Sharing the Event of Mother’s Day

I may not be rich. I may not be successful. I may not be gorgeous. But I make a darn cute kid, as is evidenced by the photos I’m including. Yes, I’m showing her off today. That’s practically my sole reason for blogging. She’s cute. Indulge me. Eddie treated me to a brunch at Montelle Winery in Augusta, MO, Sunday. If you know me, you know it’s one of my favorite places. To top it off, he even coordinated with my mom, and she came along, too! Three generations of Tracy/Adamson/Strimel girls noshing on good food. What could be better?

In spite of the wonderful parts, Mother’s Day was bittersweet this year. It was our last day in St. Louis and my brand new pregnancy–just confirmed last Wednesday–began miscarrying late the day before. Kind of a kick in the pants for a day devoted to mothers but, hey, stuff happens. I figured I could sit around all crampy and sad or just buck up and get on with business. I got on with business, and it was a nice day. Now I don’t advocate miscarrying and moving 700 miles in three days, but it taught me about strength and the human mind. It’s a load of crap that happiness is what you make it but…big but…you can do a lot to turn things around just with your head.

So my sage advice that I like to offer along with these philosophical pieces is this: take care of yourself, take care of those you love, and remember that you are stronger than you think you are. I don’t care who you are, what’s wrong with you, or what you’ve been through in the past…you will surprise yourself by what you can handle. And if you need to sit down and cry once it’s all over, that’s okay too.

Oh, and if you’ll permit me a couple of seconds…I think this little one was a boy. I just want to tell the world that he existed even though it was just a few weeks. If there’s a heaven somewhere, I hope he’s with his little sibling and all the little ones like him.

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Bye, Bye Miss American (Strawberry) Pie

Because I clearly became a foodie over the weekend, I wanted to share one more recipe with you today. The fact that some good friends and family threatened me with bodily harm if I didn’t also goaded me into firing up the old computer after work today. My mom makes the best strawberry pie ever. Yeah, don’t go there trying to argue with me on this point. You won’t win…trust me. Mine is never as pretty but it’s almost as delicious, so when the locally-grown or near locally-grown strawberries begin springing up each springtime, a Garnet Glace Strawberry Pie is the first thing that comes out of my kitchen. I did remember to take some photos along the way but you aren’t going to find a good finished shot because Eddie dug into it before I could dollop whipped topping on. Now it’s just a bit of a half-eaten mess.

Garnet Glace Strawberry Pie
1-9 inch pastry shell, baked and cooled
1 quart fresh strawberries, washed and stemmed
1 c. water, divided
1 c. sugar
3 Tbls. cornstarch
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. powdered sugar
Cool Whip or other whipped topping

Prepare a glaze by simmering 1 cup of cut-up berries in 2/3 c. of water for 3 minutes.

Blend granulated sugar, cornstarch and 1/3 c. of water. Add to the boiling mixture. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture back to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cool completely.

Mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar, then spread into the bottom of the baked and cooled pastry shell.

Arrange the remaining berries, points up, inside the pastry shell. Reserve a few berries as garnish, if you wish.

Cover the berries with the cooled glaze and refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours.

Dollop whipped topping (or spread it over the top), add the garnish and serve.

Note: Overcooked glaze will be harder to spread (see the image below) but who cares? And dry berries keep the pie from weeping.

A Great (but Not Authentic) Sangria Recipe

When life hands you a new Sangria pitcher, make Sangria. Or at least that’s my motto. As you may have read in my earlier post, I bought the coolest pitcher today. It would’ve been an absolute sacrilege to let it go unused on its first day home with me. Far be it from me to misuse such a lovely vessel. So I’m drinking a passably good Sangria as I type (hiccup…just kidding). Given how easy it is, I figured it was my duty to share so here it goes…

Sangria

1 bottle of Merlot (cheap works)
1 c. sugar (I use Splenda and use quite a bit less)
1 c. orange liqueur
1/2 c.-1 c. brandy (I use 3/4 c.)
1 lemon
1 lime
1 peach
3 c. lemon-lime soda (7-up, Sprite or Sierra Mist…I’ve tried ’em all and they’re all good)

In a pitcher (I recommend mine from Mississippi Mud Pottery — no affiliation), stir the Merlot and sugar. Add the orange liqueur, brandy and fruit. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving add the lemon-lime soda.

Depending upon how sweet you like your Sangria, you may prefer to omit the sugar or Splenda. The soda adds quite a bit of sweetness. Oh, and the last step is to sit back and enjoy. It’s probably best not to try and blog or work after a glass given the booziness of it, or maybe that’s exactly what you need to do. I’ll let you be the judge.

Pitcher Style 3485

Becoming a Barre Fly…Again

When I was 3, I began what turned into a life-long love of dance. Once a week from 3 until age 16, I went flying up the steps at the Gail Herring School of Dance and then Chelle’s Dance Studio (after Gail moved) with tap, ballet and jazz shoes haphazardly thrown (with love) in a navy blue tote bag. Admittedly, about all I did the first year was hang from the barre like a little orangutan, but later I began to appreciate the grace and strength dancing gave me. Even when I became a chubby teen, I still had killer leg muscles and rock-hard abs. You couldn’t see them with a few pounds of tub but they were there.

The crazy thing I’ve learned is that despite being thinnest in my adult years, I’m much less toned than I was as a dancer…even when I was chubby. And that’s why I picked up Xtend Barre off Amazon. Both running and walking are good for me and I do enjoy it but ballet is just zen. That ache you get where your hamstrings meet your gluts after 50,000 plies? Heaven in muscle fatigue form.  Even the ab session was divine because it wasn’t just a crunch here and there. It was intense and yet comfortable all at the same time.

The result? Great! I am a big believer in muscle memory both because I know it is physiologically possible and because I’ve seen it work on my own body. I completed one (yes, 1) 55 minute session of Xtend Barre on Monday. Talk about feeling it! I generally have defined arms but they looked even better the next day. Best of all, I had great posture without much effort because I had forced myself to pull in, tuck under and lift up long enough to remember how to do it.

I’m of the opinion that a great fitness routine is NOT built upon a single method of exercise. This is going to be the one I go to when I don’t feel like exercising. If you’ve been a dancer (and even if you haven’t), this may be a great option for flexibility and strength. If you try it, let me know what you think.

Revealing the Newly-Painted Furniture a la Pottery Barn

I mentioned last week that I was sick and tired of my Colonial style bedroom furniture. I’m not exactly sure how it was ever my style, but we all make some questionable choices in our twenties, don’t we? Despite my dislike, it really is quite nice. We had the forethought to buy the best we could afford, which meant all-wood Broyhill. Knowing it wasn’t in the budget to buy new furniture right now, I began looking for ways to change what we have. After seeing several different “Creating Pottery Barn Black” tutorials on Pinterest, I thought it was worth a shot to paint the pieces. The goal was to start small (the nightstand) and move on from there. It would be easier to cover a ruined nightstand than an oversize-style chest of drawers. (The blog entry that most heavily guided me was from Just A Girl blog.)

It was a…success! I chose what I deemed the best tips of all the tutorials and went from there to create my own. Best of all, we didn’t have to sand anything (well, a single spot on the top of the nightstand). I thought I would share our results and my own tips. I will give you fair warning that I don’t have a great camera. Everything I shoot comes from an iPhone 3GS. Forgive the poor picture quality.

Nightstand Before

Nightstand After

Chest of Drawers After

Dresser After

If you’re interested, I’m happy to share information on what we (Eddie and I) used. First, we chose to use only foam rollers (Whizz High Density from Lowe’s) to apply everything, from primer to paint. No brushstrokes! Our primer was Zinsser Cover Stain Primer in white, and we used about 1 1/2 quarts. For paint, we chose Benjamin Moore Low Lustre Finish Acrylic Exterior Latex Paint in 213 Black (about 1 1/2 quarts).

From there, we literally just applied product to the wood. It took two coats of primer per piece (don’t forget, we didn’t sand). It also took about two coats of the paint; we touched up some spots with a third coat.

The most expensive addition was the hardware. With a military discount, we wound up spending $140 on drawer knobs alone. I, personally, think it was worth it, though. And while we’re talking money, I’ll just add that the entire project (not counting labor since it was a DIY project) came in at around $200. Not a bad return on the investment, in my opinion.

As you can see, it isn’t all styled yet. We’re planning to change the bedding and curtains, and we’ll add some decor (and clean off my jewelry box) before it’s all said and done. I’m quite happy with it all, though! I hope this inspires someone to try it.

Enjoying the Moment

I hate New Year’s Eve. I hate that the year is ending even if it’s been a less than stellar year. I hate that there’s a new year starting…too full of unknowns. For that reason, I always stay at home, drink responsibly, and try to make sure I’m sleeping soundly at midnight. I asked myself just a few weeks ago why I’m like this. Well, for one I hate change. I hate the unknown. I have to and often do push myself into new situations because stagnation is bad. If I was an extremely positive person, though, I might instead say I’m into living in the moment. Sadly, I’m not the living-in-the-moment type. That being said, I think maybe I need to be.

To me, living in the moment is enjoying where you are, who you are with, what you are doing, and how you are feeling. It isn’t burying your head in the sand or missing deadlines or drinking a whole bottle of vino with little regard for the consequences. It’s about feeling content and enjoying life. It’s about enjoying the few minutes of silence or a 5-second cacophony of laughter from your 3-year-old in between tantrums.

And so I enjoyed the moment today. I put Zoey in coveralls, snowboots, a coat, a hat, mittens, and a hood (and she looked like the little boy from A Christmas Story) and dressed similarly myself and we played in the snow. I had things to do but, really, what was more important? We walked up the block and traced the footprints of others, I watched her make multiple snow angels, and we went sledding. I even got on the sled twice and let her push me. (Yes, a 3-year-old can push her mother down a hill.) And it was frigid and fun and I am so incredibly glad I did that even though I didn’t get more edited on a dissertation I’m editing.

I’ve realized that I’ve missed so much of the scenery because of the minutiae. Living in the moment will never come easily because I’m a worrying type A but I’m making some conscious strides.

Check out what I experienced living in the moment this afternoon…