Thursday, April 26, 2007

Pillsbury Bake-Off

For the last couple of months, I've been scheming up recipes for the 43rd annual Bake-Off (I know, I know, not really my thing but despite the partial-hydrogenation, it was fun). I discovered I have quite a knack for concocting very strange and wonderful things with crescent rolls, which I cannot even look at these days. Last Thursday night, I rounded up Lindsay and Erin for yet another tasting of my secret appetizer for the contest. I perfected my portion of the recipe, however, I was having difficulty with the Pillsbury product I had to use. For the first round, I tried grands, the second round was biscuits, and the final round was crescent rolls, which settled the debate. Lindsay and Erin were growling at me with tremendous disdain by the end of the evening. I was worried one of them might get sick before the taste testing was complete. When I received the thumbs up, I dismissed them from my experiment, well that is until the Friday when I decided to torture Erin with my second secret recipe. She took the torture like a champ, which led to my final recipe for the contest. We decided on blueberries (instead of strawberries, what can I say, I'm from New England where we heart the little blue fruits) and called it quits.

Sunday was my last attempt at perfection; my final go before the big entry. I convinced Erin and Allie to take one more beating. They agreed to go one more round so I could achieve the quality for which I was aiming. We all agreed on the final little tweaks, and around 7:30 p.m., I nervously sat at the computer to enter my Vietnamese Twists and my Blueberry Delights. I was surprised at how excited and anxious I was. Did I mention the grand prize is ONE MILLION DOLLARS?!?! I have a good feeling about it. Actually, I think I'm going to win something. When I do, just call me "Sugar Mama" and meet me in Brazil!!

Unfortunately, I have to wait until October to find out so in the meantime, sit tight. I'll keep you posted. It's a good thing the wait is long because I sincerely think I cannot eat another Pillsbury product any time soon. I think I'll stick to the homemade stuff...

Wish me luck!!!

P.S. I forgot to mention how difficult it is to actually measure things and write them down for other people. I rarely measure while cooking. I'm one of those taste as a go, a pinch here, a dash there, so you can imagine how much effort I had to put into making the recipes scientific. You mean to tell me "put in squirts of lime juice until it tastes right" doesn't count??? My efforts will pay off and when they do, we'll have a party with the grand prize (just don't expect me to measure anything) WOOHOO!! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to return to my normal eating.
happy birthday Emily!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The State of Television Today...

Friday night, I convinced BigStar to be a guinea pig again for my Pillsbury Bake-Off experiments (post for this to follow). While I whipped up a storm in the kitchen, she snuggled on the couch trying not to pass out from being sick. I whipped up my super secret recipe for my dessert entry, she ate it, gave her thumbs up, then hobbled off to bed. Meanwhile, the TV was showcasing America's finest from "Wife Swap". I stood in the middle of the room watching a father tell his daughter if she "shut up and sat on the couch" he'd pay her $5,000 once she did was she was told and the show was over. I balked at the screen. I could not believe my eyes or ears. The 16 year old girl was standing next to her father in $500 jeans just staring at him. As soon as he made his offer, she sat down without a word. I got the feeling this wasn't the first time he had to pay her off to behave. I was so appalled I immediately shut the TV off and returned to the kitchen (well after running into Erin's room to see if she saw what I saw. I needed confirmation I wasn't making it up.) The air was dancing with the smell of crescent rolls, which made me a little nostalgic. I cleaned up my mess wondering the whole time, "What is wrong with people today?"
happy birthday Erik!!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

"The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd

At first, I was not a fan of this novel. I'm not sure what I was expecting but my initial impression left me with a negative feeling. I forged on anyway and it is a good thing because by the last page of the book, I was glad I had taken the time to finish. "Secret Life of Bees" is about a young girl whose mother is accidentally murdered when the girl is four years old. The novel is about how Lily, the main character, embarks on an adventure to learn if she or her father pulled the trigger to the gun that killed her mother. Lily's attempt to discover the truth is also her journey to learn about her mother and in doing so, she learns a tremendously valuable lesson about life.

This quotation from Ms. Kidd sums it up best:

“When women bond together in a community in such a way that “sisterhood” is created, it gives them an accepting and intimate forum to tell their stories and have them heard and validated by others. The community not only helps to heal their circumstances, but encourages them to grow into their larger destiny…. (regarding Lily) She found a sanctuary of women where she could tell her story, and have it heard and validated- an act that allowed her not only to bear her sorrow but transform it. Communities of women are created simply because we want a place to tell our deepest stories. In every case, we find that there is a way of being together that sustains us and now and then, if we are lucky, returns us to ourselves.”

Read the book, you'll learn how to define yourself outside your family.

Hooray for the Porch Club!!

"Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert

I read this book while house sitting last week. It's about a woman who goes through a harsh divorce only to question herself and her life. In an attempt to heal, she travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia. The tale is poignant, honest, and comforting. The most important idea I took away from her novel was there is a time to heal, a time to get out the vacuum to get down to the dirty work of cleaning up oneself, then to thrive in the progress made with all the previous difficult work. In order to truly heal, there is no skirting the daunting and tremendously demanding self work. She gives hope the rewards are worth it.

I do not want to give away any of the novel so I won't write much more, but "Eat, Pray, Love" was a good book from which anyone can take away a valuable lesson about life, love, and spirituality.

"We are the Hokies. We will prevail."

I wanted to take a moment to express my deepest sympathies regarding this tragedy. It is unthinkable and horrific.

Unfortunately, I do not believe life altering events such as these can be stopped because some people are just nuts; plan old bonkers; for whom life is worse than death. However, I do believe a 23 year old man has no business with a semi-automatic weapon that unloads 19 shots in one clip. Seriously, many lives could have been spared if he did not have such easy access to so many deadly guns. I'm all for people who want to protect themselves with a handgun. If one wants to go hunting with a rifle, so be it. I am not for people who can walk into a store to purchase a gun that is only available to police forces in EVERY RICH NATION EXCEPT AMERICA. Not one person in this country needs such a pernicious tool. I don't believe the deaths could have been prevented, as the student clearly had a mission, but I do believe the devastation could have been less. It is easy to blame the University, the police, etc, yet no solace can be found there, but maybe if people look at the real culprit, gun control, another nefarious disaster could be prevented...How unbelievably heart breaking.

My many condolences to the Virginia Tech community.

P.S. Please find some interesting articles here and here.

I survived the High Tide

Last Monday, I was getting ready to leave the farmhouse when I received a frantic phone call from BigStar. She asked me where I'd been all morning like she didn't know how much I disliked getting out of bed to go to work. She then proceeded to tell me our first floor was flooding. In case you don't remember, my bedroom is on the first floor. I immediately packed up my bag, checked the house one last time before I left, and headed out the door to my car. On my sprint to the vehicle, I noticed the boat fell onto the shed in the yard. I sat in my car to ponder this for second. I've encountered tons of problems while house sitting for people, but never once have I had to deal with a boat falling onto a shed. I am resourceful, a problem solver, a critical thinker, and can figure out most dilemmas, I'm the "go-to girl", however, I was at a loss for this instance. Where does one even begin? It's not like I can go over there and lift the boat. It's not like a group of people could really heave the thing off the shed. I decided I'd think about it on my way home.

Can I just tell you thank god for the windshield wash that makes the water run right off the glass?!?! Without it, I would not have survived the hurricane on Patriot's Day, because obviously my windshield wipers were broken. I will never use another windshield wash (Hooray for Rain-X). Check it out people!

I got home to a very soggy and disgusting mess. Luckily, my little corner of the world was spared. I called Erin to discuss what we should do. We came up with the plan for me to meet her at GWB's then to head to get the wet vac to see if we could get most of the water out for now, despite the forecast of rain for the next four days. We live on the ocean. Right across from the beach. Maybe more like a marshy section but still, it's the ocean, with tides, very high tides that flood roads when the tide exceeds 12 feet. Every time I tried to go down a road, it was closed or washed away. I've never seen anything like it. The water was getting higher and higher while the tides were coming in closer and closer. The rain just would not stop (See pictures here). I finally was able to find a route to Grammy's so I could pick up BigStar. On our way to her former in-laws, we crossed a road where the water was coming up so high, Erin just said, "So this road will be closing momentarily." Ten minutes later, we were driving down the same road only this time half of it was under water. We arrived at our chateau to find more water slowly creeping across the playroom. We frantically moved everything upstairs until the room was entirely cleaned up and all my books were out of danger. People kept calling Erin with updates from the news about the ocean, the tides coming in, the roads closed, etc. She grabbed enough goods to last her and the muchachos a few days, then we headed out.

After I dropped her off, I was at a loss. I had taken the day off but didn't really know where I wanted to sit out the storm. I realized it probably wasn't a good idea to stay at my house seeing as though the tides were coming in from both sides:

but I didn't really want to go anywhere. Then it occurred to me I should probably have my windshield wipers fixed. After extreme navigational difficulties, I finally arrived at the VIP only to realize I'd left my wallet at the house. I was so annoyed and pissed, that when I returned I stayed. It was the most nerve racking night I think I've ever had. I figured if our crazy neighbors could make it through the storm, I most definitely could. I grabbed my VS flannel sheep pj's I've had since eleventh grade (they rock), my book, my blanket, and headed for the high ground of BigStar's bedroom where I spent the night watching the news about the State of Emergency declared by the Governor, the shootings at Virginia Tech, and compulsively watching the tides across the street and in the backyard. I existed on Cheeto's, Capri suns, and pasta. The worst high tide was suppose to hit at 11 p.m. that night. I stayed up to watch the water slowly creep up to our driveway until it finally subsided to the marsh next to our house. By midnight, I decided I had survived the worst of it, especially considering the local news' confirmation the worst of it was over. Phew, what a crappy day. I woke up after an awful night sleep to find my bedroom still in tact and water everywhere in the first room. It was so disgusting, smelly, and soggy I wanted to move. I considered it for half a day.

I spoke with the farmhouse family and was assured the boat problem was the husband's and not mine. The woman of the family did not seem to concerned about it, and when I asked her what she thought could be done, she just replied she didn't know, as it was her husband's boat (i.e. not her problem). It was comical. It also turned out the landlord finally made it over to vacuum out all the water and proving he's a idiot. When the rug smells horribly of Ammonia, it's probably not best to douse it with Bleach. Just a thought. He also set up a fan. I'm sorry buddy, but I'm pretty sure the smell is enough to be considered hazardous to our health, thereby allowing the Department of Health to come in and declare you a horribly homeowner and slapping you with a ginormous fine. REMOVE THE DAMN RUG IDIOT!! Anyway, I survived my first disaster. I'd prefer it if I never have to experience one again. Oh and thank you Allie for buying Cheeto's cause I'm pretty sure it would have been a very long and sad evening without them.

Moral of the story: Living on the ocean is not all it's cracked up to be. You have to be prepared to lose everything like most of the people south of us did.

patriots day 2007 storm (79)

Snow, Rain, Two Girls, Two bottles of Champagne and Four Movies....

Last week, I house/pet sat at the farmhouse again. This time, they left their rockstar dog, who happened to be the best behaved creature I've ever encountered during a pet sitting job. Once again, being there was like being on a retreat. After the first two days, I felt revived and completely at ease with the majority of my life. I highly recommend becoming a hermit every so often. It does wonders for your psyche. Five days and about a foot of snow into my stay, I decided it was best to share the wealth with Allie . She joined me on Saturday evening with two bottles of champagne, and Shanghai wings from Chili's (if you have not had these yet, run to your nearest Chili's and order them for lunch today. You will not regret it). We ate our wings, drank our champagne, plus a bottle of wine, and shots of tequila. Plenty of dancing in the kitchen occurred and we managed to watch two movies (well, Allie made it through most of the second movie). By 11:30 p.m., we were fast asleep. I'm pretty sure for the first time EVER, neither of us called anyone or sent any text messages. Well, maybe one made out but it didn't count because we went to high school with this boy.

The next day, we made it to breakfast at a little café in the next town over. The food hit the spot, which allowed us to hit the couch once again. By the way, the couch at this house is FANTASTIC. I cannot adequately convey how amazing it is. Let's just say the two of us agreed we could spend the rest of our lives on it with no regrets. Also, the new flat screen HDTV that took up half the wall was pretty amazing as well. We were living it up. We watched two more movies, then headed to the local Subway because I desperately wanted a BLT. I still kind of do. We grabbed sandwiches, chips, drinks, and snacks, basically enough to get us through the rainy evening, returned to the house and assumed our positions on the couch where we read books and played on Allie's new laptop.

The two of us decided we could happily spend the rest of our lives doing exactly this every weekend. Seriously, aside from getting food, I only left the house once in three days to go to karate. It was heaven.

The movies we watched:

"The Perfect Man" : All I can say about this movie is that I'm going to be Mrs. Ben Feldman. Ok maybe there's more... Hillary Duff was adorable, as usual, and Mr. Big played a decent guy for the first time in my cinematic experiences with him. Overall, the movie was good.

"Chocolat" : I enjoyed this movie more than Allie did. The idea of opening a chocolate store in France seems fantastic to me. I really liked the main character, Juliette, with her amazing ability to guess what chocolate suited each customer. Johnny Depp played a smaller role than I anticipated. The movie was interesting and different. Overall, good as well.

"Be Cool": Another movie I liked more than Allie did. I thought it was creative, and well done. John Travolta and Uma Thurman play a nice little duet together. I thought the ending was unique with a little twist nicely played. Overall, another good movie.

"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" : I loved this movie. It was awesome. The characters were well thought out, and the actors who played them did a marvelous job. The story and plot was fantastic. Val Kilmer and Robert Downey, Jr. played off each other so well we laughed the entire time. An excellent showcase of skills and plot. Definitely see this movie.

The books I read:

"Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophia Kinsella

"The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd

Reviews of the first and third book to follow.

Ah, another week well spent.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

BigStar's Birthday Bash

As you all know, April 12th was BigStar's birthday. She definitely celebrated in a "big" way....

I telephoned her at work around 11:00 a.m. She promptly answered the phone by telling me she was leaving work early, around lunch. I looked at the clock on the phone again and inquired when "lunch" would start for her seeing as though I'd already had lunch (I have this annoying habit of eating lunch twice: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the days I do eat lunch). She informed me of her plan to meet Heidi at our house at noon where they would promptly start drinking and "jamming out to Kenny." (In case you were wondering, they are best friends who seem to carry on unrequited and very intimate relationships with Kenny Chesney. He might not know it, but they are all best friends.) Her announcement threw my plan to run to the house at lunch, decorate some, organize the present I had, etc. I told her I was heading home as well so I'd meet her there. I immediately left as soon as I hung up the receiver. I was able to gather the present and do a few things before Heidi showed up with the beer. Five minutes later, Erin strolled through the door. We chatted long enough for the girls to crack open the first beer, set the computer up, and to create a playlist for the day. This was the scene when I left them:

Fast forward to about 6:45 p.m. I was on my way to pick them up from the place where I was house/pet sitting when my phone rang. I answered only to be met by a huge laugh. "You're drunk." I recoiled. BigStar said, "Can you get us some more beer?" I asked her if she was sure seeing as though they just drank 18 and we were on our way to the restaurant. She insisted they "needed" it. Despite my hesitations, I bought them a six-pack en route. This was the scene when I showed up:

Needless to say, the ladies were ready to go. The three of us piled into my car and headed to the local Mexican watering hole to have dinner with Allie, Lindsay, and Dylan. Luckily, our fantastic waiter, Andrew, sat us upstairs AWAY from everyone with the exception of a couple in the corner. Unfortunately, they had a front row seat to a show they did not want to see. We tried to apologize when they left, however, they shrugged us off without a word.

The evening was HIGHLY entertaining. BigStar told Andrew about 1500 times it was her birthday, she spilt her first margarita then proceeded to suck it up off the table with a straw, oh and there's the small incident where Erin asked Andrew what she should do about Kenny: Boobs? or No Boobs? (feel free to cast your vote as well. I'm sure she'd appreciate it). Andrew sat down at our table and gave a very profound answer for a man of his age. I think we all had a little crush on him with the exception of Dylan, who seemed a little offended by an opinion he expressed earlier in the evening. All I can say is it's a good thing we had Andrew to cater to Erin and that we sat upstairs AWAY from people because BigStar did not hold back. Between her trying to set up a blind date with another friend of ours (much to her dismay, as she is not the type to go for something like that), to Alex and she calling each other incessantly, then to her pocketing the candle holders from two of the tables, (completely encouraged and not by her friends) I'm pretty sure she had a great time. Watching the scene was a good enough time for the rest of us. Poor Andrew. I hope he doesn't hide the next time he sees us...

Upon departure, Erin nearly tripped when she stood up to go down the stairs. Of course we escorted her to the car but not without taking bets on whether she'd fall or not. Once we were in the car, Heidi showcased my purple sparring gear to the talking mistletoe Lindsay hung up for her (don't ask). We called it an evening after that. . Chalk up another marvelous celebration!

P.S. BigStar made it through the night and the next day...barely :)

A lovely Weekend at North Conway Hampton Inn

The weekend of April 6th, BigStar, her muchachos, Heidi, her nephews and I took a trip to North Conway, NH to have a jolly time at the indoor water park that just opened there. We were pleased to discover the hotel was quite nice, very well decorated, and had a friendly atmosphere. I was very impressed with the workmanship (however, I'm slightly biased). Our room was very cozy, clean, and comfortable. A nice detail I really like is the black and white pictures on the door number signs. The pictures add a touch of home to the ambiance.

The water park was fantastic, even for adults. The green slide is a tunnel completely dark inside. All at once you bust out of the bottom of the slide into the water. It's just awesome. Even the employees were incredibly astounding. Instead of yelling at the children and being grouchy bullies, they played with them and adequately addressed concerns about safety in a constructive manner. It was a nice bonus, as our crowd consisted of four children and three adults. I have to commend all the muchachos for their excellent behavior, even if Kyle tried to kill himself multiple times. You'd think the child would stay away from the large pool after nearly drowning, but no, he was right back at it. I cannot decide if he was demonstrating resilience or stupidity. I guess we'll find out when he's about 14. (It's not looking promising at 4 though...) Matty and I had a fabulous time racing on the water slides. Just an F.Y.I. for those of you who decide to do the same, the green slide is much faster, especially if you lay down, just don't forget to plug your nose as soon as you see the water. Princess Emily was superb as well. She did a fine job of entertaining herself for the majority of the time we were away. Despite being out numbered three to one, she resorted to her independence and adventurous side ignoring the boys completely. I have to say, the entire time we were in the room, which was probably an hour and a half total for the weekend, the boys wrestled on the bed. That is all they did. It was like a scene right out of WWF. They were completely content flipping each other over and body slamming each other NON STOP. I have never seen anything like it. I just watched them in awe until I realized they were boys and there was no explanation for their behavior.

After the muchachos went to bed, I headed downstairs to read my book in the main room by the fire and ENORMOUS flat screen TV. It was warm and quiet with the feeling of a dorm or community room. I had not felt cozy in a public situation like that since I was in college. I definitely could live in a hotel. I know I've said it many times before, but my experience by the fire sealed my hunch.

The next morning was Easter. The muchachos were ecstatic to find the Easter bunny had left them very generous baskets. It was fun to see them all excited while eating chocolate bunnies at 7:30 a.m. It did not take them long to decide they wanted to head back down to the water park, but before we did, we headed to breakfast, which is included in your stay. I found myself a pleasant spot on the couch to read my book among all the families dinning. As I settled in, I noticed a father sitting at a table behind me with his three daughters. He was eating breakfast and doting on them in Spanish. The girls were very well behaved while they delighted in their father's attention. I was distracted from them by a lovely older Canadian couple who sat down next to me. They both gave a friendly greeting then proceeded to discuss bits and pieces in French. I chuckled to myself because I thought how strange it was to be sitting at a hotel in New Hampshire with a Hispanic family rambling in Spanish behind me and a Canadian family rattling in French next to me. I enjoyed the contrast. The couple changed the channel from Shark fishing on ESPN2 to the dog show on Animal Planet, which made me laugh out loud. They clinked their coffee glasses together while simultaneously nodding "Cheers" to each other. After a few sips of their drinks, they had a smooch, then held hands while commenting in French on the dog show. I love older couples. I love to watch how they interact with each other, how they find little moments of delight to share amidst the rather ordinary morning, and how they give me hope. They are living proof love exists. Sometimes, I have a difficult time believing until I see instances such as the one I witnessed on Easter. I found myself giggling into my book until I was moved to return to my room.

While the muchachos were playing in the water park after breakfast, I snuck up to the room to hide the chocolate eggs the girls had forgotten the previous night. I then returned to the lobby to make it less obvious I was the one who did it. My attempt to be discrete was thwarted by Matty, age 9. As soon as I walked back into the room from my rendez-vous reading on the couch, he cornered me. In his most serious tone, he said, "You're the Easter bunny." I tried desperately not to laugh. I've never been accused of such nonsense in all my life. I sternly replied, "Excuse me?" He retorted, "You were the only person in the room while we were gone. When we left, there were no eggs. When we came back, there were eggs. You did it." Well Perry Mason, looks like you caught me, however, I refused to indulge his critical thinking skills thereby inquiring, "What eggs? You mean these ones?" I picked up an egg that clearly was not the one about which he was talking. "No the little chocolate ones." Matty declared. I asked him to see the eggs, and upon delivery, I told him I had no idea about what he was talking, as I had not see such eggs until this very moment. He just looked at me and walked off. I do not believe I was successful, but I refuse to be the one to break the news about the Easter Bunny or any other fictional character for that matter. I'd rather not be the bubble buster.

Needless to say, the weekend was a success, even for the "grown-ups." If you're thinking of making a trip to NH, I highly recommend staying at the Hampton Inn there. It is a lot of fun.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day

Ladies and Gents, It's Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day. So head on out to celebrate their birthday with a FREE ICE CREAM CONE!!! YAY! The party starts at noon at your local scoop shop.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Rest in Peace Kurt Vonnegut

I would like to take this moment to remember Kurt Vonnegut, the astounding author. I recently read his novel, "A Man Without A Country" only to be moved once again by his brilliant insights. If you have not read at least one of his works, I highly recommend picking up at least this novel. I failed to comment on the book earlier because I wanted to read it again, which I'll do sooner rather than later now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

And the Battle Begins...

This past week, an all out war has been ravaging the playground of my soul. I have my heart perched on one side and my mind brooding across the valley. Both, with the valor of Roman Gods, are proud and determined to win. Frankly, they scare me a little. Sometime last Sunday, they charged each other and have been going at it with a vengeance ever since. Meanwhile, I've resigned myself to watch and wait to see which tattered being emerges from the massacre victoriously.

I know I have to say no because he cannot. I know finally, I have to let him go, otherwise, we'll be playing this game until the very end where I foresee myself coming out broken and hurt because I do not believe he'll ever be able to give me what I want (or at least he hasn't proven otherwise, and "I don't know" is not good enough anymore). The ironic thing is, I knew this the day I met him. I knew he'd be trouble when he whipped out his cell phone to dial Minella's. I just sat there looking at him. I could not help but think over and over again, "I'm in trouble." Almost five years later, I'm still thinking the same thing. However, during this time I've learned one very important thing: He is who he is and not who I want him to be. Unfortunately, my heart and mind have different opinions, therefore, the war rages. For the first time ever, enough is enough, and I've got the rocking chair in front of my fort instead of his.

While a few of you know this very private part of my life about which I do not like to share publicly because it's too intimate and personal for the world, I felt the need to make the battle known with the thought that if I put it out there, out in the cosmos somewhere, I could see a resolution, maybe find a little peace, or at the very least, walk away from this unfair mess. For too long I've teetered between a strong boycott and a floppy doormat. I cannot do this any longer. I'm hoping a year on a different continent will help me rescue myself from the war and from Mr. Brownie Sundae. I know he does not mean to intentionally hurt me (and I do love him dearly), but as long as there is the Internet or a phone, it's difficult for me to ignore this unrequited situation for long. One of us always comes back. It cannot be the case any longer. I'd like to take the unrequited and hopeless out of love (oh and I'm ignoring all the outward signs from the world or at least I chose to believe they are just coincidences). A change is imperative for my well-being.

I'm not so much sad as I am exhausted. I just pray the battle does not last long...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Story of Hannah's Birthday and Our Easter Celebration

Saturday Morning around 9:30 a.m., I received a telephone call from Douala Meg informing me Krista was in labor. Turns out, eggplant Parmesan really is an inducer. The story goes something like this:

Lovely Krista was pregnant with her and Danny's second child. She was due on April 12, but thought it would be nice to have her baby in time to celebrate Easter. Douala Meg, Dr. Tim, and Dr. Danny (a.k.a. the father) agreed it would be fun to participate in the birth of this child. They all sat down to a marvelous eggplant Parmesan dinner on Friday night, then played the wait and see game. Saturday morning, Krista woke up feeling "crampy," which she ignored for a few hours. Eventually, the "cramps" came with more regulated frequency prompting Father Danny to call his Dr. Uncle, who in turn laughed at Danny and told him to get ready to deliver his daughter in the car on the way to the hospital. Danny grabbed the bag, his son Isak, and jumped in the car behind Tim's car where Dr. Tim was driving Douala Meg & Mommy Krista to the birthing center. They made it all the way to the parking lot of the birthing center where Danny delivered his daughter. Krista was in labor for about an hour. Now baby Hannah will be able to say her father (and Douala Meg) delivered her in the back of a Honda Civic right outside the hospital while stoic Dr. Tim took care of the minor detail of the police officer who had been following them through the city on their mad dash to the medical facilities. What a way to start off life! HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANNAH!!

One would think the story would end here, however, being they are my friends, of course it does not. Turns out, Krista's parents were on their way from North Carolina to surprise her. Perfect timing. Oh and there was the minor detail of Krista serving up Easter dinner to about 15 people on Sunday after popping out baby Hanna. And she did it with a smile on her face: "All in a day's work". I'm quite certain this qualifies her to be in the running for Super Woman. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how awesome the meal was or how little and cute the baby is. It was rather funny to see the looks on everyone's faces when they found out about Hannah's birth, as the couple kept it a surprise until just before dinner when they introduced their daughter to the group. And FINALLY we found out her name. YAY! Congratulations to one of my favorite little families.

For dessert, I whipped up two scrumptious peanut butter pies:

Monday, April 09, 2007


All of these images came in an e-mail from BigStar. I thought they were funny. I hope everyone had a lovely day.

Mr & Mrs. Smith

I would just like to preface this opinion by first explaining I am not a fan of Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. I'm completely apathetic to their existence with the exception of the movie "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." You people were holding out on me! Seriously, I LOVED THIS MOVIE. I also unabashedly commend the affair Brad and Angelina had. After watching this film, it was more than clear they belonged together. I will never again write anything like this regarding adultery. I guess I could just understand why it happened.

I would like to thank Allie for putting up with me while watching this film. I have a tendency to act like an 8 year old when I watch movies I REALLY REALLY LIKE. When the opening scene of the film indicated the location was Bogotá, Columbia, I was beside myself with excitement. I knew nothing about the movie other than the fact Brad and Angelina were in it. I immediately announced one of them was an assassin or a spy. I believe I received the first "Ssshhhh!" right then.

I could go on and on about how great this and that was, but when it comes right down to it, I loved the movie because I want to be a spy, and I think almost any girl I know wants the man she marries to tell her she "looked like Christmas morning" because that is the greatest line I've ever heard (even though it came from Brad Pitt's mouth). Seriously, "you looked like Christmas morning." Does it get any better than that? Talk about wow. I also enjoyed the scenes where they were shooting at each other, and I particularly enjoyed the noticeable difference in Mr. Smith's behavior regarding his wife as soon as he found out her true identity. One would hope such information would be disclosed before they wed, however, I'll make an exception about complete honesty in this instance. The movie was good without being indulgent. I was very impressed with both actors' performances and found the majority of the film entertaining. I definitely will watch it again very soon.

Friday, April 06, 2007

"Know when enough is enough." ~ Karma book

Watch Your Words

This weekend, my little muchacho, Ryan, and I were talking about the weather. It was a gorgeous, sunny, refreshing spring day. Ryan and I were looking out our big picture window admiring the lovely tree in our front yard when I mentioned I was kind of sad to see winter go. He said he liked snow. While we both were very happy to see the sunshine and birds, we felt the winter went by a little too fast. I was thinking about how I probably would not have another winter for almost two years, which made this New England girl slightly nostalgic. Ryan was probably thinking about snowballs, snow forts, and playing outside for recess. Neither of us actually thought we'd wake up yesterday morning to the lovely sight pictured above (view of our backyard from the bathroom window). When I said I missed winter, I really meant I missed the part where it was perfectly acceptable to snuggle up cozily in bed with a book in hand without regrets about being lazy because the snow was an excellent excuse for doing nothing. Boots, gloves, fuzzy socks, purple hats, and fleece is required. I miss those things. However, I do not miss shoveling for an hour, having wet shoes, having to wait on the draw bridge on my way into town (where I watched a house three doors down from my previous residence burn to the ground), or realizing for the tenth time it's necessary to get a Suburban because I almost died twice in one day while driving on roads the town has forgotten to plow. Although, I will admit the trees, with their heavily burdened white limbs, looked magnificent yesterday. Oh and there's the awesome Plowman who saved the day when he showed up half-way through our shoveling. YAY PLOWMAN!!! Lesson for the day: Be careful what you ask for; you just might get it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


(Photo by Peter Jan Smith)

I have this picture on a post card hanging to my right on my office wall. I looked up from a phone conversation a few minutes ago and took the postcard down to take a closer look. I thought to myself, "this is exactly how I feel today..."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Finally, Back to Myself

Some where between 12:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:00 A.M. this morning, I was in rare form to the point where I was beginning to worry the apocalypse was coming. I have no idea what was wrong with me but it all started with a box of cookie crisp and two liters of diet Barq's root beer. Oh and there was that LARGE bag of BBQ Baked Lays potato chips too... not to mention the nice dollop of severe debilitating anxiety a day later when I sat down to officially plan my last five months here in the U.S. for at least a year. I had to take a nap immediately, otherwise, I was going to be plagued with a permanent panic attack. It was the most awful two days I've had in a very long time. I thought there would be reprieve when I came to work Monday morning, but alas, there was an extra enormous tray of frosted sugar cookies in the kitchen.
As soon as I saw them, I turned to see if the devil was following me because I thought for sure he was out to get me. I barely made it through the day without mentioning I wanted to kill someone. I consider this a bonus because lately, I've said it and practically meant it like five times a day (well not really, but you know what I mean). Fortunately, I was feeling nearly satisfactory when I reached the gathering at Laurie's for the basketball game only that lasted until Ohio State decided to die on the basketball court. Honestly, that was one of the worst games I've ever seen but I'll just leave it at that. I got home shortly after midnight and was feeling desperately ready for the funk to be over. I snuggled into bed and grabbed the book that has changed my life only to realize the only thing I've needed this past weekend was to pick up this book and to read five pages.

In Sept 2003, my dear friend Theresa gave me this book for my birthday. It's a small but chunky book full of insight, solace, ideas, and good feelings. I've read a few pages a day ever since she gave it to me. It changed my life that fall. I was jobless, loveless, unrequited, angry, lost, and had taken "Oscar" to an entirely new level to the point at which not one of my friends who lived with me would talk to me. They sent an ambassador to do the dirty work. It was terrible. I vividly remember walking into the Narberth Pub one night to DJ only it wasn't like the rest of the other nights because I brought my "Karma" book with me and the girls came in to visit, which I took as another sign. I set up my little station in the corner, picked out the cds for the next hour, pushed play, then sat down, and cracked open my little book. That was it. The rest is history. I returned back to my normal loving, friendly, happy self. And despite the embarrassment I might feel from admitting this, I actually cried when read some of the little bits of wisdom during that first encounter. The author's tips just hit me like a ton of bricks smack dab in my little heart. It was all just so simple, and finally, the world made sense again. Since that fateful night, I've tried to read a few pages of the book every night, especially when I'm feeling a little bit sad, a smidgen lonely, or wanting for inspiration. I'm not sure how my usual refuge escaped me this past Saturday, but for some reason it did. Next time, I'll head straight to my little book instead of wasting time grumbling over a box of cereal. (Thank God, I did not buy the box of Cocoa Puffs, too.)

Officially, I'd like to blame the full moon for the three headed Cupcake who made an appearance in the last 48 hours.

It amazes me how much delight I find in this little nugget. I've read the book at least four times since it was given to me. Who knows how many more times I'll read it. All I know for sure is that it's the cure for almost anything.

I'd like to thank Theresa for the introduction and Ms. Kipfer for the positive influence.

Thoughts on Last Night's Game

"LIES!" ~ Lo

"He looks old enough to be his mother's sugar daddy." ~ referring to Ohio State University's Greg Oden.

"Seriously, I feel like I'm watching Maine Public Television." ~ Whit

With two minutes left, "you can change the channel now."

Final standing at ESPN pool: 63,232.

Until next year...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Tonight's College Championship Game

In the ESPN pool online, I am currently ranked at number 3,467 out of millions. While I don't believe I'll win anything, I'm cheering for OHIO STATE to beat Florida 89 to 86. Maybe it will be my lucky day. (Yay, Lindsay!!!)