Tag Archives: family


Family food

Last Friday marked our first annual family cook-off.

The rules were simple: each family brings two dishes, each serving 8—anything from soups to breads, appetizers to desserts. Food items will be judged according to the following categories—children (up to age 16) and adults.

Initially I planned to make Swiss potatoes: shredded potatoes, lounging about in a sea of Gruyere, heavy cream, whole milk—a splash of butter, a hint of garlic and nutmeg, all baked to a golden perfection. I’d made something similar years ago . . . then promptly lost the recipe.

So Friday morning of the big to-do, before rushing off to work, I reviewed the new recipe. And that’s when I saw it: Serving Size: 2. Two!

Just as well.

As the day wore on, shredding 4 pounds of potatoes sounded about as appealing as gnawing off my own digits. Since I already spent half my paycheck on gruyere cheese, I found a mashed potato recipe that called for that particular item. Simple fix, that.

Explaining my choice proved a bit more difficult . . .

Co-worker: So, what are you making for the cook-off?

Me: Mashed potatoes.

Co-worker: *blank stare*


Uncle: What’s under those mashed potatoes?

Me: Mashed potatoes.


Cousin: What did you bring?

Me: Mashed potatoes.

Cousin: *hysterical laughter* You weren’t kidding when you said you were low-balling it this year!

For the record, they were fancy mashed potatoes. Specifically, they were Rachael Ray’s Potatoes with Gruyere and Dijon (pronounced with a French accent, naturally). If you’re curious, they are creamy and quite delicious. They are a grand accompaniment to red meat. They are even an innovative addition to shepherd’s pie.

They are not, however, winners.

E. and her crab dip won the title of grand champ-een . . .

winner (2)

Not only did she win the children’s category, she received the most votes overall.

By the way, choosing a winner proved entirely too difficult—too many delectable dishes, too much variety. Next year we’ll do a side + dessert, or maybe a soup + dessert.

And we’ve an entire year to decide what we might contribute . . .

Who knows? Maybe next year I’ll go with carrots. After all, you best not show your hand at the start of the game . . .


A good day


Today is a very good day.

For you see, it was November 25, 1953, that a baby girl was born in a little hospital, in the middle of the sagebrush. They named her Debra Kaye—Debbie, for short—and she would grow up to be my mama.

Even though she was scheduled to be a Christmas baby, I’m certain it was no coincidence she was born so near Thanksgiving. She does, after all, top my list of things for which to be thankful.

There’s a whole slew of reasons why. In a nutshell: we share a love of sweets, good stories, and laughter. Needless to say, we’re rather easily amused. Good thing, since we both managed to pick up that wretched bug that’s going around. But don’t you fret—we won’t let that stop us. No sir, we intend to celebrate. Who knows? We just might party until 8:30 tonight!

With that, Happy Birthday, mom! I’m so very thankful you were born.

To the moon and back, with love and good wishes . . .



The race

RunThe last wave–the wee runners, and their encouragers

It was a weekend of family to-dos. One of which included a fun run: one mile up historic Harrison Boulevard by waves of elementary school children, the occasional parent or pet thrown in for moral support.

We planted our feet in a grassy spot, mid-way, on what we soon found to be the boys’ side; then we waited for familiar faces. Until that time, I stood content to cheer on any fellow who ran before me:

The fellow pushing his friend . . .

The fellow without legs . . .

The fellow who obviously had runners as parents . . .

The fellow who most certainly did not . . .

All sorts and varieties ran, walked, rolled, or limped past. They were strong and brave and handsome, every last one of them.

For our part, we clapped and cheered and carried on. Well done, men! Good job! Look—you can see the finish line!

It may have been the smallest trace of a smile, it may have been a second wind (even if he yelled, “There are a thousand miles to go!” as he ran past), but that odd group of strangers, cheering on the sidelines, managed to make a difference.

Sure, an attitude sneaked in every now and again, but for the most part, they seemed grateful for a little push to carry on. One small fellow even ran a bit closer, looked me in the eye, and said, “Thank you,” as he jogged past.

And then my heart melted.

See? A little encouragement goes a long way. Something to keep in mind as we continue the race we call our own . . .


Special delivery alert

I am now the proud auntie of both a nephew and a niece. That’s right—Miss Ella Mae made her debut this morning; and she’s 19.6 inches, 7.7 pounds of pure deliciousness.

Oh, Sweden, why must you be so far away?

You know, we tend to wrap these wee ones in a thick, woolen blanket of hopes and dreams—we want them to be happy and successful, full of peace and filled with laughter. Every moment, of every day.

But I think the best thing we can do, right from the start, is simply offer a prayer of thanks. To take a moment and truly celebrate.

So I hope you’ll join me in celebrating a new little someone to love. At some point during the day I hope you’ll eat your favorite food, sip your favorite beverage, play your favorite tunes. You might dance, you most definitely should laugh. You know, partake of the good stuff.

In that, we can say with authority, welcome to the world, sweet baby girl . . .




I knew nothing of her growing up. I knew her half-sister—the daughter of my mom’s cousin—from summer visits, where we’d play Holly Hobbie Colorforms on the front steps of our great grandmother’s house.

But it was years later, long after I’d grown, that my grandmother introduced me to Gabe. Even then she was little more than a name on a wedding invitation—your cousin, Gabrielle, my grandmother had said. She then proceeded to tell me how Gabe had fallen in love with a hockey player; how they’d planned a big, black tie affair; how it was sure to be quite the event. It was all very lovely, to be sure.  Yet I paid little mind to that cousin of mine–our lives, it seemed, were worlds apart.

And we do have our differences. She’s a vegetarian; I’m something of a carnivore. She’s an extremely talented artist (and natural Do-It-Yourself-er); I’m not so much. She enjoys physical activity; I enjoy lounging about (remember this little gem? That’s us; side-by-side).

Still, we’re alike in ways that matter. We share a love of friends and family, vintage fashion and fine photography, of making the simplest of moments, grand. So while I’d be hard pressed to tell you when, exactly, we met face-to-face, I can tell you it seems as though we’ve known each other forever.

Just goes to show, you don’t have to grow up with your family members to share a bond. When it comes to cousins–first, second, or otherwise–the fun doesn’t have to be relegated to moments of play in childhood. As a matter of fact, finding a kindred spirit where you least expect it, just might be the most fun of all . . .