Placing Carrots for Halloween

You know your friend has your number when this is the task you are given when you arrive early for the party. 
She knew I'd sit and figure and plan and cut carrots when necessary.  And I love her for it.  She also knew I'd in no way want to miss being a part of Owen's first ever school class party.  Because of a few reasons.  I love parties.  I love littles.  I love color coordination.  I love theme outfits.  Add to all of that, my very own nephew named Easy Rider was in on the scene too.  So my striped socks and carrot placing abilities made their appearance. 
When I started using cucumber slices as eyes while sitting with all the kids at the table, Easy Rider had the look on his face of yes this is my aunt and yes this is how she always is; I have to love he is already mildly embarrassed by me.  Get used to it buddy.  I'm not going anywhere.  Just be glad I didn't kiss your cheeks in front of your friends. 
Let's just have a moment for how very different boys and girls play.  Let's also have a moment for how very lucky I am to be living this life of mine.  It doesn't get much better than going to a preschool Halloween party on a Saturday afternoon.   


Forgiveness and People Do Change

One Friday evening while sitting in a brown leather chair with a dog earred and highlighted book on my lap, this was on my mind and then it came out of my mouth.  "I need to say something.  I think I was mean to you in high school."  

"You were."

"I hate that I was.  I'm so very sorry."  

"It's okay.  I forgive you and it means a lot you addressed it."  

"I don't even know why I was, it's like I was just joining in and I can't believe I didn't have a stronger backbone back then.  To know how to treat people...and to..."  

"It's really okay.  You and I are good."  

And with that five minute conversation which included meaningful eye contact, Amanda and I were good.  It's like our grown up selves did our high school selves proud.  Although I am fairly certain Amanda could have been proud of her behavior in high school as well.  At least I hope she was because she should have been.   

A few years ago, a book club started.  Ladies were thrown into a mix; we all knew each other, some were already friends, and even a few were second cousins because that's how it is around here.  But we didn't really know each other, not in the ways we do now.  The ways which come after having discussed life in depth.  The embarrassing parts and the funny parts and the hard parts and the win parts and the loss parts.  Babies have been born, men have been dated, husbands have been annoying and supporting at the same time, jobs have changed, houses were lost and built again, and curve balls have been caught.  We have grown together and have this treasured gift of each other.      

Yes, a few years ago, a book club started and I knew I needed to deal with some of my past ugly behavior.  I don't remember all the specifics, but I do know it happened at one of our first gatherings.  Randomly I blurted out, "I think I was mean to you in high school."  Sometimes the perfect timing thing goes out the window and you just throw what's in your heart out there.  To hopefully have it be caught.  Amanda caught it with the same grace and open-mindedness she carries with her always.  And we've never looked back.  It's a beautiful thing really; to be adults and friends and let go of the past.  

Amanda and her husband welcomed their third little into the world just over a week ago.  At our last month's book club meeting, Amanda and I were sitting next to each other with some amazing french press coffee between us.  I quietly told her, "Let me know your room number after you have the baby, because I love to come to the hospital and smush those fresh babies and take pictures while they are still red and splotchy and new."  

She did let me know.  And on a Sunday afternoon, I went to the hospital to spend some time visiting with Amanda while she did her momma thing.  Then we placed that sweet baby boy on the bed and took pictures of his ears and toes and face and freshness. 

When I walked out of the hospital later to have the sun hit my face while my heart felt full, I couldn't help but think how life does offer forgiveness and people do change.  

As long as we aren't afraid to say what needs to be said, to take responsibility for our actions.  As long as there are amazing people willing to catch what we say will wide open arms.  


A Walk with Wine...Yes Please

Today, there is snow on the ground.  Not a whole whelping of it but enough to remind us all of the quickly approaching season of frigid white with a dash of ice.  

I'm grateful there weren't any flakes on the ground the night of the Wine Walk in our downtown.  I'm grateful for babies who make their appearance to my house before the daddy comes to pick up.  I'm grateful for amazing friends who will stand on the corner of the street with me so the moment can be captured.  I'm grateful for the sunset because it's always there for a win.  I'm grateful for bike cops who have a sense of humor.  I'm grateful for a downtown which is trying to make a comeback.  I'm grateful for paper mustaches in an art museum after twenty little cups of wine.  I'm grateful for amazing friends to spend an evening with, walking and talking and gallivanting in the very best of ways.

Last but certainly not least.  I'm grateful we weren't mustaching through the snow with our wine passports.  Finally, I'm grateful for any of you out there who rolled their eyes while reading my feeble attempt at funny.   


Applie Prairie

When proofreading my clean baked apple direction bossing, I noticed instead of apple pie, I wrote applie pie.  Every time.  Which is why I proofread.  

Applie pie.  It's similar to how I have a hard time spelling prairie.  Real similar.  

It also leaves me pondering this thought.

Why do I write?  Why do I take the time to sit in this chair and tap my keyboard trying to string words together to make my inside thoughts somehow come to the outside?

I do believe I might have just answered myself.

When life gets in the way and the tasks are more than fit in a day, this is the first thing which gets pushed to the bottom of the list.  My writing and my pictures.  And then this strange other thing starts to happen and it's called, I start to not be as shout from the roof happy.  Not a surmountable change of course; I'm still a rather happy person but it's not that ridiculous kind where I find delight in everything, from grocery shopping to laundry washing to this... 

To standing in my kitchen with the Norah Jones station on Pandora providing the soundtrack to the scene of hardboiling eggs and making homemade apple chips with green tea being the cocktail of choice while laundry is swish swishing in rhythm.  It's borderline absurd how happy I am in that kind of a moment.  Chores.  For goodness sake, I was doing chores.  But when I take the time to notice the beauty in the ability to do those chores, I feel this energy around.  Ridiculous happy energy.

And then this really strange other thing starts to happen.  I go back to my writing.  Back to my pictures.  Because those are what do it for me.  They are what make me stay on this path to trying to be a good human.  I fail miserably so often but when it's right, like a night with apple chips baking in my oven, it's so right.

Work tasks and other commitment tasks can not get in the way of my writing and my pictures.  They need to become woven into them instead.  I can't be letting go of some of those important stitches in my happiness quilt. 


Clean Baked Apples

And here's the latest round of advice from Amy.  Otherwise known as things I think you should do.  I tend to be bossy at times, I am aware.  

While at the grocery store, notice there is a sale bin of Granny Smiths who didn't make the size cut.  In other words, buy the cheap little apples.

Then wonder for a few days about how to have the experience of homemade apple pie without items such as Crisco, white flour, and sugar.  Do some thinking and calling to Momma Debi to have this conversation...

"Do you think you can just bake apples?  With something like honey and cinnamon to have it be kind of like an apple pie?"

"Grandma used to bake whole apples I think.  But you'd probably want to core them."

"I'm going to look on Pinterest quick and then I'll call you back."


So I looked on Pinterest under the search "baked apples."  And what appeared was not healthy versions.  If I was going to go with those, I'd rather simply make the real deal pie.

So I went to my kitchen and figured I'd just give it a whirl.

Here's what I came up with and I figured at the very least they were pretty which always counts for something. 

Directions in a very Bossy Amy style.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash and dry the apples.
Core the apples, but leave the bottoms in tact.  Bottoms are important.  
Take a stick of butter and quickly run it in the bottom of a baking dish.  Quickly is key.  Just enough to give the bottom a non-stick surface.
Drizzle in and around the apples with honey.
Sprinkle with cinnamon.

I only include this picture of the utensils I used to do the coring business because I know how I am when doing something; I need specifics.  Also, my knife skills are that of a five year old and the paring knife to get the very top off and then twisting the star end of the melon baller thing from Pampered Chef until the core was out did the trick without any loss of limb.

Put in the oven for 30 minutes.

Smell your house.  It will be amazing.  You might want to even walk outside and come back in to achieve the full nose happy affect.   

When the timer goes off, add about an inch or two of water to the bottom of the dish.  This keeps the honey from burning.  At least that's what I made up anyway.  And please please have a moment with me for still having some of the crocheted pot holders my grandma made; I used to think they were ugly in their unmatched colors but now I treasure them.  Her hands made them.  It's simple.  

Put back in the oven and set timer for 20 minutes.

I only have you set the timer for 20 minutes here so when it dings you are forced to open the oven and let the glorious smell float into your kitchen.

Because you will probably have to set the timer for another 10 minutes.  You want them to be cracked and bubbly before you take them out.

Finally, eat those cheap little apples with a fork while reading your latest book club book.  And be happy to know they were made with only honey, cinnamon, and apples.  Yummy clean eating. 

I called Momma Debi at the end of this apple baking experiment and told her I had it figured out without the use of Pinterest.  Sometimes it's best to trust ourselves in the kitchen and run with it.