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!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

These Flowers...

...are the definition of red. I saw them on the side of the highway on the way home from church: a flowing red and green wave stretching for miles. Red clover.

I was going to make them all fancy, punching up the color and such, but I like how you can see the dirt and grit of the highway between the flowers.

They've been growing here for years, battered by passing cars, exhaust and the elements, unaided by humans, and thriving nonetheless.

And arresting the attentions of people like me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Genius Speaks

that is, Mom, the Quilting Genius.


How to Make a Love Quilt (by Cherrie K.)

Step one: Go to the store and buy material, wash it, iron it and then cut hundreds (it seems like) 2, 3, 5, 8 and 1 ¼ inch strips.

Step two: sew them together:

Make 81 “A” blocks Make 64 “B” Blocks

Combine the “A” and “B” blocks to make “C” blocks

Make 7 “D” blocks

Make 7 “E” Blocks (I know it says F – but trust me on this one)

Make 1 “F” Block (see note on E block – trust me)

Make 1 “G” Block

Make 1 “H” Block

Step 2 Sew it all together – lay out on bed and admire so far….. (Translation, make sure dad has enough on his side so that he won’t think he doesn’t have enough covers……)

Step three: Add first border

Step four: Add folded border

Step five: add two more borders

Step six: add backing, and batting and pin together and quilt – you can utilize all the helpers that volunteer!

Step seven: Machine quilt (Stitch in the ditch) to make pretty designs on back!

Step eight: Stitch in the ditch on the right side to anchor the quilt

Step nine: put final border-binding on and declare “WHEW!”

Step ten: Enjoy!


Happy late birthday, Dad, hope you've finally got enough covers!