Equal Importance ~

It was a peaceful day, a quiet day in the college dorm; a rarity, I’m sure.  As I stood there in Oldest’s dorm room, looking out her window, I was so pleased to see that she had a lovely view of a peaceful path.  The brilliant autumn colors were scattering down to the ground and if I put my imagination to work, it almost felt as though I was in a high-rise tree house amongst the mature pines, tall oaks and dogwoods.

Once I had admired the outer view, I began to take in the room that she now calls home for nine months out of a year.  It’s the typical dorm room… small, two beds, two desks, two built-in dressers and a micro-fridge that requires some creative furniture placement.  The walls were adorned with pictures of old high-school buddies, as well as new college friends; needless to say, it was a good feeling.  Then I saw it ~ a beautiful card with a beautiful quote sitting in the back corner of her desk, placed intentionally so that she would see it, as she settled in to conquer her studies.

Set Your Pace ~ 

“To succeed at any challenge in life, you’ve got to tune out the noise around you ~ the footsteps of others (ahead and behind), distracting “advice,” doubters who tell you it can’t be done.  Instead, focus on your inner voice.  Setting your own goal, charting your course and trusting your instincts take courage, but they are the surest route to crossing your personal finish line a winner.”            ~ author unknown ~                                

The above quote was placed on a hand-made card by my sister-in-law, who takes a great deal of time cutting and pasting from old magazines.  She has a gift for listening and remembering your interests and how they are relevent in your life ~ the path that is your very own.  You should see some of the birthday cards that our family has received; the front, the middle and the back are covered with symbols and words of love that are more meaningful than any store-bought card could ever convey.  Aunt Gayle had taken the mental encouragement so often used in running and fitness, and placed it in the hands of a college student. Oldest knew this card was a keeper, and placed it well.

Oldest ran cross-country in middle school and high school, so she knows a thing or two about the importance of setting one’s pace.  She’s paced fellow runners, in order to help them finish.  Conversely, she’s been the recipient, as her dear friend and teammate ran by her side, in order to help Oldest beat her own personal record on Senior Night.

Pacing, now, is measured more importantly in the academic endurance test.  Not that it didn’t matter in high-school (that’s a post of its own for another day), but this endurance test comes with more independence and more distractions.  That beautiful card and its strategic placement show me that Oldest is well aware of the importance of pacing herself.

One of my many wishes for my oldest daughter is that she will take the time to slow down when the workload becomes too heavy, and to look out upon that peaceful path and relax, reflect and realize her path.  To know that her path and her pace are of equal importance, in the balance of her life.

How do you tune out the distracting noise of others, in order to listen to your inner voice? Does pacing yourself bring you peace?  Please scroll down and leave your thoughts, below~

Quote credit:  found in Self Magazine, author unknown

Posted in Blogging, Education, Fitness, Nature, Relaxation, Running, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Simply, Thank You ~

For all of those that go into harm’s way, in order to keep us safethank you ~

Posted in Gratitude, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

An Unspoken Promise ~

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated:  “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”   ~~~ and that’s definitely how it began…

It’s amazing how quickly it all fell together, literally.  The best part of my eighth-grade year took place in the summer leading into it.  You know, if you’re lucky, when someone is going to be that life-long, fabulous friend: the one who will always have your back.  It’s one of those gut feelings that speaks to the heart.  My gut and heart are very true to me; I’m lucky in that regard.

Kim and I had met through a mutual friend, during our seventh-grade year.  There was a raucous group of us that would hang out together on a regular basis.  Whether it was a Friday night high-school football game or a sleepover, we would all be together chatting it up and doing our best to stay out of trouble.  Our mutual friend was usually the ringleader; the one that took it upon herself to orchestrate our shenanigans, as best as one can attempt to organize teenage girl shenanigans.  As long as our group was together, it really didn’t matter who did the ring leading, as long as we didn’t get into harm’s way… I’m pretty much a rule-follower.

Kim was friendly and humorous, in a quiet sort of way, and as far as I could tell, pretty much a rule-follower, herself.  With our similar qualities and our desire, or need, to confide in someone, especially about the opposite sex, Kim and I broke away from our pack; we had a mission that had to be completed.  She liked a boy, I liked a boy, and they lived very close to one another, and we had bikes!

It was a hot and humid summer day, when we decided to head out on our ten-speeds.  The days of no cell phones to call home, no time limits, other than being home for dinner, or at the very latest… before it got too dark; those were the days.  It was completely normal to be out riding our bikes all over town, all day long; that’s how long it would take to hit all the Dairy Queens.  As far as we knew, our parents didn’t worry about our whereabouts; it was normal to be out all day, just having fun.  Our big decision was to decide which direction to tackle first.  Were we going to head west, to take care of our ice cream craving by visiting one of the Dairy Queens, or would we head east and start our adventure, by being the normal teenage stalker-girls?  The Dairy Queen was going to have to wait!

Kim and I both had secret crushes on these two boys that were in our class.  At the time, we thought these crushes were secret, but with teenage girls… is anything ever really a secret?  These young men that captured our interest lived very close to one another, which made it very convenient for our friendly stalk-fest.  We could ride our ten-speeds around one’s cul-de-sac several times and then around the corner to survey the other’s home.

Keeping in mind that these were the days where there was no requirement to wear a helmet while bicycling, it wasn’t as if we could stuff our hair up under the helmet, put on a pair of shades, and glide around in a stealth-like manner.  There would be no doubt that the circling cyclists would be Kim and Carol.  Kim’s hair was the color of honey and it was cut in the free-flowing Farrah Fawcett hairstyle, in fact my dad’s nickname for her was – Farrah!  I wasn’t so lucky; mine was red, and I mean really, really RED!!!!  There would be no mistaking the two of us!

As we began to enter their neighborhood our hearts started pounding.  Remember teenage girls with a crush; the pounding hearts are inevitable.  So, we entered their neighborhood on our slick ten-speeds, in the hope that they would both be peering out their windows, at just the right time; however, a part of us prayed that they wouldn’t be outside shooting hoops.  This last scenario would obligate us to stop and talk, not to mention the fact that our drive-by would be extremely embarrassing; our secret crushes would be blown.

We rode up and down their street several times; we circled around the cul-de-sac a few more, like vultures.  No teenage boy was in sight, as we were hoping that they would look out, while at the same time hoping they wouldn’t.  Let’s face it, teenage girls are nuts, and that’s exactly how we felt… completely NUTS!

After a few minutes of back and forth circling, we decided to abort our mission, so we left the neighborhood and headed back in the direction of the Dairy Queen.  As we traveled due west, we were heading down a fairly well traveled residential street.  The street was lined with old brick homes and old trees that formed a natural tunnel, as they met each other at the top.  It was a street that we knew well, as it was travelled often from my house to our junior high school.

This particular day the street wasn’t too busy, which was highly advantageous for Kim and me.  As we were cruising down South “B”, Kim and I had highly important issues to discuss, and they needed to be discussed right then.  Teenage girls rarely wait for a planned or convenient time to discuss something as important as boys; it needs to be discussed in the present moment, no matter where one is, or what one is doing.  We were riding down this street at a fairly fast clip, side by side, one in front – one in back, then side by side again.  Our pace was causing a wind-like effect, which made it difficult for either one of us to hear the other.  We’d start to talk in a louder voice, but then we realized that talking about our secret crushes in loud voices, while riding past the homes of some of our peers, well… that wasn’t extremely smart.  Neither was the next move.

In order to keep our conversation between the two of us, and not the rest of South “B”, we decided to move closer together, side by side.  Now this would have been ideal, had we been going slowly, but that was not the case.  Kim and I were cruising at a fairly rapid pace, while attempting to keep our voices at a whisper.  As a teenager, there’s this concern to protect one’s emotional situations, at all costs, while not being overly concerned with one’s physical being; we rode as if we were physically invincible.

While freewheeling along, and pretty pleased with ourselves for jockeying together to keep our secret crushes just that, a secret, we made a major misjudgment in distance.  We were side-by-side, but too close for our pedals to work appropriately.  In fact, they quit working all together, as they locked up with each other, my right to her left.  Our secret suddenly became some sort of afterthought, as our bikes connected.  It’s a funny thing that we could be moving along at such a clip, only to have everything stand still, in a second’s time.  The momentum of our bike-ride changed in the blink of an eye, as our locked-together bikes fell in an instant.  The fall happened so fast that we didn’t even know what happened for a brief moment.

All day long we had been concerned about protecting our secret; trying our hardest not to get caught in what we viewed as a potentially embarrassing situation.  Never, in our wildest dreams did we imagine that embarrassment would rear its ugly head in a different manner.  Kim and I were laid out in the middle of South “B”, bikes strewn off to the side.  Anyone could have looked out there window to see two girls lying motionless in the street, with the exception to what appeared to be hyperventilation.  Breathing was extremely difficult for both of us, and the tears were flowing like a faucet.  A passer-by would have been extremely concerned, and may have even stopped, but would have gone on their way when the muffled laughter had been unleashed.  For both of us, we thought it was hilarious!  We laughed so hard that the laugher was silent; our stomachs hurt so badly that we couldn’t sit up.  It was the kind of laughter that hinders one’s breathing, the kind of laughter that produces massive tear-flow.  It was then, and right then that we both knew.

That hot, humid, summer day leading into eighth grade started out with two girls looking for boyfriends, but ended with both picking themselves up, brushing themselves off, and walking away with their newly found best-friend.  Our friendship truly fell into place that day, and has been there ever since.  It was as if we just knew, and sent a promise of friendship to one another, without the words.  We have been college roommates, as well as maid-of-honor/matron-of-honor in each other’s weddings.  We have been listeners and counselors when it comes to matters of the family.  Sometimes it’s a matter of just listening, and allowing the speaker to be heard.  She does that for me, and I hope I meet that standard for her.  The years have taken us in different directions, many miles apart; however, our friendship keeps us closely bonded, making the miles seem non-existent.

There’s a certain kind of person that can laugh at their ridiculousness; Kim and I both possess that characteristic, in fact, we bring it out in one-another.  We learned that about each other years ago.  Certainly, we both have a serious side, but the refreshing aspect about our more somber side is that neither one of us gets overly consumed by it.  When, and if, one of us starts to go down the road of overbearing seriousness, it just takes a phone call to have one’s best friend listen and help to put things into their proper perspective; that phone call always ends with a giggle and “I love ya!”

Had it not been for those two young men and our silly teenage crushes, I may have missed out on one of the best days of my life.  Some of the greatest shenanigans aren’t planned, they just happen – if you’re lucky.  An unspoken promise was made on that hot summer day.  This promise of friendship between Kim and I will always be with me, as it resides in my heart ~ no matter how many miles lie between us.  This friendship has been one of the dearest and most essential parts of my happiness.  I’m so very blessed that it all fell together, on that crazy summer day.

Posted in Blogging, Friendship, Gratitude, Humor, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

It’s That Time of The Year ~

Whether you are a parent, student, teacher, or a friend to one of the aforementioned, you can feel it; there’s a certain amped up electrical charge coursing throught the air.  This feeling might even take you back to your younger years; the feeling that so much has been accomplished, and so much is yet to come.

For me, I’m writing this as a friend to so many who have children graduating from high school this year, while reflecting on watching my oldest daughter proudly walk across the stage and receive that treasured piece of paper, last year.

These students, as well as their parents and teachers, have every reason to be so very proud.  Personally, I believe graduating high school these days is far more of an accomplishment than it was when I graduated ~  a few years past the wonder years era.  So much more seems to be expected of these students, at such a hurried pace; however, with the guidance of loving parents, inspiring teachers and counselors, these students prevail, up and over the very last hurdle.

While attending the graduation ceremony of Oldest Daughter, I was amazed by the speeches of some of the graduating students.  While reminiscing over their last four years, they spoke of learning about:  acceptance of oneself and others; failure and its benefits; breaking out of one’s comfort zone, in order to live your life; and, while not always having the best materialistic items (building facility, uniforms, activity buses)… they managed to come out on top, due to their persevering effort.  Each speech was one that every grown-up, parents and teachers included,  should have walked away having learned a tad bit more about life… from a student.  It’s much more than just academics.

After each student received their diploma, they exited the stage and were greeted by a human tunnel of teachers ~ the people that worked with these students daily, to prepare them for the next phase of their journey.  As a parent, watching Oldest bear-hug a favorite teacher, and other caring teachers reach out to offer her a congratulatory hug ~ well, that’s what warmed my heart and caused the tears to roll.  These educators were not just congratulating a graduate; they were wishing the best of luck to someone that they had watched mature as a person, over this four-year term.  That’s when it hit me…

There’s a saying that states, when your life is about to end, your whole life passes before your eyes.  I find it to be equally so, when one’s life is about to begin.  You see, Oldest had been preparing for flight ~ the flight to her life; the life where she would become more responsible, more mature, more accountable, more than she had already proven to be.  This taxiing for take-off was causing her whole life to pass before my eyes.

As parents, we worry.  We worry –  will they pass that class; be accepted to the college of their choice; make the right decisions; choose the right friends, and on and on.  With that worry, one must invite faith along for the ride.  Faith has a way of annihilating the worry that we sometimes choose to carry around.  Faith is one of my favorite words, not because it is easy to grasp, but because it challenges me to reflect upon my life.  According to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Definitely a challenge, to say the least.

It is the end of the school year, and the last hurdle is approaching; it can be seen from the distance.  Students, you are almost  there; believe in yourself, your dreams, and do your part to make them come together.  Parents, you are almost there, as well.  Have faith in your child, and look back over the years and realize just how far they have come.  You have given them the tools they need to succeed in life; trust in this.

Overall, have a little faith… and congratulate yourselves for your concerted effort, in shaping some truly fabulous young adults.  Enjoy the beginning of their new journey!

Posted in Education, Friendship, Parenting, Religion, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Here Comes the Sun… Little Blogger ~ Here Comes the Sun

Spring is definitely present in the South.  We have experienced the sun, rain, wind, heat, and along with the heat…. my favorite ~ the beginning of the humidity!  Now all kidding aside, the humidity here in the South is NOT my favorite, and it never will be.  The only way that I can tolerate the beginning of the Humidity-Hell season is the mere fact, that in the spring, we at least have the cooler weather that comes and goes.  The problem is that these bursts of cooler weather eventually go and don’t return until late fall.

In order to beat the heat and humidity, we try to get our gardening done (for the most part) in early to mid spring.  Finally, most of our yard is blooming with perennials, so that now we can spend our time enjoying them year after year, rather than constantly planting new bloomies.  Our time is spent more with maintaining what we curerntly have in our garden, along with adding a new addition here and there.

This spring had a few surprises for us; several mystery plants that sprouted, bloomed and beautified our yard.  Now technically, one of those plants does not belong in our yard, but it creeps through our fence and makes me smile, every-time.  It is a mystery in the fact that our neighbor, “E”, has NO idea where it came from; it just appeared in her yard several years ago, around the time her grand-daughter was born.  Sweet surprises all around!

A pleasant surprise ~

The next surprise has to be the result of a bird or squirrel carrying and discarding a seed or a bulb, and might I add… having perfect placement.  HUBS thought that I had planted this beautiful plant, and I thought he had, but no to both counts.  Regardless, we’ll welcome it and hope that it continues to bloom beautifully, each and every year.

Perfect placement by a squirrel?

Now, a few days prior to spring officially arriving,  I was given another surprise by someone that I admire more and more, as I get to know her.  Stacy Dymalski of the blog, From Nonsense to Momsense, bestowed upon me the accolade of the Sunshine Award.

Thank you, Stacy ~

If you don’t already follow Stacy, you should get to know her!  That is, if you like to laugh, laugh, and laugh!  She has this talent for describing adventures that all of us moms have been through (at least the moms that I know), with a realistic edge that screams, “this is what YOU really meant to say!”  Surprisingly, she has spoken for me through her writing, and she doesn’t even know me, other than by reading my blog.  Let’s just say that I can relate to so many of her stories.  Seriously, don’t we all (moms and dads) have so much in common?!?!??!?!?!??!?  So much more than we care to admit?

If I choose to accept this award, and I do, I have some requirements to fulfill ~

Rules for the Sunshine Award

  1.   Post the award picture and a link back to the person who nominated you.
  2.   Answer the ten questions posed to you.
  3.   Pass on the award to 10 other bloggers.

Questions

  • Favorite color:  Green is the most relaxing and cheerful color for me.
  • Favorite animal:  Dog ~ A dog has a way of guiding you, even when you think you don’t need to be led.  Mine has taught me so much… to stop, relax and enjoy the breeze.
  • Favorite number:  Four ~ To me, it represents balance.
  • Favorite non-alcoholic drink:  Coffee with a hit of Bailey’s.
  • Facebook or Twitter:  Facebook, as it’s allowed me to get back in touch with some dear friends, and I’ve had the chance to meet some of HUBS’ friends, as well!
  • My passion:  My dear family:  HUBS, Oldest, Youngest and Scruffy.
  • Getting or giving presents:  Giving ~ I love to find the perfect gift for someone; a gift with a special meaning behind it.  To me, it’s a win-win, as I get to recognize the gift of the special friendship.
  • Favorite pattern:  Plaid; no question.
  • Favorite day of the week:  Friday ~ I still have some time to myself, while knowing that I have two full days of fun with the family, ahead.
  • Favorite flower:  Pansy ~ They are hearty and delicate at the same-time, all-the-while offering beautiful shades of color, during the dreary winter months.

Bloggers to follow, if you don’t already!  Check out more of my favorite bloggers, from a previous award post ~

(no specific order)

So, there you have it ~ a few tidbits about myself, but more importantly… some really great blogs put together by some very talented writers.

Enjoy your garden; it’s spring-time!

Posted in Awards, Beauty, Blogging, Mom, Nature, Parenting, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

An Added Benefit of Dusting ~

Many of the household chores are shared by the members of my family, but the dusting-gig usually falls on my watch.  Dusting is a tedious chore, but someone has to do it, right?

Years ago, when Oldest and Youngest were much younger or too naive, they would graciously offer to help with the dusting and vacuuming.  Have you ever had those moments as a parent where you know that it is extremely important to allow your child to develop their sense of responsibility, but you want the job to be done once, and once-and-for-all.  You may not have the time to go back and re-do what was missed, so you say, “No, I’ll get it this time.”

When this hurried thought would take over, I felt compelled to stop and reflect on how my mother had instructed me on numerous tasks.  She never barked orders at me, or told me how it had to be done, or ever implied that I was messing up.  Instead, she would say, “I find that when I …“, or “I have found that…“, all-the-while trusting that in due time, I’d figure it out.  In teaching the simplest of chores, Mom always referred back to herself, as if she had made the mistake and learned from it, and therefore was passing on her viewpoint, as opposed to pointing out my error.  Looking back, I see that she knew exactly what she was doing, and it had nothing to do with dusting, but much to do with teaching the proper way to guide those little ones in your life.

Well, oddly enough or luckily for me, Oldest and Youngest still offer to help out with the Cinderella chores, especially when they sense that there’s a time crunch that I’m up against.  Maybe they sense it from the crazed look on my face, along with the muffled muttering, or possibly they are just stepping up; I like to believe the latter to be true.

With Oldest off at college and Youngest loaded down with homework and athletics, the offering is a little less frequent, but it is still there at times, nonetheless.   Their help is not demanded; it doesn’t have to be.  They have a sense of responsibility, and for the most part they take ownership.

Now as I stated earlier, the dusting usually falls onto me; I’m not a huge fan, but several days ago this chore led me to a treasure that I have frequently overlooked.  This treasure is filled with many words of wisdom for parents of all ages.  The book was given to me when Oldest was born, and several days ago I realized that its message still pertains to life ~ today!

Back when she was born, I did indeed read this book, but no doubt it was read in a very hurried manner; there’s not a lot of free time when you have an infant.  Come to think of it, at just what stage in a child’s life does a parent have an abundance of free time?

Having stumbled upon this book while dusting, or the fact that its title caught my eye, I decided to set aside my housekeeping for a few minutes; it was time to do a bit of perusing.  Just what did the “Littlest” have to say?

This book is a collection of poems, of both advice and questions, from a toddler to his parent.  I absolutely love the way its message is completely from the child’s perspective, or is it?  If you are a parent, guardian, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or work with little ones, this is a book that you should read and reflect upon.  It not only guides you while they are toddlers, but it helps to remind you of these important issues, while they are still growing up under your guidance.  Basically, Listening to the Littlest by Ruth Reardon is a very prophetic reminder about life, for all of us grown-ups.

Years ago, I read this book in a hurry, because back then that’s how I had to read ~ in a hurry!  Now I can take my time and reflect on these lessons from the littlest, and recently I reflected on one such lesson that was much needed in my life.  I would feel safe to say that so many others could also benefit from this poem, due to the extremely hurried world that we all live in.  Enjoy, while you read and reflect upon the pace of your life ~

“Hurry, Hurry, Hurry, Hurry,

Where are we hurrying to?

Is this the way to life?

Is this the way to love?

Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry,

       back and forth,

              forth and back.

Where are we hurrying to?

Is this the way to grow?

Is this the way to learn?

What is the hurrying for?

Missing so much –

Not stopping to touch.

Where are we hurrying to?

Will we know when we get there?

Or will we keep on

       hurrying,

              hurrying,

                                                                              hurrying…”

 From: Listening to the Littlest by: Ruth Reardon


Isn’t it ironic how something that you don’t look favorably upon can lead to an important reminder?  Dusting is not so bad after all, especially when it uncovers a message that reminds me to slow down.  Not all of life needs to feel like a 100 yard dash; it’s alright to slow down and hop off the track, now and again!

Life doesn’t always have to be a 100-yard dash ~

I, too, need to be reminded to Pause and Smile ~   How are you reminded to slow down and enjoy your life?

Posted in Blogging, Book review, Cinderella chores, Mom, Parenting, Reading, Relaxation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day Is Near ~ Will You Need A Pint-Glass or A Plate?

Last year for St. Patrick’s Day, all that I wanted to do was go to a local pub and enjoy an authentic Irish Coffee, and that I did.  While sitting at the bar with HUBS, who was trying one of the many Irish stouts, we noticed a lady at the end of the bar being served a pint and a shot.  The first thought that came to mind was, “Boilermaker”, but it looked different.  Inquiring minds needed to know, so we got nosey with the bartender.

Now, as I’ve stated in several other posts, I’m Irish.  While I don’t know everything about my heritage, I thought that I had a pretty decent handle on the beverage department; however, I was wrong.  What at first I thought to be a Boilermaker, turned out to be an Irish Car Bomb!!!!!  Wow!  With a name like that I felt deeply inclined to stay at least 500 feet back!  Not being as adventurous as I use to be, I remained content with my Irish Coffee, all-the-while wondering about the “bomb”.

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching, and this means that I have to prepare something festive for the big day!  I had given some serious thought to just fixing the standard dinner of corned-beef, cabbage and Irish soda bread, but something seemed to be missing.  A quick rewind and there I had it ~ the Irish Car Bomb!  Should I give it a whirl, or am I too skittish now that I have more common-sense in my mature years?

While reviewing recipes for the ICB beverage, I caught myself being intrigued with the combination of the ingredients ~

What you will need...

  • 3/4 pint Guinness stout (YUM)
  • 1/2 shot Bailey’s Irish Cream (Double YUM)
  • 1/2 shot Jameson Irish Whiskey (YUM… since it’s mixed with Bailey’s)

Now, if you’re a newbie to the ICB, such as I am, here’s what you do:

First ~ pour the Guinness stout into a pint glass 3/4’s of the way full, and let it settle.

Second ~ prepare the shot glass by layering the bottom with 1/2 shot of Bailey’s and the remaining top half with the Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Now that your stout is settled, drop the shot glass into the Guinness and CHUG!

It’s been said that it tastes like chocolate milk, so for me (who gave up chocolate for Lent) this should be a no-brainer!  It’s not chocolate, but its combination could meet my need!  However, there are several reasons that cause me hesitation~

First off, I have this visual of a quick-moving shot glass careening towards my front teeth, as I down the Guinness.  Cracked teeth and dental work come to mind; this seriously makes me pause.

Secondly, while reading the recipe and watching a youtube video that suggests how to make and drink this concoction, several phrases alarm me:  “when the Bailey’s interacts with the Guinness, it will curdle” and “if not chugged fast enough, it will taste worse“.  Hmmm ~ it will curdle and it will taste worse!?  Alrightee… I get curdling, but the will taste worse…… worse than what???????  There you have it, the vision of cracked teeth and these questionable phrases have me looking further~ for a safer and longer lasting combination of these three fantastic Irish ingredients.

With the luck-of-the-Irish on my side, I found it!  There it was ~ a recipe for cupcakes that includes all three of the Irish ingredients used in the Irish Car Bomb drink.

You see, there are some real perks to this blogging gig, and stumbling upon Deb and her wonderful recipes at Smitten Kitchen is one HUGE perk to me!  It looks as though Deb received some negative comments regarding the name of the cupcake, so she altered it to be more PC, calling it ~ Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes, rather than that of the drink that they were originally named after.  So, whether you call them “Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes”, “Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes”, or “Irish Perfection”…. bottom line…. you will be calling them delicious~

Irish Cupcakes ~ recipe yields 24 cupcakes

The Guinness Cupcakes ~

Cupcakes ~ step one

  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into slices
  • 3/4  cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed preferred)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Step one:  Preheat your oven to 35o°F.  Place cupcake liners in baking tins; you should prepare 24.  Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to a simmer in a large heavy saucepan over a medium heat, while stirring gently.  Add cocoa powder and gently whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat and cool gently.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon of salt.  Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl, until blended.  Add the stout/chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat until blended thoroughly.  Add the flour mixture gradually, while beating at a slow speed.  With a rubber spatula, fold the batter until it is completely blended.

Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake liners, filling them 2/3’s of the way full.  Bake cupcakes until wooden toothpick or cake tester comes out clean, about 17-18 minutes.  Cool cupcakes in baking pans for about 5 minutes, then gently remove from baking pans and allow to cool completely on cooling rack.  While they are cooling, move onto the ganache.

Cooling off...

Ganache Filling ~

Chocolate Heaven ~ step two...

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons Irish Whiskey (optional) I used 2 1/2 and was told it was great!


Step two:  Chop the 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and place into a heat-proof bowl – set aside. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until simmering, and then pour it over the chocolate.  Let the mixture sit for one minute and then stir until it becomes smooth.  Add the butter and (whiskey – if you are using it), and stir until blended.

Set aside the ganache so that it may cool.  It will need to cool until thick, yet the texture will need to be soft enough to be piped into the center of the cupcake.  I placed the bowl of ganache in the fridge for 10 minutes, stirred well, and then returned to fridge for further cooling.  Repeat the stirring every 10 minutes, until you are ready to pipe into the cupcake.

Meanwhile, use an apple corer to core the center (about 1 inch in diameter and 2/3’s way down) of the cooled cupcakes.  You will be making a well, but DO NOT cut through to the bottom.  Remove the center of the cupcake.  Now take your cooled ganache and place it into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake up to the top.  I used a cookie press, with the filling tip, to fill the cupcakes and it worked very well.

Cored and filled...

Upon completing the piping, I covered the cupcakes with wax paper and placed them in the fridge so they would firm up, becoming more dense.  This makes the ganache filling more like a fudge consistency!!!   There’s really no set time, and it doesn’t HAVE to be done, but it was several hours before I got around to the finishing touch, and it worked very well.

Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting ~ the following has been doubled from the original recipe. I like to pipe the frosting high, therefore using these amounts.  If you don’t prefer much frosting, halving the amounts below would be sufficient.

The Perfect topping...

  • 6-8 cups confectioners sugar (I used a little less than 2 normal size boxes)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into slices
  • 6-8 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream or (milk, heavy cream, or a combination)  I used 8 TBSP of Bailey’s (very very GOOD)!! 🙂

 

Step three:  You are about done!  Next you will need to whip the butter with an electric mixer; use a stand mixer if you have one, as this process can take awhile.  The butter will need time to become very fluffy, before adding the sugar.  Upon reaching the “fluffy” stage, add the confectioners sugar a few tablespoons at a time.  By adding the sugar slowly, the finished product will be of a smoother consistency.  Gradually add half of your Bailey’s, as this will allow the frosting to continue to blend well.

Continue adding the sugar and the Bailey’s.  When using the amounts that I chose, it worked best to alternate the sugar and the Bailey’s – less time was spent scraping the beater.

Now it’s time to decorate!  Again, I used my cookie press – this time with the fluted-tip.  Due to it being a St. Patricks’s Day treat, I decided to sprinkle a modest amount of green sanding sugar onto each cupcake.

Can’t eat them now, you say?  These cupcakes can be stored in the freezer (extremely well-wrapped) for up to two weeks.  They can also be filled before freezing.  Frost them closest to the time you will be serving them.  ENJOY!

Source of recipe: Smitten Kitchen

Enjoy.....

If you follow my post, you know that I gave up chocolate for Lent…. really, really bad timing on my part.  I had found this recipe months ago, and had promised/planned to make it, before I made the entire chocolate debacle.  HUBS agreed to be the taste-tester, and he gave a huge thumbs-up!  I will be making these again, very near Easter I presume!

Irish Perfection...

May your St. Patrick’s Day be filled with much love, laughter, life and luck, as well as many moments that allow you to Pause and Smile! 🙂

Posted in Blogging, Irish Heritage, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

What’s Your Footprint?

It’s pretty common nowadays to be concerned with one’s footprint.  Do you recycle?   Do you buy recycled?  Do you grow your own food?  Do you eat left-overs?  Do you ride your bike to work, or walk?  Bottom line… what do you do to leave a small footprint on our world?

Is it a small footprint that you want to leave, or should you choose to go bigger and bolder?  You may consider your contribution to be a small and insignificant act, but to those who catch it, your gesture can mean the world.

Happy Feet...

We spend a lot of time deciding how to better treat Mother Earth, while at the same time not focusing too much on how to better treat each other.  Please DO NOT misunderstand me; I care greatly about our environment and its future for our children and theirs, but I am also quite concerned with how I see people treating one another.  If the lack of respect for each other continues to spiral downward, Mother Earth’s purpose will be for what?  A place where we can all live and flip each other off just because we can?  The mother-of-all playgrounds for the Biff and Betty Bad-Asses?  There is always a choice.  There really is!

Look around at the people that you are surrounded by everyday.  The people in your family, those that you see in the school carpool line, the hurried people in the grocery store, or the co-worker that needs your help ~ NOW!  It seems that everyone is in a constant hurry, and this hurriedness leads to people feeling pressured, which leads to acts of disrespect. Whether it’s cutting someone off in traffic, flipping someone off,  or verbally abusing in any form ~ it happens, and it happens much too often.

In no uncertain terms am I claiming to be perfect.  Ha!  Actually I’m pretty far from it, to be exact!  Being kind and respectful all of the time just doesn’t seem humanly possible, but the effort in that direction is better than no attempt at all.   I get the temper concept; I’m an Irish red-head, for crying out loud ~ I get it!  The point is this ~ I don’t like disrespect in myself or others, and I really see no benefit from rudeness, whatsoever.  It seems that I’m more surprised when strangers are good-hearted, when years ago it use to be the other way around.  When someone was blatantly rude it was shocking; today it seems more of the norm.  Why has society allowed this tipping point to take place?

When you find yourself as the impatient one, do you feel better about yourself when you are rude? Do you feel more privileged, maybe one step closer to that almighty success, all because you did your very best at berating someone?  If being rude works for you, I’m sorry…you should probably quit reading this post, as it’s most likely a waste of your time; however, humor me… keep reading.

Now, try the opposite when you find yourself in the impatient mode.  Be the one who gives a kind gesture to someone trying to get into your lane of traffic, and by gesture, I don’t mean the middle finger; I’m referring to the gentle wave that says, “Go ahead, I’ll wait”.  Try being friendly in the crowded grocery store and you might be surprised at how people will be friendly back to you.  It’s worth a try!

The other day I had the great pleasure of dealing with a wonderful sales person in a local store.  Jeremy happens to have the most genuine positive attitude, as well as the best take on why kindness is important to him.

He’s laid-back, helpful, knowledgeable, and he just really seems to want his customer to find something that makes them happy; a real no-pressure kind of sales-person that smiles!

Upon completing the sale I thanked him for his patience and kindness, as I can’t be rushed when looking for hip-looking sensible shoes.  (Sensible shoes is a topic for another day!)

Jeremy replied, “No problem; being kind just helps me get by,… happily.”

Laughingly, I said, “Seems there are a lot of folks that aren’t so kind and they seem to get by.”

…and I loved his reply, “That’s it… they JUST get by.”

~~~~~

What’s the footprint that matters most to you?  

What are you striving to leave behind for others?

Posted in Blogging, Environment, Gratitude, Manners, Nature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I’m Giving Up…

It begins today… the sacrifice, or in the end it may be defined ~ madness!

Having grown up Catholic, I was always challenged to give up something very near and dear to me, during the days of Lent.  This practice started for me when I was in grade school.  You see, I attended a Catholic elementary school.  This ritual of giving something up or sacrificing, as it was defined, was not an option, it was a must.  Just what would I give up?

Now, being around ten-years old, just what kind of vices or luxuries did I have to give up?  I remember suggesting that I would give up homework; that was quickly vetoed.  Then I suggested that I would give up being nice to my younger brother.  After the gut-wrenching laughter came to an end, I was told to try again, and this time to be serious.  In all honesty, I couldn’t come up with a single thing, and that was a big mistake on my part; it opened the door for my parents to assist/urge me in my decision.  This was the first time that I ever truly thought that my parents were crazy ~ the out-of-their-mind kind of crazy.  They had suggested that I give up candy!

Candy to me at ten-years of age was the equivalent to my current addiction:  Diet Coke.  I said it ~ an addiction!  So there you have it; Diet Coke must go!  Now, I have to ask myself if making this sacrifice is a wise idea ~ I love my family! 🙂  Who really is going to suffer here; me, with my afternoon craving, or the family members that will learn to avoid me and my irritation at just about everything?

No bubbles for awhile ~

Youngest Daughter has some extreme doubt that I can pull this off.  She said that she will be checking our recycle bin for evidence; not to mention, the recycle bins of our neighbors.  Now, have I taught her nothing?  I have a shovel and a backyard with a garden…. Hmm ~ seems as though some planting will be taking place! 😉  Also, I’m going to have to train the Scruffster to refrain from digging up any buried treasure.  No, seriously… I CAN DO THIS!

"Your secret is safe, for a price!"

To top it off, I’m giving up chocolate as well!!!!!!  Now, who is the out-of-her-mind kind of crazy???????  If you know me at all, you are probably shaking your head, wishing hope for my family, or thinking… no way in Hell!

... all kinds of chocolate ~

No doubt that this is going to be tough for me; I depend on these items WAY TOO MUCH!

Maybe in the absence of my Diet Coke, which equals water to me, or the chocolate that might as well be my oxygen, I’ll fill the void that their absence creates with something more positive.  Instead of griping about what I can’t have, I’ll focus on what I can and do have ~ and be thankful.

Something tells me that the feeling of gratitude, for all that He gave up for me and my sins, will take over and make my sacrifices look rather minuscule.

Over the years, Lent has come to mean much more than giving up candy; it is a time of preparation.  For me, it is a time to seek forgiveness, a time to focus on prayer, a time to sacrifice, and a time to extend more kindness; hoping that all of these will become more of a daily way of living, rather than just for the forty days of Lent.

If you observe Lent, what does it mean to you?  Do you sacrifice anything, or do you focus on a positive behavior?  

I’m curious; let me know in the “Share your thoughts~” section.

Posted in Gratitude, Humor, Religion, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Better Late Than Never ~

Oops ~ Seriously, major oops!

While cleaning off my desk, and getting my papers and mind into a somewhat organized fashion, I found it; the item that caused me to utter, “oops!”  Underneath the countless forms to be filled out, turned in, or filed away ~ there it was… the list of thank-you’s that had not been written.

Now, it wouldn’t be a “major oops” if this list represented thank-you notes for Christmas gifts; I think I would still be within an acceptable time frame for those.  The “oops” list goes back about two and a half months to my birthday.  EEE-GADS!!

Make a wish...

You see, expressing my gratitude is very important to me.  It goes as far back as to when I was a little girl, and my mother presented me with my first box of pretty stationery.  This special paper was to be used to convey my gratitude for toys, clothes, special jewelry, or any keepsake that was given to me as a gift, regardless of the occasion; however, birthdays and Christmas come to mind.  If memory serves me right, this practice of writing thank-you notes started for me when I was in elementary school.

Since then (many years later), I’ve done my best to continue the practice of conveying my thanks when given a gift, or when someone demonstrates a special favor towards me.  First order of business is to start a list of those that need to be thanked, and secondly ~ make sure that said list does NOT land under a mountain of papers and other lists!!  Maybe I’ll resort to adding “the list” to my calendar of events, so that it will ding at me every two hours, until accomplished.

Several years ago, HUBS asked me if I had written a thank-you note to friends of ours, for just what I can’t remember, but I do remember very specifically the look that I shot at him.

The look, itself, said, “Are you kidding me?”  “What the heck?”  “Seriously, you have to ask that?”  “Did YOU write it?”  Yes… all that was said with one look.  If you know me, you know the look.  Why did he think he even needed to ask the question?

Again, if you know me, you understand that between my mother and my two grandmothers, I was raised in a somewhat “Emily Post” environment.  The thank-you note is a must!

"The Special Paper"

Upon finding the “oops” list, on my abyss of a desk, my mind shot back to the glare that I had given HUBS years ago.  Something tells me that I won’t be shooting off that glare anytime soon.  Yes, even when you are trained by those that abide by the rules of Emily Post… you’re still gonna screw it up, now and again! 🙂

Typically, I like to handwrite the thank-you’s, but today’s post about thanks and my screw-up is going out to my friends and family who acknowledged my big 5-0 in a variety of ways.  Whether you sent me a card; gave me a gift; treated me to lunch; called with a wish; joined me for dinner; or reached out through Facebook, I want to extend a very heartfelt thank-you!

The people that are present in my everyday life, whether you are family or friend; close in proximity, or close in heart; friends from the past, or friends from the present; writer/blogger friends that are new in my life ~ you are the true and continuous gifts that are given to me, luckily more than just once a year!

Thank you for coming into my life on the good days, as well as the ones that aren’t so good ~ you are always welcome here.

Simply...thanks!

Most of all, thank you for allowing me into your world, during both your ups and downs and just simply ~ the ever-calming quiet moments of the true “presence” of your friendship!

Posted in Etiquette, Friendship, Humor, Manners, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments