Interior designers make the worst clients (and other musings)

I started this blog (way back in 2010) fully intending to jump-start my career in interior design.  Or writing. Or both.

Somehow, over the course of six-plus years, the majority of what I’ve shared has turned out to be, basically, everything EXCEPT interior design.

Cooking? check.

Baking? of course.

Party planning? Heck, yeah!

Parenting? sure, why not?

Whining? eh, maybe a little.

Reminiscing?  yup.

Bragging?  Who, moi?…ok, yeah, that too.

Interior design?  Um…not so much.

There might be a draft or two somewhere in a folder with some posts along those lines, but I’m pretty sure that’s where those sorts of posts go to die.

I was reflecting on this fact last week while I was spring cleaning our living room.  I’m not sure what sparked the specific train of thought, but as I moved furniture around to capture dog hair and cobwebs, I concluded that I’m sort of lost in decorating my own home.  When it comes to design decisions in this house, I defer to my husband.  There’s a reason for this, I think, but it leads to some pretty obvious problems for us.

We’re currently in the middle of remodeling our master bathroom.  As in, new walls, new floors, new fixtures, new lights, the works.  It’s an interior designer’s dream, right?  So it should be easy for me to get online and make quick, sure decisions on what all of the replacements need to be.

Should be.  That’s the key here.

It’s not as easy as it sounds though.

I can’t make a blinkin’ decision to save my life.  I am overwhelmed by all the possibilities of what the finished product could look like.  I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for my husband, sacrificing his evenings and weekends to do this for me and for all the times he’s said, “I’m doing this for you, baby.  Pick what you like.”  I’m overwhelmed by my emotions, which is getting in the way of my professionalism.

Do I doubt my knowledge?  Not often.  Do I doubt my sense for color, texture, aesthetic?  Rarely.  These decisions usually come pretty easily when I’m advising someone else.  In my own house, though, I’m having a major dilemma.  I think my problem is that my personal tastes are too diverse; I don’t have any one favorite design style to base my decisions on.


Also, I’ve spent basically all of the past year in survival mode, trying to keep my act together enough to survive life with two infants and a preschooler.  Not complaining, just observing that I haven’t really done much in the way of decor or design in our house in a long time.  I’m out of practice here, folks, cut a girl some slack!

So, my solution to the fact that I can’t decide which style we should go with, and run with it is this: I’m making Ryan do it.

Yep, that’s the plan.

Here’s how it works: together, we selected a vanity that we really like that met all of our requirements (basically, the requirements were, the cabinet could be any wood finish except oak, and it had to be more than 30″ tall and had to fit in the same amount of space our old one took up.  Guys, I’m married to a man who’s 6’2″ tall.  I try to account for his height in all of our life decisions.)  After we selected the vanity, it narrowed our style options down somewhat.  I also decided to match the finish on the vanity hardware (brushed nickel) to the new faucets for the sink, tub, and shower.  Once we decided on the brushed nickel, I narrowed down the selections to a couple I liked.  Then, I made Ryan make the final decision.

I’m dusting off my hands as we speak.  It’s hard work making someone else do all the work.  Seriously.

I’m looking forward to sharing more with you as things progress.  I probably won’t have as much luck delegating writing assignments. Unless I can’t decide what to write.








A Letter to Our Twins on Your First Birthday

My Sweet Baby Boys,

One year ago today, I became your mom.  Well, I was really your mom before that, but our formal introduction happened at 7:45 and 7:47 am respectively on this day one year ago.  Seeing your sweet faces, hearing your two very distinctive cries, kissing your soft, chubby cheeks, and holding your tiny little bodies against mine for the first time was a gift unparalleled.

I’ve learned a lot this year, guys.  I’ve learned a lot about myself, I’ve learned that the patience I’ve spent so many years priding myself on actually does have limits, and I’ve reached those limits with both of you and with Big Brother more times than I’d care to admit.  I’ve learned to ask for help, to delegate, to let Daddy lend a hand more often than I ever have before.  I’ve learned to let go of some control, to reevaluate my priorities and my standards.  I’ve learned that these years go by more than twice as quickly when my love and attention are going in more directions than they ever have before.  I’ve learned that I can love you three boys, your daddy, and Clohe more intensely than I could have ever fathomed.  And I’ve learned that just because the two of you share a birthday, just because you look a lot alike, doesn’t mean you’re expected to be the same.

It’s been so much fun for Daddy and me to watch you grow, learn, and explore next to one another.  It’s been fun to see you each develop your own personalities, your own selves, side-by-side.  I could spend all day watching you guys interact with one another and with Big Brother.  I love watching you amuse one another, talk to one another, comfort one another, and- occasionally- antagonize one another.

Twin A: my sweet, loving little Mama’s Boy (please, baby, don’t be offended by the term.  You just love to be near me, and I love the bond we share.  And I have to admit, I’m still gloating over your first word being “Mama,”  One out of three ain’t bad).  A pound larger than your brother at birth, you’re now more than four pounds ahead.  You love the color blue, you love Clohe, and you love to explore.  You, my boy, have no fear.  Of anything.  Which, if we’re being honest, scares the daylights out of me.  I’ve joked that you’ve added more grey hairs to my head in the past year than I’ve accumulated in all the time leading up to your arrival.  You can be moody and temperamental, and you demand to be heard.  You also laugh with your whole being, which is such a sight to behold.  Seeing you throw your head back and chuckle down to your toes can make the worst day into the best.  And when you wrap your arms around my neck, pulling me close for a hug?  Well, there’s nothing in this world I’d sacrifice for that feeling.

And Twin B: you, my boy, are your Mama’s Boy in a different way.  I see myself in you in so many ways, little one, in ways I’ve never felt with your brothers.  You are so fiercely independent like me.  Small in stature, you’re tougher than you look, and you’ve shown us you can take care of yourself pretty well despite your size.  (But I’m still gonna call you Squirt).  You’re the baby of the family, and you know it.  Your eyelash-batting skills are second to none, and your grin could melt the absolute coldest of hearts.  Your laugh is magical.  You love to sit and observe…or play in the dog dishes…and your appetite makes me nervous for what we’re in for in the years to come.  Your first word was “dada,” which you uttered before your brother said his first.  You had the first tooth, you sat upright first.

Being your mom is an incredible gift, and your love and smiles have filled every day of the past year with a lifetime’s worth of joy.  And I get to go to bed tonight knowing we can do it all over again tomorrow.

I love you more,


PS- I promise, I’m done with the Thing One and Thing Two theme now. But seriously, I had to do it

My baby: not a baby anymore

He’s three and a half now. His head reaches my elbow, he can see and reach nearly everything on the kitchen counters. He no longer needs a stool to use the bathroom, wash his hands, or brush his teeth. His short, chubby legs are now long and lean.  Toddling has evolved to running. His movements are swift and sure; he doesn’t need me to watch over his every move anymore, to make sure he doesn’t fall. His favorite phrase is, “I can do it all by myself!”

Every day my baby boy- no longer a baby- grows by another leap or bound, grows more separate from me. At the beginning of the preschool year, he would cry when I would drop him off, his teachers lifting his sobbing little body from my car as I tried to hide my tears and reluctance at leaving him. Yes, he was ready.  I was sure of that.  He just needed to adapt. Then, this morning at drop-off, I realized that with the passing of crying when he leaves the comfort of our car to go to his teachers and friends, he has also quit kissing and hugging me goodbye.  In the blink of an eye, without me really noticing it, he’s growing up.

It’s Thursday. It’s my TGIT TV night. My, quick dinner, dishes done fast, kids to bed early and maybe pour a glass of wine because Grey’s is on night. (PS, if anyone from the ABC network is reading this, 8PM is far too early for good TV.)

I was bitter. Because, despite his brothers being asleep, and despite pj’s on, teeth brushed, and little man into bed by 7:30, at 9:30 he was still not asleep. Not only had I missed my favorite show, but now I had missed half of my second favorite show (Scandal). 

Then, the little guy crawled out of bed and into my lap.   He held my hand, his fingers laced with mine, and said “Mommy, can you tell me ‘goodnight baby’?”  I was all too happy to oblige. He lay his head on my shoulder and let me rock him gently on the floor as I tried to make sense of how the baby who had once been small enough to cradle in my arms is now half my size. It’s not possible. It doesn’t make sense. And yet, we knew when we became parents that it would go too quickly. So when he presented me with an opportunity to hold and rock him to sleep, I really did hate myself for a moment for thinking that my priority had been a tv show. I hated myself for rushing him to go to sleep so I could have “me time.”  I can watch tv anytime. My babies will only be babies once. 

He’s making us so proud. His empathy, compassion, and thoughtfulness are his most acknowledged attributes. His observations of life and his attention to details are astounding. His memory confounds us. He’s caring and affectionate, my biggest helper in taking care of the dog and his brothers. He’s teaching Clohe to sit, shake, and take treats from him. He’s trying to show his brothers how to use the potty like big boys. He’s Daddy’s little racing buddy and Mama’s sous chef. 

He’s our baby. And he’s not a baby anymore.  



We Now Return to your Regularly Scheduled Programming

It’s national chocolate cake day, y’all. 

Oh, how I wish every day was national chocolate cake day. On the other hand, we don’t really need national holidays for desserts in this house so maybe it’s a moot point. Regardless, it’s been quite some time since I posted about food here, so today seemed like a good excuse. 

As I posted last week, I’ve been moody lately (that’s an understatement.  Ask the guys I live with), and is there anything I the world dessert can’t fix?  (Actually…yes, but dessert is a good place to drown your sorrows. So we may be doing a bit of that here too). I invite you to join us. 

Friends, I’ve been having a major sweet tooth attack lately. We (ok, fine. I have) been through a LOT of sweets this month, starting with our New Year’s Eve party. I’ll post about that sometime, because I’ve found some really good recipes (according to my critics, at least), and I’d love to share them with you. Tonight, though, I will just share the desserts, because they fit with our theme here.  

Have you guys tried flourless chocolate cake?  We hadn’t, till Ryan’s office Christmas party a few years ago at one of our favorite places downtown. It was love at first bite. If you haven’t yet, I strongly encourage you to try it. And I so badly wanted to create one in my own kitchen, but the idea made me very nervous. So, I added it to our menu for this New Year’s Eve. Then, I enlisted my cousin the pastry chef to make it for me. Next time, perhaps I’ll try my hand.  You can try this recipe…or you can just do what I did and find a relative who’s professionally trained to bake. (*note: we used pomegranate plum juice rather than straight pomegranate, with a very good result. I would think pomegranate raspberry or some other combination would also work just fine.). Also, if you have a scoop of vanilla ice cream to serve on the side, do it. Trust me, you’ll need it. 

I also found a new cheesecake recipe to try: Coffee toffee cheesecake. It was fantastically rich and decadent and amazing, though the coffee flavor wasn’t as obvious as I had hoped for (and it wasn’t just my desensitized palate for caffeine. A friend of mine who hates coffee couldn’t detect it either). I might go full-on espresso next time, or maybe just add more instant coffee granules than the recipe recommends. Or I’ll have my chef do it. 

So, those were our New Year’s desserts. We’ve had some cookies around here since then, but I was still unsatisfied. Until today. Today, my friends, I have struck dessert gold again, and can say that I am no longer scrounging for something to satisfy my need for sweet and rich. 

I started this morning by whipping up a batch of red velvet swirl brownies. It’s where I got my fortitude for the day. While not technically chocolate cake, it was close enough…or, it at least kept me from eating all the batter for the molten peppermint chocolate cakes. Because that, my friends, was dessert. 

Happy national chocolate cake day. I urge you to celebrate with me. Because chocolate cake is the perfect compliment to a glass of red wine. Just sayin’




A Word from the Girl on the Soapbox

(I wrote the following last night, following what may have been one of the best Saturdays I’ve had in recent history. Or maybe it just felt that way because I dragged myself out of the funk I spent a few days in early in the week.  I’m good now, though. Promise.)

For just a minute, guys, I’mma get up on my soapbox and preach. I try to not overdo it (on the other hand, the subheading on this blog once forewarned of unsolicited advice, so you’re kind of here at your own risk, don’t ya think?)

Anyway, I have something to say. And because I’ve seen about four different versions of this same advice in different places over the course of the last week or so, I feel like it’s not a terrible idea to say this one more time: you guys, can we promise to all take care of ourselves over the course of the coming year?  I’m giving us all a clean slate, and begging that we all go into this together, remembering (and occasionally reminding one another) to put ourselves first every once in awhile, in whatever way that means the most to us. 

It’s midnight and I’m writing. I just finished baking a batch of cookies. This week was hard, and now I’m recharging in a way that is most restorative to me. I helped a friend with a design solution today, digging out the sketch pad and markers for the first time in too long. In the midst of the beautiful chaos of our home and our three amazing boys, it’s sometimes easy to forget who I am aside from my role as Mommy.  And…here’s the part I want you to really listen to…as much as I love my family- as much as I would absolutely, 100%, without question sacrifice anything in the world for any of them- I’m finding that I have to give myself a break sometimes.  Because I know that sometimes we tend to give and give and give, long past the point where there’s nothing left to give. And then we give some more.  Because, (and this is probably one of my biggest character flaws) I feel guilty if I’m not giving all the time. I feel guilty for taking care of me. I haven’t figured out yet how to assure myself that taking care of myself is necessary for taking care of my family.  And, I’m pretty sure this doesn’t just happen to me: just about the time I’m ready to break down and ask for help, something happens that makes me feel selfish for thinking of myself, when my family needs me, and I (give myself) no choice but to swallow my request for help and march on. It might catch up with me someday if I don’t make a change. 

It’s kind of amazing: 10 minutes to go pick up takeout for dinner (because my husband usually knows before I do that I’m wearing too thin), or a 20 minute trip to the store on my own, when I can grab a shopping basket (rather than a cart for two infant seats and four items) and hum along with the PA system music, brings me home in a completely different frame of mind.  Don’t get me wrong- I love taking my boys out with me!  I take great pride when strangers stop me to compliment me on how cute they all are, or how well behaved they are being. I appreciate the offers of help and the compliments on how well I juggle two infant carriers and a preschooler; I really do. But sometimes a trip on my own is both quicker and more fulfilling. And as much as it pains me to admit this, I’m pretty sure it’s a universal truth: I’m a better mom and a better wife when I get away for a few minutes.  By my own admission, I fall short in asking for the opportunity to do that- and I’m positive I’m not the only one. 

This is my plea to you, friends. Let’s take care of ourselves in 2016. We deserve it. 




By far, the most comment I receive when I’m out and about with my boys is, “you’ve got your hands full!”  I saw an image of Facebook with the quote, “if you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!”  That is what I’d like to say. 

Instead, I usually reply with a smile, and try to enforce how I wouldn’t change a thing. Our life is loud and crazy and hectic, and I love every moment of it…even when it doesn’t appear that I do. My sons hearing strangers calling them a handful, no matter how well-meaning, isn’t something I want them dwelling on. 

This holiday season, I’ve been very reflective of our life and our blessings. One child was a dream we just barely dared to dream; three is enough to make our hearts burst. We made it through 37 1/2 weeks of a twin pregnancy with no complications. We brought our boys home from the hospital the same day I was released. And our big guy is the best big brother we could hope for. 

I know many parents aren’t as fortunate as we are, and face unimaginable heartbreak in losing a child, or facing a horrible illness, or endure any number of horrible circumstances. My heart breaks for those who can’t hold and see and touch their babies.

We just made it through our first Christmas as a family of five, (a four-day extravaganza of food, family, love, travel, and giving), and as we travel home in perfect silence, with all three boys and the dog sound asleep, I keep looking to the back seat. I can’t believe how full our car is now, compared to last year. Full of love, full of family, full of blessings. 
Friends, we hope your Christmas season has found you and yours surrounded by love and family and hope for the coming year. 



Could Not Be Fuller

Holy crap, guys.

It’s been way longer than I thought since I last posted here.  I haven’t posted anything in nearly a year and a half.  Do y’all even remember me?  Do you know what’s happened in a year and a half?  Obviously not much, if I haven’t been around to tell you about it, right?  Except…

The last time I was here, I was the mother of one amazing, beautiful, perfect little boy.

Today?  Today, I’m the mother of three amazing, beautiful, perfect little boys.

Yep, you read that right.  Three.  For the next two weeks, three under the age of three.  Boys.  Three. Boys.

My heart could not be fuller.

I always said I wanted three kids.  I come from a large family (I’m the oldest of five), Ryan comes from a small family (he’s the oldest of two); three seemed like a good compromise.  You should’ve seen our faces when, at a six week ultrasound for my second pregnancy, the tech announced, “There’s one.  And there’s two.” (Actually, I would’ve liked to have seen our faces.) Obviously, she was telling us we were getting twins, but we were a bit slow on the uptake.  It took us both a moment to catch up.  Um, ok, it took us quite awhile to catch up.  In fact, we spent the next few hours in almost total, shocked silence.  Until one of us would say, “Holy crap, twins.”  Or, “Wow.  There are TWO of them,”  Then we got in the car and drove two hours to tell our families in person.  Some days I think we’re still a little shocked.

Granted, this was not a total surprise.  My dad is a fraternal twin.  My maternal grandfather had fraternal twin siblings.  But because I always joked about how cool it would be to have twins, I think I had talked myself out of the possibility.  Mentally.  I think I had a gut instinct though that they were twins.  Because this is what happens to someone who has the perfect singleton pregnancy first time around, breezes through the whole nine months and labor, then wonders why people get so stressed out about infants.  Life hands those people two more at the same time, in conjunction with the terrible twos/ threenage years.

We’re managing.  In fact, we’re more than managing; I think we’re doing really well.  Our days are not nearly as stressful or as chaotic as I had envisioned.  I can still get all three of them out the door before 10AM without help.  Everyone is fed, bathed (at least every other night), wearing clean clothes, and getting individual cuddle time.  I can still get a hot, cooked meal on the table at least three nights a week, and Friday is still always pizza- homemade, more often than not.  This week I baked two batches of cookies, homemade pretzels, and a batch of zucchini bread between naptimes and diaper changes.

Of course. it can get stressful.  One can be stressful, three (without ever experiencing two) has, admittedly, brought me to my knees a time or two.  But it’s the best kind of stressful, and there’s nearly always humor to be found in the midst of it all.  “Twin B” has a tendency to wait until his diaper off to show off his ability to impersonate a fire hose.  This has earned him the nickname “Squirt” (he was also a full pound smaller at birth; he was such a little squirt!)  “Twin A” is often on his third outfit of the day before 9AM.

I used to judge stay-at-home moms.  I never understood how a person could sacrifice a career that they’d worked their tail off for, to stay at home.  To trade analyzing data for analyzing the color of the substances within a diaper; to trade dressing up for yoga pants and a ponytail; to trade business lunches for being on the receiving end of launched pureed peas.  I didn’t get how giving up a paycheck made sense.  Now I get it.

This isn’t about me.  It’s not about my climb up a corporate ladder, or breaking any glass ceilings.  It’s not about whether my boys are wearing Burberry onesies and riding in a $4,000 stroller.

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It’s about them having me at home because we can have it this way, spending time and making memories and learning from one another as we navigate this road as a family.  I used to be embarrassed, when asked about my career, to admit that right now, I don’t have one.  I’m still working on my education- and I’m damn proud of it.

I’ll have lots of years to go back to work, to build my career as long as it works for our family.  For now, I’m trying to savor every second I can with these precious gifts, stockpiling the love and the snuggles they give so freely for a day when they’ll be “too big,” or “too old” to show Mom affection.  For now, my job- my career- is Mom.

And I couldn’t be prouder.  My heart could not be fuller.



Cheesecake. (You want a subtitle with that?)

Apparently, my husband talks about me at work.

I know this because he tells me.  And somehow, he manages to mostly tell them only good stuff, as far as I know, which is pretty awesome.  He has repeated conversations to me during the course of which he revealed his understanding of charger plates in dining table setting; another conversation, he told someone who asked about my career that I’m currently a “wonderful stay-at-home mom to our son.”  And most often, it seems, he talks about my recipes.  

In fact, he talks about my recipes so much that he came home with a request last week for my cheesecake recipes.  When I asked which ones he wanted, he replied, “oh, I don’t know…all of them?”  

Let me be clear: I adore cheesecake.  Ok, I adore all desserts, but cheesecake ranks in the top five of my favorite varieties.  And because of my love of cheesecake, I try to bake them myself as often as possible.  My traditional contribution to Thanksgiving with Ryan’s family is a cheesecake, and every year I present a new flavor.  I love to experiment.

The problem is that I’m terrible at them.  They always taste ok.  In fact, most often, they taste pretty darn good.  Just sayin’.  Unfortunately, though, they don’t always come out of the oven looking as amazing as they taste.  I have, in the last seven years, produced only one that didn’t have a crack down the middle.  Of course, that recipe required garnish that covered that amazing accomplishment, but I patted myself heavily on the back for the way it looked coming out of the oven. 

I’ve tried letting them come down to room temperature gradually by turning off the oven heat and letting them inside.  I’ve tried to not overbeat the eggs.  So far, nothing has worked.  However, I just found this website that has some amazing insider tricks, so it may be time to try again.  There’s an Oreo cookie cheesecake in one of my Taste of Home cookbooks that I’ve been dying to attempt.

My first stab at cheesecake actually started with Ryan.  He came home from work one day seven or eight years ago with a recipe printed on a piece of paper and asked if I could make it for him.  At the time, he was not much of a dessert eater, but he said this one sounded particularly appetizing.  We made.  We enjoyed.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  Pumpkin swirl cheesecake is still on our list of favorites.

After I made that one, it sort of turned into a game to see what else I could pull off.  The next Thanksgiving, I brought a red velvet cheesecake to dinner.  This might be one of my personal favorites, because I’m a red velvet fanatic, and this is an incredibly rich and decadent cheesecake.

Having done a fair job with these, Ryan requested a New York-style cheesecake as a random mid-week dessert one summer.  I decided that Mr. Emeril Lagasse was probably a pretty good chef to consult, so we tried New York-style cheesecake with a fruit topping.  If I remember correctly, blackberries and raspberries were in season at the time so I used Emeril’s sauce recipes as a guide to cook the berries down with some liquor and sugar, then poured over the cheesecake slice-by-slice before serving (for those who aren’t huge fans of fruit).   

The following year, we tried caramel-peanut butter swirl cheesecake.  This one has become one of Ryan’s favorites with its combination of sweet and salty flavors.  I make it my own by substituting the store-bought caramel sauce with my homemade salted caramel sauce, then omit the salt called for in the cheesecake recipe.  

Two years ago, we sampled caramel apple brownie cheesecake.  The name is deceiving, because there’s no chocolate in it.  The crust is more “blondie” than “brownie,” but it’s one of those recipes that just sings “fall.”  

Last spring, when entertaining friends of ours, we tried Hershey’s Special Dark truffle brownie cheesecake.  This, my friends, is every bit as sinful as it sounds…and then some.  It may be one of the richest desserts I’ve ever made or tasted but it’s enough to make any bad day go away.  We made it again for New Year’s Eve this year, and it was a pretty big hit.

This past Thanksgiving, I found yet another sweet’n’salty combo to tickle Ryan’s palate: Cinderella cheesecake.  With a (chocolate) brownie crust, then more chocolate, and lots of peanut butter, this one became an instant winner as well.  

I’m excited for my list to grow to include many more of these recipes.  Right now, I’m craving something lighter to break out of comfort food mode.  Maybe a little fruity like berry or lemon…or something completely off-the-wall like lavender- which I’ve never eaten before, but because everything in my head is purple right now, it looks like it would taste like a fresh spring day.







A Tire-some Adventure

Ryan and I have been together for over ten years now.  We first met the week before I moved away to college, 150 miles away from our hometown.  Then, when he finished college, he moved here to allow me to finish my degree before we decided to stay for good.  Therefore, our relationship has almost always involved travel between here and home.  

In those ten years, trips have always passed with little excitement to speak of (save the one journey about 8 or 9 years ago when Ryan and his brother came to visit one weekend driving their mom’s minivan, and we ran out of gas on the way home; and a speeding ticket or two, to keep life interesting).  

This past weekend, we made our most recent journey into Punxsutawney.  Over Groundhog Day weekend, I know, but we did not go for that reason.  OK, full disclosure: we had two reasons for going home, neither reason being to freeze half to death in order to see a groundhog predict the weather.  Instead, we went for a coal miner’s songs concert featuring my endlessly talented fiddling sister-in-law, organized by a high school acquaintance.  The other reason was for Christmas.  

My mom’s side of the family is notorious for scheduling our holiday gift-exchange for weeks after the holidays.  Last year it was mid-May.  This year, we were at least in the right season.

So we spent Groundhog Day/Super Bowl weekend celebrating Christmas.  We ate our family’s traditional Christmas meal, a German/Pennsylvania Dutch meal called seimaage or hog maw (literally translated it’s hog stomach, which is far more delicious than it sounds, but that’s how we refer to it, rather than by its German name.  It’s the stomach casing of the pig, stuffed with seasoned potatoes, stuffing cubes, and browned sausage, then topped with slices of bacon and baked).  Check here if you’re interested in the history of this meal.  I tried to find a recipe similar to the one our family uses but Google was less than accommodating tonight.  

Anyway, as they always do, the weekend flew by quickly, even despite the fact that we decided to stay and watch the first half of the Super Bowl with Ryan’s parents.  Missing Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chiii Peppers, we got into the car and on the road before the halftime show could begin.  

About a half hour into our journey, the “1 Tire Low Pressure” warning came on in my car.  We pulled into the next gas station to fill the gas tank and check the tires.  The light went off after Ryan filled the left front tire, and we were on our way.  

Not an hour later, the light came on again.  And then, so much like in this post, we soon found ourselves stranded.  On the roadside of a busy interstate highway, on a curve, in the dark.  Fortunately, a friendly worker of the state highways came to our aid, lit some flares, and shone some lights so my dear husband could see what he was doing.  Again, the man’s speed in tire-changing put me to shame.  He had the tire off and changed before I could’ve figured out how to get the jack out from under all those Christmas gifts.

Obviously, some of those gifts had to be shifted to the roadside as he accessed the wench to lower the spare.  And, when the back hatch was open for the same purpose, I’m sure some of our fellow travelers did a double-take, as they looked on to our over-laden vehicle, with the Christmas-themed gift bags stacked in the back.  

Of course, having to tote a now-flat tire home meant that it was easiest on Ryan’s hands to just throw the d… erm, defective thing in the back end of the car.  Which left Clohe without the little 1’x3′ hole we had carved out for her to ride home in.  Which meant she spent the next 75 miles sharing the front seat with me and the giant blue bouncy-ball our little guy got for Christmas.  Cozy.

When I took the flat to get it patched yesterday, I was informed that the side walls were not strong enough to safely repair the tire.  The shop does not stock tires in my size, and recommended that I check elsewhere.  Finally, today, we were able to get the car in, get the tire replaced… except that, for purposes of even wear, we replaced two.  

I blame this all on that groundhog.  




5 Words: Salted Caramel Mocha Brownie Sundae

Oh, dear friends.  I hate tooting my own horn, truly I do.  But this one time, well, I’m going to have to say that 1) I may have created a completely brand new recipe, and 2) it’s DAMN tasty.  

Like I said, not to toot my own horn or anything.

Not long ago, I mentioned our collection of kitchen gadgetry, among which is our new ice cream freezer.  It was a Christmas gift, something Ryan and I both wanted because we both remember making ice cream with our families when we were young, and it seems a good time to recreate the tradition in our own family.  We received a countertop model, which is THE coolest thing ever.  No salt, no ice, and it literally takes 20 minutes to freeze a batch of ice cream.  We’re impatient here.

The machine came with a recipe book, so we tried the basics from that- vanilla and chocolate, obviously.  Then, as usual, I was hungry for something more.  I’m a coffee ice cream addict, and there were no recipes for that in the handbook, so I consulted Chef Google.  I like simple methods (read: I’m lazy), and didn’t want to have to cook anything that had eggs in it, so those recipes were out.  I actually found the basic recipe I wanted from- this doesn’t even make sense, but it’s true- a King Arthur flour recipe.  No, there’s no flour in the ice cream, which is why it doesn’t make sense.  But the stuff comes out so tasty and perfect that it doesn’t matter where it came from.  With a little tweaking, the final recipe is this simple: 

1 cup cold whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 cup brewed and cooled espresso

2 cups cold heavy cream or whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

I whisked the milk, sugar, and cocoa until combined and sugar was dissolved, then stirred in the coffee.  Next went the cream and vanilla, and I let it chill in the refrigerator for two hours (the recipe book recommends this, up to an overnight chill).  Then it went into the ice cream freezer, and was ready in less than 20 minutes.  Had I thought to photograph this project, I would have presented you with a visual.  

Yesterday, Ryan was craving something sweet, and I was restless and looking for a kitchen project.  He requested brownies, and, without a brownie mix, I went to town on this Hershey’s brownie recipe.  

And what’s a nice, warm brownie without some ice cream, right?  So I scooped some of that coffee ice cream over the brownie, and found some homemade chocolate sauce and some homemade salted caramel sauce in the fridge.  Seemed like a logical pairing to me- kind of like Starbucks, only quadruple the calories (and the guilt!)  Again, I wish I had thought to photograph this masterpiece, but alas, I gobbled it down before the thought occurred to me.  


Just take my word for it.  This is worth a try.