Saturday, December 29, 2012


No, of course I didn't leave a tube of bright red tinted lip balm in the pocket of a pair of khaki pants when I washed them with every other pair of pants I own besides two the night before a week-long trip to Georgia.

I would never do anything that scatter-brained.

Post-script: Don't worry, guys, I survived, and so did my pants. Also, I did something so unlike myself - I didn't freak out! I just took them out of the dryer, put them in a hot water wash again immediately, and hung them to dry.

They no longer resemble red Dalmations and I am not stressed.
The end.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Recipe: White Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Another family favorite for you tonight.

I don't even remember where my family got this recipe, but it is a fairly recent addition to our repertoire (within the last 10 years or so).  And, I'm telling you, there are not going to be leftovers involved when you take this tart anywhere.  It is a crowd-pleaser for sure.  There was a time when it was unheard of to have only one of these tarts at any family function.  Honestly, though, the always-two-tarts reputation is hard to keep up because the ingredients for this recipe are rather pricey . . .


  • 9-inch pie crust (I use the roll-out frozen kind)
  • 1 lb of white chocolate, chopped (I use most of a 16-ounce bag of white chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 4 cups raspberries, rinsed and divided (I use two packages of Driscoll's - not quite 4 cups)

Illustrated Steps:

1.  Bake crust according to package directions (or recipe if you're an over-achiever) for unfilled pie.

Don't forget to stab the crust with a fork multiple times before putting it in the oven, to prevent it from bubbling.

2.  Place chocolate in medium glass bowl.


and enjoy the little details while you're at it . . .


3.  In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil - a full boil, not just a simmer.

Also, remember to stir it so that it doesn't curdle on the bottom of the pan.

4.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is thoroughly melted.

If your chocolate hasn't melted and the texture looks kind of like your great grandmother's tapioca pudding, your cream wasn't hot enough.  Don't freak out.  Since you made sure to use a glass bowl earlier, you can stick it in the microwave for thirty seconds and then stir it.  That should do the trick.

5.  Stir 1/2 a cup of Mascarpone cheese into the mixture until it's all smooth.


This is the only brand of Mascarpone I've ever been able to find.  If you live in a larger city, you might have more options . . .

This is not smooth - stir it until it looks just like it did before you added the cheese.

6.  Place half your berries (make sure you rinse them, please) in a single layer on the baked (and partially cooled) crust.


7.  Pour chocolate mixture over berries and top with remaining berries


Isn't it pretty?

8.  Admire it for a few seconds and then stick it in the refrigerator along with the leftover cream, which is a pretty good, if incredibly rich, creamer for coffee.


The tart must refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving, to have the right consistency.  Store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve it.
I guarantee you won't have to store any in the refrigerator after serving it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recipe: Waldorf Salad

With the holidays upon us, I started thinking maybe I could share a few of my favorite unhealthy (Calories don't exist during the holidays.  Wait, you didn't know that?) recipes with you.  I know, I know, I've already admitted to you all that I'm no expert cook, but these are all tried and true family recipes that I know are actually good.
And also?  If I can make them, anyone can.  So, I present to you Waldorf Salad:
This recipe comes from a kids cookbook that my dad's mom gave us girls a while back.  It's one that her girls (and probably Dad too) learned from.


  • 2 cups chopped apples
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsps sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup mayo

Steps (with pretty pictures, of course)

1.Chop three or four large apples, or enough to make 2 cups. (I use Honey Crisp, so they are quite large and I could probably get by with only two and a half, honestly)


Put them in a pretty bowl.


2. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the apples, so they won't turn brown.


Remember to take the seeds out of your lemon before you squeeze it into your apples, or this might happen.


3. Slice enough celery to make one cup (about three or four stalks according to my calculations).


Don't forget to string your celery.


In order to string celery, place your knife right behind the ridges on the outside of the stalk and make a short incision about 1/8 inch long; place your thumb on the outside of the ridges, then pull straight down to the other end of the stalk and you should have pulled off a lot of strings that look like this:

Add the celery to your apples


Mix it all up nicely.


4.  (At this point, you're supposed to add 1/2 cup of chopped pecans, but I completely forgot to buy the pecans and it turned out fine without them, so I'll go ahead and say pecans are optional - It's delicious either way.)

5.  Add your sugar and salt (I just give the salt shaker a little shake over the apples and celery and call it an 1/8 tsp).


6.  Whip the cream.  In order to whip cream properly, you should put it in a chilled, deep container.
Also, beating with a rainbow-colored whisk guarantees good results.

Oh hey, did you hear about the chef that got arrested in New York the other day?
He whipped the cream and beat the eggs...

7.  Mix the mayo with the whipped cream, and add that to your salad.  Mix the whole thing gently and chill before serving.

My recipe says to serve it in lettuce leaves, but I just serve it in a bowl and I'm sure it tastes just as good...

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sick Day

In college, I always gave myself one day out of the semester on which to be sick.  I'd feel a bug of some sort coming on, and give it one day.  Just one day.  On that one day, I would literally lie in bed and do absolutely nothing until I felt better...all day if necessary.

This actually always worked out very well for me.  Maybe because I rarely get sick.
I do, however, tend to run my body into the ground.  I stay up late, eat on anything but a well-regulated schedule, and sleep with my hair wet more often than I should.  So, eventually, after several months of this sort of treatment, my body would say "Okay, Esther.  Enough is enough."

Turns out, after college, I still need about one sick day a semester, and today?  Today was sick day.
But this time, I didn't feel it coming.  It came out of the middle of nowhere - I jumped out of bed at 4am to go vomit (TMI? Sorry.) and went back to bed, and repeated the performance about three times before I realized this was actually happening and I was not going to be able to go to work today.
It was quite a bummer because I actually really like work.

But I actually really liked today too.  Today I:
drank yellow Gatorade
ate M&Ms (not too many, though)
also ate chicken noodle soup
got plenty of mail (my birthday and Sarah's graduation are both coming up soon)
watched National Treasure 2.

After all these good things, and feeling somewhat better, I debated the merits of going in to work incredibly late, but decided that, just like in college, I needed that one full sick day.

So I stayed here at home where I made Peppermint tea in the morning, using my new kettle, which I'm pretty much in love with.


And drank Chai Green tea out of my favorite mug in the evening.  By the way, if you haven't heard of Chai Green tea, please go hear of it immediately.  Regular Chai has never been something that I crave, but man, this Chai Green business is wonderful!


I put my Christmas Tree up a few weeks ago

I may or may not have shamelessly stolen (*ahem* borrowed *ahem*) it from the unused LOT stash...

And I have these HUGE Christmas lights (also borrowed) hanging all along my living room wall

Seriously, they're enormous.  I've started hanging Christmas and birthday cards between them, and one bulb is as long as the short side of your average rectangle Christmas card!

And, as I said in an email about Lights of Tejas the other day, I love Christmas probably slightly more than your average five-year-old, so my otherwise dreary day was quite cheerfully spent at home.

Stay tuned tomorrow for one of my favorite recipes!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Change is Afoot

This one might be a little rambly.

A completely unedited picture of the view from my parents' current living room window - donkey pen and barn to the left.

What I didn't tell you when I wrote about home two and a half weeks ago, was that, while I was there, my family told me that they are thinking about moving again.
Well, right before Thanksgiving (just accidentally wrote Christmas...?  Don't rush the holidays too much, Esther), they told me they're definitely moving.

Which was really no shock to me, considering our nomadic tendencies.

Long Sidenote: Honestly, I'm quite okay with our nomadic tendencies.  It's amazing how much junk you can accumulate after living in the same place for more than a few years and, considering the amount of junk I have right now anyway, I probably would have been a worthy candidate for Hoarders if my family had lived in the same house all the time I was growing up.

Home is not the only thing that's changing lately:

Baby sister, who used to sit on french fries in her car-seat "to cool them off," is now learning to drive a car.  She got behind the wheel twice in the time that I was at home.

I don't really know why it's so hard to accept, but I always have trouble with little-sister-milestones like 16th birthdays and 18th birthdays and high school graduations and 21st birthdays and college graduations and DRIVERS' LICENSES!
That basically means the powers-that-be think she's old enough to wield a deadly weapon.  I just don't know what to think about it at all.

Also, my Dad, who has had the same profession since before I was born, is changing careers.

He worked for a sign business for many years, and I remember going into the breakroom and watching movies on the tiny, probably 10 inch, TV (most notably, Care Bears, which gave me nightmares, and Black Beauty, which firmly convinced me I didn't want a horse) from time to time.  Also, I remember my fascination with the Coke machine, which distributed glass bottles, and his boss's office, which was filled with the heads of exotic animals - trophies from far-away hunting trips, I suppose.

Then, Dad decided to start his own business.  I vividly remember the time he told us girls for the first time.  I remember we were on the way to Arkansas to visit my grandparents - a long drive which holds many memories for me.  He was driving, so he asked Mom to show us the logo he had designed, and he explained to us why he had chosen the name of his business and even the colors and font for the logo.

The thing I remember most about that trip?
Fear, bunching tighter and tighter in the pit of my stomach as he explained everything to us.
Clearly, he was thrilled to be setting out on a new adventure.  I was terrified because I knew this meant our life would change.

Maybe it was just the thought of no more glass-bottled Cokes or exotic animal heads or movies in the break-room that scared me.  I'll never know what it was, and neither will anyone else, because I kept that fear to myself and let it grow and grow and grow.

Our life did change drastically during that time - we were still adjusting to Baby Sister, we started being home-schooled, we moved for the first time.
Eventually, though, life settled down and the fear loosened it's hold on me.  I don't know that it ever completely left, but I did come to a point where I was fiercely proud of my Dad and the fact that he kept a small business running for more than 10 years.

I wish I could say that fear was unfounded, but it wasn't.  My family has been through some incredibly tough times with the business (in fact, I'm scoffing right now at the words "incredibly tough," because they seem so completely inadequate), but, not for a million dollars, would I go back to that ride to Arkansas and scream and cry at Dad not to do it like I so desperately wanted to at the time.

The one thing I know for sure is that, if we hadn't gone through this chapter of our lives, we would not be the family that we are today.
We are so far from perfect, but I love who we are right now.
And?  I am not afraid of the future.  I know, now, that we can make it through anything.