“If You Know…You Know”

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There are times when I know deep down inside that I’ve just walked through the threshold of something that only a select percentage of people will ever experience.  This is partly due to the hush hush, mysterious workings that encompass such a phenomenon and then also partly due to timing.  You see, I truly believe that with each tick of the second hand, this secretive, “underground” speakeasy becomes more prominent and visible as the name escapes through the lips of one of those that knows along to one of those that doesn’t.

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When I first joined the social network group, I wasn’t really sure what it was all about or even why I cared.  All I really knew was that I needed to hop on for the ride.  I’ve always been a thrill seeker, curious about all the fuss.  I just never realized it would be to score a loaf of bread.  At first I sat back and perused the volumes of chitter chatter brought on by the brain washed clan that seemed to have a language all their own.  But as time passed, I realized, I too had started adding to the gab.  Instead of “them” it was now “we” and before I knew it I was setting my alarm clock and staring unblinkingly into my computer screen longing to be one of the select few to be blessed with the Holy Grail of sourdough bread.

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As I reflect on the whole process, I must say, although Mama never made homemade bread and I have no definite story to relate to this; what I do know is, she would have LOVED every minute of it.  Being one of the select few that was “in the know” would have thrilled her.  Mama was adventurous that way and had no fear when it came to experiencing all that life had to offer.  I feel certain that she would have not only become best friends with the illustrious baker, but would have been welcomed into the kitchen and served up some bread and wine.  That’s just how she was.

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By now some of you might just be wondering where this place is that I speak of.  Prepare, because…”if you know, you know”…and it will alter just how much you’re willing to sample just a morsel.  You must be committed, persistent, and even a bit insane, to conquer the challenge of seeking a loaf of your own.  But I promise that if you stay focused and are finally allowed the indulgence of this delicious bread, handcrafted by Scott Ervin in his underground hideaway, “The Speakeasy Bakery,” you will not regret it.  The experience alone is worth it; but the fact that the bread is incredible, and a true work of passion, is the real hidden gem.

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Birthday Celebration

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My birthday weekend is coming to an end today.  I was so worried throughout this entire month about how I might react on the actual day.  Typically, I spend time prior to the day planning out what I’d like to do.  I have always gone to the spa for at least one of the days.  As well, I tend to have a large group of people over for a home cooked meal with champagne and cupcakes.  On big birthdays I plan elaborate celebrations.  But this year felt different.  I was dreading it.  I really did not know how I was going to react to the silence of Mom’s birthday wish.  I was so used to her calling up and doing that typical thing that Mom’s do by reliving the day you came into the world.  It just didn’t feel right.  My friends kept asking me in the kindest of ways, “So what are we going to do?”  I just kept stalling.  I felt like I wanted to just sit on the couch the entire day in complete silence; but, that didn’t seem right either in light of how I typically enjoy my birthday.  So I finally decided on keeping it small with friends I felt certain would follow my lead.  I knew that this group of friends would either live it up with a bang…or just as easily lie down in the grass, eyes lifted to the sky, and cry with me.

I waited until the day before my actual birthday to spring the plan on my friends.  I decided on an early breakfast with a leisurely drive through the vineyards and some wine tasting.  The day would end with a visit to the Solvang Brewing Company for one of their infamous Viking Corn Dogs.  As can be expected with this group, they leaped at the chance to join in on the day.  Their support was expected, but their exuberance was intoxicating.  I began to become excited about the day rather than pensive.  These amazing women that I choose to live my life around took their most envied personality traits and simultaneously filled my little wounded heart with hope.  They were enthusiastic, encouraging, supportive, flexible and leaping feet first into this uncertain day with me.  I love them for that.  I love that they pushed their lives aside to fill the hours of my day with a quiet reassurance that all would be okay.

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Seeing as the majority of my day was planned out, I knew that I needed to save a piece of it for Mama.  So in the wee hours of the morning, I headed out the door with my loyal companion, Marcello, for a much needed walk of remembrance, release of sadness, and recognition of why I even have a birthday.  I made sure Mom’s playlist was set and I started my Birthday Walk!  I cried through most of it, Marcello glancing up at me now and then to make sure I was okay.  I began so early in the morning that I doubted anyone would even pass our path and if they had, I wouldn’t have even noticed or cared.  This walk was for my own peace of mind and to fill a little hole in my heart with birthday memories.

I won’t go into detail about what exactly ran through my mind during that time, but my biggest hope is that Mama somehow heard me and knows how much I miss hearing her voice and long to hug her one more time. I wanted to thank her for giving me a reason to even need to celebrate my birthday.  The only way I could imagine these celebrations filled with laughter and love is if somewhere along the path of my life someone else had shown me how important I was to even justify such observance.  I thanked her for so many things that early morning and as I entered my home at the finality of my walk, the phone rang and Dad’s voice filled the air. The two people who brought me into this world unknowingly shared the exact same space and time on my birthday and this brought the greatest sense of tranquility to my day.  It filled my day with the love I needed to move forward without guilt or sadness….and that is exactly what I did….I celebrated life that day!!

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Mother’s Day Minus One

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This month has been an exceptionally difficult one.  The constant reminder of Mother’s Day in my classroom has just added salt to the wound continuously.  I think the fact that I realized early on that I would want to spend this particular Mother’s Day all alone, scared me just a bit.  Not knowing truly what emotions it would evoke, I set my decision in stone.  I wanted to sit alone in all the memories.  I wanted to cry, laugh, and remember all of those moments that made Mama so special, without attempts to coast just above it and just make it through the day.  So I gathered up the courage and developed an idea I thought would carry me through the day.

I had considered writing a post that highlighted all the best parts of what made Mama so unique. Then I realized I don’t want to rush this process.  One of the things I love most about my Mama Memories is that they come to me just at the exact moment that they should.  It is in that instance that I share them through written word.  So although I could easily list all the wonderful things that encompassed her, I choose to peel back the layers gradually and through time, just as our lives naturally evolve over time.

Instead, I have filled the day with a balloon prayer, Broadway musicals, pajamas, popcorn, orange slices and a bit of snuggle time with my little, furry man.  Mom’s love of Broadway Musicals is what ignited my brilliant plan.  I know that there will be tears today; but, I also know that there will be laughs, happiness, and the comfort of memories that nestle close to the heart and fill it full of love.

So as I spend my day being the best mommy I can to my little guy, I will also spend time remembering the best Mama for me that I could have ever hoped to imagine and dream for!!  I miss you, love you, mean it, Mama!!  Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Wine Anyone?

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For years….literally years…ever since a visit to Italy, I have been in search of the perfect set of little Italian wine glasses to sip the most delectable vino from.  I have come across similar glasses, but never any that felt like they belonged in my home at a dinner party among friends….until Sunday night.

As we sat sipping tea after a most delicious meal in one of the most highly recommended establishments in town, my friend Margo’s house, the conversation veered off in a multitude of directions.  It so happened to venture on to a discussion of wine glasses and my insane desire to have these little Italian bicchieri di vino.  I’m a glassware girl and to say I love it would be a huge understatement.  There is just something about having the quintessential glass for that special drink that brings so much joy.  I realize it’s ridiculous and that there are so many other things in life to ponder and wish for.  But this was just one of those little things that wraps itself around your imagination and won’t let go.  So as we sat, pondering the ways of life, the words had barely escaped my lips when my girlfriend Sandy responded, “I’ve got some of those glasses and I love them, but I never use them.  You are welcome to have them.”  I sat with high aspirations that my quest had reached its’ end…and in fact…it had.

After years of peering into windows, perusing the internet, and searching high and low, my perfect Italian wine glasses had arrived.  I love when that happens.  When divine intervention occurs and what you long for and seek, finds you instead.

 

Crackle of a Good Book

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This past weekend I found myself on a mission in search of an audio-book from the public library.  I’m embarrassed to say, I haven’t visited our library in years.  I tend to be one of those purchase and go kind of people.  I’d forgotten how much I actually liked the library, but beyond that, I was shocked as to just how many people were visiting on a Sunday.  The place was packed and not having found what I needed at the first stop, I was destined to visit another one in our town as well.  Again, the place was packed.  Although I wasn’t in search of any particular book beyond the audio-book which started my whole journey, I decided to peruse the shelves in search of nothing in particular.  What I found surprised me.

As I meandered down the rows, sliding my fingers along the glossy bindings, I caught glimpses of necks, chins, and foreheads of my fellow readers peeking through the open spaces of shelving and I was drawn back to my childhood.  I can remember getting my very first library card and how excited and grown up it left me feeling.  I loved to read and would lose myself in a good book as soon as I’d checked it out.

Each summer, our small town library would introduce a program to encourage young readers to devour books on break.  The anticipation of snatching up armloads of books, flipping through the pages, frantically reading to finish as many as possible before summer’s end was the perfect challenge for me.  I could hardly wait for Mom to take us to get our first collection of reads at the beginning of each summer.  She would start up the car and we’d pile in, heading off to collect our treasures for the next two weeks.  I still remember the musty smell and dense weight of the books.  It was pure torture waiting to finally reach the age to check out a book that was big enough to require a hard back cover with the crinkly plastic foil wrapped around it.

So as I walked through the library, running my fingers along the books to hear the crackle of the plastic, I remembered Mama and all the times she made sure we were doing things that were good for us, but disguising them as adventures instead.

Happy Hour ~ Happy Mistake

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Absolutely, one of the best things to do is spend time with my girlfriends, especially on a Friday evening. With my girlios, unpredictability is bound to take over and last night was no different.  After a long stressful work week, we decided it was time to blow off some steam.

Just like my mama, I love to entertain and actively seek creative reasons to do so.  During a recent Mardi Gras party, my co-host and I were gifted a bottle of Johnny Walker® Black Label® Whiskey.  With neither one of us being huge whiskey drinkers, it left me with the exciting challenge of finding the perfect whiskey cocktail.  Cue light bulb and brilliant idea ….Happy Whiskey Hour!!  In my search, I discovered the most delightful whiskey cocktail, the Black Label® Azucar Morena.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a fruity, sweet, pineapple slice with umbrella on the rim kind of drink.  It packs a punch, but in such a surprisingly smooth way.

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Azucar Morena

1.5 oz. Johnny Walker® Black Label®

2 oz. Cream soda

1 Dash of granulated brown sugar

Twist of lime

Typically, the rim of the glass is dipped in vanilla bean infused granulated brown sugar.  But this girl didn’t have the time to do that.  So instead, I mixed a 50/50 combination of granulated brown sugar and pure cane granulated sugar to rim the glass with instead.  To do this, I dipped the rim in a plate holding a bit of the whiskey and then dipped the wet rim into the sugar mixture.  It worked perfectly, but I’m excited to try it with the vanilla bean infused brown sugar soon.  Into the already rimmed glass, I poured the whiskey and cream soda and served it on the rocks with a twist of lime.

Now for the Happy Mistake!  At some point, one of the super huge strawberries that happened to be in a bowl next to the plate holding the brown/white sugar combo. fell into the mixture.  Oh my goodness!!  I fell in love with the taste!!  By simply dipping the strawberry into the sugar mixture, it gave a complexity and heightened sweetness to each bite.  Pretty soon, I had whipped up a clean batch of the sugar mixture and we were all scooping a bit of it onto our plates to dip our strawberries into.  Not too sweet, not too overpowering….just right!!  What a happy mistake it was!