Playing Cake Catch-Up: Strawberry Pretzel Dessert

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It’s not a cake, but it was absolutely amazing.

Ever made something that caused you to hover over the pan for half an hour, spooning mouthful after mouthful of goodness into your pie hole uncontrollably?

That was this dessert for me.  I knew from the get-go this would be a fantastic recipe.  It contained cream cheese, pretzels, and strawberries (Meldawg’s motto:  fruit makes dessert healthy!)  I love all of those things!  This recipe was a sure fire way to a kitchen win!

The Strawberry Pretzel Dessert recipe comes from Barbara Kiebel’s blog Culinary Creative.  You should keep your eye on this site.  This lady must blog from a treadmill because if I ate and drank all the food that she’s making over there … I would be signing up for that TV show about being over six hundred pounds.  Non-stop delicious.  No joke.  Her most recent post was a Smoretini!

Now, I will not kid you when it comes to my confection skills.  I am a work in progress.  There are times that I am a little disappointed at what happened from preheat to slicing, but there are also times that I am completely amazed about what happened.  The latter occurred with this recipe.

I was following the directions step-by-step and somehow was distracted by the method.  I was so zoned in on what I needed to do that I had no idea what I was whipping up in the Kitchen Aid.  As the paddle went to town, the ingredients revealed themselves in a new magical form.

“Holy shit.  I just made homemade whipped cream!  Honey!”  I ran for the living room completely astonished by the fluffy white goodness that had appeared!  “Homemade whipped cream!”

Lucky for us, the beau is tired and didn’t give me the ‘but it’s not cake’ riot when I asked for a rating.  He gave the Strawberry Pretzel Dessert an eight out of ten.

Please visit Barbara’s blog for the recipe and more flattering photos of this yummy dish.  (Sorry, I took these with my cell phone.  The way that I wanted to start devouring it … there was no time to get the camera up and running.)

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YBI, YRI: Lottery

Lottery was a book I bought light years ago with my previously reviewed book, The Tenderness Of Wolves. Did I buy it for the reviews? Was it on sale? Could I have been hoping that the secrets of winning the lottery were deep within?
I’m not sure, but I did feel like I won with this book. Not the big jackpot, but a satisfying amount that allows you to brag a little.

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Lottery by Patricia Wood

The Overview:
Perry L. Crandall knows what it’s like to be an outsider. With an IQ of 76, he’s an easy mark. Before his grandmother died, she armed Perry well with what he’d need to know: the importance of words and writing things down, and how to play the lottery. Most important, she taught him whom to trust – a crucial lesson for Perry when he wins the multimillion-dollar jackpot. As his family descends, moving in on his fortune, his fate, and his few true friends, he has a lesson for them: never, ever underestimate Perry Crandall.

My Review:
This book will be like spending 340 pages with Forest Gump. Their IQ is about the same and both share that charming innocence that we love about Forest. (They said it was a million dollar shot, but the army must keep that money because I never did see a nickel from it). Lottery’s main character Perry L Crandall says ridiculously funny things throughout the book. Often I found myself explaining to the beau why I was snort laughing in the other room. “Oh, Perry. He says the funniest things.”

Much like Forest, Randall’s character is taken advantage of frequently during the book. People make fun of him and you are never sure what will make you cry more… when he realizes that they are poking fun at him or when he doesn’t. He such a sweet soul and you’ll find jerks walking all over him throughout the story, especially when the lottery winnings start coming in. His sleazy family can’t wait to get their grubby hands on the goods. His friends try to protect him, including Keith who reminds me a bit of angry, drunk Lieutenant Dan.

Even though the book is entertaining, at times it can be like watching a train wreck. Many reviewers commented on the repetition throughout the book. It didn’t bother me, but I can see where it could get annoying. (Nowhere as much as 50 Shades of Grey’s thousands of murmurings.)

Lottery is an easy read when you need something to make you giggle.  It’s also a nice time to reflect on how some people can be jerks to the sweetest souls.  I’ve seen several people say it is a book club read, but I think this is more of one to enjoy on your own.

Learn more about the author at her website.

Next on the You Bought It, You Read It Mission:  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.   

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I’m Not That Kind Of Bride

After a full month of Facebook Freedom, the beau and I returned to the social media scene and announced that we had gotten hitched on August 15th. Yesterday afternoon when I came home he said, “Apparently no one can believe you got married.”

“I warned you that would be the case.”

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As most young women grow up dreaming of the day that they will wear a long white dress with a train that will reach the next state, I was dreaming of a life of independence and hell raising. I was not going to be held down by any man. Within a group of friends, we swore off marriage. We would all be drunken heathens for the rest of our lives and all we would ever need is each other. Commitment was for fools.

Let’s be honest. My dating record has looked like a train wreck. The kind of wreck that makes national news for weeks. I’ve been used, abused, lied to, cheated on, and drained of every dollar imaginable in these ‘relationships’. I was crazy to see some of them through as long as I did, but at least I wasn’t stupid enough to get in any deeper. Thank goodness for that oath I made in my younger years to protect me from these situations getting any worse. I cannot be thankful enough that my childhood friends and I formed that pact.

I am here to attest today your life will change. In my twenties, I was sure I would always be a wild woman who lived every day as it would be my last (and the way I lived, I’m lucky that every one of those days wasn’t my last.) I had no respect for how my actions would impact me or others. When I look back, I’m amazed I’m still alive. If I was a gambling person, the best bet was on the house. You would have never put money on me.

The beau and I started dating a few years ago, but we had been friends for almost a decade. Historically, I avoided dating friends. I thought that I was a horrible girlfriend. I notoriously would “gypsy” on men and vanish off the face of the earth. That was no way to treat a friend so I stuck with involving myself with men I really didn’t know. In the short term, this isn’t really a problem. If you chew up a person and spit them out, then there’s only so much damage. However, if this has some longevity to it then you can find yourself with certain surprises. You may not realize that a man thinks it’s okay to smack you around. You probably aren’t aware that he has no intention of holding down a full time job. It could be news to you that he likes to treat his wiener like one of those Wonka Fun Dips, sampling as many sweet spots at a time as possible. All the wonderful astonishments you may experience when dating someone that you don’t have a rap sheet on.

When I got on my ‘I don’t date friends’ soapbox, I’m so glad the beau stood his ground on the subject. I gave my long list of reasons and followed it up with, “you deserve a really nice girl.”

“You are the nicest girl I know.”

Boy, was he confused!

I gave in.

As the years passed, we progressed as most relationships do. We combined households a year later. Two years after shacking up, we broached a subject that would shock everyone in our world. Maybe we should get married.

GASP! I know.

I would never have truly considered this with anyone else. I have known for quite some time that the beau was more than a boyfriend to me. He is the person I invest my trust in which is something that hardly anyone fully gets. The dynamics of my workplace has changed over the last few years and at the end of the day I can’t wait to clock out and get home to the person who makes me still feel a hundred percent appreciated. He compliments all I do and never blinks an eye with every silly idea I come up with. Everything between cakes and crazy memoirs, he’s got my back.

To the blogging world, this event is certainly a surprise. However you shouldn’t feel left out. When we started discussing this idea months ago, I put this stipulation on the table. We would tell no one. I wanted this to be handled in an elopement fashion.

I find the subject of weddings is one that people tend to form strong opinions about. Culture dictates that every wedding should be as absolutely expensive and huge as possible. A friend of mine recently told me that a national survey was conducted and that most people agreed the number of guest at a wedding could be used to predict how happy a couple would be. People honestly believe the more people you feed a free meal to the more successful a marriage will be.

Way to go Americans, good job on looking like a bunch of dillweeds.

I also didn’t  want to go public for fear everyone from the old ‘we will never get married’ oath to chime in on the matter. 90% of them have broken the promise we made years ago, some of them even twice. I could go on living that life of the pact we made, or I could admit to myself that I was different than I was half my lifetime ago. I had accepted this lifestyle change and I didn’t want any of my old crew holding it over my head. We did breakdown and tell our mothers after we ordered the rings. Although, we thought that we may have to make our plans more public after the rings came in the mail. It seemed perfectly natural to try them on. We both declared that they fit and as I slid my ring back off my finger I heard the beau say, “Uh-oh. We might have to tell everyone after all.” Lots of olive oil later, the ring was off and had an amazing shine.

This is what I wanted. A wedding that was big enough for the two most important people there and the person to sign the paperwork. Selfish as it sounds, I didn’t want to share this moment with anyone else. I only wanted him to be concerned with me and me with him. I didn’t want to stress over planning and making other people happy. I didn’t want a bunch of people staring at me and making me self-conscious. All I wanted was that ten minutes of simplicity with the beau… and the Clerk Of Court, of course.

I had already taken August 15th off for a field trip with my bird watching class. The beau was able to finagle his schedule and get that afternoon off. I had an amazing morning watching shorebirds on Chincoteague Island. My bird watching buddies had made reservations for lunch at Big Bill’s Seafood and I couldn’t turn them down. I had an oyster po’boy the size of my arm and a giant pile of shoestring fries. We followed that up with an excursion to the Island Creamery where I topped my lunch off with a boat load of Java Jolt ice cream in a huge waffle cone.

Ladies that have dresses tailored to fit you like a glove, I’m sure you will look amazing on your wedding day. However, I wouldn’t trade that incredible lunch and dessert for the prettiest dress in the world. Eat your heart out girls, I certainly did.

I left the island later than planned because of all the food and exceeded the speed limit to get home in time to wash off all the sunscreen and bug spray. As I ran through the front door, the beau said, “I was starting to worry you ran off with the birders.”

Ha, how many grooms get to say that?

We made it to our local courthouse around 3:30 pm. Thirty minutes and thirty dollars later, we were officially hitched. The temperature was just shy of eighty degrees. We were under a flowering crepe myrtle. I could hear birds singing in the distance. I crossed my eyes at the beau. It didn’t cost us a fortune. We didn’t spend months of time tied up in planning. No one was there to notice how white my legs are and how I have enough tick bites that it appears I could have chicken pox. It was perfect.

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Questions you may be asking …

“What did you do afterwards? Did you go somewhere nice for dinner?”

Are you kidding? Didn’t you just read how much I ate before this event? I was lucky I wasn’t in a food coma! All we wanted to do was come home and get out of those clothes! We are not dressy people and those outfits were about as much as we could tolerate.

“How about a honeymoon?”

We are planning on building a new house. My new kitchen where I can bake with plenty of counter space will be my honeymoon. I’ve spent most of my life being irresponsible with money. Travel is nice, but having a roof of your very own over your head is our goal.

“Do we get to learn the beau’s name now?”

Sorry, that’s off the table. I write memoirs and when my third one comes out I want the end to still be a surprise when it unravels. Plus, ‘the beau’ still has a great ring to it.

The moral of the story is this. It’s great to make promises to your friends at any stage of your life, but it’s important to know when you’ve matured past certain stages. Your friends will always be key pieces to who you are and who you will become, but if your best friend is someone who is willing to admit that they love you even when you are at your wackiest and will share a bed with you even when you snore, talk in your sleep and sleepwalk … then you shouldn’t turn them down when they say they are willing to love you for the long haul. And if you decide to make that commitment, make it for yourself and not for what culture, friends or family dictate a wedding should be.

It’s your ten minutes of fame. You rock it how you want.

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Me and The Beau many, many moons ago :)  Who would have thunk it?

*BLOGGING BONUS –  The first picture in this blog post is taken in front of a tree.  Many of you may recognize that tree from this post :  A Twig and Me. 

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2:18 AM – A Blog Flashback

A blog flashback from 2/27/07:

Insomnia possibly was one of my worst childhood problems. Classmates couldn’t grasp how I read Gone With The Wind on a regular basis. When you can’t sleep, there’s only so much to do through the hours. My mother would quite often wake up at five in the morning and lecture me on how I need to sleep like a regular person. I wouldn’t. Years went on and I would continue to read and write until all hours of the night.

And, the sleepless beast has suddenly attacked again.

It’s quite horrible, sitting in complete silence and darkness with a plethora of words roaming through your head. My other childhood problem. The desire to tell stories. The desire to write. The desire to put things on paper and the need for those to understand. The need for those to appreciate what I have to say.

I get up out of bed.

I don’t even know where to begin. I run my hand across my first novel. It was a joke to start. I wasn’t going to write more than the first chapter. Then my mind and my fingers took over. until the novel itself took over. I lived and breathed for it when I was writing Letters To Young Chong. I would get home from work, crack open a Corona and go to town. I poured my soul out on those pages and set possibly a world record. A four hundred page novel in less than a year. It was everything I was. It was nearly like giving birth. It, to me, was my legacy. My creation. My words. My story.

And I have let it down. The dust on the binder says so. I analyze the dust particles on my fingers. They scream at me that I am a failure to it. If I really cared, if I really wanted people to feel the way I felt, I would try harder.

Then I think about the death of my second novel.

At least one hundred and sixty pages. Gone. My own stupidity. My own belief that it would be there for me forever. Gone. Mysteriously whisked away from my computer when I removed Norton AntiChrist, I’m sorry, AntiVirus.

All those chapters. All those stories. Stories that I probably will never be able to tell the same again. Stories that those who I dare let in to read the new makings swore it was ten times better than the first novel. Gone. I would of likely felt the same if I woke up one morning with no legs.

I’m left not knowing where to go. To restart? To give up? To finally heed to all those years of people saying, “Writing, that’s nice. What are you going to do for a real job though?” (And that sad realization, that most writers have to go on with real jobs forever. Few people get to just be a writer ‘when they grow up.’)

For now, I will likely just waste away the dark hours of the day and read another’s tales until I either feel tired or until the day begins. (Truth and Beauty, great book, but I think it has contributed to this feeling of writer’s awe.) And now I ponder, how is it possible to give up when the river of words in my head will never stop flowing?

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Fruitfulness: A Blog Flashback

Blog Flashback:  September 8, 2007

My friends are prolific. Look around me… there are babies here or babies coming. They are everywhere and I can appreciate it on some levels.

Really, even I can appreciate it.

There is truly is something beautiful about pregnancy. Even I am prone to rub the belly of a pregnant woman. There is something truly attractive about the curvature. Pregnant women are beautiful. I still remember the first pregnant woman who I touched. I think it shocked me as much as it did her. She snuck up on me and somewhere deep in my system, I reached over and I rubbed Tara’s belly. I’ll never forget it and I’m glad that a primal instinct took over.  Tara has been dead now for several years and when I think of her, it’s always one of the first memories to bubble up. 

Me? Pregnant? Only once I thought I could have been diagnosed with this condition. It was 2003. I had screwed up on my birth control. Looking back, I’m sure that it was my alcoholic party all night never sleep lifestyle that truly interrupted my natural system. But, birth control screwed up. I was a week and a half late. The inflicting fellow? He had been out of town for two weeks and who knew if he would even return.  

I remember I was laying in my uncomfortable bed in Parksley. The horrible wallpaper. Matching bedspread. Buried underneath my red sheets. My blonde hair wrapped my body all the way to my waist. I laid tucked underneath bedspread, sheets, and hair naked. Both hands placed on my abdomen. Scared to death I was going to be my mother. Scared to death if I should tell him or just walk away. Comforted in the thought that if he knew he would care for us financially. Financially? Is that all we needed? A paycheck?

I rolled to my side and pulled back all the bedding and stared at my flat stomach. I touched my belly button as if it was a route of communication. “I really don’t know if you are there, but if you are… I don’t know if you want to be here. I’m a drunk as I’m sure as you know. And your paternal figure… I’m not sure if he’ll if recognize you as his. He gave me this speech once about how my people were inferior to his. I don’t know how he’ll feel about you. I barely know how he feels about me. I’m real sorry that I’ve screwed up in such a way.”

It was a week later that my body produced the physical proof that I wasn’t pregnant. At least anymore and I was glad. Glad for whatever was listening to me that day as I laid in bed naked, that it knew I could not provide for it what it truly needed.

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Barefooted In Potatoes : A Blog Flashback

Blog flashback from May 22, 2006:

Even I can’t deny my life has been stressful these days.

I set out bare foot to walk the dusty edge of the potato field. The plants slightly wilt in the evening sun, even they are weary of their daily life. Waiting desperately for the sun to go away so they can relax in the darkness. I run my hands across the tops of them as I walk along, in an act of sympathy.

The packed dried soil is scattered with tractor tire impressions. Like the traces of my smile these days. I wonder if the deep frown under my happy expressions are as faint as the tire marks. Or is it just the opposite, is it my smile that is unrecognizable lately?

The path veers north between a cornfield. The sun warms my skin and even feels like it seeps into my soul that has turned so cold over time. If it was only easy as the return of the heated months. I fear it’s not the answer though.

I make it to the end of the field and stop. Stop and close my eyes and try to let go of myself. To remember who I was. How things were when my life followed a smoother rhythm. When the answer to every question was found in my daily life. There was no question that I couldn’t find the answer to right there.

My thoughts go silent.

I breath in. I breath out. I breath in. I breath out.

A pair of Canada Geese fly overhead speaking in a language I don’t understand. What do their honks mean?

I need to remember what I love. The things I have forgotten exist.

I love Canada Geese. I love honeysuckle. I love ladybugs. I love the smell of rain. I love shooting stars. I love the way sand feels. I love the way salt water smells. Even the way it taste. I love the way the sky looks when you are looking up from underwater. I love the smell of a bonfire. I love climbing trees. I love walking through mud puddles. I love watching robins look for bugs. I love watching fish swim near the shallow banks in ponds. I love the way tadpoles grow. I love finding blackberries growing along the woods. I love reading old tombstones. I love seeing my breath in the winter. I love eating icicles. I love tiger lilies and daffodils. I love the smell of a tomato plant’s leaves. I love listening to frogs sing late at night.

I love taking deep breaths and taking a minute to remember I am alive and I am human.

I love. I am not as dead on the inside as other’s think. Not even as much as I think. I am alive. I love. There are still simple things that make me happy. I refuse to be complex. I refuse to look over the little things that make my daily life incredible. I refuse to let myself die on the inside.

I am alive. I love.

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Swim (Where Did It Go?) – A Blogging Flashback

Blog Flashback from 2008:

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I’ve promised myself that this year I will be embellished in as much sand and saltwater as possible. Being raised near and have raided all the private beaches in lower Northampton County, it’s in my blood to want to hear the ocean (or bay) in my ears and not in the conk shell to the ear way. As a child from Cape Charles, I spent every night and day of the summer at the beach. It’s even hereditary. I’m half Eastern Shore and a quarter Outer Banks. My family was practically born in saltwater and sand.

That being said, I’m buying the biggest tub of 300 SPF sun block I can get, a giant umbrella, a hat created for Gone With The Wind and really dark sunglasses. (Hereditary issues again, I must obey the will of the Irish skin. The older I get the faster I fry.) I am going to buy a slue of books that will make me laugh. I am going to the beach more regularly this summer.

Of course, this takes us to apparel. The older I get, the more troubles I have here. In my teenage years I was quite a bit daintier. And let’s be honest, when you are younger you just have more leniency in what you wear. Plus on top of that, we never did wear our bathing suit everyday of our life. We’d generally have the roasting heat of summer smother us and then just jump in, clothes and all.

Then there was a two year course in which I wasn’t allowed to go to the beach at all. That’s a here nor there story, but all the same I didn’t have to worry about a bathing suit if I wasn’t allowed to go.

2001 came and I was emancipated from my relationship from hell. The first thing I did? I went to A&N and bought three bathing suits. It was at this time I learned that I had became a ’LARGE’ girl. I don’t get this. Not to be rude, but I’m strictly made of boobs and ass. I mean, what do people who are made of more wear if I’m a large? Don’t get offended… but seriously? I went with the flow though and was constantly chewed out by people who would say, “you’re so skinny. You don’t wear a large.” Measure up the rear and the cleavage people. It’s true. I wear a large.

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The summers to follow, I found that the patterns and designs offered in our local stores just weren’t for me. I didn’t fit in the major swimsuit categories of

A.) HOTTIE or SPOILED ON THE ASS. And for you who wear SPOILED on your ass… I hope the P comes off in the wash one day.

B.) THE BELT. A belt? On a bathing suit? What’s next suspenders? A bow tie?

C.) THE SKIRT. It’s not like it’s hiding your ass. It’s only two inches long. Maybe it’s a tutu. That’s what it is, water ballet swimsuits. How did I not see that?

D.) THE THONG +/- NIPPLE STICKERS. I mean really, if you are going to wear that 150ct. neon pink thread between the cheeks you might as well just put Pokemon stickers over your nipples.

E.) THE VICTORIA’S SECRET FIT. I tried this. An X-LARGE did not fit me. I might as well have gone with Option D above. It’s was about the same fit.

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Where does a girl go with such disdain for her options? Is a one piece the only thing that’s left for me? Could there be bathing suits out there for women who are almost 30 but not ready to swim like she’s getting there?

You’ll know the answer this summer. Look for the girl in the wet suit and white watermen’s boots and you’ll know the answer.

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