Best Of 2011: A Random List

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before!

Favorite Moment In Time

I taped it. Only I didn’t know it would become a favorite moment. It was taken at 5 AM on February 21st, 2011. Toby and I were waiting for a car service that would take us to the hospital in order to welcome Elliot into the world. He was already two weeks late. I’d been having contractions all night long. We were about to meet our second son! Everything was perfectly still and eerily quiet. I felt at peace. So I shot a few seconds of what that morning looked like.

I could have stood in that moment for a while.

Anyway, here’s that video:

Favorite Recipe

Galette dough. I chose this because of how versatile it is and how often we use it at our house. It works with both sweet and savory. We’ve filled it with apples, pears, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, sweet cheese (like a danish), ricotta and broccoli, veggie meat with onions—just to name a few. It’s amazing. And it lasts for two days in the fridge. The recipe listed below makes five, decent-sized galettes, so feed your family or yourself for days.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 10.5 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/5 ounce of sugar
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ounce water

Prepare using flaky dough mixing method.

What does that mean? Well, sift all your dry ingredients together. Cut cold butter into small cubes. Rub the butter into your dry ingredients. Keep it visible! You want to see chunks of butter. That’s what makes it so damn flakey. Add eggs and water, mix it up. The dough should look messy. Form it into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

When ready, cut up into 4 ounce pieces. Roll each one out. It can and should look rustic, so don’t bother forming a perfect circle. Add your filling, fold the sides up over the filling leaving an opening. Coat the top with a layer of milk. I use a pastry brush, but you can use whatever you want, even your fingers. Finished piece will look something like this:

Favorite Post:

Probably this one. I had been writing that in my head for months. And I was quite pleased with myself for actually taking “pen” to “paper” finally. :]

A Few Of My Favorite Tweets (in random order):

Favorite Tweeter:

Discount Dracula. She makes me laugh almost daily.

Most Played Band:

Okkervil River. I have worn this band out. They are often my running partner. (Along with Marc Maron and his WTFPod.)

Favorite Movie

I don’t get to see many movies anymore, and this year was no different since we had a newborn around. But I did see a few! My favorite was probably Melancholia. I don’t know. It was just so damn haunting! Not a film I’ll shake anytime soon.

Favorite Photo:

Favorite Accomplishment:

Dudes, I had a baby AND I graduated from pastry school. And if you missed my final cake, come check it out. I was pretty proud of that, too.

2011 has been a pretty kick ass year. If 2012 is even half as awesome, I’ll be happy.

Much love to you all! Happy New Year!

NYC Half.

Today I found out that I didn’t make it into the NYC half marathon. I realize it’s a lottery and all, but I kind of had my heart set on it somehow. I was admittedly pretty crushed and started to feel that hint of depression I so often experience after the holidays and on into spring. A March run would have been perfect.

What can I say? I was bummed.

So I tweeted about it and a bunch of people wrote back with suggestions, including my brother, who always cheers me up. (Thanks, Ryan!) So I signed up for the DC Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon on March 17th, which is the same weekend I had put aside for the NYC Half. Ryan is going to do the full marathon. We’ll have a great time. And I love DC.

Anyway, sorry I haven’t written much lately! The holiday season hit us hard this year and I was scrambling to fulfill a bunch of lollipop orders. This is my biggest season for lollipop sales.

I will write more in the upcoming year. I have goals: to run a half marathon and write more. Also: BAKING. But that’s a given.

Lastly, and more importantly: Happy New Year, my friends!

Stocking Stuffers!

ETA: Thank you! The sale is over now. Everything is shipping today!

Need a last minute stocking stuffer? Maybe Santa is gluten-free and needs something other than cookies? I’m offering 5 lollipops (of my choosing*) for 5 bucks. Enter coupon code “HOHOHO” to receive the discount. Stop by, dudes. Offer ends Tuesday at noon.

* You’ll definitely get one or more of the following: Double Dog Dare, Sweet Tea and/or Rise and Shine.

Babble’s Top 100 Mom Blogs

Babble apparently reached the end of the Internet. After 11 years of writing, I’ve been named to Babble’s Top 100 Mom Blogs of 2011. I’m ranked 92. That means there are only 91 moms better than me on the entire Internet.

OK. So, there are a few things that are kind of funny about this. I will start by saying, I’m grateful. Of course I’m grateful. Who wouldn’t be grateful for any sort of recognition, big or small? But! (And, yes, there is a but!) I barely wrote this year.

I have been blogging for 11 years. Eleven. That’s a long, long time. And I’ll be super honest with you, there were times over those 11 years where I became disgruntled about the whole blog ranking, award thing. To be frank: I worked my ass off on this blog in the past. I typed and typed and typed. To quote one of my favorite emo bands: “I typed for miles”. I put my heart into every post during some of those years. I wrote almost every day. I spilled my guts out about postpartum depression, Emory’s birth (which didn’t go too well!) and my miscarriage. Many suggest that if you write decent content, you’ll get noticed. I decided I must not be writing decent content. And then something kind of broke inside of me, unrelated to blogging entirely. I became sort of withdrawn online. (Hello, infertility!)

Now here is where I’m going to sound like an arrogant asshole AND an ungrateful bitch. Year after year I worked my ass off blogging and then some blogger award list would come out and no one ever paid me any mind. Not even a “Yeah! We see you, but no thanks. Others are better.” And I’d ask Toby, “Why doesn’t anyone notice at all?” And usually he’d reply with something about “playing the game”, which is how this post was born. And then I’d get really mad at myself for caring even slightly, because I’d like to think I’m above all that (even when I’m not).

Listen, I am seriously grateful. And it has me feeling a little rejuvenated to write. But, dude.

Why now? Why this year, a year I barely wrote at all? A year I have told Toby, on several occasions, pretty much every time we get a receipt from our hosting company, “Let’s pull this car over once and for all and get out.” Two things stop me every time: the archives that I never, ever want to lose. Backing everything up takes time. And we don’t have much in the way of time these days. The second thing (and the most important) are you people, the regulars who continue to visit, comment and email me.

SO! Thank you, Babble, for noticing me. There are probably other mom bloggers out there who worked much, much harder this year than I have, and I’d like to give those moms a nod and a noogie. And if you’re one of those people and you’re reading this now, send me a link to your site, because I want to read what you have to say. Lastly, as a blogger (hell, as a human being) I know how it feels when these type of lists come out. Believe me! I know. But keep writing, people. Don’t give up. Because who knows, after 11 (or never) years, someone may finally throw you a bone. And if they don’t? You’re still a bad ass motherf*cker.

The First Board.

Em asked for three things this Christmas: “Spiderman stuff”, binoculars and a skateboard. I’m not sure what he has planned, exactly. I’m assuming it doesn’t entail dressing up like Spiderman, hitting the streets and peeping into windows. Not that I know anything about that. I prefer do my peeping from the comforts of our couch. But whatever his plans may be, he wants these three things. So these three things he shall have.

As of yesterday, I’d gotten all but one: the skateboard. You see, I’d been putting off the skateboard because of where I’d have to go to get the skateboard. Normally, I’d have just gone, thought nothing of it. But I’ve been going through something lately that has me acting strangely.

I wouldn’t call it a midlife crisis; I’m not thinking of joining a roller derby team. It’s that I’m aging faster these days, faster than I’ve ever aged before. I have a lot more wrinkles, wrinkles that weren’t there last year. I’m noticing grey hair, new aches and pains, my inability to do things I used to do. It’s becoming a minor obsession of mine, actually. I always have something to obsess over. Whether it be infertility, weight, pregnancy, or running, I have something. And, if all goes well and nothing truly tragic happens (please god, no) 2012 is going to be The Year Of Obsessing Over My Age.

I worry about everything now, from wrinkles to hair loss, from aches and pains to tumors and cancer. I was never a hypochondriac before. I never worried about my health even when I probably should have worried about my health. Now, suddenly, everything is bothering me. The fact that I used to smoke? Yeah, I’m dying. And that weird skin thing? That could be some “bad” cancer. Is this what it’s like getting older? Hypochondria, nasal strips and tiger balm?

Maybe this is due to my having two kids and being responsible for the both of them. And buying the 4-year-old a skateboard yesterday sure as shit ain’t helping. What if he gets hurt? He will get hurt! Of course he’ll get hurt! He’s an active little boy! They’ll both get hurt. They may even break a couple of bones. OH MY GOD! WHAT IS THAT DARK SPOT ON MY NECK?

Anyway, my new obsession with aging is manifesting itself in strange ways. At first I was becoming a little too concerned about fitting in—or not fitting in. I realized this only recently while at my externship. Most of my coworkers were right around 24-years-old. I’m not 24 anymore. I don’t want to be 24 ever again. I hadn’t even really thought about 24-year-old me until I started hanging out with 24-year-olds. And I think I needed that, to go back in time. In truth: at age 24, I sure as shit didn’t believe I was a kid. But I was. I know that now. Had you told me that then, I’d have wanted to punch you in the throat and then I’d have fallen from my barstool.

I was a kid. And I have no desire to be a kid again. But I enjoyed talking to my coworkers, and since I’m still not totally over-the-hill, I went back and forth between “friend” and “mother”. It’s not that I acted like their mother, at least I hope not. It’s that I started to think of my coworkers as my future sons. They became my educators, in a sense, glimpses into my future. What might my sons be doing one day? How hungover will they be on a Saturday morning at work? Will they still be drunk? Will one of them jump the turnstile in the subway and get arrested? Will they be doing drugs named “Molly”?

(I had a first skateboard once. My mom took me to get it when I was 13-years-old. I was just getting started, dipping my feet into my teenage years. There wasn’t a tomorrow. There definitely wasn’t any grey hair.)

Lately, I’ve been trying to remind myself of how cool I used to be, which is dorky on so many levels, I can’t even begin to describe them all. I might as well be the kid hanging from the tree by her underpants. Or the shitfaced aunt at a wedding who does the Electric Slide better than ALL the bridesmaids put together.

(This weekend, while at an event, a couple told me about a party they catered and how the people were trying to act like they were 24 again. But they weren’t 24! They were old! Like, 40!)

Perhaps it’s that I don’t want to let go of 24-year-old me. And there’s a part of me that wants people to know who I used to be and how cool I was, (or thought i was). I used to be able to drink all night, show up for work the next day without totally and completely wanting to kill myself because even that would be better than an adult hangover. And while I never did any drugs named “Molly”, I think made out with one under a table at Galapagos (before it moved to Dumbo).

But now? Now hangovers last two days. So I can’t do much in the way of drinking. And if I’m up past 10 PM, I get twitchy. I have wrinkles and grey hair. I’m getting older. That is a fact. And no one cares if I think I was once cool. None of that matters anymore.

So I strapped the baby to my chest and walked into our local skate shop to buy a board for my 4-year-old. The guy behind the counter could not have been any nicer. He helped me decide what to get and helped me pick out a helmet. And just as I was finishing up he said, “The first board is a big deal. You’re doing a really cool thing. My mom just sent me a picture of me on my first board. I was six. Make sure you take a picture of your kid on this board.”

What’s wrong with getting older anyway?

The Chase Is On. (A Video)

Remember this video from a couple of years ago? I have a new one in the same vein. Unfortunately, I cut off the end somehow, but this is how it goes every night lately around these parts.

These are my boys:

Here’s another one:

Rest assured, Murray still gets to chase Em around as well. No one here will ever forget about Murray even if Murray wants us to forget about Murray. He’s a VERY popular kitty cat these days.

My Externship At Mast Brothers

I’m not sure I mentioned this before, but I’ve been working at Mast Brothers for several months fulfilling the necessary 210 externship hours to finalize my pastry degree. It’s been a crazy awesome couple of months too. I’ve learned a great deal and met some fascinating, talented and hilarious people.

But it’s also been a buttload of work! I work every weekend all day long. (Thanks to Toby Joe for being full-time dad.) I’ve also been working every Tuesday. My mother drives up from South Jersey every Monday, spends the night surrounded by stuffed animals, Thomas trains and found objects, watches the kids all day Tuesday and then drives back home that night. Yes, this is insane. And I can’t thank her enough. I couldn’t have done it without Toby and my mom.

Anyway, this is my last week at Mast Brothers. I’m done next Tuesday. And I’m going to miss these guys. They’ve made me cry several times from laughing so hard. And the weekend crew tells the most insane stories. I guess you could say I live vicariously through them. And I tell them that. Every Saturday and Sunday morning I get the lowdown on what took place the night before. Sometimes they come in hungover, sometimes still a little drunk. They remind me of 26-year-old me who had just moved to New York and had the energy to do all of that and then some. Their stories have me reminiscing about my own life. And last week it occurred to me: I’m pretty happy at age 37. I want to hear all about their lives, even bake them hangover biscuits, but I don’t wish to return to those days. I’m pretty OK with being done with all that—laughing along or just listening.

Anyway, it’s a bittersweet farewell, you see, because I’m finally going to have my weekends back. I haven’t really had my weekends (this goes for Toby too) since starting pastry school back in July of 2010. I’m not sure what people do on the weekends anymore. Spend time with their family? Go shopping? Sit around in their Saturday pants? Watch football? Blog?

YES! I will blog more. And make lollipops. And I will try and figure out what I’m going to do with my culinary degree.

P.S. I guess it’s a good thing I have a new alma mater since Penn State is going down the shitter. :[

The Penn State Thing

I served Joe Paterno a grilled Sticky once. I worked as a waitress at The Diner. He came in one morning and sat at the counter. My coworkers excitedly pointed him out, “THAT’S JOE PATERNO! You have JoePa in your section!”

“Yeah. So?” I scoffed.

Back then, he was just a customer. I didn’t give a shit about football. The only reason I knew who he was at all was because of hundreds of cardboard JoePas I’d seen in windows all over Penn State. I didn’t care about football at all. I only wanted Penn State to win because of the tips. Sad, drunk fans left terrible tips.

Joe was just another customer.

The Penn State Thing.

When it happened, when everything unfolded, my emotions were all over the place. At first I was in shock. Then that wore off and I became obsessed. I read everything. I dug up Sports Illustrated articles from 1998 looking for hints, something. I read it all. And I tried to write about it. The more I read the more I wanted to write about it. But I bit my tongue. There would have been some pretty intense posts had I let myself write about it last week. First of all, I would have stated that I don’t agree with the firing of Joe Paterno. And I would have backed up why and that would have started a few fights. But I knew it was too soon. I knew that I would have written something I would have regretted. My emotions were raw footage; I needed an editor first.

Things have settled down a bit since then.

But not before I canceled everything.

I was supposed to meet up with a friend and her new baby. I canceled. I was supposed to meet a few moms at the playground. Canceled that too. I was supposed to go out for drinks. Canceled. I even canceled a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t muster up the energy. I didn’t want to see anyone. I wasn’t going to be very good company. So, I quit. Everything.

Last Thursday night, as I combed through even more articles and (stupidly) through comments sections, something finally occurred to me: I am depressed.

I don’t live with depression. I have written that before. I go through ups and downs like most people. My downs are manageable, and they don’t come out of nowhere; there is almost always a catalyst. My miscarriage was a catalyst. Our move to San Francisco, another. My infertility, yet another massive catalyst.

So last Thursday when I realized I was experiencing depression, I knew right away the catalyst was The Penn State Thing. But I couldn’t figure out why it was hitting me so very hard.

A Bit Of History

I moved to State College from Raleigh, North Carolina when I was 15-years-old. I didn’t want to move even though we’d been moving my whole life. I can safely say now that I was headed down a very wrong path in Raleigh, but I didn’t want to leave. I considered State College boring, lame, pathetic, loser-ish—all normal angsty teenage things. No one worth a damn could possibly live in a town called State College. And who names a town STATE COLLEGE? What a stupid name for a place to say you’re from.

I met a boy. A boy who broke the shit out of my heart. REM helped me get over that.

I got a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I got fired a month later.

I made some friends. We’d drive to the Altoona Salvation Army, load up on Taco Bell and cheap cardigans. Nirvana’s Bleach was our soundtrack.

I got a job at The Diner where I would continute to work for 8 years.

I graduated from high school, something I probably wouldn’t have done had we stayed in Raleigh. Moving to State College saved my ass in so many ways. Who knows what would have happened to me had we stayed in Raleigh. I’ll leave it at that.

I was accepted into Penn State. I declared Philosophy as my major. (Ha!)

I got a second job at The Nittany Lion Inn. Eventually I got promoted and started working more important, smaller gatherings for high-ranking Penn State officials. (Incidentally, I waited on a few of the men involved in last week’s scandal.)

I declared Graphic Design as my major.

I made a lot of friends. Friends I still call friends.

I could sit here and recall every last memory, they are endless, but that’s like telling people about a dream. Boring. And I’m probably no different from anyone else when it comes to memories. But the backdrop for my memories are very much intertwined with the fact that they took place in State College. And at some point during my twenties, after graduating from Penn State, discovering (and loving) college football, and getting a “real” job, I realized something: State College is where I am from.

State College, y’all. What a dumb name for a town, right? Even the talking heads from last week’s media frenzy said it with confusion—like, who names a town State College?

I don’t know, Talking Head. But that’s where I’m from.

The Scandal and Its Aftermath

News broke. Several boys were sexually abused by a Penn State football coach. This, while not yet proven in a court of law, is likely the case. I’ve read the 23-page indictment. I believe it to be true.

Then more news came out about who may have known what and how they didn’t do enough (or nothing) to stop it. Several people were fired. Others quit. It was a shitstorm, a State College shitstorm. And the media ate it up! When 1,000 Penn State students rioted in downtown State College, the media went crazy for it even though that number represents the smallest sliver of Penn State’s student body. Suddenly every student, past and present, was guilty of some of the most heinous crimes known to man. Online, people began referring to Penn State as “Pedophile University”. People demanded the football team forfeit their upcoming game even though those kids have nothing to do with any of it. People slammed the whole lot of us. All of Penn State was guilty of something. Anything. Whatever. It didn’t matter. Fuck Penn State!

Or so it seemed to this wounded alumnus.

Twitter exploded with finger-pointing. Everyone had something to say about it. Those involved in the scandal were guilty as charged. So much for innocent until proven guilty. Hang the lot of them! For many, Paterno was the worst of all because of his allegiance to kids, because of his otherwise stellar history. He had a lot further distance to fall and a name.

Believe me, I don’t blame anyone for reacting with such intense outrage; Sandusky, and the people who allegedly did nothing to stop him, warrant your anger. I get it. I really do. It’s when you add it all up, and start to see every reaction as one big one, well, that’s when it looks really ugly.

And I couldn’t escape it.

Here’s the deal, State College has been our idealistic little town for a decade and Penn State plays a huge part in that ideal. Toby Joe and I wanted to raise our boys there. I very nearly got a job at Penn State two years ago. If it hadn’t been for the fact I would have to relocate from New York City, it would have been mine. State College has been on our radar for as long as we’ve been together. It has been our town, our little slice of heaven, an ideal. Hell, we’ve even been carrying around our dead cat’s ashes because (and I quote), “State College is his home. That’s where he’d want to finally rest.” (Go ahead! Commence with the eye-rolling!)

Basically, no matter how bad things got elsewhere, we always had State College. We knew we could make it in State College. It was safe. It was home. Even though in the back of our minds we knew we’d probably never return, it was home.

On Tuesday, a friend asked me how I was feeling about the whole scandal, putting aside my emotions regarding the crimes committed and the firing of Joe Paterno (which, I will go on the record with saying, I don’t agree with) I told her it feels like my town was bombed. My idealistic hometown no longer exists. The place I wanted to return to, the place I wanted to move my boys to, is gone. Just like that. Gone. And every time I think to explain my feelings, the thoughts come out sounding laughable, absurdly so. It’s a town, after all. Just a town. Why so dramatic?

I don’t know. But I do know it’s egotistical. This terrible story has nothing to do with me yet I’m making it personal somehow. And perhaps I’m putting State College on a pedestal. But it’s hard not to when it’s home to so many of my best memories. And doesn’t everyone have someplace they fantasize about when times are tough?

State College was my safe-haven even if it wasn’t.

In past last two weeks, I have received five emails from different business located in State College begging me, a prior customer, to come visit. Last night, I got one from my high school letting me know my 20-year reunion is next spring and that I should plan ahead! Because rooms fill up. These emails just made me feel worse. Because I know they are being sent by people who are facing unknown hardships. They are uncertain about their future. And they have their tails between their legs because their hometown was emotionally leveled. A place most people hadn’t even heard of before last week is now known as one of the ugliest, most horribly secretive places in America.

I’m even mourning the businesses of Penn State.

It feels like my town is gone, y’all. And Sandusky had a lot to do with it. But the media frenzy is to blame as well. State College is wounded and it will take years, maybe decades, for it to regain what it’s lost. The town will suffer. The university will take a huge hit. The football team is as good as done… at least for a while.

This is far from over. And my skin is thin right now. And the town I’ve been idealizing all these years, the safe place to raise my boys, it’s not there anymore. And that breaks my heart a little bit. I feel a little empty.