Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bedtime Last Night

Max: Mom, will you snuggle me?

Me: Sure.

Max: And will you tell me a long, sad story?

Me: A long, sad story?

Max: Yeah, a long, sad story about war.

Me: A long, sad story about war?

Max: Yeah, like from the eighties. Or the nineties.

I climbed under the blanket next to Max, and began a fictional tale about a man who leaves his family behind to go to war during the great war of 1988. Eventually, the man lost his leg in battle and struggled to write the letter home about his misfortune, so he went silent. His family panicked when his letters stopped coming and feared the worst. Then, one day many months later, a taxi pulled up in front of the family's home and one of the little boys was looking out the window and saw a man get out with a pair of crutches. The little boy noticed right away that the man's leg was missing because his pant leg was tied in a knot. And he was so transfixed on the missing leg that he never looked up to see that it was his father, returning home from war. And, also, Milli Vanilli was playing in the background. When the doorbell rang, one by one the family members made their way to the door and into the arms of their beloved father and husband and they all enjoyed a very happy reunion.

Me: The end.

Max: That wasn't long enough.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Best of 2009

(My favorite photo of 2009. I wish Ryan had been in it instead of taking it.)

It's been a great year, and I'm so happy to have had this little corner of the Internet to write about it. I wish you a very Merry Christmas, a joyful holiday season, and a wonderful new year! I'm going to take a little blog vacation and will meet you back here again in 2010, nice and refreshed and virtually tanned. (You know, unless I think of something really great to write about before then.)


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Beer Bread Winner!

Congratulations to Michele who said,

Blogger michele said...

mmm beer bread? never had it, but sounds good. i'll have to take back the beer we gave to the neighbors, but it would be worth it.
December 16, 2009 6:35 PM
Michele, please email me at tiffany{at}wouldbewritersguild{dot}com and supply me with your shipping address.

A New Spin on an Old Classic

Please forgive the shoddy camera work and the fact that you can't rotate video images the way you can rotate photo images...

And just for the record, my son does not think I am a "hot mama." That's just his go-to phrase these days. He thinks it's hilarious.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Could Really Use a Beer Bread. Could You?

This morning after we waved goodbye to all the kids on the bus, I turned to my neighbor Anne and asked her for a beer. (What can I say? It had been a hectic morning!) Actually, the truth is that I've needed a beer for quite a while now.

Wait a minute, that last sentence wasn't quite complete. What I meant to say is that I've needed a beer for quite a while now because I wanted to make some delicious beer bread. A while ago, my friend Alicia asked if I'd make something from the Tastefully Simple line and blog about it. I had two questions for her:

1. What do you recommend I try?
2. Can we make this a giveaway?

Lucky for me and you, she thought a giveaway was a great idea and recommended the beer bread. I said it sounded deliciously scandalous; you know, considering my Mormon and Amish Splinter Group roots.

The first problem I encountered was a lack of beer. I don't drink, so I don't really know where to get a good beer. I wandered the aisles of my grocery store looking for the beer aisle. As it turns out, the great state of Pennsylvania has extremely strict liquor laws. You can't buy beer at a grocery store. Or at the gas station, where I tried next.

Life was so much simpler in liberal, alcohol-readily-available Utah.

Thankfully, Anne hooked me up with a bottle of beer and I took it inside the house and spent twenty minutes trying to locate a tool to open the bottle. Finally, I was successful (the can opener did the trick) and the bread was ready to go in the oven literally in three minutes. THREE MINUTES! I can't even poop in three minutes!

I popped it in the oven to cook for 50 minutes. The house began to smell amazing. Finally, it was time to take this puppy out of the oven.

I let it cool (a little) and then sliced it for rapid consumption taste testing. At this point, Lucy started going bananas. She really wanted some. She's usually interested in whatever I cook, but she was extremely desperate for the beer bread. She was pleading and crying with an intensity I've rarely seen in her. Then it clicked--Lucy is a Dachsund, a German breed, and you know how those Germans feel about their beer. Whoa!

I ate the bread for a mid-morning snack. Then again for lunch. Then again for an afternoon snack. And then again as I was writing this. The crust is buttery and crusty and the bread is deliciously moist and hearty.

And even though the alcohol completely cooks out, I found that I was drunk on carbohydrate happiness for the entire day. I also developed a deep yearning to watch football and hang out with the guys. And I really wanted to grill something.

I even took the liberty to model my enjoyment.

Now, please don't take my word for this. Check out Alicia's Tastefully Simple website for yourself. The products are just what they say they are--tastefully simple. And affordable. You'll find a great selection of delicious food for your own kitchen or to give as gifts.

Oops! I almost forgot the giveaway! (This is what happens when you are carbohydrate drunk.) If you would like to try the Tastefully Simple Beer Bread (which you can also make with Sprite), leave a comment! I'll accept entries until midnight on Thursday!

Monday, December 14, 2009

50 Thoughts in 5 Minutes

Ready, set, go:

  1. I want to put Max in a time capsule. 
  2. I love his age.
  3. I heard on the news that bananas and tomatoes make for a flatter stomach.
  4. Today I took my last dosage of acid reflux medicine.
  5. I don't like feeling sick after everything I eat.
  6. I have grown fond of Mondays.
  7. I like the idea of getting a lot of stuff done.
  8. I don't usually get a lot of stuff done, but I sure like the idea of it.
  9. I like working from home.
  10. It's a good fit for me.
  11. Christmas is next week.
  12. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done in the last few days.
  13. That was a good thing, because I had almost none done.
  14. I don't like the panicked feeling of not having gifts for my loved ones.
  15. I made soup with breadsticks yesterday.
  16. Yesterday was a drizzly, icy, gloomy day outside.
  17. It was the perfect day to be homebound.
  18. I made a Thai curry soup with butternut squash.
  19. I plan on having it again for lunch.
  20. Curry is Ryan's comfort food.
  21. I'm pretty fond of it myself.
  22. I took a nap on the couch.
  23. I wore my jacket and scarf all day.
  24. Today the sun is shining.
  25. Christian was disappointed at the warmer weather today.
  26. He felt like a snow day was in order.
  27. Even though there isn't any snow.
  28. I'm developing a zit on my chin.
  29. There's been a crime spree in my area.
  30. Burglar(s).
  31. I'm considering posting a note on the door.
  32. "Dear Burglars, All the jewelry here is from Target. Don't waste your time."
  33. I don't like the idea of nearby crime sprees.
  34. I much prefer nearby shopping sprees.
  35. Last week felt like a shopping spree.
  36. It was fun.
  37. Giving gifts to loved ones is fun.
  38. Ryan is a hard person to shop for.
  39. He will like anything, but he needs nothing.
  40. Other than some body repair work for his car.
  41. But Santa said it's not in the funds.
  42. My cell phone is red.
  43. I thought you should know that.
  44. My job is very busy right now.
  45. It's getting in the way of my blogging.
  46. Sometimes I feel bad if I haven't blogged in a few days.
  47. As if the blog is a living thing that must be nourished by my musings.
  48. This actually took eleven minutes to write.
  49. Because I had to take a work phone call in the middle of it.
  50. See what I mean?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Herod the Fink CD Winners!

Congratulations to the following winners:

Annie G.

Email me (tiffany at wouldbewritersguild dot com) with your shipping address and I'll get these out to you right away. And thanks to everyone who entered. I loved reading your memories!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Out of Focus

It's two weeks until Christmas and all the rush and hustle has me feeling a little blurry. I just returned from an expedition to the local post office. I was holding one large box, one large bag full of smaller packages, and shuffling two other boxes along the floor with my feet. When I finally got to the desk, the postal worker wondered why none of the packages had names or addresses. Oops. One minor detail. He didn't think it was very funny.

I think it's people like me who inspire postal employees to go, well, postal.

I sat in the dusty corner and quickly labeled all seventeen packages while seven hundred people went ahead of me in line. It was also a balmy 325 degrees in the post office. I was dripping hefty drops of perspiration onto the packages. It's like spraying the packages with perfume, only the exact opposite of that. My apologies to our giftees. The good news is that I showered today. Had I shipped these on Tuesday, I couldn't have given you that assurance.

In other news, this morning my inbox brought me a very nice email from a reader who has been anonymous until now. Her short note was so nice, it gave me a little boost for the whole day. In fact, it got me to thinking about how much power the nice little note (or email) can have.

I think I'll pull the season back into focus and write a nice little note of my own to someone else. Thanks, Heather, for starting a chain reaction.

(Don't forget to enter the giveaway for the Herod the Fink Christmas album. Leave your comment here before midnight!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Giveaway Said the Little Blog

Remember my brother Jesse? The adorable graphic designer and musician with the enviable metabolism? Well, he just released a Christmas album that I've been listening to non-stop. It's got incredible energy, lyrics, and heart. It's casual and sophisticated, all at the same time. It's my new soundtrack. (If you like Sufjan Stevens, Bright Eyes, Tom Petty, or Dustin Kensrue, you will love it too.)

My favorite song, It's Christmas Again (listen to it here), is a cheery tribute to our childhood Christmases that made me cry the first time I heard it. One line includes a very specific memory: "Then we drive up the street to Brad and LaRue's / To see the Christ child and that Herod fink too." We had this incredible neighbor named Brad Pitts (serious!) who was much more Garrison Keillor than Brad Pitt, and I mean that in a good way. (I love Garrison Keillor much more than Brad Pitt.) 

Anyway, Brad Pitts was a teacher, a poet, and an artist. He hand-crafted an entire miniature hill-side town of Bethlehem with hundreds of carved streets, homes, businesses, merchant stands, alleys, animals, and hundreds of tiny characters to fill it. You wouldn't notice at first glance (and deliberately so, I'm sure) a small stable and the humble nativity. To say it was enchanting is a severe understatement. It was a Christmas tradition for my ginormous family swarm Brad and LaRue's home each year, usually on Christmas Eve, to marvel at the scene and read the nativity story together.

Every year the amazing display grew a little more, and every year Brad arranged things a little differently, so that each time we visited it was a new, mesmerizing experience. Our favorite thing to locate each year was a tiny piece of graffiti, scrawled on a hidden wall. It said, "HEROD IS A FINK!" and it made me and my siblings giggle like you can't believe at Bethlehem's riff-raff.

Jesse's band is aptly named Herod the Fink and he embroidered that sweater himself. (He's a graphic artist, a musician, and an embroiderer too!) 

Hot off the presses, I have five CDs to give away to five lucky readers. To enter, leave me a comment telling me a favorite childhood Christmas memory of yours. And if you tweet about this, you'll be entered twice; just let me know.

For the rest of you who want to buy this fabulous album, you can buy actual CDs from Jesse for $7 each, which includes shipping in the US. It makes a great holiday gift that can't be found anywhere else. Contact him at jvcrowley{at}gmail{dot}com. In the near future, they will be available to purchase and download. I'll keep you updated when that happens.

I'll accept entries until midnight on Friday, the 11th! Good luck and Merry Christmas, everybody!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Those little freckles in the sky are birds. This snapshot I took at dusk captured only a tiny portion of the long ribbon across the sky. There were literally bujillions of them. The birds are flying south, I think. If they aren't flying south, then I think they are flying to the mall. 

It's hard to tell directions around here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bloggers' Letters to Santa

Dear Santa,
All I want for Christmas is COMMENTS. Seriously, it's all I want. 
New Blogger

Dear Santa,
I want a book deal. And a movie. (All the other veteran bloggers have one!)
Veteran Blogger

Dear Santa,
I want a more expensive camera and more color-coordinated outfits for my kids and an orchard in my backyard.
Mommy Blogger

Dear Santa,
I want a vintage, retro, modern, artsy, modge-podged Polaroid camera with which to take vintage, retro, modern, artsy photos of letterpressed stationery.
Style Blogger

Dear Santa,
I want a home security system. And a gun. Please.
Private Blogger

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's Only Thursday if You Say So

Today I woke up to play catch-up. I was catching up to yesterday. Yesterday, Wednesday, was out of control and sucked out all my energy and left me in the dust. I went to sleep at ten o'clock, deciding that I would catch up on Wednesday on Thursday. Sometimes I make up rules like that.

When I woke up, I put on my favorite red hoodie. I wore the red hoodie on Wednesday, so I figured it would help me catch the rest of Wednesday, even though it wasn't Wednesday anymore. Plus, it's so comfy.

I checked on Christian, the mutant Morning Person, who usually wakes up earlier than all of us. He was still in bed. Apparently Wednesday wore him out too. I sat on his bed and jostled him and he begged to stay in bed and miss a day of school. I told him no, but not because I wanted to. I said no because that's what a responsible mom would say and on Wednesdays I pretend to be a responsible mom. Unlucky for him, I was still stuck in Wednesday. (Thursdays are a free-for-all.)

An hour later, I carried Max's sleeping body to the bathtub. Actually, he wasn't sleeping anymore, but he was tucked in the fetal position with one-and-a-half eyes closed. So I carried him around my belly to the bathtub and told him he could bathe with or without his clothes. He laughed. If it had actually been Thursday, I would have dropped him in the bath fully clothed, just for fun. It's a shame that it was still Wednesday; I would have liked to see that.

After the bath, I helped him dress. He didn't like the clothes I picked. He called them church clothes. I told him it was picture day and that he had to look nice. Then I blow-dried his hair until he looked like Zac Efron. I waved goodbye to him on the bus and then walked back into the house with my hands in my red hoodie pockets. Wednesday was laughing at me.

I wore my red hoodie and my sweats, which are actually my pajamas, for most of the day. I wore them to the school to write a check for the pictures. I wore them to a church meeting, and I wore them while I chased Wednesday seated at my kitchen island, my fingers typing so fast it sounded like a hailstorm. Who's laughing now, Wednesday? My single act of hygiene was to wipe the smeared mascara from under my eyes.

Then I wore my red hoodie and my sweats on a walk with Ryan. The sun was shining and we talked about health care and our silly kids for 2.2 miles. Ryan was wearing only a t-shirt and shorts because December thinks it is still October. Or maybe it is just catching up like me.

After the walk, I took off the red hoodie. It had worked so hard, it was damp with sweat. I tossed it in the hamper and stepped into the shower to start Thursday at two in the afternoon.
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