Friday, January 30, 2009

I Can Still Eat Brownies With Stitches In My Mouth

Okay, so maybe I won't lose weight while I have stitches in my mouth, especially if my four year old daughter keeps convincing me to make treats like these! Yesterday we were looking through our cookbooks for recipes we could make with the ingredients we had in the house. We came across this amazing recipe and I knew I had to share it with all of you. The best part, you probably have the ingredients in your house right now, too!


▪ ½ cup butter, melted
▪ 1 cup sugar
▪ 1 tsp vanilla extract
▪ 2 eggs
▪ ½ cup all purpose flour
▪ 1/3 cup cocoa
▪ ¼ tsp baking powder
▪ ¼ tsp salt

Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease 9-inch square baking pan. In medium bowl, stir together butter, sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; with spoon, beat well. Stir together flour cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until brownie begins to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Frost with Creamy Brownie Frosting if desired.

Creamy Brownie Frosting

▪ 3 T butter, softened
▪ 3 T cocoa
▪ 1 T light corn syrup
▪ ½ tsp vanilla extract
▪ 1 cup powdered sugar
▪ 1 to 2 T milk

In a small mixer bowl, beat butter, cocoa. corn syrup and vanilla until blended. Add powdered sugar and milk; beat to spreading consistency.

Notes: This is a great recipe to make with kids. The only thing I needed a hand mixer for was the frosting. Zoe mixed all the other ingredients with a wooden spoon. The texture of these brownies is perfect. Very fudgy and brownie like. I don't like a lot of from scratch brownies because they often don't have the texture I'm looking for. These do. These are great without the frosting, but that does take them to a new chocolatey level. If you like nuts in your brownies, add up to 1/2 cup. You won't be sorry you tried these! I used Ghirardelli's unsweetened baking cocoa, which I've discovered makes any cocoa recipe yummier. But any good quality cocoa should work well.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Trip To The Periodontist

I went to the periodontist yesterday and felt compelled to share my experience here. (I know Bobbie Leigh, you have stopped reading by now, that's okay!)

The reason for my visit was the gum over my right upper front tooth (can't recall the name of the tooth. Alison, maybe you could help?) was pulling away. There was a little "u" where the gum pulled away. My dentist sent me to a periodontist because when something like that happens in the front of the mouth, a filling starts to look pretty bad. After my initial consultation it was decided that I needed "minor periodontal surgery." Basically, the doc takes a piece from the roof of my mouth and attaches it to the gum above my tooth. Yeah, eeeew. And, oooooooww.

I had about three weeks to anticipate the procedure. I finally decided I would be fine. I have been having cavities filled since I was five years old. I have had at least two root canals as well as several crowns. I even had my wisdom teeth ripped out of my mouth as an adult about 6 or 7 years ago, with nothing but the numbing novacaine shots. If I can handle all of that, a trip to the periodontist should be a piece of cake, right?

And actually, it was. In fact, except for the number of shots to numb the roof of my mouth, the procedure itself was better than getting a cavity filled. There was no drilling or loud noises associated with drillings and fillings. The worst part was when he said it appeared I had a lot of bone loss under this tooth, a surprising amount. There was no pain, but I imagined what he had to do to look at the bone under the gum, and that pretty much grossed me out. I patiently laid with my mouth open and eyes closed while he sliced some flesh from the roof of my mouth and sewed it over the gum. I knew the procedure was almost over when I felt the thread he was using to sew the stitches against my upper lip. Then he was rubbing some strange goo over my gums, though I couldn't really feel it, and holding it in place for several seconds. He placed some mesh over the part in the roof of my mouth where he had taken the graft, and "cemented" it in place. After all this was done, they wiped off the outside of my mouth, which I'm assuming had blood on it. The assistant handed me a cup with four ibuprofen pills in it and a cup of water. I took all four and waited for the numbing to wear off. The doctor handed me a paper with directions for post op care and wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic and one for pain pills. Then, because he finished about ten minutes early, we sat and talked about our families, where our kids go to school, some mutual people we know. It was very funny and strange.

I walked out after paying my bill and headed to the car. I still had to pick up my kids at school. The first thing I did when I got in my car was look at my mouth. Above about three of my teeth is a white putty like substance. The dentist said it will likely fall off before I come back next week to have my stitches removed. The mesh covering on the roof of my mouth is black. My daughter, Emma, loves looking at it. My son, Ian, told me he wasn't going to make me laugh for the next week because he didn't want to see it. For my part, it's kind of novel. This morning it looks a little grosser, there is some seeping blood that has left brown streaks through the white putty. My mouth feels good, though. No pain pills yet today.

And as Irish Coffee House told me, maybe my trip to the periodontist will result in some weight loss. I think it could. I'm eating softer foods, but it takes me so long to eat that by the time I get halfway through something it is cold and unappealing. I wouldn't recommend it as a diet, but if you have to have work done, you might as well get some side benefits!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shame On Me

I didn't vote for him. I admired him. Found him exciting. Thought his family seemed nice. But, I couldn't get past the fact that his voting record was extremely pro-abortion. I never once disparaged him in front of my children or husband (who likely did vote for him, though I don't technically know for sure). I did not stand up for him when my staunch Republican parents visited and made nasty comments during the local news coverage.

I wasn't actually upset (or surprised) when he won the election. I allowed myself to be excited that the United States had finally proven itself colorblind. It finally proved we could elect someone other than an old white guy. I began to read about the president-elect. I read about his two beautiful daughters and lovely wife. I allowed myself to believe that maybe he could make great things happen. I thought maybe, just maybe, he'll do really great things and be an awesome president. Maybe he would be able to transcend bipartisanship and bring this country together in the mold of Ronald Reagan.

As the inauguration neared and the local media stalked his every move, I felt sorry for his family, that they couldn't even go to a dolphin show and have a Hawaiian shaved ice without a press pool following them. But, I also was intrigued and somewhat thrilled to be witnessing history. Maybe Barack Obama was the best man for the job right now.

I watched many of the inauguration festivities, something I've not done in the past. I thought Malia and Sasha were adorable at the big concert on Sunday. I thought Michelle looked regal in the yellow dress and coat, not as perfect in the white ball gown. The girls looked pitch perfect in their J.Crew coats and matching scarves. Barack looked dapper in his suit. His slight smile and head bob during the mistake in the swearing in made it obvious he knew what he was supposed to say when Chief Justice Roberts flubbed the words. I was simultaneously surprised and moved by the sheer number of people who went to Washington for the inauguration.

And then reality set in. One day after the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe V. Wade, President Obama reverses the "Bush administration's ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information." And he has already stated as seen here in his own words, that the first thing he'll do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.

I am sickened at the work he has already undone, and will undo as president against the most helpless in our society, the unborn. It is not okay to kill our babies in the womb through abortion.

Barack Obama may do some good in our country, but giving women unfettered access to abortion is not a good, it is an evil. And shame on me for getting caught up in the excitement and celebration of his inauguration. I knew better on election day, and I should have known better in the weeks leading up to his swearing in.

"Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion"
-Mother Teresa

Friday, January 23, 2009

My 9 1/2 year old son just asked me what I was making for dinner. When I told him Bacon Cheeseburger Roll-up, he responded, "You know I hate that," as if every dinner I make must meet his specific taste standards. I reminded him that it was his little sister's favorite meal. To which he said, "It tastes like crap."

Aaah, parenting. It is such a joy!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Musical Choices

Ever since my husband installed iTunes on our computer several years ago, I've listened to way more music than I had I the past. It's so easy to turn on the tunes while checking out everybody's latest blog entries. What seemed so revolutionary at the time, being able to buy just one song at a a time, is commonplace today. I love it because if I hear a song on the radio that I fall in love with, it is just 99 cents away from being in my iTunes.

Due to strict budgeting, my music purchases have pretty much come to a standstill. But for my birthday my father-in-law got me a gift card to iTunes. I am very excited. I have already bought five songs, leaving me 10 more to choose. Here's the dilemma: I have more songs in my "shopping cart" than $10 worth. I have to pick and choose. It's hard. Do I pick one of my new favorites, like Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" or do I pick Rosemary Clooney's "Sisters"? (Answer, I picked them both.) But I am finding I'd love a Phil Collins album. If I buy a whole album of his, then I can't get anything else. Decisions, decisions.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Kitty

I have all kinds of great things I could talk about that happened over the last week. Sledding with my kids on Sunday, the school play tryouts where my two oldest got up in front of everyone and did their bit, all the awesome Mo Willems books we checked out of the library, the bitter cold that gave all of my kids the day off from school today.

But, I'm not going to talk about those things. I'm going to talk a little bit about my cat, Bumper. I took Bumper to the vet last week because she had been losing weight quite rapidly and also because a blood vessel burst in her eye. She is almost 14 years old and except for the frequent vomiting she has had all her life, and the diarrhea she had for close to a year wherein she almost got put to sleep. she's been an awesome cat. She is not moody or mean. She doesn't invite affection and then turn her head and bite you. She lets the kids carry her around the house and never once has even thought to bite or scratch them. She sits on my lap every night after the kids go to bed, and for most of the time we've owned her, she has slept at my feet on top of my bed.

She had a rough start in life. Back in the fall of 1995, I was driving to St Ann School where I taught 1st grade. It was a short drive, probably 10-15 minutes. Cedar Road is a very busy road that leads into Cleveland if you follow it long enough. My drive was straight down Cedar Road. As I passed through a big intersection, I saw something clutching the pavement in the left turn lane going the other direction. I quickly recognized it as a cat. I immediately pulled my car over into the parking lot to the right and jumped out of my car. As I did so, I noticed a large crowd of people waiting for the bus. I heard an audible group cringe as I ran to the side of the road waiting to cross to the turn lane. A car had made a left turn and just barely missed the cat in the middle of the road. As soon as the light changed, I ran out and picked the pitiful little cat up.

I had no idea what to do next. I decided to continue on to work. I usually got there quite early to get work done before the kids came in. That day I had to figure out what to do with this injured cat. I unloaded my bookbag and left the cat in my car where she hadn't really moved except to look around since I put her on the front seat. After getting my classroom opened up, I went and got the cat and took her into the teacher's lounge to talk to my principal. Sr. Dorothy Ann was terrified of cats, a little fact I was not aware of. She stood on the other end of the lounge while we discussed what to do with the cat. We put her in an unused room of the rectory that was just outside of the school building. I then went to work.

A few hours later Sr. Erin was at my door, ready to take over my classroom. Apparently our secretary had arranged for the cat to get into a vet down the road and I needed to take her now. So I did. She had a fractured pelvis, broken paw, and an infected bite wound that needed draining. The vet's wife used to work at St. Ann's, so the vet had contacted a rescue organization that paid for all the work as long as we'd foster the cat until a home was found for her. I said, "Of course!"

I brought her home after all the surgeries and work was done. The vet thought she was between 6 and 9 months old. We called her "Kitty" initially, so we wouldn't get attached. Riiiight. We never got a call from the rescue organization saying they found her a home. We kept her in our one bedroom apartment against our lease agreement and named her Bumper. (My husband said it was only appropriate, after all the last thing before she saw me was the bumper of a car.)

We have moved four times since I found her that fall day almost 14 years ago. She lived with my husband's grandparents for almost six months while we looked for a house in Illinois. They adored her, as we do. Everyone who has ever met her or taken care of her says she is the most amazing and sweet cat. And they are right.

I took Bumper to the vet last week and then again yesterday for a weight check. They ran blood tests and took X-rays. They told me yesterday she probably had spleen cancer. I asked them how long until the inevitable. The vet said he didn't know. Take her home, feed her, give her fluids (under her skin with a needle and I.V. bag) and start talking to the kids about how she is sick.

Last night she had diarrhea and it was all down her back legs. She came over one last time to sit on my lap and I realized what was all over her. So I took her up to the bathtub upstairs and got some warm water to clean her up. She didn't even protest and looked so pitiful laying in the big white tub. I knew the end was close. I wrapped her in a white towel and snuggled with her. She couldn't purr, which she always did almost immediately as I picked her up. I laid her in her favorite spot on the couch. I scratched her chin and she lifted her head to let me do it.

This morning she is gone. My husband found her dead on the couch. Now I have to tell the kids. They have a snow day because of the extreme cold we are experiencing in Chicago right now. I am so sad. I loved her dearly. I am glad she is no longer suffering. Goodbye, Bumper.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Thrifty Find

After dropping Zoe off at preschool, I headed out to my periodontist consultation. My gum on my upper front right tooth is pulling away from the tooth and I needed to have a specialist look at it. The office was on the other side of Aurora, and so I trekked over that way and passed several interesting stores on the way. One was a free standing Carson Pirie Scott, which I didn't even know existed! (The free standing part, not the store itself. I've just never seen a CPS outside of a mall.) The other, right across the way from the Carson Pirie Scott store, was called Thrift and Dollar. It got my curiosity and as my consultation only took about 20 minutes, I had some time to kill before having to bus the carpool kids home.

I drove by the Thrift and Dollar, parked, and went inside. As I entered the store, three ladies carrying a plastic toddler bed passed me saying, "What a blessing! Lord we thank you for this bed. Only $30! Thank you, Lord." I looked around and immediately recognized the set up as a store that sells donated goods (like a Goodwill or Salvation Army store.) I took a look at some of the clothes, then started perusing the furniture. There were some great things there! Some of the dressers were surely antiques, though many needed some TLC. After walking through the furniture I noticed the knick knacks. I looked for some angels for my mom, but didn't find any that I liked. There were tons of religious figurines and several Easter bunnies, as well as a few buddhas and some porcelain girls holding parasols.

After looking at the knick knacks, a lovely large brown plate caught my eye. It looked to be from the 70's, judging by the colors and design. It was an orangeish-brown iron stone plate, with a dark brown rim and three dark brown flowers on the inside. I immediately liked it and kept it in the back of my mind.

I looked around some more at all of the little dishes, gravy boats, glasses, mugs and plates. There was so much to take in. I think I could fill my cupboards with so many of the quaint little designs I saw there. Maybe if I ever get new everyday dishes I'll just go back there and buy a mish mosh of cute plates. That really appeals to me on two levels. One, I'll be recycling by reusing perfectly good dishes. Two, I think different patterns would be fun to have on the table.

I wish I would have had my camera. The old irons, the fancy wine glasses, the old tools, the end tables exactly like the kind my husband and I had when we first got married (they were hand me downs then, too), the racks and racks of clothing. I could have shown you some really amazing things. One of my favorite was some old Corelle (I think - maybe they were Libby) glasses that my Mom had when we were growing up. They are hideous brown glasses with flowers around the top. And as ugly as they are, it was fun to see they still existed somewhere.

Anyways, I checked my wallet and realized that I only had $3 in cash. Most of these stores don't take credit cards, so my $3 and change was going to have to stretch. While perusing all the various dishes, another plate caught my eye. This one had a painting of The Museum of Science and Industry right in the middle of it. Around that are four drawings of various exhibits inside the museum. On the back it tells of the founder of the museum and the museum's purpose. There is no date unfortunately, but it does name the company that made the plate and the fact that the plate was made right here in the USA. The price on the tag: $3.

Living in the Chicago area, and my husband growing up here, I knew this was something special. I decided I had to have this plate to hang in my house. So, I bought it. Now I just have to buy some of those plate hanging kits and soon this great plate will be hanging up in a special place.

I love it!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


No swearing in this post, I promise!

For the big game, I made an Ohio favorite for the kids, hubby and me to snack on. It is of course the ever popular Buckeye! And even though my beloved Bucks lost yesterday, we still had awesome treats to munch on each time they scored, and even a few left over today!

My most awesome big sister, Leanne, gave me this recipe. From what I understand, her husband and three daughters, as well as several school teachers and sometimes neighbors get to enjoy these tasty morsels of peanut butter and chocolate goodness several times during the football season. My family is not as fortunate, but come bowl game time, they know they'll be ready for the big game.


▪ ½ cup peanut butter
▪ 3 tablespoons butter, softened
▪ 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
▪ 4 oz. chocolate flavored candy coating
▪ 4 oz. milk chocolate chips

Stir together the peanut butter and butter until smooth. Gradually add sugar, stirring until combined. Shape into 1 inch balls; place on wax paper. Let stand until dry (about 20 minutes) or refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Melt candy coating and chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave. Cool slightly. Dip balls in chocolate using a toothpick. Let excess chocolate drip off. Place on wax paper; let stand until set (or refrigerate).

Makes about 30

Notes on this recipe: The first time I made these, they turned out pretty ugly. they tasted great, but not pretty!
Some tips I've learned since that first time:
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. It will stay warmer longer and if you are a slow dipper like me, that's very useful

2. While melting the chocolate, pop the peanut butter balls in the freezer. The peanut butter ball never fell off once when I used this method.

3. Use two toothpicks at once. After dipping one ball, hold it upside down for a few seconds while dipping a second ball. Then place first chocolate dipped ball (buckeye) on waxed paper. I just find the chocolate spreads less and makes for a more authentic lookiing buckeye this way.

4. If you don't want the toothpick hole showing, rub the hole away with your fingers.

5. When I make these, I only get about 25. Might be because I like the peanut butter filling too much, might be because I make them too big. Not sure which it is.

I hope you enjoy these! I know we did, even if the Buck's didn't win. (Don't they look a lot like the real thing?)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Two Fucking Minutes Is Two Minutes Too Long!

Yes, I'm an Ohio State fan. I actually didn't think they had a big chance of winning against Texas, though I still had hope. A college football game often goes to the team who shows up to play, and I thought OSU might be that team tonight.

As the first half ended with them up 6-3, I thought, "Hey, we're still in this. We're even winning!"

Then the second half came and Texas got ahead. I didn't give up on the Bucks, though. They were never down by much, and the possibility of a win still excited me.

Then, with 2:05 to go in the 4th quarter, my Bucks scored a touchdown. They went up 21-17. The thrill of being in the lead so late in the 4th quarter was tempered by my being an Ohio sports fan. I knew 2:05 was too much time on the clock. I have watched way too many Ohio sports teams (pro (Cleveland Browns) and college level) to think that the Bucks had it locked up. My only hope was a strong defense. Please God, could they hold the Longhorns long enough so they couldn't score a touchdown?

And of course, the answer was no. A possible generous placing of the football on 4th down, a missed tackle, and the game was all over.

My husband seemed a little shocked with my cursing and swearing. I am not a foul mouthed person by nature. But big sports events bring it out of me. I'm ultra competitive and when my team doesn't come through, I'm thoroughly disappointed.

Goodbye, Buckeyes. Maybe next year we'll bring home the big game.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year, New Weight

This post had the possibility of being about my resolutions for 2009 (which I do have a few of), but instead is going to be about me bitching about my ever expanding waistline.

Towards the end of the summer, I put on a few pounds. Not much, just two or three. I knew I needed to lose them before Thanksgiving, because let's be honest, Thanksgiving is about eating, and I was going to do my fair share. Despite not losing the two or three pounds, I managed somehow not to gain any weight at Thanksgiving.

So I set out to lose the weight before Christmas. Once again, it didn't happen. I decided to go into the holidays happily but carefully. Maybe I could just gain one or two pounds and only be five pounds over my happy weight. I gained two pounds the weekend I went to my mom and dad's house, the weekend BEFORE Christmas. Not a good sign.

And so, after watching the scale continue to rise throughout this last week, I've finally had it. I officially gained 5 1/2 pounds during the holidays and now I'm 8 1/2 pounds above where I feel comfortable.

It might not be so bad if the holiday food was limited to the holidays. But unfortunately there are still Christmas cookies, Fannie May Eggnog Creams, Starbuck's Truffles (okay, these are all gone, but I ate them after Christmas), Eggnog, candy canes, and other waistline threateners. It doesn't help that I discovered the yummiest way to make a mocha or cinnamon latte at home. (It involves sweetened condensed milk for both, and for the mocha, Hershey's syrup). Luckily my birthday cake sucked, or I'd still be eating that, too.

I have to make some changes, and right now I'm weighing what those changes need to be. I will try not to be whiny, but as I figure out these changes, I will probably be sharing them with all of you. I want to be held accountable, and the blog seems like a great way to do that.

Hoping all of you had delicious but calorie free holidays! Hope 2009 is a good year for you all!