Archive | December, 2009

Weekend Fun & Recipe

14 Dec

FringeMom

Please Note:   This picture was taken about half an hour after my mother arrived Friday night and NOT after spending an entire weekend on the fringe.   Enough said.

Please remember to tell ‘grandma’ that you enjoy seeing her featured, because she she fought me for this picture.  I just couldn’t imagine NOT using it.  It’s not often I get a perfect photo.

I really wanted to post this weekend, but I got sidetracked.  Friday was the start of Hanukkah and FringeKid sang us a lovely Hanukkah song.  Although we are not Jewish, my children wish we were.  They love the music and playing with a dreidel ranks high on their list of favorite things to do, not to mention the allure of getting a present everyday.

So, for my Jewish friends…

HAPPY HANUKKAH

We had a fun few days that began with a town wide Christmas celebration.  Santa arrived bright and early on a frigid Saturday morning that required long-johns and hats for all.  Something happens when the temperature drops below twenty degrees that makes you look lovely in hat hair.  In fact, I don’t think my mother shed her long-johns the entire weekend.  When she began shivering in church on Sunday, I leaned over and suggested that she should have worn her long-johns.  With a sideways look, she slightly lifted her pants leg and I knew she was teetering on the edge of antiquity.  How will I ever keep her warm when she reaches sixty, seventy, or eighty?

I am still waiting for a phone call to find out who has been crowned cookie queen; however, I no longer expect to be wearing my crown around town.  There were cookies so fabulous I suspect they were baked in the North Pole and delivered by Rudolph himself.  FringeMan says when most of the town looks like Aunt Bee, you can expect them to bake a good cookie.

contest cookies

I chose my cookie recipe based on flavors that I equate with the holidays and the cost of ingredients; however, if you are ever in need a prize-winning cookie recipe, just ask.  You guys sent me recipes that knocked my socks off, made my mouth water, and my hips swell.  Thank you Gabriela for single-handedly ensuring I run a hundred miles this year!  I am already planning on using one of your recipes for next years competition.

Here’s the recipe for these cherry & almond cookies.  I added green food dye to the icing just to kick my festive mood of jolly up a notch.
Cookies:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried tart cherries (see Cook’s Note)
1/2 cup slivered, blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped (see Cook’s Note)

Icing:
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons water, plus extra, as needed

For the Cookies:

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in the egg. Add the flour and beat on the lowest speed until just blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dried cherries and almonds.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a log, about 12-inches long and 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Dough can be made up to 3 days in advance).

Arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the log crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Transfer the dough slices to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1-inch apart. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges and puffed, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before icing, about 30 minutes.

For the Icing:

Put the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the vanilla extract and water, adding more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture becomes a drizzling consistency. (Makes about 2/3 cups icing, enough to ice both variations.)

Put the cooled cookies on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Using a spoon or a fork, drizzle the cookies with the icing, allowing any excess icing to drip onto the baking sheet. Allow the icing to set before serving, about 1 hour.

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend.  Did you do anything exciting?

Missing Birthdays

10 Dec

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m not good with dates.  I’m also not good with spelling, or math, or keeping track of all the one million papers that come home from school, or getting my Christmas shopping done before Christmas Eve, or…

You get the point.

There are plenty of things that I’m not good at, but I prefer to ignore those things and live in the bliss ignorance supplies; however, every so often, my shortcomings work against me.  I’ve come close to forgetting my own anniversary and once, I did have to check with FringeMan to confirm the year we were married, but I’ve never forgotten my own birthday.

How could I?

It would be an injustice to my mother and the ten months of labor she insists she endured.

In order to balance out my deficiencies, I married FringeMan.  He remembers all dates, is good at math, and can spell better than a fifth grader.  Unfortunately, our marriage only works if he reminds me of important dates and last month, he didn’t.  I missed my cousin’s birthday.  Imagine my surprise when I realized my memory lapse.  At the same moment, I learned that FringeMan had sent her a birthday message via facebook.

WHAT?

He didn’t remind me!  A husband’s failure of this magnitude is difficult to forgive.  He claims that he was sure I remembered, but do I remember anything?

No.

Providing that she’s now old enough to be experiencing a loss of eyesight, I will now attempt to redeem myself in her eyes.

Although this photo is from back in the ice-ages, prior to digital cameras, it shows off our bad hair and my mother’s ‘lovely’ (cough, cough) peach walls.

Jenn & FringeGirl

Oddly enough, I look back on that minty-green, oversized shirt and those sneakers with fondness.  I must have been around fourteen, I guess, but Jenn is much older and wiser.  Her hair was infinitely better than mine and I solely blame my father for my bad hair.  By some evil act of misfortune, my hairdresser was Portuguese and my father would take me for my haircuts.  He always told her in Portuguese to make sure she cut a lot so he’d get his money’s worth.  It was THE ugliest cut in all of recent history…

the Mul… sorry, I just can’t bring myself to say it.

Years later, while in college, we decided to update our photo, but switched sides just to confuse everyone.

FringeGirl & Jenn

Collectively we used 48 cans of hairspray to do our hair.

I think it’s high time for a new ‘couch’ picture.  We are now older, wiser, and much sexier. ;-)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEN!

P.S.  Many of you were concerned over my smoke alarm incident yesterday and I thank you for your comments and emails.  I’m happy to say that all is ok on the fringe.  We had a little problem with our chimney and 60 mile an hour winds, but we fixed the chimney and our wood stove is once again burning warm.  My entire house did fill with smoke and we were moments away from having the fire department invade our home with hoses drawn, but we managed to escape without causing too much of an early morning scene in our neighborhood.  After all, we do try and live low-key, anonymous lives. ;-)

That’s two smiley faces and a P.S. in one post.  Let me go before I start doodling Christmas trees and stars.

Why?

9 Dec

Some things in life leave me completely baffled.  Today is one of those days where I’m just not sure WHY…

- I woke up to a house full of smoke and the fire alarms going off.

- The wind blew my back door open sometime in the middle of the night, thus filling my laundry room with snow.

- The dog’s crate is littered with an old bag of once shredded cheese, various pieces of plastic, and part of FringeBoy’s snow boot.

- My daughter is cock-a-doodle-doing.

- It is necessary to have caution tape wrapped around the side of my house.

- The drain on my kitchen sink mysteriously came apart leaking water all over the floor.

- I am not living in the South, because southern laundry rooms rarely fill with snow.

- Santa Claus is way behind in his game.  He’d better whip his elves into shape if he expects to deliver toys to the FringeKid’s this year.

- FringePup insists on drinking out of the toilet when she has a full water bowl.

It’s not yet ten o’clock in the morning and I fear what awaits me today.  I knew something was askew this week when Monday passed without incident.  Apparently the Monday mongrels are getting me on Wednesday.

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Rice-Cake Induced Depression

8 Dec

This is the post where you read the first paragraph and last and then leave me a nice little comment, pretending you read every word.  As sad as it may be, I’m ok with that.

You could probably tell that I was a bit depressed last week.  Now when I say depressed, I mean that I spent the week feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in self-induced patheticness.  I don’t mean that I was suffering from depression, despite what the Cymbalta commercial told me.

I didn’t forget to shower for a week or change out of my pajamas. Well, I change by at least noon, but if you drop by earlier in the day, there’s a pretty good chance you will find me in gray, paint-stained yoga pants and a moose sweatshirt, minus its’ front pouchy pocket.  It’s just as well the pocket tore off, because I think it was adding unnecessary bulkiness to my mid-section.  I’m not sure belly bulk matters when you’re wearing a moose on your chest, but still.  In my estimation, wearing yoga pants until noon is NOT a fashion faux pas, since I am always on the verge of spontaneous exercise.

Speaking of exercise, I am the only person who just gained weight on this diet challenge that I am on.  I swear on my mother’s once sacred lamp that I do not know how it happened.  I’ve been watching every bite that goes through my lips…watching them land right on my hips.  I give up!  I’m checking into the cost involved with liposuction.  Perhaps I can become part of a clinical fat depletion trial and get a discount.  Is it possible to donate fat to the needy?

Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Ritchie

I’m confident that I could bring both these young women up to an average weight and still fit into my jeans.

Getting back to my problems…

I’m avidly avoiding the exercise queen, because I don’t want to fess up to the fact that I fell off the wagon; however, I know it’s only a matter of time before she catches me.  Unfortunately if she looks for me here, I’ll never be able to talk my way out of these three pounds.

It’s ironic that amidst my gloom, I found solace in the kitchen.  I’ve been on a fabulous cooking cycle that has resulted in my freezer filling with containers of various cookies, three pound pancakes guaranteed to keep you full for at least four hours, and a few Mexican flavored meals.

FringePup loves Mexican.  Drizzle a little enchilada sauce on a napkin and you’d think I was Julia Child.  If only everyone were as easy to please as my pooch, I’d be a star.

I am pleased to tell you that I’ve made it out of the pit of despair, so there’ s no need to send St. John’s Wart in bulk.  Besides, there’s no time for sadness this week.  I have a cookie contest to win, there’s a town-wide Christmas party Saturday, and my mother is coming for the weekend.

She’s abandoning me for Christmas, so this weekend is her attempt to make up for the fact that her only daughter will spend Christmas without any extended family.  How dare she go to Florida to visit my brother and his family?  Doesn’t she know they won’t make her do laundry, cook, and help wrap all their presents??  She won’t have any fun.

Well, it seems that I best go do some crunches, or squats, or curls or anything that sounds like it will inflict pain.

Eating my way through life, one rice cake at a time…

You’re The Best & A New Rule

6 Dec

There’s not enough butter in Wal-Mart to make all the recipes you’ve sent me.  I knew you were good, cut I didn’t realize you were better than both Keebler and Toll-House.  I will make you proud.  I promise.

My cookies are due on Friday afternoon and I plan on practicing several recipes before deciding on the one I will submit.  Pressure is mounting in my kitchen, while butter is mounting on my hips.  This one cookie challenge will cause FringeMan and I to become lifetime members of Weight-Watchers.  After all, somebody’s gotta taste these cookies!

THANK YOU

It’s been snowing here since yesterday and my children couldn’t be happier.  The FringeKids were both born in Maine and are thrilled when their fingers, toes, and nose are slightly frostbitten.  They were outside from the first flake until way after dark last night.

Unfortunately my front windows bear the scars of rogue snowballs.

Today was no better.  From the moment we returned from church, they were outside rolling giant snow balls that resemble Frosty’s family.  A few minutes ago, FringeKid came in proudly displaying a giant mound of snow carved in the shape of a manger.  She insists baby Jesus is in it.  On my porch sits an entire Manger scene made of snow.  You never know, she could become a famous ice-sculpturist one day.

Anyway, my new rule for winter 2009/10:

NO EATING ANY SNOW THAT IS BELOW THE HEIGHT OF A DOG’S BUTT

Take a moment to digest that statement.

They are words to live by.

For the love of all things Holly & Jolly…

4 Dec

S.O.S.

I need your help in a hurry!  My reputation as the chef of impending doom depends upon you.  My town is hosting a cookie baking contest and I must enter.  How can I not?

It would not only be un-supportive if I didn’t bake a batch of cookies, but it would almost be un-patriotic; however, cookies are not my specialty.  Shopping in bakeries is my specialty.  I’ve been known to serve blackened cookies, heavy on the baking soda and light on flavor.

All my cookies aren’t bad.  Some of them are descent, good enough for my kids, a church picnic, or a midnight snack, but we are talking about becoming the cookie queen of Nowhere, New York.  I want to be crowned queen!

You are some of the best cooks and bakers out there.  I’ve seen your pictures.  I trust you.

PU-LEEEE-SE send me your favorite cookie recipe at your earliest possible convenience.

But, I need it by Monday. :-)

…please.

This recipe you send me can’t be all that complicated.  I don’t roll dough well and I have problems converting measurement.  I’m a shoo-in!    It’s no secret that math is not one of my better subjects.  I realized that I would never be Albert Einstein when my high school math teacher told me to take the easiest math elective offered in college.  There’s nothing like a vote of confidence laced with truth.

I waited to take that math elective until the summer between my junior and senior years in college.  I came home and took college Algebra at my local community college and I squeaked by with an A+.

HA!

Thank you for your applause.  I feel better getting that out of my system.

Just don’t ever ask me to help your kids with their homework.  My daughter still uses both her fingers and toes and sometimes mine, a perfectly acceptable alternative to the calculator.

Now back to baking…

I have the feeling these women in my town have at least 150 years more cookie baking experience than I, so I won’t hide the fact that I’m a little nervous.  My chances of winning are almost as good as my chances of Santa bringing me a new kitchen floor.

You will receive full credit if  I win, but all the stars will need to align in order for that to happen.

I’ll wear my lucky socks and pray for mercy, grace, and pity.

Thank you.

Oh, one more thing.

For the love of all things Holly & Jolly, why did Shakira wear that ugly black outfit in Rockefeller Center Wednesday night when she sang Santa Baby?

Her jacket looked like a throwback to the 80′s.  She even had the sprayed hair shellacked to one side.  What she needed was floor length sequenced gown and a hairdo like this…

But nobody consults FringeGirl before airing the lighting of tree in Rockefeller Center.

Imagine that!

Frosty’s Budget Cuts

3 Dec

This holiday season I feel like I’m a cross between Scrooge, the Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman.  I love Christmas.  I love giving gifts.  If I had the means, I’d spend the entire month finding the perfect gift for everyone I know; however, my pot of gold is nearly empty and it’s only December third.  That is why I’ve made an executive holiday decision.

I am not sending out Christmas cards this year.

I’ve been married for twelve years and I’ve probably sent out Christmas cards for at least nine of those years.  I doubt I sent any cards the year I sat perched on the edge of my couch waiting for my daughter to be birthed, and I’ve thrown a few bonus years into my calculation due to possible social failure.

I love receiving photo-cards, because I enjoy seeing how distant friends and family have grown throughout the year.  My only problem with sending cards this year is budget.  I spend at least $60 on cards and stamps, mostly on stamps.  Sixty extra dollars in my pot would be nice this month.  It’s not that my friends and family aren’t worth sixty dollars, because they are so much more important than a handful of gold.  There’s just this little thing called a bank account.  The fine men and women who run banks don’t like you to spend more money than you have in your account.  They can be such grumps.

This year, I’m trying to be creative.  I thought that maybe I could record a ‘live’ message from our family, upload it to YouTube, email it around and post it here.  Problem solved, right?

Not quite.  I mentioned this on facebook the other day and it seemed to hit a nerve.  So I ask you, am I stirring social conflict by not sticking a card in the mail?

Are you sending out your own cards?

Don’t forget to take my quick reader survey.  It will only be up for this month.  Click HERE.

Fears of Aging

2 Dec

Do you know what I worry about as I climb the steps of life?

I fear that one day I’ll be old and I won’t be able to see what everyone else sees  –

that my eyebrows are covering my entire face.

Do you have any reservations about aging?

Don’t forget to take my reader survey! HERE It’s painless.  I promise!

My Thanksgiving Weekend

1 Dec

It’s snowing right now.  That has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but I had to tell you.  You want to know these things, don’t you?

For me a holiday isn’t celebrated unless you have a house full of family and friends, there is at least one cooking ‘incident’, and you need a separate kid’s table.  I like my holidays to be filled with too much noise, too much mess, and too much egg-nog.  Not really.

I don’t like egg-nog.  *Gasp*

Needless to say, Thanksgiving was not properly celebrated in my house.  The contributing factors are endless, but no countertops, a temporary aversion to poultry, and plans to travel the day after all played a key role.  I didn’t want to cook a big meal since we were going out-of-town on Friday.  After all, nobody would be home to eat the leftovers, so we went out – an act that is as un-American as not eating pumpkin pie.

I didn’t even eat turkey, not one bite.  I really wanted to go to a BB-Q place in Albany; however, they weren’t going to be open.  No place I called was going to be open, except for the grand buffet that I like only slightly more than McDonald’s.  Although fighting my way in line for some mashed potatoes wasn’t exactly heartwarming, my children appreciated being able to get turkey and gummy-bears on the same plate.

Let this go down in the record books.  I will NEVER go out to eat on a holiday again!  Unless, because there’s always an exception clause, my kitchen has collapsed.  Things like that are always a possibility in my house.

Thanksgiving wasn’t a total bust, Albany is a great place to play on a holiday.  It’s pretty much empty and the steps of the capitol building are a child’s dream, especially if they have bouncy balls tucked into their pockets.

The rest of our weekend went by in a blur.  Despite not being a morning person, I was at Target at the crack of dawn to join the Black Friday riots.  It wasn’t so bad, but I did hear rumors of screaming in Target at exactly 5:01 over a pallet of electronics.  By the time I walked through the doors there wasn’t a cart or basket to be had and the line was at least three miles long.

This is when I became overwhelming thankful for every last labor pain my son caused me.  I stood him in line and told him to follow the woman in front of him at all costs, I’d be right back.  So while my son saved a spot in line, I scurried around grabbing my bargains.  Every few minutes I’d stop back to check on him and fill his arms.  It was a morning that will ensure teenage rebellion, but I risked all for several pairs of $6 boys jeans.

During an excursion to get T-shirts, I reverted to my super-sleuth days as I shimmied up to a red-shirted sales associate and eavesdropped on her conversation.  I distinctly heard something about ushering people through the toothpaste aisle, so I ran back to my spot 4 hours from checkout, grabbed my son, and started running towards the toothpaste.  FringeBoy thought I had finally cracked and he was not happy about losing his place in line, but we found solace just past the toothpaste in the mouthwash section.  A new, baby line was birthed and we were only about 15 minutes from paying.  I felt like I had finally found my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and I sang “It is well with my soul”.

Friday night we left for our mini trip, so that on Sunday FringeMan could preach in the church where we were married.  My cousin and her boyfriend joined us for breakfast on Saturday where we witnessed a man lose his breaks and run over a stone wall about two feet from my feet.  It was an unfortunate event, but hysterical just the same.

We had a feast that night with my mother and uncle and I slammed my fingers into a door on Sunday morning.  Only problem was that I locked door before pulling it shut and didn’t have the key to unlock it and remove my fingers.

Horrible thoughts flashed through my mind as I contemplated the ramifications of losing two fingers – no more easy typing.

There was nothing to do except yank my hand out of the door and whine over the pain.  I hang onto the hope that I will one day outgrow my clumsiness; however, judging from the way I slammed my ankle into the car door two weeks ago, I’d say it’s a pipe dream.

Care to share any highlights from your weekend?

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