Thursday, December 29, 2011

If Our Marriage...


Happy 17th Anniversary to my Man...

If our marriage was a person, it would be a teenager with car keys
If our marriage was a car, it would be a junkyard dweller by now. 
If our union was a house, it would be time for some needed renovations. 
If our marriage was a grandma-crafted quilt, it would just be getting good and soft and maybe a little frayed about the edges. 
If the time marking our togetherness marked instead, the age of a book, that book would not yet be considered a classic. 
If our marriage was a clothes dryer ... well, we'd be on our second one! 
Our marriage is none of these things of course...our marriage is a marriage...a seventeen year old one. 
A seventeen year old marriage that has, in its lifetime been...
full of faith,
 full of wonder, 
full of trust,
full of expectation,
 full of serious conversations, 
full of growth,
full of belly grabbing laughter, 
tinged at times with...
 stress, 
tears,
 worry and 
apprehension
...but not for too long...
Later we filled it with...
more laughter,
teamwork,
a couple of babies,
lots of diapers,
homeownership,
friendship,
sleeplessness,
new adventures,
old struggles,
new challenges,
a few more babies,
a lot more diapers,
and sprinkled in...
 lessons well learned
and some not so well learned
a wrinkle or two
and some aches (just a few!)

Our marriage has been full of all those things we vowed to one another that winter evening when we were so 
very young,
 and unwrinkled,
 and un-grey, 
and unafraid,
 and oh, so na├»ve
...all of those things we vowed and THEN some!
I love who our marriage has become over these seventeen years. 
If our marriage was a motorcycle...
I'd be so tickled to be your sidecar!

~All my love...
...and then some~

{Hi! This post is part of Perspectives on Life and Love Carnival at ModernMrsDarcy.com check it out for more fun stories of life and love!}

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Magic Indeed!

My Man, the children, and I traveled for about 8 hours on the day after Christmas. I had been secretly looking forward to the long drive because of a book I'd been sent to read for review for BlogHer Book Club. I had stolen moments throughout the month of December between baking cookies and wrapping packages to dive eagerly into this book which is entitled The Magic Room. I was eager to have uninterrupted car time in which to finish this well written book.


The book, in the words of its author Jeffrey Zaslow is, "not exactly about weddings, and not exactly about a bridal shop, and not exactly about bridal gowns, its a book about the love we all share with our daughters."

The Magic Room tells the true story of Becker's Bridal Shop, located in the very small town of Fowler, Michigan. Becker's has been owned by three generations of Becker women each operating the store in her own fashion and in her own strengths.

The bridal shop's owners are not the entire story however, as Mr. Zaslow expertly weaves the stories of six brides-to-be as they journey toward the altar with the story of the bridal shop and it's cast of relatable characters. He says that he started each bride's story as she entered the Magic Room and then worked backwards out into her life to tell her story.

Zaslow lays out his purpose for writing this book early in the pages of the introduction saying,
...I came here not just to write about wedding gowns and what they represent. I also wanted to understand the women wearing them, their fears and yearnings. 
I resolved to pay less attention to the brides I met whose motives seemed somewhat frivolous, the one more focused on their dresses than their upcoming marriages. Instead, I wanted to find brides and their families whose paths were not necessarily easy, but who have given great thought to the love that guides and connects them.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and may or may not have been a teensy bit tearful at the end. The book is not at all a sad one, but one of hope and of love. It was also full of interesting statistics about the state of marriage in the world at one point relating that "The annual number of weddings in America, which peaked in 1984 at 2.48 million, has declined every year since then." Also, "For women, the average age of first marriage has risen to twenty-six years old from twenty-one in 1970. For men, it has risen to twenty-eight from twenty-three."

I also loved, loved, loved the way the author handled each bride's story with a special dose of respect and tenderness toward the bride and her family, which he gained perhaps from his own experiences as the father of three daughters. Especially touching was the way Zaslow treated the story Shelley, the current owner of Becker's and her family.

I feel as if I could travel to Fowler, Michigan, enter Becker's Bridal and its Magic Room (the room where brides-to-be are invited to enter when they feel they've found THE DRESS and gaze at themselves in the flattering lighting in a vast array of mirrors) and feel like I knew well, its inhabitants.

The Magic Room is one of those books that will entertain, inform, and enlighten while at the same time leave a mark on your heart. It caused me to care about the brides, their families, and about the Becker's Bridal family in a way that I'd not expected as I opened the pages to begin my journey into The Magic Room. If you'd like to see a few pictures of this beautiful bridal shop, click here to go to Becker's Bridal website.

You may be familiar with author, Jeffrey Zaslow's name as the coauthor of the world wide #1 best selling book, The Last Lecture written with Randy Pausch. He is also the author of The Girls From Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship, which I plan to read soon!

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book in partial exchange for review for BlogHer. My opinions, however, are entirely my own...as usual!

Join me later this week at BlogHer for more discussions about this fabulous book!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas ~2011~

Christmas Greetings! 
We are in the "Christmas @ Home" portion of Christmas Tour 2011 and loving it. We wish all of you a wonderful Christmas with eyes and hearts focused on the birth of Baby Jesus. We've loved watching the video below and we'd like to share it with you...



~Merry Christmas~
love,
The Gang @ The Wright Place

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Favorite Cookie of 2011

I've just rolled the last batch of snickerdoodles...ALONE. The factory workers went on strike and really, I can't blame them. This year they produced nearly 500 snickerdoodles. So, when one more batch was requested by the Chief Elf, I decided to go it alone.

Before that final batch of snickerdoodles was produced, however, I happened on to another type of cookie that piqued my interest. My favorite cookie of 2011 is a fun twist on a cookie that we all know and love, the Peanut Butter Blossom.{Recipe for Peanut Butter Blossoms pictured below HERE}
I have never made Peanut Butter Blossoms, they are my sister's signature cookie, and mine will never be as tasty or as perfect as hers, so...I found a cookie that will look adorable on the cookie platter with the Peanut Blossoms on my mom's cookie platter. Enter the White-Chocolate-Kissed Ginger Cookie.

This little bite of heaven is brought to you by the McCormick Spice folks and if anyone knows ginger cookies, I figure it should be the good people of McCormick.

Unfortunately, making this cookie required still more rolling of cookie dough into sugar just like ye old snickerdoodle. My chances of getting help with this cookie? Slim. Very. Slim.

What is a girl to do?

The first thing to do, of course, was to make the dough and get it into the fridge while I looked for a helper that was not yet cookied-out.

Here's what you'll need:
{Printable Recipe From McCormick Here}

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sulfured molasses
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1 bag of Hershey's Hugs (white & milk chocolate swirled kisses)

Here's what to do:

First, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to blend well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine butter and brown sugar. Mix until fluffy.

Add molasses, egg, and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until combined.

Shape the dough into a thick, flat disc and place in plastic wrap in the refridgerator for at least an hour.

While you are waiting for dough to chill, preheat the oven to 350˚ then send out a request for help baking because after the dough is chilled, it will be time to roll those ginger cookies in sugar.

My one volunteer. She loves baking with her mamma playing in sugar!


Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls and then roll in sugar.

Place cookies in oven and while they are baking, remove the wrapping from the chocolates.

Bake the ginger cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until they just begin to brown and crack a bit. Cookie should spring back a bit when touched when finished baking.


Remove cookies from oven and immediately press chocolates into their center.


After all chocolates have been placed, quickly remove cookies to cooling rack to prevent as much melting of chocolate as possible.


Let cookies cool for at least 15 minutes, or until chocolate is well set.


Share a cookie or two with your helper and enjoy!

NOTE: 
Other cookies we've made and like this year include...
{Click on Cookie's Name for Recipe link}

(Photo Credit: MSLO)




And...one last one we hope to get to make tomorrow...
{Photo credit: Ladies Home Journal}

Happy Baking!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It Just Warms My Heart

Doesn't it just warm your heart...
...to see men at the sink? 
Working together to make my job easier. 
Using those lovely muscles and all of that elbow grease so selflessly. 

I was so happy to see them conquering this task for me, because I just didn't think I could handle...
 (please note reflection in window...)
...all of the cookie dough removal from the spoon and beaters on my own!
Thanks guys, you really bailed me out!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Fair Warning!

My man took the kids out for a few hours last weekend, leaving me home alone for the first time in quite awhile. It took some time to get used to the silence, but eventually I settled right into it and let my brain unwrinkle a bit.

Many hours into the quietness, I received this text...


I really appreciated the fair warning!
One does not ease into the instant return of four children in the same manner as one eases into the absence of them!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Snickerdoodle Factory

The Snickerdoodle Factory wishes to announce that it has begun production once again this year. The Factory is pleased to announce the addition of a brand new team member to the line for the busy holiday season.



Molly Joy is currently serving as a "roller-in-training" under the watchful eye of her ever more experienced supervisor Kate.

 Kate has risen quickly through the ranks of The Snickerdoodle Factory crew as last year she herself was low "roller" on the totem pole and in just one short year she is serving in a supervisory post.

The senior management of The Snickerdoodle Factory was unable to attend the opening ceremonies this year as they were detained in grammar and science related continuing education courses. It is hoped that by the week's end The Snickerdoodle Factory will be operating at 100% capacity with all employees participating.

The employees and management of The Snickerdoodle Factory...

...wish you all a very sweet and special Christmas season!! 
(Check back soon to see what else we're up to!)
AND for original snickerdoodle post, click {HERE...}

To find a printer friendly recipe, {click here}.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Befitting

My oldest gal needed a special dress for the Christmas play. I had waited way too long to begin looking. The dress needed to be a flashy number to properly attire the diva-like character that Meg was set to portray. As I looked and looked and as the play's director looked and looked, a problem surfaced. It was a problem that has been presenting itself frequently as my family and I shop for clothes befitting young ladies.

Befitting clothes--ha!

Befitting clothes--good luck with THAT!

Befitting--I must be dreaming!

My Man and I spent a bit of time at the mall on our own the other day seeking this flashy dress for our gal.
It. Was. Depressing.

We sought flashy and fun and colorful, we found fleshy and revealing and suggestive. After a long search, we gave up and returned home sequin-less with no flash and no dress and with little hope in the future of the whole befitting concept!

What gives?

Who is buying these clothes for their little girls? How are there entire stores full of clothing that barely covers a human body turning a profit? It must be because they are spending so little money on actual fabric. I have purchased potatoes in more covering material than in what clothing marketers feel I should dress my daughters.

Again I pondered the target audience for this line of clothing as we went from store to store until, while moving hangers from right to left and right to left in yet another store, I heard a female voice say to a young teenaged girl, "Oh yeah. That's HOT! THAT's the one you're getting!"

Hmmmmmmm, thought I, must be her hip-trendy aunt taking her shopping, surely her mom is coming around the corner in a minute with a bag full of common sense in hand to step in and fix the situation. 

The next word I heard broke my heart.

"Mooooommmmmmmm," she said, exasperated and rolling her eyes, she took the swatch dress and headed into the fitting room. I continued my search for something with both snazz and material. The young girl came out of the fitting room and with her back to me, faced her mom AND a man whom I assumed was her father. The mom flitted and fussed over there almost-dressed daughter and the dad remained SILENT.

When we left the store, my girls' dad was not silent, saying something along the lines of, "In a few years that mom is going to wonder what when wrong and when it happened..." I had been thinking similar thoughts, completely flabbergasted at what we'd just witnessed.

My next thought was that perhaps we might find, somewhere on this planet, a flannel turtleneck covered with sequins with a matching prairie skirt? Or even something like these...


Then I began to wonder what kind of clothing options Kate and Molly will be faced with as they stand on the threshold of their teenage years? The optimist in me hopes for a trend that swings back in the direction of more material and less flesh. The realist in me thinks that perhaps Kate has the right plan...









 I think we can put this in the category "If you want something done right..."

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shopping with Molly

When shopping with Molly, it is best not to take your eyes off of her for very long. Actually, it is best not to take your hands off of her for very long. Really, letting her out of the stroller to stretch her legs and then turning your attention to the selection of a loved one's Christmas gift is not at all advisable. If you happen to make such an error in judgement, most likely you will end up hearing an older child say something like...

"Oh my. Mooooommmmmm, look what Molly's doing."

"Busthted!"


"Time to turn on my charming grin."

"Watch, they spin...still not impressed?"

"How 'bout now? You like my hat?
 I know, I know, back into the stroller I go..."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lake of Dreams...Potential Unmet

When I participated in Christmas and Easter plays as a child, I remember the director  continually stressing the importance of the beginning song and the finale. She would say, "We've got to get those two parts down really well because the audience always remembers the first thing they see and the last thing they see." She was right. 
The author of The Lake of Dreams must have had similar training. The prologue and the ending of the book were good. I was captured by the cliffhanger at the end of the prologue as well as the could-be-theme revolving around the appearance Haley's Comet. Similarly, the ending was so neat and tidy that I finished the book almost forgetting how tedious the 300 pages between the “opening act” and the "finale" had been.
The book opens in 1911 on the night Haley's comet is to appear in the town of Lake of Dreams. The narrative discusses the fear of the general populace that the comet would poison the air outside. Rose, the central character of the novel is introduced as she, unafraid of the comet’s potential danger, sneaks out of her house to accompany her brother as he sets off on evening adventure that would ultimately change the course of her life. 
Chapter one brings the reader to present day Japan as the central figure in the modern story is introduced. Lucy Jarrett, the great, great-niece of Rose, is a woman discontented with her life and maybe with her long term love interest. She wavers into and out of a decision to return to her hometown Lake of Dreams to look in on her mother who has broken her arm in a car accident. Lucy eventually decides to return home where she happens to pick a lock in her bedroom and find papers written by her ancestor Rose.
The entire balance of the novel is the story of Lucy’s obsession with her search for information about Rose and about the stained glass windows that become involved in the mystery. While the simplicity of the plot would seem to provide an excellent framework for a tightly woven tale paralleling the lives of two women each on their search for their life’s meaning, such was not the case.
The story is peppered with unnecessary conversations between characters, unnecessary side-trails that lead nowhere, and characters that are given much space to develop in the story and are then left dangling in the midst of nowhere until the end of the tale where they are grafted back in for a grand finish.
I really wanted to like this book, unfortunately, after the prologue, I had to read nearly 300 pages before the story had any appeal to me at all. The storyline had such interesting potential as did the possibility of the development of the many available themes in the book but it simply did not live up to my expectations.
There were a few positive elements in The Lake of Dreams--I learned bits and pieces of the history of the Women's Suffrage Movement in the US, and I enjoyed the description of the stained glass windows throughout which depicted pivotal moments in the lives women in the Bible. I appreciated the tightly wrapped, if sentimental, ending as well, however, on the whole it is not a book I can recommend as one that readers should invest the time it takes to read the 400 pages.


If you'd like to learn a bit more about this book and its author, click here to go to the BlogHer Bookclub page where The Lake of Dreams is featured.

{This was a paid book review for BlogHer Book Club, my opinions, however, are entirely my own!}

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