Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Did you know that deciding on a color is the most difficult part of buying a Weber grill? Since it is also the most important, I offer these valuable tips:

Step 1. Narrow down your choice to 2 colors, then freak out because you really can’t choose your favorite.


Weber 1427001 Performer Charcoal Grill, Green

Or blue?
Weber 1428001 Performer Charcoal Grill, Dark Blue

(both images from Amazon; click on a photo to go to its source)

Step 2. Obsess. As you tuck in to your morning eggs, Green or blue? As you blast breakfast away with your WaterPik, Green or blue? As you subdue your hair, Green or blue? While you’re trying to meditate, Green or blue? In the middle of the Pilates 100s, Green or blue?

Step 3. Face it: you’re in over your head. It’s time to enlist help from someone who is even more interested in the color avidly devoted to your happiness than you are: the Husband. So call him at work.

You: I can’t decide on a color. Green or blue?

Him: Ummm…

You: No, really, what do you think? Which do you prefer?

Him: I, uh……I like both. Whatever you want. Green is nice. Blue is nice. We don’t have anything green, do we?

You: No, but we could. I think about buying green things a lot.

Him: Oh.

Step 4. Plan B: Realize that Weber grills resemble M&Ms. Now you’re getting somewhere! Do you like green or blue M&Ms better? When you’re strategically eating your M&Ms by color (everyone does this, right?), which do you leave for last?

Step 5. Armed with your brilliant M&M analogy, re-consult the husband. Now he’s bound to be helpful!

Or not.

Step 6. Visualization. Close your eyes. Picture yourself balancing a platter of steaks in one hand with tongs tightly clenched underneath, tripping out of your kitchen, out of your apartment, down the stairs, and outside to your beautiful, shiny grill. Set down your tray, wipe your hands, open the lid, throw on the steaks, close the lid, and dawdle. Do this with the green grill, then the blue grill. Then the green grill, then the blue grill.

Step 7. Fret.

Step 8. Order the blue grill already!

Step 9. Congratulate yourself on your ever-impeccable taste and come up with 101 reasons you’re really glad you picked the blue instead of the green. Share at least 50 of these reasons with the Husband; he’ll appreciate it.

Step 10. Invite family over for your inaugural grilling session, terribly overcook the steaks, char the poblano peppers into oblivion, have a great time anyway, and fall in love with that shiny blue M&M that offers so much smoky goodness.

P.S. Don’t forget to offer moral support during assembly. (Beer and kisses are a nice touch for superior service.)


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“K” Is for …. ?

Why, hello there, cutie pie! What are you hiding inside your soft little belly?

Cue shaft of light and angelic choir:

Gasp. For me?

Okay, I’ll admit that it wasn’t a total surprise. I may have mentioned it, casually, in conversation for months on end. You know, things like how useful it would be for traveling, how I wished I had one to pack with me to Notre Dame, how I’d love to sit on the beach with one in February. Perhaps I also enumerated its manifold features and wonders, casually, over dinner. Once or twice. It’s possible that it was on my Amazon wish list and that, when my hairdresser asked me two weeks ago what I wanted for Christmas, I didn’t miss a beat. Such goings-on often have a way of leading to an anti-climax.

And yet.

And yet.

The perfect THRILL of opening it at Christmas, of admiring it, of caressing it, of playing with it all the day long afterward could not have been sweeter. I am delighted through and through!

Almost every family member pitched in for this gift.

J masterminded the whole thing, I’m pretty sure. You can tell by that eager look in his eye. (Really, how cute is he???)

This lady and this fellow also had their fingers in the pie:

My brother-in-law contributed an Amazon gift card for Kindle books.

And my parents were extremely generous in their contributions to my Kindle library. Sadly, they avoid photographs, so I have very few of them. Here are two that J sneaked while they weren’t looking.

The downside, of course, is that they aren’t looking.

The Kindle is simply amazing. I remember when e-readers first came out, I swore I’d never give up my books. Well, I’m sure I won’t ever give up all of them, because nothing replaces the delicious sensory experience of a real book, but the Kindle is a far better replacement than I imagined. I love that I can hold it one-handed, that I can underline and dog-ear pages one-handed in the blink of an eye, that it doesn’t hurt my eyes a bit (unlike reading on the computer), that I have thousands and thousands of pages on a device slimmer and lighter than the most petite of books, that I downloaded Mark Twain’s complete works for $4 ($3 for Edith Wharton’s and $4 Chesterton’s and $1 L.M. Montgomery’s and free for Catullus and. . . for Pete’s sake, the device has already paid for itself!), and on and on. I’m infatuated.

Thank you, thank you, dear family. You have made this reader one very happy woman.






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First, we laughed.  A lot.

Then we laughed some more, until we couldn’t breathe. My brother, the poor fellow on the right, looks like he might burst a blood vessel any minute.

Wondering what was so funny? I almost hate to say because we may have an unusual sense of humor (read: offensive to some), but then again, I have to give credit where credit is due: TheOatmeal.com. Our favorites of the night included 4 Reasons to Carry a Shovel at All Times, Why I Don’t Cook at Home, and How to Pet a Kitty, though I’m also a big fan of How to Use Semicolons: The Most Feared Punctuation on Earth and The 10 Types of Crappy Interviewees. Read at your own risk.

I have no idea what my brother and I are looking at it in this photo, but I get a kick out of our faces:


On Thursday morning, J and I made breakfast for everyone in all our 1950s glory.

Here’s the view outside that window behind us. Ah, New Mexico.

Ruidoso, New Mexico

Back inside the kitchen, we couldn’t find the pumpkin for the pumpkin pancakes, turned on the griddle without plugging it in, served breakfast an hour late, and otherwise mucked up the job as much as possible and STILL had a great time.

The food was great too! The pumpkin pancake and nutmeg whipped cream recipe came from my brother, who made them for me when I visited him at college back in October. They were DIVINE. My dad said they were the best pancakes he’d ever had.

Now, you might say to yourself, Of course he’d say that; he’s her dad.

But you don’t know my dad.

Those were darn good pancakes.

J and I stole away in the afternoon for tea and cookies at Sacred Grounds, a favorite local coffee shop, before coming back in time for a group meditation session with his mom and our brothers. I feel so blessed to have that kind of support! Meditating daily during this trip really helped me, and I know it would have been much more difficult for me to manage if I had been trying to do it all alone.

Later that night, J and I finished our day in the kitchen with a raclette dinner for everyone.

slices of Raclette cheese and bread

Fine salami and prosciutto

getting the party started

It was a big hit! We knew J’s parents and brother were fans, but I wasn’t sure if my parents and brother would enjoy it. Thank goodness, everyone waddled away from the table happy.


Friday found us gobbling up my parents’ cooking. Dad made a fabulous breakfast casserole with New Mexican hatch chiles. Ho ho ho.

Unfortunately, I felt awful, spent most of the day in bed, and missed the big Christmas Eve turkey dinner that my mom made. Too bad. I did at least sneak a bit of the scrumptious food and overhear some jolly conversation from my nest on the couch.


Christmas Day! Just look at all those gifts!

After exactly 2,214 photos of the ornaments, J finally got one of those sparkles to show up on his camera, which I think is just about the coolest thing ever.

But before we read the Christmas story or tore into our gifts, we devoured orange French toast, courtesy of J’s parents.

Not only did it taste like a million bucks, it’s as easy as can be. You bake the toast on cookie sheets in the oven after soaking them overnight. I’m confiscating the recipe for my own use the next time we have guests over.

Then, and only then, did Santa’s 6’6″ elf begin the festivities.

Here I am with J, still feeling pretty lousy, but surrounded by a pile of gifts (Santa was extra generous this year!), which can’t help making a girl feel a wee bit cheerier.

This is my mother-in-law’s face as she opened a surprise gift from me. Isn’t that priceless? I just love it.

My brother got his very first SLR from my parents and spent the rest of the day tinkering with it. He’s heading off to Spain for two months after he graduates in May, so J and I teamed up with my in-laws to get him a suitable backpack too. Combined with airline tickets from my parents and some guide books, he’s ready to take off. How exciting!

J’s parents finished off the day with a stuffed beef tenderloin dinner and lots of good cheer.

When all said and done, it was a lovely Christmas celebration. I’m so thankful to have two great families that I enjoy spending time with!

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