darling, and trust me, my life will be a little less wonderful without you.

It seems we have let our relationship get out of control. I suppose people are right when they say that there really can be too much of a good thing, a notion I have always eschewed. You have been so good to me - so delicious and versatile. You go as well with apples as you do with french bread. I love you by yourself or out on the town. But I received a phone call today that was a little bit alarming.

Apparently, you have been camping out in my blood stream. What are you thinking? I eat my fiber, vegetables, and exercise with vigor. This should be enough to keep our relationship moderate. But elevating my cholesterol? At age 37? That is just not right, cheese, in fact it is downright creepy.

This relationship is not healthy. You aren't good for me anymore. I will be thinking about you - you know I will. But, if you see me in the store giving you a sidelong stare, let me go, ok? Just let me go.

I love you, Sharon

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