Seriously, what the hell?
Seriously, what the hell?
Our kitchen is much bigger than the last one, which means I’m spending nearly all my time there. It also means I’m cooking a lot more. I’ve been getting up and making the boys chocolate chip pancakes every morning. And Murray usually joins them at the bar, especially since pancakes are involved. Not sure what it is about brown tabby cats and pancakes, but they were Schmitty’s favorite as well. (May he RIP. Still miss that cat, 9 years later.) Anyway, here’s the recipe. These pancakes are awesome if I must say so myself.
Quick update! Not that anyone reads blogs—or maybe just this blog—anymore!
Let’s see: I kind of got depressed. Got help. Felt better. Started running a lot. Started baking a lot. Got caught up in my kids and the summer and the fact that they are all home with me.
I lost my password to my site and I forgot the URL to login.
And we moved! Same town. But we moved into a new house, which is glorious. The kitchen is perfect. Also: I have an office! AND a laptop! So I will be writing more.
I can’t wait to write more.
After I picked up Elliot from school today, two birds flew into the side of my car. I couldn’t not know the outcome, although I don’t deal with these things very well.
I decided to drive around the block and park on a side street to check on them. One was dead. The other was dazed. I brought Elliot’s sweatshirt with me and bent down to have a talk with the little guy, the one who survived. He just looked up at me.
Meanwhile, a construction worker saw me bending down and thought I was sick. He walked over to check on me and noticed the bird, who, at that point, had taken refuge on my wrist.
“These two birds flew into the side of my car.” I said teary-eyed. “I love animals and I couldn’t let it go. So I drove around to check on them.”
The construction worker walked over to the other bird. “This one is gone. And that one doesn’t look so good. I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to do that,” he said pointing to the bird perched on my hand.
“Do you have a box?” I asked.
“I think I do.”
He left me standing on the road with a bird perched on my hand, cars passing wondering what the crazy lady with a red-breasted robin perched on her hand might be doing.
The construction worker showed back up with a box and I tried to place the fellow inside. But the bird crawled up my arm, then up his arm, and then onto the top of his head.
“You’ve got a bird on your head,” I said.
“I do. Don’t I? I have to take a picture of this. Do you mind?”
“Not at all.”
He took a picture and then I slowly cupped my hands and my son’s sweatshirt around the bird, but instead he walked up my arm and onto my shoulder.
“You’ve got a bird on your shoulder,” said the construction worker.
“Do you think he’s ok?” I asked.
“I dunno. I’m pretty sure they’re not supposed to do that.”
We stood there. Not sure what we should do. We exchanged names. And I said my son was in the car and I wasn’t sure if I should take the bird with me for help. Meanwhile the bird stood on my shoulder, tilting his head, listening.
And then, just like that, he flew away.
I thanked the construction worker for being a kind person. And we parted ways.
I’m not sue if he’ll be ok. But the construction worker seemed to think so. And so do I. And I hate that I inadvertently killed the other bird. But I feel compelled to thank nature and this small bird for making today a touch different than every other day in a week, a month, a year. It gave me pause. Life can be both sad and beautiful all at once.
Last week I had two cakes to complete and deliver. I was nervous because one of them was a three-tiered wedding cake which included a 30-minute drive. Every single bump and turn, every pebble matters. I get so worked up the days leading up to delivering a cake. It’s not pretty. I’m not pretty.
There was that one time I drove a wedding cake from Williamsburg, Brooklyn to Red Hook along the BQE. And that probably took a good 2 days off my life. For those unfamiliar with the BQE, it’s riddled with potholes—massive, horrible potholes. Partly because they can’t ever shut it down to fix it. It’s a major thoroughfare. So it’s in terrible shape. And there I am driving a three-tired wedding cake with handmade, gum paste flowers over its impossibly bumpy surface. I had both kids in the car and my husband was holding it–cradling it–like it was the Holy Grail. The cake got there in one piece, my nerves did not. There’s a reason we dowel each layer and then literally nail in a dowel, piercing the entire cake. But still. So stressful.
On Sunday, I went this one alone. I had to drive it from one small town in New Jersey to a place called Montclair. Now, Montclair is only about 7 miles from us, but when you factor in the reservation and a bunch of stoplights and winding roads, it takes about 25 minutes on a good day without traffic. It took me 35 minutes to get that cake from door to door and I panicked the entire time.
The guy in the blue corvette didn’t help matters. He was a real jerk. And the tiny blond woman in the ginormous Escalade, the one who threw her hands up at that railroad crossing, the railroad crossing I inched over, she was enraged. Like, red beams shot out of her pretty little eyes. She wanted to kill me, blow me up with her imaginary grenade launcher. She hated me and my stupid life. I was in her way.
I could go on. People were so very upset with me for doing the speed limit and slowing down at railroad crossings or around sharp curves. At one point, I considered making a sign for my next delivery, a sign that reads: “WEDDING CAKE ON BOARD” so that people might show me a little mercy. But then I pictured that angry blond woman, the one in the Escalade. Maybe she’s going through an ugly divorce after discovering her husband of 15 years has been having an affair. She’s already sold her wedding dress, the ring is next. SHE IS PISSED. And so, the next time I’m inching over those railroad tracks and she’s in a hurry to get to her next therapy session, I picture her reading my sign and flooring it.
Not everyone likes weddings.
So then I thought, “Maybe I’ll print a sign that reads: HUMAN ORGANS ON BOARD.” because everyone likes human organs. But that could get me arrested for being über creepy.
Instead, I have a plea: don’t drive like an asshole. Assume the person in front of you is doing what they’re doing for a reason. They’re not an idiot. You don’t have to hate them. They’re just trying to do the right thing, carefully and well. Plus, your rage? It’s making you ugly. You’re aging prematurely.
But in the end, things went very well. The cake was a huge hit. The bride was happy. The groom was happy. But most importantly, the bride’s mother was happy.
Here is the wedding cake.
The bride wanted an all white, rustic cake. She didn’t want fondant and instead wanted buttercream. This cake is a vanilla cake, with Swiss meringue buttercream between each layer. There’s a thin layer of lemon curd as well. The outside is a crusted buttercream, which is very sweet, which is why I filled the cake with a Swiss meringue.
I also did a quick cake for a little, sweet girl named Mia who turned four and loves Frozen. Given the amount of time we had, we chose to use two plastic dolls.
I was told everyone was quite happy with not only the way it looked, but the taste as well. Often times a pretty cake means sacrificing flavor. And I hate that. So, I am always happy to hear that people like and eat the entire cake.
That’s all for now! Over and out.
Now, forgive me for a second, but I’m going to come off as a selfish ass and make this all about me. Ok? Ok. But it’s as if Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta sat down and said, “What is the general emotional state of Michele’s brain? What show will give the usual sorrow swimming through her head something to cling to? What will continue to haunt her for days?”
BAM! The Leftovers.
Even the title song by Iris DeMent haunts me. I’ve since downloaded her music and I listen to that song when I run, which does, at times, depending on the mile, make me weep like a baby. (I can still become very emotional when I run. Since 2009, not much has changed when it comes to that.)
The credits are such a perfect introdcution to the show. Yet alone they speak for themselves.
But what I love most about The Leftovers are all the secondary, subtle parts that take place between the bigger acts and all the main dialogue. The parts that, should you look away for a second, you will miss. It’s such a smart show, so layered and complicated. The Leftovers is a deeply personal experience where each viewer is given the opportunity to interpret the subtitles differently. And the actors and directors do such a phenomenal job making sure that that works.
So. If you haven’t had a chance to watch The Leftovers, and you’re looking to pair the woebegone you feel every day with something real (instead of just feeling that way because your brain is all wonked up—hello!), I might suggest The Leftovers. It’s troubling, beautiful, dark, painful and alive. And it gives you something tangible to hold onto on the days where the sorrowful undertow of everyday life leaves you feeling a little lost.
Go now and binge.
I’m not sure what’s been up with Etsy these last couple of years. Maybe it’s just my shop. Maybe I don’t do enough to advertise. (True.) Maybe it’s because they grew too much and too quickly and diluted the market. Maybe there’s more competition now. I am not sure.
But whatever the reason, for me, things have slowed substantially. There was a time where I had dozens of orders each and every week. I once made a decent amount of money selling lollipops. I was also fiercely loyal to Etsy because they’d always been super helpful. Etsy used to be a huge part of my everyday life.
Back in 2013, things began to slow. I still received a ton of holiday orders, and that kept me busy between October and December. But the rest of the year was really quiet.
2014 was a lot of the same, except that the holiday season was also really slow. After 6 years on Etsy, I considered quitting.
This year, things have been totally dead. I think I filled maybe two orders. I honestly can’t remember. But I do know I stopped visiting the site and maintaining my page. I wasn’t even buying much off Etsy anymore, something I used to love to do. And then at some point my phone did something wonky and the Etsy app was lost completely and I never got around to reinstalling. I was pretty sure my listings were slowly expiring. But I never checked.
Yesterday an old friend wrote asking me if I was still in the lollipop business. He wanted to buy a bunch to hand out to clients, something he’d done before. I went to have a look. Sure enough, nothing was active. And it made me feel kind of sad.
So I’m going to give it one more go before calling time of death on my good ol’ Etsy shop. I’m up and active again. For now. We’ll see how things go.
Oh my goodness, MORE COOKIES. And a backstory as to why I made them.
Last Spring, we took Elliot out of school. He was enrolled at a full-time daycare, which we never really needed. I’d pick him up way early, we were paying the full tuition, and it just didn’t make sense for us anymore. Plus, he went through a really rough transition in late spring when they switched him from 9 children to 23. I won’t go into too many details about that transition, or how bad it was for him, because it’s personal to him, but it was very, very bad. He showed signs of total regression. It was just a bad scene all around. So, we left.
He is now at a pre-k program that is 2.5 hours a day (except for Fridays) and it’s been absolutely wonderful. Not just for him; for me too. I have met some great moms, something I have needed to do and yearned for since we moved here two years ago. I have one friend here, really. And I adore her. (She knows who she is.) But I feel lonely most of the time. Particularly on this street where there is a very tight group, a group I gave up trying to get in with.
Anyway, I think—I hope—I can forge some new friendships with some of these other moms. It helps that many families at this school have one full-time parent. That’s the thing about living here: I don’t know many people who stay home with their kids. I know they’re out there, but most everyone I’ve met works full time and has hired help. NO judgment there. I get it. I get why people need to and want to. I’m lucky I don’t have to. And honestly? Some days I want an office job again, but I think that’s because being a full time parent has become a really lonely job.
Holy crap, I just turned a post about cookies into a post about how lonely I am. Maybe that’s why I’m making so many damn cookies as of late? I’m baking in hopes of making friends? Baking them cookies? Holy shit! How pathetic am I?
OK, back to the cookies. So, yeah. At Elliot’s new school (which, I’ll just admit straight up is affiliated with a church) we have to take part in the community. Which means we must be teacher helpers. We must do two cleanups per year. It’s a co-op, basically. And that’s been great.
One of the absolute musts in being a part of this co-op is helping out at the annual bake sale, which takes place on election day. Everyone must make one savory, and one dessert; OR two savory dishes to sell to the community at large.
I had a customer ask me to do 50 barnyard cookies to accompany a barnyard cake. I obliged. I was a touch nervous at first, but ended up having a blast. So much so, I found myself getting up at 3:30 AM just so I could work on them. I’d like to share them now.
Some pigs, a barn, a couple of horses, cows and some chicks.
And so, naturally, I had to take this innocent project and turn it into blood and gore and zombies. Truth: I love The Walking Dead. I’m not sure if I’ve ever publicly admitted this online, but I am a huge fan. (AND OMG LAST NIGHT! SO MUCH I WANT TO SAY!) I love the show so much, my house is peppered with TWD toys and figurines. I don’t really give a shit about zombies, but I love that show. And one day I hope to write the longwinded post as to why I love the show so much. But for now, I’ll just share some cookies with you.
These were made for our halloween block party.
They were made for kids and I only realized after setting them down on the table outside that they might be a touch too graphic and/or gross for young eyes. But then I watched my own son bite the head off of the guy on the left and well that made it all worthwhile.
That’s all for now! I’m really enjoying blogging again. Although I’m not sure anyone actually reads anymore. :] But that’s OK. I haven’t been documenting my life much over the last several years and I miss it. So, maybe I’ll just think of it as a personal archive/diary of sorts, which is kind of funny because that’s why I started this puppy way back in 2001.
Over and out.
March 1st, 2001: Old 97s.
A Throwback Thursday Series.
I used to be a huge Old 97s fan. A friend of mine named Aaron gave me Too Far Too Care back in 1997 and I was hooked. I saw them a bunch of times over the years, but this one stands out. It took place during a tumultuous time. I had gone through a rough breakup a few months prior and instead of facing my demons head-on, I left DC and moved to NYC in December of 2000. I left behind a secure, high-paying job and dozens of close friends and ended up staring at four blank walls in a three-story walkup in Greenpoint.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved living in NYC. But I was also pretty unsure of myself. And so I, like countless others, set out every day wandering the streets in search of myself.
None of the two friends I had in NYC at the time liked the Old 97s. And since I was young and still freaked out by the idea of going to a show by myself, I wanted company.
This is perfectly absurd to me now. At age 41, I would be THRILLED to attend a concert by myself. I love being alone now especially since I so rarely ever am. Now, concerts and movies look more like a three mile run or a trip to the gynecologist. If 41-year-old me could sit 27-year-old me down, she would definitely beg her to enjoy the alone time. She would tell her to go to that show and sing along at the top of her lungs. Because that’s what she needed and wanted to do. She was just too insecure to actually do it.
I wanted company. So I purchased three tickets: one for me, one for Gerry and one for Bob. And they went. And I THINK I even paid for their drinks, possibly even the car service to and from. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I paid them to hang out with me that night.
For what it’s worth, I consider Gerry a lifelong friend. We still keep in touch. I’ve known him since I was 17. And I don’t see Bob much anymore, but we never had any issues. The three of us hung out regularly back then, sometimes every single night. So it wasn’t like they hated being around me or anything like that. (At least I hope not!) They just didn’t particularly like The Old 97s. So throughout the entire show, when they weren’t bored to tears, they were visibly annoyed. And this made it impossible for me to enjoy the show.
Why had I begged two people to see a band they didn’t even like?
Right before leaving (we left early) I asked them if they wanted anything before heading back to Brooklyn, and I think it was Gerry who quipped, “Yes, I would like the last two hours of my life back.”