Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brownie Bites

So, over Christmas my friend Alena shared a yummy desert with me and I just had to get the recipe. It was basically a brownie bite with a fun surprise inside. Since then, I've tried several versions of it and last week, I hit the jackpot! It's very simple to make: mix up a brownie mix as the box directs, add evenly in a mini-muffin pan (very generously sprayed with cooking spray), and then add a Hersey kiss to each one, not completely hiding it in the batter. Then bake them for about 20 minutes. Alena's were delicious with a peppermint Hersey kiss in the middle, then with an added topping made of heavy cream and chocolate chips. I couldn't find the peppermint variety, so I tried a mint truffle Hersey kiss first. It was pretty good. A few weeks later I made them with a carmel kiss in them. Again, pretty good. Last week, though, I just loved them. I admit that these kisses had been in the cupboard since the first time I was going to make them and Rich went to the store for me. I didn't like his choice, so I never used them. On a whim, I decided to make some to bring to my brother's house and went ahead and used the dark chocolate kisses I had available. They were the bomb! Oh man! Yum! I don't even bother with the chocolate topping - it makes it much less complicated and it's still delicious. So, there's a tip for a quick, already-have-the-stuff-in-your-cupboard desert to share with company, or just your own family who totally deserves a fun treat sometimes!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Old Friends

There is just something about having a friend you've known more than half your life. Even at 10 years old, having a friend for five years would be pretty great. I'm sure at 80 years old, having had a friend for more than 40 years would be amazing. As I am 31, having a friend whom I've known since I was 11, which makes it a 20 year-long friendship (and counting), is pretty super. Having moved a lot as a kid, which I explained in a previous post, surely explains my fascination for knowing someone for very long and continuing to be friends. I have so many people in my memory who live all over the country and were important to me at one time, but became memories almost as soon as they became friends. However, we all have people like that in our lives. Don't you remember every school year - you were in a different class and almost had a whole new set of friends every year? What ever happened to those people??? Ahhh... the wonders of Facebook! :)

Anyway, I wanted to write some thoughts and give props to my friendship with Leslie. I walked into Sunday School at a new church, in a new town, in a new state, in a new region of the country one morning, looking for a girl named Leslie. Her step-dad worked with my dad in his new job and Larry had invited our family to his church. Leslie was my age and I was going to be her guest (she was set for a prize for having a guest in SS:). That was it! Almost instantaneously we were best friends. We were in fifth grade. I've never had a friendship like I had with her during those years. This is mostly because of the time of life we were in. Junior High is brutal! We didn't go to the same school, as the church we attended together was in a different town from me. I lived and went to school in Clayton, NC, and she lived and went to school and church in Garner, NC. But we talked for hours on the phone every night and spent just about every weekend together. I didn't do anything without Leslie by my side.

Boy, what an amazing security for a junior high/high-schooler to have - a best friend who is totally loyal, totally committed to you?? With everything that's going on with your body and brain, to know you have a friend who absolutely adores you and loves you to the core? Someone you know wouldn't want to spend time with anyone else, rather than you? I'm sure it had a huge influence in shaping who I am today. I can only pray that my daughters have friendships like that someday. I believe encouraging selflessness in friendship right now, teaching how important it is to be a good friend, and exampling good friendships in my life for them to see can help them toward that goal.

I was remembering recently the night Leslie and I said goodbye as I was moving again, this time from NC to Oregon - literally one coast to another. It was over Christmas break of my junior year in high school. Talk about SAD! Our friend Velvet was also there and we just sat for hours in my empty bedroom, talking about memories and crying. However, we still have a beautiful friendship. It isn't what we dreamed - rooming together in college, living next door as wives and mothers... But we still love each other and talk regularly. We both got to see each other get married. I went to visit her in NC a year and a half ago right after the birth of her third daughter. I actually held my beloved friend's baby girl!
What a gift! We had such a wonderful few days together as I bonded with her sweet children. Now it's her turn - she's coming to see me in April! Boy, do I have plans!! I can't wait for her to meet my daughters (funny, we both had all girls) and see my life up close. I love you, Leslie!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You know you're a mother of young kids when...

You know you're a mother of young kids when you are CONSTANTLY scrubbing food and who-knows-what-else off you kitchen table and chairs.

Monday, February 8, 2010

So, this post is pretty much a bunch of pictures of my recent "dream vacation" with a few of my best gals. We were gone from Monday -Friday and had a wonderful time with a little bit of everything: rest/relaxation, exploring, shopping, good food, and a ton of laughter! What a memory!

This is Connie and me in front of our room.

I think my favorite day was Tuesday, when we spent the day on Catalina Island. The only town on the island is Avalon. A few of us got off early and went for a run in the morning, got back on and cleaned up, ate lunch, and then we all got off and explored for the afternoon. What a beautiful place! None of us wanted to leave!

Good friends together in a beautiful place! How cool is that??
This is El Casino, which means "meeting place" in Italian. It was built to debut the first motion picture with sound - "The Jazz Singer".

We were the last boat back to the ship, out of more than 2,000 people on board!

Gotta have an elevator picture!

Karin and Erin posing pretty...
This was our attempt to take a self-portrait with our towel elephant. You'll have to use your imagination!

I said before I even left that what I really wanted from Mexico was a "designer" bag and an authentic taco. My Gucci is pink and I got a delicious fish taco! Richie says that's not really authentic - that fish tacos originate from San Diego and not Mexico, but it's good enough for me. YUM!

This is all of us enjoying our tacos.

Connie and me in front of La Bufadora, the blow hole, in Ensenada.

Um, this is so cute of Connie! What a haggler - I was glad to have her with me! Well, I'm always glad to have her with me, but you get my point!

This was our "at sea" day. We had so much fun reading on the deck in the sun! We also got to participate in a beanbag toss contest and be witnesses to a truly amazing event - the "men's hairy chest" contest. Trust me, you're glad I don't have pictures of that! :)

This is Wendy and me at the beanbag toss. I smoked 'em!

This is me with our servers, Joy and Jadeesh.
Seriously an amazing adventure with 7 amazing women!!!