Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shooting The Dog

Sometimes I am inspired to do more to the dog than vacuum up her dog hair or play the umptybillionth game of Spitty Ball. Sometimes I want to shoot her. No worries, though. No dumb dogs were harmed in the making of this post. I shot her with my camera.

Those ears. They are like velvet. And she loves to have them "milked."

That photo makes her look much more noble than she actually is.

I don't know why, but this is one of my favorites.

Face rub. It's her all time favorite.

The ball is filled with mini-marshmallows. She is fully engaged. Squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks--they could have a grand parade right past her and she wouldn't care.

Must! Get! Marshmallows! Out!

She's not asleep, she's in Doggy Nirvana.

As crazy as she makes me, she is pretty cute. I guess I'll keep her around. If for no other reason than to annoy the neighbors. Heh.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Love...

These are some things that I find myself loving lately:

The Temper Trap--this band makes me happy. I am particularly enamored of the song "Fader" at the moment.

The voices of Nataly Dawn, from the duo Pomplamoose, and jazz singer Sara Gazarek. Either of these ladies could sing the phone book to me and I would sit in rapt attention.

Edy's Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Light ice cream in the 5.8 ounce cup. It's a perfect portion and it tastes delicious. It's a great thing to hide in my freezer so the kids can't find it keep on hand when the craving for ice cream hits. Because of its small size, I can't overdo on the portion--which is a tendency when I have a scoop in my hand--yet I feel as if I've had enough to soothe the craving.

Do you instagram? I have been at it for a few months and I am completely hooked.

Ditto for Pinterest. If you have never heard of Pinterest, it's essentially an electronic bulletin board where you "pin" pictures of things that you like. You can have as many "boards" as you want and "pin" different images to each board that fit a theme of your choosing. For instance, if I am reading blogs and I come across an idea for a project I like, I just hit the "Pin It" button on my dashboard and pin it to my "diy board". You can even look at other peoples' boards and re-pin images that they have pinned to their boards. Then, when you want to go directly to the source of the image, you just click on the image on your pinboard and it takes you there. I have boards for recipes, diy ideas, organization ideas, books, photos I love, etc. I have to be careful, however, as I can find myself drawn in and it can be a time suck.

I found the site design-seeds.com through Pinterest. I love looking there and finding color palettes that I might want to use in my home.

Walking in the morning after my kids leave for school has been a great way to start my day. I just started logging my progress at dailymile.com and like seeing how my workouts accumulate. The bonus to walking is, I get to listen to my ipod without people(and by people, I mean my family--because so far, I haven't had random strangers) coming up, tugging on my shirt and interrupting my music. The downside is when "Tequila" comes on and I get the overwhelming urge to do the "big shoe dance" from "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" right out there in public.

We just started streaming Netflix about a month ago. I love it and don't know why we didn't do it sooner. Related: Because Netflix also has t.v. programs in their library, I've finally been able to see what all the fuss about "Friday Night Lights" is. Why didn't anyone tell me about that show 5 years ago?!? I am obsessed.

A friend told me about Katrina Anne Willis' blog a few months ago. She used to be a local, but then her family relocated to the South. She is a great writer who has made me laugh and cry and wish that I had had the chance to know her "in person" while she was here. (Plus, you know, she really likes her wine, so there's that.)

Applewood smoked cheddar cheese--I could eat this stuff on wood and love it.

The start of school--yea!! My house stays clean for longer than 20 minutes!!

What have you found yourself loving these days?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How I Got Stuck In My Swimsuit (Twice!) Part 2

When we last left our heroine, she was laughing at herself and the absurdity of getting stuck in her own swimsuit. Oh, how simple-minded she is! Little did she know that more was to come...

We had spent a few days at the beach enjoying both the gulf and the pool. But somehow after one of our gulf swims, I forgot to rinse out my swimsuit. This meant that when I put it on, I noticed a particular funk emanating from my magic suit. At first I didn't know where the smell was coming from and as I was applying sunscreen to the girls and myself, I kept getting whiffs of an unpleasant smell.

"What is that? What is that smell?" I kept asking. I smelled the towels. I smelled the girls. And then I smelled myself. I apologized to the girls and said that perhaps it would be best if I scurried off ahead of them to the beach so that I could immerse myself and my magic suit in the gulf so that I wouldn't inflict my stink on any innocent bystanders.

After several hours of body surfing, sandcastle building, and fish avoidance, we were tired and hungry and decided to head back to the room to shower and rustle up some sustenance. I told the girls that I would definitely be rinsing out my suit.

Famous last words. Okay, they weren't really last words, I guess, but at one point I certainly thought they would be.

Now, here is where things got dicey. You see, most people take off their suits to rinse them out, and normally, I would have done that too. But for some reason, I thought that it made more sense to wash the suit out while it was on my body. I'm not really sure why I thought this was such a good idea, but I distinctly remember thinking at the time of the "incident" that this was a stroke of brilliance. It seems however, that in the afterglow of having had such a stroke of brilliance, I forgot what happens to my magic suit with the doomsday elastic when it gets wet. Generally when I swim, I give myself a bit of a drying off period so that I'm not dripping wet when I go home/back to the hotel/leave the pool. I just don't like traveling in a drippy swimsuit. So while I was at the beach, I made sure that I gave myself some drying off time before I headed back to the room. This also allows for easier removal of the magic suit. But when I had my stroke of brilliance, for some reason, it didn't occur to me that getting the magic swimsuit wet--absolutely soaking wet--and then trying to remove it would result in a problem.

Super genius, I am.

So there I was, in the shower with my swimsuit on. I had scrubbed it clean and then removed the tankini bottoms. Why I removed them before my top is also a mystery as that is the opposite of what I usually do. (Fascinating, my swimsuit habits, eh?) Apparently I was subconsciously trying to set myself up for maximum humiliation by removing my bottoms and then getting stuck in my top. Because that is exactly what happened next. I was removing the top over my "chestal region" with no problem but then right about at my armpits, I had to stop to get a new grip on the magic suit so that I could stretch the doomsday elastic over my shoulders and head. And this was where the suit went into Super Magic Swimsuit Doomsday Mode by sucking itself to my body so tightly that I could not budge it. This suit was made to support and "reinforce" and it was supporting and reinforcing itself around my armpits.

I struggled and wiggled and wrangled to no avail. I danced about the shower, getting water everywhere, struggling in vain to get my magic suit off. Then I started laughing again. Because really, who gets stuck in their swimsuit TWICE?!?


Once again, Maggie heard my laughter, came to the door and said, "Mom, did you get stuck in your swimsuit again?"

Apparently I am not as full of surprises as I like to think I am, because she nailed the reason for my hysterical laughter on the first guess.

"Do you need help?" she asked.

"Probably," I responded, giggling. "But not with my suit."

Oh foolish, foolish girl! Words too quickly spoken!

Now, while I was in combat with my suit, I had another stroke of brilliance. "I know!" I thought. "I'll just slip the front of my suit over my head and then just shimmy out of it like I would a coat."

I cannot state this emphatically enough: DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU ARE WEARING A SWIMSUIT MADE OF MAGIC MATERIAL WITH DOOMSDAY ELASTIC STRAPS!!! Because if you do, I can tell you what will happen next. Your swimsuit will have you in a Full Nelson. Yes, I wrestled my swimsuit and it pinned me to the mat to the shower wall.

So now I was in the shower--with the water running--with no swim bottoms on and my tankini top trapping my arms like a backwards straight jacket. I could. Not. Move. Actually, I could move my feet, but short of doing the Hokey-Pokey or the Hustle that wasn't going to do me much good. Now I began to laugh in earnest. But panic had not yet set in. "I got stuck once and got out," I reasoned, "I can do it again." I steeled myself and started again.

Short of thrashing about wildly and nearly tearing down the shower curtain, I got nowhere. Now the panic started creeping in. My logical brain and my panicked brain duked it out while I continued to have hand-to-hand combat with my suit:

"You are really stuck this magic suit of yours," my Panicked Brain whispered. "I don't think you'll ever get out."

"Don't be silly," Logical Brain chided. "People aren't stuck forever in their swimsuits."

Panicked Brain: You'll be the first!
Logical Brain: Calm down and think this through. What did you do last time that helped?
Logical Brain: Hush! No one ever died from being trapped in their swimsuit.
Panicked Brain: You'll be the first! You'll be the first!
Logical Brain: Call Maggie in. She can probably pull your suit off you.
Panicked Brain: No, it won't work. She's not strong enough! This suit has magical powers! They'll have to call in the fire department and you'll be stuck naked trapped in a Full Nelson by your swimsuit in your "I had five kids" body and your boobs and fat rolls will knock people out of their own force when the firefighters try to free you from your suit! You will become the legend that the veterans tell to the probies! Why couldn't it be one of the girls with their beautiful, young, stretch-mark-fat-roll-free bodies? You will die in your suit but first you will suffer unendurable humiliation!
Logical Brain: Stop it. No one has had to call in the fire department to be removed from a swimsuit. No one has died of humiliation.
Panicked Brain: You'llbethefirst!You'llbethefirst!You'llbethefiiiirrrrsssst!!!!

I called Maggie in and she tugged and pulled. Then she pulled and she tugged.

"Mom," she said laughing. "I'm not sure I can get this off of you."

Panicked Brain: We're all gonna die!!! Weeping! Wailing! Gnashing of teeth! Panic! Destruction! Death! AAAAAAAAHAHHAGAHH!!!!

"Maggie!" I protested. "Stop laughing! You have to get this thing off of me! This is not funny! They'll have to call in the fire department! That would be very, very bad! Fix it!!!!"

After a little more twisting and scrunching and thrashing and wiggling, we were able to get the magic suit off of me and I was able to finish rinsing it out and end my Shower of Terror. The Incident, as it then became known, was a running joke for the rest of the trip and has provided at least two occasions where I have told it--with me acting it out, natch--much to the pleasure of the listeners, so I guess it was worth the momentary panic and humiliation.

But I would like to suggest to Lands' End (urg. Every time I type that, the wrong placement of that apostrophe makes me cringe.) that they include a disclaimer warning people of the possibility of entrapment in their magic suits. Or possibly they just need to tell me.

How I Got Stuck In My Swimsuit (Twice!) Part 1

Remember how I told you that while I was on my Florida trip I got stuck in my swimsuit (twice!)? Would you like to hear about it? Too bad! This is my blog and I have nothing better to write about. Hey. At least I'm not blogging about what I had for lunch.

The first time I got stuck in my swimsuit I was in Athens, Alabama. (This was a precursor--a trial run, if you will--to the real-deal-I-almost-had-a-major-anxiety-attack episode that occurred in Florida.) The girls and I had just finished swimming in the hotel pool and decided to head back up to the room and get ready for bed.

I quickly established the pecking order for the trip and ran into the bathroom, declaring that "seniority rules." Once in there, after availing myself of the facilities, I attempted to take off my swimsuit.

Now, some explanation is in order here: I am, rather, um... "blessed" in the "chestal region." (Lordymercy I cannot wait to see the google hits from this post.) Because of this, I have certain requirements of my swimsuit--namely that it be made of some magical space age material that can support my endowments and provide coverage while still allowing me to look my age rather than 40 years older than I actually am. Lands' End came through for me last year when I spotted my current suit in the overstock section. The material sucks in my fat rolls and supports my "chestal region" yet has a youthful silhouette because it is a tankini. But it isn't just any tankini, it has a x-back straps made of wide bands of doomsday elastic (yes, this elastic could save the world). The x-back straps combined with the fat sucking material make for a tight fit. Really, I have no idea where my extra fat and boobs go when I put it on. Friends, this is some magic material! Do you see where we are headed here? Guess what happens when the material gets wet?

Did you guess that the suit clings to me like white on rice? Bing! Bing! Bing! You are a winner!!

So. When I try to take off my super-magic-fat-sucking-boob-supporting-doomsday-material suit, well, it's tricky. I have to pull the top off over my head and once it gets past my, er, "endowments" I hit the point of no return. Also known as my armpits. If I can keep going in one fluid motion and avoid my armpits, I am golden. If not, well, then my pretties, I. Am. Stuck.

There I was, in the bathroom of the Hampton Inn in Athens, Alabama, attempting to remove my super magic tankini top and I hit the speed bump of my armpits. I was stuck. I crossed my arms and tried again to no avail. I tried again. Nothing. Then I started laughing, because really, who gets stuck in their swimsuit? And this was where Maggie started knocking on the door and saying "Ma'am? Ma'am? What are you doing in there? Ma'am? Are you engaging in inappropriate behavior in the facilities?" and where I started laughing so hard that I was doubled over into a McConnaughay fit* and there was no way the swimsuit was coming off.

After a minute or two of laughter and silly quips on both sides of the door, I told Maggie that I was stuck in my swimsuit.

"How does somebody get stuck in their swimsuit?" she quizzed. "Is that even possible? What did you do to yourself? Seriously! Are you kidding?!"

I replied in a very small voice that I didn't know how I got stuck, but that yes, it was possible, seeing how I was currently stuck, and no, I wasn't kidding. I was really and truly stuck. In my swimsuit. Because clearly, I am a genius.

After a few minutes more of struggling and cursing under my breath, I was able to gather my strength and get the doomsday material over my head. I breathed an enormous sigh of relief and changed into my pajamas.

When I got back out into the room, the girls and I had a good laugh.

I was all "HAHAHAHA!!! Can you believe I got stuck in my swimsuit?! Who does that? Seriously. What kind of person over 8 years of age cannot get themselves out of their own swimsuit?"

Shhhh....Do you hear that? No? Well if this were a movie, that would be the sound of ominous music foreshadowing the terror to come. Tune in tomorrow for the climax and denouement. (Seriously. Gross google hits are on the horizon.)

*McConnaughay fit= a fit of hysterical laughter that borders on tears, and often turns to tears and sobbing, passed from generation to generation in the maternal line of my family, usually only affecting females.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Little Fishy

I have a math problem for you:

1 seven year old + x amount of dollars burning a hole in the seven year old's piggy bank =?

Did you guess this?

Meet Phinneas B. Ganey, the newest member of our household. We call him Phin or Phinney for short. Mary is delighted with him. She talks to him in baby talk and leaves Wilson her stuffed dog by Phinn's bowl so that he won't be lonely when she's not around.

She's delighted, yet pragmatic. She said that she knows Phin probably won't live very long. She asked if we would flush him down the toilet when he had taken his final gasps through his gills. I told her that we very likely would. She shook her head "no."

"Mom," she said, matter-of-factly, "we should take him to the lake and dump him there, so the other fish can eat him and grow into stronger and bigger fish."

Should I be worried that she is already concerned about his demise? (I think that one of her brothers tried to prepare her by letting her in on the lifespan of fish.) Or should I be more worried that she is the youngest of my offspring and will very likely be making decisions regarding my health and care one day?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Best First Day Picture Ever

Watch out for these two punks. They'll cut you.

Or, in Mary's case "break your neck and make you die." I hear they're packing shivs. Or plastic cutlery. Either way, best give them wide berth.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What Should Have Happened/What Really Happened

What Should Have Happened: I should have had an idea for a Friday blog post, or at the very least a photo that could go up to replace the picture of my very gross, disfigured fingers so that you wouldn't have had to see it every time you stopped by over the weekend. (HAHAHAHA!! I say that like I have actual people who check back on my blog just to see if I've written something yet. Geez, I crack myself up!)

What Really Happened: Um....I had no ideas. So you got to see my very gross, disfigured fingers all weekend.

What Should Have Happened: The Sugarland concert should have gone on uninterupted with beautiful summer skies as a background.

What Really Happened: There was a terrible accident and now families and friends are suffering the loss of dear ones and others are recovering from injuries.

What Should Have Happened: We should have gone to the State Fair as a family on Sunday. My youngest two--one of whom has never been to the fair--should have been delighted by rides, grossed out by the giant swine, fascinated by enormous vegetables, awed by lumberjacks, and sickened by too much fair food along with the rest of us.

What Really Happened: We didn't go to the State Fair, because for the first time in most people's memory, it was closed on Sunday. As it should have been.

What Should Have Happened: We should have driven a couple hours to Cincinnati and gone to King's Island on Sunday.

What Really Happened: The suggestion to my beloved that we toss everyone in the car and go to King's Island was summarily shot down. Party pooper. (Every party needs one. That's why I keep him around.) So instead, he took the boys shopping for sports equipment so that they can toss it in random places throughout the house and then frantically wander around looking for it when they are due at practice in 15 minutes play football. Then they went to see a movie about talking monkeys. Or apes. Or something. All I know is James Franco was in it (James Franco!) and instead of seeing that, I took Mary to see a movie with little blue people in it. Not even a fair contest: The movie with James Franco wins--even though I didn't see it--just because he's in it. To be fair, my movie did have Neil Patrick Harris, who cracks me up. Well, usually he cracks me up. This time, I just cringed and I might have whimpered, "Oh Doogie, how far you've fallen." On the upside, Tim Gunn made a cameo appearance. Tim Gunn! He's the whole reason I watch Project Runway. His intelligent and oft-hilarious critiques of the designers' works in progress along with his "Make it work" line never fails to win me. Plus, my movie had a scene with digitized cat vomit. Um...no. Just, no.

What Should Have Happened: I should have cleaned up this hell hole and done some laundry.

What Really Happened: I got sucked into Pinterest and then wound up making a recipe for double chocolate loaf with peanut butter spread that I found there. And then I made fresh salsa with the tomatoes from my garden that have been sitting on my counter for several days.

What Should Have Happened: I should have liked the salsa.

What Really Happened: I LOVED the fresh salsa and it has now ruined me for salsa from a jar forevermore. (Heh. I always wanted to use that word.)

What Should Have Happened: I should have thought of something interesting to write about.

What Really Happened: Um...you got this instead.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Little Tip

One of Maggie's friends passed a tip on to me and I think it's BRILLIANT! And, as stated here numerous times before (ad nauseum), I am a giver, so I will share it with you. First, a warning, if you have a week stomach, read no further or close your eyes and don't look at the pictures and scroll down to the tip I'm sharing.

Remember how I burned the bejeebers out of my hand making Snickers popcorn? When it first happened it looked like this:

Know what I could've used? An icepack! Guess what I didn't have on hand? Somehow all of our ice packs were strewn about the house (damn you, football!) and they were thawed. Guess what else? Our ice maker wasn't working. We had NO ICE IN THE HOUSE! Super. It was then--in the middle of pain--that I remembered Maggie's friend's tip: Fill a Ziploc bag with dishwashing liquid, zip it closed and put it in the freezer. It makes a wonderful flexible ice pack.

Great to have around for aches, pains, sprains, and oh yeah, burns! It's inexpensive and I don't worry about the stuff inside oozing out if it breaks, like I do with those other ice packs. Thanks, Katie, for the great tip!

And just in case you wondered, my hand now looks like this:

So pretty! And fun to threaten my children with! "Aaaarrrggghh!! Beware the blistered hand!! The blistered hand will get you!!"

I am so fun to live with.

Please come back. I promise not to show you anymore gross pictures of my burned appendages. Pinky swear. Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh BLISTERED PINKY SWEAR!!!


Really. I promise.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Big Girl, (Much) Bigger School

Last night my eldest child and I walked several miles. At her school. And I'm not talking about around a track. We walked those miles in her school while trying to find her classes. Her school is absolutely enormous. There will be somewhere around 820 students in her freshman class. Did you get that? Eight hundred and twenty! That's about the same size as the town where my paternal grandparents lived. 820 souls. That's a lotta souls. And there are about 1500 students in the upper grades. I seriously don't know how passing periods work with that many bodies crammed into the hallways. Do they have riot police? This is all new to me. My high school had three grades (10-12) and somewhere around 600 students total. I knew everyone in my class and knew or knew of almost everyone in the other classes. It's so big, I got a little disoriented.

Anyway! Last night was freshman orientation so we were herded like cattle stood in lines to get schedules, pick up textbooks, pay for lunches, buy an athletic pass, and hand over checks for every little thing under the sun. Except books. They'll invoice us for that. Free and public education...say what?!? After that we headed off to find her locker and then were shown around the school by a mentor (they had upperclassmen who volunteered to show freshmen their way around and answer questions. These same kids will be available the first day--and known by their shirts--to help unnerved freshmen get around.). Our mentor was a sweet, nice-looking young man who had just come from soccer practice. My daughter now calls him Soccer Hottie. Nice. (This is the point where I was again stressing that she was in high school for an education.) So Soccer Hottie showed us Maggie's locker and then all of her classrooms. But, my friends, he did it in reverse order. This is not a good thing when you are a nervous freshman. This means that you must then compensate by walking your schedule in the proper order at least two times. Have I mentioned that the footprint of the high school is enormous? Well, let me restate--E-NOR-MOUS! The map they gave us was printed on both sides of an 11"x14" sheet of paper--and the print was so tiny and crowded--because there were so many rooms to fit on that map-- that it was hard to read. The passing periods are seven minutes long and I believe that the combination of crowded hallways and the enormous building will mean that Maggie needs every single second of that seven minutes to get to her classes. So walking that high school several times over meant that I was foot-sore and grouchy from the crowds by the time we were through. Good thing I'm not a freshman, huh? I'd be crabby all the time. I mean, I like people, I just don't like that many around me at once. Heh.

So last night was a flurry of Facebook postings with schedules and teachers and lunchtimes. It was fun to watch everyone's excitement and nice to see them reassuring each other. I keep reminding Maggie that she was just as nervous about junior high and it worked out fine. I keep telling her that she'll find her way around much more quickly than she thinks and that contrary to the nightmares in her head, the students there will be friendly to her and help her find her way. I keep telling her that she's going to have great teachers and she'll learn a lot. I keep telling her to think positively.

And then I keep praying that everything I've kept telling her will prove to be true.

Monday, August 8, 2011


So. It seems that you have gone against my motherly advice and gone ahead and had a birthday again, even though I told you not to. That's you--always the rebel. Okay, so you're not really a rebel. Even when you're rebellious, you're still almost okay to have around. (I hope that I haven't tempted fate by typing that.) It's just, wow! Fifteen! How in the heck did that happen? Where did those years go? You can't be 15 because in my head I'm still 18. Or something. I never was any good at math. My point is that mah preshus baybee is FIFTEEN!!!

We've both grown and learned in the past 15 years. Let's look at some of the things you've taught me.

Yesterday you were looking through old pictures on the computer and you asked me why I let you wear such-and-such. I looked at you like you often look at me: like I have three heads and the middle one just uttered the stupidest phrase ever uttered by a human. Here's the thing Peach, once you got past say, six or seven, you had your own ideas about fashion and you no longer cared for my advice regarding sartorial decisions. While I still put my foot down about some things and I have always stressed modesty, you know what you like (and most definitely what you don't) and you aren't afraid to say so. So really, letting you wear the thing that you were wearing in that picture was less about me actually letting you and more about me choosing my battles.

You have always been, by virtue of being firstborn, my guinea pig child and that was one of the first lessons I learned: choose your battles. That's been a handy thing to know, so thanks for teaching me that one early on.

You also taught me about laughter--and silliness really. And you still teach me daily. I won't mention the things you have said that make me laugh--like thinking that Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa's name was really Barefoot Contessa ('OMG! Who names their kid Barefoot??'), or calling Stephen Colbert Conan O'Brian, or saying things like "trust me, I'm lying." Nope. Won't mention those things at all. What I will mention is how I see you and your friends do silly things and act ridiculous and not care what people think. And how you are ready to drop what you're doing to wrestle with me at a moment's notice. And how you joke with your siblings. And how you look for fun and find joy daily. You have made me take stock of myself to see if I'm looking for fun and finding joy myself.

You have taught me that you can never have too many friendship bracelets.

You have taught me that there is actually some hip hop music that I can listen to without losing my mind. I, in turn, have taught you that there were rappers before the guys you listen to now and that they were pretty good. (Biz Markie, the exception here, but really how can you not love that song just a little bit? 'Oh baybee you! You got what I neee--eed! You say he's just a friend!')

You have taught me how to use technology because I am an old dog, yo. I know that if I have a question, you will be able to answer it and show me what to do. Which is good, because I don't think this technology stuff is gonna go away.

You have taught me that everything tastes better with Ranch dressing.

More than anything, you, my first born, taught me how to be a mother. At my first glimpse of your sweet little rosebud mouth and your tiny upturned nose I loved you. But I was also panicked because I didn't know anything about being a mother to an actual baby. But somehow, together, we managed to get you to this point--15 years old, healthy, relatively happy, and fairly unscathed (although I make frequent donations to your therapy jar--heh) and you seem okay. No. You are more than okay. You are stellar. You are bright and beautiful. You have transitioned from girl to young woman in spectacular fashion. You make me proud. You wear me out. You bring me joy. And, as a bonus, you seem to sorta kinda maybe like being around me. And as I recall, having been fifteen once myself, that is a ringing endorsement.

I hope you know that I am always on your side. I hope you know that I am so very proud to call you mine. I hope you know how beautiful you are--inside and out. I hope you know how much I love you, because, my Peach, I do. So very much.

Happy birthday! You are my favorite Maggie.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Snickers Popcorn

Who's your buddy? Who's your friend? That's right, I am. Also, I am a giver. And extraordinarily pretty.

At least I think that's what you will say if you try this recipe.

I found it through Lorie at Be Different Act Normal who does an excellent job of scouring the innernets for good stuff of all stripes. One of her treasures recently, was finding Snickers Popcorn created by Shelly over at Cookies and Cups. I don't personally know either of these women, but I think we might actually be separated at birth.

Anyway! A dear friend asked me if I would contribute something for a bake sale for the Pyes in Haiti. (If you don't know Danny and Leanne's story, you must google them and read about it. Seriously. It will make whatever you were worried about seem small by comparison.) I told her that I'd be delighted--and this recipe was what I had in mind.

Here you go:

8 quarts air popped corn (about 2 cups of kernels)*
1 c. salted butter
2 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. salted peanuts
30 "Fun Size" Snickers bars, coarsely chopped
3 oz. melted semi sweet chocolate (optional--but only optional if you have absolutely no taste whatsoever.)**

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Over medium heat boil butter, brown sugar, salt and corn syrup for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in your baking soda.
Pour over your popcorn and stir to coat evenly.
Transfer to waxed paper lined counter and sprinkle peanuts on top. Stir until all is coated evenly. (I found this step awkward and unnecessary and for my second batch just did the mixing in the roasting pan.)
Transfer popcorn into a large roasting pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and stir in your coarsely chopped Snickers. Return to oven for 3 more minutes so the Snickers begin to melt slightly into the popcorn.
Remove from pan and transfer popcorn to wax paper to cool.
Drizzle melted chocolate on top of popcorn if desired. (Trust me, you should desire this.)
Let sit and store in an airtight container.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour 30 minutes

*Unless you have a roasting pan the size of a kiddie pool, you may need to halve the recipe and make it in 2 batches. After you've made one batch, you may decide that you've made plenty. 8 quarts of popcorn is a lot, y'all.

**Yes, the drizzled chocolate seems like too much of a good thing, but please, please, please try it. I promise you it helps make the whole batch more Snickers-y.

Also, that caramel topping gets really, really hot. Go ahead. Ask me how I know!

Here's how I know: I accidentally spilled it on three of my fingers. You know what happened next? It hardened on my fingers while still burning. I am now typing with my whole left hand and just the thumb and index finger of my right because my blistered fingers are wrapped in a cool cloth. (The sacrifices I make in the name of food, people. They are big.) So please use extreme caution when pouring the caramel, friends. Let me be your cautionary tale.

Should you burn yourself, I can tell you that eating some of this will, at least temporarily, forget your pain. Seriously, it's that good.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Invasion 2011: 36 Hours Of Crazy

My family came to my house. Ever hear the phrase "loaded sentence"? Well, saying that my family came to my house is loaded. It means a lot of things.

It means that there were lots of people.

Everyone crowded into the family room to watch the Women's World Cup. Priorities, people. Tilly had her own version of the WWC--Spitty Ball--and she was in heaven because there were so many hands to throw that spitty ball.

It means that there was lots of food.

S'mores. We have serious priorities, people.

It means that there was lots of cute.

It means there was a lot of card playing.

Serious game. I defy you to play Spit and not be rabidly competitive.

It means there was lots of crazy.

And I loved every minute of it.

It doesn't happen often enough and I miss everyone. It wasn't enough time together, but I appreciate the effort everyone made and I sure hope next time we can have more time together.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Up, Up, And Away

My beloved and I recently celebrated a big anniversary. We are not usually big gift givers on our anniversary because the best gift he could ever ask for, he got when he married me we could ever ask for is each other. (Sorry. Were you trying to keep that breakfast down?) Or perhaps we are lazy and shopping for a gift is too much effort. Or possibly it's both.

Anyway! This being a rather major landmark in our married lives, we couldn't let it pass with out giving each other something. So, I thunk and I thunk and I had a brilliant idea. (Shut up. It happens sometimes--like maybe with the frequency of Halley's comet, but it happens.) We often see hot air balloons passing over our home and we comment every time about how fun that would be. So that was it! I was going to take us on a hot air balloon ride. Well, not me personally, I know nothing about piloting balloons, but I knew I could figure out how to find someone who does know about piloting balloons.

A few phone calls later and everything was set. I'm pretty sure I was more excited than my beloved, but then again, he tends to keep his emotions in better check than I.

We met the flight crew a few days after our anniversary and got our instructions. Then we drove to the launch site. And then we "helped" the crew get the balloon ready. This consisted of my beloved being wrangled into pulling on the balloon and holding down the basket and me running around with my camera taking pictures and instagramming every two seconds.

Really, it was tremendous. Patrick was a bit nervous at the beginning of the flight, preferring to sit on the propane tank for some of the ride, but I was like an 8 year old--all grins and excited applause and pithy phrases like "We're flying! We're flying!" and "Sweet son of a nutcracker it's quiet!!" Brilliant wordsmith, that's me.

Truly, this post is best told with pictures, so here-- I'll stop blabbering now.

Number 35 on my Life List? Done!