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 | | #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 | | #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 | | #humor #funny

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

Fly on the Wall | | #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 | | #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 | | #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 | #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 | #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 | | #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 | | #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 | | #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 | | #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 | | #MyGraphics

No Bake Spiced Peach Pie
Printable Recipe
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

*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 |  #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 | #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 | #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 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 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 | | #MyGraphics

Tropical Storm Cookies
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

*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.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Use Your Words: Cocktails, Hawks, and Swimming in a Tub

Today’s post is a monthly writing challenge. If you’re new here, this is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once. All of the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the recipient will take them. Until now.

Use Your Words | | #MyGraphics

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.
I’m using: Strawberries and Cream ~ queue ~ hoist ~ all white ~ lawn ~ hawk
They were submitted by Shannon of Confessions of a part time working mom.

It's no secret that I'm a summer person. And although it officially starts with Memorial Day, for me the proof that it's truly here comes in the days following Independence Day, while I'm clearing the last of the fireworks from my lawn so we don't run over them with the lawnmower and just getting the last of the cordite smell out of my nose.

I have to admit, and I have many times, that being a summer girl is way more of a challenge having grown up on the East Coast by oceans and now living in the land locked Midwest. I grew up driving an hour or so on weekends to beaches on Cape Cod or Plum Island. Less often I could be found by a lake, but cold water to swim in was a must.

When I moved to the Midwest no one had to tell me that other than vacations that required 2 planes, I was out of luck in the ocean realm. But when I called the parks department my first week here to ask which of these many lakes have beaches on them and they laughed, well, that was a low blow.

When the boys were younger we belonged to a pool. It was our only option, so we took it. Now it's not worth joining considering the boys are so busy with their own schedules. Especially since one's a Head Lifeguard at a city pool. But not belonging is making me desperate. Plunging many rungs down the ladder from the ocean life but unwilling to give up completely, it seems I've been reduced to embarrassing myself and the boys with my new plan, sitting in an Intex Swim Center Family Lounge Pool on the back lawn.

Intel Swim Center Family Lounge Pool
But not so fast. Apparently it's out of stock. If I want this baby, I've got to join the queue. Now I've hit rock bottom. I may have to lower the tub 2 floors down onto the lawn and hoist the damn thing back up at bath time. Yeah, desperate has new meaning.

Even the inability to submerse myself has not  changed the fact that I love summer. Ah, wearing all white, flip flops and tank tops, being able to buy fresh plump strawberries to create new recipes:

Strawberry Topped Brownie Bites, an elegant dessert for any occasion. Dense, chocolatey individual desserts topped with a fresh strawberry and a glaze. | Recipe developed by | #dessert #chocolate #strawberry
Strawberry Topped Brownie Bites
Strawberry Topped Brownie Bites, an elegant dessert for any occasion. Dense, chocolatey individual desserts topped with a fresh strawberry and a glaze. | Recipe developed by | #dessert #chocolate #strawberry

And evenings, when it starts to cool down just a bit, there's nothing like sitting on the back deck, drinking a favorite summer cocktail I developed a few years ago, my Strawberries and Cream Cocktail:
Strawberries and Cream Cocktail | Recipe developed by www. | #recipe #cocktail

And watching our friends the hawks, who build their nests and raise their young in the woods behind our house and even get comfortable enough with us to come visit.

Hawks on the back deck | | #nature #hawks

Yeah, I'm a summer girl all the way. Even the Midwest can't break me of that. Pass me a cocktail and lets go lower that tub. I'm in need of a swim.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Strawberry Topped Brownie Bites

1 stick butter
1/2 stick margarine
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups flour

18 strawberries

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 TBSP raspberry flavored liqueur
2 tsp strawberry extract

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 36 mini muffin cups with nonstick spray.
*In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter, margarine and chocolate until completely smooth. Mix in the vanilla, then sugar and salt. Mix in the eggs and finally the flour.
*Drop the batter by heaping TBSP into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top springs back to the touch.
*While the brownie bites are baking wash, hull and half the strawberries.
*Once the brownie bites are done, remove from oven and immediately press a strawberry half into the top of each one. Run a knife gently around just the top of each bite and then allow to set for 5 to 10 minutes.
*Once they have set, gently run the knife around the bites and carefully remove from the tins. Allow to cool completely.
*Whisk together the powdered sugar, raspberry liqueur and strawberry extract. Drizzle over the brownie bites. 
*Store, covered, in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature for serving.