Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My husband might be hiring

I get a feeling there will be a vacancy in our house because one of the jobs I believe I excel at is going to be vacant when JohnnyMac fires me and hires someone to take over where I have clearly fallen down on the job. What is that job? CNO. 

Chief Netflix Officer.

I will attest there are a limited number of "great" movies available. I believe we have a great movie drought. That being said, I like a wide variety of movies and have introduced some new titles at our house ranging from blockbuster to foreign to independent. JohnnyMac loves movies too. He did advise one of his favorite genres is the "movies that don't suck." Apparently, a few more than a few of my selections fall into this category.

To save you the pain and misery of what we have endured, and just in time for Memorial Weekend, I am going to share a list of recent movies and my four word reviews. Now, before we get started, some of these movies might in fact be great and perhaps I was not in the right frame of mind to appreciate them.

Down to the Bone (Vera Farmiga): Potential but slow/dodgy

Disgrace (John Malkovich): Couldn't even finish it. (PS: I think JM is one of the most brilliant gifted actors of our time. BUT this movie sucked.)

Coco before Chanel (Audrey Tatou): Long, quasi-interesting, but long.  (PS: I love Chanel and read her biography.)

The Informant! (Matt Damon): Are you kidding me?

Everybody's Fine (DeNiro): Refund of time, please.

Love Happens (Eckhart/Aniston): Mediocre but not great.

All about Steve (Sandra Bullock/Bradley Cooper): Sandras worst movie. Ever.

The Invention of Lying (Jennifer Garner): What was I thinking?

RockandRolla (Gerard Butler): What in the hell?

Role Models (Paul Rudd/Sean Williams Scott): Comical but really silly.

Sunshine Cleaning (Emily Blunt/Amy Adams): Some potential but ugh.

Brothers (Gyllenhaal/Maguire/Portman): Wanted to like it.  

The Bucket List (Freeman/Nicholson) Love them but frown.

Law Abiding Citizen (Jaime Foxx/Gerard Butler) Best of this list.

So you can see, my Hub wants to reject me from my seat. At one point, I believe he suggested that MiniMac pick the next three movies. Cars or ToyStory being a potentially great improvement to my docket. HOWEVER, I have partially redeemed myself with the following films:

The Blindside: Great story. MUST SEE. (OR: Sandra's best work. Ever.)

Precious: Heartbreaking but worth watching.

Funny People: A great Sandler Film.

The Great Buck Howard: Malkovich is awesome. Period.

The Stoning of Soraya M: True story. Chilling. Frightening.

Inglorious Basterds:  Interesting Tarantino film. Overhyped.

American Violet: Sad but beautiful movie.

An Education: Well told girl's struggle.

Food Inc: Meat break for months.

If the position in fact becomes available, any of you movie experts are free to apply. The position has minimal pay but great baked goods and great wine are part of the perks.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

To meat or not to meat, that is the question.

First, did you miss yesterday's post? Check out the amazing art giveaway below. 

I went to a fully stocked brunch hosted by an acquaintance recently. Several of her neighbors attended as well. She loves to cook so it was a full menu representing all the food groups. And of course, you know I brought baked goods galore. Because baked goods should be their own food group. During brunch, I helped her make some turkey sausage and offered it to the many guests seated at their large dining room table. As I turned to one of her neighbors and asked, "Turkey sausage, C?" He recoiled. 

A simple "no, thanks" would not work? You had to leap back like I was donned in a hazmat suit offering you a cup of napalm? In his  recoil, he said, " I am a vegan." But he said it less like casual Oh, by the way and more like WHAT THE F___ ARE YOU THINKING OFFERING ME THAT!?!?!

Now, I am not savvy into all of the levels of vegetarianism but I do know several. As you know, vegetarianism is the practice of following a diet based on plant-based foods. For a little knowledge pool, I also clarified that a vegetarian does not eat meat, game, poultry, fish, crustacea, shellfish, or products of animal slaughter such as animal-derived gelatin and rennet. There are a number of vegetarian diets. A lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products but excludes eggs, an ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs but not dairy products, and a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet includes both eggs and dairy products. A vegan diet excludes all animal products, including dairy products, eggs, and honey.

Now, we know plenty of vegetarians and I myself am not necessarily down with the red meat. And of all the vegetarians I know, I dont know any of them who say it but don't live it. 

Why was his comment even of interest to me? Because as he dry heaved over the turkey sausage, he was delightfully chomping away on an omelet. Not an omelet made of daisy petals  and angel kisses either. An EGG omelet.

Since I didn't know him, I declined an opportunity to be Jordan Snarks and tell him that I am quite confident vegans don't eat eggs but luckily, another neighbor chimed right in with my exact sentiment.

His response: Well, I am a vegan most of the  time.
Her response: Oh, I know that type of vegetarian. The one that eats meat.
My thought: I think that is also called vacillaterianism. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Take A Bite Of: JennyMac's Sea Salt Caramel Brownies

Oh, I am in Sea Salt Caramel Brownie LOVE! I found a great recipe a month ago but the brownies were too dense with a flour aftertaste. We like our brownies moist, gooey, and fudgy. Can there be a problem? Yes, moist and gooey lack the density needed to hold the caramel in the middle. Even if you parbake (partially bake half of the batter.) SO: I perfected the absolutely best fudgy brownie recipe exactly how I wanted them. AND, after trying dozens of caramel recipes (who knew there are more caramel recipes than children in the world) I opted to layer the caramel on top of the brownie and cover with a super thick genache.

I have spent a month perfecting this recipe. You know who loved my commitment to the kitchen like a mad scientist? Every single one of my taste-testers. (With 8 various recipes, there are a lot of volunteer taste-testers.) You know who hated it? My ass. But, I was required to taste as I go was I not? And eating homemade sea salt caramel by the spoonful sometimes? Mmm hmmmm, gimme.

The lengths I would go to for you, my chocolate connoisseurs. I blame my obsession on perfecting this recipe upon all of you. But, every minute was SO worth it.

Don't believe me? This picture might be worth more than a thousand words.

Here we go: A recipe of love. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.

JennyMac's Sea Salt Caramel Brownies

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x9 pan. I recommend lining with parchment paper and spraying again.

Brownie Ingredients and Directions:

Mix: 2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
2 t. vanilla
1 c sugar

In separate bowl mix: 1/3 c. cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder

Blend dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until the sides begin to pull away from the pan.  Let them cool completely. (That means all the way, don't stick your fork in there. They taste much better cooled than hot enough to burn your mouth off.)

NOW: If you want to quit there, GO AHEAD. This brownie recipe is incredibly easy and is SO MUCH BETTER than a box. Why? Because most brownie recipes use butter. Oil is the key to a rich moist brownie (to me.)

BUT: If you have never made caramel let me tell you one word: SIMPLE. 

Sea Salt Caramel Ingredients and Directions:
1/2 cup sugar
3 T. butter
1/4 c cream
1/4 t to 1/2 t of sea salt ( I used Pink Himalayan and sea salt of all kind is not to difficult to find.)
(Have ALL of your ingredients out. Caramel is simple but you need to stay by its side. Do not abandon it to fetch things from the fridge.)

Pour 1/2 c. sugar in a small pan on stove. Cook over medium heat until sugar begins to melt. As it begins melting and turning brown in color begin to whisk and whisk continuously until ALL sugar is melted. You can easily swirl the sugar in the pan as well to keep it moving and melting.

Once it is completely melted, add butter and whisk until butter is completely melted. Take off the heat and after about 20 seconds, slowly add the cream. The mixture will bubble and erupt. Keep whisking until the mixture is completely smooth.  If it begins seizing up, put it back on the hot burner to let the caramel melt a bit and keep whisking. Once it is smooth, pull it off the stove and let it cool. Start with 1/4 t. of sea salt and add more to your own taste.

It will smell delicious and look so warm and yum that you will be tempted to stick your finger in there to sample. DO NOT DO THIS. Hot caramel is similar to lava. Your mouth wants to be treated better than that. Just be patient.

Once the caramel is cooled, spread it over your brownie mixture. I spread it almost to the edges.


Chocolate Genache Ingredients and Directions:

Chocolate genache can be prepared in several ways. The trick is, the thicker you want it, use more chocolate than cream. For this, I used about 1/4 cup cream to 6 oz of finely chopped chocolate. You can certainly modify amounts. The standard ratio is 1 c cream to 12 ounces of chocolate. Experiment. You can ALWAYS add more chocolate.

Place the cream in a small pan and heat to almost the boil. Pour over your chopped chocolate and stir stir stir stir it smooth.  I also add a teaspoon of vanilla at this point.

Spread over caramel layer and put in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set. You can easily cut and serve after they are set. Take a bite. You can send me a love note via email.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Last Friday night, en route to a fundraiser, I travel through the city at the peak of evening traffic. On a four-lane street near downtown I drive about 40 mph as I sing along to the radio. Actual fresh air, rare in Atlanta this time of year, fills my car as I think about the weekend ahead. And then I see something I have never witnessed before. A man on a motorcycle, traveling toward me but at least a quarter of a mile away, hit something in the road. His bike goes down and he and machine slide on pavement at least 100 feet before crashing into a telephone pole.

It is not like watching Die Hard, there is no techno music playing like the carefully crafted crash scenes I have seen through digital enhancement. And it is not in slow motion. All of this compact fumbling of human and motorcycle seems crammed into a very narrow space of about five seconds.

I pull over and I run as fast as I can in high heels and party wear to where this man lies in the street at an awkward angle. The path to reach him littered with blood, skin, and broken bits of motorcycle. I am the first person on the scene. With his helmet off, I can see he is young. Maybe 25 years old. I am shockingly calm as I check to see if he has visible injuries and if he can speak. He is jarred, missing a great deal of skin from his right arm and leg, and can’t tell me whether his helmet came off in the crash or if he took it off.

I then run back to my car to get my phone. Luckily, someone else in a building saw the accident and met me on the street to tell me he called the paramedics. Running back to the accident, I see the cars have slowed down because of the debris from the bike in the road. Because traffic is backing up, drivers in cars who can not see what is the genesis of the delay begin to honk and shout out of their windows. A large truck full of large men seem the most agitated and yell "Get the F out of the way" to the cars in front of them. As I stepped closer to their window, to them I shouted a simple update and request. “There is a body lying in the street! SHUT YOUR MOUTH!”

Sometimes adrenaline speaks for itself.

The young man is in visible pain. I offer to call his family. He was on his way to work so I call his employer. Another person has come to help. He removes the motorcycle from the street. The boy in the accident wants to get up we assist him out of the street as well while we wait for the EMTs. He has a broken shoulder but is fully coherent under his anxiousness. Two of us stay with him until another woman comes to help. But hundreds of cars have passed us in the 30 minute window all of this takes place. Across the street people gather but do not come over.

What is keeping everyone at a distance? Maybe they think the situation is covered? The man is still lying on the sidewalk. Are they unsure how to engage? Why don’t they come over or pull over? My concern is that we, especially the lawyers of this country, have created a society that makes people afraid to help because of potential (and legal?)  repercussions. Say it isn’t so.

There are people that do this everyday. Military personnel, police officers, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, paramedics. But thousands of people’s lives have been saved by everyday strangers willing to get involved. You don’t have to be trained. And if you are not, you don’t perform treatment. But if no one else has come to help, if we can help without compromising our own safety, shouldn't we? And I certainly don't mean provide any kind of treatment if we are not trained. Sometimes someone scared or out of sorts simply needs a soothing voice or someone to hold their hand while they wait for medical help to arrive. 

Leaving that scene, that 30 minute window felt more like half the night had passed. I called my husband as soon as I got back in the car. He doesn't ask what I did. He already knows the answer. And I admit the image of seeing that crash is hard to shake but I hope I am never too afraid to help someone who needs it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Do not touch that with your bare hands

Back in the day, one of my junior high classes was tasked with the well known “informative speech.”  I wanted to do something more interesting than How to grow a Chia pet or How to do the moonwalk.  I loved athletics  so I looked to that genre. Casting aside our daily sports of tennis, football, volleyball I opted for something more exotic: lacrosse. Lacrosse was not as common in the PNW (Pacific Northwest) so I set out to learn as much as I could. Do you know Lacrosse? I think the Iroquois (from which the sport derived) translation means: have fun getting your ass kicked. Between lacrosse, hockey, and rugby, I am not certain  which crew is tougher. Or crazier.

One of our teachers at school, Mr. G,  played in a league. It occurs to me now that after a day with hundreds of  8th graders, many an adult might need to run with a stick and smash people but I digress.

Mr. G was happy that a student had an interest in the sport and offered to loan me all of his equipment for my speech.

I was first to present so after fetching the equipment from Mr. G’s car, I displayed it on a table next to the podium. I proceeded to deliver in a humorous fashion all the little lacrosse tidbits I had prepared. The history, the field, the players, the lingo. Then I proceeded to show the helmet, the stick , the gloves and pads. Inside the helmet, Mr. G had stored the lacrosse ball in its container. I had placed that on the table so  I lifted it up and showed the ball (or cookie as it is called) in its triangular case and explained this was the ball, and the ball holder.

The girls in the glass have no reaction because they don’t know lacrosse well either, and because they, like me, are innocent doves. Most of the boys in the class giggled quietly that I merely said the words “ball holder.” A few boys in the class, laughed out loud but I had no idea why. Later, two of my male friends in class came to give me the business.

Smirky McJerky: That was a riot about the ball holder. AND you held it up.
Me: I was showing the equipment.
 Smirky McJerky: You showed the BALL HOLDER.
Me: Juveniles ( or more likely: I am SO sure. SHUT UP.)
Smirky McJerky: Wait, you really don’t know what that was?
Me: The plastic ball holder? DUH!
Smirkey McJerky: HHHHHAAAAAAAA. Falls down laughing with our other friend. It is for balls all right. But not the lacrosse ball.

Me: Blank stare and fuming face about to go full tilt. I sense something very embarrassing to me is about to occur. 

Smirky McJerky: HHAHAHAHAHAHA. It’s Mr.G’s CUP. For his balls.
Me: I hate you.  And whaaaaaaaaaaaat? 

So he explains to me what a "cup" is and how it is used. 
I followed this with some OHMYG___ and yikes!!! and SICK!!!!! ! and OHMYG___.
Did I really just stand in front of my entire class and our male teacher and show the plastic protective device Mr. G placed on his manly bits? Did I really just display it so proudly and with more flourish than Vanna White? Did I touch it with my bare hands? Was I one degree of separation from Mr. G’s nether region?  

My older brother played sports but I had never seen such a device. I saw a jockstrap once prior to this moment and thought it was an old school sling shot.

I attempted to avoid hyperventilating as I scurred away to wash my hands a dozens times and scrub them with steel wool. And a warning to anyone else interested in giving informative speeches on lacrosse: If you are handling the sweaty equipment worn the night before by a male that you are not married to or raising, the triangular plastic device is NOT what you think it is.  Do not touch that with your bare hands. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

There is a new man in my life

He is dark and handsome. He likes technology but isn't a square. And OH the things he can do.

This was one of my Mother's Day gifts from JohnnyMac.

And I thought the Blackberry was slick and lovely.  Mr. iPad, I heart you. You make me smile and are more than just a little addictive. 

This device is truly incredible. Outside of my iPod, the Macs are not a MAC family. A week before Mother's Day I upgraded my iPod to the iPod Touch and found it heavenly. But now I really need to be schooled on how to handle this big man of a machine.

As I scroll through the endless applications and capabilities, all of you Apple experts are free to tell me your favorite apps.

I am heading into the office, but of course, not until I spend a few more minutes with my new friend. Thanks for the beautiful gift JohnnyMac. I am sure Apple has the "How to remain productive at work while toying with all our gadgets" application and perhaps I should install that first.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shop it like it's hot

I have never been a mall fanatic. Between the kiosks selling fake hair and the ladies who want to spritz me, I am such a definitive shopper that there is very little lingering and lollygagging. Even on days I want to play around in Shoeville, I know quickly what I want. JohnnyMac loves shopping with me for this reason. And internet shopping? Come to Mama. What do I feel when I can clickity clack away and have things deposited on my doorstep? LOVE I tell you. There is a powerhouse of internet shopping I have recently found: CSN Stores of which their shopping family includes over 200 stores and sites. Seriously. I am doing a product review for them in the next week or two and am looking quite forward to it. I am loving scrolling through their stores looking at every imaginable product from bakeware to patio furniture including these speaker stands that would make a great gift for someone in my family.

But do you know when I do love to go to the mall? When I am paid for it. Oh yes. A girl’s dream come true? Call me Spendarella. For several years I was a mystery shopper. The assignments were easy breezy. The company would send me a store location with a checklist of items to either see or hear from the sales associates. Not only was I paid to shop, the company paid for my purchases upon the submission of a detailed final report. Typically the assignments were high end retailers or restaurants. But of course, sometimes the mystery is where you end up. Case in point:

I get an assignment one day for Frederick's of Hollywood. Va va va voom. I hadn’t been to this store since I was a young college student with my first serious boyfriend and believed that furry undergarments would be a big, big hit. Guess what? They are not. Unless you like the image of someone wearing a bikini that looks like it is made of ferrets. But, this assignment was to observe the customer service and look for certain specific phrases and customer offerings. The assignment also requested I have a bra fitting.


Yes, part of the shopping assignment was a fitting. I need a fitting as much as a flat screen TV needs a fitting but ok. It isn’t like I was asked to wrestle in jello. The good news, I had been wearing the wrong bra for years. I think my last fitting was at 16 and I didn’t think there was much gray area in the A cup sector besides “capital A-cup" or “lowercase a-cup" but I was wrong. Lucky me, learning a little something in Frederick's of Hollywood! And after that moment or two of personal time, I did happily report excellent customer service and top marks for all the necessary criteria which was the primary interest of the corporate office. And they no longer carry furry undergarments. That is a good thing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Happy Birthday from the sack of noise

Dear older brother: You had just turned four when I came along. Here you are holding me when I was just weeks old. I love that beaming face of yours when in reality you were thinking “Someone in this house is hard of hearing. I asked for HOT WHEELS not a tiny sack of NOISE." I know I was not the best birthday gift you ever received and given the opportunity, you would have traded me STAT for a subscription to Mad Magazine, a pack of bubblegum cigarettes, and a Hippity Hop. But you were stuck with me.

As a special present on your special day, let me freely confess to several occasions in which I was a pain in your arse. Yes, I know this doesn’t begin to cover it. I am the gift horse. Don’t look me in the mouth. I will also make these confessions with only a few details of why I believed you deserved it at the time. You are welcome.

When you relayed to Mom I broke the glass lamp shade in my bedroom, what was I to do? I was ten. Therefore, I wasn’t crafty in the ways of “remaining silent and plot fantastic revenge” at that age. I resigned to telling Mom you let your friend Trevor shoot a BB gun inside our house. And for good measure, I also told her you were using your nunchucks in the kitchen and broke the kitchen light. Not another minute was spent on the lampshade. Me=Pain in arse.

And remember when you embarrassed me in front of Tom? For whom I had a mad, mad crush? And oh, you laughed so very hard? Well, for that I poured water in your bed and told our Father you had a bed wetting problem. Me=Pain in arse. And an extra “Sorry” because I was quite delighted that our Father appeared to believe me for a minute.

Oh, and remember your drumset? The drumset of which you scientifically measured the precise angle of the cymbals to know whether or not I had broken the law and touched them in your absence? AND I did AND I got in big trouble? That explains why I asked mom if I could borrow a book from your room and I certainly picked the one I knew to be the secret storage chamber for your contraband cigars and cigarettes. What a coincidence. Me = Pain in arse. But oh, a very clever one.

And in high school, I told my friend Tish that you only liked her because she had a big rack. SORRY. That was a double offense to you AND her. And that same summer, Mom found those pictures of me and all my girlfriends having that huge party at our Father’s house when he was gone? She was about to get CrazyPissed when I came home and she asked me “What EXACTLY are these?” Well, I said “PHOTOS” which was the WRONG ANSWER and then I said “Ask Tumbleweed, he was there. He was our adult chaperone.” Me = Pain in arse, BUT one that escaped restriction. Girl has to do what a girl has to do.

I do think it fair to remind you of this though. When I was about four, tottering out to breakfast one morning, I found out we had no milk for my cheerios. At that same moment, our dog Shiloh was host to eight tiny and thirsty puppies. Do you remember what you did? Let me refresh you. You slid open the back door and told me we got our milk from the same place as the puppies. I was obviously quite hesitant. I was sure I had seen our milk come from this place called "The Red Barn" but you seemed oh so certain. You actually nudged me closer to Shiloh before I turned to you in my angelic innocence and quivering voice, asked "Are you s-s-s-s-sure? Maybe I should ask Daddy?” Thank you for whisking me in house immediately. Clearly, you had some of this coming to you. 

Oh, and incidentally, when you were asked to "watch your sister" that did not mean punch me in the arm repeatedly with gusto for entering your room without knocking.  

But after you grew up, left home, added new experiences to your life vault, I think we grew to appreciate each other better. And our friendship grew during that time frame, and we actually got to know each other as people. I think we have such a great friendship. And I thank you for all the times we have laughed, shared common annoyances, shared great music and books, kicked everyone’s ass at Taboo (NO ONE can beat us) and shared great trips (just kidding…remember that HORRIBLE trip you went on with me that I told you would be “fun” and was almost but not quite as fun as chewing glass or a Backstreet Boys concert? SORRY!)

Today I celebrate you. You have become such a great man. You are kind, thoughtful, talented, and loved. Thank you for all your support, and truly being a champion of everything I do. And for giving that same love and encouragement to MiniMac. (Ummm, the fact you are buying him a drumset only demonstrates to me that you might be trying to pay me back for some of the above.) I know that you would do anything for me, and you have already done so much. I am glad our different routes in life have remained connected. This certainly negates the time you seriously encouraged me to somehow suckle enough milk from our dog to eat my morning cereal.

I hope this year holds amazing things ahead for you. Happy Birthday Brother. The world wouldn’t be the same without you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Three sheets to the wind

Years ago, while working with several very conservative lawyers and one very conservative client, we used to have weekly meetings. The client's wife would often join. This  beautiful woman with her fun and outspoken personality, did not adhere to the preferences of most of the men in the room. One irritant (besides her fun and outspoken personality) was her tendency to be late. The meeting was the same time, the same day, of every week. Yet, she could never be on time. And because our client came from his office, and she came from their home, they never traveled to this meeting together. In addition to the nonstop tardiness, she always proffered excuses galore, typically traffic-related.

One day, she came in. Late. Offering the excuse of not only traffic but a road block. As as she launched into a comical tale (comical only to me) about the road related shenanigans, she also said, “AND in addition to all of that, I am three sheets to the wind!”

It instantly became library silent in the room.

The meeting progressed but for some reason, she interjected on three other occasions that she was three sheets to the wind. The uncomfortable glances in the room were thick. My General Counsel frowning from eyebrow to neck.

After the meeting, we both happened to step into the ladies room. I asked her if she was ok, and she smiled and laughed her reply that of course, another day, another meeting. Because she is sassy, and so am I, I told her that X,Y, and Z had likely never heard someone say they were “three sheets to the wind” in a meeting before. She laughed and said, "Well, you know what I mean, a bit scattered." My eyes must have widened (because I do NOT have a poker face) because she then asked “Isn’t that what three sheets to the wind means?”

Me: It might but that’s not how I have typically heard it used.
Her: Well, what does it mean, then?

Few second pause.
Me: Drunk
Her words exactly: Well, sh*t.

And then she laughed. Which made me laugh. And then she said, “Oh well, at least they can’t accuse me of lacking a personality.”

Well behaved women rarely make history as it is said. She is fabulous proof in point.

So later, I had to determine the origin of this phrase. I found this:

Taken from sailing a square-rigged sailboat; square sails had four sheets (the ropes attached to the corners of the sail) to control them. If one or even two sheets went "to the wind" (meaning flapping in the breeze and hard to retrieve) the boat was still quasi-controllable. However, if a third sheet was lost to the wind, you had no way to fill your sail and were essentially uncontrollable.

So in a way, maybe she was right. And it is a meeting I have never forgot. And was likely proof that every other meeting I had that year certainly lacked personality. Although, I am not certain my General Counsel would agree. But that is likely because my General Counsel had probably never been three sheets to the wind.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mmmmmmayo

A post in two parts:

The Sour:

Did I really hear three separate intelligent adults ask over the course of last week "what day is Cinco de Mayo?"  Maybe you don't know Spanish. But trust me, you don't need a translator. You only need to have either: 
1. attended college. You will know Cinco de Mayo and its correlated festivities like you know your name after your freshman year.
2. Live anywhere near a bar because it seems it is the duty of every bar to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Even at Heinrich's Hofbrau Fetszelt.
3. Drive by any bar any time during the week prior to Cinco de Mayo. They even make it easy on those passing by because they have giant signs indicating: Cinco de Mayo Fiesta! HERE on MAY 5!

The first and second time I heard someone ask, I thought they just forgot that Cinco de Mayo is May 5. The third time, I thought oh heaven help us BUT for the benefit of the doubt I considered perhaps this person meant the actual day of the week. 
Me: Do you mean what day of the week?
Him: No, the actual date
Me: ummmm, I think it's on the 10th.
Him: I don't think so. I think cinco means five. 
Me: Tell me all about it Juan Ponce de Leon. 

For everyone celebrating with a cool tangy margarita treat-a, some chips and salsa, a refreshing Pacifio, or just simply wearing a sombrero to celebrate the long ago day in history the Mexican Army beat the French at the Battle of Puebla (It is not Mexico's Independence Day by the way) please enjoy. 

The Sweet:

When you make this cake, or lure someone with all kinds of frisky favors to make it for you, and then you want to immediately sit down and compose a sonnet to forever capture your feelings of love and chocolate passion, don't pen that ode to me. This is my Aunt Shelley's recipe. I don't typically post recipes middle of the blog week but this is one of my all-time favorite tributes of goodness. And JohnnyMac, who doesn't really dig sweets, once saw me packing this up after a party for one of our friends and he immediately lured me (with all kinds of frisky favors) to give away very little and save the rest for him. It. is. THAT. GOOD.

Happy Cinco de Mayo friends!

Mexican Chocolate Cake:

1 stick butter (no one said light or fat-free did they?)
1/2 cup oil ( I use canola)
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup water
2 cups unsifted all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk (*you can make your own, see below)
2 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Put butter and chocolate in saucepan over medium low heat until completely melted. Cool by adding oil and water. Put all other ingredients in mixing bowl and slowly incorporate the melted chocolate mixture until well blended. Pour into a greased 11 x 15 pan (you can use a lipped cookie sheet) and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. While cake is still warm top with:

Mexican Chocolate Cake Icing:

1 stick butter (don't worry about it!)
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
6 Tbl milk
1 lb powdered sugar.
1 tsp vanilla

Put butter and chocolate in saucepan until completely melted. Remove from heat and add milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Use handmixer until completely smooth.

Note: the batter and icing are not stiff.
Note 2: when my Aunt makes this cake, she uses all buttermilk and no water
Note 3: I have added cinnamon to the icing as well. And I have added a dash of cayenne pepper to the batter before too. Mmmmm...spicy and fantastic.

* if you don't have buttermilk, add 1/2 T of lemon juice or vinegar to 1/2 c. of milk. Let stand for a few minutes and then proceed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Which comes first (and not the chicken OR the egg)

I had a great opportunity to co-write a blog post with the amazing Theta Mom. If you don't know Theta Mom, please get to know her. She is an awesome Mom, great writer, and all around fabulous woman. It was our first co-writing experience and we hope you like it. 

Recently, we read an article about women and motherhood. One interesting comment included in the reader feedback was that once we become mothers, our children come first before everything else. 

As mothers, we had some interesting dialogue about this exact sentiment. Within our social circles are women who are mothers and women who are not. Amongst our “mom” circles, our friends and colleagues are not simply “stay at home moms” or “working moms.” We know we are all working moms.  We are either moms who work inside the home or moms who work inside and outside the home. 

If you have not stayed home all day with children planning meals, learning, playtime, exercise (for hopes of naptime) and teaching words, songs, states and manners, we can assure you it does not fit into a one hour shell and the rest of the time your kiddos do not take care of themselves while you blog on your computer in between Days of our Lives and your 30 Day Shred. And if you spend most of your daylight hours working outside the home, you come home and in the small space of time before bedtime, you need to incorporate as many of the above items in between checking your Blackberry and deciding who is making dinner. We know. We have both been moms who work at home and moms who work both inside and outside the home. 

And with all of the goals we create for ourselves as moms, where do our personal priorities fall once we add “Parent” to our resume? Should our children always come before ourselves? Do we stop dreaming just because we have children? Or do we dream but not act on those dreams? 

We admire women that chase after a dream such as starting their own business or establishing themselves as entrepreneurs all in the midst of raising a family. Would it be fair to judge these women who clearly have paved a path for themselves? Are women who climb the corporate ladder and really establish themselves in their career doing that in exchange of or in addition to being a ‘good’ mom?As long as these women are clearly present in their children’s lives and raise happy, healthy kids - why should it matter? 

Theta Mom shares this: A dear friend of mine is the principal of an elementary school. Her dream was to become an administrator and now she is living that dream while raising three kids. My sister-in law is another perfect example of a woman who established herself in her position while balancing the demands of raising a family. She has climbed the corporate ladder and worked extremely hard to get where she is. She’s earned it, she deserves it and if you ask her children they wouldn’t want it any other way. 

JennyMac shares this: While in college, my Mom opened her own business which grew into an incredibly successful company. Watching her in action provided several great lessons that are still part of my business acumen today.  And she still made the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten. To me, it was proof that I could execute both roles, and do them well if that was what I chose. 

And every day, many high profile female lawyers, doctors, all well educated and trained women leave it all behind to raise their children. This is a conscious decision made by these women and the reasons for staying home clearly outweigh the reasons for pursuing their careers for them. It takes a lot of guts to leave a high paying job with fabulous opportunities behind as well as all of the hard work, time, money and education that went into achieving these positions. And we know women who are simply putting a hold on some of their pursuits while they stay home right now. Several friends have gone back to work and continued their career choices once their kids started school. It is all about making it work for you and your family. But how do you decide? 

Theta Mom shares this: I don’t care whether you work outside the home, are a WAHM or a SAHM, I don’t think anyone has it any easier. There are positives and negatives to each of these roles. I worked full-time beginning when my son was 11 months-old with a 3 hour commute and it was brutal getting out in the morning with my infant boy, commuting, working a full day and then trying to find a way to spend some quality family time as well as get everything done. For me, I was unable to keep up with this lifestyle. I’m truly blessed to have found a way to use my graduate degree and work from home, still pursuing my passion while raising my children. But that doesn’t mean women who choose to work outside the home should be looked upon as any less of a mom or as a mom that it too into herself or her career – some women HAVE to work in order to put food on the table and I am certainly one of them. 

JennyMac shares this: I took a year off when we had MiniMac.  I left a high profile attorney position with a Fortune 15 company. I dedicated that year off of the corporate treadmill to learning to be a Mom. And I loved it. But after one year, I wanted to reengage in the corporate sector. And I am glad I returned. For me, working is a great way to continue to hone my skills and pursue my interests. And my free time outside of work is focused on self growth, my family, and my dreams. And I do have dreams. What kind of example would I be if I didn’t? And they are not just gauzy dreams as I watch clouds float by. My dreams are things I am pursuing every day. But, I still put my son and his needs in the spotlight too. And he will say I make the best chocolate chip cookies he has ever tasted as well.

But we both know this: Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. Period.  And we are just two examples that your road to success and happiness and being a great role model for your children are not separate forks. We think we should continue to dream big and do what works for us as individuals AND mothers – isn’t this the message we want to send to our children, especially our daughters? This is comprised of what we learned as children and what we continue to learn as women and parents.

But we know it is a full time balancing act. We want to raise smart, well defined, kind, ambitious young people and we are the first examples of this our children will see.  How do all of us find the balance between self and parent?  And how do we answer the question: Are we women or mothers first?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Under the weather

I am under the weather....and no, it is not vodka (or vino) flu either. See you tomorrow. Have a great Monday!