I miss the Easel in the Kitchen…Just Sayin’



You can’t see my entire kitchen in this picture.  Which I used to think was a good thing, because my kitchen is in a constant state of upheaval.

I have been quite shy and embarrassed to give people a tour of my house because of the trail of kid detritus in every room.

Until now…

I’m here to tell you to stand up straight, put your chin up and proudly showcase your home in all its messy glory.  Make certain to point out the loose crayons rolling around on the floor, the glitter sparkling in the cracks, the piles of knocked over books, the doll clothes, play kitchen food, lonely sock tucked in the couch cushion, headband on the table, scraps of food under the table, permanent marker doodles on your expensive office furniture and ‘la pièce de résistance’, the easel, smack dab in the middle of your kitchen.

My wise-owl friend (she’s about 10 yrs older than I am and is an expert on life and advice) came to my home for the first time and I was none too eager to show her around.  She came into my kitchen first, paused and finally said to me, “I miss the easel in the kitchen…just sayin'”

Embrace the crazy, the messy, the demands, the hectic schedule, the endless stream of artwork, the little life (lives) that has taken over yours.

It’s bliss.

It lasts for a split second of time.

And then you’ll be missing the easel in your kitchen…

Ouch, my heart

It’s as if my little Beach Rose had been in danger for the last 3 days and we’ve finally gotten her to safety.  Now I can breathe.  Now I can relax.  Now life is worth living again and there’s meaning and I’m interested in it.

Because the last three days have been a living hell.  My whole body has ached to hold her.  My heart’s been in shambles.  The tears haven’t stopped streaming down my face.  The hurt has been giant.  The feeling of loss and depression surprising and crippling.

Sure, I have time again.  Time for myself.  Time to be selfish.  Head to the beach with just my chair & a book.  How long has it been since I’ve been able to sit & read quietly with the backdrop of waves crashing?  Time to shop.  When was the last time I was able to spend a day at the outlets?  Time to clean, thoroughly clean, the house.  Date of last window wash?  Can’t remember.  That she can draw her name with her finger on most of them, and I can see it, is not the best sign.  Maybe I can focus on a stronger exercise routine.  Hang out with friends.  Family, even.  Cook.  Bake.  Quilt.  Garden.

Who cares?

None of that matters.  None of it.  I’d rather live in a messy house, with barely a stolen hour of time to myself every other month, wearing the same clothes from 5 years ago, without the svelt body of someone who exercises lots, and with no social life or hobbies, than have to spend this much time apart.

Is it really necessary?  It wasn’t this way when I was young.  The days were not as long.  I’ve thought about alternatives…maybe I can keep her with me, maybe somewhere else would offer shorter days, maybe I can go backwards in time till I reach this point again & then go back in time, ad infinitum…

And now I have 4 days of normalcy.  Of her in my arms.  Of her safe at home.  Of holding, squeezing, kissing, loving, loving, loving…until I lose her again…and then what????  Now what???

And for what?  Is this worthwhile?  Does she need to be doing this?  Would she be alright if I kept her with me for a while longer?

Or do all of these thoughts and feelings point to the obvious fact that this is MY issue, not hers.  And that I need to be the unselfish parent, and encourage and promote and cheer…

as she walks back into her kindergarten class on Tuesday?


The Secret to Crispy


Can you just picture a limp, soggy piece of bacon?  Or damp fried chicken?  After all the time and effort you put into the prep: cutting or breading or soaking?  How devastating!

The secret to crispy has to do with what you’ve probably been using all along.  The paper-towel-oil-absorber.  Caution!

When you take something greasy out of a pot or pan, do place it on the paper towel to soak up excess grease.  Just be certain that it’s only for a few seconds…

If they stay on the paper towel they’ll steam and get soggy, lose their crispness.

The secret is to transfer them off the paper towel lined plate and onto a cooling rack, in under a minute.  Tada! Crispy!




Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes


This book is epic.  One of those that every human being should read.  Just so that we are reminded how lucky we are to be free and alive and that we owe our lives to our veterans.  Just so that we are forced to live a day in the life of a combat veteran.  Or picture being their Mother, Father, sister, brother, relation.

This book is tough.  It doesn’t give it to you gently.  There are no holds barred.  And it’s necessary.  Necessary for us, the readers, to truly live out and feel what these Marines (and all military) went through, and still go through.

It is amazing to see the bonds of brotherhood that are forged from the beginning of training, strengthened to that of steel in combat and honored throughout their lives.  To be a witness to the self-sacrifice made in the name of  brotherhood and country was an inspiration.  I  cannot believe that men and women willingly put themselves through the type of hell described in this book;  the forces of nature, the diseases, the wildlife, and of course the imminent dangers of war.  For the love of their country.  For the loyalty of their brotherhood.

And to really, truly get an idea of what takes place during a battle is terrifying.  It appears that all their boot camps and hell weeks and training are superfluous.  Luck is the only reason any of them ever come home.  Luck.  Lucky to have been out of the line of machine gun fire.  Lucky to have stepped to the right rather than the left onto a mine.  Lucky to have been in the back of the line heading in to ambush, rather than the front.  Lucky to have mess hall duty rather than radio operator duty the day of the battle.  You name the situation…luck is what kept you alive out there.  The only reason those soldiers need the training is to understand their weapons, inside and out, and commands, and for the sake of the relationships made.  Otherwise, the benefit to training is solely for officers.  Officers are the ones that need to be able to strategize; about position, tactics, rescue, etc.

It’s a scary thought…that the only reason your son or daughter will make it out alive is because luck was on their side.  And it’s a horrible reality for the survivors to carry with them for the rest of their lives; that they were luckier than their brethren, which is why they made it.

You can also completely imagine yourself metamorphosing into a killer, filled with hatred for those who have brought this situation upon you and yours.  I was horrified to realize that I had come to the point where I was cheering when I heard the Marines in Bravo Co. had killed another “gook”.  But, naturally, I wanted it to end.  And I ached for those lost lives, the maimed, their loved ones and the Marines left alive to finish fighting and live with guilt for making out of the bush for the rest of their lives.

It is devastating to hear that 22 veterans, a day, are killing themselves.  But I can see why now.  What they go through is nothing we can even closely relate to.  The horrors they witness, the conflicting emotions, the fear, the doubt, the nightmares they will relive forever.

My takeaway from this book is that I am one of those who is fortunate enough to live, and to live freely, because of our veterans.  And I can never thank them enough.


Keep Your Food Warm…

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A little secret I just found out myself in the last year, which is just priceless…

after you’ve cooked, fried, braised, melted, etc your food, place it in the oven at 200 degrees to keep warm!  So fantastic!  Fry batches of french fries, donuts, chicken and then pop it in the warm oven while you work on the next batch or the rest of your dinner.

And did you know that most dinner plates can withstand a 200 degree oven, as well?  That means that you could have a nice hot meal all laid out on a plate waiting in the oven when everyone finally decides to come to the table for dinner.  Nothing’s ruined by getting cold!

The Edge of Lost

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The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris

What a fun book to read!

Not brilliant literature, by any means.  But, not your average clichéd chic lit.  A nice balance between the historical  and the storytelling.

A story that compels you to turn the pages and find out what happens next to the beloved protagonist.

A bit incredible, this novel is less than brilliant because of this, as well as the way that all loose ends are tied up with a pretty bow at the end.

However, a good meaty read definitely worth sinking your teeth into!

Don’t Take Your Life For Granted…

My New Year’s promise to myself…

  • breathe in the sunshine
  • stop & smell the roses
  • be thankful, every day
  • be grateful for the things I have
  • consciously stop wanting more
  • embrace the present
  • no hard feelings with family
  • Love boldly
  • Hold On Tight to What I’ve Been Handed…


Here’s the song to start the New Year right with!  Embrace these lyrics and live, love and laugh with everyone you love, while you can…

Hold On Tight by Greg Holden

French Toast Bread Pudding

picture this…

2 different scenarios playing out…

Scenario 1:

It’s a cold Saturday morning in December.  You and your hubby and kids have just rolled out of bed and are still putzing around the house in our Pjs and night robes and slippers.  The little ones settling in to some morning cartoons and you decide to whip up a batch of delicious french toast for the family.  Why not?  No place to go, no place to be, no time constraints…

Scenario 2:

It’s a warm spring Saturday morning and the family was up and at ’em at 6am, excited with the time change brightening up the mornings and the warmer weather.  Everyone’s raring and chomping at the bit to go outside and work, play. You are too.  You don’t have time to fuss around the stove getting breakfast ready for everyone, preparing, cooking, and cleaning up.  But, you’d still like to have a family breakfast to start the weekend off together.  Good thing you have that french toast bread pudding you put together in 10 minutes this morning.  You can just pop it into the oven for an hour and voila! Gourmet family breakfast without taking up your time!


Let the sweet adventure begin!


Break up a 12-ounce loaf of brioche bread with crust into 3/4-inch chunks and arrange them in a 11 x 7 inch baking dish.


Start with 7 large eggs in a large bowl,


and to this add 2 1/2 cups of whole milk,


1/2 cup of sugar,


2 teaspoons of vanilla,


and 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or freshly grated).


Whisk to blend.


Pour over bread, pressing down gently with the back of a spoon.  Let soak for 15 minutes.


Cover with foil and make a little cross, or vent, in the center of the foil with scissors to let steam escape.

Place in preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes.  Remove foil and cook for additional 40-45 minutes, until custard is set and pudding is all puffed up!


Cool slightly before serving with delicious maple syrup!


Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!