Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Recap



I'm linking up to Jo-Lynne's "2009 Blog Recap Carnival" today. Basically, I just took the first line from the first post of every month from 2009. Ahhh, a stroll down memory lane.

January
Too much . . . food . . . family . . . friends . . . fun . . . flinging of the remote controller . . . fighting the crowds at the mall . . . candy . . . cookies . . . chocolate . . . car-riding . . . Christmas lights . . . movies . . . munchies . . . merry-making . . .

A little recap of our 2008 holiday season. Fun!

February
Seems like everyone is getting into the "25 Random Things About Me" craze these days on Facebook.

My 25 random things. Come on, everybody's doing it!

March
B and I are in the throes of choosing a college.

Those college guidebooks are really funny sometimes!

April
Since we've been here, B and I and whoever wants to come have been heading down to walk the beach every morning.



Some photos from our wonderful trip to Kiawah Island, SC. Our fifth visit there did not disappoint.

May
I haven’t linked up with Jennifer at Conversion Diary for a while, but I thought today might be a good day to play “Seven Quick Takes.”

This line in this post made me laugh as I read it again: "Is Joe Biden a lunatic? Just wondering."

June
Since all two of you decided to vote on which story you'd like me to tell (I can see that my readers are an opinionated lot), here it is. I aim to please.

This is one of my funniest posts of the year, in my opinion. All about how moms embarrass their teenagers.

July
When last I left you, B and I were headed to McDonald's to get a Coke after the wedding.

Remember the Greek Wedding? This one's Part 2. To get the full story, check out Part 1 as well.

August
Ahhhhh. That's me breathing a sigh of relief and contentment to be back home from She Speaks in North Carolina.

A recap from my wonderful time in North Carolina. Whew!

September
So yesterday I mentioned that we took the girls to see Carrie Underwood on Sunday night.

Just pokin' a little fun at the hubby.

October
You may have noticed that I don't do many book reviews on here.



Here's where I reviewed Mary DeMuth's new book, A Slow Burn. Wow, what a read!

November
This week is an anniversary of sorts. For me. And for my family.

I started out November by being very, very thankful for my health. Here's where I tell the story of my unfortunate encounter with a scalpel back in 2007. I liked this post, but I really liked Part 2 better. I don't think I'll ever forget dear Marge who taught me so much.

December
This deal is just too good to keep to myself.

Sometimes blogging (or reading blogs) just pays off. Big time.

And believe me, there is more fun to be had in 2010. I'm not going anywhere (well, O.K., I am going a few places next year but what I mean is that my blogging habits will not end), so come along with me for the ride. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too.

Happy New Year!

Shelly

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Look Back at 2009 Meme

I found this fun little meme at Michelle's place, "Bleeding Espresso," and thought it would be fun to do. Hope you enjoy my look back at 2009.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Got an article published in a magazine.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don’t really make resolutions, but I did have some goals. Some were accomplished, some weren’t. I definitely have a couple of ideas of things I’d like to do next year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No. I’m kind of in that in-between stage of not giving birth but not having grandkids either (thank goodness!).

4. Did anyone close to you die? No, thank goodness.

5. What countries did you visit? I just stayed in the good old USA this year. But next year . . .

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? A book contract.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Probably August when we took that trip to Williamsburg and Washington, D.C. (Read more here and here.)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Not quitting my blog.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not writing more.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Again, no, thank goodness.

11. What was the best thing you bought? A car.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Maggie’s because she was in her first school play; Abby’s because she’s working hard and doing really well in school this year; Kate’s because she got into the only college she applied to.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Barack Obama’s.

14. Where did most of your money go? I have three kids. Need you ask?

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? She Speaks.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? I honestly don’t listen to music that much, so, sorry, I got nothin’.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer? a. Happier, of course. b. Neither thinner nor fatter—just fitter. c. Richer in experience.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Write.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Laundry.

20. How did you spend Christmas? We all (my family and my sisters and their families) met up at my parents’ house in Tucson. It was fun, but certainly not warm.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009? All over again.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Probably "24," but I also liked "American Idol" and "The Biggest Loser."

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Hate is so unnecessary.

24. What was the best book you read? “The Help” by Katherine Stockett

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Taylor Swift (don’t laugh!)

26. What did you want and get? Published.

27. What did you want and not get? A Congress with half a brain.

28. What was your favorite film of this year? “Julie and Julia” hands down.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I went to my daughter’s orchestra concert at a local community college. It was absolutely lovely. I turned 46. *gulp*

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? To have completed that book.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Modern day housewife.

32. What kept you sane? My family.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Really?

34. What political issue stirred you the most? Oh my word, healthcare. And bailouts. And Guantanamo detainees coming to my home state. And . . .

35. Who did you miss? I always miss the ones I love who aren’t here with me—my parents, my sisters, my friends.

36. Who was the best new person you met? Oh my gosh, all the bloggers I met! Tina, Jo-Lynne, Sandy. And Lysa (even though I met her in 2008, I met her a couple more times in 2009).

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. Be still, listen, and serve.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Great is Thy Faithfulness.
Great is Thy Faithfulness.
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand has provided.
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.


How about you? How would you answer some of these questions? Let me know in the comments!

Shelly

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas 2009: A Recap



In the land of

. . . cacti




. . . and citrus



. . . and mountains,



we cooked



. . . and played games



. . . (and some slept while we played games)



. . . and hugged



. . . and ate great food




. . . and WON!!!



But best of all, we made new friends.



[This is Adam who read my blog posts about the Greek wedding we attended last summer. He told my parents that if I ever came to Tucson he would cook a lamb dinner for me. On our last night there, my parents had a party for several of their friends and, true to his word, Adam brought the lamb. He also brought Greek potatoes and a noodle dish that I can't remember the name of. But it was all yummy, and Adam was lovely. I'll never forget that special meal. Thanks, Adam!]

Shelly

Monday, December 28, 2009

Home Sweet Home


Hear that collective sigh of contentment mixed with exhaustion? It's coming from our house. We're just back from a great week in the frozen Southwest. (Sorry, Mom and Dad, but it was cold!)

So, I've never flown Southwest Airlines before. Have you?

I had heard stories about the flight attendants though. As in, how funny they are. How laid back they are. What a different flying experience Southwest is from other airlines.

Last night we arrived in Chicago on Southwest after a wonderful Christmas celebration with my family. As we landed, the flight attendant, who happened to be a middle-aged man with gray hair (I'm not sure why I'm mentioning that except that I've never seen a middle aged male flight attendant with gray hair), made several funny announcements. Basically, "Don't get up yet, we aren't at the gate. Sit down until I tell you to get up."

But as we were taxiing to the gate, he made one last announcement. He said, "We had a very special guest flying with us today. Today is his birthday. He's 99 years old today. And this is also his first flight ever."

Everyone on the plane clapped and cheered. We all wanted to see who this person was. Pat him on the back . . . carefully . . . and wish him happy birthday.

Then he said . . . wait for it . . . "Be sure to greet our pilot on your way off the plane."

Ba dum, dum.

He got me. He really got me.

Anyway, we're home. I have to say, we had such a GREAT time with family and I love love LOVE that we get to see each other at Christmas every year, but it was sure good to get home. Know what I mean?

Chicago got a good bit of snow while we were gone, so it was fun to drive through town, looking at the houses blanketed in white, still shining with Christmas lights. So beautiful. Our whole town looks like Christmas.

The Wonder Dog did just fine with her wonderful friend, Rob. We're so happy to have Rob in our lives--he comes to our house to take care of Thunder while we're out of town, so our dog stays home where she's comfortable and safe and she can look out of her window all day.



But she gets a little LOT lonely.

When we get home she goes a little crazy for a while, running all over the house, licking us like crazy. Thunder never does anything halfway. She's all lab. Bless her heart.

I have lots to tell you this week, and I'll get to it soon, but for now the laundry awaits. Ta!


Shelly

Sunday, December 20, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!



Heading out in the early morning (who books tickets for 7:00 A.M.?--me, I guess), and I won't be around all week. Try to survive without me.

I'm actually going to get to meet a few of my readers this week, so that will be exciting! Otherwise I'm going to enjoy time with my family--parents, sisters, bro-in-laws, nieces, and, of course, the Wild fam.

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'" Luke 2:10-11


Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas, and praying that you experience the joy of the true meaning of this season.

Shelly

Friday, December 18, 2009

Better Than Oprah

Helllllloooo, People!!!!!

Have you ever watched Oprah’s “Favorite Things” show? It’s the one just before Christmas when Oprah tells all of her favorite things from the year from CDs to computers to cars. And then she gives one of everything to every member of her audience that day.

That must be the hardest ticket to get your hands on in all of show business. In fact, I'm sure it is. I've tried.

I’ve only watched Oprah's "Favorite Things" show a couple of times, but for me those shows are the quickest way to bring out that green-eyed monster in me. I mean, it’s not like I don’t already have a washer and dryer that work just fine, but Oprah’s giving away a new set of front-loaders in Candy Apple Red, and it makes me feel like my little white top-loaders are completely inadequate.

Same with the sunglasses. Surely my cheap-o pair of sunglasses do not block the rays as well as the $300 pair she’s giving away. It makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong in my life that I have to wear cheap-o sunglasses. Know what I mean?

Of course, this year Oprah didn’t even do a “Favorite Things” show—I guess the economy has hit even O the Great. (Maybe her buddy Barack will give her a bailout.)

Anyway, a couple of years ago the girls in our small group decided to do a “Favorite Things” giveaway of our own. We don’t spend nearly as much as Oprah, but we sure have a good time.

We got together this week to have lunch at Julie’s house and to exchange gifts. The lunch was wonderful, but it was the gifts we were most curious to see—what would our friends choose as their favorite thing of 2009?

In past years we’ve given each other really fun things like jewelry, ornaments, and even cake mixes (that was me—my gift is usually food related. I wonder why.). Last year, Wendy gave us each a fleece blanket that everyone in my family fights over—it’s just so soft and warm.

This year was an abundance of great stuff. Here’s a picture of the loot I came home with. . .



Becky and Jymette loved the Slatkin & Co. Fresh Balsam candle from Bath and Body Works so much that they both gave it to us. That’s never happened before. But I’m glad it did because that is one great candle. I’ve been burning them pretty much constantly since Wednesday, and every time someone comes in my house they tell me it smells great in here.

Olfactory pleasure is important, you know.

Kim gave each of us a Mac Cosmetics lip set, complete with a lip pencil, lip stick, and lip gloss that all fits into that cute pink carrying case you see in the front of the picture. Adorable, huh? My lips will look amazing at the party we’re going to on Saturday.

This year Wendy gave the food gift—all of her favorites from Trader Joe’s. I love that because I love Joe the Trader, as he’s called around here. She also tucked in a beautiful red glass ornament as which looks great on my tree.

Beth always overdoes it, and this year was no exception. Some wonderful hand cream from Park City, UT—mmmmm. And a totally cool necklace from DeDe Jaderholm (it’s hanging around the water pitcher in the picture).

I haven’t talked about DeDe here, and maybe I will someday soon, but suffice it to say that she is a friend to all of us and an exceptionally talented jewelry designer. I have too many just a few of her pieces, and every one is unique and fun and special. Plus, she lives right around the corner which makes picking up a little gift (for yourself, maybe?) very easy.

Julie went the extra mile this year to give us each a hand blown water pitcher. You may have heard the squeals of delight as we each opened ours. See it toward the left in the picture? Isn’t that just the coolest thing? Plus, what makes it extra-special is that Julie scoured the countryside looking for them at estate sales and antique shops. I love that she did that.

So I think that’s everything. I love each gift. And I love that we all put some thought into why these are our favorite things.

Oh my gift? What did I choose to give to my friends? Well, my gift was a two-part gift which came from two of my favorite stores: Williams-Sonoma and Anthropologie. AND they are food-related, sort of, because I just can’t help myself.

Red measuring spoons from Williams-Sonoma because I love red and I love to bake and I think everyone else should too. (Of course, when one of my friends who does not cook took them out of the package she said, “Now what are we supposed to do with these?” I think that might have been the best line of the day.)



And this coffee cup that I bought earlier in the year. I just love the detail on it, especially the little flower inside the handle. Isn’t that just too cute?



Plus, I love Anthropologie for gifts because they always give you the cutest ribbons and doo-dads to put on your gift. See?



So, the “Favorite Things” gift exchange goes on, and Oprah’s got nothing on us. In fact, if she ever decides to reinstate her “Favorite Things” show, I know of six girls who would gladly serve as her personal shoppers.

Call me, Oprah!

Shelly

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Welcome to My New Home

Don't click away! You are in the right place. This is still "Life on the Wild Side" but in a new and improved variety.

I got a little tired of the blizzard of pink and green, and I've been thinking about redesigning my blog for a while now. I finally found Darcy who is a great designer and who did a wonderful job here.

For the most part everyone around here loves it, although one-who-shall-remain-nameless thinks it looks like Christmas. Can I help it that green and red are two of my favorite colors?

But my favorite comment about the new blog design came from Maggie who said, "It looks like you live in a lake house." Which I love because, yes, the design is simple--that's how I wanted it--and I think it's calming. Which is exactly what a lake house should be--simple and calming.

So, I guess I should say welcome to my lake house. I hope you'll stay a while.

Shelly

Hold on to Your Hats!

Some big changes are 'a comin' here on the old blog. Look for them soon! I think you're going to like them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Trifecta

So last night I'm heading to bed, and I pop down to the basement to say goodnight to Abby who was watching "Home Alone 2." You know, the one where Kevin gets lost in New York City and meets a lady who feeds birds in some bell tower in a church. Or something like that.

Those "Home Alone" movies . . . such a great combination of ingenious cruelty and physical humor. I kind of enjoy them in a funny, sick sort of way.

So while I was saying goodnight, Abby asked if I wanted to watch the movie with her for a while. Are you kidding me? She could have been watching "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and I would have plopped myself in that chair. Of course, my sweet, conservative Abby would never watch "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" but that's not the point. The point is that if your teenager ever asks you to watch a movie with them you do it. Because you just don't know how long it might be until you get that opportunity again.

It was near the end of the movie, so I only got about 15 minutes alone with my daughter, but that's O.K. It was a great 15 minutes.

And then I finally made my way up to bed. Which was when I got really excited because I realized it was a trifecta night.

I can't even believe I'm telling you this because it's so silly, but when I was in college my friends and I made up our "trifecta." For me, there is no other. It's when you hit sleeping perfection because you have 1) clean sheets, 2) shaved legs, and 3) clean pajamas.

It doesn't happen that often that all three hit at the same time, but when it does . . . ahhhhh, perfection. And I know that I'll have the best night's sleep ever.

And I did.

Have you ever hit that trifecta? Have you ever noticed when you have clean sheets, shaved legs, and clean pajamas you just sleep better? Go ahead, try it sometime and let me know how it goes.

Unless you're one of the two guys who read my blog. Then don't bother with this trifecta. That would be weird.

There are other types of trifectas you could try. Like the pizza, beer, and ice cream trifecta. Perfect in every way and leaves you with a perfect case of heartburn too. That's what I'd call a "guy trifecta."

I guess you could say a trifecta is a perfect storm. When certain conditions come together to create the same result every time. It might be a sweet night of sleep. Or it could be heartburn.

So I'm curious . . . do you have a trifecta? What's your "perfect storm"?


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bleacher Bums

My neck is stiff. My back is tired. I have a knot in my left shoulder, kind of toward the middle.

Anybody want to come work out those kinks for me?

How come I’m so stiff, you ask? I think the answer lies somewhere back on Sunday when I put my body through a grueling torture. Something akin to being in a prison camp cell, since I was confined to a very small space in less than comfortable conditions and was not allowed to leave.

Sunday was the annual high school music festival. Correction. The “Holiday” music festival. It’s held in the gym to accommodate all of the various music groups, but because the performers, which included three bands, two orchestras, and three singing ensembles, took the entire floor space of the gym, the only place for the parents to sit was . . . the bleachers.

*cue ominous music*

Three hours on a bleacher will indeed give you a stiff back, neck, and any other body part you’d like to mention here.

Don’t get me wrong, I love going to this concert. I’m a mom. Moms are supposed to love three hour long concerts given by 370 kids I don’t know and one kid I do know. It is for that one kid that I gladly sat on the bleachers last Sunday. The one kid I love with all my heart and wouldn’t miss hearing her play.

Unless, of course, my back was out and I was lying flat because of pain, which is exactly the situation B was in on Sunday. The man should never touch a shovel.

Believe me, I wouldn’t have traded places with B on Sunday. I would gladly suffer gulag-like conditions before I would want to have back pain like he has, so, really, no comparison.

He was feeling terrible about missing the concert, so he asked if we would please tape it for him. Naturally, the battery in our video camera hadn’t been charged since the kids use it for every school project imaginable, but we still had a few minutes of life left in it, so we took it with us. Maggie was my videographer because, while I thought I had a perfect view of Abby in the orchestra, as soon as the conductor stepped onto the podium I couldn’t see her. Why does this always happen? You’d think by now, after nine years of concerts and recitals, I’d figure out where to sit to get the best view, but I just haven’t worked that out yet.

So Maggie, who had a little better view than I did, taped the show. Well, only the parts that Abby was in. I don’t think B really wanted to see the boys group sing “Mr. Grinch” in a mystery key, even if it was just adorable and funny. Besides, remember the battery life? Not so much.

At the end of the concert, some friends we were sitting with slowly got up and stretched, probably letting the blood rush back into their legs and feet and toes. I had explained to them earlier that B was flat on his back and couldn’t sit on the bleachers that long, which was why we were taping the concert for him.

Our friends, who seriously questioned B’s “excuse,” had a great idea. They said that, in order for him to truly get the full effect of the concert, B should watch the tape in a 2 foot by 2 foot space, with his knees pressed up to his chest, sitting on a hard board with the heat cranked up to about 80 degrees.

For three hours.

Only then will he get the full concert experience.

Oh, and good news! There's another concert tonight! This one at the Middle School. Pray for me.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas at the Wild House

Welcome to our home!


Let's take a peek inside.


The stockings are ready.


The tables are set.




The tree is decorated (thanks, Maggie!).


The only thing left to do is to wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


Have a wonderful season of celebrating the birth of the Savior, Jesus.

Today I'm participating in the Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes. Pop on over there to join in the fun.

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester


Friday, December 11, 2009

Well, it's been a day. A really fun day. A really FULL day. But a great day today.

This morning started at 6 when I had to run to get treats for our 6th grade girls' Bible study again. I just can't seem to do that one early. Not sure why.

So Bible study at 7. That's A.M. Kids off to school. A little time over coffee with Amy because she helps out with Bible study and that's "our time" each week.

Later in the morning my friend, Harper, came for a cooking lesson. She can totally cook, so I'm thinking she's staking out my house for a future burglery or something. No other reason I can think of that she'd want to hang out here, but it sure is fun for me.

Just in case you're curious, today's lesson comprised of Pork Tenderloin (my recipe which I guess I should post here at some point), how-to-cook-a-steak (we used the indoor grill today--brrr!), and Butternut Squash Risotto which we ate for lunch.

After Harper left I quickly made a red velvet cake to take to a party tomorrow, and then picked up our Bible study girls at school. We're--even as I write this--having a little Christmas party together. Can you say sugar rush??

So that's been my day. My feet are tired. I think I've earned dinner out with my family, wouldn't you say?

My weekend is just as busy as today, so there probably won't be anything new around here until Monday when I'll be linking up to the Nester's Christmas Tour of Homes.

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester


Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Of Blizzards and Duck Shoes

Let me set the scene.

Me. Bundled up like Nanook of the North (whoever that is—it’s just something B always says) with my truly ugly Ugg knock-offs, my warmest fleecy sweat pants, and my ski parka with its hood pulled over my head. Top that off with mismatched ear warmers and mittens and you’ve pretty much got a beauty on your hands.

Dog. A little antsy from being cooped up in the house for a couple of days. I brought the long leash so she could get just a little more exercise, but even so it seemed like she really needed to run.

Weather. Does the phrase “arctic tundra” mean anything to you? Well, it should because that’s what Thunder the Wonder Dog and I were walking in. We’re talking snow and ice blowing sideways.

So we were walking along happily, enjoying the blizzard all around us, when we came to a street corner and Thunder thought she’d dart across it to check out the next yellow fire hydrant. The leash pulled mightily, I jerked forward, and she nearly pulled me down into the slushy mess.

Nearly.

Thankfully I caught myself before I got covered with it. Thankfully it was getting dark so nobody would have seen me fall anyway. Thankfully there wasn’t a car coming.

Anyway, the scene yesterday afternoon, the one of the snow and ice and slush and of me nearly falling down, brought back a memory of a few winters ago when I was in college. Let me take you back there with me.

Winter was brutal when we were in college, but I barely remember it being bad. Except that there was one building that we had to walk past on our way to class that created what everyone called the wind tunnel. Walking through the wind tunnel every day was kind of harrowing—you didn’t want to do it very often—but other than that, I don’t remember hating winter as much as I do now.

Must be an age thing.

My roommates and I used to have contests every day to see who could stay on their feet the most. Pathetic, really. We’d tally up how many times we’d fallen down each day and the person with the most “falls” was the loser.

It was usually me.

Our campus was small. So small that we only had one dining hall that was situated on two floors. For some reason unknown to me, the “cool people” ate upstairs. The only time you would eat downstairs was if you had nobody to eat with or if you really wanted to have a serious conversation with someone. That’s it. Otherwise you ate upstairs.

On one particular winter evening, a guy I had gone out with a couple of times asked me to dinner. So, we walked across campus to the dining hall and, of course, we headed upstairs. Really, the entire campus must have considered itself cool because most everyone headed upstairs.

Honestly, I don’t remember much about the dinner “date” until it was time to leave. We grabbed our coats and headed down the stairs with me a step or two in front of him. Now, you have to know this part—it’s crucial to the story. The stairs were made of this smooth cement—you know, the kind that looks like there are little pebbles in it, but really it’s honed to a very smooth texture. The college tried to keep us from hurting ourselves by putting those black grainy strips on the edge of each step, but over the years the black strips had themselves become smooth and were even worn away in places.

One other thing you must know, as I proceeded down these smooth, slippery stairs was that I was wearing duck shoes. Remember those? The must-have Preppie accessory of the ‘80s? Just in case you don’t remember, this is what I’m talking about:



I have no idea why they were so popular. I mean, look at those shoes. You don’t get much uglier, unless you’re wearing my Ugg knock-offs. But the good thing about the Ugg knock-offs is that they are warm. Duck shoes were pointless because not only were they ugly, they were not anything close to warm. Sure, there was a little felt lining in the bottom of the shoe, but warm they were not.

And why L.L. Bean still sells them today is beyond my comprehension. Just goes to show you what a hardy bunch those New Englanders are.

Oh, and did I mention that the tread on duck shoes is virtually non-existent? Well, it is. Not. There, I mean.

So, all that to say that with those smoothly honed, steep steps, the snow that had melted on them, and the duck shoes I was wearing, you can imagine what comes next. Yes—BAM! I slipped and fell down the last two steps, onto a landing. My Kelly green cords were all wet, but worse than that I had fallen down in front of the boy I had just eaten dinner with.

Humiliation doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I picked myself up from the landing, brushed myself off a bit, and laughed. It was funny, after all.

Remember how I was on a landing? I still had two more steps to go until I was all the way downstairs, into the “uncool” part of the dining hall which was probably a “cool neutral” area because everyone had to walk through there, but whatever. It matters not to my story.

I headed down those last two steps and, you guessed it—BAM! Down the last two steps and into a huge, gloppy puddle. Now my Kelly green cords were not just wet, they were a muddy mess. And instead of laughing I felt like crying. My backside hurt like crazy, and people were starting to stare.

And that boy was sure no gentleman because he just stood there and laughed, not even offering to help me up. Should have been my first clue, but that’s another story for another day.

In the end, I slunk back to my dorm room, got myself cleaned up, and counted myself the biggest loser of the day for taking two falls in a row.

Seriously, though, whenever I’m walking in slushy snow and I feel like I’m going to fall, I think about that day. And I laugh.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Gorgonzola Cheese

It's the holiday party season. Understatement of the year, right?

If you're anything like us, you have a couple of parties to go to. And you might be asked to bring something to these parties. That's O.K. I like bringing stuff, especially food. Pretty much because I'm a picky eater, and if I bring something I'm sure to have something to eat.

I know, I'm the model guest.

Anyway, B and I had to go to a party last night, and I was asked to bring an appetizer. This one is so good, I could have eaten the entire plate. But I didn't. I refrained. Because there was actually food that I liked at the party.

If you're looking for a very simple, and I do mean simple, very delicious, and very elegant appetizer to take (I know, I know, I'm getting "take" and "bring" mixed up here--which to use?) to a party, then this one's for you.

Ever had a Bacon Wrapped Date stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese? Oh my.

Apparently my husband had never had one because he took one of my little appetizers, not knowing that I had made them, and said, "Hey, you have to try these little cocktail weiners covered with bacon. They're great!" That's my guy. He has such a refined palate.

Honestly, who would wrap pork with more pork? Really, honey? Really?

Anyway, my friend, Amy, served these probably more than 10 years ago at her first neighborhood Christmas party, and she's made them every year since. Everyone requests them over and over again because they're so good. And I'm a lucky friend because she shared the recipe with me.

I don't think I've ever quite forgiven her for that.

So here we go. Lots of pictures to make this look complicated, but it's really not. Even a caveman could do it.

First, assemble your ingredients. Three, to be precise. Dates, bacon, and gorgonzola cheese.



Then line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Makes cleanup much easier.



Next, cut a pound of bacon in half, like this.



Now check out those dates. See how they come with a nifty hole right in the middle? That's where the pit would go if they weren't pitted dates.



Then, with the tip of your knife, flick off little pieces of the gorgonzola. Kind of like this.



I ask you. Is there anything better than a block of gorgonzola cheese? Except for English Stilton--I am a total sucker for English Stilton with a nice glass of wine--but, puh-leeze, my kids need Christmas presents.

If you're really careful and really lucky, you might have a little bit of gorgonzola left over for a sandwich the next day. Take it from me, blue cheese (or gorgonzola) with very thinly sliced apples (and maybe even a little leftover cooked bacon) on some French bread makes THE BEST grilled cheese sandwich you've ever had.

But I digress . . .

Next, very carefully open up the date and press a chunk of gorgonzola inside it. Be careful not to cut all the way through the date. You might have to smoosh the cheese inside and close it up again.



Then wrap the whole thing up in a piece of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Just like this. And put it on the baking sheet.



Repeat about 40 or 50 times until the bacon and the dates are gone, but not the cheese because you know what we do with the leftover cheese. *wink, wink*

Now, preheat the oven to about 375 or 400 and bake these babies for about 20 minutes. Just be sure to keep an eye on them--once they're done, they're done, and after that they burn pretty quickly.

Serve them up on a pretty platter and watch them go. Fast!



But be careful to keep an eye on that pretty platter because rather than being set out with all the other dishes that need to go home with their owners, your platter might just end up stuck in a corner of the kitchen with a purse on top of it. Hmmmm. I'm just sayin'.

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Gorgonzola Cheese

1 10 oz. package whole pitted dates
1 1 lb. package bacon
Gorgonzola cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Carefully slit the dates open on one side. Place a piece of cheese inside the date, then close. Wrap each date with bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place dates on baking sheet.

3. Bake until bacon is cooked and browned, about 20-25 minutes.

4. Drain on paper towels. Let cool slightly before serving.