Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Coulda Shoulda

As we head towards August, which is back to school time here in the Midwest {{sob}} and I prepare myself for the day when they leave again, I find myself thinking about college. I completely understand, even respect, the desire for a college degree. I'd better, I'm currently paying for two. What I find often doesn't work, though, is having to pick a major when you don't yet know what direction will ultimately best suit you.

There are kids, like PurDude, who know exactly what they want to do. I envy them. But there are so many of us who just didn't know at the age of 20, whose direction was not easily chosen. 

When I was in college I picked my major more based on who I thought I wanted to be than out of a true understanding of my nature. Looking back, the maturity level just wasn't there yet. I hadn't had enough life experiences to say, without a doubt, this one thing is what I want to dedicate a large portion of my life to doing.

But I chose. I graduated. I worked. I burned out. Maybe it wasn't the field itself, but the specific job. That's certainly possible. 

I had a second career. It had nothing to do with my college major and I only got into it because my sister was doing it, they were taking entry-level applicants and I needed a change. Complete chance.

The truth is, looking back, I'm much more capable now to see the types of careers that I would be so much better suited to. I have a life's worth of insight into my own strengths. And weaknesses.

Coulda, Shoulda: looking back, would you have chosen a different career? | www.BakingInATornado.com | #funny #laugh #MyGraphics


Coulda shoulda woulda. What direction would I go in now if I were to choose a career? I bet not what you'd think.

A Chef? No. I sometimes like to cook, like when it was just Hubs and I with no kids refusing to even taste the dish I spent hours on. My style and ingredient choices tend to be pedestrian, limited by both my abilities and what my family likes.

A Baker? Not this one either. I just don't have the talent nor the patience for beautiful creations. I'm very lucky, growing boys will devour any sweet somewhere between the oven and the counter. No need to worry about what they look like. Phew.


Now, with so many more life experiences than I'd had in college, with clearer insight into what suits me, I'm much better equipped to make career choices.

Ten careers I shoulda chosen:

1. A Cruise Director: Through this whole roller coaster ride of family life, turns out I'm the one whose kept everyone on board.

2. A Politician: I can make promises. I can even make them intending to keep them.

3. An Anesthesiologist: Although I recommend my numbing agents be administered po (by mouth), I'm sure an IV can be arranged. I have a variety of options available starting with my newest, the Lemon Rasp-tini. And, added bonus, who doesn't want to return from surgery saying "and a fun time was had by all . . ."


Lemon Rasp-tini, a refreshing summer cocktail. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cocktail
Lemon Rasp-tini
Lemon Rasp-tini, a refreshing summer cocktail. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cocktail



4. A Nancy Grace: This has to be the jackpot of all jobs. I mean, you have your own show, you say what you think, you have guests who give their opinion. And if they don't agree with you? You tell them to shut up and you have your people kill their camera. And I SO want to have "people". You know, the kind that actually do what you say.

5. A Personal Shopper: If I can spend our money in a nanosecond . . . and I can . . . imagine what I could do with someone else's money.

6. A Rastafarian: This may be a religion not a job, but I could totally rock the dreads while chillin' mon!

7. A Rock Star: I mean, you know, other than in my own mind.

8. A Mediator: I've ended up with so much life experience in this field. I'm not really sure I was prepared for the negotiating skills I'd need having 2 boys a year apart, but obviously I'm good at it. They are, after all, still alive. Score!

9. A coffee taste tester. No wait, wine. No, tequilla. Final answer . . . tequilla. Patron specifically, if anyone could arrange that for me. This could actually be a side career, it'll work well with my day job as an Anesthesiologist. We'll just call it Quality Control.

10. An Editor: In all seriousness, this is the field in which I really think I could have made an impact. I actually do this for friends who are want help with blog posts or are submitting articles for publication.

I am so detail oriented, I hate misspelled words and I actually know how to use an apostrophe. I love to read and I can look at a story and adjust how it's structured while maintaining the voice of the author.

And it sure would be fun to spend the day pointing out what others are doing wrong. Instead of the other way around {{I'm looking at you, boys}}. 


Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Lemon Rasp-tini
                                                                        ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe

 
Ingredients (makes 2):
4 tsp sugar
3 oz lemon juice
1 oz whipped vodka
1 oz orange liqueur
2 oz raspberry liqueur
4 oz limoncello
6 raspberries

lemon wedge and colored sugar


Directions:
*Place sugar and lemon juice in a martini shaker. Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.
*Add the vodka, orange liqueur, raspberry liqueur and limoncello. Cover and shake well. 
*Place the 6 fresh raspberries into the shaker, cover again and refrigerate until cold.
*Place the colored sugar onto a plate. Run the lemon wedge along the rim of your martini glasses. Turn the glass upside down into the sugar to rim the edge of the glass.
*Place three of the raspberries from the shaker into the bottom of each glass. Cover and shake the martinis again, then carefully, avoiding the rim, pour into the glasses.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fly On The Wall: The Coffee Connundrum

Welcome to a monthly Fly on the Wall group post. Today 9 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house. At the end of my post you’ll find links to this month’s other participants’ posts.

Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics



Hubs was out of town and I noticed that he'd left the sweat shirt he wears in the evening after work in the closet. I decided this would be a good time to wash it.

I grabbed it out of the closet and while I was upstairs I decided to take his bath towel and hand towel too.

I brought it all downstairs and caught myself just as I was throwing it all into the trash . . .  

Thus the new rule in our house: no laundry decisions before coffee.



 Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics


I seriously hate the whole coffee conundrum. I need coffee running through my veins in order to function, but before I'm able to function, I don't have enough coffee in my veins to even get coffee into my veins.

Like this week. I poured my coffee, but somewhere between the kitchen and the couch, I lost it. I sat on the couch, looked at side table and no coffee. So I went back to the kitchen. No coffee. Bathroom? No. Laundry room? No. What the hell. It couldn't have gone upstairs or downstairs. 


Lost cup of coffee found in the pantry | www.BakingInATornado.com | #humor #funny

Ah, of course. I dropped it off in the pantry.

Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Sunday evening I set up the coffee to brew at 7:00 am Monday morning like I always do.

At 7:00 Sunday evening, I heard the coffee brewing and I knew I'd screwed up. Hubs, College Boy and PurDude were all home.

Me (yelling): Oh no. Damn. No, no, no. Stop.


{{Nothing. No one comes, no one asks what's going on}}

Me (still yelling): Crap. Stop doing that damnit. What a waste. Damn, damn damn.


{{still nothing}}

And that's when the truth hit me. I could drop dead on the kitchen floor and no one would notice until they ran out of underwear. Or got hungry.




Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

College Boy tends to be a little stingy with his hugs. PurDude not so much, but then PurDude isn't home as much.

Anyway, sometimes I'll ask College Boy for a hug and he'll refuse. If "pleeeaaasssee" (said in a whiny toddler voice) doesn't work, I may have to threaten to dance. Yeah, you read that right. Usually it ends in protestations that I shouldn't even try to do things I know I can't, rolled eyes and him walking from the room shaking his head. Sometimes I get the hug.

Yesterday it was broiling hot out and College Boy had waited until afternoon (ie: when he woke up) to mow the lawn. He comes in with sweat having soaked his clothes and poured down his face.

You'd think he wouldn't have the strength to torture me, but no such luck.

College Boy (arms wide): How about a hug, Mom.
Me: No. Yuck. You're drenched in sweat.
College Boy (in a whiny toddler voice): Pleeeaaasssee!
Me: Gross. Go take a shower.
College Boy: I'll dance . . .


 Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics


What a mess. I went to take the clothes out of the dryer and apparently someone had left a small chocolate Easter egg in their pocket. Just what I wanted, brown tie-dyed clothes and underwear that looked. . . well, you get the picture.

I question both boys and they both denied it? Really? I mean, they're grown up, just admit that you made a mistake, that you forgot the candy was in your pocket. 

Me: It was neither of you?
PurDude: Not me.
College Boy: It wasn't me.
Me: Fine, so I'll tell Dad neither of you will admit to it and are both blaming him.

Hubs comes home and I start to tell him the story of the kids blaming him for the candy in the dryer.

Me: I had a mess on my hands today. You know those little chocolate Easter eggs? I had to clean one out of the dryer and rewash the clothes. I thought the boys were supposed to be grown up, but they're blaming . . .
Hubs (interrupting): Oh, no, that was me.
Me: Huh?
Hubs: Oops. Someone gave it to me yesterday.
Me: You don't even eat candy.
Hubs: And now you know how it ended up in my pocket.



No Bake Spiced Peach Pie: Fresh peaches spiced with a kick, blended into a creamy center and served in a cookie crust. No need to heat up the oven, this pie is no bake. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #pie #dessert
No Bake Spiced Peach Pie
No Bake Spiced Peach Pie: Fresh peaches spiced with a kick, blended into a creamy center and served in a cookie crust. No need to heat up the oven, this pie is no bake. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #pie #dessert


The boys and I are opposites when it comes to conversation. I never use a few words when I can use many. They never use many when they can use a few.

After a rare dinner that included all of us in the same place at the same time in which I tried and tried to start conversations and got one word answers, I was frustrated.

I caught PurDude later that night and thought maybe I could guilt him into having a longer conversation with me. 

Me: You know, honey, I really would like to have a few good lengthy conversations with you while you're home, you know, in between your working and sleeping.
PurDude: OK.
Me: We do a lot for you, Dad and I and maybe you don't realize the sacrifices we make to send you to school so far away. School and everything associated with it is very expensive. When you're not home, we don't even eat.
PurDude (laughing): Try again, Mom. You do know you post pictures of food, right?
Me: That's not really food, I used colored construction paper to create what looks like food. But we can't afford the colored paper any more so I have to use white paper and color it with crayons. Pretty soon we won't be able to afford the white paper either, but I have a plan. I'm going to get up really early, steal the neighbors' newspapers and use that.
PurDude (laughing): What would you like to talk about Mom?

Guilt. It works every time!


Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

We have always had our house cleaned. From the time we moved to the Midwest, in all 3 of our houses here, we leaned on Janet to keep our home spotless. When she died, I lost a friend. Janet was hard to replace. Eventually I did. But after a while, the new cleaner's attitude and temperament just got to me. We've parted ways. I have been having a very difficult time finding another cleaner who can live up to Janet's high standards.

The other day, Hubs came upstairs and saw me in the boys bathroom, on the floor by the toilet.

Hubs: Oh no, you're throwing up? Do you need me to help you into our room?
Me: I'm not sick, I'm cleaning the toilet.
Hubs: No, really.
Me: Yes, really.



Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

College Boy: Remember when I called you from work tonight.
Me: Yes.
College Boy: I actually had a hard time doing it.
Me: Why?
College Boy: You know how the screen of my cell phone is cracked and I haven't had it fixed yet?
Me: Yes, you need to get that fixed.
College Boy: So I said "Siri, call Mom."
Me: OK, that doesn't sound hard.
College Boy: And Siri said "which one, you have seven."
Me: {{blink, blink}}.

Later I realized that maybe I need to have a talk with Siri. I need to find those other moms. It's their turn to pay for food and education, do his laundry . . .

Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

College Boy and I were in the car. I love talking to him in the car because, unless he's going to jump out, he's stuck with me.

Me: I'm going to start my own business. Do you want to go into business with me?
College Boy: What are you going to do?
Me: I'm going to set up booths at all polling places on election day.
College Boy: OK. What are you going to sell? Cookies?
Me: No, something many people are going to need, barf bags.
College Boy: {{laughs}}
Me: You think I'm kidding? I'll make a fortune.


Fly on the Wall | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

I'm in the kitchen making a batch of cookie dough when College Boy walks in.

College Boy: If I asked you a really big favor, would you do it?
Me: I don't know, what do you need?
College Boy: You don't know? You can't agree to do something for me, you're first born son, without knowing what it is? I'm hurt.
Me: Well, I'm in the middle of something here and knowing you, you could want me to do pretty much anything.
College Boy: Wow, trust issues much?
Me: Listen, I'm standing here making your favorite cookies out of the goodness of my heart, just tell me . . . what is it you want?
College Boy: Well, if it's too much trouble.
Me: OK, fine. You win. Whatever it is, I'll do it. So .  .  . what's this big favor?
College Boy: Don't put those cookies into the oven until I get out of the shower.

Now click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:





Baking In A Tornado | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics





No Bake Spiced Peach Pie
                                                                       ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients:
1 box (11 oz) vanilla wafers, crushed into crumbs
3/4 stick butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 TBSP powdered sugar 
5 large ripe peaches
2 TBSP Jim Beam Apple Bourbon (can substitute apple juice)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 TBSP cornstarch

Directions:
*Spray a 10 inch pie plate with non stick spray. Mix the cookie crumbs with the melted butter and press onto the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Refrigerate.
*Cut 2 - 4 slices of peach for garnish. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Skin and pit peaches, discard both.  
*Chop the peaches and place in food processor with the bourbon, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Process until not quite smooth. Place in saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil while whisking. Boil and whisk for 5 minutes. 
*Mix the cornstarch with 3 TBSP cold water. Whisk into the peach mixture until thickened. Remove from heat and refrigerate. 
*Beat the cream cheese with the vanilla and brown sugar. Set aside.
*In a separate bowl, beat the whipped cream with the powdered sugar until firm peaks hold. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.
*Remove peach mixture from the refrigerator and mix into the cream cheese mixture.  
*Pour into pie crust and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Garnish center of the pie with the reserved peach slices. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Best of the Best by the Best

You'd think that choosing a favorite blog post would be easy. Not so much. 


Best of the Best by the Best, a summer reading list, blogging style. Favorite posts as chosen by the bloggers who wrote them | Presented by www.BakingInATornado.com |  #blogging #writers



I see lots of summer reading lists and they always send me scrambling to my local library web site to see which ones they have available for my Kindle. But really, these days, a good portion of my reading time is spent on blogs. There's a huge world of diverse talent out there, and I just can't get enough. Whatever I'm in the mood for, it's there: humor, current events, life lessons, support, crafts, recipes, DIY, fashion, perspective . . . so much to enjoy, so little time.

It got me thinking, though, what about a (mid) summer reading list for blog posts? Not whole blogs, but a single article, that one specific piece that shouldn't be missed. And who best to recommend that post but the blogger who wrote it? So I put a call out on social media to bloggers asking what one post written this year so far they were most proud of. And in the meantime I went back to look at my own. I had humor pieces, thoughtful articles, writing challenges, collaborations and, of course, my recipe creations, like this one that I'm sharing today:


Tropical Storm Cookies: a soft cookie with the hint of a pineapple filled with soft tropical flavored candy, glazed and topped with toasted pineapple | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cookies
Tropical Storm Cookies
Tropical Storm Cookies: a soft cookie with the hint of a pineapple filled with soft tropical flavored candy, glazed and topped with toasted pineapple | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cookies


But picking a favorite? I couldn't decide. Best I could do is narrow it down to six. SIX! And the big surprise is that although I write mostly humor, only one was funny. Two were tributes, two were serious and one was even a semi-sponsored post (meaning no money but a cause I believe in).

Good thing other writers were more decisive. A number of talented bloggers have recommendations for you. I've provided the links and a little about why these pieces were chosen. I hope you read them all.

Tamara of Confessions of a part time working mom, a Swiss blogger with a love of travel has chosen Travel A - Z, a list of travel questions answered with lots of great pictures. She chose it as a fun and easy summer read.

L (she writes anonymously) of Free Flowing Chaos shares An Open Letter to my Abuser, a letter to her ex who, she explains, abused her in multiple ways. "Life after this relationship ended had a lot of roadblocks but thanks to counseling, my (current) husband and I have moved past and closed that chapter." This is her favorite post for many reasons but mostly because it was a breaking point in finally making it over that one last hurdle. Finally closing that chapter has allowed her to start writing the next.

Lynne of LynneCobb.com invites us to read a funny post. It's called Battling with Grays and Strays. She wrote this post because she's humorously embracing all the changes of midlife. "Some things you just have to laugh at!" Lynne tells me that this one has had a lot of feedback, and was also featured on Erma Bombeck's Writing Workshop site. Not only that but her stylist loved it and shared with his Facebook fans!

Minette of Southern Belle Charm wrote I'm Not Your Friend from her heart. In this piece she explains to her daughter why she's not her friend. Minette says that she thinks it applies to many of us when we think of our children. Explaining why and how she wrote it: "the idea for it rolled around in my head for months, it took me a while to get it right, with help from my friend Karen."

Diane Tolley of the blog On the Border and author of multiple books picked Nurse in Training, a story about an extraordinary woman, her Grandmother Stringham, as her favorite post because "I love stories about the people in my background. I'm so proud of them. Every one has such stories to tell! I have all of their journals, so the pickings are particularly wonderful!"

Dawn of Spatulas on Parade is another blogger who chose a humorous post as her favorite so far this year. Margarita Cake and I need to buy a llama . . . or get new glasses was written about a miscommunication between she and I that played out on Facebook.  Dawn says "I think it's one of my better posts. It is funny, real, and includes a great recipe." Her readers must agree because Dawn tells me that it had really high page views.



Tatiana of MultitaskMomma chose Did He Seriously Just Try To Do That because "it is one of the funniest things that's ever happened in our 5 years of being parents". Tatiana is the mom of 3 who says she's making memories one step at a time and sharing them through her blog hoping that "one day my children will read about all the adventures we had together".

Lee of LeeGaitan.com and author of the book My Pineapples Went to Houston was in the same position in which I found myself, she had a difficult time choosing between a few favorites. Ultimately she chose a post about her family, In Praise of Stepsons. She explains her choice this way "you cannot even imagine the devastation that my ex caused when he just walked out the door, leaving my daughter and me penniless and her fatherless. I couldn't envision any way we could have a real family again. But we are complete now and it's because of my stepsons (and now their wives and children) embracing us from day one."

As for my own? Well, I got it down to two and then I did exactly what any undecided person would do, I asked my friends to choose. Because nothing says "recommended by the person who wrote it" like putting the decision off on someone else.

They chose There is no Box, a post I wrote about my former step sister. Her death stunned me. The reason for it broke my heart. After I wrote this piece I reconnected with my former step mother, who did read it and approved.


Enjoy your summer reading. And if you have a minute, stop back here and let me know what you read and what you think.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Tropical Storm Cookies
                                                                          ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe
 
Ingredients (makes about 45):
1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp rum extract
1 tsp pineapple extract
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp lemon
1 (5 oz) box Mike and Ike Tropical Typhoon flavored candies

1 cup powdered sugar
2 TBSP pineapple juice

OPT: 1 cup toasted coconut

Directions:
*Cut all of the candies in half.
*Cream the butter, margarine and sugar. Mix in the eggs and extracts. On the lowest speed, incorporate the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix in the candies.
*Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for an hour or up to a day.
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough, approximately 1 TBSP at a time, into about 45 balls. Place on the baking sheets and gently pat down just a little with the heel of your hand. 
*Bake for 12 - 14 minutes. Let cookies sit on the baking sheets for 2 minutes until set, then gently slide the parchment paper (with the cookies still on it) off of the baking sheets and allow to cool completely.
*Mix the powdered sugar with the pineapple juice. Brush onto the cookies. 
*OPT: While the glaze is still wet, sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired.