Friday, February 29, 2008

Margaret Thatcher, Guru

I have a simple life, but it can be a busy life. Today it was finishing up a rush of bow orders while simultaneously trying to keep a 3-year old happy and a 1-year old from eating toilet paper. I wish I could report that I handled it all with grace and beauty but, truth be told, it was FRUSTRATING...

At the end of the day however, when the orders have been shipped, the messes finally put away, and my girls are tucked into bed (with toilet paper safely digested), I am reminded of one of my very favorite quotes:


"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it."

-Margaret Thatcher

I Get You Paula

Tonight on American Idol, while praising the ever-adorable David Archuleta, Paula Abdul tearfully said:

I want to squish you
Squeeze your head off
And dangle you from my rearview mirror

Strangely enough, I knew exactly what she was talking about. Paula had the same I-can't-get-enough-of-you feeling I got when I found my Leah wandering the house in her daddy's Dodgers hat.

The Real Reason I Shop at Costco

Tonight I gave Jolie 36 rolls of toilet paper, 16 rolls of paper towels, and left her to her own devices. Delighted, she spent the entire evening constructing - a throne, a castle....Here she is in her "cave."

Jack (who has spent years trying to compensate for the fact that I dropped Econ 110), then explained that while we choose to shop at Costco for the benefit of bulk-quantity pricing, what Jolie is enjoying is an e x t e r n a l i t y of our decision.

Oh, totally!

Lipitor For Dessert

In response to my post about Olive Garden's alfredo sauce, my friend Amy said:

"Then you could make those wonderful butter bars of yours for dessert and top off the evening with some Lipitor."

Amy, thank you for reminding me! I need to post my recipe for Butter Bars. It's actually my sister Jane's recipe, who got it while working for Marriott.

I would say they're fantastic, but they're called BUTTER BARS. Wouldn't that be redundant??
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Crust:
1 yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted
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Filling:
8oz cream cheese
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 stick butter
3 c powdered sugar
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Combine crust ingredients & pat into 9x13 pan. Beat cream cheese, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add butter & sugar and mix well. Pour over crust. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Olive Garden Fettuccini Alfredo

I have heard that a dinner plate of Olive Garden fettuccini alfredo has 96 grams of fat.

In the tradition of anything with 96 grams of fat, it is amazing. Because we live 50 miles from an Olive Garden, I have been on a quest to find the same recipe and by george! I think I've done it.

This is one of my favorite things to make. It is SO simple and I promise it tastes exactly like Olive Garden's.

1 pint heavy cream
1 stick butter
2 Tbs cream cheese
1/2-3/4 c parmesean cheese
1 tsp garlic powder

In a saucepan combine butter, heavy cream, and cream cheese. Simmer until all is melted and well-mixed. Add the Parmesan cheese and Garlic powder. Simmer for 20 minutes on low.

Coming Clean

Today is my best friend Katie DelDuca's birthday. We grew up together, and I ADORE her.

We also share a deep, dark secret, and I think it's time to come clean...

This picture was taken 11 years ago at my surprise 17th birthday party. It was a Friday night, and I had gone to her house for dinner. All the lights were out, the place was silent, when suddenly...."SURPRISE!!!!" There were over 50 people in her backyard, food, and a DJ. Such a fun night!

What nobody knows (until now) is that 3 weeks prior, Katie D. and I had had the following converstation:

Katie D: So what do you want for your birthday?
Me: Well, I've always wanted a surprise party.
Katie D: Cool
Me: Can we plan one?
Katie D: Sure

So, the next couple of weeks were spent making a guest list, deciding on music, designing a cake and practicing my look of total shock.

This is the first time I have ever discussed this publicly and it feels so good to get it off my chest. Now I know how Marion Jones must feel.

If you know Katie D (or not) please leave a comment wishing her a happy birthday! I forgot to send her a card this year, and I'm hoping it will make up for it. I love you Katie!

Angie Harmon Needs My Help


I was reading People Magazine this week (I am a loyal second-generation subscriber). In it, actress Angie Harmon was asked what she is doing to keep busy during the writer's strike. Angie has two girls about the same age as mine, so this seemed like an easy one. I was caught off guard by her answer. She said:

"I literally am trying like every moment to find something to do. My husband can't wait for this thing to be over. He's like, "Isn't there a movie in Saigon you can do?"

This didn't add up...A 2 and 4 year old, and you are literally trying every moment to find something to do? Wow, Angie needs my help! So, I offer a few suggestions, based on my own experience:

* When your girls are sick and miserable, make sure they are sick and miserable at the same time, like mine were this week. This is perhaps the quickest remedy to your excess of spare time.

* I suggest putting large bags of pretzels, tortilla chips, etc. on the lowest pantry shelf, without securing them shut, like I do. This will make it easy for your baby to empty entire contents onto the floor, and you can spend a good deal of time cleaning up the mess.

* Take your daughters to toddler yoga. My girls love toddler yoga. They get to stretch, appreciate the movement of their bodies, and chant far eastern phrases that make me slightly uncomfortable.
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* Hair brush + Jordin Sparks "Tattoo" = Toddler Karaoke
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* Your youngest should be old enough that by now, quite a bit of refereeing is necessary throughout the day. Take last week for example, when Leah found a toy hammer, snuck up behind Jolie, and hit her over the head with it. Things might have been fine, except Jolie took it personally.

* When you make dinner, put little aprons on your girls and let them stand on chairs and help. This will guarantee the process to take twice as long, and that you will make twice the mess. The same applies to folding laundry.

* If you have too much free time on your hands in the evening, it helps if your youngest likes to poop during her bath. This will kill a good 30 minutes easy, while you clean the tub, sterilize the toys, and calm down your older child, who was next to her when it happened.
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Angie I hope this is helpful, although the writers strike did end last week. Maybe you could tuck the list away....It might come in handy when Women's Murder Club is cancelled.

Valentines Bows

I made these bows for my darling niece Julia for Valentines Day. I know, that's a lot of weight to carry on your head. But she carries it well, no?

Jack's Guide to Valentine's Day

Jack could not mess up Valentines Day if he TRIED. We have a great system going...For years, he's kept a list in his wallet of my favorite Sees candy (which is my favorite of all favorites). On February 13th, he's given a 1 lb gift certificate. Literally, all he has to do is

(1) Drive to Sees
(2) Present these two vital documents.


He's very good at this, and even takes the girls along as an added bonus. Everybody wins.

For those keeping score...My favorites (in order) are:
1. Butterscotch Square 2. Caramel 3. Pecan Buds
4. Milk Bordeaux 5. Milk Pattie 6. Cashew Brittle
7. Milk Chocolate Butter 8. Chelsea 8. Vanilla Nut Caramel
9. Vanilla Nut Cream 10. Milk Buttercream

Career Day

Jolie was invited to a Wiggly party, so for one glorious day she got to live out her dream of being MURRAY. Who knew one of my daughters would be SO excited to dress androgynously??

Urban Jack


Several people have said that Jack looks like Urban Meyer, head coach of the University of Florida.

What's even more strange, I think they make roughly the same salary.

Jolie's Three Best Quotes

Are all kids this funny?

1. I was taking she and Leah for a bike ride when Kayla, a neighbor her age, came wailing by us, crying and throwing quite a fit. Jolie watched her pass, flipped her hair and announced, "Kayla needs to get baptized."

2. A few months ago we went to UT to visit the Basingers. It was the first time Jolie had seen baby Addie wearing her orthopaedic shoes, which are attached by a long metal plate. She examined them curiously. Then she crouched down to Addie's level, put an arm around her & said, "Oh! Do you LOVE to skateboard?"

3. When we were in Hawaii, Grandma Daneille bought Jolie a hula skirt and matching tube top. She repeatedly insisted on pulling the top down and exposing herself. Finally, Jack got firm with her and tried to explain the concept of modesty, "Jolie. You have to cover up your nipples." She looked him in the eye, yanked it back down and said, "No, Daddy. Cover DOWN my nipples."

Wonder What He's Thinking?


This is my favorite picture of Jack. He's on top of Half Dome, which he hiked with his thesis advisor Dr. Steigerwald. I like to imagine that he's up there thinking, "Wow. What an amazing view...If only my beautiful wife Katie were here to share it with." But I know it's more like, "Wow. 9,000 feet and I didn't throw up once."

Be The Girl of My Dreams!!


Yesterday Leah was not cooperating with Jolie's plans (go figure). Frustrated, Jolie got in her face and shouted, "LEAH!! BE THE GIRL OF MY DREAMS!!!"

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Is That the BEST You Can Do?

I thought a family picture would be a good way to start out a blog. This led to a horrifying discovery...This is the only family picture we have taken in eight months. Leah looks half-conscious & Jolie was mad because she wanted to be in the Bracken family picture instead. A Christmas card it is not.







Genderbred Houses

My 14-year old daughter invited friends over tonight to make gingerbread houses. She's our oldest child, and it was the first time she ...