Tuesday, November 30, 2010
This is why I love Christmas.
And despite the fact that every year I grow older, my heart still remains the same. I want presents, and I want lots.
It really doesn’t matter. Because they all elicit the same feeling that turns me into a little girl, that can’t bear to look at a package without shaking it, wondering, and occasionally opening it up and re-wrapping it.
I’m not proud.
On Black Friday, I took Shelbi shopping so that she could purchase presents for the family. When we got to the check-out, she spotted something for me.
Shelbi: Mommy, ummmm. Can you go in another part of the store so that I can grab something, and add it to my items? I’ll come and get you once I’ve checked out.
Me: Okay, I’ll be over in cosmetics.
I walk away, ever so slowly trying to get a hint of what she found at the check out counter for me.
I could have walked faster. But really, why would I do that? I needed to gather clues.
I put one foot in front of the other, until I found a destination within earshot of the cash register.
I stopped at the end cap, and picked up a snow globe, to make it appear as if I was shopping. But really, I was listening intently to all conversations surrounding my daughter.
I heard the cashier say “Menthol or Regular?”
She’s buying me cigarettes? Thoughtful. Something to relieve my stress. But I don’t smoke. And she’s 10. Surely, you can’t sell a 10 year old ciggys. Must be listening to the wrong conversation.
I turn to my use of sight, because I can sense that Shelbi is fumbling through her pocketbook, and won’t catch me peaking. Now here’s my chance. I scan all the shelves near and around the check out looking for a sign. There are books, and candy and cigarettes, but nothing that distinctly says “Mommy”.
Then I hear, “Come on, sweetie. Let me check ya out in cozzz-metics.”
Shelbi looks up, panicked, because guess what? THAT’S where I am.
I’ll just look in her hands as she walks by and, presto I’ll know what my present is.
But only, my kids face is panicked. Her eyes are screaming “GO! GO!” But my legs won’t move.
I want to know. But she doesn’t want me to.
I want to know. But she’s wrought with fear that I might find out.
I want to know. And she’s coming closer, her eyes begging, begging, begging.
So I turn around and shuffle my way to office supplies.
Now what am I going to do?
I guess I’ll just have to wait until Christmas.
Or, I could rummage through her room.
I know, I know. I’ll wait.
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Oh, my sweets. Leftovers.
Leftovers from childhood. Qualities I fear, I may never lose.
Leftovers from Thanksgiving. Food that seems as if it never ends.
It all seems like a lifetime ago.
Yet, we still have Turkey. And lots of it. And my kids are going to tie me up and throw me in the closet if I try to serve them Cornbread Dressing and Sweet Potatoes for one more meal.
So, tonight we’re having Turkey Nachos. They’ll just think its chicken.
Slathered in gooey cheese.
Dripping with Salsa and Sour Cream.
On a bed of creamy refried beans.
With the crunch of corn tortilla chips.
This is what leftovers are all about.
Baked Tortilla chips
Canned Refried Beans, warmed
Turkey, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
1. Place a handful of chips on a plate. Top with lettuce and tomatoes.
2. Next, drizzle with refried beans, and top with turkey.
3. Continue to layer remaining ingredients, cheese, salsa, and guacamole, in that order.
Monday, November 22, 2010
I’m not the type of person to make my children call me M’am. I’m not opposed, I actually rather like the sound of it, in theory.
Every now and then, when one of my children loses their damn minds and errantly hollers, “WHAT?!!!” in response to me calling for them, I invoke the “Say yes M’am” rule just to make them squirm a bit and show them the proper and respectful way to address their mother.
Then about 5 minutes later, they forget, and so do I and we’re back to Mommy or Mama.
But now, all of the sudden, two of my four children are calling me M’am ALL THE TIME.
With no prompting from me.
Or their father.
Could this be the influence of friends or too much television?
I don’t know, but I’m not sure if I like it. It feels a little cold, and impersonal. On the upside, it does make it appear to strangers that I’ve got a good hold on this parenthood thing. Every now and then, Soledad confuses the him/her correlation to sir/m’am. We get a few strange looks, but otherwise I was totally on the fence about the whole issue.
Until . . . I found a gray hair in my head.
And now I’m M’am coupled with a gray hair. And that is downright frightening.
Not because I’m afraid to grow old. I’m not. I’m happy to say I’m 35. And when I’m 65, I’ll yell it to the roof tops. When I’m 89, I’ll smile and say “Aaaah, but I only feel 49.” But the whole gray hair thing has thrown me for a loop because well, I’m vain.
So there. You heard me say it. Hate me if you want.
But, I want to be one of the really fabulous looking older people, with sparkling eyes, fashionable turtle necks, and a cute little bunt cut that hits right above my shoulders. And I had always imagined that my hair would still be brown, not gray. Which would be okay if it were all gray and posh, but I don’t think I can seriously go through the peppered stage. Especially if these durn kids are calling me “M’am”. Which has got me to thinking, what in the heck will my grandchildren call me? I always thought that it would be “Nana” or “Noney”, but I can just see this gray haired M’am thing taking off, and before you know it I’m being called “Maw, Maw” and I don’t want to be a “Maw Maw”. I haven’t seen many chic dressed Maw Maw’s with bunt cuts and high heels, driving around town in their drop top Benz.
Oh, maybe I should just surrender, and be the first.
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So, the chicken I was referring to in the title was this chicken.
Not me. But if the shoe fits. . . . . . .
So I guess we have two chickens here.
Me. Chicken to grow old.
This. Chicken to be eaten.
Chicken because they are just like Turkeys only smaller. That’s how I’m going to look at life.
Tomorrow I’ll still be the same person, only a little older. Still the same me. I’ll tackle the small stuff, and then when I get to the bigger stuff, it won’t seem so hard.
Turkeys are a lot like that. If you’ve handled a chicken, or even if you haven’t, you can handle a Turkey.
It’s just a big hunk of meat that wants to be loved and handled and seasoned. And roasted. It really wants to be roasted. But only if, you know how to butter it up. You know, sweet talk it, get it all liquored up and fat, before you apply the heat.
Brine it baby. That’s what I’m talking about. It’ll give you a fool proof roasted turkey everytime.
No dry breast meat on this bird.
Turkey 101: With A Chicken
Here’s What You Need:
Large Container Big Enough to hold your Turkey and 2 Gallons of Water
12-15 pound Turkey, defrosted
2 gallons cold water
2 cups bourbon ( you can also use whiskey)
2 cups Kosher Salt, plus more for seasoning the Turkey
1 cup sugar
4 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 of each (Apple, Lemon, Orange, Onion) all quartered, optional
Butter or Olive Oil
1. Remove neck bones and giblets from the Turkey. Reserve for gravy.
2. Rinse the turkey.
3. In your large container place 2 gallons of cold water, bourbon, 2 cups of salt, and 1 cup sugar. Stir until it dissolves completely. Add the turkey. Refrigerate for 16 – 24 hours.
4. Remove the turkey from the brine. Dry with paper towels. Sit on roasting rack, breast side up and let stand at room temperature for 1-2 hours. Discard the brine.
5. At the end of the two hours preheat the oven to 325.
6. Season the outside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Dust the inner cavity with salt and pepper.
7. Place lemon, orange, and onion wedges into the cavity of the bird. Tuck the wings under the bird. If you like you can tie the legs together using kitchen twine for a nice presentation.
8. Soak a clean white kitchen towel in the chicken stock. Take it out, squeeze it so that it is not dripping wet, and place it over the breast of the turkey. Put the turkey in the oven, with the breast facing the front of the oven, and roast for 3 hours, basting with chicken stock every 30 minutes. When basting the bird, be sure to continually wet the kitchen towel, as this is will help keep the turkey moist.
9. After 3 hours, remove the towel, and brush the bird with olive oil or butter. Turn the bird so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Continue to cook for an hour more. Cook the turkey until the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh has reached 165 degrees and the turkey is a golden brown. If the turkey is not fully cooked, baste and return to the oven for 20 minutes and check again.
10. Once fully cooked, remove from the oven, and let rest for 30 minutes (at least) before carving.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
This time, not only does the danger lie in the outside world, but also within their clan. Harry struggles greatly with being the "chosen one." He is ready to fight Voldemort to the finish, and die even, but he is not prepared to watch as his friends and allies lay down their lives to protect his.
Hermione Granger, in all of her strength and wisdom, grows sadder and lonelier. She has cast a spell on her Muggle parents to remove herself from their memory forever. And as the fate of the world is dependent upon the solidarity of her and her two closest friends she finds herself in a struggle to keep the three of them close.
Ron Weasley has recognized his role as the side kick, and is increasingly growing resentful. His insecurities fill him up as he struggles to find his place, in this ever volatile world as well as in Hermione’s heart.
The movie follows the book quite closely, conjuring up picturesque scenes and bleakness unique to the series. The movie, fashioned after the book, is slower and sadder than the earlier films. There are deaths, tortured moments, and frightfully fun, jump out of your seat scenes. For those unfamiliar with the book, at times the movie may be a bit hard to follow with the vast arrary of characters, and garbled, strange sounding terminology that can leave an newfound viewer a bit confused.
The 10 year old in me was delighted with the special effects, fighting, and magic. The 30 year old in me left the film, a little sad by the realization that this fantasy world will soon be coming to an end in the 8th and final installment.
*The mother in me left the film completely overjoyed that Harry Potter had grown out his hair a bit. It was longer than in was in the Half Blood Prince, and much longer than it was in The Order of the Phoenix. Although I think his best hair days were during The Goblet of Fire, I was able to live with its current length.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I'm moving to Paris.
No, not Paris, TX.
Because, nobody there knows me. But more importantly, because a substantial portion of the population won't understand when my children insult them, or me, or both.
It was bad enough when Shelbi was 2 years old, and we were walking in Home Depot and she yelled to some strange middle aged man, "Daddy, Daddy" like he was holding a sign that said “Lost Father.” Did she do it once, twice, three times? Nope. She beckoned for that man for at least 5 minutes, like she was some fatherless child looking for the man who had knocked up her mommy. I've since forgiven her, but I've had to keep one eye on her every minute since.
And now her little sister has stepped up to the plate, and tried to one her up.
1:36 pm, Monday afternoon.
Bella, Soledad, Phoebe and I pull up to the drive-thru at Sonic to order ONE Lemon-Berry Slush. I’ve already warned these children to tread very lightly.
“I’m not having the best day children,” I said. “You do not want to make Mommy mad today. Or you will not be having a very nice day either.”
They seemed to understand what I was saying, and we waited for our ONE slush. The car hop rolls out to our truck in her roller skates, and clearly even with her skates on she was maybe 4 ft tall. I lean out the window to grab the drink and when I reach back into the console to get the money Soledad yells, “Oh my goodness! She is soooooooooo short! Look Bella, Look! She’s so short, she’s so short, she’s so short, and she’s so short!”
You don’t have to tell me. I know. But there was no time for that lesson. Which, by the way, I’m pretty sure I’ve given to her before.
I had to hush her up fast.
“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Soli. BE QUIET!” I tried to lean back and cover her mouth, but our darn truck is just too big. I looked at Bella sitting 2 seats away, and my eyes pleaded with her to help me. And she did, like the holy counsel coming down from heaven.
“Soledad, be quiet.” She calmly says. “Why do you even care? She’s taller than YOU and you’re not freaking out about how short you are!”
Probably not the route I would have gone, but well said. Soledad did then shut the heck up. Meanwhile, the poor car hop is looking at me imploringly, like ‘Lady just gimme my money!’
I’m not sure if she heard what went on, but she shorted me on my change by 5 cents.
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I mean it. I’m going to Paris. I’m not kidding.
And I don’t want to hear any complaining from the Woo children about how they can’t speak French, and the food’s different here, and boo hoo hoo, The Eiffel Tower is too big.
Well TOO BAD! You should learn to be nicer to your mother (and car hops and strange men in Home Depot).
Now EAT YOUR DELISCIOUSLY SINFUL FRENCH STYLE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH WITH BECHAMEL SAUCE ON IT, AND BE HAPPY!!!!!!
2 TB butter, unsalted
2 TB flour
1 cup milk
Pinch of Nutmeg
¼ cup Parmesan, grated
8 slices Gouda cheese (about 1 oz. each – I use Gouda because it 1) it’s good 2.) melts well 3.) Is similar in taste to Gruyere but it’s cheaper – a lot cheaper at my grocery)
*8 slices bread, lightly toasted
1/3 pound Deli Ham, thinly sliced
*add a few more slices of bread and ham if you like. The recipe makes extra béchamel sauce.
1. Preheat the oven to 450.
2. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Add the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon constantly for 1 minute. Slowly add the milk, and whisk constantly until thickened. This should take about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 slices of Gouda cheese, parmesan, and nutmeg. Stir until melted and combined well. Set aside.
3. Brush half of the toasted breads lightly with mustard. Add 3-4 slices of ham, a slice of Gouda, and another piece of toasted bread.
4. Top with a generous portion of the cheese sauce, and sprinkle with any remaining parmesan. Bake in oven for 5 minutes until heated through.
5. Turn broiler on high, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
This casserole is award winning.
Well . . . . . . . it could have been award-winning.
If a certain “somebody” (MR. WOO) would have told me that not only did he need something to bring to work for Thanksgiving lunch, but that all the dishes were entered into a contest.
I mean, there’s no need to dress this delightful dish up. It can stand on its own.
Creamy, yet has a slight bight.
Cheesy, yet slightly crunchy around the edges.
Perfectly balanced, nutritious, and completely sinful tasting.
The perfect Thanksgiving side.
But really. You don’t take your kids to a Hoedown, without a hoe.
Well, maybe you do. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been to a Hoedown.
But you get my point.
I could have dressed it up a bit. Put it in a nice casserole dish. Put a little garnish on the side. Said a couple prayers over it. Ask the Voo-Doo doctor to put a spell on the judges. You know, the normal stuff you do to win a contest.
But Mr. Woo got caught slippin’. And now all I have left is this empty tin casserole dish to prove that my dish was supercalifragilistic FANTASTIC.
And that should be enough.
But it’s not.
I want a medal. Screw sportsmanship.
Baked Spinach Casserole
½ stick butter, melted
1 medium onion, chopped finely
3 TB all-purpose flour
30 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups cottage cheese
2 cups Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
1. Preheat oven to 400. Butter the inside of a casserole dish (7 X 11). Set aside.
2. To a large bowl, add butter and onion. Stir in flour.
3. Add spinach, eggs, cottage cheese, and Colby Jack shredded cheese, and mix thoroughly.
4. Bake uncovered, for 45 minutes or until edges are golden and the center has set.
*You can make this dish a day earlier, refrigerate, and cook the next day (but it may need to cook a little longer).
Monday, November 15, 2010
I am from the South.
I am a woman.
But most importantly, I am a person.
And I just read The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
I’m not sure if any of those adjectives made this book harder or easier for me to read. I’ll just be frank, I loved the book. But often, it tied my stomach in knots, made me nauseous, scared, and frightened for the time that once was. A time when a black person could be hung on a tree, for saying the wrong thing, or looking at the wrong person.
The Help, is historical fiction that takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 when race relations are at an all time high. Martin Luther King will soon be taking his walk on Washington, people across the south are staging protests, and three ordinary women find each other as they search to find their place in this world.
The Help, is written in the voices of three very distinct, powerful characters. Abileen, a wise, highly spiritual, black maid, that has raised 17 white children, and one of her own who recently died while his white bosses looked the other way. Minny, a sassy, fast talking, weathered by the world maid, who can cook her tail off, but just might cook herself into a whole heap of trouble. And Skeeter, a recent graduate from Ole Miss, who is nothing but “Ole” in her ways. She longs to be a writer, but even more importantly an honorable person, something Constantine her childhood maid would be proud of.
The three come together in secret, to write an anonymous book about what it’s like to be a black maid, in 1962, in Niceville Mississippi. If they’re found out, no one knows what will happen, but they all know, it won’t be good. Once published, the book catches on like wildfire, but can they keep it out of the hands of the woman who could hurt them the most?
The book blurs the lines between black and white, the lines the times have told them they mustn’t cross. It makes ones wonder that maybe the lines that separate us are only in our heads, and that maybe. . . . they don’t exist at all.
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Don’t even say it.
Yes, I do realize that I might be the last person on earth to read this book. But, maybe you didn’t read it. So, I amend my earlier statement, the second to last person.
As the second to last person to read this book, I am the first to admit that all things eventually lead me to food.
And as luck would have it, one of the main characters in the book, Minny is a cook. The best cook ever. And she makes pie. And I like pie.
And guess what.
It’s almost Thanksgiving.
And you like pie too.
And we both like chocolate pie. And Minny makes a town talking, scrumpdillyumptious chocolate pie. I didn’t make that pie. Read the book, and you’ll know why.
But I did make this pie. And it’s pretty durn good if I do say so myself.
You can have a piece if you like.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup or 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2 TB unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup pecan pieces
1 unbaked 9” pie shell
1. In a heavy saucepan combine corn syrup, sugar, margarine, and vanilla. Bring to boil while stirring constantly.
2. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Cool completely (it'll take about 45 minutes - even faster if you stick it in the fridge).
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Once the syrup mixture has cooled, add the beaten eggs and whisk to combine fully.
5. Place pecans evenly at the bottom of the unbaked pie shell. Pour syrup over pecans.
6. Bake 1 hour until set. If the crust begins to prematurely brown, place aluminum foil over the crust while cooking, to prevent it from turning too dark.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
My mother is an adventurous eater. She’ll try anything at least once. My childhood was filled with foods like blood pudding, hog head cheese, octopus, tripe, brown rice casseroles, fiber filled dishes, star fruit, passion fruit, pomegranates, anything and everything you could think of.
But always, real food.
The type of food our ancestors ate. With no preservatives, no additives, and no fillers. To my mother, food was always used to nourish the body and the soul, and though she never said those words precisely, she ingrained those sentiments into my brain by the way she chose to nourish us.
So in my adult life, I’m constantly on the hunt to do for my kids, what my mom did for me. To show them a world where yummy food meets nourished bodies, in a fun and beautiful way.
Oh, and did I say easy. I can’t be making Hog Head Cheese on a daily basis. And I’m not going to take out a bank loan every time my kids want to eat a tropical fruit.
And just as my mother always said, if you search for it, it will come. And sure enough I got a package in the mail, opened it, and there it was.
Quinoa 365 – The Everyday Superfood a cookbook by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming.
A strikingly beautiful cookbook from the cover to the back page. Filled with recipes centered on this ancient grain, that is in one word a SUPERFOOD.
If you aren’t convinced by the cover, the authors begin the book with an introduction to the nutrition and economics of this grain. Detailing its super nutrition facts, explaining the different types of Quinoa, its history and ease of preparation.
Jam packed with beautiful color pictures with over 170 recipes, the book details everyday recipes that can be made easily. The recipes include dishes like pumpkin pancakes, chocolate quinoa crepes with bananas, apples strudel breakfast cereal, Italian wedding soup, roasted red pepper tomato soup, chicken fried quinoa, baked chicken nuggets, Greek burgers, healthy cookies, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, bars, biscotti, muffins, and more.
This is an essential guide to any cook wanting to lean more about cooking with Quinoa. It offers something for everyone from kids, vegetarians, and those on gluten-free diets.
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Here’s a sample recipe from the book. It’s a new take on the classic Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup.
This happens to be my favorite soup OF ALL TIME.
Would it meet my expectations?
Would it be too peppery? Too sweet? Too Tangy? To thick? Too thin?
It was perfect.
Try it for yourself. You might get hooked.
Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
From Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming
3 Tbsp butter
¾ cup chopped onion
One 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup diced roasted red pepper
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
2 tsp white cane sugar
½ tsp salt
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
½ cup quinoa flour
1 cup half and half cream
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Sauté the onion until tender and opaque, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, red pepper, basil, sugar and salt.
Whisk the stock and flour together in a medium bowl. Slowly stir the mixture into the saucepan (a few lumps are fine). Bring to boil, then lower the temperature and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and puree the cooked mixture with a hand blender or cool slightly and puree in 2 batches in a blender or food processor.
Return the soup to the lowest setting. Stir in the cream and adjust the seasoning, if desired. Serve immediately.
This soup can be frozen for up to one month.
Friday, November 12, 2010
It is 5:03 pm. The answer is “No, you cannot.”
She begins rummaging through the junk drawer.
Soledad: Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!
Me: Yes, Soledad.
Soledad: What’s this? *holds up KFC Barbecue Sauce single use container*
Me: Barbeque Sauce.
Soledad: Oooh, yum. Can I eat it?
Soledad: What this? *holds up a peppermint*
Me: You know what that is. Its candy and you can’t have it.
Soledad: Oh, hmmm. Well, then what’s this? *holds up another small package of those small pastel colored melt in your mouth mints.*
Me: IT’S A MINT. IT’S A MINT. You cannot have it.
Me: BECAUSE IT’S CANDY.
Soledad: You just said it’s a mint. That starts with “MMMMMMM” not “CCCCCCC” like candy. So it’s not candy. I think I should be able to have it.
Remind me again why we educate these boogers.
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“SSSSSSSSSSSSSS” is for Soledad.
“SSSSSSSSSSSSSS” is also for Spicy.
“CCCCCCCCCCCC” makes the sound “Ka-Ka-Ka” but not in the word “Cider”.
In Cider, the letter “C” is smooth like “ssssssssssssssssssssss”.
Like silky smooth silk.
Like cool jazzy voices that whisper words like baby, jive, and smokin’.
Like velvety chocolate that hits your tongue, and sings your name as it wanders into your spirit, into your soul.
Sssssssssssssssssss. . . .like Spiced Cider with cinnamon, spice, and cloves.
Lord have mercy. It’s holiday time.
Holiday Spiced Cider
Makes 4 servings.
4 cups apple juice
2 TB brown sugar
3 cinnamon sticks
½ tsp. whole cloves
½ tsp. allspice
One strip of orange peel (about ½ tsp.)
Cheese cloth, optional
Real whipped cream
1. In a saucepan, combine apple juice and brown sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice and orange peel. For easy removal of the spices, you can tie them up in cheesecloth. However, I usually don’t because I think they look pretty floating in the punch.
2. Bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Serve in mugs, with a dollop of whip cream and a dash of ground cinnamon.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I was walking on a long isolated sidewalk, in front of the coastline that was lined with tall Elizabethan buildings. My pace was quick, urgent. I was looking for something, or someone.
I stopped in front of a whitewashed 4 story judicial building and walked in. As I stood in the foyer, I noticed the ceilings were ridiculously high, at least 60 ft. People were clamoring from here to there, none of them paying me any attention as they flew by or knocked me to the side.
I turned to compose myself, and noticed that the walls were lined with enormous bookshelves. But, the shelves weren’t lined with books; they were filled with young men, stylish and very foreboding. Almost sinister. They looked as if they were watching a football game. But they weren’t. They were watching me.
Scared I stepped forward to this jury of men, who were staring intently on me. Maybe they were a counsel, here to determine my fate. I looked up, but only for a few seconds. I tried to make eye contact, but just momentarily.
I wanted them to know, particularly the one dressed in white, that I was weak and timid and wouldn’t try anything funny.
The leader smiled at me, but it didn’t put me at ease. He asked me what I wanted, while the two men seated to his left and right stared at me hungrily. I opened my mouth to speak, but only a small voice pushed forward and I said, “I’m here to buy a watch.”
They all laughed at me mockingly, and told me the price was $79.99. I thumbed through my purse trying to find my money so that I could leave, but it was so difficult because suddenly the depths of my purse had turned into a sieve, making everything just out of reach. Somehow I managed to grab a 50 dollar bill, and when the man handed me the watch I noticed that is was 1.) A knock off and 2.) Put together rather shakily. And despite my most desperate inner voice telling me to get the hell out of there, I seemed to stutter, “I can’t pay that for this cheap watch.”
The voice in my head starts screaming now. RUN! RUN! RUN! But I can’t. I won’t. I just look at them saying with my eyes, I won’t do anything silly. But I’m not stupid, and I won’t be made to grovel. Do what you will, but this is wrong, and I won’t succumb.
The leader contorts his face wickedly, and then softens, and whispers, “Give it to her.” I hand them the $50, turn around and walk back slowly to the street. When I reach the sidewalk I realize that the danger of these men is gone, but now something worse is at my heels. I’m lost. I don’t know where I am, or where I’m going, and I haven’t any money.
I frantically walk the streets looking for someone I know, until I find my friend Edily. She’s happy to see me, and we walk for a while, and I think it’ll be okay because she’ll see that I get home. And just as we decide to head home, she realizes she is not responsible for me. That she must go, and find her own family. She smiles at me sweetly, and then she’s gone. And I’m alone.
I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. I panic.
I start flailing around, frantically trying to determine my place in the world. I’m lost. What am I supposed to be doing? Who do I belong to? Who belongs to me?
And then as I’m tossing and turning, my fist wakes me up with a soft thud, on the chest of Mr. Woo, who’s still sleeping and completely unaware.
I’m still in a daze. Not knowing what is going on. My heart is racing, I’m still frightened, but I realize if he’s here, then I’m not lost. I belong with him. He belongs with me.
It’ll be okay.
But then the real nightmare hits. What if he weren’t here?
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I know. That was super depressing. Sorry. I never know where my mind is going to take me. Ick.
I’m just going to try and push that out of my head, and fill it will something lovely instead.
Like how grateful I am that HE is here.
And that YOU are here.
And that it’s almost Thanksgiving, and we all belong. We all belong together.
And for that I am grateful.
Now, I’m gonna eat. Because that’s what I always do to make myself feel better. Especially when I'm on a "diet", and it's two weeks before Thanksgiving.
Something light, fluffy, and utterly divine.
Nothing says “Who care’s that I’m lost and I just paid $50 dollars for a sucky watch” like Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes.
You know I’m right.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Maybe I’m going to start my period.
I’m getting all choked up over the craziest things, and I can’t remember anything.
Bella held up a scruffy red t-shirt with a monkey on it and asked if it was hers.
Not so much.
Why she doesn’t know if a shirt is hers is beyond me.
Why I don’t know if a shirt is hers is beyond both me and her.
Clearly, I recognized the shirt, and I knew someone had worn it before, as was evident in its state of disrepair. However, I just wasn’t sure who actually wore it. So, instead of investigating further, because I was really rather tired, I said “Sure.”
Let’s be clear. “Sure” in this house, doesn’t necessarily mean “yes”. It only means “could be” and is in no way any indication of my knowledge of anything. So, if you are my child in this situation you should just close your mouth, turn around, put on the shirt, and keep your mouth shut because Mommy is confused.
Bella, turned around, put on her shirt and . . .ran, neigh, sprinted to tell her little sister Soledad (the only other person who could be the owner of the shirt) that Mommy said the shirt was hers and hers alone, and that she could indeed wear the aforementioned shirt to soccer.
So what do you think happened next?
Soledad flies into the kitchen crying and carrying on that this is a complete boondoggle. The raggedy monkey shirt is in fact hers, and SHE would like to wear it to soccer.
Darn. Further investigation is required.
I call Bella over to check the size of the shirt. That will solve the mystery. Size 4 or 5 it’s Soledad’s. Size 6 or greater, the prize goes to Bella.
I check, and it says SMALL. Good gracious. That doesn’t help a darn thing. Alright then, since Bella’s not sure if it’s her shirt anyway, and I sure as heck don’t know, and Soledad is adamant that it belongs to her, I will override my last decision and rip the shirt off the 6 year old and give it to the 4 year old. Hereby admonishing any rights I have to being either one of their favorite person in the world, because I’m shifty, crazy, and can’t make up my mind. Also, I’m lazy because if I had addressed the issue correctly the first time NONE of this would have happened.
So, I brace myself for the kicking and screaming that will ensue, and then Soledad says, “Well Bella, I guess I could let you borrow my shirt. But only for 42 hundred days. And that’s it. But only because I love you more than all of the entire universe. And that’s it. So. . . .I love you, okay?”
And I lost it. Cause, that’s all a person ever wants. Is to be loved and to love so much that you forgo your own happiness for the love of another. Heaven help me.
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Aaaaahhhhhhh, pumpkins. We got all kinds around these parts.
The sweet little girl types. I could just eat that baby girl up.
And the big orange types. It's fun to carve and roast their seeds.
And then there are the blue-gray types. They’re called Jarrahdale Pumpkins.
Soledad and I sat down to carve this pumpkin up. . . .
And what do you know that kid surprised me yet again.
When we opened it up, and it was like violins started playing, even baby girl knew, this pumpkin was meant for greater things. The flesh was so thick and meaty, the color of the purest marigold. My eyes are watering just thinking of it.
“Mommy, can we make a pumpkin pie out of it instead,” says my sweet, genius daughter. I say yes, because I can never deny my children when they come up with the most brilliant ideas.
Perfect Pumpkin Pie
This has got to be one of my favorite pumpkin pie recipes. It’s light, not too sweet, with just a hint of spice. The real flavor comes from the sweet pumpkin and the creamy milk. It’s fluffy, delightful, and not too heavy. You’ll be able to leave your pants buttoned after you eat a slice.
2 cups of canned pumpkin puree (I used homemade puree but it's a whole lot of trouble you needn't trouble yourself with unless you just have a beautiful pumpkin lying around that you really want to eat)
1 Deep Dish Frozen Pie Shell (9 “)*
3 tsp Heavy Cream
1 cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
1 TB Corn Starch
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp ginger
¾ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
12 oz. evaporated milk
*Note: This recipe makes more than what will fill in a standard deep dish 9” pie crust. So, you can either A.) Make a 10” pie or B.) Butter a small ramekin/oven safe dish on the side and bake along with the pie. That way, you have something to nibble on before you decide to cut the pie :).
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Pierce the unbaked pie shell with a fork to prevent it from bubbling up. Once the oven is hot, bake the empty shell for 10 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, cream, sugar, corn starch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt, and evaporated milk.
4. Either with an electric blender or whisk, stir to combine well. The batter will be very thin.
5. Pour into pie crust and bake for 60 minutes or until center is set. Let cool. Serve.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Almost to the day.
And, I can quite honestly say, I haven’t learned a damn thing yet.
The bus brakes screech in the distance.
The front door opens.
Backpacks are thrown to the floor, shoes and socks are ripped off, and two little Woo’s find their way into the kitchen where they begin to gorge themselves. One of the “Little Woo’s” happens upon a brand new sack of marbles, and begins to make a place for herself on the living room floor.
Pretty, pretty marbles.
Silver, blue, purple and every color in between.
You can play with them alone.
Or with a friend.
Or even with a sister.
Or you can hog them all to yourself.
The smell of marbles is quickly detected in the air, and a 4 year old little sister wanders into the room. DYING, albeit politely, to play.
Shockingly, the usually generous and loving 6 year old, has turned into a bit of a stingy goat.
Bella (6): GO AWAY!
Soledad (4): But Bella, do you want me to play marbles with you?
Bella: NO! Go Away!
Soledad: Are you sure?
Bella: Yes. Leave.
Soledad: Okay, I’ll just sit here and watch you play.
Every so often a random marble flies across the room. Soledad hops up, and quickly retrieves it. She scampers back to her stingy sister Bella and very sweetly hands it to her. She sits down, and waits to repeat the routine.
The unjustness of the scene is too much to take. My heart begins to break. A few cursory words are mumbled under my breath, and I tell the 6 year old child, “God does not like ugly!” Completely ineffective. But, it’s all I could think of.
Soledad wanders over to me and tells me, not to worry. She’s happy to sit and watch Bella play with the marbles. Noting also, that Bella has bestowed such graciousness upon her that she might even let her play marbles with her tomorrow, should she not get on her nerves too much today.
This mother (me) decides to call another mother. The better mother. The GRAND Mother. Nana in these parts.
Nana: Nicole, Bella is not stingy. She probably just doesn’t feel well.
Me: I don’t care if she doesn’t feel well. It’s still not right! I don’t know why she’s acting that way.
Nana: Does she even know how to play marbles?
Me: I don’t know. What does that matter? Probably. They’ve seen it on Little Bear.
Nana: Just get down on the ground and show Bella how to play, correctly. Then I’ll bet she’ll want to play with Soli.
Me: But I have a headache.
Nana: It’ll only take a minute.
Me: It won’t work.
Nana: Just try.
Me: Fine. Hold on.
2 minutes later.
Nana: Did it work?
Me: Like a charm.
Nana: Try not to stress yourself out. You just have to outsmart those suckers.
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2 days later, Nana arrived on a plane to help a mother out. She just left yesterday to a group of howling, screeching, and crying children who couldn’t bear to see her go. I was a little choked up myself.
But, she didn’t leave before buying Soledad her own set of marbles, complete with a really cool Cat’s Eye.
Shelbi got hooked up on the electronic game front.
Even Bella, who has since turned back into her generous loving self, got the gift of play money, coins and a cash register.
Nana even left a present for me.
She helped me make this beautiful wreath for my home.
But she’s the real present. This house seems much more like a home when her love fills it.
How to make an Autumn Wreath
What You Need:
Artificial Flowers, leaves, fruit, etc.*
Hot Glue Gun
*Note: When buying artificial flowers look for items in natural colors that actually appear as they do in nature. This will be the key difference to a wreath that looks like you spent $3 versus $300.
What You Do:
As the base of our arrangement we used one of my old weathered wreaths made of dried tree limbs. The body of the wreath was strong, just the adornments were long past their prime, dull, and falling off.
If you are not using a new wreath, remove all old leaves, flowers, and fruit from your canvas. Set aside items that are still salvageable.
Using your wire cutters, start to cut off manageable stems, about 5 inches long that can be placed into the wreath.
Gently lay your flowers around the wreath to get an idea of where you want to place them, and how full you’d like your wreath to be.
Using a Wreath Hanger or the back of a chair, hang the wreath so that you are able to work and see it from a standing position.
Now, the fun part! Start weaving the flowers into the wreath, making sure to position them firmly. Pay close attention to where you place the flowers. They should look as they are growing naturally (i.e. Different heights, in groups (odd # pairings seem to look better, and facing the same direction.).
Once all the stems have been placed, go back through with a Hot Glue Gun and secure.
Hang and Display.