Friday, April 28, 2017

Take it to the Review Board: Funny Friday

Today’s post is this month’s Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month. Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Funny Friday:a multi-blogger challenge, one picture, five Captions,  | | #MyGraphics

Here’s today’s picture. It was submitted by Me!

Funny Friday picture challenge, one picture 5 captions. | Picture by Karen of Baking In A Tornado | | #humor #funny

1. Skateboarder to himself: I must have had a lot more water than I thought today, I'm feeling really bloated.

2. Boy to himself: When I went into that phone booth I expected a cape and a . . . much cooler disguise. Skateboarder Sumo-man wouldn't really have been my first choice. I need to talk to someone about this. Is there a superhero identity assignment review board or something?

3. Man to himself: I can't wait to see what my therapist makes of this dream.

4. Boy to himself: No need to rush, she said. Halloween's still days away, she said. They won't be sold out of all the good costumes, she said. I will NEVER listen to my mom again.

5. Skateboarder to himself: This may not have been the best idea. If there's a strong wind, I could end up in China.

 And now for something yummy. Don't put those slow cookers away for the warmer months quite yet. First you have to make this easy soft taco dinner. Everyone gets to customize these roll ups with their own favorite toppings.

Crockpot Beef Soft Tacos, cook the meat and vegetables in the crockpot with seasonings, then at dinnertime everyone can customize with their favorite toppings | Recipe developed by | #recipe #crockpot #slowcooker #dinner

Crockpot Beef Soft Tacos
Crockpot Beef Soft Tacos, cook the meat and vegetables in the crockpot with seasonings, then at dinnertime everyone can customize with their favorite toppings | Recipe developed by | #recipe #crockpot #slowcooker #dinner

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile:

Bookworm in the Kitchen
Spatulas on Parade 
The Bergham Chronicles

Southern Belle Charm  


Baking In A Tornado signature/logo | | #MyGraphics

Crockpot Beef Soft Tacos

1 1/2# very thinly sliced beef
1 red pepper, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, slices
1 onion, sliced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
2 TBSP chopped cilantro 
3 TBSP taco seasoning

soft tortillas

OPT toppings: salsa, queso fresco or shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese, avocado slices or guacamole, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced green onions, sour cream, cooked kidney or black or white beans, sliced black olives

*Spray your slow cooker with non-stick spray.
*Place the beef, red pepper, green pepper, yellow pepper, onion, mushrooms, jalapeno, cilantro and taco seasoning into a slow cooker with 1/4 cup water. Stir
*Turn onto high and cook for one hour. Stir. Lower heat to low and cook for 4 - 5 hours, stirring now and then.
*Place some of the beef mixture onto the center of each soft tortilla. Allow everyone to top with their favorite toppings, roll up, slice in half and serve. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Short Story Shorter

I read a People Magazine article titled George W. Bush Sums Up Trump Inauguration in Five Words and Hordes Fall in Love with Him for It. It was making the rounds on FB and for good reason, it was hysterical. The five words? "That was some weird shit". You go, Georgie!

The People article reminded me of something I participated in when I first started blogging. I had a friend, Coach Daddy, who did (and still does) something similar as a challenge. He comes up with a prompt, sends it to a number of bloggers who then send him 6 word responses. He then writes a blog post with his prompt and all of the submissions he's collected. 

George nailed 5 words, Coach Daddy's using 6, so today my friend Erin of Searching for Sanity and I are doing our own spin, and we're going with 7 words. And not in 7 words or less . . . 7 words exactly. Instead of one prompt and answers from a number of people, we've put together 20 prompts and are both responding to all of them, me on my blog and Erin on hers.

You would think this wouldn't be all that difficult, and maybe it wouldn't be for you. Most people, especially because of texting, have learned to get ideas across with few words. But me? Let's just say I'm known for making a short story long. When my kids were in kindergarten their teacher asked all parents to tell them something about their kids. I sent in 3 pages. Typed. Single spaced. Yeah, I'm that Mom.

Making a short story shorter, twenty subjects, seven words | | #laugh #humor #funny #challenge

So for me, and Erin as well, this really was a challenge. To be fair when it came to the topics, we each chose half of them. I chose just a few but asked friends and family for most of my half. Once I got the rest from Erin, I sat down with my list of 20 subjects and came up with these 7 word reactions:

1) April showers:
Building an ark is hard. Who knew?

2) Doing laundry:
I'll make millions developing cheap disposable clothes.

3) The joy of toddlers:
Had two at once, they broke me.

4) Your best parenting advice to new parents:
Teaching them how to speak will backfire.

5) What is the weirdest thing you have eaten?
Yelling at the kids, bug flew in.

6) Time travel:
Anywhere. Any time. Get me outa here!

7) What would your superpower be?
Singing so loud the kids run away.

8) Do you ever get enough sleep?
Toddlers then teens then stress, what's sleep?

9) Could you last a day without the internet?
Can it be on a deserted island?

10) Which is better, sweet or savory?
Both, Apple Crunch French Toast Sandwich, please.

Apple Crunch French Toast Sandwich, a crunchy crusted french toast and apple sandwich | Recipe developed by | #recipe #brunch
Apple Crunch French Toast Sandwich
Apple Crunch French Toast Sandwich, a crunchy crusted french toast and apple sandwich | Recipe developed by | #recipe #brunch

11) Weekends:
Too slow to arrive, gone too quickly.

12) What's your reaction when you see a spider in the house?
Burn the house down. Do it now!

13) How do you feel about getting older?
Age years daily. I blame the kids.

14) What is the best invention ever?
Earplugs. No, noise canceling headphones. Either one.

15)What is something you feel naked without?
Shorts and flip flops are my fashion statement.

16) What's your favorite form of exercise?
Surfing. The web. Is that seven words?

17) What makes a best friend?
A full bar and willing to share.
18) What's your least favorite chore? 
You're assuming there's any I actually like.

19) Apply a parenting skill to politics:
Why can't we all just get along?

20) Dieting:
A love/hate relationship of epic proportions.

Now go check out Erin's blog Searching for Sanity and see how she's responded to these same 20 prompts.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Apple Crunch French Toast Sandwich         

1 1/2 cups Apple Jax cereal
2 eggs
4 TBSP milk
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 loaf Italian bread, unsliced
1 apple, I like to use Honey Crisp or Braeburn
4 - 5 TBSP butter
6 TBSP apple butter 

maple syrup for serving

*Place the cereal into a food processor and crush into crumbs. Place on a dish and set aside.
*Whisk the eggs with the milk and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
*Cut 6 slices of bread, on the bias, about 1/2 inch thick.
*Core and peel the apple. Cut in half, then slice into very thin slices.
*Dip one side of each slice of bread in the egg mixture.  

*Heat 1 TBSP butter on medium in a large saute pan until hot.
*Place 2 bread slices into the pan, egg side down, and cook until just barely browned. Remove from pan and spread 1 TBSP apple butter on the cooked side. Repeat with all the bread.
*Dip the uncooked side of the bread into the egg mixture, then coat generously with the crushed cereal. Melt another TBSP butter, place 2 slices of bread into the pan, cereal side down. Top each with apple slices, then another slice of bread, cereal side up, to form a sandwich.
*Reduce heat a little if necessary and cook until  brown, pressing gently with spatula. Flip over, press down again and cook until the other side is browned.
*Serve with the maple syrup.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Voluntary Research Assistant: Fly on the Wall

Welcome to a monthly Fly on the Wall group post. Today 7 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, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

Hubs had been making a contribution to his IRA and wanted to do it before tax day. Fidelity called to tell him that they were sending his check back to him, and this was on April 13th. Hubs called them to see what the issue was.

Hubs: So, it turns out I didn't sign the check. They sent it back.
Me: Wow, that's not like you.
Hubs: Yeah, guess I just wasn't thinking.
Me: What are you going to do?
Hubs: I'm just going to just send them another check.
Me: This will be your last chance, do you want me to look at it before you send it?
Hubs: No, I won't do the same stupid thing again.
Me: Yeah, but you could do a different stupid thing.

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

Me: You cannot eat all of the mint bark for breakfast. And you're too old for me to have to tell you this. 
College Boy: I didn't eat it all, I ate 2 pieces.
Me (angrily): You didn't have 2 pieces. It was half full, now it's half empty.
College Boy: {{blink, blink}}. So we're good?
Me (laughing angrily . . . yes, that's a thing): I mean it was mostly full and now it's half empty. Jeez, I'm a mom failure, I can't even yell at you right.

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

Everything is just so much more difficult from far away. PurDude is hundreds of miles away so when, for instance, he broke his leg, I had to help him deal with it all from afar.

A week ago I texted him on a Friday afternoon to tell him to have a nice weekend, try to get some rest and have some fun. He texted back that he'd been sick in bed for 2 days. Apparently he had the flu. Great. I gave him some advice but couldn't do any more. 

Sunday he was apparently feeling better and was going out to do some errands. I get a text from him telling me that he had a flat tire that he needed to change but now doesn't have a working spare.

This is a problem as he's coming home in 3 weeks which means an hour and a half drive to the airport to come home, again when he leaves, then he has to drive 5 hours to his summer internship. Crap. 

Told him to take the flat tire to a tire store on Thursday when he doesn't have classes and see if it can be patched. If so, put it back on the car. If not, call us and we'll figure out a way to buy him a tire out there. 

On Thursday I hear the ping of an incoming text and in the way of Pavlov's Dog, I start to shake. And with good reason.

PurDude: So, I've got a flat tire.

Double crap.

Whose idea was it for him to go to school so far away?

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

It's 10:00 am and Hubs comes into the kitchen. I've got 3 bottles of alcohol out on the kitchen counter and I'm drinking from a shot glass.

Hubs: Rough night?
Me: Ha, ha, no.
Hubs: What exactly are you doing?
Me: I'm baking.
Hubs: That's baking?
Me: I'm doing research.

And you know what? He didn't even question it. Just nodded his head and walked away.

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

Guess he'd been thinking about it because 5 minutes later Hubs comes back into the kitchen.

Hubs: You know, if you ever need any help, I'd be happy to assist.
Me: With baking?
Hubs: With the research.

Chocolate Raspberry Martini Cake, mini chocolate chips, fresh raspberries and a hint of alcohol baked into a bundt cake. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #cake #chocolate #raspberry

Chocolate Raspberry Martini Cake
Chocolate Raspberry Martini Cake, mini chocolate chips, fresh raspberries and a hint of alcohol baked into a bundt cake. | Recipe developed by | #recipe #cake #chocolate #raspberry

It's been a miserable spring. Pretty much from the time I got back from vacation in March it had been dark, dingy, cold and rainy. Our front lawn looked like we'd never get a mower through it and we had puddles on our back lawn.

And then one day a few weeks ago the sun came out. I checked and was actually able to get a Red Sox game, a fairly rare occurrence here in the midwest. I pulled out some steaks to throw on the grill later on and even put some popcorn into the microwave.

Smiling, I settled in onto the couch that afternoon with my warm popcorn and started watching the Red Sox game. Although alone, I spoke out loud "ahhhh, finally. Welcome, Spring."

And that's when it started to thunder.

Well, that was fun while it lasted. 

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

 It was Passover a few weeks ago. You'll be happy to hear we survived another year. While most of my friends were eating ham dinners and collecting baskets of chocolate, I was eating matzo cardboard for a week. Not just eating it, cooking with it, baking with it, dreaming I was running away from it.

And while I spent the week backed up like someone stuck a cork in me, I had plenty of time to think about why they call this a holiday, why they say we're celebrating Passover. Because when you say the word "celebrate" this is not what I had in mind.

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

As I said, I hate Passover. It's so much work. I'd get up at 6:30 am to make Hubs breakfast. Once I was up I couldn't go back to sleep so I'd start doing whatever chores needed to be done for the day. By noon I was exhausted, ready for the day to be over.

I had a load of laundry going and College Boy came in. 

College Boy: Is the laundry done?
Me: No, I just put it in the shower?
College Boy: Shower?
Me: I'm tired. Very, very tired. Either I meant the dryer or I actually put it in the shower. Not sure which, you better go check.

Fly on the Wall | | #MyGraphics

PurDude is admittedly having a difficult semester with a heavy work load. Many of his classes are project based, so he always seems to be in the middle of multiple tasks at once. 

He doesn't call me as often as I wish he would, but every time he gets a chance to talk he says he's exhausted. And he sounds it. I'm sure this is because of school work, not being out all night now that he can drink legally.

But it now seems he may have an ulterior motive to not being in touch as often as he should. Exhibit A, this conversation that happened this past week:

Me: How did you do with Passover?
PurDude: When's Passover?
Me: Never mind.

Fly on the Wall, a multi-blogger writing challenge | | #MyGraphics

College Boy: I liked your Berry Key Lime Pie. The crust wasn't my favorite but the pie was delicious.
Me: The crust is just walnuts and sugar. It was that or a matzo meal crust.
College Boy: Anything's better than matzo crust.
Me: Glad you liked the pie.
College Boy: Interesting how the Jews didn't have time to let their bread rise, but they had time to make a Key Lime Pie.
Me: You want me to keep making desserts or you want to be a smart ass?
College Boy: Desserts, please.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Chocolate Raspberry Martini Cake
Printable Recipe
6 oz fresh raspberries, cut in half (cut larger ones in quarters)
2 TBSP chocolate cake vodka
1 TBSP raspberry jam
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperatuer
1 1/4 cup sour cream
2 TBSP raspberry liqueur
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

2/3 cup chocolate chips
3 TBSP heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 TBSP whipped cream vodka

*Gently mix the raspberries in a bowl with the chocolate cake vodka and raspberry jam. Set aside.
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
*Cream the butter with the 2 cups sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the sour cream and raspberry liqueur. Mix in the flour, salt and baking powder.
*Mix in the mini chocolate chips, then gently fold in the raspberries and their liquid.
*Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the center springs back to the touch.
*Allow the cake to sit for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and remove to a serving plate. Cool completely.
*Melt the chocolate chips and heavy cream in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Keep melting at 15 second intervals until smooth. Stir in the powdered sugar, then the whipped cream vodka. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Shmata by Any Other Name

That's it, she's finally lost it. I mean, who keeps a pair of underwear on the counter by the kitchen?

It was the first thing I thought as I walked into the house. It was the first thing I saw as I walked in the door.

Turns out it wasn't underwear after all. You could see where I might think it was, though. Small, round, aqua nylon with a cream colored lace trim around the edge, it certainly could have been. It wasn't until later that night when I finally saw what it was.

A Shmata by Any Other Name, a look at change, life and beauty |

She took off her blonde wig. A shock as I hadn't seen her since she'd gotten it, since she needed it. So perfect I'm ashamed to admit I didn't realize it was a wig until she removed it, put it on its stand in her bedroom. The whole time I was there I was taken aback every time I walked into that room and saw the faceless head on her dresser.

Off next came the wig cap. You know, that piece of nylon that looks like something you pull over your face before robbing a bank. 
Unnatural adornments dispensed with, I now got my first glimpse at what was beneath. Turns out it's perfection. Not yet an inch long and just exquisite. Salt and pepper with a slight wave. Grey around the temples highlighting her eyes. The eyes that change from blue to green. Blue today.

She is beautiful. Strong and independent and self reliant, and beautiful. She always was, but this . . . this is a different level of beauty. Maybe because of her inner strength, so evident these days. Or maybe just because of the nature of who she is, the dignity and grace with which she faces anything. Everything. 

Whenever just stepping outside her door, like to get the paper but not really going anywhere, she put it over her head. Not underwear, of course, but a little nylon cap. For now. Until she's ready.

A shmata (Yiddish for "rag"). 

It wasn't, of course, not even close. Pretty, actually, but that's how I thought of it. And it's her own fault. It's what she'd always call those tacky kerchiefs people used to wear and the unfair association, once made in my mind, would not go away. A sleep cap, a head cap, a hat liner, call it what you will, it is what it is. And I suppose thinking of it as a shmata on her head is a step up from thinking of it as underwear, so there's that.

But when she wasn't going barely out her door in the shmata or to the pool in her sun hat or out more formally in the wig, we got to see the striking tones that make up her new look. The elegance with which she wears them. Fitting, I thought, the artistic beauty of her new aesthetic, a gift even. She liked it too, actually, although how could you not? I asked, one night, if she'd go to the restaurant like that but not yet, just a little more length on her forehead, fullness around the temples. Soon. She will know.

Loaded Red Potato Slices, red potatoes roasted and loaded with ingredients similar to potato skins | Recipe developed by | #recipe #potato
Loaded Red Potato Slices
Loaded Red Potato Slices, red potatoes roasted and loaded with ingredients similar to potato skins | Recipe developed by | #recipe #potato

I will not be there when she first ventures out in her new natural look. I can't tell you how much I wish I were. I do hope that she will not discard her shmata, that she will put it away somewhere. It is a symbol of what was and what now is. It represents a past endured, dispensed with, defeated. It signifies a battle won. Again.

And although I will not be there to see the show, I've seen the previews. And I know without a doubt that it will be a hit.

Strength, in all of it forms, is beautiful. 

Especially on her.

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Loaded Red Potato Slices         
Printable Recipe
4 large or 6 small red potatoes, rinsed, dried and cut into slices approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inches in width
1/2 stick butter, melted 
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 green onion, sliced
1/4 cup cooked chopped bacon bits

OPT: Serve with sour cream

*Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a pastry brush, brush half of the melted butter onto a 9 X 13 baking pan.
*Place the potato slices onto the pan, brush the rest of the butter onto the potato slices.
*Place into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven but leave the oven on.
*Turn the potatoes over and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top the potato slices with the cheddar, then onion and bacon bits.  
*Turn oven off and return the pan to the oven until the cheese melts. Serve with sour cream if desired.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cookies or Jail: Use Your Words

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, a multiblogger writing challenge | | #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: jail ~ disapprove ~ pass ~ milk ~ alert
They were submitted by Shannon of Simply Shannon.

One of the things I love about this challenge is that my post is dictated by the direction in which my assigned words send me. Silly or serious, thoughtful or comical, I let the prompts choose the path. Today's words sent me into the world of fiction. Well, semi-fiction. Although this didn't happen as told, it's really also semi-biographical. In fact, I bet we've all been there . . .

I was going to jail. That was the thought that was going through my head in a loop. Over and over and over again. As I looked around I could see that the prosecutor disapproved of me. Worse though, I could see that the judge did as well. This was not going well. Maybe I should have rethought representing myself. But I really never thought it would come to this. I mean how could this possibly rise to the level of a federal case?

Nothing really to do but throw myself on the mercy of the court. Plead my case, hope to appeal to the good graces of the judge.

This is it. It's all in my hands. Deep breath.

"I did it", I began, looking back and forth from the judge to the prosecutor. "I admit it. But I always did. I never denied it, took responsibility from the moment it happened. I spilled your milk", looking the judge straight in the eyes now. "But it was an accident, I swear. I cleaned it up, didn't even ask for help. I poured you more milk, even gave you a fresh cup. Yes, you had to wait a few minutes while I mopped the floor. I will even concede that you may have even waited up to 5 minutes. And you were not happy, you made that perfectly clear as I scrambled to save the wood floors. But surely you see that no harm was done, really."

Silence. Crickets. I was losing them. Crap. These two could make my life miserable for a very, very long time.

Cinnamon Toffee Carrot Cookies, a chewy cookie featuring many flavors of a carrot cake with a few surprises. If you like a cookie that's not overly sweet, this is the one for you. | Recipe developed by | #recipoe #cookies #bake
Cinnamon Toffee Carrot Cookies

Desperate, ready to literally cry over spilled milk, I made an offer "I baked. Cinnamon Toffee Carrot Cookies. To make up for what was clearly an extreme level of trauma you suffered by having to wait for your milk, just this once you can even have them before dinner."

" Pass", said the prosecutor, glaring at me with all of the wrath his 7 years on this earth has enabled him to incur. Although . . . I swear I could see a crack in that stoic face.

All my senses were on alert. Maybe, just maybe I could get out of this.

"OK, firm and final offer and you know how very much this goes against my better judgement. Cookies FOR dinner."

The prosecutor looked at the judge. The judge actually briefly smiled at the prosecutor before getting his emotions back under control. 

It was the judge who, in his infinite wisdom (as infinite as wisdom can be at the age of 6) declared "I can see that this defendant is remorseful. The plea deal is accepted. Court is adjourned."

"And Mom, bring on the cookies."

Here are links to all the other Use Your Words posts:

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Cinnamon Toffee Carrot Cookies

Printable Recipe

1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup cinnamon baking chips
1/2 cup toffee chips

*Cream butter, margarine and sugars until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
*Starting on the lowest speed until incorporated, beat in the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
*Mix in the shredded carrots and coconut, then finaly the cinnamon chips and toffee chips. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or up to a day.
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper.
*Roll dough into approximately 1 inch balls. Place on prepared baking sheets.
*Bake for 9 - 12 minutes or until they start to brown. Leave on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing them to cool completely.