Saturday, October 30, 2010


The brownie bites.

They're almost too pretty to eat.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Caramel-Glazed and Chocolate-Filled

This was my day today:

Pumpkin Bars

Apple Spice Cakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Pretty Little Brownie Bites

It started at 9:30 a.m. It is now 11:00 p.m. and my mother is still working on some little cheesecake thingamabobs. We ate lunch standing at the counter (bite, measure, bite, dump, bite, stir...). Dinner was taken between batches of brownies.

Tomorrow I glaze and decorate 6 dozen brownie bites and bake a layer cake.

I'm tired.

I'm crabby.

My feet hurt.

My pants legs are covered in flour. (Really.)

I never want to see another dessert.

Or maybe that's an exaggeration. As worn-out and tetchy as I am feeling right now, I had a great day. I love baking and especially baking with my mother. Her goofy cheerfulness balances my intensity--like, when I was about to cry because the STUPID CREAM CHEESE WOULDN'T STOP CLUMPING UP in the pumpkin bar filling.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oh, I love my friends.

I found the following recipe written on an index card, which was stuck inside a book. There isn't a date noted, but I'm going to guess 2003 or 2004.

(Original spelling and form maintained for comedic value)

"Code Red Mt. Dew! Mocha Chocolate Chunk Sundae"
  • spoon chocolate chunk ice cream into a large cup (or margarita glass, hehe)
  • Nestle Java Ice Syrup, mocha flavor, drizzled over ice cream
  • 1 can Code Red Mt. Dew poured over ice cream
  • use tounge to lap up bubbles :)
Naomi or DoRena: did we make these or did you guys just give me the recipe? I very clearly remember the Mt. Dew cappuccinos, but not this...creation.

Monday, October 25, 2010 Which the First Step to Recovery is Not Taken

I swear I don't have a problem with finishing things, no matter the piles of evidence to the contrary. I'm just good at prioritizing...and realizing when I'm beaten.

Current projects, in reverse chronological order:

1) Lovely knitted baby blanket for a friend, expecting her first son: Obviously, this sort of thing is time sensitive and it was therefore absolutely necessary that I should start before finishing anything else. The instructions say "super easy" and "makes a great last-minute shower gift!" but don't believe it. I've been exhausting my poor fingers for a week now and have less than a foot of length. I don't think I'm that slow at knitting. The pattern lied, that's all.

2) Scrap quilt: I started this last winter, got all the squares cut out and sewn together, backing and batting basted, and knot-quilting started. And then, when it got too warm to sit under a pile of fabric every evening, I folded it up and stuck it in the back of my closet. I finished the knotting last month and purchased the binding fabric...which is now sitting in a Walmart bag under the end of my bed. I'll get to it eventually, but I need (1) several hours of uninterrupted time, during which I will not feel guilty that I'm not doing something legitimately useful and (2) plenty of uninhabited space in which to spread out my work. Both are hard to come by.

3) Hostess apron: I don't know what made me choose this pattern. It's completely useless. When I want an apron, I want an apron that will cover my entire front. Not one that starts at my waist, leaving my shirts exposed to tomatoes, oil, cleaning products, dust, or whatever else is flying about as I work. Anyway, I got the pieces all cut out and then realized that I was missing the lace trim (impractical, yes?) and could not proceed until I acquired said trim. That feat only took two years. So now, instead of a pile of fabric and pattern pieces, I have a pile of fabric, pattern pieces, and lace under my bed. I'll get to it eventually. Like, maybe when I figure out why I wanted to make it in the first place.

4) Pink scarf, green scarf, red and white striped scarf...: Boring. Besides that, I already have approximately 3,762 scarves filling the coat closet (and spilling out on to the floor every time someone tries to grab a jacket). They're destined to be gifts for some grateful individual who won't realize that they're just the victim of a decluttering effort.

In my defense, while these projects have been languishing--forgotten--in closets and under the bed, I've finished other things. Scarves and hats for all my girl cousins, scrapbooking pages galore, a bachelor's degree.... little things like that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just a Little Sentimental

Growing up, I was privileged to have a close relationship with my great-grandparents, Robert and Helen Beery. I know one is not supposed to have favorites in the family, but I looked forward to seeing them more than almost anyone else. When we moved to Fort Wayne it meant living within 40 minutes of their house in Magley and, later, within the same distance of their apartment and nursing home.

I was always a little bit in awe of Grandpa Beery, but he never intimidated me. When we were little, Grandpa would take us kids outside and show us his garden. I don't remember him talking very much; my most vivid memories are of him sitting back in his chair, grinning and chuckling at my brothers' antics. That's a fairly standard response to my brothers, but there was something extra-special about Grandpa's grin.

I spent the most time with Grandma Beery. She was sweet and soft, but she also had a core of iron and spunky, sparkling blue eyes. She loved playing with the grandkids. We would paint pictures together or color or go outside and look at the flowers. When I began taking piano lessons, she always wanted "a concert", which would often end in the two of us playing duets. At the assisted living center, she would open the apartment door when I played so that her neighbors could enjoy the music too. When they finally had to leave the apartment for the nursing home, she gave me her beautiful piano. I still think of her every time I play.

Anyway, this was all brought up because my mother and I were looking at old photos of Grandma and Grandpa. And they made me cry. Turns out I still miss them...a lot.

Friday, October 15, 2010

At the Grocery (with snarky commentary)

Cashier-Guy: So, do you like classical music?
Excellent pick-up line.
Bagger-Girl: You mean, like, Elton John or, like, Michael Bolton?
Come on. You could have said, "Like, AC/DC or Van Halen?"
Michael Bolton??? Seriously????

Cashier-Guy: No....
Bagger-Girl: OH, or do you mean, like, Pachelbel?
And then the light comes on.
Cashier-Guy: Yeah, or like Beethoven.
Bagger-Girl: Yeah, I like it okay. I used to play the piano.
Cashier-Guy: Yeah, me too. I can play, like, half of Fur Elise. You know the song Fur Elise?
Maintaining the spelling "Fur" because 1) that's how he said it and
2) I don't feel like searching for an umlaut.

Bagger-Girl: Oh yeah. That's cool. I used to play Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
The whole thing? On the piano? That is an accomplishment, indeed!
Cashier-Guy: You know what my favorite piece is? The Brandenburg Concerto.
Points given for knowing of the Brandenburg Concerti.
Points deducted for not realizing that there are, in fact,
six of them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010 Which We Bring Order Out of Chaos

Proof that I have the best little brothers ever: they still like me after 1) I woke them up this morning and 2) made them clean for 4 1/2 hours.

When I came downstairs this morning I was feeling a little peevish and restless. None of my usual pursuits sounded at all interesting and I was at risk for sitting in front of my computer all day, waiting for something to happen. (Not that I would ever do that.) So, instead of wasting any more of my time wandering around in circles, I decided that I would put my time to good use. If I'm going to be bored anyway, why not clean? I turned on my iTunes "cleaning mix" and got to it. Windows: cleaned. Screens: swept. Curtains: vacuumed. Floors: swept. Woodwork: dusted. Furniture: swept, fluffed, and dusted as needed. (You might say my mother did raise me to be a cleaning lady.) And voila! My churlish lassitude evaporated and I felt invigorated and useful!

My poor brothers were the real victims of my fey mood. They were pressed into service and--before they could even eat breakfast--found themselves cleaning the kitchen, washing dishes, straightening the family room, vacuuming, and doing laundry. (And wearing ruffled aprons, but that's beside the point.) Even with all of that, they retained their sunny and chipper dispositions. Patrick, having school, missed out on all of this cheerful usefulness. He'll pay later.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Heartwarming Scene

In the middle of the Sunday School lesson this morning....

Girl 1: I like your necklace, Miss Bethany,
Me: Thank you!
Girl 2: You're the best Sunday School teacher I've ever had.
Me: Awww, you guys are sweet.
Girl 3: Your dress is so ugly. Why you wearin' green, girl?

Saturday, October 09, 2010 Which I Learn to Spell "Solzhenitsyn"

As I walked out the door on my way to run errands the other day, I noticed a pile of library books waiting to be returned. I grabbed them, stuffed them in my tote bag (ok, fine, Patrick: I "gently placed them" in my tote bag) and worked in a stop at the library in between grocery stops.

When I say a pile, I really do mean a pile. Lots of books. Heavy books. Hardcovers. The sort that--inevitably--get dropped all over the floor, right next to the book return, disturbing the dusty, midday quiet of the library. The lady working at the desk flinched and tried not to look too pained as I cleaned up my mess. I gave her a smile and a clumsy nod and promptly tripped over a floor mat. She watched me walk across the room as though expecting me to start flinging books off the shelves. Because I'm a spaz, I hid behind the first shelf I came to. (Have I mentioned that I get really embarrassed sometimes, and for no good reason? Seriously, dropping a pile of library books and stumbling is nothing compared to the graceful stunts I pull on a daily basis.) I chose a couple of books at random and went to check out, trying to act as normal as possible. "Is that all?" the librarian asked. "Only three? But you brought back such a large pile. Ah yes, and you have $4.50 in fines."

Apparently, the shelf behind which I had been hiding was part of the "serious(ly painful) literature" section, because I ended up checking out some Solzhenitsyn and two Thomas Hardy novels. I detest Hardy. Reading "Jude the Obscure" was one of the more disagreeable literary experiences of my life. And Solzhenitsyn? I know very little about him, beyond the fact that being able to spell his name feels like an accomplishment. He looks interesting enough, but as I sit here wanting something to read before bed, I'm not really sure that stories from a Soviet work camp are going to cut it. At least all three books are trade paperbacks and won't make too much noise when I drop them in front of the book return.

Thursday, October 07, 2010 Which Shoes are Thrown and Sharks are Battled

So, I thought that encouraging a three year old to exercise his imagination was a good thing. He was going through a pirate phase and, while we were at the park, I suggested that the fort part of the swingset would make a good pirate ship. We climbed aboard and kept a lookout for sharks and storms. He made his little brother walk the plank (or, you know, slide down the slide) and told me to trim the sails and swab the poop deck. (And oh, how he loved saying "poop deck.")

Today, we went back to the playground and, of course, he started yelling, "Climb aboard the ship! There's a storm coming! Ahoy!" I watched from below as the pirate Captain rushed back and forth, issuing orders to his imaginary crew. Suddenly, a shoe came flying out of the fort, followed by the declaration, "Pirates don't wear shoes and socks! They just wear feet! I can't climb the rat lines with shoes!"

I had just finally gotten his shoes back on him when another family showed up with two little boys. The Captain turned to me with a whisper: "Ahhh! Those boys are sharks! There are sharks! Lots of sharks!" Then the whisper turned into a yell: "We need to kill them, Bethany! Kill them! KILL THEM ALL!" Oddly enough, that other family didn't stick around long.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Thing or Two

1) There are some very good things about having brothers with very retentive memories. Like, for instance, when I can't remember what the years of Charlemagne's rule were, or when I really really need to know the country-of-origin of the lead singer in some band.

It can, however, make conversations with them more than a little confusing and VERY bizarre. Particularly when they latch on to a book, movie, or TV show and quote it excessively. For example, they are currently on a "Burn Notice" kick (thanks, Bean). I cannot say how many times in the last 3 days I have heard "Duct tape makes you smart!" inserted into the middle of a seemingly unrelated sentence. Combine that with Andrew's current "Bed Intruder" song fixation (thanks, Pastor and Emma). Every conversation now ends with a chorus of, "hide your kids, hide your wife". Try explaining THAT to your confused relatives.

Which leads me to....

2) I had the nicest lunch with my Grandma and Grandfather Dear today. They're getting ready to leave for several weeks in the sunshine and, for some reason, they wanted to squeeze in one last visit. We met at Cracker Barrel, halfway between our house and theirs. GFD quizzed me on how I'm treating my car and how fast I drove on the way to meet them. (The answers? "Well" and "too fast," respectively.) Grandma, great multi-tasker that she is, talked about random little details of everyday life and looked gorgeous at the same time.

Currently near the top of my list of things that are very handy to have around: Grandparents who give a standing invitation for their favorite-oldest granddaughter to come visit them in Florida. Since said granddaughter starts getting chilled right about now and doesn't feel warm again until March or April, the prospect of a visit to someplace sunny and sub-tropical is very pleasant to contemplate. (Sun....Sand....Seafood....)