Recipes, Uncategorized

If it Looks Sharp, Don’t Touch It

I wrote about taking risks when I started writing this blog in July. I mentioned that one risk I had taken was writing a book about the stories my father told me about his growing up years. Several readers (okay…it was more like two) said they wanted to read the book, so I thought I’d post one of the chapters in this blog post.

I know it might be a little weird reading a chapter from the middle of a book  without any context, so it’s important to know the setting is San Angelo, Texas in 1950 when Dad was nine-years-old and his very best friend was Raymond. After reading it, leave me a comment.

According to my Site Stats Page, I do have some faithful readers. (Unless of course it’s just me getting counted every time I sign on to the Site Stats Page. Oh look, there’s another one! Somehow I clicked the “Like” button on my own post. Thanks blogger from Greece for clicking too. Now I don’t feel like such an idiot.)

So click “Leave a comment” below and tell me what you think. Good, bad, indifferent – I can take it. (If I don’t like what you say, I can always hit “Do Not Approve” button. Just ask my mother. She actually wrote something very nice.)

If you get to the end, there’s a chocolate cake waiting for you. Okay, it’s just a recipe, but if you make it, you will have a chocolate cake – a really good one.

Indigenous Plants or If  It Looks Sharp, Don’t Touch It

While Raymond’s and my friendship was perfect, Raymond was far from it. Raymond had a real stubborn streak. Sometimes he just wouldn’t go along with my way of thinking.

One time we spent the better part of the day arguing over which plant native to West Texas was the most deadly. Here was a subject I was well versed in. One of the only lessons from Sunday School that ever really stuck with me was the one about Adam and Eve. After the great sin, God covered the land with thistled plants, making the land a burden to toil. I remember thinking the Garden of Eden must have been in West Texas, because I’d had my share of close encounters with most of Texas’s dreaded indigenous plants such as devil’s pincushion, goat’s head, prickly pear, and the agarita bush.

It was no contest. Clearly the most deadly, the most revered, the one to most be avoided was goat’s head. This was a vine that grew along the ground. Goat’s head had five sides with seeds that were about the size of a pea. Each side was loaded
with thorns. No matter how it lay on the ground, you couldn’t avoid a thorn. These thorns could easily, and often did, penetrate the sole of a kid’s tennis shoe
as well as puncture a bicycle tire.

Raymond couldn’t disagree more. His choice was devil’s pincushion. Devil’s pincushion looked like a small basketball buried with only the top third sticking out of the ground. He insisted that its inch long thorns could also spear a kid’s
foot.

I pointed out that devil’s pincushion also had a small marble-sized red berry in the center of it. You could take a knife and cut out this berry and eat it. Some ladies even made jams out of these berries. I argued that because devil’s pincushion had a redeeming quality – the berry- it could not qualify as the most deadly. Raymond made some ridiculous comment about the fact that a knife was required to retrieve the berry which added an additional dimension of danger.

We continued to argue until he shoved me, or maybe I shoved him. Next thing I knew we were throwing punches and then we were down on the ground wrestling. Mom, who always preferred peace and tranquility to conflict and war, came outside when she heard the raucous. She screamed at us, “Allan Ray Smith! Raymond Thomas Hodge! Let go of one another and act civilized!” Her words were useless.

Raymond and I had passed the point of no return and this fight would only be
settled once one of us conceded to the other’s way of thinking. So Mom did what
she did when she saw the neighbor’s dogs tangled up (only I don’t think they
were fighting, but Mom always made me go inside on these occasions). She grabbed the water hose, turned it on, and sprayed both of us. All the while she was shouting that we were acting like a pair of animals.

Dripping wet, we finally stopped and hung our heads. Mom made us apologize to one another and shake hands – as if that would settle the matter. We agreed to be friends and then waited for her to go back inside the house.

The hosing was only a short set back. We were more determined than ever to prove who knew the most about these pesky plants. What we needed was an experiment. This experiment would require a willing -or not willing was okay too – participant.

There was my sister, Loralee, but she’d never venture too far from Mom’s hip.
We thought about Raymond’s older brother, Frank, but chances were that he’d
just argue a third type of plant was worse than ours, suggesting that he was
the smartest in the crowd.

What we needed was a third, neutral party – someone who would go along with our plan and yet had a brain of his own. That left Ezra Franklin. He was perfect.

The Franklins were my neighbors. Ezra was nine years old like us. He wore a lead fishing sinker on a string around his neck. When I asked him about it once, he said it prevented nose bleeds. I never did see Ezra with a nose bleed. I started
wearing a lead sinker around my neck too and I didn’t have any nose bleeds. Come to think of it, I never had any nose bleeds before. Ezra was smart. He probably knew the cure for polio which was beginning to take hold in Texas.

The Franklins lived in a large house at the end of our road. They had a large piece of property and a several cows. They were really more like a clan than a
family. There were lots of Franklins.

The leader of the Franklin clan was old Mister Franklin. He was at least a hundred years old. He was very, and I mean very, religious. The rest of the clan often commented on his faith and said he had a gift from God. They said Mister
Franklin could touch a wasps’ nest and not be stung by the wasps.  I was doubtful of this wild claim but one day when I was talking to Mister Franklin in the cow shed, he reached up and touched a wasps’ nest. I was witnessing a miracle! I personally knew how wasps could sting and how painful they could be. The sting would raise a welt like you would not believe. But these wasps just crawled around on Mister Franklin’s hand and didn’t sting him. He said God gave him the gift to tame wasps.

I was not well versed in the Bible and I really had no understanding of gifts from God. I didn’t mention it at the time, but I wondered why Mister Franklin wanted the gift of taming wasps instead of an indoor toilet.  But I reckoned that you didn’t get to pick your gifts from God – you got what you got. I guess Ezra’s gift was preventing nose bleeds.

Raymond and I walked over to Ezra’s house and explained our predicament. Then all three of us hopped on our bikes and rode just a half a mile from my house. Fortunately, it was easy to locate a piece of land that had most, if not all, of these deadly plants.

We told Ezra we needed him to stick himself with the thorns of devil’s pincushion and goat’s head and tell us which one hurt the most. This seemed like a sure fire plan to settle our argument, but Ezra said he had
another idea. He suggested that I stick myself with one of the devil’s
pincushion thorns and Raymond stick himself with a goat’s head thorn. Ezra
would determine a winner based on the amount of pain we showed on our faces. Whoever looked to be in the most pain obviously was stuck by the most dangerous plant.

I looked at Raymond and Raymond looked at me. Then we shrugged our shoulders and set out to gather our samples. I positioned one of my fingers over a thorn from the devil’s pincushion and Raymond did the same over the goat’s head. Ezra counted, “one, two, three.”

Ezra stood there shaking his head at us while both Raymond and me tried to hide our pain. After what seemed like a really long time, Ezra shouted, “Stop!” He sounded all mad. You’d have thought he was the one getting stuck.

Then he suggested that we call a truce and declare both
plants as the most painful and deadly. We quickly agreed, deciding Ezra not
only had the gift of nose bleed stopping but also the gift of fight settling. I
liked Ezra – he was good to have around.

Texas Sheet Cake (this recipe is from my  Mom’s family and has ALWAYS  been a favorite)

Texas Sheet Cake
Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to 1/2 cup of buttermilk and set aside.

Sift together: 2 cups of All Purpose flour and 2 cups of sugar.

Bring to a boil: 1 stick oleo (that’s butter in Texas talk), 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons of cocoa, and 1 cup of water. 

Pour hot ingredients over dry ingredients and mix well.

Mix in: Buttermilk mixture, 2 eggs (beaten), and one tablespoon of vanilla.

Pour into greased and floured pan 11″ X 16″ and bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Chocolate Icing

Bring to boil 1 stick oleo (butter), 4 tablespoons of cocoa, 6 tablespoons of milk. Remove from heat and add 1 box powered sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 cup of chopped pecans. Pour on hot cake.
Note: It’s best to use an 11X16 pan (or edged cookie sheet) so that it is a thin cake. You can use a 9X13 pan, but it isn’t as good. Also, I sprinkle the chopped nuts on top of 3/4 of the cake. Someone in my family doesn’t care for nuts. I know… that’s nuts!
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Uncategorized

Better Late Than Never

…may be a matter of opinion

I recently joined the 21st century. I now have a Facebook page. (Of course, now that I have Facebook page, I will from here on refer to Facebook as fb.)

My friend, Gail (yes, the same Gail  – the one who only recently gave up swinging by Quick Trip to pick up day laborers to do yard work) suggested I get into fb. She pointed out the benefits of connecting with old friends, staying in touch with current friends, and getting more exposure for my blog.

Right from the start I could tell fb was a monster that I would have to control or it would control me.

After one day of being on fb, it has swallowed me. I can’t just friend someone; I have to look at the pictures of their trip to the coast two summers ago, read all  the comments left on their wall, and google their favorite musical group. I asked my daughter, “How do you manage this? How do you balance life, work, and fb?” She sheepishly asked, “Remember that C in math I made that one semester?”

I decided that I wouldn’t make a friend request or accept a  friend request if the friend had more than 400 friends. It was clear to me in those cases the person didn’t really want a friend, they wanted to collect friends. Kind of like beany babies. No thank you.  But then my husband reminded me that in addition to finding friends, I wanted exposure to my blog, feedback on my writing, and to build a platform for the book I someday hope will get published. So I changed the friend ceiling to 1,500 and set an age minimum of 30. I didn’t want it to ever be said that my writing contributed to the delinquency of a minor. I have to have some principles.

Technology baffles me. This is where having your own kid starts to pay off. I asked my daughter, “So let me ask you – If I put a picture on my page, who sees it?”

“All of your friends.”

“Okay. If I type a message on someone’s wall, who sees that?”

“All of their friends.”

“Got it.  If I friend someone and then later decide to de-friend them, I can do that, right?”

“Yes. And it’s called remove as a friend or unfriend.”

“Perfect. Wait a minute – are you saying that someone can decide they don’t want to be my friend anymore and all they have to do is click a button?”

“Yes.”

“Well, that’s just mean. How do I put a bunch of pictures up?”

Then she said, “You know if you really want to learn something well, you have to figure things out for yourself.”

“Whatever.” I can’t believe she was using my words against me.

I’m not a “teach me how to fish” kind of person. I’m more of a “just give me the stinking fish” kind of person. Fishing is so messy. Fbing isn’t as easy as people would have you think. When I uploaded a picture of my daughter to the wrong place (I meant for it to go to an Album, but it went to my Wall), I didn’t want people to think I was favoring her over my son, so I uploaded a picture of him to the same wrong place.

Then I discovered I should have included my maiden name on my profile so friends from way, way back could find me. I would like that. My junior high years were known as my very unattractive years. I would like for those people to know I’ve made some improvements since then. Also, I had some really bad haircuts from that difficult period. I don’t know why nobody tried to talk me out of the Dorothy Hamil cut.

I think I may have insulted a new friend with something I wrote on their wall. Apparently, when you hit the ENTER button, you can’t get it back.

That’s why I like blogging. You type and upload all behind the scenes and then when you have things just right, you push PUBLISH. If later you discover you shouldn’t have said what you said about your mother-in-law or crazy Uncle Pete, you can hit EDIT, correct the problem, and hit UPDATE. No one has to know – except for the two people who email you asking if you really meant to offend Uncle Pete in your blog.

What did people do before fb? How did they communicate? That’s right…the phone. I’m not much of a phone talker.  Someone calls you and tells you what’s going on with them and then they’re quiet. That’s your cue to tell them what’s been going on with you. Then there’s this awkward silence because no one wants to appear rude and say they have better things to do and need to get off the phone.

I like emailing, texting, and fbing. I can type for hours, especially now that I have a carpel tunnel brace for both hands.

I appreciate what I’ve learned from texting. My struggles with how to spell “yeah” (rhymes with “hay”) are over. I never knew if it was “yeah” or  “yea”. Apparently the texting public has decided it is “yay”. I like that.

I do, however, have one texting pet peeve. I don’t like it when someone responds to my text with only “k”. It’s just disrespectful. Is it really that hard to add an “o” to the “k” ?

So there it is. The blog for today. No Life Lesson. No Parenting Pearl. No Marriage Mint. Sorry….but I do have a really good pimento cheese recipe. It is perfect. You can eat it with crackers with one hand and update your fb page with the other. See it below.

And if there’s anyone out there who went to Conway Jr. High, it’s Dana SMITH Edwards. K?

I’m not certain, but I think I just heard the sound of de-friend clicks by my picture. I’m pretty sure one of them was my daughter. I’ll be back to just 25 friends in no time.

If you have an interesting fb story, I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment.

Note: Keebler Wheatable Nut Crisps crackers are really good with this (they are a little pricey, but I saw a $1.00 off two boxes coupon on the boxes at the store today). Shred your own cheese rather than use pre-shred packaged cheese. It will be worth the effort. Also, pimento cheese tastes a lot better when it is closer to room temperature rather than right out of the frig.

Pimento Cheese

Ingredients: 2 cups of shredded Sharp cheese, 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese, 1 cup of Colby cheese, 2 tablespoons of chopped roasted red peppers, 1 tablespoon of finely grated onion, 2 ounces of cream cheese, 1 cup of mayonnaise (a little less or a little more depending on taste and the time you have available for the treadmill), salt and pepper to taste.

Pimento Cheese with Roasted Red Pepper

Combine all ingredients well. Servc with crackers or on bread with sliced tomatoes.

Uncategorized

Emotional Trees and Bad Hair

The other day when I was standing at the mailbox, I noticed my weeping willow tree. I bought it when we moved to this house 6 years ago. It’s not that the yard lacked trees; I just always wanted to have a weeping willow. I liked that it seemed to show emotions.

I saw that the branches were hanging way over into the sidewalk area and realized that the neighbors who enjoyed a nightly walk would have to duck and cover when passing by our house. So being the responsible neighbor I’d like people to think I am, I took to trimming.

I trimmed a little here and a little there then I stood back to admire my cosmetology skills.

Sure it was a little uneven – a little too long on one side, but I could live with it.

Then I had a moment of de ja vu. I had seen this before…somewhere. It was just so familiar.

Then I remembered.

I must have inherited my trimming skills.  Thanks Mom!

Trim Job
The yard work took a lot out of me so dinner tonight will be fend for yourself. That’s when all the meals from the week make an encore presentation. My family always snarls at leftovers. How can a meal be considered delicious one night and two nights later be beneath them? (Okay no one actually says “delicious”. That’s what I hear in my dreams along with, “Thanks Mom, for making another one of your very tasty meals and how about if you take a break and we’ll clean up the kitchen.”)
I talk big, “You’re lucky to have leftovers. People in China would love to have leftovers.” But the night always ends with me feeling guilty and making some sort of dessert to make up for it.
This recipe is VERY simple and very delicious. It starts with Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate Brownie Mix (no product endorsement – this one just really tastes good).
Brownie Cake
Ingredients: Duncan Hines Milk Chocolate Brownie Mix, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of water.
Mix the above ingredients and pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Chocolate Frosting: 1/2 stick of butter, 2 tablespoons of cocoa, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 3/4 box of confectioner’s sugar, 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in cocoa. Turn down heat and stir in vanilla, sugar and whipping cream. Put on top of cooled brownie cake. Vanilla ice cream on the side makes it even better.

Brownie Cake

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Middle School Mishaps, Quotable Quotes

Strategic Seating on Bus #3

Today was the first day of middle school. I could tell my son was a little anxious about the whole thing so when I was talking with him about where he should sit on the bus, I wanted to be careful not to cause him any more worry. While I was licking down his hair, I said, “You know, you should probably sit in the one of the seats in the first three rows.”

His reply? “I’m gonna sit in row six.”

“Row six? That’s too far back.”

“But it’s not even past the center line!”

“The center line can’t protect you! Only the bus driver can protect you!” Opps. So much for not making him feel more anxious. I’m sure he’s heard that the bullies sit in the back of the bus. He’s seen Diary of a Wimpy Kid – twice.)

I could tell he was thinking and he said, “Okay, row five.”

“Row four – and that’s my final offer!”

When we walked out the door with my camera in hand, I could hear my husband saying something like,”Don’t take pictures at the bus stop.” But maybe it was more like, “Make pictures at the bus stop.” Well, of course – that’s exactly what I was planning on doing.

“You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down. Up, down. Oh what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together. Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.” ~ Grandma (in Parenthood, the movie)

If I were a really good Mom, I’d make my son’s favorite dinner – chicken pot pie. But…it’s too hot to turn on the oven, so I’m going to make one of my favorites – rotisserie chicken salad.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Ingredients: one rotisserie chicken (herb or savory flavored) pulled and diced, 1/4 diced onion (I like red, but any will do), 1/4 cup diced sweet pickles, 2 hard-boiled eggs diced, 1 cup of mayonnaise (give or take according to taste and exercise schedule), and 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Mix all the above ingredients and add salt and  pepper to taste.  Chill. Serve with crackers or croissants.

Parenting Pearl, Quotable Quotes

The Summer of Would You Like to Pawn or Sell It?

I LOVE summer! Working in a school definitely has its perks
– touching young minds … And then there’s those eight weeks off. It is truly
one of the gifts of education. I think my husband has become envious of my time off.  He’s already taken two weeks off from his job this summer and seems to be coming home earlier and earlier each day.

His “time off” has allowed him and our son to spend more time than usual bonding while watching an inordinate amount of TV.  The show of choice this summer is Pawn Stars. (Note: Just because it comes on the History channel doesn’t mean it has any historical significance.) This has had the unfortunate result of my soon to be 6th grader wanting to be a pawn broker when
he grows up. He scoffs when I suggest going somewhere like Six Flags or the
water park, saying he’d rather spend the day at the pawn shop across from
Wendy’s.

My husband has tried to convince him that the majority of pawn shops
are not like the one they see on TV. He’s told him they are the type of place he’d rather not go given his germ phobia, which borders on dysfunction; but he
is not deterred.

I’ve been thinking that maybe he needs to get this out of his
system – not unlike the parenting gem of an idea to prevent your kids from
smoking. You know, give your kid a puff of a cigarette. Once they hack up a
lung,  they will never want to smoke again. (This is a smoking prevention strategy I do not endorse, by the way.)

I’ve reminded him that he’s been to the second-hand sports and
fitness equipment shop and that is just like the pawn shop. He said that buying
used baseball gloves and bar bells is nothing like watching a sucker get $25 for
his baseball card collection worth $250.

Don’t even get me started on Storage Wars! Yep!

Parenting Pearl: The old parenting advice: it’s Quality not Quantity time, isn’t exactly true. Kids really want lots of quality time. Even if it is time spent discussing if Bryan got a good price for his newspapers with the Elvis articles or if Roger should have taken the deal offered for his little piece of the space shuttle or does Old Man ever smile.

“The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.”~ Alfred Adler

Below is one of the best gifts I ever got from my husband’s family. I believe it came courtesy of Cousin Donna. Thanks, Donna!

Luscious Banana Pudding (so simple and SO good!)

Ingredients: 1 large package of vanilla (or banana) instant pudding, 2 cups of whole milk, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 box of vanilla wafers,                  4 bananas, and one large container of whipped topping.

Mix pudding and milk until firm. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and whipped topping and mix well. In a large container, alternate vanilla wafers, sliced bananas and pudding mixture. Repeat 2 more times.

Luscious Banana Pudding
Lessons Learned, Quotable Quotes

A Year of Change: Taking Risks and Eating Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Welcome to Mom’s Life Ponderings!

This year will forever go down in my personal history as The Year of Change – a year of firsts and a year of experiencing new adventures. This year, I changed jobs, my youngest child will be starting middle school soon, my oldest will be starting (drum roll please) college, and I finished writing a novel based on the stories my father told me about his growing up years (no literary agent yet, but I figure there’s no cause for discouragement until rejection # 65 – I’m only on #12).

And then there’s this other new adventure – writing this blog. I am hoping that other moms out there are also experiencing new challenges and might like to share in these adventures and the learning that comes from them.

Of course, all of these “firsts” involve some amount of risk – something I am not naturally drawn to; but they do provide some amount of excitement. Which reminds me of the time….

I had been watching several seasons of the Food Network channel’s The Next Food Network Star. The show involves 12 contestants from around the US facing all kinds of difficult cooking challenges with one final contestant getting his or her own show on the network. I loved the show and I thought it would be really cool to audition for it. The only problem is that I have very little courage. Enter my friend, Gail. She’ll try anything.

I thought we could audition as a team. This had been done the first season and the pair, Dan & Steve, actually won. Honestly, I didn’t really care about winning and getting our own show – I just thought the whole competition looked like fun, the free room and board in NYC would be neat, and we’d have a great story to tell our friends.

There was a casting call in Atlanta and we were convinced that once they saw the chemistry between the two of us we’d be a shoe in. We tried to think of a way to have an edge over the competition so the night before the audition, we made my yummy Triple Chocolate Cupcakes (see Recipes) and pita chips and Gail’s tasty salsa and put them in 3 gift bags. We also put together a little cookbook that contained 15 of your own recipes.

The audition started at 9 am. When we got there at 1:30, it was clear that we’d be there awhile. The room was packed! The girl giving out the numbers looked at us kind of weird when we said we wanted the same number as we were going in as a team. (Had she not seen Season 1?) We were number 783. We figured there were over 1,000 contestants.

We didn’t mind the wait. We rarely get the opportunity to just sit and people watch. There were all kinds of folks there. Several wore their chef coats. Someone was in military fatigues. And there were some women highlighting some of their more physical assets (if you know what I mean).

A real chef was sitting a row behind us and, I guess out of pure boredom, he decided to engage the “home cooks” in conversation. (That’s what he actually called us and by the way he said it we couldn’t decide if that was a good thing.) It was obvious that he was a real  chef because “Chef” was embroidered on his gray chef’s coat and because he listed off all the restaurants he had worked in from California to Atlanta. He also causally mentioned that he had trained at Le Cordon Bleu – the real one in France. He told us about the dishes he had created and the famous people for whom he had cooked.

Talking with Pierre was okay for a while but he was starting to get on my nerves. We wondered if he was trying to distract us – get us riled and off our game. He started asking us questions like, “What kind of white sauce do you make with pork?” I looked at Gail. She looked at me. And then I said I had to use the restroom.

Finally, at 7:30 pm, our number was called. When a new girl told Gail to move to a seat in front of the audition room, I pointed at my number and said, “we’re together.” She had a puzzled look on her face. (Seriously! Who were these people and were Dan & Steve really that forgettable?) When we went in, there was only one chair. Not a problem. We shared it – one cheek each. This would demonstrate our teamwork from the get go. The casting agent asked us what kind of experience we had. I answered that we both had been married over 20 years, so that was at least 40 years of cooking experience. She looked about  20 and I don’t think that was the answer she was looking for. Gail told her that we had been tennis partners for over 15 years and in Atlanta the food eaten at these matches was just as important as the tennis. (Gail was right about this. The problem was we never really contributed to the great eats at our matches. Sure, we had great plans, high ambition, but when it came down to it we’d just show up with brownies from a box and chips and salsa.) Then she asked us about our culinary point of view. We had practiced this. Together, in perfect rhythm, we explained that we knew busy moms needed recipes and cooking strategies to feed their hungry families quickly and economically.  She smiled at this. We gave her our goodies in the gift bags and our recipes. She said she was starving. We were soooooo in. The whole audition lasted about 3 minutes. We left on a high knowing for sure we’d get a callback.

However, no call came. We couldn’t believe it. Had they not seen our obvious charisma and talent? (Okay, we did wonder if the cupcakes had held up for 24 hours in the gift bags and if the salsa really should have been kept refrigerated.) Oh well, we knew we were good and we didn’t need some stinking show for validation.

A few months later, we watched the opening episode of  The Next Food Network Star. Some guy named Herb was there from Atlanta. (Perhaps we should have auditioned under the names Salt and Pepper.) Gail finally came clean and admitted that she had never watched the show. After the first competition where the contestants had to make a meal out of a few odd ingredients, Gail said, “Thank goodness we didn’t get on that show!” What? Who was this person? The Gail I knew would never back down from a challenge. I told her we would have figured it out and come out smelling like a rose – make that rosemary. She finally agreed and said we should try it again next year. Sure. But first we might need to start actually making homemade dishes for our tennis matches. Maybe something that requires a white sauce.

Lesson Learned: Refusing to take risks is possibly the biggest risk you’ll ever take. By not taking a chance on that different, scary adventure you run the risk of not becoming the person you are fully meant to be. And…disappointment is ALWAYS more palatable when it’s served with a side of chocolate cupcakes.

Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the  fear of failure. ~ Jack Lemmon (in Katie Couric’s The Best Advice I Ever Got)

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes