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Sailboat Strawberry Pie

Yesterday I tried to post this recipe but instead I got carried away talking all about our wonderful anniversary/family visit. And as much as I loved pouring over family photos that week, I equally loved spending one-on-one time visiting with my mother-in-law. I realize that the cliche is a mother-in-law who meddles and sticks her nose in and disapproves of everything, but my mother-in-law is anything but that. She’s absolutely lovely. She reminds me a lot of my Aunt Sue – my mother’s beloved Aunty who passed away when I was 16. I spent my childhood at Aunt Sue’s heels while she baked cakes and served fairy tea in miniature china teacups. I spent hours with my head resting on her ample bosom, while she told stories about her childhood home, our nation’s capital, the illustrious Washington D.C.  She’s been gone for years, but I see her in my mother-in-law. The way Mom pads around the kitchen in red knit ballet slippers, telling stories about her childhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where her mother lived her entire life in a two-bedroom house with no kitchen sink. We spent our mornings immersed in photo albums, our afternoons cooking, and every evening I curled up at her feet like a cat and asked for more stories. More!

When Michael’s parents were first married, they owned a beautiful sailboat that they’d take out for weeks at a time. Michael cut his teeth sailing and I have seen the photos to prove it. (omgsoadorable.)  The following is a recipe for the strawberry pie Michael’s mother used to make on the boat whenever they went out to sea. It’s unbelievably easy and it’s probably one of the best strawberry pies I’ve ever eaten.

Sailboat Strawberry Pie

Oven: This will depend on the type of crust you use
Prep: 30 min.
Bake: Nada
What You’ll Need:
frozen/refrigerated pie crust
fresh strawberries
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
whipping cream
sugar
vanilla extract

We started with a Marie Callender’s frozen pie crust. I was skeptical because I’ve always insisted on baking my own pie crusts from scratch, but this pie crust was so delicious – flaky, tender, flavorful – I don’t know if I’ll ever go to the trouble of making a crust from scratch again. We followed the instructions on the box, which were something along the lines of “take the crust out of the box, prick it all over with a fork, bake it for 15 minutes, voila!”

While the crust was in the oven, we washed the strawberries, trimmed their tops off, and set them out to dry. It’s important that the strawberries are completely dry before you put them in the pie.

When the crust had baked and cooled, you sift 1 cup of powdered sugar evenly into the pie crust.

When the strawberries are completely dry, you arrange them in the powdered sugar dusted pie crust.

strawberries

We were only about half-done filling the crust with strawberries at this point…

Next, sift 1 more cup of powdered sugar over the strawberries, covering evenly and completely.

If you want to make your own whipped cream, now is the time. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to your whipping cream and whip on high while slowly adding sugar to taste. We forgot to buy whipping cream, but Mom had Cool Whip on hand and that worked perfectly.

Cover your pie with whipped cream (or Cool Whip) like so:

whipping cream

You want to completely cover the pie with whipped cream, much the way you would cover a meringue-topped pie with meringue – sealed all the way to the edges. Put the pie in the fridge for two or three hours to chill before serving. Voila! You’re done! Easy peasy and completely delicious.

fini

Now I wish I’d taken a photo of the pie once it was cut and plated because in addition to being delicious, it was also gorgeous. But you’re just going to have to take my word for it. Now onward! Make pies!

Love = Him

Homemade Sushi

Last Friday he made us sushi for dinner. As in made. With his hands. And all fresh ingredients. And it was awesome.

This Saturday we celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary. Five years! (I have to find something made of wood to give him.)

I love you, Michael. You’re all of my everything.

The Crap in His Pockets

I mentioned in this post that our mattress-less futon was still sitting in two pieces in the family room because we’d lost the pins that hold the thing together during our move, but what I didn’t say was how certain I was that Michael had lost them. I was sure it was all his fault. I just knew it. After all, I’d watched him take the futon apart in Harlem, watched the various screws and bolts and pins roll across the hardwood floors. I’d scrambled to pick up the errant hardware and I’d put it all together in one of our nightstand drawers and then taped it shut, all the while fearing I’d missed something, irritated that he’d left the hardware to roll into oblivion, certain we’d come up short in LA. So when we unpacked everything and, in fact, two integral pieces of hardware were missing, I knew he was the one to blame.

Meanwhile, he was adamant that he had not lost the pins, he’d put them in a safe place, they were around here somewhere.

“Are you sure you haven’t seen two L-shaped metal pins somewhere?”
“I’m positive.”
“Because I know they are around here somewhere. I know it.”
“Haven’t seen them. Pretty sure you lost them.”
“I didn’t lose them. They’re here somewhere.”

Then I’d watch, shaking my head, while he tore through boxes and rummaged through tools, muttering to himself that he knew he had them, he knew he saw them after we unloaded the truck in Los Angeles, they’ve got to be around here somewhere.

When I wash Mike’s laundry I find the strangest things in his pockets – bottle caps, drill bits, rubber washers, half-chewed dog biscuits. These items end up in my own pockets, and then they find their way into various drawers and baskets and sometimes, my jewelry box. Why don’t I just put them with his tools? Normally I would, but for the four months we lived with my parents, I didn’t know where his tools were, so whenever I’d empty his pockets, or clean off the top of his nightstand, I’d put the random odds and ends in my jewelry box. (Not the bottle caps and half-chewed dog biscuits, mind you. Just the drill bits and rubber washers.) This weekend I was cleaning up the bedroom, putting away some of the jewelry I’d worn during the week. I opened my jewelry box and rolled my eyes because there amongst the baubles were two allen wrenches. Clearly from Michael’s pockets. And then it hit me. Like a slow-motion scene in a movie, the memory came flooding back.  It’s August. I’m cleaning the guest room we’re living in at my parent’s house. There are two L-shaped pins on the night table and I put them in my jewelry box because I don’t know where else to put them and I figure they’re probably important. Flash forward to this conversation, had as I’m digging through my jewelry box deciding which earrings to pair with that day’s outfit:

“Are you sure you haven’t seen two L-shaped metal pins somewhere?”
“I’m positive.”
“Because I know they are around here somewhere. I know it.”
“Haven’t seen them. Pretty sure you lost them.”
“I didn’t lose them. They’re here somewhere.”

You guys. He didn’t lose them. I’ve been looking at those damn pins nearly every day for six months, all the while rolling my eyes and tsk-tsk-tsk-ing because Michael lost the pins that hold our futon together. So I snapped a picture of the pins with my BlackBerry and emailed it to Michael with a note that read, “Do you need these? Can I toss them?”

futon pins

A Happy Mess

Two weeks ago I was so stressed, so engulfed in anxiety I could hardly breathe. The boxes upon boxes upon boxes, the filthy bathroom floors and grubby kitchen sink were making me feel like a crazy person.  I spent most of the week emailing back and forth with my friend Kim at Kim’s Kitchen Sink because of everyone in the world she is the only person who has been able to verbalize the way I feel when my home is messy: If my home is messy, my head is messy.

Kim has been coaching me on how to deal with the mess while working forty hours a week, and basically what it comes down to is learning how to live in the happy mess. Because it is a happy mess – it’s the mess of nesting and setting up a new home, a new future full of endless possibilities and opportunities. So that’s my project for the next however many weeks it takes us to get settled in this new apartment.  To learn how to live in the happy mess. Instead of looking around at the piles and breaking into a cold sweat, I’m trying to look around at the piles and see the potential. Here’s a peek at what our Happy Mess looked like last week:

kitchen mess

The kitchen mess

living room mess

The living room mess

what a mess

More living room mess – and a sad little dog (she hates messes too) (or maybe I’m anthropomorphizing.)

office mess

The office mess

putting it together

Then there’s this guy, working tirelessly to put it all right. I see that smile and the mess melts away so that everything feels happy.


Are you serious?

wtfairsoft

Photo credit: Kirsten Thupancic, Ph.D., S.I.L.

This photo is awesome because it was taken before I’d ever played airsoft, back when the thought of crawling on my belly through sage brush at nine a.m. on a Saturday morning made me cringe.

Best airsoft moment this weekend? There were two.

1.) The battle in the trenches. I had this one guy pinned down for like, ten minutes. I’d pop up over the trench and spray him for five or six seconds, then drop back down to wind my mag. He was doing the same thing, but he was hiding behind a bush so I had a better chance of getting him than he had of getting me. I never did get him, but I didn’t let him out from behind that bush, either. He did, however, nail Mike, but I didn’t find that out until we debriefed over dinner at the end of the day.

2.) My team was occupying Goat Town and four guys from the other side had infiltrated one of our buildings. I was hiding in a structure not twenty-five feet from them and I nailed every. single. one.  OMG I cannot believe how much I love airsoft.

Frosty’s Got Her Groove Back (I think.)

Chillin

V-Dog says, “Just chill, man. Just chill.”

Today marks three months since we arrived in Los Angeles and three months of living with my parents and all our animals. I wrote a one-month check-in, but I skipped the two-month because it was a much less pleasant month. First of all, it rained nearly every day. Also, the honeymoon of being home had worn off and I was reminded of all of The Valley’s flaws and did you know that sometimes it rains in Los Angeles? Because I was sure there was no rain here but it has rained at least forty-five of the ninety days we’ve been home.

This last month has seen it’s own trials, don’t get me wrong. But I think I’m starting to get into the swing of it. We’re beginning to get into a bit of a routine, which is great, I am a huge fan of routines. We’ve been spending a lot of time with family and we’re looking forward to the holidays. Also, I’ve gotten over the weather, mostly. I went to New York at the end of October and realized that sixty-degree weather is not cold. Sixty-degrees is lovely, thank you. I will never again complain about sweater weather in November.

As far as work goes, it’s starting to be fun again. For a minute things were really intense, but I’m settling in, learning how to work with the other members of my team, finding my voice. Michael hates his job, loathes and despises it, but as soon as he gets his California EMT card he’ll be moving on, so he’s not letting it get to him. Instead he’s looking forward to school in January. He finally got all his transcripts sorted out and he’s been given a date to register for Spring semester. The admissions office had given him such a hard time about his classes – as if Bio 1 in New York City is somehow sub par to Bio 1 in Los Angeles – it made me crazy. When I found out he’d gotten everything transferred over, it was all I could do not to jump up and down and squeal like a child. I am absolutely over the moon.

So things have been looking up. The second month home I felt like moving had been a mistake, something we rushed into, dear god, what did we do to our life? But this month feels good. Like we’re getting our groove back.

It occurred to me today that all of life is like this. That no matter what, there are good days and bad days, sometimes you’re in a groove and sometimes you’re in a ditch. Even when we aren’t making big life changes, things are always changing, and just because we find our way one day doesn’t mean we won’t get lost the next. I think that what I need to focus on is building a life that’s congruent with my goals. Even when things aren’t going the way I plan, if I’m at least moving towards something I want, I feel happy.

What are my goals, you ask? I’d be happy to tell you! In the next six months I’d like to spend more time with friends. I’d like to spend more time writing. I want to visit Florida with Michael so we can spend time with his mother. I want go on weekly dates with my wonderful husband. I want to be living in a little two-bedroom home that we love, that we could be happy in for at least five years. I want health insurance. And I want to be having fun and feeling successful in my career.

Those are pretty reasonable goals, right? Totally manageable. If things change between now and then, if my goals change, it doesn’t matter. After all, people make plans and God laughs at plans. And then people cry and get depressed. Then they make new plans and feel hopeful and there we have the circle of life.

This is probably TMI

freckled lilies

It’s very strange to eat dinner knowing that you will very likely see that meal again in just a few hours.  I started a new birth control pill yesterday, and Doc warned me I might feel nauseated for the first week, so when I woke up at three-thirty this morning with that awful feeling in my gut, not the one where you feel like you’re going to throw up, but the one where you know you’re going to throw up, I just went with it.  Usually when I feel like that, I hold out for as long as possible.  Of course, usually I’m at a party and I don’t want to be that girl throwing up in the bathroom, so there’s that.  (Sidenote: It’s been almost exactly two years since I last drank so much I threw up.  I happen to think that’s fantastic.  It turns out that when you drink responsibly, you don’t puke your guts out all night!)

As I fled our pitch-dark bedroom for the glaring fluorescents of the bathroom, I had a fleeting urge to wake Michael and ask him to hold my hand.  That’s what I used to do when I was a kid. Whenever I got sick I’d knock on Mama’s door and she’d come hold my hand and rub my back and whisper comforting words.  But I’m a grown woman now, haven’t woken my mother up in the middle of the night since I was a wild college girl, and then it was because of the trouble I was causing.  So I didn’t wake Mike, but put my hair in a ponytail and wrapped my arms around that porcelain god and —

“Babygirl, shh….”  And his hands were on my back, warm and soothing, and he whispered kind words and wiped my face with a towel, and brought me ginger beer with ice to sip when I was done.  Internet, I love that man.

Michael didn’t want me to go on the pill.  We tried it once and the hormones made me swollen and crazy and frigid.  I tried three different prescriptions over nine months and had varying degrees of disgusting symptoms on each one.  But this last year my periods went from blegh to seven full days of misery so awful I was in bed for at least three of them and when Mike complained for the third month in a row that he couldn’t sleep because of my thrashing, I said Screw It.  If there’s one thing I had loved about being on the pill, it was the sweet little cramp-free periods.  So Mike and I talked it over at length and we decided to give it another go, try a fourth prescription.  And I promised, if there was any crazy, or any loss of interest in our married people activities, I’d stop taking it.

In March Doc put me on Junel Fe 1/20 and I loved it.  I loved that I didn’t gain any weight, in fact, I’ve lost seven pounds since I started it.  I loved that my skin looked amazing, I loved that Mike and I were behaving more like honeymooners than ever.  But I didn’t love that I was having a full, seven-day, horrible, sick in bed with cramps period in the second week of the pill pack every month.  On the fourth week, the week when you’re supposed to bleed, I’d spot.  A little.  I also didn’t like the fact that I’m pretty sure I ovulated last month.

Yesterday I went back to the clinic and Doc upped my dosage to Junel Fe 1.5/30, warned me I might feel nauseous, and sent me on my way.  And then last night happened.  Mike is pretty horrified.  I’m not thrilled.  But I’m going to take it again today, on the off-chance that maybe tonight, even if I wake up nauseous, I won’t throw up. In other words, I’m hoping my body will start to get used to the hormones. Mike thinks if tonight is a repeat of last night, I should stop taking the pill entirely.  He doesn’t want me to wait a week to see if it gets better, he’s concerned it’s too toxic for my body.

What do you think, Internet?  Have you ever had a similar experience?

UPDATE 6/23/10:  Slept through the night, no nausea, no vomiting!! Woo Hoo! So, so, so, so happy.  Crossing my fingers that the rest of the month is vomit-free.

A Serious Weekend

On our way to wonder at William Kentridge.

*love in an elevator*

*how to commute*

*how to commute*

Ladies Home Journal

*a perfect table in a perfect dining room for a perfect party*

birdling

*from the devil's gaping maw*

washing windows

*then the one on the left waved at me and I died from embarrassment*

*all photos courtesy of my Verizon Wireless Satan Owns My Soul BlackBerry

I’ve never liked pink teddy bears

For as long as I can remember, I have been a hopeless romantic.  I cannot tell you how many high school boyfriends crushed my heart into a thousand tiny pieces because they didn’t arrange for Unchained Melodies to play over the loudspeakers during homeroom, or have a hundred roses sent at lunch or at the very least serenade my bedroom window.  I have always had very high expectations.

Michael warned me early on that he was not a Valentines Day guy.  He’s a spur-of-the-moment romantic guy, but he’s not a Valentines Day guy.  If you were to play a word association game with him and you said, “Valentines Day”, his immediate reply would be, “Greeting card profits.”  He says he doesn’t see the point of having a holiday that forces people to buy pink teddy bears and heart-shaped balloons but I think his distaste for the day has something to do with all the awful Valentines Days he spent in Los Angeles, when he worked in a restaurant that was such a hot V-spot you had to book your reservation a year in advance.  All through the winter holidays, as February 14th crept closer, he’d get more and more tense.  To him it wasn’t a holiday, it was The Worst Night Of The Year.  It hung over his head like a guilty sentence hangs on an innocent man.

Needless to say our first couple of Valentines Days were rough.  He’d work and I’d feel neglected.  I’d pout, he’d get defensive.  We’d argue, we’d make up, we’d move on.  It took a few years but I eventually came to agree with Mike: Valentines Day is overrated and why on earth would anyone want to go out to dinner on the very night the entire rest of the country is going out to dinner?  Besides, Mike’s spur-of-the-moment romance is a thousand times hotter than a pink teddy bear.

This year I had zero expectations for Valentines Day.  We went wine tasting with friends the day before and the morning of Michael scrubbed the entire house while insisting that I stay in bed reading, so I was sure I’d had the nicest Valentines weekend a girl could dream of.  Which is why I was surprised when I came home yesterday and found this:

Be My Wiener

Either Michael is more of a Valentines Day guy than he’s willing to admit, or Theo’s been having inappropriate thoughts about his human companions.