On this very cold March day, I decided to create a meal that isn’t very diet friendly: tomato basil bisque & grilled cheese with truffle butter. I’ll start planning for bikini season tomorrow.
After a first tasting, I decided I would share my recipes for all to enjoy. They are that good.
I used a crockpot and a Ninja for the soup. A stove with a frying pan for the sandwich.
Spices needed: pepper, sea salt, garlic powder (or save yourself some time and just buy Camp Mix)
When you hit the grocery store, this is your list for the soup:
1 bunch of fresh basil
2 cans of 14oz organic diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes diced that would equal 28oz- if you have the time)
1 CAN (yes, can-not a jar) of organic tomato sauce
either a block of parmesan cheese or a bag of fresh grated parmesan
1 container of organic chicken broth
butter (I like the sea-salted)
1 small container of heavy cream (I went with Hood).
And for the sandwich:
1 block of cheese (I went with gouda, but you pick the kind you like best)
truffle butter (most Whole Food-like grocery stores will carry this, if not, then find a nice truffle oil and we can melt down the butter and mix this in)
bread (Listen, we NEVER have bread in the house, so you know this is a big deal. Anyway, I went with a gorgeous Tuscan Pane White)
Optional ingredients I know my husband will request: tomato and/or any kind of meat.
As far as how much of what to add for the soup- I never follow recipes to a T. I always wing it for taste. Gordon Ramsey would be pleased. The only ingredients I actually “limited” before throwing into the crockpot were of the dairy and spice categories. I used 4 tbsp of butter and a good pour of the cream that probably amounted to 3/4 a cup. The parmesan cheese I did a healthy handful…and then added some more. As for the spices, just add to taste. It’s all up to you, really.
To cook soup: add ingredients to the crockpot and set on high for 3 hours. I went ahead and blended all the ingredients (to make it a more smooth consistency, but you can keep it chunky if you like) in my Ninja after about an hour, and then added it back to the crockpot to continue to simmer. Add fresh basil on top to garnish.
For the sandwich, I would start by truffle-buttering one side two slices of bread. I might even use the truffle butter to oil the pan. Hey- I love truffles and butter, don’t judge. I think by this point if you don’t know how to make a grilled cheese from here then I certainly would be delighted to help you: butter-side-down bread to pan, cheese (add as much as you like), bread-butter-side-up. Heat on medium. I would do 3 minutes and then flip, making sure the butter side is again down (but you keep checking to make sure it gets a nice brown, not black). My husband would have me add two slices of tomato with the cheese, but I go with the basics.
I suggest making more than one sandwich. Don’t worry, it will get eaten. Now serve, dip and enjoy.
I have been sitting on the details of our California trip for a couple weeks now. How much do I share? I have many pictures that I started emailing myself from my phone, but then I kinda decided I wanted to keep some of those for just us. I know Brad has a plan to print them out, mat and frame them for the newly painted walls in our new home. Perhaps only the visitors will be able to enjoy them. That’s it- it’s decided. Sorry, in order to see the photos, you’ll have to come for a visit. Don’t worry though, many of you will see them soon enough…
Wanna hear how Brad asked me to marry him? It’s good. It’s messy and unorganized and frustrating and funny, but it was perfect.
Brad had been working with my very talented friend, Tracey, on the design and production of a ring. Tracey owns The Ruby Door in Boston, MA. She was actually a client of mine from 2003-2005, but we developed a friendship and I am blessed to have her in my life still.
Fast forward to the day (July 14th, Bastille Day!): We had been out West for 5 days at this point. We had been to Vegas for two nights, Santa Barbara for two, and we were now on our way north via the PCH. We had decided to go hiking at Big Sur- then spend the night in Carmel.
We had heard about a waterfall, upon stopping to buy a map. Yes- a real map! Side note:there was NO service on the PCH for a good stretch, so we thought we would use this old-fashion way of getting around. Alas- the $15 item just sat in my bag, never opened once. It’s the thought that counts? Instead we took the advice of the locals and “winged-it.” I’d say that was a good decision.
There were many people in the area, taking probably the same exact photo that I did, making the area very crowded. We appreciated the beauty of the spot and decided to go up the road to another hiking location. At this point, my attention is focused on the bottle of champagne we purchased at a mountain store the moment we entered Big Sur. Wouldn’t yours?
We found another trail and stopped the car. My heart is pounding. I’m half thinking “this won’t really happen and I am getting in my own head” and the other is thinking “this is it!” Well, we find the trail “Buzzard’s Roost.” We start up it- and realize that it is hidden behind Redwood trees- with no view other than that of bark. It wrapped along the mountain…going…going…going. No view. No opening. No top. Just more trail. Brad starts, “maybe we just go back and find another?” My heart drops. Now, mind you- my mouth had been SHUT the entire time. I pretended to be nonchalant when he wanted to buy champagne. Cause everyone has a bubbly bev while hiking, right? I was quiet; didn’t say a word. I was “cool” and chill. Anyone who knows me, knows this is a VERY DIFFICULT TASK.
Okay, so there I am, in front of Brad as he is thinking out-loud to go to another spot, one with a view. It is then that I find my face finally matching my head and out comes, “but I thought..” I IMMEDIATELY catch myself (BAD KATIE!!) and shut up. I then try to “fix” it with a, “no, I am sure there is something up here! Let’s keep going!” Right. Cool as a fucking cucumber, Katie. Brad smiles and agrees that we keep going.
We come across a staircase in the middle of the mountain. Brad decided he was a little hungry. He hands me the block of cheese and asks me to cut him a couple slices. I then hear the words that make my entire body feel a warm sensation: “You know I love you?”
Interior monologue: “Oh my God. He is doing it now. He is going to ask me and I am literally cutting the cheese. I am CUTTING THE FUCKING CHEESE WHILE HE PROPOSES?!”
Here is the play by play:
Him: Do you love me?
Him: Want to spend the rest of your life with me?
Him: (gets down on one knee) Will you marry me?
I was completely overwhelmed and in shock that this moment was really happening. I can’t explain the feeling of happiness- or the way our relationship has strengthen EVEN MORE since that moment in the woods.
In the car on the way to Carmel, Brad was quiet. “What’s wrong?” I ask him. “You didn’t even cry. You cry at everything and you didn’t even cry!” It made me smile like you have no idea. Damn, I love this man.
(in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.
If I can remember anything from high school, it was the sole value my principal was trying to instill into the student body: integrity. For some reason, this was the one word I remember from every single time he would speak. He was that principal who would make the varsity basketball team practice on one half of the gym, so his spoiled, obnoxious sons could take foul shots on the other half the day before a game. I once got yelled at and called to his office for calling him an asshole, during class, for saying to Vanessa Kermick that women were never going to be as smart as men. I’m not even a feminist. I just remember the look on her face when he said it, and the words came out. My point in telling you this is that my principal wasn’t the nicest man, but he did teach me about integrity. Regardless, the word integrity has become part of something I have always admired in people- and the most attractive quality someone can have. Good thing Brad has more integrity than anyone I have ever met. Perhaps that’s why I love him so much.
With integrity, comes living your life well. Brad said something to me once that has always stuck out. “At the end of the day, the only one who has to look in the mirror at yourself is you.” So, for the almost three years we have been together, I have striven to live my life with the utmost integrity. Not for the return on investment, but because it’s true. I’m the one who has to look at myself at the end of the day. I can’t tell you how fantastic it has been to smile every day I do so.
This past weekend, however, I have learned that my actions have resulted in FANTASTIC karma! I shall relay the past 24 hours to you, as it’s insane.
Side note: The history of the name “Lady Antebellum” stems from pre-Civil War, before the north won and celebrating the south. A little surprised that name went over so well, especially given the omnipresent racial war. Being I was raised in NH, I didn’t know the meaning of the Confederate flag, much more than that was the decor of the Dukes of Hazard’s General Lee, but I learned very quickly the real meaning of it once college came. Don’t judge my lack of knowledge, my history teacher wasn’t that great- and New England tends to focus the curriculum on Paul Revere and the Boston Tea Party.
First act of good karma: I was looking for a hotel room in walking distance to the venue. Not only did someone cancel 5 minutes prior to me calling, but the woman was so nice she gave me an additional $20 off the room.
Second act of good karma: It started to rain like something out of a comedy. We got lawn seats, and of course assumed that we would be in the 20th percentile when it said there was an 80% chance of rain. I went to buy us ponchos and of course they had just sold the last one. Well, the woman behind the counter gave me one look, and simply reached into her bag and gave me her own poncho to take. “Seriously? What will you use?” I asked. “I have an umbrella.” I was in awe of her kindness.
Third act of good karma: I only got one poncho, so when I walked back to the completely soaked and smiling Brad, I had nothing to hand him, but the plastic bag the poncho was in. He smiled and proceeded to poke a hole and place it around his head. The people in back of us then handed him a brand new poncho to use.
Fourth act of good karma: 45 minutes in the pouring rain came an angle in our sight with an umbrella. “I have two extra seats inside if you would like them?” So then our luck moved to the 4th row of the upper section- inside, out of the rain.
Fifth act of good karma: I had new earrings in- somewhere in between my dripping wet hair and the slow process of it drying, my earring ripped out of my ear and dropped on the ground. I found it within 3 minutes, directly in front of me.
Sixth act of good karma: I was waiting in a very long line, in the rain, for the bathroom. Upon entering, even though I was third in line to go, the women in front of me insisted I go- for no other reason than I made them laugh.
When things go shitty in your life you can get angry at the higher power or everything around you, even reflecting and blaming within, but it is these little moments of happy that give you hope that good karma really does exist. Either that, or I am one lucky girl. If I am being honest, it’s probably a little bit of both.
Good morning! Sitting in bed, watching a rerun of MadMen and thinking about dinner last night at the York Harbor Inn’s Ship’s Cellar Pub. The food was amazing, as per usual, but it was the dessert that is lingering in my mind. So, I thought I would share that- and some other of my obsessions. Who knows, perhaps I will introduce you to something you didn’t know existed, or had yet to try. I’ll limit it to five.
Obsession #1. Flourless chocolate cake from YHI. After dinner, we ordered dessert to go. It came with fresh whipped cream and a raspberry sauce. Holy party in my mouth. Okay, I shared a couple bites with Brad- even though he had his own apple crisp. Dessert isn’t something I usually save room for, but in this instance- don’t mind if I do.
Obsession #2. J Lohr Chardonnay. The first time I had this wine was at a dinner with my roommate’s parents in Boston 2004. We were dining at Aujourd’hui, within the Four Seasons, before the Broadway show The Lion King. Looks like it’s just event space now, but it was a gorgeous restaurant. They ordered a bottle and I have been hooked ever since. It pairs wonderfully with seafood and Thanksgiving dinner.
Obsession #3. Fairy Drops mascara. I have very thick, but short lashes. These make my lashes look like I got extensions! Apparently, the Japanese are the best when it comes to mascara. Who knew?! I found this cute YouTube video, which tells a little more about it in detail. Take my advice and switch brands.
Obsession #4. Pinterest. Need a recipe? Want a new fitness routine? Don’t know what to wear to that party? Not sure how to decorate the house for Christmas? Looking for a quote or new book? Curious what common birthday gifts are for men? Pinterest. I love searching this site and getting lost in the pins. Next time you are at a loss for words: Pinterest will come to the rescue.
Obsession #5. Netflix. I was angry, along with the rest of the world, when they jacked the prices and decided to charge for the home streaming. However, I have had a change of heart and now I can’t stop watching it. Brad’s son, Gunnar, was nice enough to put the Xbox downstairs. We watch at dinner time. Okay, I might also watch/listen to it on my commute to work…which may or may not cause my data usage to equal that of an entire family plan. I can’t help it! Netflix original series Orange is the New Black and House of Cards are amazing! I’m honestly considering cancelling our cable, as it’s basically useless to us now.
As I lay in my bed, petting my golden retriever (who isn’t supposed to be in the bed, but as Brad is at work- he won’t know) and looking out the window, two thoughts cross my mind: Do I go to the gym and try out that new fitness plan I found, or do I go downstairs and watch more Breaking Bad? Decisions, decisions. Either way, my lashes will look fabulous.
Recently, Brad and I ventured out of the country to the island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten, for 8 amazing days. We stayed on the Dutch side, and only visited the French side a couple of times. We met Wanda, the life-long bartender at the Buccaneer, steps from our hotel, and where we watched a World Cup futball match. I got heat stroke and thought I was going to be kidnapped the first morning of our trip. We swam in the sea and drank rum with the fish. I thought I would run through the TOP 10 favorite moments of the trip. Here goes…
1. 5pm the day before we left for the trip. I would say 3pm, as that was when I got the “I’m on vacation!” text from Brad, but that was actually a jerk move because it was then I had to stare at the clock for two whole hours until it was my time to shine. HOWEVER, come 5pm, I had absolute joy knowing that I not only worked my ass off at work, but I was about to be on vacation with my love. That was an awesome moment.
2. Our view from the hotel room.
3. The scooter. There are no words really to describe this, but I shall try. Imagine 2 fully grown people- one 6’5″ and the other (roughly) 5’9″ on a scooter built for one. This would have not been a problem if the island wasn’t filled with mountains, but it was filled with mountains. Rather than cruising along (which we did just fine going down hill), we ended up in a comical skit, many times, with the theme of “I think I can, I think I can” as we mustered 5MPH uphill. Here is the scooter (and Brad). It doesn’t look as small as I describe, but trust me when I say we laughed a lot at this poor little thing’s expense.
4. The morning we decided to be healthy and hit the gym. We weren’t lazy the whole time while on vacation. We paid our “couple’s fee” of $10 and spent a whole hour getting sweaty! Well, I don’t really sweat, per se, but I totally ran 4 miles while looking at the ocean! Brad did a full body workout. Totally forgot to mention that when we decided to do this “athletic” activity, I couldn’t find my workout shorts. I opted for a black pair of Brad’s underwear and one of his huge t-shirts to cover the “obviously men’s underwear” characteristics. They actually worked quite well. I found my shorts as I was packing for home. Figures.
5. Anguilla and the catamaran. This was so well done I wish I had taken more pictures. $95 for a full day of open bar, snacks (which were amazing with Gouda, apples and baguettes), music, you’re on a freaking catamaran in the Caribbean, a gorgeous sunny day, snorkeling, a boat captain who I am pretty sure was smoking a joint (which was both entertaining to wonder if , indeed, that was what he was doing), a fully catered lunch with grilled and smoked Mahi Mahi, and two stops in the country of Anguilla. One on a little island off the coast called Prickly Pear, and the other on the actual island of Anguilla.
Side note: during the excursion to Anguilla Island (proper), a bunch of friends we had made, swam through a school of jellyfish and got stung. This prompted my panic attack…while swimming. I completely forgot how to swim, so I ended up doing this side-swim-half-dog-paddle thing from shore to the boat. Once on board, Brad let me know that he too was stung. This was the conversation: “I got stung too.” “YOU DID?! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?” (him, very calmly) “You were freaking out, I’m fine.” “I THINK I’M GOING TO PASS OUT.” It didn’t even hurt him. Figures. I digress. I will say, I have never seen so many people offer to pee on one another. It was sweet…
As I said, I didn’t take a ton of photos, as there was snorkeling, rum punch, jelly fish attacks, and applying and reapplying of sunblock involved, but I did take a couple.
IMG_1462 (Video of Brad waving at me after he hoisted the sail on the boat)
6. Bang bang calamari at the Greenhouse Restaurant. I WILL figure out how to make this. Here is the menu for the restaurant, but this is the only thing I’m going to tell you to order, and then order seconds when you are done. It tasted of a Thai peanut sauce with a kick of some spice I want to have over for every meal. I didn’t take this picture, this is courtesy of a blog,“The Wandering Sheppard” I found online.
7. When we decided to go to the grocery store and have snacks and drinks in our room, looking over the balcony. This was nice.
7. The beaches. Because of the scooter, we were able to explore little beaches on the island that weren’t very populated. Okay, we might have visited the beach where there are people, but not very many of them have clothes on… but most of the island had these little spots with no one on them. And before you ask, NO, I didn’t take pictures. You weren’t allowed. Brad did have to tell me that I probably shouldn’t giggle if we were going to stay. Brad would sleep and usually I would linger in the water until he would realize I was no longer next to him- and then he would come join me in the water. That was always a nice surprise.
8. Laughing. We laughed a lot while on vacation. That was awesome. I think we both needed that, as we both work a lot. To laugh and just be was really, really nice. One day on the beach, a woman asked what we had done since we had been on the island (this was like on day 6). I had to think about it because I really couldn’t think of anything “exciting,” especially when she kept naming restaurants and a rum factory and all these other notable things. I really couldn’t think of anything (past the scooter), but we just had a really nice time being together. I think that is more important that having Clark Griswold’s schedule of stops along the way- don’t you?
9. Brad really liked this moment. He got my phone out to take it himself. We had many moments like this one, but this one stands out as it was his.
Obviously my most favorite I saved for last, as that’s what you do when you provide a top ten list…
10. Being with the man of my dreams on a island in the Caribbean for 8 days. Did I really have to spell that one out?
The last day, we went to breakfast and I saw this sign:
I don’t know that I will race to book a trip to St. Martin again. In fact, I’m pretty sure that we wouldn’t, as there are so many other places to see in this world. I think next trip will be someplace in Europe.
Allo my lovelies! Right now I wish I was home, watching some Hugh Grant infested British holiday movie. Actually, any holiday movie works for me, but I thought it would be fun to share my personal favorites! Since I am a romantic mush, and could go on for pages, I will keep it to 10.
Side note: Most people will give you the classics like, “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “White Christmas,” but I am nothing, if not honest. I’d like to love those movies as much as some, but I just don’t. Don’t judge- I know some of you watch the WHOLE “A Christmas Story” marathon! And that is nothing to brag about!
1. The Holiday. I just love this one. I don’t know if it’s the traveling, the cast or the music, but it all just works- kismet. The writing on this one amazes me, and the characters are so relate-able to every woman who has gone through a break-up and then got the pleasure of a healthy, loving new relationship. I could watch this movie during a snowstorm, every time. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you add it to the top of your list.
2. Love, Actually. Aside from a woman in my office who doesn’t watch movies, I don’t know a person who has seen this movie who doesn’t love it. It’s wonderful. So many fun story lines, so many truths, so much fun awkwardness. I feel like the truth and awkwardness makes this movie what it is. Love, actually is all around. (watch) Cue Cards Scene, Andrew Lincoln
3. Bridget Jones Diary. I could watch Bridget every day. She’s wonderful in her imperfections. A close friend of mine, Laura, and I have a deep relationship with this movie and will often quote lines, short of something else to say. The usual “Ahh, Perpetua” is a favorite. I think a common theme in my first three favorites is relate-ability. Needless to say I love Bridget, just the way she is. Oh! And i just found this post from 2011 that Laura helped me construct about movie lines (some touching movies I mention here).
5. The Family Man. I love this movie. Nicholas Cage usually creeps me out, but in this one- he rocks it. Ever wonder what your life would have been like if you didn’t get on that plane, go to that school, make that move, etc? This paints a picture of “what if” that makes you think about what’s really important. There are some funny one-liners, but mostly this movie is full of great life lessons that I certainly appreciate. “I choose us.”
6. You’ve Got Mail. I’m a sucker for a good romantic comedy (obviously). This is a light-hearted, funny, sweet, romantic, typical Hollywood movie that I love. Funny, when this came out, the words “you’ve got mail” was so new! Now it’s archaic. Still, although the plot is predictable, its very enjoyable.
7. Just Friends. In the days before we realized that Ryan Reynolds had one movie personality (that probably mimics his own), this was unique. I laugh a lot in this movie: from the creepiness of Chris Klein, to Anna Faris knocking it out of the park, per usual. Favorite scene is when Ryan’s character is looking for his ice skates and comes across his snow globe collection. Next time you watch it, pay attention to that scene; it’s funny and subtle.
8. While You Were Sleeping. It’s hard to imagine Bill Pullman (well, for me anyways) as anything other than Loan Star, but he works the leading man in this flick. Sandra Bullock is great. I love her. It’s a feel good movie about family, which is something I will always appreciate. They come in all shapes and sizes!
9. Home Alone (1 and 2). Self explanatory. I like that he knew who he was, had wit and the best advice ever. Favorite scene:
Bird Lady: The man I loved fell out of love with me. That broke my heart. When the chance to be loved came along again, I ran away from it. I stopped trusting people.
Bird Lady: I was afraid of getting my heart broken again. Sometimes you can trust a person, and then, when things are down, they forget about you.
Kevin McCallister: Maybe they’re just too busy. Maybe they don’t forget about you, but they forget to remember you. People don’t mean to forget. My grandfather says if my head wasn’t screwed on, I’d leave it on the school bus.
Bird Lady: I’m just afraid if I do trust someone, I’ll get my heart broken.
Kevin McCallister: I understand. I had a nice pair of rollerblades. I was afraid to wreck them, so I kept them in a box. Do you know what happened? I outgrew them. I never wore them outside. Only in my room a few times.
Bird Lady: A person’s heart and feelings are very different than skates.
Kevin McCallister: They’re kind of the same thing. If you won’t use your heart, who cares if it gets broken? If you just keep it to yourself, maybe it’ll be like my rollerblades. When you do decide to try it, it won’t be any good. You should take a chance. Got nothing to lose.
Kevin McCallister: I think so. Your heart might still be broken, but it isn’t gone. If it was gone, you wouldn’t be so nice.
10. Babes in Toyland. This movie I watched a a child. My father loved Laurel and Hardy movies, and this is the one I remember most. Barnaby scared the bejesus out of me, but Dee and Dum won in the end! I haven’t seen it in years, so I might seek it out this holiday season.
I don’t want to jinx my college football team, as I believe every major sports media outlet might have already, but I am a day away from kicking off college football season. I am also a day away from my family vacation to Sanibel Island. I feel like my head is about to explode with too much stimulation, but I’ll take it.
I have actually been reading the “match-up” reviews, and looks like North Carolina is expected to upset the people of William Brice Stadium tomorrow evening. I don’t know what I think will happen. Although, I am not happy that Shaw keeps hurting himself. Brad likes Thomson better, but I don’t know if either will lead the offense like they need to, in order to pull off the win. I miss the days of Lattimore, Garcia, Jeffrey, Sanders, Gilmore, and Ingram. Gosh they were fun to watch together (even more fun when Clowney entered the scene). All eyes look to Clowney, but is he enough? Let’s hope! Let’s hope this young team pulls it together and has the confidence to understand what a great ball club and coach they have the privilege of representing. Oh, and a win would be really cool, too.
My blood bleeds Garnet & Black- and I seriously feel bad for the people who will be on my flight tomorrow. Oh- did I forget to mention that I will be watching the first hour of this from 30,000 feet?
I have downloaded the necessary iPhone app in order to guarantee my front row seat. I have pre-ordered my 24 hour Delta WiFi pass. I have even emailed Delta- at the small chance I get a newer plane with a real TV in the seat. I’m not taking any chances on missing this game. Our layover is in Atlanta. Don’t worry- I have already mapped out the closest restaurant to our gate. I just hope the other people on my flight don’t mind that I channel Carl Lewis on exiting the plane. It’s not personal, it’s Carolina football.
“We Hail Thee Carolina”
We hail thee, Carolina, and sing thy high praise
With loyal devotion, remembering the days
When proudly we sought thee, thy children to be: Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee!
Since pilgrims of learning, we entered thy walls
And found dearest comrades in thy classic halls
We’ve honored and loved thee as sons faithfully; Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee!
Generations of sons have rejoiced to proclaim
Thy watchword of service, thy beauty and fame;
For ages to come shall their rallying cry be: Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee!
Fair shrine of high honor and truth, thou shalt still
Blaze forth as a beacon, thy mission fulfill,
And crowned by all hearts in a new jubilee: Here’s a health, Carolina, forever to thee!
Once the game has concluded, we will be on a much needed and deserved vacation for the Labor Day weekend. There will be shelling, laughs, gator hunting, relaxing, reading and sun. Nothing else matters for the next 5 days.
It’s hard to say which one I am looking forward to more, but it’s safe to say- as much as I love my Gamecocks, I can’t wait to spend some quality time with the boys on a beach. Sorry, Sir Big Spur.
“fam·i·ly /ˈfam(ə)lē/ Noun. A group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.”
Family is a funny thing, isn’t it? This post might be a little bit touchy, but I never write anything touchy, so why not? I think in terms of traditional family, especially from the era, which I was accustomed, you think of a family as the mother, father and kids. Maybe a dog or cat- even a fish. Who defines family? I know what I have seen, what I believe, and what I have experienced. I’ll share.
I have seen families where there was the single mother, who refused to remarry after a divorce, who seemed to marry the life of her kids (no matter how involved she wanted to be). She controlled the “family” with use of her (tons of inherited) money, guilt and good old-fashioned yelling and judgment. I know she made fun of me on a regular occurrence, but I also understood she couldn’t help herself. Being that lonely must suck. It’s certainly been one of the more entertaining family situations I have seen: The brother who can do no wrong, the other brother who can do no right and the spoiled princess sister who sits on a pedestal. I won’t mention the odd Oedipal instances, but they were present. CREEPY AS HELL AT TIMES, but present nonetheless.
Side note: If only the mother knew how much I know. Oh, and I don’t understand why she used to follow my Twitter feed and mock me, but I know about that too- and you really have to be bored to look at my Twitter feed. I mock my own Twitter feed! It’s social media, not rocket science! I digress.
I have seen the perfect family. Wife, husband and years of faithful and loving marital bliss. Three successful happy daughters, one of who happens to be my best friend, who now have grown into healthy adults with amazing families of their own. I love this family and wish everyone had the luck, love and happiness they do.
I have seen family with a famous relative(s). The family who has coped (or not coped, rather) with loss. The stage family. The active family. The poor family. The military family. The family with a parent who is a drunk (or smoked something that didn’t smell quite right, but being I was a little girl- I didn’t know it probably was an illegal plant). The family that yelled and fought. The super happy and fun family that always had the cool stuff to play with. The super-rich family. The divorced family. The non-traditional family. The southern family. You name it, and I have probably seen it. Regardless of the situation, it will never compare to the strangeness I have encountered, and the resolution that came out of it.
My sister passed away 4 years ago. It was something out of our control (she had addiction issues, which led to her murder in New Orleans. I am the only one in the family who is honest about it and has no problem talking about it, as it is the truth), but the thing I have always found funny is that since it happened- no one in my family talks about it, her life, or anything relating to her. I mean that seriously. Unless someone is crying about it, there is nothing. I bring up a “fun” time, like our pillow fight tournaments (which were epic and I think I won, once), etc and it is dropped as “too hurtful of a topic.” I don’t get it. Shit, I hope I don’t die! I wouldn’t ever want my memory lost with my heartbeat. Aren’t you supposed to talk about the happy times? Not to mention since she died, everyone has changed. My mom is an insane person now, who treats me like a redheaded step child (and speaking as a woman who has a history of being obsessed with pink flamingos, that is hard to beat). I have not spoken to her in almost a month and she has not called me ONCE to find out why. I find this astounding. At this point, it is pretty clear why I am not speaking to her: Family doesn’t act like this.
Members of my family blow my mind. Just to be clear, what I am about to describe isn’t just how I am treated; many people in the “family” treat everyone this way. In my opinion, (I’ll say it again) Family DOESN’T act like this!Family isn’t jealous and angry and picking fights and writing mean emails all the time. Family doesn’t cut people out for making mistakes and blaming and pointing fingers. Family doesn’t hold grudges! It’s insane the amount of drama that can be within one family. A family should TALK! The one thing I can say though: it truly is fantastic to be able to stand on the outside, looking in, and have nothing to do with any of it. I have removed myself from it all- and I have never been healthier in all my life.
Disclaimer:There are very cool members of my extended family who do not fit any of the above description, and they know who they are. To them: I love you!
The one positive change since my sister died is that I am now close with my father, who doesn’t treat anyone poorly. He is simple guy, with no demands or expectations. Jennifer (my sister’s name- and for some reason I feel like I am saying Voldermort’s name when I type it just now) was very close with my father. Because of that I never got to know him- aside from random singular visits when I lived in South Carolina, Boston and Chicago. My dad comes for breakfast almost every weekend. I make pancakes and he talks about boy things with Brad and Gunnar. He even let Brad take his Harley for a spin the other day (gasp!). Please note- THIS DOESN’T EVER HAPPEN! My father never let us walk near his toys growing up, never mind drive one! Regardless, I’m getting to know my father better and I think that is very cool.
I have some step-ish siblings, but in the 20 years that they have been in my life- they have always had their own thing going on, and I am no one to intrude. Would it be cool if we had more of a relationship? Sure. Will I fight it? Probably not.
My family is my Brad, Gunnar, Lucy (pup) and Buddy (pup). We have a beautiful home. We all get along. We don’t have fights or complain about each other. We don’t talk behind each other’s backs (although, it would be kinda funny if one of our dogs talked about us behind our backs). We make decisions as a family. When we do have an issue, we talk it out. Most of all, we love and respect each other. Coming up in 2 weeks, we have a family trip (sans pups) planned to Sanibel Island. I’m very much looking forward to it!
One last little sweet note: Brad made me a wine rack for our home! It’s made from walnut and cherry wood! It goes perfectly with out new living room furniture!
Someone said to me recently that Brad and Gunnar were not my family because “we are not married yet.” Well, I don’t know about you, but aside from the amazing friends I have had along the way- it’s the perfect family for me. After all, it’s mine.
To not write about my experience last night would be a complete disservice to those in the greater Seacoast area. You might be craving a change of scenery. A change I will encourage you not take with an establishment called Spaghetti Stain.
7:50 pm (if I could play the Law and Order “dun dun” I would right here)
I’ll explain. Brad and I were in Dover, waiting for Gunnar at a school function. I had heard there might be some cute new places, so we took the grand tour of Dover and looked around. Nothing seemed different, so we walked over to Blue Latitudes. I love this restaurant for the food and because whenever Courtney is in town, it’s where we meet. Apparently, UNH graduation is this weekend, so tables were not happening for an hour. Ugh. I hate waiting. We left and decided to walk around. Side note: If I had my family in town for graduation, I would have taken them to Portsmouth. That’s just me, but then again I didn’t attend UNH. I digress.
The name should have told me to stay away. Spaghetti Stain. I wonder how many bottles of wine were involved in that decision? They had to be wasted when they signed the paperwork agreeing to it. Maybe a lost bet? Regardless, the name sucks. In fact, we tried to go to a couple other places BEFORE going back. It appeared our only option.
RED FLAG #1. This was the only place without a line. Nice setting. Clean pretty decor. Open room. Cool. This might work.
RED FLAG #2. Upon entering, I’m not joking, the waitresses had a fearful look on their faces. They motioned us to one of those side bars that isn’t on the bar, but against the wall, taking away any chance at leg room. Most people this would bother, but Brad and I actually enjoy sitting close, so it was okay.
At this point I watched an interaction where one waitress looked at us and walked away. Another looked and then looked down. Then a third said (I could see her mouth) “have they been given menus?” This went on for a couple of minutes before one of them drew the short straw and walked over.
RED FLAG #3. Upon giving us menus, the waitress opened dialogue with a hand-written note, crumbled from her pocket. On this note was a list of everything we could not order. Let me see if I can remember funny parts from it: “We don’t have the shrimp that goes in the basket, but we do have the shrimp that goes in the [entree].” I don’t get it. So you have shrimp, but these particular ones were not allowed in a basket…or are you telling me that the frozen shrimp you deep fry is unavailable and you won’t use the fresh (or frozen and just not prebreaded) version? Keep in mind I am allergic to shrimp, this interior monologue was for entertainment only. My favorite thing they were out of was blue cheese dressing. I hate blue cheese dressing, but if everything you have is store-bought anyway, can’t you run down to the grocery store? I don’t get it. Brad and I had smiles on our faces at this point, but we simply ordered our drinks and excused the waitress. The list was very long, needless to say. Apparently they were rearranging their menu– on a Friday night.
RED FLAG #4. 20 minutes later we got our drinks (for mere amusement, we actually starting timing everything with my watch). I’m not joking or exaggerating. This was another instance where I watched the waitresses across the bar do the “have they got their…” routine. Fantastic. OH and we got “well” vodka. Awesome. I said to Brad, “prepare to have a hangover tomorrow.”
RED FLAG #5. When we finally were given our drinks, as the waitress was about to drop them and run, I gave a “we’d like to order now.” The look on her face was priceless. In fact, trying to describe it with words wouldn’t do it justice, but I can tell you what she said: “You do realize that it will take a LONG time for you to get your food, right?” I asked how long. She replied, “Well. 30 minutes.” We had until 9:30, and we were enjoying each other’s company, so we ordered and took a chance. The waitress actually sighed and gave a worrisome “okay” before walking away.
RED FLAG #6. The bread. This might be my favorite part. As I was looking around, I noticed that tables all had bread on them. I flagged the waitress down and asked if we could have some too. “I was just going to ask you that question” was her response. I was actually thinking things might pick up. I excused myself to the lavatory only to come back and find Brad eating a piece of bread. I looked in the basked and saw two more, very small, pieces. “Is that you second piece?” “Nope, they brought three pieces.” “They brought three pieces for two people?” “Yep.” Three pieces and a ramekin filled with butter. Interesting.We both smiled as we split the third piece to share.
RED FLAG #7. The waitress walked over to see if we wanted another drink. I asked about the food. “Well, we were really busy tonight with that ONE table in the back.” I paused. One table. In my SWEETEST voice (if you know me you can hear me saying this) “But it’s a restaurant. And. Well. It’s dinnertime.” She just looked at me. Brad was so funny, watching and being patient, while I know he was thankful I spoke up. Brad did say at this point, “but the tables have cleared, there should be no problem now getting our food.” She then went on to tell us she would check on it. Brad has a way of saying what should have been said, after the person it should have been said to walks away. Trust me, it’s better that way. I watched them make our drinks, run out of well vodka, and switch to Absolut mid pour.
Side note: I realize at this point you might think we are being annoying or troublesome, or high maintenance, but there were about 6 groups of people around us in the same situation. We just spoke up. A man behind us, who we were watching, had a face that got redder by the moment. We actually thought his head was going to explode he looked so angry.
The woman walked back to us to say it would be 15 more minutes. We had had enough. We politely asked for the check and decided anything would be better than this. As it was, we only had 20 minutes before we had to pick up Gunnar from school. I’m beyond starving at this point.
The bill? $45. 9:10 pm
As we stood to leave, Brad walked over to the red-faced man’s table. “I guess this is where you come when you are on a diet!” The man responded, “we thought you were relatives or something with the service you were getting.” Apparently, he was sitting at the bar for 45 minutes and was completely ignored. He moved to a table and was waiting another hour- and they STILL had not taken his order. The table behind red-face sat a family. A girl shouted out “It took us 2 hours!” Unbelievable.
It might seem crass to openly express the horrible service, in the place where the horrible service is being provided, but it seemed to unit us as people, which is always fun. Agreeing on a complaint, or a good “USA! USA!” cheer always brings people together.
It’s official. I work and live in the state of Maine. Given the tax-free nature of NH, I’m shocked I decided to make the jump, but now that I am here- I’m glad I did it. This marks the sixth state I have ever lived in, my first grown-up-looking-and-feeling house, my first HOUSE in general, a shorter commute to work (47 miles vs. 73), a shorter trek to the beach (2.5 miles), my second official residence with my Brad, and the first time I do not live in walking distance to a store. As I pulled out of my driveway this morning I could smell the ocean. I love it.
Bragging aside (as you know my love of a good bragger), I’m going to share another secret recipe. I have no idea why I have been giving so many recipes lately, but I feel you all like them. Why? Also, MAINE-ly (see how I did that?) because it is the first thing I baked in my new kitchen! Caveat: this is not one of the “super healthy” ones.
It was my SVP‘s birthday on Cinco de Mayo, and I thought I would bring some of my baked-goodness into the wonderful world of TideSmart Global for Monday morning. I was going to go with a bundt cake, but I felt that Gunnar and Brad should be able to taste-test, so I went with cupcakes. SVP’s favorite? Vanilla with chocolate frosting.
My grandmother Lois was the founding artist of this recipe, but it has been tweaked over the years. The best part of what I am about to explain to you? You can create this melt-in-your-mouth-goodness with ANY flavor.
Grocery list: flavor of choice cake in a boxed mix (chocolate, carrot devil’s food, vanilla, red velvet, etc), corresponding flavor instant pudding mix (so if you buy chocolate cake, get chocolate pudding, for red velvet- I suggest dark chocolate if available and carrot, go with vanilla), frosting flavor of your choice, PURE vanilla extract, REAL butter in sticks, and eggs. Extra goodies: white/dark/milk/chocolate or butterscotch chips.
Basically you follow the directions on the box, adding the powdered (not prepared) pudding mix, a healthy pour of vanilla extract (I find it cuts the battery/egg flavor), subbing butter for the oil portion, and only 2 eggs. Some boxes will ask for 3. You don’t ever need 3 eggs. I don’t know why it went to 3, but don’t listen to them. For the topic of the office-birthday cupcakes, I added white chocolate chips as well. Don’t forget to let them cool for a while before you add the frosting (you don’t want the melted mess of frosting everywhere).
Aside from a colleague spoiling the surprise in the Monday morning meeting (by announcing that cupcakes were in the building), the cupcakes went over without a hitch and were inhaled by each member of the TSG team with the joy of anyone who is eating a cupcake made from a recipe inspired by a grandmother.