Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whatever: Girlfriends

This is a post that I have started about 15 times and exists in varying states of finished in the cloud:
I have an amazing set of friends.
Real, honest to goodness friends.
I spent a large amount of my teens and twenties
trying to find girl friends. And I would occasionally think I had found one. But then it would fall apart. Those years are your crazy years for women. The years you go insane trying to find yourself.
In my late twenties and early thirties, I found them and also, I found  me.

I have two sisters and they are my girlfriends, too.
Through them, I have always had an outlet for all my "girl" issues.
But that is different. We share DNA and therefore, even as adults, compete with each other. Usually to be the funniest, weirdest, strangest...I am not sure why we do this but it is so funny and after I  have been with them my abs hurt from laughing.
Tootsies...with my sisters.

But I digress. 
Girlfriends listen to your insecurities,
they see you as your best you and they above all, sympathize with you 
because they are/have been there.

They will hop in their car when your dog has to be put to sleep and come with you to the vet. They will come pick up your toddler so you can take a nap when you are so pregnant and exhausted you cannot even think.  Good girlfriends start a business with you
and manage to stay friends with you in spite of that fact.
 Little Piggies...circa 2004.

They spend 6 hours in the pool/in the car/in the yard talking with you about every single detail of your life, you have ever thought of living and analyze it until you are healed.
Girlfriends hang out and wear cute dresses.
Excellent dresses.

Girlfriends celebrate your ups and agonize over your lows. 
They are what we sometimes  try to turn our husbands into and what we miss the most when we move to a new town.They nourish our souls and keep us on the straight and narrow. They hold us up to God when we need help and prayers.
I have a lot to learn about being a true friend and I fall short most of the time. But as I grow as a woman, I look to those I call girlfriend to lead the way. They make me want to be better. They make me want to be like them. I count my blessings daily.

I am lucky, I have excellent girlfriends.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Whatever: Today is my baby's birthday

Not this baby...

This baby!

After 16 years together, I still call him "Baby"! 

Happy Birthday! 

Here is a list of why I love you.

  1.  You make me laugh like no one else
  2.  You are one of the most loyal people I know.
  3. You get my weird sense of humor, and for the most part, share it.
  4.  You JUMP out of bed in the morning ready for the day. I finally am not annoyed by this.
  5.  You are a magnet for weirdos, just like I am. This makes me feel a lot better.
  6. You are a magnet for animals.
  7. Our kids love you. And for the most part, think you are by far the more fun parent.
  8. You taught me how to play backgammon, and still play with me even though I cannot count.
  9. You love to eat really good food and this makes my life fun and interesting. And delicious.
  10. You live life to the fullest and drag me and your other friends along with you for the ride. 

Happy Birthday! Thanks for sharing the years 
 with me!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Reading: Eat, Pray, Love

Yes, I  LOVED that book.
I think I will re-read it this summer at some point.
Right now though, I am reading the book Meg gave me. 
She is a good egg, to say the least and if you EVER need cheering up, go see her.

The other book(s) I am reading are my extended collection of cookbooks.
My daughter said the other day...
"You know what this house needs? NOT more cookbooks!"
Hilarious, that one.
I mentioned before that I read books about food and I read cookbooks for sport.
I own 67 cookbooks.
Yep, I do.
I also read almost all of these fairly regularly.
My favorite thing to do while I am eating alone is read a cookbook while I eat.

My most used cookbooks are all stuck together and gross. 
I am a messy and fly-by-the -seat of my pants cook. I rarely follow a recipe to the letter and I never make the same thing the same way twice. It is a little frustrating sometimes.
These are my most tried and true cookbooks that I reach for over and over.  

I have had this sucker for 20 years and it is nasty. And well loved.
Went to a book reading and met the author, Martha Hall Foose.
She is adorable and the book reads like hanging with a friend who tells great stories. 
Easy recipes for fresh healthy food. AND amazing desserts that taste hard, but are not.
Vegetarian and interesting dishes, this book is separated by season.
I use this book at least once a week, and my family of carnivores  never complains about what I make. Excellent flavors in each recipe.
My parents had these books when I was cooking in high school and still ate meat. I cooked lots of chicken dishes out of it. Now, I have my own books and I cook lots of desserts, appetizers, eggs and of course Tex Mex. I think they were put together by the Junior League or DAR or something like that. Excellent collection of Mrs. Robert Such n Such recipes. 

I  love collecting and reading  cookbooks. I love ones that are collections of family recipes (Leslie Smith gave me her family collection) and ones that are random (Cooking with the Grateful Dead). 
I have books that have great tips, like how to replace an egg in a recipe  and how to cook on your radiator while driving to your vacation spot. 

I also have two of my grandmothers recipe boxes, which are hilarious and  painful time capsules to read when I get to missing them. Recipes are like stories to me. I wonder who made them up and why.

When I am at someones house, if they have a shelf of cookbooks, I always look to see what they have. Partly out of curiosity and partly out of jealousy if they have one I don't have.
I scour used bookstores and garage sales looking for cookbooks. My girlfriends give them to me for my birthday. My husband ( and now my daughter) make fun of my for having so many. 

But, I love them. And the goodness they contain.

Here is one of my kid's favorite recipes that have made for them since they were babies. It is also the first thing they learned how to make when they started cooking.
Double or triple it and freeze the rest for future meals.
I love this book!

BHG New Cookbook 
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbl sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 tbl. cooking oil

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet and mix just until combined. Pour 1/4 cup onto hot griddle for each cake. Flip when pancake is covered with bubbles and then cook  approx. 1 minute on other side.
Makes about 8 pancakes. 

If you make these Casa Swann style, you add cinnamon and vanilla (eyeballing about a tsp. or so of each). You can also substitute orange juice for the milk or add frozen blueberries. We like to mix it up.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Whatever: Dads

Happy Father's day to the two men in my life who make it look easy.
I love you both!
My dad...will try ANYTHING!

This Dad.. will ALWAYS buy strawberry lemonade. Even the dog likes him better.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dirt: Prayer life

 Let me preface this posting with this warning....this is about prayer to God. I am not a huge fan of discussing my personal religious life outside of "Where do you go to church?" And, I find often people that talk about praying, their "walk with God" or who quote scripture come off as a little phoney. So, it is with humble heart and foot in mouth that I publish this post.


I am in a drought.
No, not in my city, although that applies as well. 
I am in a prayer drought.

I find myself drifting off to another thought when I am praying. For instance, this happens all too often:"Thank you for my healthy family...did I start the we have enough dog food for tomorrow..."And as it is a conversation, I realize it is very rude.I mean, God doesn't roll His eyes, or at least I hope He doesn't. Boy, will I be embarrassed if I find out He has been rolling them all along. 

 I find myself losing interest in praying. I have a weekly list of those I pray for, but usually, I forget, or I pray once and then move onto watching reruns of "Top Chef". I find when I am not spending time with God on a regular basis,I turn really cynical and can get myself down in the mouth. I had started praying when I ran, but eventually the siren song of my ipod won out.

I am embarrassed to admit this,but I am down to the dinner and good night prayers. TRULY sad. I recently  had a bit of a wake up call from a friend and I am trying to get back todiscussing things better with God. Asking for things less and truly having a real prayer life. A friend loaned me a book about having a prayer life. I hope that it jump starts me back. 

How do you keep yourself out of a drought?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Eating: What to eat when it is hot

It's hot. 
Big surprise, as it is summer in the south. 
I love summer and I love summer food, but I hate to cook when it is hot. 
So, we are doing our "summer routine". That is, my husband is lucky enough to be home at lunch, so we eat our main meal at noon.
It is great! The cooking gets done when it is still coolish, we are all together and we are not miserable at night. Instead we can sit outside and
play backgammon or watch a movie, inside in the cool,
lying like dogs on the cool leather sofas.

Here are some ideas for a lovely summer meal that does not involve too much heat:
  • kitchen sink  salad (ours this week included greens, onions, watermelon, tomatoes, almonds, avocado,bell peppers and mushrooms)
  • seared scallops, cucumber and avocado salad and squash fritters
  • tomato, basil, balsamic vinegar and turkey sandwiches
  • grilled chicken legs, watermelon, mac and cheese and of course,kitchen sink salad
This is pretty much what we are eating this week. I made a pork tenderloin on sunday for dinner and the carnivores at that with their salad and mac and cheese for lunch.
I ate salad and key lime pie.
Here's the recipe for an excellent key lime pie. It is my new recipe for one of my favorite desserts, which I get my mouth all set for about the second it gets hot in our neck of the woods.

Green eyed, bug eyed and waiting for some pie

An Excellent Key Lime Pie
1 graham cracker crust (recipe to follow)
3 eggs (seperated)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (I use the fat free)
1/2 cup key lime juice (they sell it at the grocery store)
3 tbl. Tequila
zest of about half a lime (I hate measuring zest)
Oven to 350. Beat yolks and add milk, lime juice and tequila (do not over mix). Beat whites until very fluffy. Fold into yolk mixture. Fold in zest. Pour into crust and bake about 15 minutes, or until set. Cool completely (about 3 hours). Serve with or without whipped cream (I prefer without). Yum.

Graham cracker crust 
1/3 cup of butter
1/4 cup of sugar
18 graham crackers, crushed 

Melt butter, stir in sugar. Pour over crushed graham crackers. Toss to mix well. Press into pie pan, chill about 20 minutes (I use the freezer) and you are ready to rock. Makes two 9 in. pie crusts. Yum.

I must say, the crust is a recipe from my crusty and funky Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. The filling recipe is a mix of several recipes that I have made over the years. A lot of people do not bake their key lime pie, but, I am a fan of not getting sick. So...

Hope you love it like I do. Well, maybe not quite that much....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer Bum continued

Vacay is kicking! 
Thus (since Friday) I have read three books, run four times, ridden bikes, been on a date ( which my children crashed), learned to SUP, gotten sunburned, watched the sunset, ate outside,have been to a play AND to a concert,  haven't watched one second of television and not have driven my car farther than 2 miles. I love it!

As a devoted slacker and wannabe professional vacationer, I love a trip that allows me to lay around and read. My kids are pretty much old enough that I can keep one eye on the page and one eye on them. On this trip, I have read on the beach, in the pool, in the sun porch, in bed
and standing in the local bookstore. I am in heaven!

I am reading "summer" books for the most part and
so I am going to give a brief review of one I read that I really liked.
If you are like me and like a "lighter" book to read while sitting by the pool or beach,
this is one for you.

I have to preface with two things...
one- the book I read was an advance uncorrected copy, so somethings might be a little different
two-you can borrow it if you live in my area

A Vintage Affair
Isabel Wolff

The book has several of the important criteria that I have for books that I love. The story takes place in London, a place I absolutely love.The main character, Phoebe Swift, has worked at Sothebys as an expert in vintage clothing and has decided to go out on her own and open a high end vintage shop. She carries a large burden of guilt over the loss of her dear friend, Emma. Of course, in the vein of all the books about twenty/thirty something British women, there is a goofy, handsome man and a much wanted but unhealthy handsome man. In this subject, the book reads like Shopaholic, Bridget Jones and even the American version, The Nanny Diaries. However, this one has a hook and this is where it got my attention and caused me a very serious sunburn. Phoebe occasionally goes to pick up clothing from women who want to sell their treasures and in this instance, meets Mrs. Bell, who carries her own burden of guilt about a friend of her won. The book has enough history, both of the fashion world and of the world that it was an excellent, mindless read.

If  you are looking for something a little more substantial that your typical chicklit, this is a great book.

It's summer...enjoy!
PS...I have actually read five books (two since I started this post) while I have been on vacation here at the beach. Go figure I am staying in the home of the owners of a bookstore! Heaven!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dirt: Summer bum

I have a confession to make. I love summer.
I know, EVERYONE loves summer. 
But, I  adore it like it is my favorite friend who brings me treats whenever she comes over and lets me wear her designer shoes. I love it for a whole other reason.

I like to be lazy. 
Don't mess with me while I am being lazy

Laziness is one of the seven deadly sins. 
Sloth is the other word for it. And, I my friends, am lazy. 
I am lazy in that I don't like to do the little detaily 
things that drive you nuts,
but make your life really nice.

When my kids were littler, I didn't really enforce the bathing issue if they had been in a pool.
 I mean chlorine is a form of soap, right? Never mind that they had crunchy hair and my baby has had a serious dreadlock every summer since she finally grew hair at age two.

My hygiene is lacking as well, but mostly it is the hair dryer that gets a big break in the summer. I don't usually stink or have crunchy hair.

Also, with kids and dogs running in and out all day long, my floors don't get mopped very often in the summer, because, really what is the point? 
Unless they are sticky or someone I don't know is coming over, 
they only get a pass over about once a month.

Eating is excellent in the summer and I do eat. A lot, usually straight out of my garden.
But do I cook? 
Not so much.
Again, laziness is easy because there are salads and grilled items. 
Fewer dishes to do and meals to plan.
Lazy Girl... I should write a book.

But this summer is different. I am looking for a job. I am working on my house.
I am getting up before 9:30. (YIKES)
I am trying to be a better wife and mother by actually making a plan of what we will eat and maybe enforcing a bath or two. 

What are you doing this summer? 

Here is my list in lieu of my monthly list...
  • Mopping the floors once a week
  • Eating less hamburgers and more fish
  • Teaching my daughters the next steps of housekeeping (last year laundry, this year toilets!)
  • Making sure that my youngest does not grow dreadlocks that require a haircut like last year due to inadequate bathing
  • Cooking something other than boiled eggs, frozen pizza and salad 
  • Making sure that my family has an excellent summer by not over scheduling them
  • Going to the drive in at least twice
  • Going to the beach
  • Going on an adult only beach trip
  • Finding the perfect job that requires me to wear fabulous sundresses and excellent hats (I think cruise director is the job for me!)