Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A house divided...

....against itself cannot stand.

This isn't going to be a fun post.  It may very likely be a dissertation, but I don't anticipate that it will be fun or light-hearted or even easy for some to read.  But since it is the nature of a blog to often be self serving in  that voyeuristic journal sort of way that we've come to know and love about the world of blogging, I am using this means as a way to express some things on my heart and mind tonight. 

While I may not be pleased with yesterday's election results on many counts, that is not my focus.  My focus is on what struck me most as I was glued to the TV like so many millions of others last night.  If anything was clear from last night it was this: we are divided as a nation - perhaps unlike any other time in our history other than prior to the South's cessation from the United States and the ensuing war.  So many of the races, from president to congress, were very close, with candidates winning by small margins.  And given the disparity of idealogies between opposite parties and candidates, one is inclined to conclude that we are split just about right down the middle on what the role of a congressman or a president or even the government is supposed to be. 

It would appear that half believe it is government's job to create infrastructure that supports a free market but stays out of the way as much as possible; to build up a nation's defense in that "speak softly and carry a big stick" sort of way; to create a budget and then live within its means.  It has been a generation give or take since we've seen a government like that, but there are those who desire that.

It would appear that half believe it is government's job to tax the "rich," redistribute that wealth to the "poor" and make sure everyone has been provided for with food, shelter and healthcare; to regulate business and industry against any and every contingency and safety hazard; to negotiate with all countries regardless of their bent to the use of force instead of talking; to bail out failed businesses and banks.  This is the way of government for much of the last 25 years, regardless of which party is in power, and there are those who desire this to be the case.

But we can't have it both ways.  These ideals are generally diametrically opposed.  So much so that rarely can we have a true exchange of ideas any more, much less a consensus of what constitutes a "win" for everyone. 

And that, my friends, equates to a house divided.  And as Lincoln and Jesus have both wisely stated in the past, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."  Whether that is a house divided on how to spend or save money, or a house divided on how to raise the kids, or a house divided on what faithfulness and fidelity mean, or a house divided on how we should govern ourselves, it cannot stand.

Especially if that house is spending more than it is making.  Then that becomes not only a house divided but one that is built of cards.  For living on debt is never a sustainable model in any forum - home, school, church, business, government. 

As a woman who has been through a divorce, I have some first-hand experience with a divided house and its inability to stand.  And it is disheartening to see similar divides in this country that most of us love.  I am not able to talk about these things with many people because I don't want to create walls.  I am much more interested in building bridges.  So it is my hope that this post doesn't create a wall or cause me to be de-friended virtually or in real life, but I fear it may. 

I am open to a reasonable exchange of ideas that doesn't deteriorate into a bumper sticker like, sound-bite sort of finger pointing or name calling waste of time.  But those kinds of discussions are rare these days and better done face-to-face over a cup of your favorite beverage than over blog or FB.  Being me, I would even throw in a pastry to share in hopes we really would start and end that conversation as friends.

So yea...I know this isn't a fun post.  No pics.  No food.  No stories of people I love and name with initials. Not even a word of hope or change sprinkled in.  Instead I seem to be pointing to houses falling or crashing and no longer sustaining themselves into the future.  I could end with some sort of cheesy "can't we all get along" type statement, but that isn't me.  I don't sing fake kum-bah-ya very well. 

But perhaps I can end with this idea, and it will be seen as hopeful.  No matter what happens in this country in the coming days, weeks, months and years, if we do survive for decades more even, I can take comfort in trusting that my hope is not dependent upon a government (city, state, federal, international) but is instead dependent upon the Source of Love, the Source of Hope, the Source of Authority, the Source of Faith.  In Him do I trust and can work to mend and redeem division.

Thanks for reading if you've made it this far.  It's just a glimpse into Deb's heart....

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I like friends

I like friends.  All kinds of friends.

I like FB friends.  How fun is it to hear from people all over the country when it's your birthday?!  I LOVE that aspect of FB!  And I am one of those people who like to wish others greetings on their special days, but I don't ever keep up with it like I should.  So it's great to have a helper like FB help me.  And how fun is it when your phone "blows up" all day with greetings from people!  Too fun!

I like party friends.  People who will help you celebrate your birthday with a party.  Even when it's just a regular old number like 51.  People who make up Foodie Bingo and Foodie Double Play games all in your honor.  Way cool.  And way hard, too.  For example, one clue was "These are double good."  The answer is a two-word phrase where both words begin with the same letter.  Can you figure it out?  Here is another one: "you don't need a passport to eat this vegetable."  Go ahead.  Noodle them for a while.  I may or may not give the answers at the end...

I like meatloaf friends.  People who will make you meatloaf and baked potatoes like your mama used to do when you were a little girl, asking what you wanted for your birthday dinner.  Especially when that meatloaf is made by a lady who is almost 80 years old and is motivated by love and wanting to remind you of your mother who is already gone.  How loving and thoughtful is that?  Does it get much better? 

I like non-meatloaf friends.  I have a sisterhood friend who can't stand meatloaf, but that's ok.  I love her tons anyway.  So what she and I don't have over meatloaf, we have over tea and pastry - not a bad trade off in my mind.

I like let-me-be-lazy friends.  G and I had a very low-key, lazy, sleeping-in type weekend - and I really needed that.  I even took a nap today.  Wait.  How old did I turn today?  83?  Yes, that must be it.

I like let's eat Mexican friends.  G & I went with S & R to Chimi's out in St. Pete today for Mexican for my bday.  I have other friends who love Mexican so much we hint that it's time again by saying we need "salsa by IV" - just hang a bag up and inject it via needle.  Speaking of which - if you're reading this ladies, today was really good, but I still need salsa by IV ASAP...

I like family friends.  I've received love from all of my kids and my sister.  S bought me lunch on Friday.  I received cards and gifts.  I even heard from A that she is grateful to have me as her mother-in-law.  Talk about something that makes me smile....

Yep, I like friends.  Such a wonderful gift from God to celebrate.  So I am.  Celebrating each one of you!

Thank you for being my friends and all of the well wishes!

Oh, you want the answers to the double plays above?  Hmmm...should I?  Should I not?  Hmmm...

Tell ya what - I'll type them backwards.  At least that's not a complete give away...

These are double good....  snob-nob

You don't need a passport to eat this vegetable....seirf hcnerf  (trust took us much longer than it took you to read this post to figure these out!  I love it!)

Monday, October 1, 2012

We cut the cake!

Here's the cake.  (And the little Wolff puppy in the background as well as the ice cream maker cylindar.) 

No chance anyone thinks this cake is pink is there?  Sorry, I forgot to get a shot of the blue ice cream, and while it was an odd color, it tasted really good....which all means, of course, that...

I look forward to introducing you to Jackson Oliver in a few short months!!

(Trust me, it will be a while before I run out of these...the spreadsheet has over 260 potential grandmother names from the Internet...we live in a very interesting world, folks...)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

We're having a.... post! 

It's been over 2 months since I last posted something on here?!  Can we all say S-L-A-C-K-E-R?

You know it's been a long time since you posted on your blog if you had to think for a minute how to get to it.

You know it's been a long time since you posted on your blog if you couldn't remember the last thing you talked about.

You know it's been a long time since you posted on your blog if you haven't even posted yet that you're having your first grandchild, and mama is about 4 months along!

Yes, that's right!  S&K are expecting their first child this February!  They told us in a very cool way.  She handed us a little stuffed wolf puppy with baby ribbons tied around its neck.  Since their last name is Wolff, it only took A about 1 second to pick up on why S was handing these out.  It took me about 2 seconds...

But get this!  I am one of only 4 people tonight who know what S&K are having.  How exciting is that?!  Only G, B and the ultrasound technician know, too. 

That is until tomorrow about 2:45.  We are having a gender reveal party, which is whene everyone else will find out if we're having a Jackson Oliver or an Alexis Grace.  Here's how they will find out...
S&K will cut this open and find out based on the cake color.  Fun, huh?

I could have posted pics of me making it...but I couldn't do that, cause then you'd already know!  I could have posted pics of the cake scraps, but that would have let the secret out of the bag.   So all ya get is the finished cake.  Sorry. 

Or am I?  It's kinda fun knowing a secret, ya know?

I didn't want to find out too soon myself for fear I'd let it slip in conversation, so B has been holding on to the envelope from the technician ever since Tuesday when S had the ultrasound.  But B, G and I have known since last night and now the cake is ready and the ice cream is chilling ready to freeze tomorrow.  Yep, that's right, we will also have homemade Jackson or Alexis ice cream.  Fun and yum! 

Does it get any better?

I promise I'll post again tomorrow night with pics of the cut cake...same baby time, same baby channel...

Grandma Deb
Mama Deb
(still trying out some of the grandmother names that S sent in a spreadsheet a month or so ago....)  what do I want to be called?  hmmm....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Is it wrong...

...that I pray for my dishwasher to last at least another year before we have to replace it?  I don't mean it to sound like I'm treating God like a vending machine and punching in my orders.

Is is wrong that I remember writing a sketch that was performed about 6 years ago called "Vending Machine God" that dealt with that very idea?  Or is it more wrong that I've stopped writing sketches?

Is it wrong that I sometimes forget to start that dishwasher because we could fit just a few more things in before "tomorrow" night's supper, but then "tomorrow" gets here and then we don't have room for those dishes? 

It is wrong that it's been almost 2 months since I've posted anything and the only thing on my mind are these random questions and there's no pics of food?

Is it wrong that I asked my son to send me 3,489 post cards from all of the places he will visit while driving a truck?

Is it wrong that when he told me the post cards would be boring and to prove his point he sent me a pic of the highway in front of him from the cab, I tried to sound artsy smartsy and told him his subject matter and composition would get better?

And if that is wrong, is it somehow less wrong that the pics he's sent me since that time have been better?

Is it wrong that I invited my son-in-law over to our house for his birthday this Sunday only to then rescind the invitation a day later because I forgot I'd be driving out of town this Sunday?

Is it wrong that an hour ago I could think of a bunch more of these than I can right now?

Is it wrong that my work day started at 5:30 this morning, and it will start at 5:30 again tomorrow but I'm sitting here at 10:15pm writing down these questions?

Is it wrong that I love those times when I've washed my hair at night and I don't have to put any products in it to style it but I can just let it lay loose and flat but feel soft?

Is it wrong that I love bruschetta even when it's made with store bought tomatoes and I forgot the balsamic vinegar?  Will someone take my foodie membership card away for that?

Is it wrong that I have no idea how to end this post?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wedding Cake - Finally!

I have no idea what I've been doing the past few weeks that this hasn't gotten posted before.  Well, ok, maybe I know 1 or 2 things - going to TN for business, going out of town for G's birthday, going to his dad's funeral, watching the backyard die but not fast enough for G (have I told you about our backyard?), getting D off to trucking school, working - but other than that, I have no idea.

The pics finally loaded, so here they are.  But let's start with the rehearsal dinner picnic food.  Jesus may still feed the 5000, but He may not always provide the plates.  Somehow we ran out.  I blame the ducks.  Apparently there are 2 ducks for whom setting up tables in high winds is quite riveting to watch and quack about.  My son-in-law did a fine job of chasing them away every so often.  There is a video of this activity but apparently no one caught the funniest end of the video, as in K imitating the ducks...

G was manning both grills, full of chicken and burgers and pork steaks and dogs, but we never got any pics of these.  In fact, we didn't seem to get pics of anything except this waffle cut potato.

Remember me talking about the new cutter we got at the home show?  Well it came in very handy for slicing and cutting veggies for this picnic.  I even had some marginal success with the waffle cutter, but I definitely need more practice.  I've got some fat carrots at home right now that I want to try cutting as a waffle just for the fun of it. 

There are LOTS of stories to tell surrounding the wedding, including things like a chiropractor visit for me on my way to setting up the cake, but most of the stories are my son's and daughter-in-law's to tell.  Trust me...these 2 have plenty of stories to tell their grandchildren about their wedding day!  I couldn't have scripted all of the things that happened to these 2 on that day! 

But the wedding itself?  It was one of the most personal, intimate, worshipful wedding experiences I've ever been a part of.  Even the two ministers were choking up as they blessed these two.  EVERYONE was SO happy for S&A.  As P put it, there wasn't a dry eye in the house except for B - meaning my less-than-prone-to-tears youngest daughter.  There was one moment when I had to look away even.  S&A had done the salt ceremony and while the song is finishing, they are leaning in to pray for each other.  It was too intimate for me to watch.  I am so very happy for them. 

The wedding was also beautiful and fun - full of art and children and bells and music and a special, Hebrew blessing.  Rarely do weddings reflect the personalities of two people so well.  This one did.

Here are a few pics of the cake.  I want to include one pic of G finishing off the cake base.  He cut and sanded and painted the whole thing, but he did most of it when I wasn't around so I only got 1 pic of his concentration as he free-handed the corner designs to mimic the cake topper.

And here is the final, assembled cake.  The bottom tier was the chocolate stout with the ganache, the middle was the cinnamon with the spicy cream cheese buttercream and the top was the amaretto with coconut filling.  It was pretty much ALL eaten!
I'm not a good judge of a pic, so here are all 4 shots from slightly different angles....

That's all!  Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rib day!

I's been over a month since I've posted, and I still owe pics of the wedding cake prep, but the pics are taking forever to download, so I'll write about ribs and complete the wedding cake post over the weekend.

I worked late today.  It happens somewhat regularly these days.  Tonight was one of those times when I had not given any thought to dinner at all.  I didn't give it any thought until I was driving home in fact.  I gave it thought, but I wasn't hungry and nothing was coming to mind.  We have a couple of leftover chicken breasts, so I thought maybe I'd do something with those, but still no plan in place when I drove into the garage.

But wait.  I can smell something as I step out of the car.  Hints of pork.  Hints of smoke.  Almost bacon like in aroma? I dreaming here? 

I walk up the stairs and I continue to smell these heavenly scents.  B has cooked some pasta, and is sitting on a bar stool at the microwave counter eating.  Is that what I've been smelling? 

No.  No.  I can't completely process all of this, because I worked late, and my brain is running on empty if running at all.

I find G cleaning D's room out ready to turn into an office.  (D is at trucking school...more on that later.)  He (I mean G) greets me with a hug and a kiss and then very nonchalantly informs me that he is cooking the ribs.  Like it's an everyday occurence or something!

So THIS is the reason for the heavenly smells!  YES! 

What I don't tell him - and still haven't until he reads this as I type it - the cafe at work served ribs for lunch today, and while they were good, I was confident that G's ribs would beat.

Oh.  My.  Goodness. 

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

I had no idea just how much they would beat those ribs.  I don't know all that G did with the ribs, but I can tell you this much.  It involved emptying the steak seasoning bottle.  It involved watching 2 DVR'd episodes of Waltons as well as some time cleaning D's room.  It involved some cherry wood smoke. 
Get your cherry wood from the farmer at Soulard who sells chips for about 75 cents/pound.  Soak it for a long time until it's good and moist.  (I don't know how long that is.) 

Do other magical stuff to the ribs and then smoke them off of the fire until done - around 8pm or so.  I wish, oh how I wish, I could capture the smell along with this pic.  Think a campfire in the woods with a whole bunch of seasoning like garlic - all on steriods.

I could not believe how amazing this smelled.  When he layed the plate of ribs on the counter in the kitchen the smokey perfume was intoxicating.  Have you ever heard people say that if men could bottle the smell of a campfire in the woods, it would drive women wild?  Well this smell was something like that.  I had truly never smelled anything that incredible from a grill.  Never. 

I've tasted good ribs before.  I have.  But I have never tasted ribs like these.  These are what I've always dreamed ribs COULD taste like.  I'm serious here.  How do you describe the best of something that you have ever tasted?  Smokey.  Tender.  Meaty.  Seasoned.  Rib and finger licking.  They didn't need any sauce.  The corn on the cob and other things I made to go with were meaningless.  All that mattered were the ribs.

G tells me after that we MAY do ribs again sometime.  MAY?  Excuse me?  MAY?  I think not.  No, sir. The operative word is WILL. 

Period.  WILL.

Ribs.  Twice in one day.  Except really - it was only once.  But oh, one time done the best it can be is almost always better than multiple times of just ok.

Oh, and guess what else?  G roasts 2 marshmallows in the dying embers to ooey...gooey...toasted and melty perfection.  I couldn't grab a pic, cause they were that melty wonderful.  I don't want Hershey's with my marshmallows.  More on that later, but I suppose I could be accused of being a s'more snob, too....shhh...don't tell my friend, W....

Can I keep him please?

More on wedding cake later, I promise!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

8 days....

...and counting down to my son's wedding!  I was told today that our family was trying to win Wedding Family of the Year or something...and the guy might just have a point....

What can I say?  Love is in the air!

Along with pollen and other spring time favorites.  As I sit here typing this, my husband, G, and my younger son, D, are both out working in the back yard pulling out old brush and weeds...and coughing and sneezing with regularity.  Poor gents. 

G has sprayed the yard at least 53 times with Round Up and some farm strength weed killer, but the weeds are not giving in.  He may be the new sheriff in town, but they are saying that they were here first, they've been here 30 years, and they are not going down without a fight!  Little do they realize the doom that they face!  Dun-dun-du!!!!

But I'm getting off track.  I'm here to talk about giving you an update on the wedding from the MOTG's viewpoint.  The top tier is now baked and in the freezer, but I didn't take pics.  The only exciting pic would have been the cutting of the cake scraps since I am going for such tall layers.  Oh, and I made 12 cupcakes with the extra batter.  Here's a pic of the remaining 3...
Amaretto cupcake batter with a strawberry marshmallow fluff icing.  What can I say?  It's what I had on hand.  But it's actually pretty good.  I had some of the scraps with the amaretto soaking syrup and icing for my breakfast this morning.  I know, breakfast of champs and all that.  I'm a wild woman like that.

While the wedding (and cake) are 8 days away, the rehearsal is 7 days away.  We are having a BBQ picnic so we're making all of the food.  My future daughter-in-law has been working OT for me to get as many RSVP's back as she could.  I told her today to give herself a pass and check this one off of the list as done.  No matter how the count changes between now and then, it won't change the amount of food I prepare.  Besides Jesus still feeds the 5,000 today; He just doesn't always get top billing for it these days.

And speaking of food, (I know!  when am I NOT talking about food?!) one of our little friends coming to the rehearsal has some special dietary needs, so I let his mama know the menu about a week ago and thought I'd share it here, too. 

G is in charge of the grill.  He'll be grilling pork steaks, chicken, burgers and dogs.  The park has 2 grills available at the pavilion, so he'll be grilling those on the hot fire while I'm "baking" onions on the other grill with a low fire. 

Have you ever had my maple baked onions?  So stinkin' simple, but so stinkin' yummy all at the same time - as long as you don't burn them.  It's sliced onions, butter and maple syrup baked togther until the onions are all sweet and soft.  They are wonderful over burgers and dogs, and they get scarfed pretty much any time I have ever served them.  Let's hope I don't burn them next Thursday!  Don't need to bother asking me for the recipe...slice some onions and pour melted butter and maple syrup over to taste.  I mean really, how bad can it be?  Can we get this one wrong, folks?  I don't think so.

Along with those hot things, we'll be having some marinated vegetables.  I'll pre-roast them just a bit and then marinate in a dressing that I haven't fully developed in my own mind yet.  I plan to cut some of them in a waffle cut using the new cutting gadget G & I picked up at the home show last month.  We'll see how that turns out.  I'll post pics here of my "success" in the waffle cutting department.

Next we'll serve my mama's Mexican salad.  My mama took that salad to more church potlucks and Bible studies than anyone can possibly count, and almost never brought any of it back home with her.  It's uber simple, and very potluck friendly.  The original recipe calls for creamy Italian dressing.  Do you remember creamy Italian dressing?  (I know, it's a Mexican salad with an Italian dressing, but trust me, it works.)  But last time I looked, I couldn't find any creamy Italian, so I used Caesar.  It could be an old-fashioned salad dressing that marketing departments decided we didn't want to buy any more once Ranch became all the rage.  Yep, I bet that's it.

Then we have a watermelon basket full of fresh fruit.  G & I plan to hit Soulard on Wednesday next week to pick up the fresh veggies and fruits.  We like Soulard.  We like Soulard a lot.  We plan to take my sis, J, and her husband, G, to Soulard Saturday morning after the wedding just so they can bask in the glory that is the Soulard market culture.

Finally we will have deviled eggs.  My friend, J, (I made a cake for her husband's 50th anniversary as a pharmacist a week or so before S&K's wedding last September that you can read about here... anyway, J, collected all of her daughter's and daughter-in-law's Tupperware deviled egg containers for me to borrow to make transporting them as easy as pie.  Which, come to think of it, isn't always that easy to trasnport, but that's for another day.

Dessert is going to be sundaes.  We'll send my son, D, to Dierbergs down the street from the picnic (hey, nobody said we were roughing it here!) to get the ice cream.  At first I was planning to make brownies, but then I decided that I want to make Texas sheet cake instead.  It's been YEARS since I had a Texas sheet cake.  That is one of those super simple, homey cakes that just calls my name whenever it's around.  And I don't know about you, but it simply MUST be cut in straight lines!  If it's not, then that has to be fixed.  And everyone knows that the parts that you cut off to keep the lines straight don't have any fat, sugar or calories as you're just answering the OCD anal call of keeping the lines straight.

Makes perfect sense to me.  Duh.

Anyway, that's the rehearsal picnic.  I'm looking forward to it!  It should be low key and fun, which is what S&A asked for to begin with.  There is a playground and plenty of space to play frisbee and baseball and hang out. There might even be a guitar or two around for musical entertainment.  At least I hope so!

Talk to ya again soon!!!  Happy Wedding Family of the Year to everyone!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A really good weekend

7 really good things happened this weekend:
  1. We bought a cherry tree - a bing cherry tree
  2. We bought a peach tree - an elberta
  3. We bought another peach tree - a hale haven
  4. We worked on the routing table to use on the wedding cake base
  5. We picked out the finishing paint for the wedding cake base (more to follow on the base in days to come - only 12 more days to go!)
  6. We bought fruit trees!  (Me!  I've never owned a fruit tree in my life, much less ever thought that I could!  And now we're planting three of them!  I feel like one of the cool kids...)
  7. We baked cake!
There are finally layers of wedding cake in the freezer.  Chocolate stout cake for the bottom tier. 

This is the recipe we're using along with a few pics of what it looks like to make it around our house.  Hope you enjoy!  (And yes, I am a serious King Arthur Flour fan!)

We're doing 4 recipes.  It uses lots of cocoa...
...and lots of sour cream - at least by the time you make it 4 times.

You start by mixing guiness...

...with some butter. 

Ok, maybe lots of butter.  A pound of butter per recipe.  But don't worry.  Everyone knows that the fat goes away when the cake is baked for a wedding.  It's true.  Period.

Then you whisk in some cocoa.  It looks like it's going to just lump at first...
...but keep whisking.  It will eventually look like this - smooth and gorgeous.  And if you taste it, you will distinctly taste the stout and the butter and the cocoa, which is not the same thing as saying it tastes good at this point.  (Take note:  no sugar yet...that makes a difference...)

While that is cooling to room temperature, measure out the flour and sugar - 4 cups of each.  Although the pic looks like it's only sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl, the flour is hiding under all that sugar.

Whisk a bit, and you start to see the flour...

...until they are fully mixed together as one homogenous whole.  (I do like me the word "homogenous."  Such a good wordsmithing type word.)

In your wonderful Kitchen Aid mixer that your mother had the wisdom to tell you to buy almost 20 years ago after the kichen fire blend together 4 eggs and sour cream.  (Your sour cream won't have streaks of cocoa in it like mine unless you use the same yellow 3/4 cup Tupperware measuring cup like me.)  Oh, and one more thing.  I add a splash of vanilla (not called for in the recipe) because I believe vanilla makes things taste more like themselves.  Don't ask me how much a splash is.  I don't measure vanilla.  Not worth getting another measuring spoon dirty.
Add the cooled guiness and cocoa mixture and then the flour and sugar.
It will need to be scraped down and this is what it starts out looking like.

Give it another minute, and it turns out beautiful and glistening and smooth.  (And a lick of the beater now is delightful!)

Split the mixture between your pans.  They look very full, because I want lovely, full layers to hold all of that ganache filling.

While the cakes are baking, clean up the mixing bowls and pan, wish for your new friend, R, the one man cleaning machine, to show up suddenly at your front door, start a load of towels, take out the trash, thankful that your husband is spraying the back yard so the garage door is open, pick up another roll of paper towels from the basement on your way back in, get giddy about your new fruit trees, switch the pans around in the oven, form patties for the grill, turn on the DVR to record 2 hours of the Waltons, swear you won't admit that to anyone else, remember about the bacon tasting you did earlier at Shop-N-Save and feel bad about the less than glowing review you gave to the cute young men taping your response since you're a bacon snob, wish for your new friend, R, again to do more of the dishes, and then before you know it, you have cake baked!

And yes...after 15 have the famous...the proof of cake snobbery...cake scraps!

Share them with your new husband, but not your youngest daughter, B.  This cake is not for the chocolate faint of heart.  B admits that she is the chocolate faint of heart.  She plans on eating the cinnamon tier at the wedding.

1 recipe down. 

 Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  (As of this typing, we are 3 times down, which is a very good feeling).  Oh, and don't forget to sweet talk your good friend/sister, W, into letting you use her freezer, cause you don't have quite enough space in your own freezer this time around either...

Have I mentioned that I now have 2 peach trees and 1 cherry?  Everyone is invited over when we get our first harvest!  (Did I just use the word "harvest"?  I may be one of the cool kids after all.)

Or not.  But I don't care!  I'm looking forward to cherries and peaches!  Yea!!!

Hope yours was a really good weekend, too! 

12 days and counting!!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Green thumb...

I thought I'd give you a little tour of our landscape boxes.  I like to pretend that I'm going to grow up and have a green thumb someday.  But so far, not so much. 

But I did better.  I married a man with a green thumb!  He knows names of things and where to plant them and what they need.  He does a great job of getting his hands good and dirty.  He picked out the Dwarf Alberta Spruce above to replace the dead Arborvitae that we (me, and my two planting consultants from last year, D & W, that is) tried to plant last year.  See the Arborvitae was smarter than I suspected.  It was on to my game.  It knew I was a green thumb wannabe, and said "no dice...not playing."  It would rather die quickly than prolong the suffering.  But this spruce knows it was planted by hands that know what they're doing.  I have every confidence it will live and sport Christmas lights in the years to come.

Did you notice the blooms in the back of that pic?  Here's what they look like up close...
That there, folks, is a blooming azalea!  My ex-husband's mother planted them years ago.  I'm sure she told me about them, but I'm also fairly certain I let that info go in one ear and out the other.  (I haven't always been a green thumb wannabe.  I've been a black thumb resignee.)  But last year my consultants told me to feed the azaleas with acidic food.  Azaleas need food?  Who knew?  But turns out they were right!  Pretty sure these azaleas haven't bloomed in years, much less like this!  Fun, huh?
Our next stop are the herbs.  G and I purchased all of these lovelies from Soulard Farmer's Market.  We are becoming regulars down there.  We bought basil and sage and thyme and garlic chives, two kinds of oregano, rosemary and chocolate mint.  I still want to plant parsley.  We put the chocolate mint here along with remants of last year's mint.  G says that mint takes over everything (and I think I have to admit that he's right about that) so we put it in its own container.
Look at me!  I almost sound like I know what I'm talking about!
G likes pansies, so we picked these up at Soulard, too.  Yellows and purples and smiles.
They're just starting to peak over the top of the landscaping boxes.  It's pretty fun to watch as we pull in the driveway.  The hosta we (consultants and me) planted last year has come back, which is really just sorta surprising and fun to me!  This is happening in my landscape boxes!  Is that crazy or what?
Ok, so maybe it's not so crazy.  I told a friend recently that G and I are building a life - a regular, boring, domesticated, married life, and I guess this little tour of the front of our house may prove it out.  But wait till I tell you about the back yard!  Now that's exciting stuff!  It will include before and after shots even!

I know you're on the edge of your seat...but that post could be two years in the making....

Oh, and happy Easter!  (a little late, but it's the thought that counts, right?)

Monday, April 2, 2012

More on the cake

This won't be a long post - at least I don't think it will, but I call this blog Deb's Dissertations for a reason so who knows for sure how long this will be...???

I didn't describe the decorations for the cake.  It will be relatively simple, somewhat playfully elegant, if you will.  Their wedding invitation includes a back ground of some open circles, so they've asked me to repeat those on the sides and tops of each tier.  The cake will be buttercream covered, but the circles will be made from fondant.  Thankfully I have this wonderful set of concentric circle cutters to use.  If you don't have a set, how do you manage to do anything in your kitchen?!  Have I mentioned that I love pastry?

Oh, and we'll be eating all tiers at the wedding.  I'm not a huge fan of the cake kept in the freezer for a year tradition.  It just never tastes as good as a fresh baked cake. 

"Hello, my name is Deb, and I'm a cake snob."  I've been practicing for that 12-step group I'm supposed to go to. 

We did the same thing for S&K's wedding in September.  I'll just bake each of them a small cake for their 1st anniversary.  They just have to tell me which flavor from the original that they want duplicated, and I'm there.

S&A designed their cake topper.  Here it is.  They will bring it Sunday for Easter ready for me to use.
Pretty cool, huh?  Their theme is Beauty from Junk, and they have been creating all sorts of beauty from a variety of things for a few months now.  I loved the theme as soon as I heard it.  It made me think of how God is still in the business of creating beauty- taking our junk and making beauty out of it.  I don't know about you, but I am very aware of junk in my life - and that junk carrying over to my kids' lives.  But that is not the end of the story!  God is still writing our stories and still creating beauty out of anything we give Him.

I can't help but love the idea.  It is similar to one of the ideas G and I wanted presented at our own wedding - that God is still in the business of redeeming lives.  That's why we asked S&A to play and sing "I Know My Redeemer Lives." Cause He's still redeeming us.  And making us beautiful on the inside.

25 days...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

3 months and 27 days...

Happy March 31st everyone!

Today was our 3-month wedding anniversary!  It was a beautiful spring day.  We spent lunch with a friend who came to our wedding, and he even remembered it was our 3-month anniversary.  Pretty cool, huh?  We had lunch at Magpie's, a little place in Old St. Charles, MO with an outside patio.  We shared a bottle of wine, good food and good conversation on an absolutely gorgeous day.  It was down right idyllic.  Then we went to his place, and he and I kept chatting while we watched G meticulously paint our friend's doors.  It was just about the most perfect 3-month anniversary ever.  

So that was the 3 months part of the title.  The rest of this post is about the 27 days.

What is 27 days, you ask?  My son's wedding, of course!  As the MOTG, there is so much less on my plate than as the MOTB or the B.  But I am taking care of the rehearsal dinner and the wedding cake.  And I need to blog about those things, right?

Let's start with the wedding cake.  We had a cake tasting a few weeks back.  It was G's first ever cake tasting.  S & A came over just for dessert, and we talked and tasted cake.  3 different kinds of cake with 5 different flavor profiles. It was a hard job, but somebody had to do it, so it might as well be us.  We're tough like that.  We can take the hard stuff on. 

I'll describe them in the order that we tasted them.

First we tasted amaretto cake with an amaretto soaking syrup and two kinds of cherry filling.  The filling on the left side was a dark, sweet cherry, and the filling on the right side was a tart cherry.  I expected to like the dark, sweet cherry better, because I liked the flavor by itself better than the tart, but when they were mixed with the cake, we all liked the tart cherry better.  Interesting.  At least it is to cake geek snobs like me!

Then we tasted some amaretto cake with coconut filling.  It was also soaked with the amaretto syrup, and this is the one that the bride, A, liked the best of the amaretto offerings.  So it is ending up in the final cake as one of the tiers.

As a side note, S kept pondering about whether the amaretto cake was too sweet - if there was too much soaking syrup or if the syrup was too sweet or if the filling was too sweet or maybe it was his teeth that were too sweet.  Suffice it to say, he felt it was too something and was offering suggestions on what to adjust.  Yep, mama Deb raised a cake snob or two.  I admit it.  Send me to a 12-step group.  I'm ready.

More on that interlude later...stay tuned...

I had asked S & A to tell me their favorite dessert flavor profiles, and one of the ones S mentioned was cinnamon.  So I went searching for cinnamon cake recipes.  The only cinnamon cakes I'd ever made before were of the bundt variety with a cinnamon sugar streusal filling baked in the middle.  I knew that wouldn't work for a wedding cake tier, so I had to search.  My daughter, S, mentioned a cinnamon crunch cupcake recipe she'd seen on pinterest, but when I looked at it, I could tell it wasn't quite right.  So I kept looking, until I found this snickerdoodle cake with brown sugar cinnamon buttercream from the foodie with family blog.  It sounded just right.  And it was.  I belive the first words out of my son, S's, mouth when he tasted it were "This is money."  It was surprisingly good, so it will be another tier.

Finally S & A had said that they like dark chocolate, so I asked if that meant the chocolate stout cake.  A wasn't too sure, since she didn't want the cake to taste too hoppy.  I said I didn't know, but let's taste and they could decide.   So the final cake tasting was the chocolate stout cake with ganache filling.  At the first bite, I believe the first words out of S's mouth were, "Forget everything I said about the amaretto cake.  Whatever A wants on that tier is fine with me.  I'm in for the cinnamon and the chocolate."  So the largest bottom tier will be the chocolate stout.

Which brings us to the overall design of the cake.  They will be square tiers.  But the bottom tier will be large enough that I don't want to use cardboard to support it all.  I want to use something harder like wood or plywood.  Or really this stuff called MDF.

I know, it looks like plywood, but it's not.  It's a pressed something that has a smoother surface than plywood and doesn't warp the same.  We picked up 2 sheets tonight so G can make the cake base as well as a work bench for himself in the basement.  (We also picked up lots of charcoal for the rehearsal dinner cause Home Depot has a really good deal going on it this weekend, but that is for another post...)

Right after we picked up the 2x4's to go with the MDF and loaded them on the cart we noticed a man trying to pull one more MDF off of the rack.  These things are heavy, they have some serious heft, so G went over to help him.  And because G does this all the time, he struck up a conversation with the guy, asking if he had experience with MDF.  He said yes, that it needs polyurethene to make it waterproof.  Good to know.

We check out.  We're loading the 2x4's in the car when lo and behold the MDF sheets won't fit.  No way unless we ask Home Depot to cut them down.  But have no fear!  As we're standing in the loading zone of HD who walks by except the very same guy who G had been talking to inside.  He turns around, looks at our dilemma and asks how far we are going.  We tell him, and he says, "I'll follow you in my truck.  Let's load it all there, and we'll get it home for you."  That, my friends, is what I call a Godsend. 

So here we are loaded up with his stuff and our stuff, ready to head home!  I do love a happy ending, don't you? 

That's probably enough for now.  I'll continue to track the design and the work to build their wedding cake.  S doesn't want a groom's cake, so no train this time.  Or Mac.  Or bass guitar.  Or a replica of some fancy, schmancy sound system that S and only 10 other people on the planet know how to run.  Nope, only the wedding cake.  But that's cool.  I'll also post about the rehearsal dinner prep as we count down the days.

27 days....almost only 26 as late as I'm posting this tonight...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Food Memories 2

Sunday Dinner is over.  It must be Sunday afternoon nap time.  Gotta love a good Sunday afternoon nap. It is quiet.  There was rarely anything good on TV Sunday afternoons - unless you wanted to watch sports, and that was never my thing.

But I did enjoy Sunday night TV.  Remember Wonderful World of Disney?  Only those of a certain age will remember Wonderful World of Disney with Tinkerbell flying all over the screen and lighting the Magic Castle.  The magic began with that intro!

And Sunday evening suppers were almost always roast beef sandwiches and tomato soup.  Roast beef with mayonnaise and dill pickles and Campbell's tomato soup made with milk.  I didn't even know you could make it with water until I was a grown up.  I think I actually prefer it made with water, but homemade cream of tomato soup is actually the best.  But that's not what we grew up on.  We'd have TV trays and watch Disney while we ate our sandwiches and soup.  I was never a crush a bunch of crackers into my soup kind of girl either.  That was just gross!  I was always a one cracker at a time sort of girl, and try to cut it with my spoon so I ended up with 4 smaller squares of cracker soaked in soup.  Ah...memories... 

Now Monday evenings were almost always chow mein made with the last of the roast beef leftovers.  Some of you may be thinking, "Huh?" right about now, but it's true.  Mother would take the roast beef and cube it up along with some of the stock from Sunday.  She would heat that up and then put in a can of Chinese vegetables.  Do they still sell those?  I haven't ever bought one to my recall, so I don't know.  She may have added some soy sauce, but we didn't grow up with things like fresh ginger in the house to add.  We'd serve the chow mein over the crispy chow mein noodles in the can, and that was often Monday night supper.  If we had anything else with that, I don't recall it.  Maybe we'd have banana salad that night, but I don't even know that for sure.

Banana salad, you ask?  Google banana salad, and you won't find images of what I have in mind.  Even if you Google banana and peanut butter salad, you won't see images of this.  Mother would take a banana and slice it longways.  Then she would spread peanut butter down the cut side and put the 2 halves back together before slicing into bite size pieces.  We didn't really ever have banana and peanut butter sandwiches like on Sesame Street, but we would occasionally have banana and peanut butter salad. 

I don't recall any other routine weeknight dinners, but we often had hamburgers and french fries on Saturday nights.  The Carol Burnett Show and Jackie Gleason would be on TV.  I always loved the Carol Burnett show, but the Jackie Gleason show was only ok sometimes.  But Carol was always good.  And if it was a night when Tim Conway got Harvey Korman laughing, that was The BEST! 

But back to the hamburgers and french fries.  Mother was always on hamburger duty.  We really didn't grill outside much, and even in later years when we would occasionally, Daddy wasn't on grill duty.  That would be me more so than anyone.  But growing up, Mother would cook the hamburgers.  And she'd almost always use the electric skillet.  Electric skillets were sort of like pressure cookers.  You couldn't do life without one.  If it died, you were out shopping the next day to replace it.  You just were.  Mother would cook the patties and then toast the buns.  Sometimes she would toast the buns with butter, but oftentimes, they were just toasted in the grease from the burgers.  (Like I said, the health department has banned this blog.  If you are reading it now, it must be without their knowledge.)  She'd only toast the bottom bun, but warm the top bun by sitting it on top of the toasting bottom.  That extra touch always made the burgers taste so good!

The french fries were Daddy's gig.  We'd use the frozen crinkle cut fries.  Daddy would use the electric skillet if it was a night when we'd fried fish in the skillet first, but if it was a burger night, he'd heat the oil on the stove, cause Mother was using the electric skillet for the burgers and buns.  He also had a favorite, long-handled, slotted spoon.  I can remember more than once when Daddy would call me to the stove to show me how to "feel" the french fries for doneness.  That old slotted spoon gave him the best measure of the crispness he was looking for.  His slotted spoon never let us down. Those fries came out great every time.

Sigh.  I am really waxing nostalgic, aren't I? 

Speaking of fish, whenever we would fry fish growing up, it was always perch.  And Mother would bread the perch with cornmeal only.  We didn't make hushpuppies.  We'd just have the perch fried in cornmeal and french fries.  I remember the perch would often curl up as it cooked, too. 

One more memory, and I will close.  About a year after Mother passed away, I was on a business trip to Bentonville, Arkansas - home of Walmart.  I had multiple memories of Mother on that trip - dogwoods in bloom, for one.  But the food on that trip also reminded me of Mother.  We ate at Culver's, and the butter burgers with the toasted buns brought back many memories.  And then we went to a place in Rogers, AR, a town that butts up to Bentonville, for catfish.  The real name is Catfish John's, but we could never remember that name, so we'd call it Gus's House of Cod - cause that was easier to remember?  Or maybe I have the names mixed up?  Anyway we went there for lunch one day on that same trip, and guess how they prepared their fish?  They rolled it in cornmeal just like Mother.  If I recall right, I even got perch that day along with crinkle cut fries.  It was like Mother was right there with me again on that trip.

I guess that's all for now.  Not sure how any of these stories would quite fit into the family recipe collection for my future daughter-in-law, A, but perhaps if she's reading this, and the health department hasn't closed down her Internet access, she'll at least catch a glimpse of the simple, loving family she is joining in only two short months. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Food Memories

Hi there!  I know, it's been like FOREVER since I posted anything.  I've had ideas, but I haven't fully formed them or taken the time to post even in unformed state.  But I have an idea that has been forming for a few weeks now, so I thought I'd post.

First I want to tell you about where the idea came from.  As you may recall, my oldest son, S, is getting married to his lovely bride, A, in April - in something like 60+/- days.  (Clearly I am the MOTG and not the B in this case or I could tell you down to the minute, I'm sure!)  A is truly a lovely girl, and I could not be any happier for the two of them than I am.  I'm tellin''s such an incredible blessing when you love the spouses your kids have chosen, and know that they are well suited for each other.  Last Thursday we had a family dinner at Olive Garden, and I got to sit across the table from K&S and A&S, and I got such a kick out of just watching them all interact and laugh and simply enjoy each other as couples and as family.  Thank you, God!!

Anyway some very wonderful friends threw a shower for A on Sunday.  (And PS - my son, S?  Oh yea...he is quite the romantic.  As we are leaving from the shower on Sunday a few of us ladies see the card that he has picked out and left for A on her car - a "Happy Shower Day" card.  Ladies, does it get more romantic than that?  Nicely played, son!  You did good!) 

Back to the shower.  My daughter, S, had a wonderful idea of putting together a collection of family recipes for A to welcome her to the family.  We have had so much fun remembering recipes.  Both of my nieces, A & L, have contributed recipes, including a cinnamon hallah french toast (can we say indulgent!) and derby pie - a Kentucky tradition that my sister, J, picked up years ago.  J has also contributed a number of things.  She reminded me of bean sandwiches.  Have you ever had a bean sandwich?  It's been DECADES since I had one, but they are good.  No truly, they are!  It's toast and beans and some cheese and some bacon.  Cheap, good eats.  But I'd forgotten all about them.  We actually collected so many recipes that her book isn't really "done" yet.  Which is not the same thing as not giving it to her, you understand.  See S made it so it can be added to.  Here are 3 pics before I go on with the real focus of this post.  (Have you forgotten the title?  We're getting there, I promise!)
This is supposed to be turned 90 degrees counter clockwise, but I have no idea how to make that happen...I'm blaming blogger...

Let's see if this one loads better...
Yes, much better.  You may not be able to read it, but if you do, the secret to many of the initials will be out!

She divided it up into sections - Starters, Entrees and Desserts.  And apparently we have more desserts than anything.  Can you imagine?  I can't either.  I think S is making that up...see, this one isn't a dessert...but again it needs to be turned 90 degrees counter clockwise.  Hey, at least I'm consistent, right?!

I thought it turned out really fun, and once we get the rest of the recipes formatted and printed, they can be added to the rings. 

BUT, there are a couple of recipe stories that did NOT make it into the book yet!  And these are some of the biggies!  Shameful, I tell ya, just shameful.  And it's not shameful on S; it's shameful on me.  Or shameful on me and J - we just didn't get them written down in time.  So with an apology to S and A both, here they are...good luck formatting these down to 4x6 to put in the binder...

Sunday Dinner
Some of you who read these posts are already smiling, cause you know where I'm going.  My mother would cook Sunday Dinner every week, and 7 Sundays out of 8, it would be Roast Beef, Mashed Pototates with Gravy, Green Beans and Fruit Salad.  There may be rolls; there may not be rolls.  If it was summer, there may be corn on the cob or fried okra, too, but you could always count on the Main Four. 

The key ingredients weren't necessarily the foods as much as the cooking tools.  The first one of these tools was the time-bake oven.  Remember those?  You set the timer for the oven to come on at a certain time and then go off at a later time.  For my mother's Sunday Dinner that was 9am for start and 12pm for stop.  Why you may ask?  Because she was at church every Sunday morning, teaching Sunday School from 9 to 10:30 and then going to worship service from 11 to 12.  And the roast was quietly cooking in the oven while we were gone.  She typically seasoned her roast (chuck, most often, cause it was often cheaper) with good old Lawry's seasoned salt and, of all things, believe it or not, kelp.  My dad was big into natural nutrients and read about the benefits of kelp.  It has a somewhat salty taste, so it was almost unnoticeable on the roast, and Daddy felt good that we were sneaking in some kelp intake.  Mother would season the roast, add water and then cover it with foil before putting it in the cold oven (remember the time bake?) and finish getting ready for church.  

The best part of the time bake oven?  Walking in the door.  You were already STARVING from church and then you'd walk into this most amazing aroma.  Makes my mouth water just to remember it. 

The oven would be off by the time we got home, but Mother would remove the foil to let it brown just a bit in the retained heat.  Daddy would do the carving, and he never seemed to notice if we came along and took a piece here or a piece there from the platter.  Oh, those were the best tasting pieces ever!

The second cooking tool that was vital to Sunday Dinner was the pressure cooker.  Remember those?  Trust me, my parents would not cook Sunday Dinner without one.  If the pressure cooker died, which was rare, but if it did, you'd somehow muddle through one Sunday, but you went out to the store on Monday and got the replacement before next week.  You just did. 

The pressure cooker was used twice each Sunday - once for the green beans and then for the mashed potatotes.  First the green beans - we always used fresh green beans, and Mother would start with a bit of bacon grease to saute a small bit of onion.  That is not to say that Mother fried up bacon every Sunday.  No, this was back in the day when people kept bacon grease in a can on the back of the stove.  Some of you are just about dying right now, but others of you are smiling.  It's amazing we survived them days, when I sit and think about it.  The health department is banning this blog now.  Once the onion was just beginning to brown, and depending upon how hungry we all were, Mother would toss in the beans with some salt, close up the pressure cooker and wait for it to do its thing.  But it was always Daddy's job to run it under the water to bring the pressure down at the end.  Then it would be time to dump the green beans out into another pan, so you could cook the potatoes.

I know, some of you are thinking, couldn't you just do the green beans in one pan and the potatoes in the pressure cooker or vice versa?  Well, no, of course not.  That would just be silly.

Fruit salad was whatever Mother had on hand - an apple, an orange, a banana, maybe some grapes, some canned pineapple slices.  No dressing, just toss the fruit together and serve. 

Those were good memories.  Most of the time, even after I was a grown up, and I'm ashamed to say this, we'd be in the living room reading the Sunday comics and the Parade magazine while Mother and Daddy were in the kitchen.  There was something so satisfying about the routine of it all.  It tasted good, and you knew you could count on it tasting good. Every Sunday.

I just realized how long this has gotten.  (Hey, I don't call these posts Deb Dissertations for nothin'!)  And I haven't even gotten to the Monday leftovers or the Friday/Saturday night burgers and fries.  But those can be a Food Memories Part 2. 

I think I need to make Sunday Dinner for everyone soon.  Where do I find kelp?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Moonshine Honeymoon

I am now a married woman.  I am a wife.  I have a new last name.  All of the paperwork hasn't caught up to the new last name yet, but that will come with time.  And paperwork. 

But you're not reading this to hear about paperwork.  Paperwork schmaperwork.  BORING!  You're reading this because of two words - moonshine and honeymoon.  Right?

But let's start with a pic from the actual wedding.  We got married on New Year's Eve morning.  Here we are with the minister, R, my maid of honor, C, and G's best man, W.  First off, notice how handsome the groom is!  Thank you for noticing.  I think so, too.

I have received a lot of compliments on my dress and how I looked that day.  My friend, P, picked out the dress, and my daughter, S, did my hair and makeup.  Oh, and you can't see them, but my friend, J, loaned me her gold shoes to go with the dress.  All very good.  All very needful for me.  And those all account for the something old (me!), new (dress), borrowed (shoes) and blue (my eyes).
A couple of other things about this pic.  First of all, the glass dome that you see in the front center of the pic has a look like it's a really cool, glass, chocolate fountain wannabe, but it's not.  It's the top of an ice tea dispenser.  Second, the wedding took place at W's beautiful home.  It was a small, intimate ceremony, and we would have had it at my house, but W sent me this text in early December with the Top 10 Reasons why our wedding should be held at her house, so how could I say no?  And I have to say that with moving G that last week before and the various other things we had to do, it really was such a blessing for W, S and P to host and plan and execute the wedding and reception.  I could never thank them enough.

I want to show you one other pic from the wedding.  This is my son, S, and his fiance, A, singing for us.  It was a wonderful moment, and it brought tears to my eyes.  (PS - they are getting married in 108 days!)

And then we were off on our honeymoon.  We didn't have tons of time, so we went to Branson, MO, which is a favorite place for G.  I hadn't been in over 20 years, so I was interested to see how it had changed in all that time.  I won't tell you everything about our wedding night (of course!) but I will say this.  Ringing in the new year with 500 of your closest friends in party hats with noise makers, tigers, magicians and balloons all dropping from the ceiling is truly a once-in-a-lifetime surreal event you wouldn't want to miss.  Ok wait...I just reread that sentence and I need to clarify something.  Tigers were not dropping from the ceiling.  There, I know you can all rest easier now.

On New Year's Day, time stood still as we watched fly fisherman dance on the old White River bed near Lake Taneycomo.  I'd never watched fly fishing up close, but G explained the "dance" to lure the fish.  The sun was warm and all was wonderfully quiet as we repeatedly watched the catch and release.  It really was a moment where clocks stopped.  Such a rare treat.

Much of Branson had shut down for the season, but that was ok.  That meant we had much less traffic and got more individualized service.  We did some shopping.  G likes to shop.  I've never liked to shop, but with G it's fun.  Even to shop for clothes for me is fun.  Ladies, I know some of you will roll your eyes at this, but I have never liked to shop for clothes.  (Shopping for purses is a whole other blog post...I hate learning a new purse even more!  And NO!  Purses are NOT accessories...but I digress).  Anyway back to shopping with G.  We will look around a bit, and then I will go into the fitting room with about 7 things to try on, and think "well, that's quite a lot to try on.  I'll never be able to decide what to get!"  Only to find that as I come out with one thing on, G has picked out 5 other things and charmed the saleslady into picking out 7 things herself.  So I take those 12 things in only to step out in 2 of them and lo and behold, 8 new things have been chosen for me to try on!  It's crazy I tell ya!

And now the rest of you ladies are all saying, "Uh, duh, Deb!  That IS shopping!" 

Really?  It is?  Who knew this?  Not I...

We ate good food, too.  We didn't do any chain restaurants - went all locally owned.  We had some good, old-fashioned fried chicken.  And we had some Mexican and some nice smoked ribs and pulled pork and then Italian on our last night there.  I think I like honeymoon vacations.  I think I want to do this again sometime...

On our way home, we stopped off briefly at an old friend of G's in Springfield.  Our visit with J was truly one of the highlights of the trip.  G used to work with J.  And then J quit to go re-up with the military and spent time in Iraq driving some sort of very big truck like thing with 40 wheels or something.  (My son-in-law, K, could tell you in a heartbeat, but I can't recall the name of it!  Hello, my name is Deb, and yes, I am a chick!)  Anyway, in the 4 months this veteran was in Iraq, he encountered 9 explosions, the last of which should have killed him.  He has back, leg and head injuries that have left him permanently disabled.  But like so many other heroes, he doesn't let that stop him.  For example, he volunteers with project Healing Waters and takes other disable veterans in the Springfield area out to fly fish.  They fight him sometimes and the day trip out may cost them a day or two afterwards in pain, but it's good for all of them to get out and quietly dance with the fish.  J claims that he could teach me to fly fish in 5 minutes.  I may have to take him up on that.

But, get this.  That isn't all this veteran is doing with his time.  I would have never expected to hear this next question when I stepped across the threshold of his home, but here goes.  Ready for it?

"Would you like to taste my moonshine?"

Excuse me?  What?  Did he just say "moonshine"?  And in the context of offering for me to taste it?

Now how many of you have ever had that question posed to you before?  I can think of 2 people in my life who may have had that question posed to them before - my friend, O, who I affectionally refer to as Father Time, because the man knows just about everything there is to know about just about everything - just ask him, he'll agree!  And my friend, K, who can catch fish - nay he attracts fish when no one else can catch a thing.  But other than O and K, I don't know of anyone who would have ever been asked, "Would you like to taste my moonshine?"  OK, wait, maybe my son-in-law, K, who has the most amazing connections of anyone I've ever known, but other than those 3, I can't think of anyone else.

So, what do you think I said?  Not that I'm a big drinker or anything, but shootfire, yes, I said Yes!  I've waited 50 years to hear that question...I'm not passing up a chance like this!

And it was good.  It really was.  I'm not a liquor drinker, and I could never sip scotch or shoot whiskey, but J's stuff was nice.  I think they call it "smooth."  He uses high quality ingredients and reverse osmosis water and adds in lots of love and care.  Don't worry none.  He's not sellin' it!

Then he uncorked a bottle of cabernet that he aged.  I'm not a dry wine drinker, but this had almost no tanins.  He said he followed a 16th century monk recipe, and I'd never tasted anything quite like it.  He then insisted on giving us a bottle to take home.  (We will be holding a raffle soon to see who gets to share this with us!  Stay posted for ways to enter!)

So that was our Moonshine Honeymoon in a nutshell.  G took pics, but they're pretty much all of me, so I figure we don't need to post 'em here...I could take a pic of the bottle of wine, but it's just a simple bottle - no fancy label or anything like that.  But it doesn't need one.  Cause it's what's inside that counts. 

And that's pretty much what is always true, so that sounds like a good closing line.  It's what's inside that counts.  What's inside the veteran who doesn't give up but keeps on living and giving to others.  What's inside the heart of the paperwork (whenever that gets done!)  What's inside the friends and family who give of themselves to help make our wedding day so special.  What's inside the moonshine.  What's inside the honeymoon.  What's inside the marriage.

Here's wishing all of you a moonshine honeymoon of your own!