Thursday, September 29, 2011

Like we use to

My alarm clock glowed blue, spreading shadows of nightstand trinkets across the pillow I was just barely laying on.  Crisp fall air drifted through the open window and carried on its back songs from the crickets just beyond the black screen.  Paul laid behind me, arms around my shoulders, and his warmth moved through me like osmosis.  I breathed deeply and listened to the whistling in my nose as I savored this rare moment.

We just don't sleep together like we use to.

Paul gets home late these days.  Too late for me.  A click on the baby monitor signals to my weary bones that the front door has opened and if I'm not already in bed I end my game of solitaire and kneel to pray while I'm still alone.  He walks into the room, grey bag slung over his shoulder, looking worn out from the long day and late commute.  After a brief discussion about his adventures in Salt Lake City my dry eyes signal to me to sleep.  Kneeling across from each other, he calls on me to pray.  We then slip under the covers, read scriptures, and find our comfy places, back to back, in order to fall asleep quickly and maximize the five or six short sleepy hours before Paul must leave again.  No time for cuddles.

I slept very little the first few months of marriage.  It reminded me of band tours and summer trips with friends where I had to share a bed.  Laying awake, listening to sleeping inhales and exhales, I worried my movements would wake my partner.  My paranoia became insomnia and even a new husband couldn't cure my fears.  It took a couple weeks of sleep observation to discover just how deep of a sleeper Paul was, and as my anxiety subsided, a completely new problem arose.  I couldn't sleep while he touched me!  His cuddles, hugs, cold feet, sharp elbows all stirred my unconsciousness to consciousness.  I thought the couples in old televisions shows sleeping in separate beds might have had a brilliant idea.  But time brought about healing as I became desensitized to the pokes and prods and overcame the idea that married people must cuddle all night long.  ('Cause you don't, and we don't.)  But at least back then we had a little time in each others arms before I rolled away to sleep.  We don't even have time for that anymore.

I didn't realize how much I missed that time until last night.  I watched the clock for an hour as Paul dreamed behind me.  I wanted to be beside him for as long as my body would allow, but when midnight passed I decided it was time. . . I slithered out from under his arm, flipped my pillow to a colder side, and rolled onto my stomach.  The bed still dipped toward him and he reached for the warm spot where I had been until his hand found me once more.  He dropped his hand limply on my back and wheezed he sleeping wheeze.  The sides of my lips pulled up into a little smile while my eyes looked up at the clock one last time and then surrendered to the night.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cherries, chocolate, and crunch

Yesterday was my father's birthday, and he requested chocolate and cherries.  You know I had to turn that into cupcakes somehow.

I started with chocolate cake batter that I added cherry pie filling to.  It made the cupcakes super moist with chewy cherry pieces riddled throughout.

They came out of the oven looking beautiful.  The secret to perfect cupcakes every time: my mother's oven.  True story.  My apartment has a gas oven which has a tendency of burning everything on the bottom.  This works wonderfully if you are trying to-- Ah, heck!  It doesn't work wonderfully for anything.  My mother's electric oven, on the other hand, cooks food evenly and perfectly!

For the filling I whipped (literally whipped) up a batch of white chocolate mousse.  I didn't, however, whip it enough, and it was still just a little runny.

For the frosting I tried a new recipe from a food network chef that claimed to make the smoothest and most fudge-a-licious chocolate frosting on this side of the Mississippi.  The recipe called for granulated sugar, cooked on the stove top with milk and butter, and boiled for one minute.

[Insert cheesy flashback music]

When I was just a young girl wanted to make cookies with my big sister.  As we added ingredients to the batter we realized we were looking at the wrong recipe and actually making brownies.  Because we had already begun mixing ingredients, we agreed to forgo cookies and proceed with the brownies.  We were not good at waiting for our creation to bake so I got the bright idea to make chocolate frosting.  It seemed to be a good distraction from our temptation to repeatedly open the oven door.

This was my first time making frosting.  I read the recipie aloud to my sister as she retrieved the ingredients from the pantry.  Frosting progress came to an abrupt hault when I read confectioners sugar.
"What's confectioners sugar?" I asked my older and wiser sister.

"I'm not sure," she said cautiously.  "But I think it might be powdered sugar."

I took a moment to consider her theory.  Powdered sugar. . . like cinnamon roll glaze. . . glaze is like runny frosting. . . but. . . but. . . what if we're wrong?

"We better use regular sugar just to be safe." I said confidently, hiding my doubts.  Janell, so obedient, grabbed the granulated sugar from the pantry and into our frosting it went.  I mixed and mixed until it sorta looked right, and then we each put forth little tasting fingers.  Inside my mouth two things happened.  First, my tongue thoroughly cleaned off my index finger, and second, it pushed the frosting against the roof of my mouth where it discovered a disturbing gritty texture.

Who's idea was granulated sugar anyway?

Janell and I were embarrassed and mortified.  Not wanting to admit our mistake we attempted a rescue mission on that crunchy frosting.  We microwaved it, cooked it on the stove, beat it with the mixer until both of our arms succumbed to the power of the crunchy frosting.

We gave up and massaged the gritty concoction into the top of our brownies. Our family still teases us about the incident.

I thought I had learned from my mistake and put the experience behind me.  But yesterday as I tasted the "smoothest" and "most fudge-a-licious" chocolate frosting on this side of the Mississippi my tongue did two things: it cleaned off the spoon and then pressed the chocolate confection to the roof of my mouth.  And it was gritty, crumbly, and nothing like frosting.  My heart broke in two, fell to the floor, and was carried away by my parent's hyperactive puppy.

Because it could not be piped or even spread onto the cupcakes in normal buttercream fashion I decided to set it aside and start over with a frosting I was comfortable with.

In the end the cupcakes turned out fine and were happily eaten by one and all.  But I learned my lesson for good.  Never make frosting with granulated sugar.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Extra Extra!

Andrea News: Andrea had her 9 month check up yesterday.  Though she's still tiny (1.3% for weight) she finally has a little meat on her bones weighing in at 14.1 lbs and 27.3 inches long (49%). Since Paul has started his new crazy school schedule it's just Andrea and I Monday through Thursday, and this has made Andrea just a little clingy.  But in the rare moments that she decides to play on the floor without crying, she likes to roll and roll.  She's not crawling and I don't think she will start anytime soon. . . She doesn't seem interested at all.  She does, however, seem interested in moving about but gets frustrated when she can't.  I think if she ever decides to crawl it will improve her mood.

News from my kitchen: On Labor Day my aunt drove down from Salt Lake City to make enchiladas.  Yum!  To thank her for all the work she did I attempted to make a desert that went along with her theme.  Mexican candy is often a little spicy so I made a HOT chocolate cupcake spiced with cayenne, cinnamon buttercream, and topped with a red hot. 

However, having never made anything quite like this before I decided bite size cupcakes might be a good idea. . . especially since they were HOT.  This allowed everyone to taste without feeling obligated to consume copious amounts.  I couldn't help but doubt the success of these controversial cupcakes so I also made back ups.  Lemonade cupcakes with a raspberry center and topped with a light whipped cream cheese topping.  I so enjoy baking.  My dad's birthday is a week from today and I have big cupcake plans!

Other news:  I cut my hair off!  It was so long that I had to keep it tied back in a ponytail or Andrea would grab fistfuls and snatch me bald.  The ponytails gave me headaches because of the weight of my hair.  I've been wanting to chop it off for months, but it seemed every time I saved up a little money to do so some emergency required it.  Finally, Paul just told me to do it.


My head feels so light and free.  I got to donate the hair I cut off too.  The ends were pretty scraggly so I'm not sure how much they can salvage, but hopefully it helps someone.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I like big butts and I can not lie

Paul and I are worried.

Just outside our door and also up the stairs two black widows moved in and began their intimidation tactics. Oh, and they were good at what they did! But we didn’t really require their services and not-so-kindly asked them to evacuate (a.k.a. Paul smashed them). Then, my sweet husband began thinking about the spider neighbors and wondered if our fat widow at the top of the stairs was mourning the death of her husband by fooling around with the spider by the door. Could they have made a love child/children?

You may be wondering how I knew they were a boy and a girl. Well, that was the easy part.

 The female had a big butt.

The male had a small butt.

They’re just like me and Paul.
I can neither confirm or deny that this picture may or may not have been photoshopped. . . ;) 
On the way to grocery store this morning Paul scanned the stairwell for the love nest and thankfully found nothing.  However, this peaked my interest in the couple.  How many nights did Claira (what I named the female) spend hanging upside down in her widowed solitude until on a warm summer night and down the concrete steps she laid eight eyes on a lean, mean, web-spinning machine named Rocco?  Ecstatic to have someone to converse with, did she venture down to greet her new neighbor with a Harrison Ford pie?  (Harrison Ford was a beetle we found in her web.)  How long did they chat before Rocco revealed he was a widower?  Did they share stories about their dearly departed and find comfort in each others arms?  Did Claira wake up feeling nauseous in the mornings and tell Rocco about the miracle inside her?  Did they both take turns standing watch over the egg nest?  Were they alive to meet their children?

And we destroyed this!!  While our butt connection bonded us, at the first convenient moment I ordered Paul to splash them with hairspray and stomp on them with his tennis shoe.  Being the guilt sponge that I am I felt terrible thinking, who am I to play Shakespeare and kill off star-crossed lovers?  That is, until I read this:
The Back Widow Spider can inflict a painful bite which can be fatal, especially to the young and elderly.
Andrea's bedroom, just a few feet from our front door, came to mind and all the spider love in the world can't compare to my love for Andrea.  Yup.  Those two had to go.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The line between

 Saturday is shopping day. I wake up to Andrea’s little squeals, feed her, make my menu for the next week, and then write up my shopping list. Often I employ my sweet husband to spend some one-on-one time with our daughter so I can have some much needed time alone as I shop. Last week was a little different. Wednesday rolled around and my stomach discovered that the groceries purchased on Saturday were not one week’s worth. I tried to eat away at food storage but by Friday I decided shopping one day early was not such a bad idea. So I ventured out of my dark basement into the warm sunshine.

As I left store number one I stumbled upon a disturbing scene. A young, scruffy-looking man stepped up to another man leaving the store and asked him for a light. The recipient of this question looked so offended and, in a condescending tone, informed the smoker that he was most certainly not one. I looked behind me to witness the scruffy man withdraw behind a trash can and bury his face into his hands. I got in my car and as I drove to store number two the scenario seemed imprinted in my mind. That crumpled man behind the trash can probably wanted to be anywhere but outside a grocery store begging for a light because he can’t afford to go inside and buy one. And he was treated so rudely.

This got me thinking. . . Where is the line between sharing our beliefs and being judgmental?

Then, my week progressed and more lines seemed to be coming to my attention. Where is the line between eating just enough and a little too much? Asking for help and being needy? Meeting a child’s needs and spoiling? Taking a break and wasting time? Being curious and being nosy? Dreaming of better and being ungrateful for what you have? Wanting love and wanting attention?

I saw so many lines that I overwhelmed myself trying to find answers. And honestly, I felt afraid like I was walking along a cliff blindfolded. Without knowing the exact line how does one keep from crossing it? Then it came to me, so simple and so obvious. We are giving the Holy Ghost to help us find the line and the atonement is for when we cross it. But. . . where is the line between our own thoughts and those of divinity?

My head hurts.