Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's Been a Wild Ride...

Our lazy Christmas day turned into a snowy Christmas night. A white Christmas is unheard of in these parts. But we got almost a foot of snow. Definitely one for the record books. You know that saying? Boys and their toys? Well, BSD has been working on becoming the poster boy.

Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh? 

I thought this was a cute idea. Until I got on the back of the snowmobile golf cart to take these pictures. HOLY CRAP! BSD was flying through the streets. I was bouncing all around. It's amazing any of the pictures even came out. I was terrified that the ballerinas were going to totally eat it. But they thought it was the best time ever. 

I loved having an excuse to hang out all day in my pj's. For four days. But today I had to get the heck out of the house! I didn't really care where I wound up. I just wanted to go some. where.

Somewhere turned out to be Border's and Trader Joe's. It was nice to be out in the land of the living again. Even if it was just to get a 2011 calendar and a stalk of Brussels sprouts. The sprouts make me smile. They're funky looking. Kind of like a giant caterpillar.

The calendar gives me the hives. It's no secret that I'm not an organized person. Calendars are for organized people. I stick one up on the wall. Write down everyone's name. And hope for the best. Luckily, BSD and my good friends are the organized type. They just tell me where I need to be if it's important.

So now I stare up at that calendar. With it's shiny New Year beaming back at me. And I wonder. What is 2011 going to have in store for us? Some more major losses are imminent. And I am paralyzed by this. I want to look ahead with excitement. To make some earth-shattering resolutions. But I just don't think this is the year. I have a few more hours to figure it out. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to see how I did on last year's resolutions. I'll let you know what I come up with.

How about you? Are you making any New Year's resolutions? Care to share?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Slide Show Sunday: Christmas 2010

Christmas morning arrived early this year. Neither the sun nor I were even awake yet. But the ballerinas were. And so the madness ensued. At 6:10am. I think the last gift was finally ripped into by 8:07am.

Santa brought the Big Ballerina a motor scooter. Just like she asked. The Little Ballerina was majorly surprised to find that Santa brought her a Barbie Vacation Jet. I think it was much more exciting than the iPod Touch she asked for. But didn't receive. Amazingly, there wasn't a kayak in sight. A pink tackle box and a couple of casting nets? Yes. A kayak? Not so much. Phew! I don't think our living room could have handled it.

The rest of the day was mellow and lazy. I'm not sure if I ever changed out of my pj's. Friends came and went. Ballerinas pinged and popped from toy to toy. College girls tutored me on the very basics of using my new Smartphone. But I still have no idea how it works. I'll be lucky if I can make a phone call with it by the new year.

We made a spiral ham for dinner. We've never done ham before. It's always been either a Christmas goose or turkey. But without my parents to share it with, it just didn't seem right. Plus, BSD and I were both too lazy to attempt such a big meal on top of all the Christmas chaos. So we opened a bottle from my dad's wine collection and ate ham. And it was all good. I think a new tradition has been born.

A two hour Skype call with my mom and sister in Connecticut finished off the evening. And even though it wasn't the same as having everyone together, it made their absence much less painful.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair.
Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen.
Give me down to there hair, shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there, momma, ev'rywhere, daddy, daddy.

The big ballerina was a baldie baby. She had that super blond peach fuzz at birth, and it didn't grow much more than that until she was about five years old. For real. People used to stop me and say, "I love your daughter's adorable pixie cut!" To which I would reply, "Thank you! But she's never had a hair cut in her whole life." 

I want long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty,
oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen,
knotted, polka dotted, twisted, beaded, braided,
powered, flowered and confettied, bangled, tangled, spangled and spaghettied.

When it finally started to grow, it grew out rather than down. The painstakingly slow process of growing hair took even longer as her hair began to form big, loopy curls. Most of the time the curls are frizzled and matted. And not very pretty. It's always a challenge to decide what to do with it in the morning before school. "umm...pigtails today."

They'll be ga-ga at the go-go when they see me in my toga,
my toga meade of blond, brilliantined, biblical hair.
My hair like Jesus wore it, Halleluja I adore it, Halleluja Mary loved her son,why don't my mother love me?

Her hair looks best cut in short layers. It lets the the natural curl form into adorable bouncy loops. Unfortunately, short, curly hair is not conducive to the classic "ballet bun" that BB is required to wear four out of six days per week. To balance both worlds we've grown her hair just long enough to create a bun the size of a mushroom. And let me tell you, there is some serious bun-envy going on when some of the ballerinas jete across the floor with a big ole softball sticking off the back of their heads.

Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees,give a home to the fleas in my hair.
A home for fleas (yeah) a hive for bees (yeah),
a nest for birds, there ain't no words for the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my:

So it was very exciting during the Nutcracker this year when she needed CURLS for her Party Girl part. Finally, she had the "right" hair! With a little help from "the snake" as she liked to call her hairpiece.

Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair

hair, hair, hair

 Flow it, show it

long as God can grow it, my hair

Bravo, BB! You did a fabulous job! 
If they decide to perform "Tangled" in the future, you'll be a shoe-in for the lead!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Big Red Pot: Sausage Soup

Baby, it's cold outside is definitely the most appropriate Christmas carol around here these days. Temps are way down in the low 30's and winds are 15-20mph. VERY cold for us here at the beach.

So, this week the big red pot has been in heavy rotation simmering up some sausage soup. I know the name is kind of nasty, but trust me. This is GOOD stuff! And the major bonus? Only a few simple ingredients, and you're done. Dinner's on the table. Sorry, Kimberly, this one's the anti-vegetarian recipe.

Sausage Soup

1 lb. sausage (mild, or hot if you like spicy food)
1 large white onion, chopped
1 20 oz. can peeled, diced tomatoes
32 oz. chicken broth
1 tsp. basil
1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
Dash of red pepper (if you like it hot)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Shredded mozzarella cheese

Remove casings from sausage. Brown in large Dutch oven. Add chopped onion and continue cooking until tender. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Add orzo and simmer for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese when serving. 

Options: If you want to add some extra veggies, you can add some chopped celery and sliced zucchini when you add the onions.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

While the Cat's Away, the Mice Will Play...

I spent this week visiting with my mom. It was good to see her, help her out a bit and spend some quality time together. She continues to be a medical mystery as she is surviving the unsurvivable.

These doctors don't know who they're dealing with when they tell my mom she's terminal. It's just not a word the women in my family understand. They've said the same about my 97 year old grandmother multiple times yet she just keeps on truckin'. My mom has obviously been taking good notes and is determined to follow in her footsteps. Go, Mom!

 (my mom's version of thumbing her nose at the doctors)

While I was gone, BSD was home alone with the girls. I warned both of the ballerina's teachers that things might not be quite normal this week. I jotted down a few instructions. A few directions. A few phone numbers. Then I left.

And the party began. 

Thursday turned out to be a snow day. A REAL snow day. With REAL snow. The kids all tried to sled on the dunes again, but I guess there wasn't quite enough snow. So instead they all wound up at our house. And this picture popped up on my cell phone. No better lunch on a snowy day than grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. By candlelight no less. Go, Daddy!

Friday there was a two hour delay. A pancake breakfast with Christmas movies was served while they waited out the morning. Life with Daddy sounds pretty darn fun. N'est-ce pas?

Well, let me back up to Wednesday. The half day of school. The ballerinas were treated to bento lunches at our favorite sushi restaurant. And that evening, I received this picture on my cell phone. Can you figure out what's happening here? It's kind of hard to tell when you're looking at this picture on a 2x2cm screen. 

Here's a better view. 

And an even better view...

Dear Santa, can you please bring me an iPhone for Christmas so I can keep better tabs on my peeps while I'm away? 

P.S. - I apologize to all of you for not being able to keep up in blogland. I miss hearing what's going on with everyone. Thank you all for your support and friendship. I hope to catch up with all of you soon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ten on Ten: December 2010

I was so happy that Ten on Ten fell on an exciting day this month. The Big Ballerina had a Nutcracker performance today. And luckily, I helped out in wardrobe. I burned my thumb on the curling iron, steamed a nice section of my palm, and poked my leg 100 times with the needle, but having the freedom to wander the halls and take pictures made it all worthwhile. 

(This is a "big ballerina," but she's not my big ballerina.)



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

And the Winner is...

I decided not to go with any of the original three card choices I posted. None of them worked well with the picture I had. Plus I really liked the snowflakes with this picture because it's taken on the dunes where we went sledding during our big snowstorm this year.

Shutterfly is now my new best friend. The very next day I received my code for 50 free cards. And not only did I get photo cards, but I got the super deluxe folded cards. The ones I always want, but am too cheap to spring for. Can't wait til they get here! Maybe I'll treat the Big Ballerina to a Mommy/Daughter mani-pedi day with the money I saved.

Bright Yellow Snowflake LIVESTRONG Holiday 5x7 folded card
Unique party invitations and announcements by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's December 2nd. Have You Done Your Christmas Cards Yet?

Yes, I'm one of those people who sends a photo Christmas card. I love them! Love getting them and displaying them.

I'm not one of those people who sends out a double-sided, single space, 8 font "family newsletter" though. I've got this blog. If you want to know what we're up to, follow me. Simple. I do like getting a family newsletter, though. Just don't tell me every last thing, every single person in your extended family, including your pet ferret, did every single day in 2010.

I'm also one of those people who LOVES a bargain. I will spend hours trying to find the best deal. I never hit, "Submit Order" until I've checked first for a code. I will leave my purchase at the register if I've forgotten my coupon, and go back home to get it. Drives BSD nuts. But there's such a thrill when you score a bargain. It gives me the same burst of energy as my Diet Coke.

So, of course, I was all over the current blog offer from Shutterfly. In case you haven't heard, Shutterfly is offering bloggers 50 free holiday cards. Whoohooo! Photo Christmas cards AND a mega coupon code. Sign me up!

Now comes the problem. I take all of these photos, but I haven't taken one for my Christmas card yet. I have this fabulous idea in my head of how I want it to look, but it involves my whole family. And BSD is not going to be available until the 14th to do this.

In any event, I was browsing the Shutterfly site, and I am so excited about all of the new designs they have available. I'm going to assume that I am going to use only one photo on my card. I've narrowed it down to these three choices...

Choice #1: I like the design on this one. I also like that it has more space dedicated to the photo than to the design.

Here's choice #2. I like this one because it really allows for a large picture. I don't really care for ones that print designs ON TOP of the photo, but I think this one is subtle enough not to overpower the picture, yet it makes a nice impact. Especially on a B&W photo.

Choice #3. I think this one is just sweet. It's a 5x5 square so that alone makes an impact. I also like the colors and that the year is printed on the front like that. a sister out. Which one do you like best? 

Do you send out photo cards? What about family letters? Bet you're afraid to answer that last question now, huh?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like Christmas....

The Big Ballerina has a very short Christmas list. The main item on her list is an electric scooter. Being a mom. And a woman. Or in other words. A normal-thinking human. It is obvious to me that Santa will leave an electric scooter under the tree this year.

Enter BSD. The dad. A man. Or in other words. A backwards-thinking human.

The setting: Lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant today.

"BB wants an electric scooter for Christmas. It's the only real gift on her list," I report.

"Santa can't just give BB a scooter. He has to bring one for LB also. You know LB will use it without asking if she doesn't have one too," BSD reasons.

"This is true. But, if LB gets her own, she's likely to take off to North Carolina on it. Giving her something with that much potential for freedom is hazardous to her health and mine," I counter back.

"No, LB will have to have one too. Maybe Santa shouldn't get them scooters. Besides I'm going to get them something else anyway."

As soon as the words escape his lips, he knows he's hosed.

"What? What are you talking about?! What?!? What are you planning to get them?!?!" I begin tearing into him like a dog with a new bone.

"Nothing. Forget I said anything. It's not a big deal," he sighs, trying to back himself out of his corner.

"No. What are you getting them? What is it?! It's not another sewing machine is it?!?" I gnaw a little more.

Laughing, BSD replies, "No. It's not a sewing machine."

"What? What is it?! It better not be a dog. Or some other crazy idea that I'm going to have to take care of!" grr. grrr. grrrr.

More laughter, "It's not a dog. It's not a snake. It's nothing motorized," he assures me.

And then he pauses.

"It's a boat! You're getting them a boat?!?" The man forgot that I'm a witch. I know things.

Staring at me in disbelief, he confesses. "'s a kayak. But it's not a big one. It's not expensive. WHY did I even open my mouth?"

Deja-vu to last Christmas again. The same words he spoke about the sorry sewing machine he bought last year.

"Actually, I'm getting two. One for BB and one for LB. We need two," he continues. There's that same logic again.

I shake my head. How can he think this is a good idea?

"But they didn't ASK for kayaks. And they can't use them until the summer. At least they can use the scooter right away. Not to mention that BB ASKED for a scooter! Get them the kayaks for their birthdays in March when they can start using them!" I continue chewing on his ass my bone.

"Let's just tell Santa to bring them both the scooters and the kayaks," he declares.

"What??!! That's too much! They don't need all that. Save the kayaks for their birthdays. It's perfect for their birthdays."

"No. Santa is bringing them kayaks. Christmas is for kids. It's supposed to be magical. And full of presents," he begins to preach.

I sit quietly as he pays the lunch tab, and continues to wax poetic about the wonders of the season.

OK, Father Christmas. Get your kayaks. But Santa will not be bringing any scooters. We'll see how excited the ballerinas are on Christmas morning. When you explain that they can't take them down to the beach until May!

P.S. - Thank you for the sweet comments regarding my mom. She is still in the hospital. It's bad. It's not going to get better. But she's hanging in there as best as she can.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November Family Photo: Thankful

 There is nothing I am more thankful for than moments like this.
 Snuggled deep under the covers with my peeps. Cozy and warm.

Breathing in the love.

That's where I want to be. 

November started off wonderfully. With plenty of family time. And moments like these.

And then my world turned upside down.

My mom was admitted to the hospital on Thursday. After just having gallstones removed a few days prior, it was discovered that the real problem causing her excruciating pain is a tumor blocking her intestines. The cancer she's been fighting for years has now created a major problem. And the doctors cannot remove it. There are no definite answers. There is no prescribed course of action. It is a day by day waiting game. 

Fortunately, each day has brought a tiny glimmer of hope. Today the fight was back in her voice. She quizzed me to make sure I knew how to make our special family stuffing recipe. And we laughed.

So, on this Thanksgiving eve, while I am thankful that I will share a moment like this tomorrow morning...
 I am most thankful for the laughter that I shared with my mom today.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hammie Sammies on Sweet Potato Biscuits

I normally wouldn't post two recipes in a row, but I'm so excited about this one. 

BSD works odd hours so we often "do lunch" instead of date nights. No worries about babysitters that way. And the same food costs almost half the price.

A few weeks ago we went to a little cafe that cooks by the "Buy Local, Eat Fresh" motto. I had to try the sweet potato biscuits when I saw it on the special's board. C'mon "sweet potato biscuits?" The name alone is adorable! And the little hammie sammie (along with a tiny green salad and ramekin of lentil soup) they served me did not disappoint. I haven't stopped thinking about those biscuits since.

BSD hasn't been free for lunch lately so I decided to try making them myself. And I hit pay dirt! I just whipped up a dozen, and with the help of the butcher, I figured out the proper ham to use. 

I've already eaten one biscuit plus two hammie sammies. I think I'm going to explode. But it was so worth it.  They were warm out of the oven and oh, so moist. The "country ham" smells a bit funky, but tastes a lot like prosciutto to this Yankee with European roots. I slathered them up with some peach jam and jammed them into my mouth.

Try them! Trust me. You don't have to be a sweet potato lover to like them. You don't even have to make hammie sammies out of them. 

Eat them plain,
With a little butter,
Or a little jam. 
Eat them for breakfast, 
or lunch or dinner.
Just eat them, eat them, 
Sam I am!

Sweet Potato Biscuits
makes 12
1 cup mashed baked sweet potato (1 large) (I just nuked it in the microwave about 8 min.)
2/3 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted (I only had salted tonight. Worked fine.)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Parchment paper

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.*
  • In a medium bowl, mix the sweet potato, milk and butter.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  • Gently mix the dry ingredients into the sweet potato mixture to form a soft dough.
  • Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a deep golden orange tinged with brown.
  • Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack.
* The picture above shows the dough on a greased baking sheet. I have since discovered that they cook better without greasing the pan. Just line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
    NOTE: The ham is called "Country Ham." I bought it sliced THIN at the deli counter. The label read "Red Eye," but I think the brand was Smithfield. That may be a local Virginia brand, though. If you're making them for a BIG party, you can buy a whole ham. It comes in a cloth bag here and is not refrigerated. This is a cured, smoked? ham. Salty taste, but luckily, not overbearing. It really is a lot like prosciutto.

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    The Big Red Pot: Pumpkin Chili

    When the weather turns brisk, out comes the big red pot. I love this pot. I've had it for years. I'll have it forever. It's cast-iron and could easily be used as a lethal weapon it's so heavy.

    Last week, the big red pot simmered with Pumpkin Chili. It's a recipe that we discovered in 2001. By 2002, we lost the magazine it came from, and we hadn't been able to make it since.

    After much determination, I finally found the missing recipe, and promptly pulled out the big red pot to make a batch. To prevent another eight years from passing before we make it again, I'm going to post the recipe here. It's vegetarian, but very hearty. Definitely satisfying for carnivores as well.

    The original recipe was actually a pumpkin and black bean soup, but I like chili better than soup so it's been majorly doctored. It's super easy to make. Just dice up a few veggies, open A LOT of cans, dump and simmer. Done. It seems all of the ingredients I used came from Trader Joe's this time around. I think they should throw me a kickback for all of this free advertising! A gift card would be fine, Joe.

    Pumpkin Chili
    1 Tbsp. olive oil
    4 garlic cloves, minced (I just use a garlic press)
    1 yellow onion, diced
    1 cup diced red pepper
    1 cup diced green pepper (sometimes I just use 2 cups of one color. doesn't matter) 
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
    1 small jar chipotle salsa (I used half a jar of the Garlic Chipotle Salsa from Trader Joe's)
    6 cups vegetable broth
    2 15 oz. cans solid pack pumpkin
    4 15 oz. cans of beans (whatever kind you like. I used black, kidney, cannellini, & pinto.)
    1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained. (I used one 15 oz can, drained.)
    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro. (Don't skimp!)

    In a large pot, heat oil and cook garlic, onion, red and green peppers over med-high heat until tender, about 6 minutes.

    Add cumin, cayenne and salsa. Cook for 1 minute longer.

    Add vegetable broth and pumpkin. Stir to blend well. Cook for 5 minutes.

    Stir in beans, corn and cilantro. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so.

    Garnish with sprigs of cilantro and grated cheese, or any other chili toppings you like.

    NOTE: This chili tastes better the next day and the next. The more time the flavors have a chance to meld, the better. Great dish to stick in a crockpot and bring to a potluck.

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Sunday Slide Show: Indoor Natural Light

    Today was my Portrait class. I mentioned earlier that the assignment was to shoot using indoor natural light. I also mentioned that I had become obsessed with looking for light. Luckily, my friend, Nicole who is taking the class with me also became obsessed. So together the two of us drove our families, friends and neighbors nuts. Not to mention ourselves.

    Even though we never found the location of our dreams, I think we both came away with some good new knowledge. All self-inflicted, through fumbles and foils. Due to a deep-seated need to follow the rules to a tee.

    I am beginning to see where the big ballerina gets her safety patrol instincts from. There were classmates (not ME or Nicole, of course) who did NOT follow the rules. And, boy were there kicks under the table and disapproving glances passed between the two of us this afternoon. Yep, I think Nicole and I were definitely high-ranking safety patrol officers back in the day.

    Were my pictures perfect? Hell, no.

    Did I follow the rules? You betcha.

    Integrity, baby. Integrity.

    Critique: "Light too harsh."

    Critique: "Much better. Light patterns on the wall make the pictures interesting." 

     (BSD in his shaping room)

    Me: I really feel like these captured the assignment the best. Definitely portraits and the location helps tell a story. 

    Teacher: Yes. Good use of light. You can tell he's in an industrial place. Power cords. Tools. And that thing in the middle.

    Teacher is definitely not a surfer.