Thursday, October 31, 2013

Whadda Team!

The 2013 Cards lost last night, but the city won.  St. Louis doesn't need tons of extra police force to control rioting and looting as a form of celebration.  Classy town.

We have classy fans.  Of my FB friends who are better sports followers than I and have a serious streak of competition on their basic DNA, we're already seeing posts about what a great season the 2013 Cards gave us...that we have no reason to hang our heads in shame...and that Opening Day is only about 150 days away.  Classy spirit.

We have a classy team of men - men of character - gifted men of character - who play with heart and play clean ball.  Our guys don't go to the plate to play mind games like using their batting helmets to "scratch" their heads through bushy hair or excessive stepping in and out of the batter's box. They go to the plate to play ball.  Argue however you want about how silent or free their bats were, but they don't play games that aren't the game of baseball on the field.  Classy team.

I am thankful for who these men are - as players and husbands and fathers and as competitors - as a whole and as individuals - from Matheny to Yadi to Holliday to Wainwright to both Carpenters to the rookies like Wacha, Martinez and Rosenthal to Beltran as recipient of the Roberto Clemente award to the rest of the bench and back office.  Classy organization.

Makes me proud to be from St. Louis, part of Cardinal Nation. 

Not a long post; I just can't speak that long about any sport.  This shouldn't even qualify as a mini-disseration.  Just thoughts on my mind.

Whadda team!
We will now return you to our regularly scheduled posts of family, friends, life events and baking.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Little Ones at Play

I started to post something about, "you know you're too busy when..." with entries like... realize AFTER you've just gotten off the phone with your ex-mother-in-law that you forgot her birthday the day before.  Ugh.

...THAT reminder reminds you that you are consistently a horrible sister-in-law to G, cause you almost always fail to send a card on time or at all for his birthday.  Double Ugh. can't pick up the sista who named your pie night from the airport.'ve spent more time recently coloring Santa cookie cutter samples trying to figure out if it's a profile or a front face view than buying a birthday card for your ex-mother-in-law.
And you decide it should be a front face view - that the bump on the left hand side isn't his nose...

But I decided that nobody would want to read that, and I didn't need to remind folks that I can be very scatterbrained and/or lost in my own thoughts about what I want to create to the point that I fail at the most basic levels of family, friendship and caring.  Sigh.
Nope, I'm not going to blog about that.  The above narrative is simply a mirage.  It isn't really there.  I promise you.
Instead I'm going to attempt to upload two videos to this here blog taken recently of little grandsons at play. 
O-Man TV
I shot this my birthday morning.  It's simply watching the O-man play with blocks and name the animals on the blocks.  His vocabulary has EXPLODED recently, which is just so stinkin' fun to watch.  About 2 minutes in he starts to say "bid it" (build it), and because he's really serious about building it, he lays down on his tummy so he can focus.  It is so cute to watch these mannerisms develop in little ones.  He does the same thing if he really wants to pay close attention to a specific book - which makes it even more pronounced since he is such a lover of books already.  Nothing major or earth-shattering or hilarious happens on this video...but it is heartwarming in its simplicity.

J-Man TV
And make no mistake about it.  J-Man likes J-Man TV.  I had the pleasure of watching little J on Friday, and captured this little snipit of him learning to crawl.  He doesn't so much crawl on hands and knees, even though it is a bit more stable than hands and feet, but he gets where he wants to go and doesn't get frustrated by the gettin' there.  Again - nothing major or hilarious...another little one at play, doing what little ones are supposed to and learn and grow...

Hope these a) came through successfully; and b) made you forget all about how well I mess up; and c) make you smile for two little guys who are growing well - just like they're supposed to. 

And THAT, my friends, is something to smile about and celebrate!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Whadda Game!

Who ever heard of baseball interference?

I've heard of football interference.  Not that I understand football interference, mind you.  You can Google "controversial football interference calls" and get lots of results - none of which I am qualified to speak to, because I get really confused on why interference gets called in this case and not in that case.  See if I was football interference savvy, I could have included hyperlinks for "this" and "that" above to amplify my point, but I'm not, so I didn't. 

But perhaps you get the idea.  At least I have heard of football interference.

But baseball interference?

Who ever heard of baseball interference?

I mean who ever heard of it who isn't a baseball guru geek like umpire wannabe person?

But the regular Cards fan like me?  No way. 

But. What. A. Call. 

It's a good rule - and a good call.  And a memorable end to Game 3 of the 2013 World Series.  Unlike any other World Series game.  Ever.

But one of the best moments of that whole sequence of events is the look on Allen Craig's face about 00:20 seconds in on this.  You can see the look of confusion on this face.  You may see twinges of pain in his face, too, but the main look in his eyes to me is, "What just happened?"

If I was writing balloon thoughts over his head for the last couple minutes of the game, they would go something like this:

"Yes, a double!  I have MISSED playing this game!  That felt good!

Ok, let's hope Jay can give us the opportunity to turn this into a win.  We're tied up 4 - 4.  Yadi is on 3rd; I'm on 2nd.  We can get this.  Comeon, John!  There's only 1 out, so surely we can complete this for the win.

Yes!  John made contact.  Off we go! 

Ahhh!  No!  Pedroia fielded it and is throwing home.  Yadi is out.  But wait, Saltalamacchia overthrew.  Middlebrooks missed it.  I can get there! 

Gotta get home!  Gotta get home!  Gotta get...up!  And out of Middlebrooks legs!  What just happened?  Nevermind.  Gotta get home!  Gotta get home!  Gotta get home...gotta get...gotta get...get...get...home....slide...home...

...oh no...Saltalamacchia tagged me. 


What?  Safe?  Huh?" 

Yea, that's a lot going on in one man's face, and this is jus' Deb's interpretation of the look on his face as these are not based on facts obtained from personal interviews with Allen Craig.

But whadda game!

And G & R were there together to witness it, father and son.  Truly an unusual and memorable game that they will remember sharing together for the rest of their lives.

Whadda game!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Herb Story

Or is that A Herb Story?  (There really is an answer.  Look it up here if you're curious if I got it right or not.)

Once up a time, there was an herb garden.  It lived in a little landscaping box and was tended by G and Deb.  G did the planting, and the weeding and the mulching.  Deb did the cutting and the using of the herbs.  Deb would pick basil and make pesto to freeze in ice cube trays - regular pesto and pesto with sundried tomatoes.  Either one gives such a boost of flavor to soups like minstrone or tomato.  Deb would cut rosemary for roasted garlic potatoes.  She would hum a happy tune as she picked thyme to flavor chicken or green beans.  Nearly every time Deb would clip a few springs of oregano, she would smile again about an old Andy Griffith episode where he has dinner with several different town residents all on the same night, and they are all serving spaghetti - and the secret ingredient in each of their homemade sauces (cause who had heard of jarred sauce back then???) was oregano.  Deb doesn't remember hardly any other Andy Griffith episode, but she remembers this one quite well.

One day it came time to harvest all of the herbs because colder weather was coming.  So Deb got out her sheers and headed to the garden.  It was somewhat of a bittersweet day - almost like going to the fair and spending all of your money.  For Deb feels rich while the herb garden is growing.  Deb loves possibilities, and herb gardens are like fairs or like loaves of bread rising on the counter in that way - FULL of possibility!  But when the herbs are all cut or you've ridden all the rides or the loaf of bread is all baked, then there is a tinge of sadness that comes over Deb for the possibilities have been somehow diminished.  See how sad?
The upper left-hand corner of this used to be all of this basil...

And the lower left-hand corner used to be all of this rosemary...

The center used to be all of this parsley...flat leaf and curly...

And the upper right-hand corner used to be sage...Deb loves sage.  Is it Thanksgiving yet?

And now they are all gone.  They have all been picked.  Sigh.  Heavy sigh....

But wait!  Deb knows how to dry herbs in a slow oven or microwave either one!  Glory be, it's a great day again!  Possibilities abound yet again! 
And they all lived happily ever after.
The End.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Top 10 Best Moments of My Birthday Week

It's been a great week!  I have had a really fun birthday.  Let me see if I can name the top 10 moments - although my guess is that once I start to name them, there will be many others that don't make the cut.

Such as seeing the inside of a corn field for the first time.  Fun - walking through the corn maze with the grandkids, but it isn't one of my Top 10 moments...In case you've ever wondered what the inside of a corn field looks's a little wider than I thought....
Such as learning about a fridge toy that O-man really enjoys that I need to get for's a leap frog toy, but I can't find it on their website.  But you put the front of the fire truck in and the back of the fire truck and it starts to play a bubble song.  But if you put the front of the train with the back of the fire truck, it starts to tell you how silly that is.  Pretty fun, and O-man likes it.  However, a bit of a warning to MommyS & DaddyK - the pieces seem to end up under other pieces of furniture.  I have no idea how that happens though....ah, the great mysteries of life...

But enough about what didn't make the cut.  Here are the Top 10 Best Moments of My Birthday Week. 
# 10 - Seeing "Gravity."  In 3D.  And don't bother seeing it any other way.  Now I grant you that it wasn't that much "extra" for us to see it in 3D, because the young whipper-snapper who sold us the tickets just assumed we were senior citizens and applied that discount.  It was the first time I ever was given a senior citizen discount, and I'm not even an official card-carrying member of the AARP or the AMAC.  I'm not entirely sure whether I feel insulted or honored by the application - or simply just downright cheap cause I was charged less and didn't put up a fuss about it. 
But back to the movie.  Intense.  Understatement, but intense.  A few interesting notes on the movie - and I don't think any of these notes constitute spoilers - you really only see faces of two live people.  You hear voices of others and see faces of dead people, but only live faces of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.  Which I think sort of intensifies the vastness of space - that for any of the very small handful of people who have ever made it to outer space, seeing faces is a rare occurrence while you are there.  Audio communication is your primary (only?) link to Earth, so sight connection to other people is largely unavailable.  This is the first movie in a long time that really took me outside of this world.  (Pun intended.)  For the time we were there, I lost almost all sense of being in a movie theater, watching a story and events unfold.  I was drawn into the story like I was part of the drama and not just an observer.  To the point that when the movie was over, and we'd taken off the 3D glasses and were starting to walk out (one of the last to walk out, mind you, because we typically don't hop up and leave immediately), I found myself tripping back up the stairs - in an almost coming back to Earth, feeling gravity again sort of way.  In many ways, similarities could be drawn between "Gravity" and "Castaway" where Tom Hanks plays out much of the movie as a single character, but I don't recall feeling like "Castaway" took me outside of myself the way "Gravity" did.  I doubt the movie wins any awards, but I think it should be nominated for at least a few things, even just the 3D sort of things, because it wasn't cheesy 3D.
# 9 - Cards wins!  Now maybe it's not fair to include wins by the Cardinals in the Top 10 Best Moments of My Birthday Week, because it may sound like I think they were winning for me.  I don't mean that at all.  I may blog, but I don't think I'm quite that self-centered!  But come on!  They made it to the World Series!  Woo-hoo!!!  And ya know what else?  This was the first time in about 7 years that Father and Son got to watch some post-season Cards action together in the same room.  Pretty cool for G & R, in my opinion - something that warmed my heart.  Go Cards!!
# 8 - The Sorghum Couple.  What?  Sorghum?  Yep, this adorable couple at Silver Dollar City (SDC from now on), who are in their late 70's or early 80's, spend a few weeks each Fall at SDC during their annual craftsman festival, squeezing sorghum cane and boiling down the syrup.  And get this.  They are the 3rd generation in the family to have a sorghum farm.  And get this, too.  It was the best tasting sorghum I'd ever had, because they take the time to skim off all the impurities, not just the first ones that bubble to the surface.  We actually bought a jar, and sorghum ginger cookies are in my near future.  Yum!
# 7 - The Knife Guy.  Right before we met The Sorghum Couple, we met The Knife Guy.  He hand forms each knife from stainless steel, so each one is a work of art.  But it wasn't his knives that put him at # 7 on this list.  It was his story - how he was almost dead about 7 years ago, but as he puts it, "The Lord wasn't done with [him] down here yet."  We love to ask these craftsman how they got into their business, and The Knife Guy began to tell his story.  Within 1 - 2 minutes of him telling his story to G & I, a group had gathered around to listen.  And it is quite a story - one of those stories of redeeming love that I love so much - how just the right people were placed in his path to teach him his craft and then how he came to be The Knife Guy at SDC, including how he'd met the former, now deceased, Knife Guy's family just a few weeks before becoming SDC's new Knife Guy.  Good story.  Good moment.  Good memory.  Hopeful memory - that God is still writing good stories in people's lives.
# 6 - SIX.  Appropriately, right?  I've been wanting to see these guys for about a year now, and we did on my birthday!  They are six out of 10 brothers, and everything they do is acappella.  I could only find a couple of you tube videos for them in a quick search, but here is one that features their "percussion guy"  as a soloist.  I noticed that for this song, it took more than half of them to replicate what he does by himself for almost all of their other songs.  Fun group, taught by their dad growing up, and they include a tribute to their mother, who is now gone, but it's a very touching tribute.  Good show.  Branson needs more shows like this, but that's another story...
# 5 - Bass Pro.  With the A-man and the O-man.  By ourselves - just Grandpa G and Grandma Deb.  I hadn't been to the Springfield Bass Pro in probably 25 years or so.  Great store.  We saw alligators and snakes and fish and, of course, tur-tas!  I tried to get some good shots of O-man's joy at seeing the turtles, but none of those came out so good.  They even had a couple soft-shelled turtles in the pond, which I found pretty interesting.  We did get a couple of good shots outside of Bass Pro where they were featuring dairy cows.  If you look at this one from a distance, it sorta looks like A-man is sporting a spikey do while "milking" this cow...

And this one wins cute points where O is petting the calf...

# 4 - The Pumpkin Patch.  Which is where I took the shot from the inside of the corn field.  Probably one of the best moments at the pumpkin patch is when A took a ride on this train - which was a first for him.  He didn't want to do it in previous years, but he took MANY rides on it this year!  Does this train not scream Small-Town America Ingenuity or what?  A John Deere tractor pulling a collection of "cars" made out of 50-gallon trash barrels.  How cool is that? 
A-man thinks so!  In fact after his first ride, A said, and I quote, "I'm gonna still come in here again!"  (Note the "Trash Can Choo-Choo" name. Too cute!)

# 3 - Walking A-man to school.  He's in kindergarten this year, and we got the rare privelege of walking him to school - and on my birthday no less!  Simple, day-in-the-life pleasure, but joyful.  Topped off with a hug and a kiss good-bye!  Doesn't get much better, folks!
# 2 - Having lunch with my oldest, S.  That hasn't happened in a month of Sundays, but we work in just close-enough proximity these days, that I'm hopeful it will be repeated with some regularity.  It was great to get caught up on his life and hear what is on his heart.  Good stuff. 
And the # 1 Best Moment of My Birthday Week....drum roll please...although when many of you hear this, you're going to think, what???  But hang with me...I'll explain why...
# 1 - Blueberry Amaretto Syrup.  From G.  He got me "bigger" things, too, but this one touched my heart because we'd seen this in a little store in St. Chuck months ago, and he remembered. Now...I am about to tell a tale on G that shows you he's not perfect...that he's still a "normal" husband like the rest of us are married to, but this story doesn't discount the Blueberry Amaretto Syrup moment.  While we were at R&E's house last weekend, we played 3 games - Forbidden Island, that I think J&G would enjoy, Ticket to Ride, that takes a bit of strategy, and Say Anything, that makes ya laugh.  I think I want to buy all 3 games soon, but during Say Anything, among the questions I chose for others to answer about me were these two: Best candy of all time and Tastiest pie flavor.  Now, G spent a great deal of time thinking on both of these, because he knew he should KNOW the answers to these for me, but he drew a blank. But don't be too hard on him; he got the blueberry amaretto syrup spot on!  As it turned out, E won on both questions for the closest right answers.  She said toffee, which ranks a very close 2nd to peanut brittle, and it's mainly the sentiment attached to peanut brittle that pushes it to # 1; and she said coconut creme for the pie, which is # 2 behind blueberry pie for me.  And oh yea, blueberry amaretto syrup is definitely showing up in the next blueberry pie!  It really is good, guys; we had some on pancakes yesterday.  Yum!
Good birthday. 
One other moment happened during birthday week that was the first time I ever wanted to tweet.  I don't tweet, nor do I follow any tweets or make things appear more important by hash-tagging # them.  Please note:  All of the uses of "#" above are as a number and not as a hashtag, just so we're clear.  But G & I had been shopping, and we'd taken a break to share a pineapple smoothie.  I don't recall what exactly came right before this, but we were both laughing at something one of us had seen or said, and G comes out with this, which just sounds like it needs to be tweeted somewhere: 
You know you're old when you laugh and you feel it all the way to your bottom. 
I have no idea what that means - which I suppose means that I'm not old yet.  But were I younger and a regular tweeter, I would have tweeted it.  Feel free to talk amongst yourselves on what this actually means...
Happy!  Happy!  Birthdays are fun!!!


Friday, October 11, 2013


I can't sleep.  I think I'm too excited about turtles.  My son and his wife raise turtles, but that's not exactly what I'm excited about.  Sorry, S&A. 

I'm more excited about these turtles.  Our grandson, O, likes turtles.  I talked about out trip to Grant's Farm here and how the turtle was up and moving around just as we got there with O.  And I talked about looking for a special cookie cutter in this post as part of Baking Rule # 3. 

Well...tonight...we made these cute, cookie "tur-tas" as O has been known to say it, to take along and share with the grandkids!  And I think they turned out pretty happy looking!

Here is how they began.  We used G's mother's sugar cookie recipe, because that's the one O's, dad, R, remembers as a kid.  Since my left arm is still recovering from Pie Day 2013, G rolled the dough out for us to cut.  He's a happy little cutter, don't you think?

 Turtles like to lay on parchment.  It makes them happier.
That's all part of why they bake up barely tanned.  They get just enough of the oven heat to give them a slight bit of color but not too much.

Then it's time to turn them into even happier turtles.  Grandpa G got in on the act.  I believe this is one of his first times with a pastry bag in his hand, and you are here to witness it!  Exciting stuff, I'm tellin' ya.  G has TONS of caulk and caulk gun experience, but that's not quite the same as icing and a pastry bag.  Similar, no doubt, but not quite the same...

In the interest of speed and taste, I didn't try to flood the cookies.  I don't care for the royal icing flood plus I didn't want to take the extra time that flooding requires - even using this glaze icing from King Arthur which tastes much better to me that the royal flood plus it doesn't get as take-me-to-the-dentist hard, but still takes a bit more special handling.

Instead I used this method.  I outlined and filled, but not overfilled and then let them crust over a bit.  I call this the Pre-Viva'd State of Turtles.  It's an official state of being.
Notice how you can see the piped lines and white spaces of cookie showing? 

Now here is the Viva'd State of Turtles.  I don't recommend trying this with any other brand of paper towels besides Viva.  I keep a roll on hand that I only use for smoothing cakes...and turtles, of course.  It's a very light touch, but if the icing has crusted sufficiently, they will smooth out and give a flat surface that can be hard to accomplish if trying to spread with an offset spatula.  They won't be as puffy or glossy as the flood, but depending upon the goal, it works.  And all of the piping lines are smoothed out.
One little guy on the right is peaking in to tell you that he is ahead of the game from all the rest.  And one other little guy has a much darker underbelly than the others.  I think he is up to something...
And then these 3 guys all seem to have different feelings about being part of the Grandma Deb Turtle Brigade.  Did you know turtles had this many emotions?  It's true.  Poor little guy in the upper left looks like he is very perplexed about life.  He may need therapy.  I will see if he is better in the morning.

That is the end of our turtle tale.  Or really (shhh!  don't tell them this!) but I guess the end really is when O and A and K eat them up!  Oh no!  Dastardly deeds, I tell ya!  Poor little turtles.  Have no idea the fate that awaits I'll never be able to get to sleep...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Happy! Happy! Birthday!

Today is Ray's 51st birthday.  Happy birthday Ray!  Last year, for his 50th birthday (did you catch that genius math inference?) we surprised him with a story dinner that involved an imaginary trip back in time on a rolo-plane amusement park ride, because Ray loves carnival rides - the faster and the scarier, the better!  We visited some of Ray's favorite places on earth with the help of a couple of Angry Birds, all from the comfort of our dining room.  This was his birthday cake - and I know that I want to redo it - that something wasn't quite right, but I would have to sit and think a while to recall what it is I would change the next time...sigh...but regardless, Happy Birthday, Ray!
Today is also Mabel's 100th birthday.  Who is Mabel?  She is a serious St. Louis Cardinals fan, who loves to sing, loves the Cardinals and who used to play baseball as a young woman.  Just look at this happy smile (once any advertisement ends).  What is not to love?  Who wouldn't want to say Happy Birthday to this lady with a rowdy "Go Cards!"???  Ok, so maybe a Pirates fan or two wouldn't, but other than that, who wouldn't?  She is alive and celebrating!
Next month is Bobbie's 81st birthday.  We celebrated her 80th last year (again, check out the genius math skills here) with a "This is Your Life" story dinner (written by Ray's wife, I might add, and where Ray was the Waiter Extrodinaire for the evening) where we had wedding cake before dinner, visited Rigazzi's for spaghetti and meatballs, and shared warm chocolate chip cookies for dessert, because when you're 80, you deserve two desserts in one night!  We'll be going to the real Rigazzi's this year to celebrate Ray's and Bobbie's birthdays together, and it will be the first time Bobbie has been on The Hill in at least 20 years.  I'm excited about taking her!
I have a birthday coming up in a few days - my 52nd.  And the whole reason I'm posting this one is because it came up in a work email recently, and a young lady made a point of replying "Happy early birthday!"  This sharp young lady is expecting her first little one a few days before her 29th birthday, and we talked yesterday about how babies are such a great way to start people. 
And all that got me thinking about celebrating birthdays - the day, the week, the month - and then, you know what? 
Celebrating life.  Being alive.  I am alive.  If you're reading this, you are alive.  I can think and write and laugh and love and play with grandsons and pick apples and make pies.  If you are reading this, you can think and read and hopefully laugh and smile.  Having 4 healthy grandsons, who have been healthy from birth, has heightened my awareness of just what a gift life really is - each and every breath and heartbeat even.  Hearing stories of little ones who spend their first weeks and months in the PICU with tubes and machines helping them stay alive, get stronger, go home makes me want to celebrate today.  Happy birthday to everyone today!  It may not be the anniversary of your birth in a nice round yearly number, but it could be the anniversary of your birthday by 2 days (a little one born to a different young mother at work Tuesday) or by 51 years, 11 months and 361 days.  So happy!  Happy!
I don't want to be too Polly Anna here.  Some of you may be reading this and thinking, "yea...right... whatever."  Cause you've got stuff happening that makes it hard for you to celebrate.  Trust me, as a former wife of an alcoholic, as someone who has felt the mixed-up thinking and weight of depression in the past, I get it.  I wouldn't want to cheapen what you're feeling by telling you to celebrate anyway from the relative comfort and self-focused platform that is a blog by nature.  Nope, "wouldn't be prudent" as some would say.  I will simply say, however, that you're not alone.  There are others who get it - it may not feel like there are any who do, but there are.  We are here.  I hope that little phrase - that little sentence - gives you some hope, some small reason to smile, to celebrate in a very small way that you are alive, you are among all of us who have been granted the gift of life. 
And it is a gift.  A fragile gift, in fact.  Which is part of what makes it so precious, such a treasure, something worth shouting "HAPPY!  HAPPY!  BIRTHDAY!" to anyone, any day of the year! 
Oh, I almost forgot.  Insert balloons and streamers here.  Can't be a birthday without balloons and streamers!!  Wooo...that was close!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Love is...

Remember these?  Since I haven't gotten a newspaper in years (except for the USA Today left at my hotel room door occasionally), I didn't realize that the proverbial They are still making these.  But a quick Google Images search, found ones as recent as 2010. 

Some of you may be old enough to remember the phrase, "Love is never having to say your sorry" or something similar - which as any reasonable person knows simply isn't true.

Well yesterday I thought of these old phrases, so I want to post a Love is...

...taking care of the rotten potatoes. 
Do you ever do that?  Am I the only person on the planet that forgets to use the potatoes?  I've done this twice in the last few months, in fact, and G has taken care of them for me - which if you know anything about rotten potatoes, isn't a fun task - I almost gag just typing about it.  Be glad there is no picture... chocolate.
My son - to his wife - cause she needed chocolate. 
...making perfect pancakes.
Love is also making imperfect pancakes, but my son, D, made these yesterday morning for friends.  He called to clarify a couple of tips he remembers me doing, and then sent this pic shortly after.  I would put these up against the King Arthur pancakes (the recipe I use) when it comes to their beauty and yummy goodness any time!  Nicely done, son! a haircut.
My daughter, S, is one of the busiest people on earth - a young mother.  But she found the time last night to cut my hair.  AND feed us meatloaf.  AND let us play and laugh with little J-man.  AND I even got a kiss from him! 
...getting to see grandsons!
We get to see these little cuties this weekend!!  I sure hope we get to see Little K-man this weekend, too!   

...9-year wedding anniversaries.  And 2-year wedding anniversaries.  And 16-year wedding anniversaries.  And 53-year wedding anniversaries. 
Friends of mine celebrated their 9-year anniversary yesterday.  Their FB posts were heartwarming to read as were the posts from friends of them.  Happy anniversary!

Which reminds me - I want to post tomorrow on birthdays...seeya then!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pie Night Name

We have an answer for this big question of life!  And like so many other big questions, the answer is beautiful in its relative simplicity.

We have my sista and good friend, PK, to thank for this.  She sent me this email last Thursday, and I quote: 

“Our Family’s X Annual Pie Night” in this year’s case it would be “Our Family’s 4th Annual Pie Night.” 

Why “Our Family” you may ask? Simply because you never put up airs and pretend that one name means more to you than another and I would venture to guess that neither do any of the Chenoweths, Wolffs or Langstons (with the exception of one thing which I will get to in a moment). I would venture to guess that you all refer to gatherings as Our Family or My family. From what I can tell everyone who attends pie night would be in one way or another your extended/adopted family. They may not realize/think they are but they are, I can tell by the way you respond to each and every person who attends and you are selective about who attends opening it to those you and your children are closest to in one way or another. Now back to my second suggestion which would be my first suggestion but being as green as I am I don’t want to hurt any feelings but I think I can throw out justification to make it work. “Our Morrison Family’s Annual Pie Night.” Your mother is so integral in your love for cooking and baking that it would very fitting to honor her name in that way and while some could argue that her Family Name is not Morrison and while I did not know her something tells me she would be ok with that name.

How cool is that?  Morrison was my maiden name.  Daddy was an only son, and both of his sons passed away without having any children of their own.  So using Morrison in the Pie Night name actually works on a couple of levels.  The tribute to my mother level that PK highlights plus a way to keep the name alive in our conversation since otherwise, this particular branch of the Morrisons has ended as it pertains to the family name.  And I will have to check with my sister on this one, but I believe our daddy's father was also an only son, so we'd have to go back a few generations before we hit the branch of the tree that would still be carrying on the name in the traditional sense.  (Please don't write me about how old-fashioned and archaic I sound or the beauty and wonder of hyphenated names.  I get both of those things; it just didn't happen that way in our family, and I don't see anyone adding Morrison to their name in a hyphenated way anytime soon.)

Back to my story.  So we have an official name for Pie Night!  It will be "Our Morrison Family's Annual Pie Night."  This year will be Our Morrison Family's 4th Annual Pie Night - or I suppose it could be Our Morrison Family's 1st Annual Pie Night since it would be the first Pie Night with this name, but that would get too confusing, so we will stick with Our Morrison Family's 4th Annual Pie Night for this year.  Thus making next year Our Morrison Family's 5th Annual Pie Night.

Have you picked up on the new name yet?  I'm being so clever here and making you have to figure it out with clues and stuff, after all.  I am sneaky like that.

So no matter who comes to Pie Night - be they Langstons or Chenoweths or Wolffs or Crows or Wildeys or Slys or Gaisfords or Kunzs or Lollars or Andersons or Kormans or Sinns or Muellers or Maddoxes or Bradleys or Morrisons or Any Other Surname - they will, for one night a year, be part of the Morrison family. 

I wish that I had an electronic pic of my mother to include with this post.  Whenever I get one, I will edit this post so you can see her.  Like mothers everywhere, she truly has influenced how and why I cook and bake.  She humbly loved people with her ears as she listened and made people feel heard, with her prayers, with her kind spirit, as well as with her Mexican Salad or her Peanut Brittle or her Burnt Sugar Cake or her Aunt Bill's Candy or her Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Fruit Salad for Sunday lunch or her Pecan Pies or her Pumpkin Pies. (She is the only person I ever knew who would run the end of a stick of butter over the top of her pumpkin pies just as they came out of the oven to give them a final gloss and finish of buttery richness and sweetness.)  It's also why I felt compelled to take peanut brittle to our family reunion back in late June. 

I love you, Mother.  I still miss you.  You've been gone now for over 10 years.  I see your hands in my hands now when I am buttering bread for Hot Cake Toast.  I wish I could be half as good a Mimi or Grandma Deb to mine as you were a Grandmommy to my children.  I think of you every time I get down on the floor, remembering how you would easily get up and down off of the floor well into your late 70s.  I want to be that young at heart my whole life.  Thank you for being such a great Mother. 

(Deb Disclaimer: The above list of family names is in no particular order so no inference of preference or favor should be interpreted in the listing.  They are simply stream of  thought and brain rememberance only.  You each mean so much to me, and I am so glad you are in my life!)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Apples and Firsts

We went apple picking as a family for the first time in at least 10 years yesterday.  We used to go when the kids were little with Grandma and Grandpa.  But then kids got older, schedules got busier, health issues started, so we stopped going.  We drive up the Great River Road to Eckert's in Grafton, board a wagon out to the orchards and pick lots of apples!  How bad can this be?

Everyone met at home for cinnamon rolls and coffee.  I also made these pumpkin smoothies, based on Pioneer Woman's recipe.  I really wanted to try these, but I didn't have pumpkin pie filling, so I used the frozen pumpkin I'd roasted earlier, and added my own sweetners.  They were really good!  I think this recipe is a keeper. Here is how I put them together if you'd like to try this version:

1 - 6oz can of pineapple juice chilled
Pour pineapple juice into larger measuring cup and add enough whole milk, half-n-half or cream to equal 3 cups (I used mostly half-n-half and then cream)
1 container of vanilla yogurt
1-1/2 to 2 c. frozen pumpkin
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. honey
Dash of vanilla syrup (if you have it)
Dash of maple syrup (if you have it)
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. ginger

Blend well and serve.  I skipped the crushed graham crackers that Ree uses, but I did garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg.  Anyone who tried some were pleasantly surprised at how good they were!

When we first arrived, Eckert's had a bunch of HUGE pumpkins for sale.  Were they 60lbs?  Were they 80lbs?  100lbs?  There was a bit of a debate, but everyone agreed they were big.  And a perfect photo op with 7-month old J....All the photos you see today were taken and/or edited by my daughter-in-law, A.  I had no idea her photography skills, but they are great!  Don't you love when you find out something new about someone you already know and love well?  I LOVE when that happens!

Dude, I look good with these pumpkins.

I like these BIG pumpkins!

Are these pumpkins bigger than me?

I think I'm done with these pumpkins.  Is it time for apples yet? 
We were able to pick Golden and Red Delicious.  We aren't really Red Delicious fans any more - they didn't used to be as mealy - but we enjoy Goldens for eating and cooking.  We are making apple sauce in the crock pot as I type this, in fact.  G likes to make it with Red Hots.  When was the last time I bought Red Hots?  Some of my kids might not have been born the last time I did...
Here is a still life of G with Apples.  This one came out rather artsy, don't you think?  Even the leaves are nicely soft with fuzzy edges in the front.  Kewel.

A has skills.  She caught B in the orchard WITH a smile!

Here's the new young family introducing J to apples....
Poor, little guy wasn't feeling well by this time - even running a little fever.  Mommy and Daddy gave him a bit of Tylenol while we were in the orchard.  But he was a trooper, even playing with a little apple just about his size.. 
Here is everyone who was able to be together this year.  I want us to take a pic in the orchard every year we are able to do this together. 

G, me, K, J, S, B, Grandma and S&A in the back!
After apple picking, we drive farther up the river road to the Wittmond Hotel which has been around since 1847.  They do a family style fried chicken and roast beef dinner that is tasty and makes you feel like you're stepping back in time.  I really like their corn relish, and my mother always enjoyed the peach preserves they serve at the beginning.  Their homemade noodles are a highlight. 
On the drive there, I was reminded of a story I had all but forgotten about from an apple picking trip when my oldest son, S was about 5 years old.  Back then, we would typically go to Pierre Marquette or a restaurant in Grafton for breakfast before apple picking.  S was fascinated by the little jelly packets on the tables - we didn't have these at home! - so he proceeded to store a bunch in his pants pockets.  Yes, I am THAT mom that didn't notice this activity!  On our way back, we stopped at the old locks and dam at Alton, in part, because my Dad was always fasinated with the engineering - which is pretty cool, by the way, if you've never stopped to take a close look.  Anyway, back to the story.  Since S is still a little guy at this time, both grandmothers picked him up so he could see over the wall - only to find his pants very sticky!  Cause strawberry jelly packets in little boys' pants often times bust open.  Whodathunk it?  I'm glad that story got retold.  And now I've put it in this blog, so you can enjoy it!  And harass S if you happen to know him!  (I love you, son!)
To get to the Wittmond, you have to cross the Illinois River, and there is no bridge.  So you cross the ferry.
And this was G's first ferry ride.  So we made sure we got out of the car to look around a bit, and since G has never met a stranger, he struck up a conversation with the second man in the pic, too.


So it was a lovely day of firsts.  The first time to taste pumpkin smoothies.  The first time to go apple picking together in a long time.  The first time for J to visit an apple orchard.  The time for G to ride a ferry and go to Wittmond Hotel. The first time for me to find out about A's photography skills.
I like firsts.  And I like apples.  Good stuff.


Thursday, October 3, 2013


I am still working on posting more regularly; it's been almost a full week since I last posted.  Which is not to say that nothing has been going on (do you love double negatives, too?) or that I've been sitting around trying to think of something to write about.  It's been all about time.  But let's see if I can get caught up.

First, last weekend, G&I went to a CD release concert where my son, S, was playing.  It was a good concert, and I've enjoyed listening to the CD this week.  One phrase from track 10 resonated with me immediately.  It's a remix of an old song, and the line "redeeming love has been my theme" struck me as something I want to capture as a section in my grown-up blog, Deb's Dessertations.  But I don't have to wait until then to explore that theme.  I want that section to be full of stories of redeeming love - people living out redeeming love - love that that that brings hope and yes, oftentimes those stories may well lead to tears, for something about redeeming love strikes a chord with most people.  It's something we all long for at some level - that sense that no matter how badly I may have screwed up or hurt someone, I will be forgiven.  That sense that we all matter, no matter our circumstances or anything else going on.  We matter.  Period. 

My friend, PK, shared this story on her FB this week, and it is a story that lives out redeeming love.  Both wrestlers are champions in their own ways - both show respect for the other even in the ring.  It may seem odd to post a story about high school wrestling under the theme of redeeming love, but ya gotta love the back stories of both of these young men and the humility and strength each brings to the match - each acting in a way that redeems the other.  Redeeming love - I don't always live it, but I want it to be a theme in my life.

Second theme of the week has been....drum roll please...PIE!!!  Here are a few shots of the action...

Pumpkin - we found sugar pumpkins for sale at Home Depot on Saturday, so I roasted them up on Sunday.  Here are the skins after roasting.  The one on the left was MUCH riper than the one on the right, and you can tell it here.  Notice how soft and yielding the one on the left looks vs. the right?  The right one never did yield a soft skin.  I was able to scoop out the pulp, but the shell remained hard.  Interesting...but I would do this again with a sugar pumpkin - not with a large one, but with a small, sugar pumpkin, yes. 

Yesterday was the SAP Team's First Annual Pie Day.  We shared 6 pies among 12 people.  The team got divided up into 6 teams of 2, and each had to choose their team name and a pie. 

The first team was the easiest - Life of Pie and Strawberry.  That was it.  No special requests; just a strawberry pie.  I used the America's Test Kitchen recipe, and here it is.

Next we have cappuccino pie for team Easy as 3.14.  They won the prize for best name as chosen by our esteemed pie was the first one gone, and while it's closer than the other cappuccino pie that I've baked in the past to what I want, what I really, really want, there is still a gap, so there will be another version sometime.  At least the cappuccino type art on the top came out pretty cool!

Below is Derby Pie from Team Muy Mucho - although that was a typo, and it was supposed to be Team Muy Macho.  They won the prize for the best fit between team name, team members and pie choice...there is so much here that I could say, but I will simply post the pic and move on....

Team 4's name was Lean Green IT Machine since they both test "green" in the Insights tests and are IT professionals.  They chose a cherry pie with the SAP logo.

The next team name was Pi Squared.  They chose pumpkin pecan, and I think the rest is pretty self- explanatory.

And last but not least was Team Support 3.14159 or Team Support 22/7 (trust me, it's an inside joke.)  They chose apple with a flag or some patriotic theme.  What's more American?


I even came up with a little Pie Chart Prezi presentation, cause I'm a geek like that.  Also another theme in my life.  If you've never played with Prezi as a presentation tool (it's free!) you might find it fun - funner than PowerPoint...
All good practice for Pie Night coming up on the 3rd Thursday in November!  My daughter, S, has already chosen her pie...stay tuned...
I guess that's about it for now.  The family is going apple picking on Saturday, so if I don't post again before then I will post after that at least.  Happy Thursday everyone!