Crawl, Walk, Run…CATCH ME!

When did life get so serious?  Why have so many people decided that once they hit a certain age it’s inappropriate to laugh out loud and giggle and snort (ok, only some people snort when they laugh…I’m one of them…and THAT’S totally fine!)  Why can’t we laugh hysterically?  I believe that children have a secret that we have all forgotten about.

Here is the scenario.  Adult sitting and chatting with other adults.  Toddler walks by and yells “CATCH ME!”  Adults continue to discuss the news or politics or something else horribly dull and tedious.  Toddler yells louder “CATCH ME!”  Then toddler picks the “chosen chaser” by whacking them on the back.  That got me thinking?  How did this whole chase start?  I know that I pretend to chase them as soon as they are crawling, but how did this actually start?  Did people do this to teach their children to run away from animals or other threats?  If so, when did it go from being a scary thing to a super fun thing?  (See, there goes my adult brain again).  Let’s get back to the chase.

Toddler starts running.  Now, it is also quite interesting how a child runs.  When they are first introduced to this incredibly fun game, they will start running forward.  However, they will keep turning their head backward to watch the person chasing them and see how close they are.  It’s kind of funny watching them run into walls and doorways or trip over toys.  No, I’m not mean.  You would laugh too.  And they can’t run fast enough to actually do any damage.  The whole time the child is running away they are laughing hysterically, which oftentimes slows them down because there are just too many things on the go:  running forward, constantly looking backward, laughing, and the eventual crash into something.  That’s a lot for a little brain to maintain.

Now, once you catch them there is the obligatory tickling or perhaps even the toss up in the air.  Such an adrenaline rush!  Chaser starts walking away and hears “Catch me!”  Yup, time to do it all over again.  This game goes on for about 15 minutes.  After that the child is too exhausted to run and usually trips over their own feet.  The adult is also tired because it’s hard to run (and not run) fast because you can usually catch up to them in two steps.

Now, think about the actual expenses of a game like this one.  No dollar amount.  It’s cheap…unless you are counting losing 15 minutes of your life which you would probably spend doing something adult-like and boring.  Watching a child laugh and giggle makes you feel like a real superhero too.

When parents (guardians) buy toys for their kids, they try to find something that will make their eyes pop open wide with glee.  I find it interesting that as children grow up they will forget the “special” gifts you got for them.  Sure they might have a favourite teddy or blankie, but all the other toys will be forgotten.  What they will always remember is the time you spent with them.  The fun, goofy things you did with them.  Time is more valuable than monetary gifts.

So, when your grandson says to you, “Grandpa come catch me”, and you look at him and say, “I can’t run.  My knees are bad.”  Then the little 3 year old smarty pants giggles and says, “Grandpa, walk and catch me.”  Ha ha ha!  Genius reply!  He found the loop hole.  There will always be ways to play chase.  There will always be those magical memories that seem so insignificant to older people, but the kidlets will remember them forever.

Your time is valuable.  Do something fun with it.  Remember that if they are crawling, walking, or running you can always play the chasing game and feel like a kid again.  A creaking, arthritic kid, but you’ll appreciate that bit of time spent free-wheeling in KidWorld.

Time to end this short escapade of a story.  I’ve been whacked in the back…time to do some chasing!

 

“Chopped” Chef or…Chef Chopped?

Although I don’t write about it much, I am a foodie.  I loved the Food Network…when it first came out.  It was great watching chefs showing you how to prepare meals.  I learned a lot.  What do I see now on the foodie stations?  Competitions.  I believe I have come up with a new concept that I want to pitch to the “foodie” networks.  (Note:  I should probably copyright this as someone is going to read this and steal my idea.)  A new cooking show that involves:  COMPETITION!  (I know, right?  A very novel and inspiringly new idea).

Before I reveal my superb revelation, think about all the competitive cooking shows on tv right now.  It’s the same trifecta:  1) Judges 2) Chefs 3) Time limit.  Who can bake the greatest cupcake in the shortest time?  Who can use the weirdest ingredients to make meals (again, clock is ticking)?

IMG_3306Which child can create exotic meals and desserts.  As time passes, I see that there are more and more cutthroat culinary shows being created.  I figured, why not jump on the bandwagon and create another show?  My genius idea came to me suddenly while I was watching Chopped

The gem of an idea began brewing in my grey matter whilst observing my toddler grandchildren eat.  An absolutely brilliant idea for a new show.  It follows along the same lines of the other challenging cooking shows so it should be accepted into the fold.  It’s dastardly and degrading and demeaning (the dream “D” formula for television shows).

Here is my idea:  You want belittling?  You want chefs to be tortured?  You want to watch failure to the umpteenth degree?  I give you Chefs Chopped!  Yes the new and exciting show where trained chefs prepare meals for a panel of toddlers.  You want a challenge?  I am throwing down the gauntlet.

Have you ever tried to feed a toddler?  Yes, there are many of you who have.  You know what it’s like.  Well, in the “olden” days it was basically like this:

Parent:  (*Puts pot of grub on table)

Children:  (*snarf / yum / gobble)

Conclusion:  Lack of food makes you eat everything without complaint.

AFTER DEPRESSION / WWI / WWII:

Parent:  (*Puts food in front of child)

Child:  (*through tears) I don’t like it!

Parent:  Whack!  Eat it or I’ll hit you again!

(Ahhh…the fond memories of my childhood)

After the beating era of life, came the more educated era where there were books and papers and magazines and shows FULL of information on how to raise the perfect child.  This included healthy recipes for feeding your perfect child.  After creating one of these wonderful masterpieces, the food would be placed in front of said model child.  After much begging and pleading, ketchup would be doused all over the nifty, fancy food so that Perfect Child would eat SOMETHING…ANYTHING!

Nowadays, it is even more difficult to feed your child.  Allergies, preservatives, organic or non-organic, pesticides, hormones, cholesterol, saturated fats, etc.  What can you feed your child?  Well, if you listen to ALL the stories out there in web-world, your child should eat…nothing.  Yes, it’s true.  There is no good food out there.  Well, there is good food this week…but next week it will be bad so best not to tempt fate.

“Fruits and vegetables are good right?”  Nope.  Fruit is full of pesticides and many children are allergic to certain fruits.  “What about the frozen ones?”  Yeah…well welcome to E Coli.  “My children are vegetarian (or vegan).”  Good for them!  They won’t survive the food devastation either.  I have done the research.  Between E coli, parasites, viruses, bacterias, hormones, pesticides, etc. there will be nothing nutritious left to consume.

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I, so far, am very blessed and lucky with the kids and grandkids.  I have a few recipes that seem to generate happy smiles and full bellies:

  •  My homemade soup (with homemade noodles) has not killed or maimed any of them.  It is actually requested.  I get disappointed groans if it’s not on the menu.
  • Crépes – to be filled with whatever they choose (Nutella is winning this week)
  • Broccoli – this brassica appears to be a steamed vegetable they all agree on
  • Green beans – that, surprisingly, made the short list
  • Mozzarella – Sliced (not grated) however it must be made by Salerno
  • ANY pasta – lasagne, macaroni, fusilli, orzo…any pasta!

Now…meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, preferences vary as they get older (or basically, every 2 minutes).  Each week they decide what they like and don’t like.  It goes from the initial “YAY” whoop of joy to the “BOO” 10 minutes later when it’s on their plate.  Example:  “Can I have that apple?”  After two bites:  “I don’t want it,” and the subsequent attempt to put bitten fruit back into fruit bowl.  Next is the obvious grab for a different piece of fruit which eventually leads to cries of woe when they are informed that they must eat the two-bite-scarred apple first and THEN they can try something else.  Ahhhhh…the great adventures of toddler palate.

So, dear foodie channels, think about how fantastic this show would be!  Children smiling, waiting for their food.  Chefs cook and present their culinary masterpieces.  Suddenly, [camera zooms in] child starts deconstructing the plate.  Toddler Rule #1:  Thou shalt not let one type of food toucheth another.

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Example of carrot invasion into broccoli territory

That’s why many children’s plates are subdivided.

Next:  Food allergies.  Must remove all fruit(s) that child is allergic to.  The eating finally begins and then the contorted faces of disgust and the “Ewwwwws” and “Yucks” start to be heard.  The Chef with the least amount of ewws and yucks wins!  The others?  Well if they haven’t run away or started convulsively crying…then they get chopped (like a karate chop hand coming down on their picture…haha!)  What an amazing show!  All done in the name of fun and supreme competition!  Yes, I give you Chef Chopped!

P.S.  Dear foodie networks, I am available evenings and weekends for a meeting to discuss my future in the television industry.  You’re welcome!

 

The Terror is Real…

I have told you about my wee (cat) dog Lucy.  Happy Birthday!  She is now 8 years old.  She is my mixed shi-poo (shit-zu/poodle mix) breed.  She is dysfunctional as a dog.  Why?  Lucy was diagnosed with strangles at 3 months.  The cure for this illness was to suppress her immune system.  Being prone to infection, that meant no going out for walks, no meeting other dogs.  I couldn’t give her puppy training like I had with Waldo.  With Waldo I got to take him to puppy classes so he could play with other dogs and meet other people and get to know the world around him.  What happened next?

I thought I came up with a genius plan.  When I would take Waldo out for his walks, I would put Lucy in an insulated lunch bag, which I would carry on my shoulder, and let her head peek out so she could get accustomed to sights and sounds in the neighbourhood.  She would slip her head out and I hoped she would get used to the sounds of cars and buses and airplanes, the noise of other dogs, the noise of people talking.  I wanted her to see bicycles and motorcycles.  She needed to get used to the world like Waldo did.

Well…it didn’t quite work out as I had hoped.  The only dogs she could be exposed to were…well…only Waldo.  She had been on the immune suppressing drugs for over 3 months and my nightly walks did not really help her see the real world.  How do I know this?  A leaf blows by…DANGER!  She barks at it.  A butterfly goes flying by…DANGER!  She barks at it. Wheelchairs.  DANGER!  Birds.  DANGER!  “Well, if she isn’t a good dog, then why is she barking at stuff like a normal dog would?” you may be asking.  Dysfunctional, but observant, is my Lucy.

Being quarantined with Sir Waldo, she learned what to do by imitating him.  She barks at EVERYTHING hoping she will get it right.  She will bark and Waldo will come running.  If it’s a leaf…he won’t bark.  After all these years she still can’t get it right.  Example:  He will bark at a bird.  He is facing the bird and barking at it.  What does Lucy do?   She stands in front of him, facing him and barks at HIM.  Great dog (dripping with sarcasm)!

I told you that whole story to tell you this story:

Today, poor girl needed a haircut.  Sadly her big bro, her protector and guide, had to stay home.  He has an infection.  I put the leash on her.  Normally she barks like crazy, but this time there was only silence.  We got in the car.  Silence.  She shook nervously in the car the whole drive there (8 minutes).  Normally she would be barking up a storm to impress her brother, but he wasn’t there.  I parked and looked to my left and that’s when I saw it.  An abandoned shopping cart.  I debated moving, but then thought I could get her out of the car without noticing.  Nope.  Oh the horror and terror!  Lucy went wild!  She knew it was evil!

 

We got into the store and she barked at every dog she saw (at Petsmart) because that is what her brother had taught her.  We got to the grooming salon.  I had carried her the whole way (all 9 lbs of her) because it was rainy and icky outside.  Well, I put her down so that she could feel like a dog again.  She scampered over to me, she stood on her hind legs and with her front paws scratched at my legs.  I picked her up.  She was still shaking.  Where was Waldo when she needed him?!

Her haircut was actually a trim.  She was there for a total of 20 minutes.  I came back to pick her up and she gave me an earful of complaints.  From the time I picked her up, paid for the cut, drove home, the barking did not subside.  I was evil and she was letting me know it.  Once we got through the front door she went running to find her big brother and tell HIM everything that had happened to her.  After finally exhausting herself with all the barking, she felt safe once again and perched herself up on her lookout chair, looking through the window to make sure she would be the first to bark and protect us from any imminent danger.

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Lucy the “cat” dog. Dogs don’t sit like this.

Here is a list of the most perilous items that she needs to warn us about:  leaves, butterflies, birds, children walking by, adults walking by, teenagers walking by, people walking by carrying groceries, letter carriers, strollers, bicycles, tricycles, buses, cars, motorcycles, lawnmowers, weed-whackers, squirrels, birds, people waiting at the bus stop, rabbits, cats, garbage trucks, recycling trucks, garbage blowing by, wheelchairs, scooters, and anything she has never seen before…like a shopping cart in the parking lot.  Yes, that would be the short list.

Now we come to dogs; other dogs.  Barking, walking, running…those, she has learned, are what she really needs to keep her guard up for.  For, when a dog goes walking by, she has learned to bark incessantly and the look around to see when Waldo will come to bark his approval of her house defense.  Then she is so full of pride because her brother, the one who never wants to play with her or be near her, will come and bark too so that they can quell the offender.  Yes, the terror is real…my dogs (dog and half-dog) can confirm that.

The Last Mile or…850 Metres to School

I am a survivor of my childhood.  With all the helmets, and helicopter parenting going on nowadays, it’s a wonder that I am still alive to share any stories of my childhood.  Perhaps I am one of the lucky survivors.  Today I will share with you the terrifying tale of a specific part of my childhood.  Luckily, no child in this day and age in North America, will have to survive this kind of ordeal.

My mother had (and has) a green thumb.  No, not gangrene.  For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it means she can take any flower or plant (dead or alive) and make it blossom and grow.  When we moved into our new “forever home”, my mother decided that it would be wonderful to have dahlias in front of our house.  My mother loved them.  I dreaded them.  Why?  They were the perfect hiding spot for my sworn insect enemy…the grasshopper.  Foliage and insects were to be my yearly springtime horror story.

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As a child who had just moved into a new neighbourhood, there were already many challenges that I had to deal with.  New school.  New friends (or lack thereof).  New teachers.  Every spring I would walk out my front door, look to my right and see the tall, green, leafy dahlias with their perky red flowers; they were taunting me.  They knew they harboured my repulsive flying insect enemies.  I would take a deep breath and prepare myself for the attack.  My mother would be behind me in the doorway yelling at me to hurry up so I wouldn’t be late for school.  What did she know.  There was going to be a volley of insects flying at my head ready to blind me with every step.  It would take precision and trickery to fool my flying enemies.  My plan of action:  One step forward and two steps back.  I remember taking one step forward and, as I was taking my “two steps back”, IT would fly out of the dahlia bush.  Sure, this took about 5 to 9 minutes to accomplish my trek, but my head would not be permanently scarred by grasshopper kamikaze.  Mission accomplished.

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Oh, the trials and tribulations of walking to school.  Directions were not an issue.  All I had to do was turn right out of my driveway and keep walking until I got to school.  No problem there.  However, there were some challenges I experienced along the way.  Here are but a few:

  • RABID DOG:  I would be walking to school and see a dog.  It was a ferocious dog.  There was no owner walking with that dog.  Its teeth were bared and ready to sink its jaws into my neck and rip me apart.  (Ok, I have a flare for the dramatic.)
    • Usually, I would see the dog and cross the street.  If, perchance, it decided to follow me, I would point my index finger at it and yell loudly, “Go home!” as my mother had taught me to do.  Not sure why it understood me, but it would usually just meander away.
  • UNEVEN SIDEWALK:  I was one of the lucky (unlucky?) kids who didn’t have to eat lunch at school.  I could go home for lunch!  Ok, I’ll be honest, I loved coming home for a yummy hot meal.  However, as attention spans go, I was always a dreamer and it took me longer to get home than most obedient children.  By the time I got home, my mother was fuming and force-feeding me so that I would get back on time.  On parent teacher interview day, I was lectured and pre-reprimanded about being home on time for lunch.  That day I ran home and totally missed seeing the lump of dirt that was suddenly on the sidewalk and WHAM!  Face first into the lovely cement sidewalk.  I made it home on time!  I also made it back to school on time too.  Kudos to me!  My unpopularity became even more pronounced with the appearance of a bandage across my nose.IMG_3082
  • STRANGERS IN CARS:  I remember being lectured about not talking to strangers.  I got in big “doo-doo-ka-ka” when a strange lady in a car stopped beside me as I was walking to school.  Why?  Apparently “stranger lady” was my aunt’s friend coming to visit her and she was trying to ask me for directions.  (Note:  never ask me for directions.  I really have no idea where places are, what streets are called, and basically, I usually don’t know where I am.  There.  You’ve been told.)
  • BULLIES:  When my brother was old enough to attend the same school, he decided that he wanted to tell the local bully off.  My sister job was to protect my younger brother.  One day, it got so bad that Mini-bully-boy picked up a big, gargantuan rock and threw it high up in the air to annihilate my baby bro.  What happened?  I stepped in to block the rock and it landed ungracefully on my big toe.  What happened next?  I limped for several weeks.  My toe nail fell off after turning completely blue / purple / green / yellow.  Oh the rainbow of pain!

Remarkable isn’t it.  I walked through snow, wind, sleet, thunderstorms, humidity, and grasshopper skies.  I walked all the way to school.  Not once, but twice a day!  Oh sure, I had an umbrella.  I had winter boots.  I had a winter coat.  I also walked the last mile…or 850 metres.  Uphill.  Both ways.  And I survived.

Astraphobia…or is God out to get me?

There are many types of fears:  fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of drowning…to name but a few.  They all have their own “phobia” name.  I had this one fear, that some of you might also have had, called astraphobia or the “fear of thunderstorms”.  Allow me to share with you my mind-numbing anxiety and how I finally conquered this phobia.

The first lighting bolt / thunderclap storm that I can recall was when I was 4 years old.  Our family (mom, dad, us four kids) had gone to Croatia for a vacation (meet the relatives trip).  Being so young, I don’t really remember much.  The one thing I clearly recall is a lightning storm.  It was pitch black outside until the firebolt lit up the sky.  I was under an umbrella with someone (found out it was my mother) and we were trying to run quickly through the mud to get home before we got hit by lightning.  It was a terrifying experience and therefore etched in my mind forever.  That was thunderstorm number one.

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The second thunderstorm that I can recall, took place after we had moved into our new family home.  I was 7 years old.  It was early afternoon when suddenly, the sky went from pretty blue to smokey, dark grey.  We had to turn the lights on in the house.  I was standing beside my mother and we were looking out the window.  CRACK!!!  Lightning streaked across the sky!  Seriously, there were probably 5 bolts that went from cloud to cloud.  A few seconds later BOOOOOM!  Thunder shook the house.  My mom held me and informed me that everything was going to be fine.  Then the lights went out.  I was shaking with fear.  Then all of a sudden…ICE PELLETS!!  I had never seen that before.  Ice cubes falling from the sky.  Hail was piling up on the dirt mountain in front of our house.

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I started thinking that God must be mad at us.  (Yes, going to church all the time and listening to the bible stories of the “vengeful destructive God” in the old testament can really get a kid’s imagination going.)  Well, God wasn’t going to strike me dead on this day.  I bolted up to my bedroom and hid under my bed.  I would live!

Fast forward to when I was 18 years old.  Another never-forgotten storm.  I was back in Croatia.  This time it was me with my parents and younger brother.  We had gone to Medjugorje.  It was a pilgrimage for our Catholic family.  My mother wanted us to do the Stations of the Cross.  We were prepping for prayer when all of a sudden, the sky went black, lightning bolts came bearing down from the sky, the thunder shook the ground and I believed God was going to strike me dead.  (Oh yeah…that “fear of God” can really do a number on a catholic girl’s psyche.)  I looked around and my mother was gone.  Maybe HE struck HER dead!  Nope, mom reappeared from behind a statue saying, “I wasn’t even afraid of dying.”  Well good for you!  I had been terrified!

 

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(I wonder if my mother is a descendant of Zeus or Thor.  Why?  Doesn’t it seem odd that when the worst (and my most memorable) storms hit my mother was in the vicinity?  Something to think about, you conspiracy theorists out there.)

Now, into my adulthood I was still not a fan of storms.  I had friends and co-workers tell me that if I learned more about lightning storms I would get rid of my fear.  Oh, I read about them alright.  I read about golfers being struck by lightning.  STRUCK DEAD!  Then there were the articles about water being a conductor of electricity.  So, after all my “helpful” research, not only did I fear the storms even more, I managed to kick my fear into high gear:

  1.  No taking showers or baths if there was a lightning storm.  Why?  Water is a conductor and I would not be struck dead in my tub.fullsizeoutput_21eb
  2. No answering the phone during a storm.  Why?  Well, if water was a conductor, then surely an electrical phone would lead the lightning bolt right through my ear and into my brain and yup…strike me dead.fullsizeoutput_21ec
  3. No touching computer keyboards, screens, photocopiers, fax machines, etc. during a storm.  Why?  Same reason; electricity.  Like begets like.

Then something changed.  Children came into my life.

Now, this is the last memorable storm I can recall.  We were vacationing at the cottage.  Everyone was in bed.  Suddenly, a strange sound came to my ears.  It was rain.  You could hear it moving closer from across the lake.  So pretty.  So relaxing and then…BLINDING LIGHT!!!!  BOOOOOM!!!  I freaked and hid under the covers.  Then we heard a terrified voice yell “Daddy!”  Wiseguy went to comfort the wee 7 year old girl.  I shook underneath my covers and then my brain yelled at me: “What are you DOING?!”  fullsizeoutput_21ef

What was I doing?  What WAS my problem?  I had never perished in any other storm.  What was I so worried about?  I wasn’t a golfer.  So far, it seemed my mortality was not threatened.  My self-created reign of terror was officially over.

Afterward, when storms came around, I was the brave one and was there to hold our little princess.  I would tell her stories, or I would turn the radio on and we would dance.  Distraction…best thing to do during a storm.  After the storm was over, the beautiful rainbow would come out and all would be well again.fullsizeoutput_21ed

Nowadays, I do use electrical equipment AND take showers (not at the same time) when there is a thunderstorm going on.  The kids are all grown up, but I am now the official protector of my 9 year old fur baby, Sir Waldo; the fluffy shi-poo.  (Look at those ears pulled back and the crazy long “freaked-out-by-thunder” tongue.)

 

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Being a descendant of Zeus and/or Thor (yeah, might as well go with it), Waldo and I no longer have to fear the sky storms.  However, I do still wonder sometimes…is it astrophobia or is God out to get me?

P.S.  So far, no damage to me from God storms.  Yay me!

P.P.S.  I did take up golfing…

Mise en place or…buy another cake mix

Once upon a time there was a lovely young woman called Maryann.  She had dark chestnut coloured hair (at that time…although now it’s purply-brown and was at one point very blonde and at times quite auburn) and ka-ka-brown cow eyes.  Her smile was as large as Steven Tyler’s and she was very happy.  There was one thing that Maryann hoped to do one day and that was to bake and decorate a chocolate cake.  On this particularly sunny day, her wish came true.  The ending, however, was not what she had expected.

Maryann was thrilled to finally have a kitchen of her own.  She had moved out of her parental home and was now in an apartment with her sweetheart, Wiseguy.  It was also her sweetie’s birthday soon and she was going to bake him a lovely cake!  Now, she knew that she had to start slow with her new hobby of baking so she decided to play it safe.  She purchased a box of Duncan Hines chocolate fudge cake mix and debated purchasing the sugary, sweet frosting as well, but then decided that she would impress her loved one by topping her gloriously, chocolatey cake with REAL whipped cream.  Yes!  She would buy that 35% whipping cream, and make billowy, thick pillows of creamy goodness.  Maryann also bought some candles and, to make it fun, cake writing gel to write “Happy Birthday” on it!  What a wonderful surprise it would be for her hubby!

“Ok,” she began reading, “preheat oven to 350 degrees”.  She opened the oven door to ensure that there was nothing inside.  Why?  Because one day, at her mother-in-law’s house, she turned on the stove, smelled something funny after a little while and realized that there were pans with oil in the stove.  YIKES!  Lesson learned and etched her happy little brain.

“Next I need to put contents of package into a bowl and add one cup water, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, and 3 eggs.”  She had heard about this thing called mise en place which in French means something like “everything in it’s place”, but in cooking it means “make sure you have all your ingredients out and ready to go and also your measuring cups and measuring spoons and baking dishes…basically everything you need to make this cake should be right in front of you.”  The pretty Maryann got out her measuring cup.  She poured the oil into the cup (exactly 1/3 cup) and put it into the mixing bowl with the cake mix.  Next, she poured one cup water into the measuring cup.  Perfect!  Into the bowl it went.  She heard the oven ‘beep’ letting her know that the oven was preheated to 350 degrees.  Yay!  Time to get mixing!

She whipped that batter with an electric mixer.   A couple of taste tests to remind her of her childhood.  After a few minutes she stopped the mixing and eased her lovely greased cake pan closer to the bowl.  She emptied the fluid, chocolate contents into the cake pan.  With her spatula she tried to get every last bit out of the bowl into the cake pan to make sure she had a nice, big cake for Wiseguy.  Tap, tap, tap to even it out and then into the oven it went.  She set the timer for 30 minutes (it was a rectangular 9″ x 13″ pan).  She couldn’t wait until it was done!

Time passed.  The timer finally chirped.  Her birthday cake was ready to come out of the oven and cool for a bit.  Oh the excitement!  Oh the pride!  She had done it!  She opened the oven door and…ohhhh….she had done it alright.  Her cake was almost flat!  How could she possibly screw up a boxed cake mix?  Really?  Seriously?  Was she never going to learn to bake anything?  Sadly, with her oven-mitted hands, she pulled out her pancake-style chocolate birthday cake and sighed.  She gently laid rest her unfortunate experiment on the stove top to cool.  Maybe it could be salvaged somehow.  If it tasted good then all was well.  Taste is one thing, but…

After 15 minutes she tried to cut out a piece.  It crumbled in her hands.  Huh?  It tasted fine, but it all fell apart, like cereal out of its box.  The lovely Maryann had to admit that she would never, ever be a baker of anything.  She went back to her kitchen counter to gather up everything to wash when she noticed something odd.

Three large size eggs were sitting on her counter.  Why were there eggs on her counter?  Had she taken them out to make something else?  She HAD put those other 3 eggs into her cake mix right?  She looked at them.  With the suddenness of a swooping eagle going for its prey, Maryann realized, “Oh my!  I forgot the eggs.”  Yes, if you look back to paragraph 4 (it begins with “Next I need to”) you will indeed see that after the ‘ding’ of the oven the eggs were omitted prior to the exuberant mixing.

There you have it.  The story of the lovely Maryann and her first attempt to bake something.  She didn’t give up though.  She now bakes cookies, pies, pretzels, oh and boxed cake mixes.  Maryann learned from her mistake, was grateful to have learned it and is now excited when trying new recipes.  Mise en place is her motto and way of baking and cooking.

Moral of the story:  If at first you don’t succeed, be grateful that you had the mistake to learn from and use it to make greater things in your life.

or

If at first you don’t succeed remember “mise en place”, buy another cake mix and ADD THE EGGS FIRST!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passion Is In Fashion!

I like to live dangerously!  The thrill of zip-lining, or the rush of rock climbing.  Running a marathon.  Hiking through Europe.  Bike stunts.  Skateboarding tricks.  My goodness there are so many exhilarating moments!  Hot air balloon rides and white water rafting!  Honestly, the list is endless.  I am quite the daredevil and proud of it.  Hopefully, through my brave, adventurous life, you too will find that hidden childhood desire and live an inspiring and fulfilled life like I do.  Oh, by the way, I have never done any of these listed things, but I do find ways to live on the edge.

I ate bacon four times last week.  Yes, yes, I did and I’m not ashamed to brag about it.  Do you know what else?  I had a sunny side up fried egg to go with it.  There was also toast AND, oh yeah, it was buttered.  Booyah!  How do you like me now?  Uh huh.  I know.  I can almost palpably feel your envy at my exploits into endangerment.  Why am I being so foot loose and fancy free?

As a child I remember being unencumbered by my mortality.  I am sure you have seen kidlets jumping on a bed…up and down, and up and down, and…oops…BANG!  Too close to the edge.  Some bawling, either from actually bumping their head or just the shock of being misplaced.  Other than that they learn that they need to stay closer into the middle.  Lesson learned and more fun to be had.  How about the one year old that stands on the couch pulling at the blinds?  Yup, you know where this is going.  What makes them do such dumb things?

Are they dumb?  To us adults we can all become the Amazing Kreskin and foresee what shall happen (due to our own misfortunes and miscalculations), but to them it’s about exploring life.  That couch is their Mount Everest!  That bed is their trampoline!  Nowadays children have be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There is no longer places for them to play alone.   They can’t even go play on the jungle gym at the park without adult supervision.  I actually feel sorry for them.  Sorry that they can’t have that freedom of adventure that we had as children.

I believe my days in the summer went something like this:  wake up and have breakfast.  Out of the house so that my mother could clean.  Meet with kids in the neighbourhood and play until someone’s mother called for them.  Lunchtime!  Rush home.  Eat lunch.  Run out the door again to play.  Someone would hear the holler of dinnertime and again…home to be fed and then out to play.  No adults were with us.  No teenagers were with us.  We got to goof off and do silly things like fall out of trees or go wandering around the forest and be amazed to see a dead rabbit.  (Two little bites in the neck.  We thought there were vampires nearby).  We would come home sweaty, dusty, or muddy… and exhausted.

As we became adults the “fun” goofy things were replaced by order and rules.  School had rules.  Jobs had rules.  Society had rules.  So many rules and so little place to have fun.  We are told, in many different ways, how we should think and what we should believe.  Commercials tell us what will make us happiest.  Buy their product and your life will be full of sunshine, roses, and unicorns.  Ahhhhh…how great our lives will be.

Weird thing is, and you might have noticed this, it seems that this is kind of where we become like children again.  We beg and pine for something and know that our lives will be incredible once we get it.  That “it” could be anything from something expensive like a car or something as simple as a hamburger.  Now, if you really think about it, that lasts for a bit and then suddenly, it’s not good enough.  There is something else you absolutely need in order to make your life the happiest thing ever!  In most cases, the feeling goes away quite quickly.  How can you change this?

Find your inner happiness.  Find your inner love.  Once you find that crazy happy place, the world around you will seem so much better.  It won’t matter what material things you have because the rest of the world will just seem so much more beautiful, colourful, alive.  Those “rose-coloured glasses” of your youth were removed by well-meaning adults, but it’s time for you to put those on again.  The world is a remarkable place, but we tend to look at what is missing in our lives and not what we already have.

Live with passion!  Live with a sense of excitement!  Find out what makes you happy and do it!  Who cares what other people think!  Those who live with a sense of adventure, spirit, and joy are the ones who are finding that gold nugget of excitement in their lives.  PASSION IS IN FASHION!

P.S.  Did I mention that egg was fried in the bacon fat?  Oh yeah…I’m living recklessly.

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