Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reasons I Love My Husband (#1156)

Best gift so far?

He's taking me to see my all-time favorite comedian, Brian Regan.

Love you Steven.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mmm, crackers...

In preparation for holiday baking (coming soon to a post near you!) I stole this recipe from Joy the Baker.

I skipped the poppy seeds, but only because I didn't have any. They would be extra good with the added texture.

Sea Salt and Poppy Seed Crackers

1 c all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp butter, cold and cut into 6 small chunks

1 tbsp poppy seeds

6 tbsp half and half

For topping the crackers:

sea salt

half and half

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Sift together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the butter and, using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it is in tiny bits and dispersed throughout the flour mixture. (I used my food processor since I'm lazy.) (Also, please disregard the uber-feminine flannel shirt jacket protruding into the picture. I try to give the darn thing away and it just keeps coming back!)

Stir in the poppy seeds. (Or don't.)

Add the half and half and mix to make a stiff dough. Place on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 8×10-inches. Cut into 20 squares. (Using a pizza cutter makes this easier.)

Place the dough squares on an ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Brush sparingly with half and half and sprinkle with sea salt. (Penzey's. Mmmmm.)

Bake for 30 minutes or until crisp but still pale. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and store in an airtight container.


Check out that third picture. See it? The one with hands and a toaster and forks and stuff? There's a yellow-green Nerf ball type object. First one to guess what it is gets 12 billion blog points!!! (Hints forthcoming in a future post!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This Just In...

I had a crabby day. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Usually leaving the office and getting that first, glorious breath of fresh, non-crazy air is enough to improve my mood by about 120%. Today, however, the crabbiness tried to follow me home. Grumble, grumble, grumble right down the road. Traffic's clogged up, people aren't paying attention, the dj on my radio station won't shut up and play some music.

I stopped at a red light and took a breath. In: calming, life-giving oxygen. Out: negative, stress-inducing baddayatwork.

Made a list of things that bug me:

* People who can't get to the point. You make me resent you because I can't hang up while you ramble.

* Rubber-neckers (church ladies call them "lookie-loos." Folks who clog up traffic because they slow down to stare at accidents, police cars, stray dogs...

* Christmas music. I'll be Scrooge until December 24, just so you know.

And then I started thinking about things to be thankful for.

* Steven. He loves me madly and without explanation. And he buys me pizza after terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

* I have a job. As much as it stresses me out, I have an income while many around our country go without.

* God. He accepts me though I don't deserve it and forgives me when I lose sight of what's important.

* My family. One lovely thing about Christmas is time off to see this:

Thank God my blessings far outweigh my gripes.

Check out this video. It made me smile.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reasons I Love My Husband (#1024)

He loves me. We're off to see The Wizard!!!

Happy Anniversary, Steven.

I love you, too.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Today's a busy one...

Take time to thank God for our many blessings.

Whether you're cooking for a crowd or dining alone, He has been so good to us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

God bless you richly, richly, richly.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The search for the perfect (swoon-worthy) sandwich bread...

is still on, as it turns out. It was pretty and easy and decent tasting, but it didn't make me swoon.

I made this bread for some delicious sandwiches but wasn't too impressed. If anyone has a good recipe for sandwich bread, send it my way, okay? Oooor, maybe you've got tips for livening this one up a bit...

Check it out:

4 c flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm milk
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar

Put the warm milk, yeast and sugar in the bread machine pan. Then get all the rest of your ingredients together while the milk mixture and yeast hang out together for a few minites. Put the rest of the ingredients in and set to a 2lb loaf size. Begin to knead.

When the mixing cycle is done, leave in in the bread machine pan to rise for an hour. After an hour, remove the dough from the bread pan and shape into a loaf. Put into a well greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise another hour or so. It should rise well over the top of the pan. If not, let it rise a bit more.

Preheat oven to 375. Bake for around 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool completely before cutting.

Eat in honor of my 200th post!!!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Amazing Grace and the Mall Cop

Once upon a time there was a girl. She was kind, generous and loving. And uncommonly good-looking. To make it easier, (easier than calling her "Sarah: Short and Gorgeous") we'll just call her Sarah.

Sarah had a part-time job and a brand-new driver's license. She'd use any and every excuse to hit the open road, even when it included chauffeuring her younger sisters all around town.

Sarah loved to spend time with her sisters. They'd go to the mall together and get iced coffees from the Beanery (Sarah's treat, of course) and window shop and try on shoes and people watch and evade creepy guys. An all-around good time.

Sarah had a younger sister whom we'll call Patti.

One day after a nice, long mall excursion, Sarah and Patti found themselves at a stoplight next to a creepy guy. Creepy Guy revved his engine, drawing looks from both sisters. Sarah, never one to turn down a challenge, revved back. So what if she was in her parents mini-van? She would have this guy eating her dust in record time. Creepy guy grinned: challenge given, challenge accepted.

The light changed and Sarah floored it. The V6 roared, the van devoured the intersection and raced on towards victory. And yes, creepy guy was left behind to sit and cry. And gloat, as it turns out.

Cue the blue lights and siren. Cops! Sarah toyed with and rejected the idea of making a run for it. As much as she loved and trusted the minivan, she feared her parent's wrath more. She slowly pulled over. Creepy guy eased past, smirking. Curses!

Nervously awaiting the policeman and her fate, Sarah turned off the radio and readied her license and registration. Patti, ever a quick thinker, turned the radio back on and found a Christian music station playing hymns. What better time for Amazing Grace than now!

It seemed to take forever, but the policeman finally arrived at the window, face inscrutable behind his dark glasses.

"Ma'am, what was that?"

Sarah stammered something unintelligible.

In the passenger seat, Patti began to sing, putting on her best Southern hacking preacher voice. "Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already coooooome..."

Mall Cop, looking bewildered, now stares openly at Patti. Was she demented? In shock? What is going on?

Patti sang louder. "Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me hoooooome."

Mall Cop is dumbstruck.

Patti gives the song all she's got. "The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secuuuuuuuures! He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures!!!"

Mall Cop walks away without another word. Halfway to his car he seems to remember himself and mumbles, "Slow it down, Ma'am." No ticket, no lecture, no threats or promises of justice.

Saved by Amazing Grace.

My new favorite song.

Left alone by the police but Patti still felt the need to share the story with their parents, who were not pleased. Not pleased at all.

The moral of the story: You can get away with anything if your little sister's a little loopy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Such a place really does exist!

There is a place. A lovely place where lovely things happen. Putt-putt golf, batting cages, bounce houses. And also, not so lovely things. Things like a girl whomping the pants off her father in a long-awaited air hockey match. Things like this same girl yelling in triumph for the entire state of Michigan to hear and wonder. Things like this girls mother (and this father's wife) taking pictures documenting this sad, sad day. Pirate's Park: A place where dreams come true. Well, for me at least.

The date: not so long ago.

The place: a near-neglected, disrepaired shack in Flint-town

The extras: Mom, devoted photographer of family feuds
Becky, apathetic sister, along for the ride
Kaeden, loving nephew, always roots for Aunt Sarah (and most determined giver of wet willies I've ever known.)
Mr. X, Park proprietor and all-around nice guy.

Here's what went down.

Though my dear father tried his level best to cheat (I had to REPEATEDLY tell him to "get your hand off the table before I break your fingers with the force of my awesomeness") I beat him fair and square with witnesses. Let the record show. Let the people hear and rejoice:


And I thought I was a sore loser. He's already demanded a rematch (what's this now, best 51 out of 100?)

Oh, and plus? While my dad distracted Mr. X, Becky and I played on the bouncy things. Sorry, Mr. X! I know you said no adults allowed but we just couldn't resist!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Beans, beans the musical fruit...

This is almost a guest post from my lovely and talented mom, but not quite. You see, she was recently at my house for a visit and made me this delicious bean soup (and homemade bread!) while I was at work and was kind enough to take pictures so I'd know how to make it myself. Sooner or later she's going to make her own blog, but for now, I'll just steal her recipes and claim them as my own.

Mom's Bean Soup

Get beans. Navy ones. Dump into a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Mom's mom says this "gets the gas out." Mmm-hmm.

Drain beans, dump into a bowl and cover with cold water. Allow them to soak overnight. The water may turn funny colors. Fear not!

Put drained beans in a pot with fresh water and add some cubed ham and chicken broth and carrots and salt.

Simmer, simmer, simmer til the beans are soft and the carrots are done.

Eat, dunking in fresh and delicious bread to scoop up the beany goodness.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Question. And an update, too.

Is my brother-in-law's wife my sister-in-law?


You may have noticed that I was gone for a while. Here's what I've been up to.

My parents came for a visit! Yay, parents! I whooped my dad at Wii Tennis yet again. Are you surprised? Also. Bean soup and fresh bread. Yum.

Steven's brother, Chris and Chris's wife, Amanda had their second baby. Welcome to the planet, Landin!

Steven's grandpa passed away, prompting a quick trip to Michigan. I knew him to be a good man. The first time I met him, he had my shy little introverted self sitting on his lap within about five minutes. He always remembered who I was even though we only got to see each other once or twice a year. I'll never forget his cry of "Sarah!" when I walked into his house after his wife died. That and his pipe. That ever-present, sweet smelling pipe.

Mini Thanksgiving dinner with the family. A lovely time.

My dad and I found a real, live, honest-to-goodness air hockey table! Yes, really! You've have to wait for the pictures of that blessed event. Mom?

Roughhousing with the nieces and nephews. Macaroni necklaces, sword fights and Little Shop of Horrors. Good times.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I am now officially...

...the fattest I've ever been.

I've come to a conclusion. Life is too short to worry about dieting. I eat good food that is healthy and I also eat good food that is not so healthy. Chocolate and cheese and cream and pastry...

I cook meals from scratch six nights a week, bake my own bread, delight in new recipes and covet kitchen gadgets.

When I get to Heaven I'll be perfect and that's good enough for me.

In this vein, I present to you:

Sea Salt Frozen Custard

Stolen from and tweaked for your pleasure.

2 eggs
2 c milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c heavy whipping cream
sea salt (a coworker gave me a ton of French Grey sea salt and I am just loving it!)

Slowly bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, separate the eggs into two good sized bowls.

Mix the egg yolks and sugar until light and frothy. Slowly, slowly, slowly pour the hot milk into the mixture. I'm talking a teaspoon at a time, folks, unless you want scrambled eggs.

Pour milk/yolk/sugar mixture back into pot and heat on medium until it thickens, stirring often. Do Not Let It Boil!

Beat the egg whites until stiff.

Slowly fold mixture into beaten egg whites.

Add sea salt to taste. I used about 1 1/2 tsp for that lovely salty-sweet flavor.

Put mixture in fridge to cool.

Once cool, add cream and vanilla.

Freeze, following your ice cream maker’s instructions.

If you don't have an ice cream maker pour mixture into 1 or 2 metal cake pans and set in freezer. Let sit until edges become firm, then remove and mix. Repeat until uniformly frozen.

Eat. It's delicious, especially when you add a little honey on top.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One of these leaves is not like the others...

I posted this photo in my last post. It contains a (devious) frog which has (deviously) disguised itself as a leaf. Okay, look closely. See it? No? Look really closely. Come on, get closer. Nose to monitor. See it?

Give up?

Okay look again.

There it is! Slimy little punk.

Que Sarah Sarah: home to games like find the frog since 2008.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Upon my death...

I'm a little torn about how I should dispose of my body upon my death. I would like to donate my body to science. I'm also an organ and tissue donor and so I'm hoping there won't be much left to donate. Whatever little blobs of me are left should be cremated and then tossed in a compost heap somewhere.

It all depends, of course, on the manner of my death.

If I am killed by a heart attack brought on by my stepping on a frog and having it's guts squish between my toes, it's a whole 'nother story. My feet would have to be cut off, sealed into a bucket of hand sanitizer and then dropped into a cement mixer which will then be driven into the Pacific Ocean and never recovered. So sorry to the person waiting on a foot transplant.

What is up with these suicidal frogs, anyway? They lay in wait, disguised as leaves and leap out just as I'm walking past. They wait til my cars headlights are bright as the sun and then hop into the middle of the street to await their fate.


Oh and also? Paper clips. Do the ones on the bottom get upset since they rarely get used? Or maybe the ones on the top feel they need a break. No really. This is something I really think about. So I vote that once a month we all do Paperclip Rotation Day and just mix things up a little. That way everybody's happy. Or at least I am.


Picture stolen from Wikimedia...there's a frog hiding in there. Really, there is! Find it!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wii Tennis Tournament

This has been a long time coming.

In case you've been living in a hole or something, my dad and I have an ongoing air hockey tournament. We were supposed to play during my last trip to Michigan, but were unable to find a table. So we settled on Wii Tennis. Which is just the same, dontchaknow.

Just so you know, the air hockey thing is going to last forever. Whoever the current "loser" is is always going to want a rematch, so look forward to hearing about air hockey adventures for a good long while.


Here are some photos from MY RECENT VICTORY! Woot! I kicked his butt from Michigan to Timbuktu! Oh, um what I meant to say was: we had a jolly time of good competition and mutual respect. A grand old time was had by all persons involved.

Ok, so here are the pics.

Pic # 1 shows us just getting started. See how nicely we're smiling? Notice my "team-player" behavior? Yes, pic # 2 is my victory dance, how could you tell? He didn't cry. Too loudly. In pic # 3 I believe I was accused of cheating. Pic # 4 shows my reaction to said accusation.

Christmas is coming soon, Dad. Bring on the air hockey!!!

Monday, October 5, 2009

...and the angels sang...

So I'm very interested in "old-fashioned" recipes lately. A few weeks ago I overheard a fella talking about his grandmas "Burnt Caramel" cake and was instantly intrigued. A little research led me here, where Suzanne creates lovely recipes, including this one (and she loves church ladies, too!):

This, my dears, is sugar in a skillet. Such a simple thing and yet somehow yields a flavor so incredibly indescribably delicious that your taste buds will leap for joy.

It's melting...melting, oh, what a world...

Now the sugar's completely melted and dancing a jig in the skillet with the water. This is the really yummy part.

Flash forward a little and you get this:

and then you get a full belly and an empty plate, but those are things better left unseen.


Suzanne McMinn's Burnt Sugar Cake
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup hot water
3 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites, beaten until fluffy (soft peaks)
1/2 c burnt sugar syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 c water (minus 1 tsp)
3/4 c milk

Melt sugar over medium-low heat. Add hot water and stir. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add egg yolks and stir. Add syrup, vanilla, water and milk and stir. Gently fold in egg whites.

Pour batter into 2 greased 9-inch round cake pans. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely. Frost with burnt sugar icing:

16 oz powdered sugar
2/3 - 3/4 c burnt sugar syrup (whatever you've got left)
1/4 c butter
1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth.

Share completed cake at church potluck and watch all those lovely church ladies (and church fellas) instantly transported back to days of their grandmas...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Run

Me and my ten year old shoes. Broke in, broke down, falling apart.

Me and Bill* walkjogrun, leaving behind ringing telephones, piles of dishes, dirty laundry, questions and demands of a busy day.

Copper beetles congregate under the lampposts at each corner. I crush them, oblivious til their little bodies crunch under my feet. Stray cats run for their lives and tremble in my wake.

She, the germaphobe, sweats to the oldies and sometimes Roald Dahl comes along for a quick constitutional. James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Fantastic Mr. Fox: the gang's all here.

Just me and the harvest moon and constellations I can't name but I still know like long lost friends.

Breathless, wheezing, exhausted but somehow rejuvenated.

----*Bill Withers, that is, cause ain't no sunshine when I'm gone.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just like "Bugs Gone Wild"

It all started with the ants.

Ok, wait a sec. This is Sarah. Not the crazy psychopath in Marcus' Story. No, really. The story is here. The following is true, as hard as this may be to believe.

So let's try this again.


It all started with the ants.

They came traipsing into our living room, acting like they owned the place. Heck, maybe they really do own the place. Nevertheless, we're bigger than they are and so we will kill them and claim it as our own. So the ants came marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah and ate our crumbs and walked over our computer screens and infested our carpet and we all went marching down. To the end. Of the earth. To get out. Of the rain.

And finally Steven had enough. He figured out where they were getting in (a teeny tiny hole at the bottom of our balcony door) and we crammed it full of bay leaves. So that stopped them. For a while. Then they discovered the front door. They crawled up the outside wall (two stories, remember) across the hallway ceiling and down to our front door where they weaseled their way in. Persistent little buggers.

So again, Steven had enough. He went to Wal-Mart, the source of all things evil (like bug spray) and came home with ant poison in a convenient aerosol can. He sprayed. He sprayed and he sprayed some more. Ants died by the bajillion. Staggering, hands on hearts, dramatically exclaiming "Goodbye, cruel world" before falling belly-up to be swept up by our vacuum.

And the Curtis' rejoiced.

And celebrating our good fortune, we sprinkled bay leaves at the balcony door the discourage any new freeloaders.

And noticed the wasps. They were building a condo on our balcony ceiling. Swimming pool, fully furnished, pets extra.

"Call the landlord!" I yelled at Steven.

To which he replied, "Okay."

While he was thinking, "I can handle this."

So when I went to work he knocked it down with a broom handle.

To which the wasps replied, "Meh, we didn't like that house anyway."

Which is why there are approximately 2,334,813,907 wasps on the balcony now and they're building the playboy mansion, wasp-sized on the side of our place.

Poo on varmits. At least they're not spiders.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Second Try

A new story for your reading pleasure. Or not. There may be more or there may not. I haven't quite decided yet. Just read it, okay? And let me know what you think. Even if it's horrible.

Really. I can take it.


It rained on the day I killed Marcus.

His grave looks almost the same as it did after I buried him. The kudzu's a little thicker, that's all. Sometimes I dream that he wasn't really dead when I planted him and he's slowly digging his way up out of the ground, earth deep under his fingernails as he claws his way free. But whenever I visit the spot, I know all is well. He's exactly where he belongs.

He'd had it coming for a while.

We were friends. Just friends, that's all. He wanted more, I didn't. Sometimes he'd push the issue and I'd push back, distance myself for a day or two. He'd sulk and then seek me out, laughing and joking, his old self again.

Sometimes he'd kiss me. I'd let him, if I was feeling particularly mellow, but I never kissed back. I'm not into that.

That's not why I killed him though. What, do you think I'm crazy or something? I killed him for running his mouth. He just wouldn't shut up.

Abandoned house in Lida, Nevada.Image via Wikipedia

There was an abandoned house where we'd hang out sometimes. It had some tattered old furniture and some rugs and stuff, nothing much. He'd dragged in this enormous cedar chest he'd found God knows where and we used it as a footrest in front of the sofa.

On our last day there, I waited until he went into the bathroom. A few weeks earlier, I'd put a deadbolt on the outside of the bathroom door. I got it from a door I'd found in the junkyard, so it wasn't all shiny and new looking. He probably never even noticed it. Yeah, this was premeditated. You can put that in your report. Premeditated.

He was looking at himself in the mirror. He was a good looking guy, and he knew it. Spent hours just preening and smiling at himself, making different faces: happy, sad, surprised. Yeah, he was asking for it.

His back was to me as he checked out his teeth. He saw me at the door and his reflection smiled at me. I smiled back.

When I got the deadbolt, I'd also found a half-filled container of lighter fluid. Now I'm no expert on accelerants and all that, but I figured that would be enough to at least get the party started. After that, it'd be up to the rest of the bathroom to continue my little blaze. Hair spray, toilet cleaner...that stuff's all flammable, right?

I'd dumped the little metal can of fluid into a short garbage can. Added an old sheet I'd found in the house. I think it was a painter's tarp or something. The sheet soaked up all of that lovely fluid. Pulled the sheet out. I went into the bathroom, smiling at him. As he started to turn toward me, reaching out, I draped the sheet over his head. He must have thought I was playing some game because he didn't struggle to remove it. Not at first. I lit the corner of the sheet. Watched flames begin to devour it. That fluid worked better than I'd ever expected. It took him a while to react. It seemed like he stood there for hours, just burning. Then he started to flail. Silently, his arms swiped at the sheet. I went out the door, slammed it and bolted it. It wasn't long before he got to the door and start pounding on it...


As long as I stood there watching, he never screamed. Just that incessant pounding. Thank God the door was solid or he might have broken it down. Finally I left the house, stopping on the front walk to see the view from the outside. The bathroom was burning brightly now, great plumes of smoke pouring out the barred windows. As far as I know, he never made a sound. I wonder what he thought as he burned. Was he confused? Expecting it? Did he welcome death like some martyr? It bothers me to think he might have died hating me. I didn't hate him.

The windows exploded, glass shooting out towards me. I could feel the heat of the fire baking the side of my face. The fire had spread, moving to the living room and then to the kitchen. I could hear things breaking with little melodic tinkling sounds. It was actually kind of pretty, the house flaming, the black smoke and the roaring of the fire, punctuated by a sort of off-kilter music. I let my mind record it, painting a picture to save for the future.

Then I left.

Our place was in the middle of nowhere, so it could just burn and burn all day and no one would care. No one would know, really. I went to a movie. Some cartoon. It was stupid. Later, I went back to the house. It had burned completely down, just a few bright embers glowing here and there. I found what was left of his body. I think I cried a little. I lay down next to him, even though the rubble was still hot and smoking in some places. I got burns on me. I think I slept a little. I really did love him, you know. Even though he was a rotten excuse for a human being, I loved him.

Morning was started to lighten the sky when I finally woke completely up. Abandoned or not, sooner or later somebody was going to discover the rubble. And if they were a little bit curious, maybe they'd discover Marcus, too.

I went and got some supplies from the dump. Another sheet, a shovel. It's amazing what some people throw away.

I went back to Marcus' body, and got him in the sheet. That's something I'm not ready to talk about. It wasn't really him, it was just flesh. Burnt flesh. I wrapped it up good so I wouldn't be able to smell it, but I could still smell it. I can still smell it.

I already knew the perfect spot: there's a stream not far from our place where the ground would be nice and soft, easy for digging. Moisture equals quicker decomposition. Also, the kudzu. Kudzu's amazing stuff, did you know? It's almost impossible to kill and it grows so fast some folks call it the "foot-a-night vine."

I dug a hole. I wanted to make it six feet deep, a proper grave but water kept filling it in. I kept at it anyway, I got blisters, they broke and bled. I got to about 4 feet before I gave up. I was exhausted. Rolled him in, he splashed to the bottom. Shoved in the mud and dirt on top of him. Pulled up some of that kudzu and arranged it all around the grave. He would have liked it here.

I fell asleep again, curled up on the bank of the stream like a fox.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm Back, Baby!

(said in best George Costanza voice)

Saturdays are my days to relax. Relaxation, to me, is leisurely sipping coffee, catching up on reading and baking/cooking/creating til my heart's content.

Lately I haven't felt up to it, but today...

It's my third Saturday back and I've finally got my cooking groove back. Today I made homemade apple butter and English muffins from scratch. There are no pictures because my camera has gone missing. Maybe the dunderheads stole it. I'm not mad, I promise. I've got my pity hat on now.

I came home and rejoined the ranks of the church ladies. Lots of our church folks have gardens and mini orchards and if I don't eat the produce, it'll go bad, I swear! Lately the fruits of their labors have been apples. Mmmmm, home grown Granny Smiths.

Step One: Obtain Wal-Mart bag full of lovely, non-pesticide treated apples from church ladies. Thank them profusely.

Step Two: Get home, pull off leaves, wash apples, quarter and throw in pot. (Leaving on skins and cores for flavor and natural pectin).

Step Three: Add two cups water and one cup vinegar (you could also use apple cider vinegar or just apple cider, but you'll have to adjust the sugar later.)

Step Four: Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Apples'll get all mushy. It's okay!

Step Five: Toss the whole kit n' caboodle into a food mill (or, if you're spoiled like me, dump it into your Kitchenaid grinder/strainer).

Step Six: Dump resulting apple puree into a heavy pot. Add sugar (about 1/2 cup per cup of apple puree), 2 tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp each ground cloves and allspice. Stir, stir, stir.

Step Seven: Stand there stirring mixture until your arm falls off (about 2 hours at medium heat-don't you leave that pot!) Ooooorrrrr, stir occasionally with heat very low. Cook about 4-5 hours or until deep and dark gorgeous brown. You can even do this in the oven, again set very low or in a crockpot, though you'd want to leave the cover off to encourage evaporation/reduction magic.

Serve on English muffins or, if you're like me, scoop some into a coffee mug and eat it with a spoon. 'Cause we're so civilized around here, dontchaknow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Home, home on the range...

We left for Michigan on a Saturday. We arrived late that night, exhausted but glad to be home. Steven's birthday was Sunday and he was overjoyed to spend it with family. Monday, my parents and I along with my sister Becky and her son headed up to the land of grandparents past for a day of blueberry picking, cemetery exploring and pizza devouring. Mid-pizza slice, I received a call from my dearly beloved, telling me that a church member, Mr. Bill had passed away and that Steven was needed in Memphis. He left. I stayed. My dad's retirement party was Tuesday. Goodbye to General Motors after 45 years. I spent the morning shopping and the rest of the day cooking and trying not to mingle.

Mixed in were picnics with the family, playtime with the niece and nephews, church services and relaxation. Well, a bit at least.

Then on Sunday, my parents drove with me (since Steven had the car, remember) back to Memphis. Steven returned to Michigan on Monday morning to "finish his vacation" and my parents stayed with me in Memphis until Thursday morning. Confused yet? I sure am.

On Thursday evening, Steven was mugged outside a Meijer's store. Four guys in a car pulled up to him as he was walking to his vehicle and two of them jumped out and started beating on him. They touched not his money, nor car keys nor wallet. No, these brilliant overachievers stole my husband's groceries: a two-liter of Vernor's ginger ale and a package of CD-Rs. Oh, and some birthday wrapping paper. About $20 worth of miscellaneous junk. Well, except the ginger ale. I might knock somebody over the head for some Vernor's, too. After I hit "post" on this, I'm going to make a concentrated effort to stop being angry about this. I vow not to fly to Michigan and hunt down a carful of dunderheaded morons and rip their faces off.


My dad and I didn't get to have our air hockey showdown. Instead, we settled for Wii Tennis. Which I beat him at. Soundly. I'm a sore loser but a really annoying winner.

Pictures will prove this feat, after I get my mom to email them to me. (Mom?)

In short, I'm back. I hope you missed me. I hope you noticed I was gone. I'm caught up on the six hundred or so blog posts that were waiting for me. God bless Google Reader.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Watch out or you'll be next!

I'm not quite ready to rejoin the land of the living, but here's a little story so you'll know I'm still alive.

Today, I was talking to a patient and my brain combined "chart" and "file" and so I offered to "pull his fart."

Yes, I'm Sarah and I have a problem.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things That Make Me Go "Huh?" (2)

I went to the eye doctor today and she dilated my eyes. My pupils are huge! So my question is this: When your eyes dilate, where does the pigmented part go? Where's my brownish hazelishousness? Are my pupils like a black hole in space, sucking all matter into their doomed darkness?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bring It On, Dad!

My dad and I have a long-standing air hockey competition going on. It all began when I was bragging to him over the phone about how I had beaten an entire youth group full of air hockey playing kids. So he decided to knock me off my "high horse" and say he could beat me with one hand tied behind his back.


Here I am looking vicious. Here he is looking terrified. I'm going for a visit in August. I'm ready, Dad. Bring it on!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Little Update...

Mr. Jim passed away yesterday afternoon, thus ending a long, hard and painful battle with cancer. Praise God that Mr. Jim is in a better place and reunited with his wife and son. Please pray for his family and our church and also for Steven and I as we try to help in whatever way is needed. He'll be having a military funeral on Saturday...

Aunt Sarah Project

I've written about Aunt Sarah (also known as "Caroline" a time or two before.

She traveled all over, teaching classes on linguistics, giving college devotions and learning languages, sometimes even creating a written language where none existed.

Recently, I came into possession of a box of letters that she wrote to her family along her journeys. Painstakingly saved by her mother and tied up with ribbon, the letters chronicle years of Aunt Sarah's life and travels all over the world. The idea behind this "project" is to put some order to this great jumble of words, to chronologically map out her voyages.

It's been a little more difficult than I had anticipated. I find myself mesmerized by her stories. What started out as little more than a genealogy side project has become something else altogether.

A kind of obsession. A kind of feeling like I know someone I've never met. Like maybe I'm with her as she talks to people in strange languages and with different customs than what I'm used to.

Sitting with her next to a fire, seeing her smoking a cigar and watching a sunset, pen in hand, waiting to describe it to her mother in a letter.

Riding with her over bumpy, potholed streets in places where yours is the only car. Everybody else walks. Later, the car will leave and she'll walk, too.

She laughs at the antics of the children who come to entertain her, showing off, doing cartwheels and trying to outdo each other, vying for her attention.

She wracks her brain for words when writing to her supporters, trying to sound dignified and yet still trying to raise awareness of the plights of some of the people she works with.

She's amazed by God's Creation.

She misses her family.

She's ravaged by cancer, but still determined to serve.

She speaks to at chapel services, too weak to stand but still beautifully eloquent in her love for God.

I don't know her but I love her all the same.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Take One.

My first attempt at fiction! Inspired by an accident I saw a few weeks ago. Let me know what you think...

No, really. Criticism is welcome.


"Why don’t you tell me again how it happened. From the top.”

Opal glanced around worriedly. Her eyes swept past the police, the paramedics. Thoughts of Paul and his inevitable lectures about how a woman her age shouldn’t be driving filled her head. Ever since that little fender bender last year he’d been just unbearable. She hadn’t even been hurt! Just a few little bruises. Paul certainly had a temper.

The flashing blue lights of the police car snapped Opal back to the present. “He came out of nowhere!” She blinked back tears. It was true. Maybe she had been going a little too fast, and of course that curve was the site of many an accident, but the young man on the motorbike must have been invisible until the moment of impact.

Officer James sighed. Miss Opal was going to be in a world of trouble if that boy in the ditch didn’t pull through.

They both looked up as the paramedics loaded the man into the ambulance. One of them caught Officer James’ eye and shook his head slightly. It didn’t look good.

"Come along with me to the station, ma'am, and we'll talk more. And we'll call your son, too."

As he helped her into the patrol car, Quentin James thought back on his eight years in the Highway Patrol. Never had he seen an accident like this one. The motorcycle was actually embedded into the front of Opal's Cadillac. They hadn't been able to identify the boy on the bike yet but he hadn't been wearing a helmet. If he hadn't been thrown to the water-filled ditch, he would have surely died already.

Officer James looked up warily as a black BMW screeched to a stop in front of his patrol car. Must be the old lady's son.

"Mother!" The kid was out of the car and scuttling towards them, engine running and door open, barely stopping to put the car in park. He looked more angry than worried. "Mother! What were you thinking?"

Opal cringed, shrinking into the back of the car. "Paul, please..."

Officer James tried to keep the peace. "Son, your mother's had quite a scare. This isn't the time to be berating her."

"Officer, is my mother under arrest?"

Quentin didn't like the man's tone, but he was used to dealing with all sorts in his line of work. "No, sir, she's not under arrest. I do need to talk to her, though, and get this mess straightened out. How did you even know about the accident?"

"It's a small town, Officer." Paul looked at Quentin disdainfully. "Good news sure travels fast."

"Son, you can either come along to the station with me and help get this taken care of or you'll have to go."

Paul shot his mother an evil glare.

What kind of relationship must they have? Officer James was baffled at the malevolence in Paul's face. He really seems to despise her.

"She just doesn't listen!" Paul spat the words out, giving each one it's own sentence.

"Now just calm down." Officer James tried to diffuse an increasingly explosive situation.

Paul took several deep breaths and appeared to gather himself up.

Officer James' radio squawked to life. After a hushed conversation with the disembodied voice on the other end, Quentin turned back the Opal and Paul. "He died en route. Ma'am, you have the right to remain silent."

"Oh, no you don't!" Paul darted to his car, ruffled around in the glove compartment and turned back, triumphant, with a gun in his hand. "Leave her alone," he said. "I'll deal with her later."

Instantly, Quentin's own gun was in his hand. "Boy, you don't want to do this. Just think about what you're doing."

"I am thinking. You're going to arrest my mother! I can't let you do that." A wild look had come into Paul's eyes. The look of a man on the brink of losing control.

A light rain started, darkening the street around them and whispering through the trees.

"Put the gun down." Quentin spoke firmly, yet calmly.

Paul sighed enormously and rushed him, closing the space between them in five giant bounds, gun in hand.

A deafening roar.

Opal looked at Officer James, his gun still smoking. Paul lay in a heap at her feet, a pool of blood slowly spreading beneath him as the rain began falling in earnest. Silently, she began to cry.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

I don't know about you, but reading this makes me all tingly. Cue The Star-Spangled Banner...


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Why We CareImage by Montwerx via Flickr

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...


Praise God for men who were courageous enough to stand up for what they knew to be right. And for the men and women who fought (and still fight!) to keep us free.

Here's hoping you're all celebrating in your own way.

Happy Birthday, America!

Monday, June 29, 2009

With apologies to senior citizens everywhere...

In honor of my love for all things antiquated, I'm expanding my vocabulary to include old person swears. Words like consarned, dagnabbit, gee willikers (sorry, Mom), dang and get the idea.

Oh, and molasses cookies.

Something about the old fashioned soft and chewy lovliness of these cookies makes me all warm and gooey inside.

3/4 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup white sugar

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, 1 cup sugar and egg until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger; blend into the molasses mixture.

Roll dough into walnut sized balls and roll them in the remaining white sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven until tops are cracked. Cool on wire racks.

Eat, and if you're feeling generous, share them with old people. It'll make their day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And then the lights went out.

Last Friday night there was a huge storm here. Just as I got home from work, the rain began. I like rain and thunder and lightning, but this time the lightning was green. I wish I would have caught it on film but I didn't and so you'll just have to take my word for it. Rain like buckets of water pouring down on everything. Trees snapped in half like twigs. Wind whistling over it all. Green. Lightning. The power died.

I thought my life was over.

Then came calm. The tornado sirens faded to silence.

To the east, a rainbow. To the west, the most gorgeous, bright yellow sunset I've ever seen.

Powerless, we sat in the dark. Played Scrabble by candlelight. No tv (if I didn't actually see the Red Wings lose the Stanley Cup it didn't really happen, right? Right?), no air conditioning, no lights, no cooking.

We're fan sleepers, too, so try as we might, sleep evaded us. We played 20 questions in the dark and waited for sleep to take us. We crack each other up. Lovely to know we still like each other after almost nine years of marriage...

I wish the power would go out more often.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why I Am a Baptist

With no intention of preaching but just wanting to give a little insight as to the reason I am the way I am.

I was raised in a Full Gospel church. My uncle was the pastor, and his wife led me to accept Christ at a very young age. My family was (and is) very faithful to attend church whenever the doors are open. For a very long time, I didn't even know there were "denominations." Everyone was either Christian or non-Christian. Methodist, Presbyterian, what are those?

When I married Steven, the Baptist faith came along with him. Kind of a package deal. Steven was called in to the ministry at age 16 and he'd gone to a Baptist church since he was a little boy. I was a little resentful of being "labeled" as a Baptist upon our marriage, but being a good wife, I dutifully went along to church, teaching Sunday School, helping out at church functions, etc.

The more I learn (and I'm still learning, even these almost ten years later, and God grant that I never think I know it all) the more I believe that this is where I'm supposed to be. Let me say that I know people in many different denominations and I wouldn't presume to say they are wrong and I certainly wouldn't say that I am right in everything. I am still growing.

In my experience, there are good people everywhere. (Also bad people, but that's a post for another day.) I mean good people in many different churches. I have felt welcomed by many denominations and churches. The thing that stands out about the Baptists is the attention paid to witnessing. Yes, even door to door.

Here is the important stuff. I'll tell you the way I tell my Sunday School kids:

A-Admit to God you are a sinner. (Guess what. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23)

B-Believe that Jesus is God's Son and He died to pay the penalty for our sins. (John 3:16. It's true, best beloved.)

C-Confess your faith in Jesus. (Matthew 28:19-20. Otherwise known as the Great Commission. If I know the truth, I am duty-bound to share it with everybody, right? If I believe I know the way to Heaven, how dare I not share it?)

And so I have.

If you're interested in what Southern Baptists specifically believe, here's a link to their website.

If you'd like to talk to me outside the comment section, email me at

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Curtis Side

I've never really talked about Steven's family here, have I. Shame on me!

They came for a visit a few weeks ago and here they are. Hanging out at the Memphis Zoo. From left to right, Steven's mom (Karen), Steven, Steven's dad (Steve, known around my family as "Big Steve"), and Steven's brother, Billy. Billy will probably murdalize me for using his picture here in my humble little blog, but he'll get over it. Or I'll be murdalized. Whatever.

Here they are looking at meercats. I just love photographing people who are unaware they're being watched. Um, but not in a creepy way.

Well here I told them to row, but apparently everybody but Karen thinks I'm weird. Yeah, weird. That's it.

Not pictured due to not being present: Steven's brother (Chris) and Chris' wife, Amanda and their daughter, London. Ooh, and Amanda's preggers with baby number two, so yay for another niece or nephew. That I'll never get to see. Ah well.

Good people, one and all. Well, except Billy. (Just kidding, Billy!)


And here's a big kitty using a fallen log as a scratching post. Ain't she cute?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Slippers You Say?

These two wonderful, delicious loaves of heaven on earth brought to you by Recipe Zaar.

The purpose? Besides making an effort to make my own bread and becoming more of a food snob each and every day, these sandwiches.


For Sponge

1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons water (105-115 F)
1/3 cup room-temp water
1 cup bread flour

For Bread

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm milk (105-115 F)
2/3 cup room-temp water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt


Make sponge: Stir together, warm water and yeast. Let stand 5 minutes, until creamy. Transfer yeast mixture to another bowl and add room-temp water and flour. Stir for 4 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand at cool room temp at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.

Make bread: Stir together yeast and milk in small bowl and let stand 5 minutes, until creamy. In bowl of standing electric mixer, with dough hook, blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil and flour at low speed until flour is moistened. Beat on medium for 3 minutes. Add salt and beat for 4 more minutes. Scrape dough into oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap, until doubled- about 1 1/2 hours.

Note: Dough will be VERY sticky and full of bubbles.

Cut two pieces of parchment paper, approx 12 inches by 6 inches. Place on baking sheet and flour well. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to paper and form irregular ovals approx 9 inches long. Dip fingers in flour and dimple loaves. Dust tops with flour. Cover with dampened kitchen towel and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until almost doubled.

At least 45 minutes before baking bread, pre-heat pizza stone on lowest oven rack position at 425°F. Transfer 1 loaf, along with parchment paper, onto stone and bake for 20 minutes or until pale golden. Remove to cooling racks and repeat with second loaf.

For Steve's favorite sandwich: Saute onions (Vidalias if you've got them) in butter. Slice ciabatta in half lengthwise, top with roast beef and onions. Pile cheddar cheese on the other half. Broil until bubbly and delicious, taking care to remove it from the oven before it bursts into flame. Add mustard if you're feeling frisky.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bad Body Image

So I'm sure most of us have felt unhappy with our bodies at some point or another. I wonder if you can pinpoint the moment it all began.

For me it all began in sixth grade. The end of sixth grade to be specific. I was sitting in the auditorium at rehearsal for "graduation" and we were all alphabetized and nervous and excited when the boy sitting next to me felt the need to say, "Wow, you have really big legs!"

Now I know that kids are cruel and all of that. I also won't pretend that all of my problems can be blamed on a sixth grader, it's just a little strange that this moment is burned into my brain: one exact moment when I discovered I wasn't perfect.

I was raised in a home where we were taught that "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Well, we were taught that but of course growing up as one of four kids, you hear occasionally that your odor is less than appealing or your face resembles the dogs' behind, but overall...

Here's the weird thing: in sixth grade, I wasn't even overweight. I was always comfortable with my appearance because nobody had ever given me a reason to feel otherwise. It's cliche-ish, but why do we feel that we need to package everyone into the same little mold? My dad likes to say that if you put two kids in a sandbox, they'll play. They don't care about skin color or religious affiliation, they just want you to share the bucket and shovel. So are we taught to judge people? How? And how can it be avoided?


Ooh, something else. I've got a weird nose. I never knew it was weird until somebody told me, "You've got a weird nose." And I was reeeealy self-conscious about it until I discovered that it's not weird, it's my dads. (Sorry, Dad, you've got a weird nose.) And now I like it.

So I'm wondering when you discovered you weren't perfect. Or maybe you ARE perfect. Let's chat, best beloved.

Me and my dad and our noses. I'm okay with that.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why Saturday Should Be A Day of Rest

Saturday: Woke up at 7:44 AM

7:45 AM - Remember that I have to work today! Oh crap! I have to be there at 8:00!

7:46 AM - Put on yesterday's clothes, found lying on the floor. Bless my lucky stars for being a slob.

7:48 AM - No time for coffee. Run out the door. Drive, drive like my life depends on it.

7:50 AM - Red light! Take the time to brush my rats-nest-like hair.

7:53 AM - Arrive at work. A new record: five miles in eight minutes. Patients already waiting at the door!

8:00 AM - Clinic open. God help us.

8:15 AM - Doctor arrives, leisurely walking and cell phone talking. Takes no notice of frazzled, coffee-deprived receptionist.

8:20 AM - No time to pee when I woke up. Start potty dance learned in kindergarten.

8:25 AM - Weird call from patient about mysterious "soiled panties" found in her laundry. Don't know whether to laugh or cry.

8:45 AM - Pharmacist arrives. Patients cheer.

9:00 AM - Start sending out sniper letters. As in: pay your balance before I send out the snipers.

9:24 AM - Curses, patients! Leave so I can pee!

10:00 AM - Boss calls to check up on me.

11:30 AM - Doctor leaves. Darn you, college graduate!

11:31 AM - Potty break. Sweet, sweet relief.

11:35 AM - Wait for pharmacist to leave so I can lock up. Surf, surf the internet.

12:00 PM - Ravenous. Find ancient Riesens in desk drawer. Devour.

1:15 PM - Pharmacist leaves. Praise God.

1:17 PM - Lock up and jet before anything else can befall me.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Things I've Learned the Hard Way (Part 3)

Part One is here. Part Two is here.

16. Old men love me. Mr. Jim thinks I'm "awful cute." I think he's awful cute, too. Steven always says if I ever leave him I'll head to the nursing home to look for husband number two.

17. Young boys love me, too. Nick wants to marry me. Which is wrong on so many levels. One, he's in elementary school. Two, he's my nephew. Three, he's just not my type. Oh, and I'm already married.

18. Ten or so trips up and down the stairs per day is not enough exercise to keep my hindquarters from swelling to the size of a Honda Civic. Honda Civic: Little for a car, huge for a backside. Wouldn't that make a great motto for them?

19. On a related note, Steve and I are Buttertons! Isn't that great?!

20. Nail-biting from recent Red Wings loss + late night cherry pitting = hands that look like they belong on a zombie in a cheesy horror flick.

21. Old people use a lot of toilet paper. It's true! Recently I asked the church folks to save cardboard tubes (ie tp tubes, paper towel rolls, gift wrap tubes, etc) along with coffee cans and spice shakers for a craft project I'm doing with the kids next month. Well the coffee cans and spice containers are slowly coming in, but I'm buried in mountains of toilet paper tubes! Seriously. Every kid in Memphis could have a toilet paper megaphone and I'd still have leftovers!

And now, a picture of my mother-in-law and I at the Memphis Zoo. Note how she exults in the suns' rays while I hide from them.

22. Yet another thing I've learned the hard way: the sun hates me. I don't tan, I burn, peel and become pasty again. Curses, fair skin!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mac n Cheese

Jesus loves me. This is why the good Lord invented macaroni and cheese.

This recipe has all the lovely flavor of homemade macaroni and cheese but without the grainy texture that you sometimes get when you melt cheddar cheese. The secret is adding part of the pasta water to the cheese sauce! AH HA!!! Now you know.

Recipe courtesy of Epicurious.

For topping:

1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 cups panko (coarse Japanese bread crumbs) or 3 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 6 slices firm white sandwich bread) And lucky me, I had a partial loaf of homemade bread just waiting to be bread crumbs!
1/4 pound coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

For macaroni and sauce:

1 stick unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
1 pound coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 pound elbow macaroni

Make topping:
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.

Melt butter, then stir together with panko and topping cheeses in a bowl until combined well.

Make sauce:
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes, then whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in cheeses, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Remove from heat and cover surface of sauce with wax paper.

Make Macaroni:
Cook macaroni in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain macaroni in a colander. Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water, and sauce in a large bowl. Transfer to 2 buttered 2-quart shallow baking dishes.

Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and bake until golden and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

For maximum effectiveness, enjoy this hot while watching Harry and the Hendersons. Good times.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oh, the places I've been...

Actually, looking at this lovely map, I've only been to 30% of my very own country. I've been to quite a few New England states, but they kind of all got mixed together on a manic family vacation one year. Also: "drive-thru" states don't count!

Create your own visited map of The United States

1. Best family vacation ever: Hershey, PA. A chocolate lover's dream. Even the streetlights are Hershey kisses. Unfortunately, I was sick and all I could stomach was chocolate milk. *sniff*
Also on that trip, a tour of Gettysburg. I'm not much of a history lover but it was pretty incredible.

2. Best honeymoon ever: Savannah, GA. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which I've since learned is considered a pimple on the face of Savannah by the locals. We liked it just fine.
Essential dining experience: The Cobblestone Cafe, a hole- in- the- wall restaurant on the Riverwalk which has since closed down. Sucks to be you.

3. Best summer camp ever: Detroit Lakes, MN. Young Life's Camp Castaway. A rock wall, zip line into Pelican Lake, tubing, parasailing. What more could a 14-year old want?

4. Best non-family vacation ever: New Orleans, LA. Went with Senior Planning Board (aka Girl Scouts) at the tail-end of Mardi Gras. Did touristy sightseeing portion of trip (parade floats, eating alligator...) Oh and saw a mini-parade of naked men marching by our hotel. Good times...

5. Best Steve and Sarah trip ever: St. Louis, MO. Our very first all- by- ourselves camping trip. Our tent got broken into by raccoons. No, I don't mean, oops we left the door open and they got in. They BROKE in. As in, they made their own door. Ah, memories. Also, Union Station. Steve is the ultimate planner and I'm more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of girl so we're quite the pair.

Up next (if I'm lucky):

Crater Lake, Oregon. With a view like this, who wouldn't want to go? Twenty million calendar pages can't be wrong, can they?

Crescent City, California. To see the giant redwoods. I know this area is protected, but how cool would it be to camp there? Just sleep there with nothing but the trees to canopy you.

Grand Canyon, Arizona. Preferably with a donkey. Though I'd probably feel sorry for the donkey and just let him walk unburdened.


Click the links for image sources!