Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fun. Show all posts

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's My Birthday!

Well...technically, not today.  My birthday's on Sunday.  But...close enough.

It's funny, I don't get quite as excited as I used to get about birthdays.  Remember, when we were little?

This is me.

See the chubby cheeks and the dimples?

Why aren't chubby cheeks and dimples cute on me any more?  And why aren't birthdays as much fun as they used to be?

I remember when I would notice my "half birthday".  I would comment on the fact that I was 8 and a half years old or 11 and a half years old.  Yippee!!

I've arrived at this conclusion.  Getting old sucks.

I don't like gray hair.  I work very hard at eliminating every one.  Wrinkles are no fun.  I'm noticing more all the time.  Gravity is not my friend.

That's just the surface stuff.  The real kicker is what's going on inside - the aches and pains that have developed since I turned 40 leave me wondering how I'll make it to 70 - forget that, how I'll make it to 50!

I have to say, there are a few benefits to aging.  Self-control is something I have gained.  I have far more patience and deeper relationships with family, friends and the Lord.  These things are priceless. 

If only I could do a Benjamin Button and have that young body (not too young, maybe mid-twenty-ish) with this old mind, I would have it made!

Oh well, here we are.  My birthday is coming, whether I like it or not.  So, to those who care and will be buying me gifts (you know who you are.) 

  • I love coffee and salted caramels.  
  • I need something good to read.  
  • I don't have a decent pair of jeans that fit.  
  • I'm dying for a pedicure.  
  • I would love a nice dinner out (preferably Thai) and 
  • a movie would go great with dinner! 

But really, you don't need to get me anything.  I'm too old to celebrate birthdays.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Back to the Ranch

What a great weekend! 

Sometimes it seems like the weekend is filled with one activity after another.  This one was blissfully relaxing.

Saturday we returned to beautiful Calicinto Ranch, one of our favorite places on earth. 

We went there with our church family from Convergence and we had a blast, in spite of the tarantulas.  Right, Dina?

What I really loved about the day, beside the horses, the great food, the beautiful blue skies, the wonderful Pirelli family, the hay rides

 and all the other fun, was the opportunity to spend extra time with family, our church family. 

Sundays are great.  We get together,  chat over a cup of coffee, worship and learn together, but it's a brief period of time and then we're gone - off doing our own thing, busy with our lives.

Spending this time together, creating shared memories, was a great opportunity to draw our family closer together. 

Thanks Pastor Norb, aka Sheriff Norb, for providing us with this opportunity to be together.  It was a much-needed break.

The petting zoo was a huge hit. 

For these suburban kids, it took a while to figure out which end of the chicken they should grab!

This is me with my cowgirl Rachel and my mom.  There is no place on earth that Rachel would rather be than at Calicinto Ranch, riding a horse.  She has adopted the Pirelli's as her second family.

I have to give a special shout-out to Erick and Mariesa.  Thanks Erick for providing many of these pictures.  Erick and Mariesa are my personal heroes. 

These three boys are the reason why.  Take a good long look at these boys.  They are Sam, Harrison and Zack.  They are twelve years old.  Erick and Mariesa are the fearless junior high leaders at our church.

Pray for Erick and Mariesa.

It was a great weekend.  God is good.

Right Steve?   Steve...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sugar Rush

This morning, my children woke up from a sugar coma and went to school.  Halloween is over and the holiday season officially kicks into full gear.

This is a pumpkin that Rachel carved last week in anticipation of next year's mission trip to Africa.  Actually, she said that our youth pastor Chris carved most of it, but she got to take it home.  Pretty cool, huh?

Last night we went over to our friend's, the Grams, for a little trick-or-treating.  Sam and Harrison went door-to-door.  Rachel dressed up but decided she would just stroll through the neighborhood with mom and dad, commenting on all the cute little kids and their costumes and trying to keep up with two boys jacked up on sugar.

Harrison was a little bit scary, Rachel was a little bit country and Sam went retro with the classic ghost sheet costume, inspired by a viewing of It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  Rachel asked him what he would do if somebody gave him a rock.  I think he was hoping they would!

It was a beautiful night and the air was crisp.  We hit the mother lode of neighborhoods, with lots of young families, super cute little kids and houses handing out handfuls of candy.   It didn't take long for the boys to fill up their pillowcases until they were almost too heavy to carry.

When we got home, Yoda greeted us on our doorstep.  We discovered something this year.  My son-in-law-to-be, let's just call him Daniel, has a secret hidden talent.  He is an amazing pumpkin carver.  This is his creation.

This pumpkin amazing is not, hmm?  Yeesssssss.

Ashley and Daniel spent the evening at home, watching The Village and handing out candy to the handful of trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood.  Ashley recently went on the wagon.  Or off the wagon, the candy wagon, that is.  She's had a problem for years.  Ashley is a candy addict.  This is hard for a mother to admit about her child, but it's true.   She decided (probably due to an impending wedding) that she would cut out sugar completely!  Yikes!

She has had migraines and serious withdrawal from her sugar habit, but she is sticking to her guns and is starting to feel much better for it.

Well, we arrived home last night and dumped this on the kitchen table.

Let me warn you now.  This next picture is not pretty.  If you've never seen an addict in the throes of withdrawal, avert your eyes.  If there are children in the room, they should leave now.

Okay, I've warned you.

It was sad.  She has a crazed look in her eyes.  Sam was in bed, so he had no idea what was happening to his dear sister (or his beloved candy).  Somebody help this woman!

Well, we pulled Ashley away before any real damage was done, and did the drug sweep through the candy.  Daniel pulled out two suspicious looking candy bars that he figured he should keep himself and examine thoroughly.  I know he's just looking out for the kids.  What a nice guy!

Ashley decided that next to eating candy, she loved to sort candy.  YES!  You read that right.  Every year, she would sort and re-sort her candy endlessly, organizing it into categories and colors.  Must be a girl thing, because my sister and I did the same thing when we were kids.  I think Daniel was a bit baffled by the sorting thing, but it made Ashley feel better and prevented her from diving in and eating the candy, so he humored her and helped with the sorting.

There's Ashley, still sugar free, and organized.  Now, that's love!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Apple A Day

I just had apple pie for breakfast.  (No, Daniel, I didn't eat yours.)  This is the way I look at it.  My nephew Zachary used to call the crust the "bread of the pie," so it's kind of like toast, right?  and there are apples inside.  You know what they say.  "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."  I just did myself a favor by eating that pie for breakfast!

We went apple picking on Sunday afternoon.  After church on Sunday morning a gang of us hopped in our cars and headed up to Oak Glen, nestled in the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains.  It is the height of apple season, so now is the perfect time.  If you live in southern California it's just over an hour from Orange County and 90 minutes from LA.

After a delicious lunch of ribs and pulled pork sandwiches at The Rib Cage, we got down to business.  This is what we came for - pie!  There are dozens of places to buy fresh-baked pies in Oak Glen but our friends, Mark and Patty, who were our tour guides for the day, swear by the pie at Law's. 

They have a cinnamon sauce to pour over their pies.  We have to agree, their pies are amazing.  We bought a pie, some cinnamon sauce and some ice cream and devoured a pie right then and there.  If you take a trip to Oak Glen be warned, the service at Law's is sloooow, but if you are not in a hurry, the pies are worth the wait.  If you are in a hurry, what are you doing strolling around Oak Glen?

After devouring our pie we knew that wasn't enough, so we had to buy a pie to take home.  Well, maybe we should buy two...

 or three...  Dang!  That pie was good.

After consuming mass quantities of food, we figured it was time to do some walking, so we headed down the road to Los Rios Rancho for apple picking.

First, we braved the corn maze and took a few wrong turns along the way, but eventually made it through to the other side. 

A word to the wise, remember kids,  no matter where you are, always watch out for strangers.

Some are stranger than others.

Finally, it was time to pick apples.  After all the preamble, apple picking was a bit anti-climactic.  The varieties that were available last weekend were a bit picked over and the ones that were loaded on the trees were not yet available to be picked, but we managed to fill a bag and get a photo-op, or two.

"Mom, are we posing for this lame picture for your blog?" 

Why would they say that?

Even though the u-pick apples were picked over, there was a great variety of delicious apples available at the stand.  We loaded up the car with our favorites and a few caramel apples for the kids.  I love Pippen, nice and tart, and discovered that Braeburns are just the right amount of sweet, plus they are crisp and juicy.  Sam and Rachel were greatly amused when they discovered that there is a real variety of apple called a Macintosh, and that it's not just a computer. (The only computer worth owning, their father says.)

If you are able, I would advise you to go to Oak Glen during the week when the crowds are lighter.  If you are interested in more than eating and buying apples, like we were, there are many other great things to see and do in Oak Glen.  The Old Schoolhouse is a fun place to visit and Riley's Farm has family activities year round.

Don't forget your apple a day - crispy juicy apples, or apple pie, apple crisp, caramel apples...


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's Too Darn Hot!

Summer came late to Orange County.  Yesterday's temperature peaked at 111 degrees.  My brother posted this lovely picture from the back patio at his house in Fountain Valley, where the cool ocean breezes blow.

Granted, this was taken in direct sun, but you get the point.  I don't care what they say about dry heat or humid heat.  111 degrees is stupid hot!  It's hellfire and brimstone hot. 

The day started out fine.  The A/C was pumping and I was cool as a cucumber at home.  Then it came time to pick up the kids from school.  I opened the front door and it was like opening the door to a blast furnace.  Making two trips back and forth from school in a car with the A/C on the fritz was when things started to roll downhill.  I came back in the house and collapsed on the sofa with a glass of ice tea, desperately trying to cool down.

I always try to make the best of every situation, so I thought it would be fun to conduct a little experiment.  I've always heard the phrase "hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk," and figured this would be the perfect day to see if it could be done.

I wasn't kidding when I said it was hot.  The poor little egg was sweating before we even started. 

We decided to try our experiment on two surfaces, the lighter colored sidewalk and the darker blacktop of the road.   In case you're wondering at this point, yes, my kids do think I'm nuts and I have absolutely no idea what my neighbors think when they see me cracking eggs out on the street.

Well, my kids might think I have a few screws loose but they still joined in on the fun. 

We cracked our two eggs and there was no immediate sizzle, so we set our timers for half an hour and went inside to escape the scorching sun.

By this time, I think the heat was starting to get to me, and I started hatching a plan for another experiment. 

Half an hour later and our sidewalk egg looked the same as it did when we first cracked it.  Our road egg was beginning to look a bit more promising however, so we left it out there to simmer for a bit longer and went back inside.

After about an hour and a half, the yolk of the egg was cooked.  This picture may not show it, but it is firm.  The white of the egg didn't change color much but that egg was definitely cooked.
While all this egg cooking was going on I started wondering about crayons, so we set up a little experiment in the backyard to see which color of crayon would melt the fastest.

Now, yesterday, as I was doing this, it all seemed perfectly normal to me.  Today, as I sit at my computer and write it all down and look at the pictures I realize how strange the whole thing really is.  Sometimes something sounds so good in my head but then when I say it out loud or tell somebody else...

Anyway, this is what I really and truly did yesterday.  I'm blaming the heat, because things didn't get any better.  After an hour of cooking in the sun our little black crayon was starting to look like a little black puddle.  The red crayon and orange crayons were beginning to sweat and the white crayon was as cool as a cucumber. 

This is when the A/C quit.

The rest of the evening is a blur.  We sat in the house for a while praying it would come back on.

Because of the high energy use all over southern California, there were rolling blackouts.  When the temperature inside our house hit 90 degrees we abandoned ship and headed for cooler pastures (our local Mimi's restaurant,) where we tried to cool off with gallons of ice water.  But even in the restaurant the air conditioner was having a hard time keeping up with the heat.  Our poor waiter was looking very wilted and when we were done we headed back home praying that the air was back on.

By this time however, the heat had done it's damage.  My fun little experiments with eggs and crayons were nothing compared to what the heat had done to my family. 

The rest of the night literally melted down.  Homework and life just became more than anyone in our household could manage.  I wanted to curl up under a fan and sleep for a year.  But that wasn't possible.  The heat had short-circuited our brains and our emotions and we all wound up in a blubbering overheated mess. 

Last night we turned that A/C up high.  There was an Arctic breeze blowing through the house and it felt good.  We woke up with our parkas on and I'm praying that this hot spell is over and that sanity returns to our home. 

(I wonder if you could make s'mores by melting marshmallows in the sun?)

Monday, September 27, 2010


Last Friday Steve and I got a birds-eye view of Orange County. 

We rode the giant balloon at the Orange County Great Park.  Those of you who live in Orange County will remember the heated debate that went on for years following the closure of the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro.  Plans to develop this site into an airport were thwarted and this area encompassing over 200 acres is being developed as a multi-use park

On Friday, the Media Alliance of Orange County hosted an event at the park to promote awareness of this site.  The Media Alliance is an organization that was formed to promote media business in Orange County.

At this time, a small portion of the park has been developed, with plans to expand the park more each year.  While the park is under expansion, the undeveloped areas are available to use as sites for filming, photography or hosting special events.  Thanks, Brian for the great tour of the park and the amazing spaces surrounding it!

There are several runways that are still operational.  They are used on an ongoing basis for car testing and to film car commercials.  They have also been transformed into multi-lane highways for filming movie scenes.  There are abandoned airplane hangars and other outbuildings throughout the grounds that have been used in movies such as The Transformers and Eagle Eye and in the television series 24.

For large corporate events, there is a large venue that was developed for the Cirque du Soleil Kazoo show.  For smaller events, the Hangar 244 is a great option.  If you are interested in filming or hosting an event at the Great Park, visit

For families, the Great Park has plenty to offer.  I don't know about you, but I am always looking for something that is cheap or free to do with the family.  Balloon rides are free, as are all of the events listed below.  Parking is $10 per car. 

Look at the variety of events they are offering in October alone!

-Saturday, October 9 @ 7:00 - Load up the car and bring the whole family for a movie on the lawn, The Karate Kid.  Bring your lawn chairs and some blankets and settle in to watch this fun family movie on the big screen. (free parking for this event)

-Saturday, October 23 there will be a Great Park Pumpkin Harvest and Food Drive with plenty of activities for the whole family, including a pumpkin patch (every child takes home a free pumpkin!), arts activities, carnival games, a hay maze, horse drawn wagons and more.

 - Saturdays at 10:00 through November 6, The Orange County Great Park is presenting a series of gardening education workshops in sustainable home gardening led by the University of California Master Gardeners. (free parking for these events)

I have provided just a snapshot of what the the Orange County Great Park has to offer. 

It's definitely one of Orange County's best-kept secrets.  Check it out!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Alpha Dog

Spoiler Alert!  If you are an animal lover, you may not want to read on.

I'm over my pets.  I am done.  I have never been what you would call an animal lover, more like an animal 'liker'.  Now, I am at a point where I can barely tolerate the beasts.  I know, for some of you who adore all living creatures and bring home every stray, this is hard to read.  There are others of you, however, that are wondering why I ever allowed four-legged creatures into my house in the first place.

The cat came first.  Skipper arrived as a kitten - so cute and black and cuddly.  She grew up.

Now she is confined to my bedroom when she is in the house, well, our room, since I do have a roommate of 29 years.  Why our room, you ask?  I'll get to that later, since it relates to the dog.

Back to the cat.  She curls up in the middle of my our bed and every time I walk in the room talks to me, (yes, that's right, talks) begging for attention, wanting to be scratched, petted or cuddled.  I'm not a petting, cuddling kind of person.  She is getting on my nerves.  To make matters worse, my husband has become a cat person.  Really.

 I came down the hallway the other night and heard him whispering to someone in our bedroom.  "Does that feel good?"  I stopped dead in my tracks.  Who on earth was in there with him?  I turned the corner and there she was, the little tramp, purring so loudly the neighbors could hear, while he scratched her behind the ears.  He never scratches me behind the ears.

He was always so proud of the fact that he was a "dog guy", but now I fear that he will become that crazy cat man you always see on the 6:00 news, with twenty cats and a city ordinance against him.  It's a slippery slope.

Skipper's not satisfied staying in at night either.  She settles in for a while and then, when she's sure that I'm fast asleep, she sits right on top of me meowing until I let her out.  She doesn't bother with her best friend Steve.  He sleeps like a log and only wakes up if the house is on fire.  If I leave her out, she sits right outside our door begging to come in.  She is one fickle cat.

Now, let's deal with the dog.  Even worse than the cat, she is my nemesis.  We got her from a local animal shelter and I felt like we were really doing a good thing, rescuing her.  What was I thinking?  Dogs come with dog hair.  Who knew.

Dog hair ends up everywhere, even places the dog doesn't go.  It is the bane of my existence.  Far worse than dog hair, however, is dog poop and dog pee.  That is the delicate Christian blog way of wording it.  I have other words for it that I won't share with you today but if you happen to be at my house when Casey "has an accident", you may hear those words.  They are angry words that I use when I have had enough of cleaning up after this mangy mutt.

Now, I told you that the cat curls up on my bed, well, the dog sits right in my spot on the sofa.  She sits there and looks up at my as if to say, "What are you gonna do about it?" 

I look right back at her with my best alpha dog face and, needless to say, she moves, leaving her little doggie hairs behind.  We have dog hair removers placed strategically throughout the house.

There's the dog hair, the dog poop, the dog attempts at domination, the dog odor, and of course the constant, relentless, unending chasing of the cat by the dog.  This is why the cat resides in my bedroom.  The dog will not leave her alone.  She lives and breathes to chase that cat.

All of these things are reasons enough to be done with the dog, but the final straw came last week.  I was in the backyard, picking up little doggie treasures from the lawn.  I could see something buried in the dirt.  It was black and I peered closer.  I finally pulled at it and could not believe my eyes.  That crazy dog had buried my bra!  This is the honest to goodness truth.  I decided then and there that my little beagle is a pervert and a thief.  She has to go.

I have calmed down since then and reminded myself that when we brought these little creatures home, we committed to them for life.  My daughters leave hair all over the bathroom floor and I haven't gotten rid of them (yet).  The men in the house are always stealing the remote and I haven't told them to hit the road.  We put up with each other, in spite of the things that drive us crazy.

They're just lucky that they have me.  I'm the only sane one in the house.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Today I am dreaming of all things French, as my sweet daughter just arrived back home from a business trip to Paris.   Rough business, huh?  Ashley works for Made Goods, a company that manufactures and sells the most gorgeous mirrors and chandeliers to boutiques and designers.  Part of her job is traveling to home shows and her latest trip was to Paris for the annual Maison & Object Trade Show filled with beautiful treasures from around the world.  I tried to get them to take me along as a mirror putter-upper, but these mirrors are way too heavy for me.  Maybe next year I can go along with my Windex bottle and some paper towels!

(I have to make an apology here, I have no idea how to place the sweet little accents over my e's, as is proper in many French words.  I tried to figure it out and could not, so apologies to the French and those of you who speak French for the absence of proper accents on words.  It was really bugging me, but I'm over it now.)

While most of her time there was spent working, Ashley did have time to see some of the sights and apparently she ate very well while she was there.  One of the highlights of her trip was a visit to the world famous La Duree tea salon.

This is a sampling of the pastry counter inside. It almost makes me weep.

This Parisian tea room was founded in 1862 and it was here that the decadent double-decker macaroon was invented.  I have never been to France, but if, rather when I go, this will be what I spend my money on.  I will arrive back at home weighing twenty pounds more than when I left.  Just thinking about croissants and pastries and every other delicious French delicacy is adding pounds as I'm sitting here typing.

Well, Ashley knows her mama well, and she did not leave La Duree empty-handed.
How cute is she, looking so French with her little green bag?

That little bag contained some treasures.  All I can say is - oo la la!

For starters, there were macaroons for her sister, which Rachel was sweet enough to share.  As Rachel described the rose macaroon, "It tastes just like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when they said it was like eating a real flower!" A-maz-ing!  I would show you a picture but we gobbled them up before I could grab my camera.

Now, I know you will be jealous when I describe what Ashley brought back for me.  Because you probably just ate a piece of cold pizza, or a peanut butter sandwich or a cup of yogurt, but sometimes, when you get something real good, you've just got to brag.  I am sorry if I cause you to sin, but here is a sneak peek.  This is just the packaging.
I know, the boxes themselves look good enough to eat!

Before I get to my Laduree goodies, Ashley also visited Fauchon, and bought me a jar of melt-in-your-mouth lavender honey that was delicious on my toast this morning.  Yum!

Now, in the pretty blue box was a jar of Caramel au beurre sale, caramel butter sauce. It is so rich and delicious that I haven't decided what other ingredients are worthy of its presence, so I just keep sticking my finger in the jar and licking it off (don't tell my kids!)

The jar inside the purple box is the piece de resistance.  I was born for these kinds of delicacies.  I should live like this every day.  I could get used to this!

This was not Ashley's first choice.  She had picked up something else, but the all-knowing French saleslady shook her head and said,  "Non!"  She picked up this treat and told Ashley this was the one she must buy.  Like the obedient American she is, Ashley bought it.  That lady knew what she was talking about.

It is called Delice au The Marie-Antoinette.  This incredible delicacy is a spread for toast or bread and is hard to describe, except to say, it tastes just like you would expect Marie-Antoinette to taste - rich, delicious, sweet, citrusy, but a bit tart and exotic.  I have never tasted anything quite like this before. 

It's good to be queen!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

 "Age is not a particularly interesting subject.  Anyone can get old.  All you have to do is live long enough."
  ~Groucho Marx

My body is falling victim to some terrifying vandalism and the latest body part to fall prey is my hands.  I don't know when it happened, but one night "they" came, crept in while I was sleeping and took my beautiful, youthful long-fingered soft-skinned hands and left me with these (I have another one that matches).

I hadn't really paid a lot of attention to my hands until I downloaded some pictures and realized I had inadvertently snapped a picture of my hand - there was the evidence.  It was really quite shocking, like the first time I realized Mick Jagger was old enough to get the senior's discount at Denny's (not that Mick is heading there for a Grand Slam breakfast any time soon.)  I don't know who these hands belonged to before, but they look like my grandmother's hands, not mine.  While the rest of my body is getting a little more... well...rounded, these hands are almost skeletal, with veins popping out, scaly skin and spots appearing everywhere.

I'm alarmed.  I don't know who "they" are, the perpetrators of this horrible crime, running around willy-nilly wreaking havoc in the night, but I can't imagine what body part they're going to take next and who they are switching parts with.  All I know is some dear old lady is sitting in her chair admiring a pair of beautiful velvet-skinned hands at this very minute, wondering where on earth they came from.

Now, I live in California, land of sun, surf, and surgery - cosmetic surgery that is.  You may find this hard to believe, but one of the latest trends in cosmetic surgery is hand rejuvenation treatment.  Yes, it's true.  Just when we thought there wasn't a single inch of our bodies left that someone hadn't nipped, tucked, plumped or tweezed, the caring physicians in the field of cosmetic surgery took it upon themselves to show us how critical it is to our health and well-being to take care of yet one more flawed body part.

I became aware of this vital information recently while purchasing tacos.  Yes,  I do all my heavy reading while sitting on a bench waiting in line on Taco Tuesday.  Our illustrious Orange County magazines are jam-packed with ads for cosmetic surgeons ready to nip and tuck you within an inch of your life and apparently, the latest part of our bodies that should bring us mortal shame is our hands.  So, for a mere $300-$3,000 (I guess they need to see them first) they can "restore a youthful appearance" to my hands.

As I am sitting here writing about this, the dots are starting to connect.  Be patient with me, sometimes I'm a slow learner.  I suppose it's no coincidence that on Taco Tuesday I stared at a magazine with several ads for hand rejuvenation, shaking my head at the vanity of some women while admiring the gorgeous hands in the magazine.

Less than a week later the fateful picture was taken and I saw my own hands in a way I had never seen them before, as the hands of an old woman  - "my grandmother's hands."  

Now I'm starting to wonder, what is wrong with my grandmother's hands?  I love my grandmothers.  I named this blog after both of them.  They were powerful women of faith and integrity that raised their children to love God.  What I wouldn't do for the chance to sit beside either one of them for one more hour holding their precious hands.

A lot of hard work went into getting my hands to look this way.  These hands have changed diapers, washed dishes, pulled weeds, done the wave at baseball games, applauded at countless recitals and award ceremonies, been folded in prayer, been caressed, washed dishes, dried tears, grabbed the remote, brought comfort, built sandcastles, pet the dog, did I mention wash dishes (?) and been held by my husband twice while he placed rings on my finger - on my wedding day and on our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

Every line tells a story, every wrinkle is a part of my history, every freckle has been earned.  I guess I figured out who the body snatchers are and they are not prying a dollar out of these beautiful hands!  They are mine and I'm keeping them.

"Grow old along with me!  The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.
  Our times are in his hand who saith, 'A whole I planned, youth shows but half; 
  Trust God:  See all, nor be afraid!'"
  ~Robert Browning

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Curdled Cream, Nick Nacks and Lemon Meringue Pie

This post was, by far, the most time-consuming post I have ever composed.  In fact, I am fairly certain that it is the most time-consuming post in the history of the blogosphere.  I meant to post yesterday but I couldn't get it completed in time.  Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  The lighting was bad.  I didn't follow directions.  The cream for my coffee was curdled.  I could go on, but I will spare you all the ugly details.

I would feel marginally better if this post were about quantum physics or how to solve the HIV/AIDS pandemic but it is about pie.  That's it - pie.  It's really good pie, but it is just pie.  You can decide if it was worth all the effort.

This recipe is from one of my best friends ever.

I have known Lisa since we were both fifteen.  That is more than a few years ago, to put it mildly.

When I first met Lisa, she was like a human energy field.  She was the quintessential beautiful blond California girl.  Guys were drawn to her like moths to a flame.  Girls wanted to be around her because, well, we wanted to be like her.  She was cute and nice and fun and very funny.  Fun and funny were vital to me when I was fifteen.

Plus, Lisa was loud.

That was very important too because I needed somebody that could match my decibel level.  When we entered a room together, you knew we were there.  Lisa and I were generally in the company of our good friends Tam or Laurie or some combination thereof.  We were a force to be reckoned with.

Lisa and I were also really smart.  Let me tell you how smart we were.  Our youth group had a rent-a-kid auction where people in the church could rent some of the youth for the day, to do chores.  The money raised was going toward our upcoming trip.  Dennis, our youth pastor, was reading off the different chores available and mentioned the need for two people for "light housekeeping."  Lisa and I jumped up, eager to grab the easiest task on the list.  "See you later suckas!"  we yelled as we raced out the door. 

We came to a bungalow on a tidy street and met a sweet little lady who escorted us into her spotless home.  We grinned at each other, gloating over our good fortune.  We figured we would be in and out of there in no time and tanning by the pool while everyone else was slaving away painting or hauling trash.  She walked us into her living room and...there it was.  A wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling collection of every kind of figurine, ornament and tchotchke ever created.

Our task for the day was to remove them all, one by one, dust them, dust the shelf and return them to their exact location.  We slaved away for hours, carefully dusting and replacing every little nick nack.  Needless to say,  we were the last ones to arrive at the pool party and Lisa and I developed a terrible phobia of dusting.

A few years after we met, my cousin Steve came to live with us.  He met Lisa and...kapow!  Game over!  He fell head over heels for this California girl.  They've been married for quite some time now and have three gorgeous kids that (thankfully) take after Lisa.  They are good-looking, sweet, smart and funny, just like their mom - okay, just a bit like their dad too. 

Lisa is also a gracious hostess and a great cook.  Whenever we get together for family events we beg her to bring dessert - either her trifle or this amazing, sweet and tart lemon meringue pie, made with lemons from her own backyard.  I asked her to share the recipe and she kindly obliged.  If you aren't blessed with lemons growing in your backyard, you can buy them in your grocery store.  This is, I promise, the best lemon pie you have ever tasted, from one of the sweetest (and smartest) people I know!

"A sweet friendship refreshes the soul."
Proverbs 27:9 (MSG)

Lisa's Lemon Meringue Pie

8 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp flour
1 3/4 c sugar
2 c boiling water
4 egg yolks beaten
2 lemon rinds grated
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c unstrained lemon juice

1. Combine the flour, corn starch and sugar.

2. Whisk in the water and sugar.  I like the word whisk, say it again, "whisk".  I think it's an onomatopoeia. - whisk.  It sounds like what we're doing, we're whisking.  Okay, I'm distracted, move along.

3. Stir until smooth.  Is this an onomatopoeia too?  Smooth.  Another good word.  I'm hung up on the sound of words today.  Smooth.  Say it with me.  Smooooooth.

4. Cook until it thickens.
Okay, I ignored Lisa here.  She said "Don't bother with a double boiler, just do it directly on the stovetop."  But, I know better because I have baked this pie exactly 0 times and Lisa has baked this pie 974 times.  Listen to Lisa and don't use a double boiler.

5. Beat 4 egg yolks.

6. Temper the yolks with the hot mixture so the eggs don't cook.  Temper means put in a little itty bit so you don't get cooked eggs.  Just drizzle a little in.   Stir,  drizzle a little more, stir, drizzle, get the idea.  Until it's all mixed together.

7. Stir in the lemon rinds, butter, salt and lemon juice.

8. Keep stirring until smooth and thick.  There's that word again.  Smoooth.  That sounds like a 70's word - bow-chicka-bow-wow - smoooth!

"until smooth and thick."  I have no idea exactly how long that will take because, again, I ignored Lisa's advice and used a double boiler, takes somewhere between 5 minutes and 5 hours.  I'm really not sure.   But the picture above shows the color and thickness before and the below picture shows the color and thickness after.

9. Pour into prepared crust.

You are welcome to get all Martha Stewart on me and bake your own crust.  I just bought the freezer crust, popped that baby in the oven and- voila!  Martha would freak!


Let me just say here - I just L-O-V-E meringue.  Meringue is divine.  It looks like little angel clouds.

5 egg whites
5 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (may substitute 1/4 tsp lemon juice)
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Beat egg whites until stiff.  It is best if they are at room temperature.

Beat these little puppies until they have peaks.  Nice light peaks but not dry.

Don't skimp on this part.  You can use an electric mixer or, if you need to relieve some aggression, do it by hand and think about that guy that cut you off in traffic yesterday or the lady in line at Starbucks who couldn't make up her flipping mind and pretend you're beating the every-living daylights out of them.  It's way better than therapy.

3. Add sugar, cream of tartar and salt.  Mix but do not over-beat.  Now it should look nice and glossy.
Whoa!  Okay, back off now.  The beating part is over.  If you still feel like beating something or someone you may need therapy.  That's okay.  We all need it eventually.

4. Cover filled pie while warm but not hot.

5. Bake for 20 minutes at 300 degrees or until top is golden brown.  

Do not, I repeat, do not walk away and go into the office chitty-chatting on Facebook for an hour and a half, uploading pictures and working on your blog until you hear the smoke alarm in your kitchen screeching, only to return to your smoke-filled kitchen where you find a burnt meringue, which you scrape off and replace with another meringue, leaving the pie tasting a little bit charred but edible nonetheless.

That would be stupid.

6. Allow to cool before cutting.
 Dang!  That looks good.

Or, if you are reckless and impatient like me, cut it the minute you are done and let the chips fall where they may!

If you have ever wondered what that expression means, "Let the chips fall where they may", it means, if you cut into your pie before Lisa says you should, you will be eating lemon meringue soup instead of lemon meringue pie.

It was so good, we went back for seconds!

I learned a lot from this post.

1.  I am not becoming a food blogger at any point in the foreseeable future.

2.  I really hate being in the kitchen.

3.  I am impatient and don't follow directions well.

4.  I'm glad I have a husband that cooks.  I wish he liked to bake.

5.  I love homemade pie.

6.  I love people who bake me pie.

If you want a copy of this recipe, without all my inane chatter (it's really good if you follow the directions) click on the link at the right......