Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Of all the things you can mess up in life, peach crisp should not be one of them

Oh, but it was!

This is the story of the crisp that started out as cookie dough but didn't have enough stickiness to be anything but crisp.
But what fruit to put on my crisp? We are all out of apples. A quick dig through my freezer reveals a bag of peaches. I look quickly--I assume it is 1 cup of peaches.
After wrestling with unthawing it for oh, I don't know, say, 2%#$#@ minutes I realize it is only 1 peach and not 1 cup of peaches.

There's a difference, folks. There's a difference.

And it all culminated in the not-so-thrilling climax of a peach crisp gone horribly wrong...because you can burn a peach crisp, my friends.

Oh, yes you can!

Which leads me to the bigger questions of life--if I am having trouble mastering a crisp, who let me get a license, allows me to vote or even dress myself. (The last one doesn't count because it's a lot like the crisp)?

I dedicate this post to a most wonderful and gracious reader. My girl, Brambleberry Grace. We don't know each other outside of blogland...but we've already decided that we need to be neighbors and have tea.


And I'm going to go a step further and say that if we were neighbors, I think we'd be the kind where we would open the door and drop our kids off and then leave for some personal quiet time while the other did fun, crafty things that fun mothers do with children. Then we'd bring each other back some ridiculously expensive Starbuck product and talk about deep things like the truth of the Gospel, Jesus' love and why Tay*lor Swift is ridiculous when she says that she won't let her past love relationship mishaps influence her future.
Brambleberry will say, "She's naive and nineteen. They only put that stuff in print to make it sound like it's doable."
Then I will say, "How did you get to be so wise?"
And she'll say, "It's from drinking overly-priced caffeinated products with good friends like you. Well, that and I'm smart. Blondie-cake?"

Check out her post today on life. She writes what's in my head and beats me to the computer before I can blog about it.
She is all about the baking, so eat her goodies (aka my favorite posts of hers)
Daily Donut-today's post
Brownies-how I got hooked on her blog
Amen sister! Pie- she's nailed it on this one
Not so horrible Bran Thingies-this one has a lot of ...fiber!
Blondie Cake-Best way to end a blog post!
Bubblegum Cake- It'll make sense once you read the post
Oh- so-simple whipping cream-I have this on my wall. Or will, once I print it off again

Drop her a line and eat of the goodness. If you like me, YOU.WILL.LOVE.HER.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just another thing my neighbors know about me

This morning we are tearing it up around the house.
It's birthday party day.
But, somehow, it seems that all of the duties of getting ready for fiesta time have fallen to my lot. I'm going fast. I'm attacking each job with vigor. I'm attacking stains on the floor. And then I'm attacking family members as I realize that all this violence on house cleaning is a solo project.
So, I yell.

And not that "Help! I need somebody" type of yell.

Two-year-old temper tantrum type yell. I'm at my rope's end.

And then I pause and I remember...

God is using every circumstance to conform me to the image of His dear Son. Well, of course, I remembered this.

Right after I remembered that our windows were open and our neighbors are doing lawn work today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Friday Flashback

It is 26 degrees today. It was 32 degrees yesterday. It makes me think of summer. Here's a flashback to one day this summer.

Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you. Annie Dillard

Our girl Phyllis knew some deep and abiding truths!

It was an eventful day.

REALLY eventful.

After yesterday's full schedule, I needed some excitement. Something that was stimulating for the mind yet upbeat like jazz hands on a Bob Fosse routine.

So... I cleaned out my email inbox.

See! Jazz hands worthy isn't it?

Why, you ask, would I spend my time doing such incredible feats like organizing my inbox?
Several reasons, dear readers. But I think you are only interested in the most important one.
To find gems like these:

Housework can't kill you, but why take a chance? Phyllis Diller

Oh, friends! This is just the beginning.
Stay tuned for future gems revealed from the depths of my miscellaneous folder in my inbox.

Like I said, jazz hands!

What my neighbors know about me from their window observations

I live in a little town.
When I go to the "city" for a day of errands, I need to take a lot with me because we are going to be there all day. Being prepared is of the utmost importance.
I have neighbors across the street, and if they have opportunity to look out the window yesterday here's what they learned about me:

1. That woman is going places: At 9 am I loaded my kids into the car. Lovingly, strapped them into their car seats and made sure everyone had their necessary comforts (blankets,pet dinosaurs, water, etc.) I started the car.

2. That woman has a lot on her mind:At 9:02 am I shut off the vehicle and realized that I needed my keys to open the house because I forgot to bring the lunch I packed for us. I went inside, grabbed the goods and locked the door. Informing my crew that we were now ready, I started the van.

3. That woman is forgetful: At 9:06 am, I shut off the vehicle and realized that I needed my keys to open the house to get my garage keys. I race out to the garage and grab the stroller for my not-so-baby baby boy, load it in the van and start the vehicle.

4. That woman is harming the environment: At 9:10 am, I once again shut the vehicle off fully aware of the gas-wasting going on. I realized that I needed my keys to get back in the house so that I could make a long-distance phone call that needed to be made before I spent all day away from my home phone.

5. That woman is irresponsible: My children were strapped in their seats-- unattended-- while I made the phone call inside. Hanging up, I took 3 calming breaths as I realized I was going to be late to our first appointment.

6. That woman runs around like her hair is on fire: With flourish, I slam the front door and run down the steps. In a moment of self-doubt, I run back up and check to see if the door is locked. It is. I run back down the steps and quickly panic that I have left my keys in the house. A quick pat down of the pockets reveals that once again I have had a moment of self-doubt. The keys are in my right hand coat pocket. With flourish, I wrench open the van door and start it up.

7. That woman drives like a maniac: At 9:15 am I start my van and put pedal to the medal. I only take up most of the road as I speed ( read: safely maneuvered) around the sidewalk and parked vehicles of my neighbor.

8. That woman is not to be messed with...or perhaps she's on medication: I've got the "I'm on a mission" glare in my eyes. The tunes are cranked and I've already told the crew in the van there is no talking, asking questions, wondering, or mentioning anything about going to the bathroom until we are outside city limits.

This is what my neighbors know about me.
Or would know about me if they had had their curtains open. ;)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Artful Dodger

I was talking with a friend the other day and asked her a question about a semi-unresolved issue.
She gave me a quick, general answer. And then...
The next thing I knew we were talking about a subject that was two miles past the previous one. I sat confused for a moment as I tried to follow this new train of thought. I was traveling down this new road of conversation with her, but I had the distinct impression that I had left my purse, keys and wallet back at the last pit stop.

And then the light dawned on me.
She had just dodged the conversation. She had done it craftily and well.
I should know. I am an artful dodger.
When a topic comes up that I don't want to discuss, I dodge. I manuever. I weave. I spin. I, well, you get the idea. The point is there are only two reasons for dodging a conversation, and they are:

1. I don't want to have this conversation.
2. I don't want to have this conversation with you.

Sigh. The second reason is a bit hard to swallow. It doesn't go down easy. Kinda like dry cantaloupe muffins...another post for another time.

Surely, my friend is only having a reason number one moment, right? Right?!
My first instinct is to start asking myself a bevy of questions: why wouldn't she talk to me about it? Oh no, I was too forceful last time we talked. Too pushy. I talked too much, didn't listen enough. Now you are paying penance for being a bad friend.
Or perhaps, maybe it has nothing to do with me at all. Maybe this is her deal and she is only willing to share it with someone she trusts.
Maybe that someone isn't me.
Maybe I should ask myself if there is any reason I'm not trustworthy?
Yes, I could ask myself that. I could ask myself that right now.
And so, I made these cantaloupe muffins the other day. It was a new recipe. And since I had loads of cantaloupes I thought,"Hey, why not?" But it turned out that they were dry and terrible and were good for nothing except for dodging a series of questions that I might need to ask myself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Because good friends tell each other if they have spinach in their teeth

Hey lovely readers!
As promised here is a survey that you can take and tell me your honest thoughts about this blog. It is anonymous so you can tell me what you think and I won't know who you are!
It is SHORT. Five questions and a bonus option. Let me know what you like, why you come here and what'd you like to see in the future.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What can I say? We lived in the country, you had to invent your own fun

The recent Bryan Adams sighting reminded me of some ridiculousness that my brother and sister and I got up to when we were tweens.
The song Everything I do (I do it for you) was my older sister's and her then boyfriend (now husband's) song. And we were desperate to gain some attention from her, seeing as she was now overwhelmingly fixed on her then boyfriend (now husband).
So, we pulled the usual antics: Sticking our head out the upstairs windows while they were saying good night and making kissing noises at them. Tell her then boyfriend (now husband) that he smelled. Telling our Mom that my sister was now wearing scented lip balm--cherry flavour with sparkles.
Anyway, it wasn't getting us the kind of attention we we had a meeting over cookies and milk and decided that we needed to take some action.
That action came in the form of our local radio show called Top Ten at Ten.
Every night at ten o'clock Dan Foresta would play the songs that were most requested between the hours of 8 pm and 10 pm.
Everything I do (I do it for you) was slipping from it's top spot. In fact, it had plummeted to number 8!
"Not on our watch! Their song will soar!" was our unmentioned motto. And so we started calling the radio station requesting the song. We ran next door to my Grandma's house who after muttering as to why we were not in bed at 9:45 pm at night relented and let use the telephone. This was before the days of caller ID, but we could tell the deejay was getting suspicious and had already inquired once as to whether we had called and voted already.
That first night, we hid in our room and pretended we were sleeping. After all it was 10:00 pm at night. We should have been sleeping. But since our sister and her then boyfriend (now husband) weren't back yet, we figured we could push the envelope a bit.
To our great dismay, the song actually sank to number 10.
After singing along with Bryan Adams, my brother mentioned that we needed some re-enforcements and a new attack plan to keep it on the Top Ten. Hey, Mama didn't raise no fools.
The next day we each told our friends of our plan. And while most mocked and teased us, a few joined our quest and committed to calling in and voting.
Then we had to get creative and inventive. We would have to call more than once. We figured that we had to keep calling as much as we could possibly get away with. Our reconnaissance planning led us to the ingenious scheme:

1. Get in, get out and nobody gets hurt. The idea here is to call, make your request quickly, and thank dj Dan Foresta for taking our vote. This method worked successfully for about 5 phone calls.

2. When suspicions are aroused, act naive, act fast, and hang up. "Did I call before? You mean have I called and requested a song for the Top Ten at Ten before? Yeah, I called last night for the song "Everything I do (I do it for you)." I'd like to request that song again. Thanks, bye.

3. Deep Throat worked for Watergate, why can't it work for us? Each of us siblings have a talent for a different voice. I could do a Brooklyn impression, my sister could talk like an old woman and my brother did a female and an older male voice.

4. S.P.E.E.D. Swift,Persuasive,Two words that start with E, and Definite. Speed talk-give no chance for questions. Hi,mynameisAllieandIwanttogrequestthesongEverythingIDo(Idoitforyou)byBryanAdams.Thanks

5. Appeal to the Ego "Wow! Am I really talking to Dan Foresta? Really?I listen to your show every night! You're the best! I mean, the best! Wow! Dan Foresta...(lean back and say in a not so subtle stage whisper), 'Ames, I'm talking to Dan Foresta right now. I know!' My sister says you're the best,too! (wait patiently until you hear the sheepish chuckle from the local dj) Oh, I almost forgot, I'd like to request the song Everything I do (I do it for you). Thanks, Mr. Foresta. You're the best!

6. Go big or go home By this point, Dan Foresta is getting suspicious and has kindly mentioned one or two times that we can only call in once to now it's time to pull out the big guns. You have to create a power moment. And this was ours. We called in and my brother did a rap that went something like this:

We love the show Top Ten at Ten
We call and vote and call again
Tonight we'd like for song number one
To be Bryan Adams-that'd be fun
Everything I do (I do it for you)
That's the song we're singing too
So that's my vote, Dan Foresta
Goodnight man--you're the best-ah!

Ten o'clock came and my sister and her then boyfriend (now husband) were not back yet. We waited in the dark bedroom while my mother thought we were sleeping. The radio was turned on low and we cheered (quietly, so as not to let our mother in on our ruse) when song number ten turned out to be MeatLoaf and some song about Love and doing anything for it but he won't do that.
We held our breath at song 9 and 8. We crossed our fingers as song 7 and 6 went by.
"It has to be number 5. We called so many times my fingers are sore." (we had a rotary phone back then)
Number 5 came and went and so did number 4.
"If it's not number three, I'm going to go to bed. I bet Dan Foresta knew it was us the whole time and only counted it as three votes."
Number three wasn't Bryan Adams.
Neither was number two.
"This whole contest is rigged," my brother says. "You try and vote like a good citizen and nothing happens."
"Well, maybe good citizens only vote once."
"Exactly. Rigged, I tell you."
They take a commercial break, naturally. Suspense is killing us. Plus, you can only sit in a dark bedroom and fake sleeping so long before your mother gets suspicious as to why she can hear talking and giggling going on.
"What's going on here?" my mother says.
"I don't know."
"Mom, it's good to see you."
We get the look, so out spills the story. She laughs and sits on our bed wondering if we got the song to number one.
"I don't know."
"It's rigged."
"It was number ten last night, I don't think we got it to number one tonight."
Suddenly, we hear Dan Foresta's voice coming through the speakers. We all lean in towards the radio as he says, "And in a stunning and dramatic comeback, we have a number one song that seemed to rocket to the top tonight due to some die-hard fans."
"Ahhhh!" we scream. "That's us."
"He kinda-sorta mentioned us. We're famous!"
"Shhh, let's hear him say it."
"And your number one song for tonight's Top Ten at Ten is Bryan Adams 'Everything I do (I do it for you)."
Thanks Dan Foresta. You're the best-ah!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Back off! I have a price gun and I'm not afraid to use it

I have myself a little job.
Yup, a little job that provides me with a chance to connect with the people in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood, in my neighborhoooooood!
It's at the Ye Olde Bargain Basement. It's a quaint little store that has oodles of ...well, bargains and I work with a colourful cast of women who have been working there since the town was established. Ok, not that long, but they have been working there for a long time and they all know each other really well. They have a little family unit going and I am the new member. The "baby" so to speak.
It's a great little hobby, as I call it. I get to stack the shelves and it fulfills all those anal, control freak tendencies that come from cleaning your house throughout the day only to find that you need to start cleaning the house again. I think that has something to do with living with other people.
Anyway, I get my fix by straightening the shelves and unloading new product.
And here is where it gets really fascinating: where I put the stays. It stays! It stays in that spot. It's amazing. I have yet to find the beauty products in the shoe section. No one moves the product on me. It's my own little piece of heaven on earth. What I clean up stays cleaned up. What bliss! What joy!
(Do you see why getting out the house once a week will be a good investment for my mental health?)

Friday, September 11, 2009

It is all about the mulch

See this pile?
This is a beautiful thing. This is from my community compost pile.
Did you catch that? My community compost pile. And this is only the wood chips, my friends. There are 4 other mounds of composted raw materials that are now dirt and another hill of grass clippings.
Have I mentioned that I love small town living? Small town let's-work-together-so-everyone-can-have-amazing-gardens living.
I love my little town.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Is there a jail for unwritten etiquette lawbreakers?

I broke code among women yesterday.
You know, the unwritten beauty,weight, tell your female comrade when she has something in her teeth code.
I broke it. Unwittingly, of course. But, still I broke it.
I saw someone at church who I hadn't seen since June. We usually attend a later church service and this week we attended the earlier one. She was there and I was so glad to see her. She looked radiant, round and ready for the maternity clothes stage of the game.
I gave her a big hug and asked her how she was feeling.
"Oh, much better," she assured me.
"Sounds like you're over the worst of it."
"Oh, I am."
"That's great. How many months are you again? Four or five?"
The colour left her face.
"I'm not pregnant."
The colour left my face.
Some serious unwritten women protocol had just been breached.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Everything I do (I do it for you)

"Mom, why are you making those snacks?"
"Because," I answered my soon-to-be-seven-year-old, "I want Daddy's day off to be super special. And he likes these."

I mentally added that these would also silence any cries of 'I'm hungry' on our 2 hour car trip and would save us money in the long run.

But then I got thinking, those are also reasons that I am doing this for him. He works hard, my man does. And on his day off when we are spending it the way he likes to spend it most--in the mountains--he deserves to not hear any whines or cries...or have to spend any money on sugary snacks from Mac's.

And suddenly the song Everything I Do (I do it for You) by Bryan Adams came into my head. You know, the one from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Come on, it wasn't that long ago.
Anyway, I thought about the lyrics, "I'd fight for you, I'd die for you." Yep, that's my man. "You know it's true...everything I do...I do it for you."

Yes, I do know it, Bryan Adams...or maybe Robert "Mutt" Lange...whoever wrote it. I do know it's true. Especially when I clean the toilets or make the bed each morning.

Fast forward half an hour and a lost pair of shoes later, I yell...(cough, I mean)...gently sing-song my children into the car and buckle them in all nice and snugly.

I come back into the house and look at my man.
"I need a hug."
I go to my safe place in his big, strong arms and lay my head against his chest until I relax and all the madness of trying to get ready for an enjoyable day leaves my body. I decide to have a good attitude. For him. He needs a relaxing day off, not a nagging wife.
Everything I do (I do it for you).

Ten minutes later we settle into the van and my man and I promise each other that today we leave our life and all the bills, undone jobs and laundry at the house and we're not going to whine (me) or complain (him). We are going to enjoy each other.

Heading out of town my husband decides to fill the van up with gas. We go to pull in but there's a biker dude parked in the side that we need for our gas tank. So my husband pulls around.

It's advertised as a Full Service station so I offer my husband a snack while I get to the business of eating my lunch--spaghetti with black bean salsa. (Hey, I can only prep ahead so much and some times you gotta eat on the run).

The advertised service man is slow to come.
We notice that the biker dude with his BMW bike and beautiful blonde girlfriend are waiting for the service attendant, as well. I exchange a quick look with him as I open my spaghetti. He looks cool with his black leather jacket around his neck in that James Dean, rock-n-roll sort of way.
I swirl my spaghetti with my fork, thinking, "He really has that James Dean cool guy look down."
I take a bite and my eyes meet his steely, steady gaze.

No word of a lie.


Bryan. Adams.

And I have spaghetti hanging out of my mouth.

Out.Of. My. Mouth.

Spaghetti that I made so that my husband wouldn't have to spend his hard earned money on a lunch that we had to spend time wasting ordering because I hadn't prepared enough to cook ahead.
Spaghetti that I made, may I remind you, to save him time and money.
Because everything I do ....well, you know!