Posted by: aauntiem | June 25, 2010

Loud Silences

I am off for the weekend, leaving to go on my first camping trip ever.

Why we decided to make that first time be in the dead heat of the longest part of summer will be a question I shall ponder at 4 o’clock this morning when I can’t sleep for the heat and mosquitoes.

I am excited about the trip, about the baking, the fishing, the birthday party-ness and just hanging out with friends away from all the stuff.

But, this trip also means that I dropped my Luna off with Jay’s parents for the weekend.

Here is the thing.

Sometimes Luna’s whinny growl after we have been too long working in the office or standing in the kitchen causes my blood to boil. That sound it just gets under my skin like a crying baby does to a mother running on three hours of sleep.

And, I think, wouldn’t it be so nice just to have quiet and calm in this house?

But, last night amid camping prep, standing in my kitchen waiting for the birthday cake to bake the silence in my home was deafening and all consuming.

Picasso was at class. The tv was off. The only noise came from the hum of the dish washer and dryer as they ran through their cycles.

Suddenly, I couldn’t wait for Picasso to come home and for Luna to be making that awful squall.

The house felt empty and weird. And, even though if Luna were home she  would probably just be sleeping on the couch in the living room, snuggling under the quilt that is supposed to hang there but never gets the chance, I could feel that she was gone.

Then, when Picasso and I get into bed late last night after all the packing and goings-on of getting ready,  I noticed again how there was not a warm and soft little lump curled against Picasso’s underarm and touching my hand.

(Can you believe she is seven? That we are almost six? That she has gray in her beard?)

I can’t imagine what babies must feel like, how they nestle into the soul. And, I can’t imagine how a mother and father feel on the first night a baby, grown-all-up, goes off to summer camp or college or for love.

My uterus hurts. And there is so much sound but no noise.


Posted by: aauntiem | June 24, 2010

Making a Cookbook Cabinet

Next week marks the date that many years ago angels flew down from heaven to escort a sweet and innocent babe to an expectant family.

It also marks the date that my sweet loud and quirky friend Jay was born.

All joshing aside, my friend Jay is probably the most thoughtful person you will ever meet. Hallmark Christmas commercials don’t even touch this lady.  You know those super-cute craft projects in the magazines and you think, wow I would love to have such a Norman Rockwell swell life?

My friend Jay, is probably either:

  1. the person who came up with the idea being photographed
  2. her mother came up with the idea being photographed
  3. she is in the photograph

The magnitude of her thoughtfulness leaves us normal semi-normal people seasick and vomiting in the wake of her Martha Stewart tsunami.

Truly, she is an awesome and fierce thing to behold.

For her birthday this year, Picasso and I decided to surprise her by putting a hole in her wall.

And, then, putting a shelf in its place:

So Picasso pulled out his tools and his working man’s belt (oh, how I miss you, you sexy thing):

and did some of this:

and this:

and then this:

and Viola! there was a recipe cabinet by the kitchen, just like mine.

See, Jay lives in my neighborhood, in fact our houses are pretty similar, but we did not become neighbor friends; we are neighbors by design. I have actually known Jay longer than Picasso. We did wild and crazy things together like that time we Wrestlerettes.

When Jay moved back here after going to FSU I was already married and our dream of roommate-hood was postponed until our early 90s when no one would care. Instead, we did the next best thing; we bought our first houses in the same neighborhood about one street away.

Both Picasso and Jay’s fiancée came into this picture with the full understanding that we were a package deal. I am also certain that sometimes they have imagined that polygamists get off easier than they do because at least those guys get the illusion of control.

Even though our houses are similar, and we share some of the same things (you know those green kitchen tiles you often see, she has the same ones) our homes don’t look the same.

Jay’s living room:

My living room:

I love my house. I like my flower chandelier and my mushroom canisters

and my stain glassed window treatment Picasso made. And, all my books.

But, Jay’s house is just really cool.

She has an old phone from her grandfather

and a gumball and movie popcorn maker

and a blue glass hand in her kitchen next to her jadeite salt and pepper shakers

(I bet if I did that it would look dumb)

and her doorknobs in the kitchen are these green flowery things

Its like a magical Martha house with an edge. And, now it just got a whole lot cooler with a  Picasso and AuntieM made cabinet.

Don’t worry, I have been making some treats so Picasso won’t show me up for my own BF’s B-day (pics coming soon).

Happy almost birthday Jay!


Posted by: aauntiem | June 22, 2010


Happy Birthday Papi-chulo.

You are still just as dreamy!

Posted by: aauntiem | June 22, 2010

men i love love cheescake

As someone that teaches women’s studies, I have, by proxy and sitcoms, a reputation for man-hating. Feminists, and with it women’s studies professors, are portrayed in popular media as women that love other women and hate men.

But, this reality of a women centered community that devalues the presence of men is not something that comes from my experience. Usually, when I hear people talk about this I get that puzzled shoulder-shaking look and turn around to see if there is someone they are speaking to behind me.

In fact, the WST community I learned in and then taught for always includes men—as students, as gendered bodies, as husbands, fathers, partners, brother, friends.

Right, right, some of you are shaking your heads. You mean “they “ (ie: those scary women) probably like gay men. This, too, is a stereotype that follows WST: that either a man interested or connected to women is gay or looking to score with a classroom full of sexually liberated college chicks.

Again, when this happens I turn around in circles looking for the referential point. Who me?

That is why, when I teach the Introduction to Women’s Studies class we always read Naomi Woolf’s essay Radical Heterosexuality. In that essay she has this section entitled the “Men We Love” where she lists a whole set of reasons why feminists love men. Her essay, a feminist argument that defends heterosexuality and loving men, debunks this man-hating myth.

This weekend I was thinking about that essay when Jay’s fiancée was straight-faced preparing for his dog-daughter’s birthday party, or when after midnight on a Saturday I looked over at Picasso and his brother working on embedding tags into a wedding florist website. I was thinking about that essay when my mother called to tell me our dinner plans had changed because my father couldn’t leave the golf tournament so we would eat at her house. I thought about it when I gave my father his father’s day card, when Picasso didn’t complain on Sunday and just got in the kitchen to make the mess go away and to help me make a mess again, and then again when my chefy- brother handed me the tongs and eyebrows crossed said “make these work before I burn the steaks.”

Masculinity and all its rules are tough. I don’t think most people acknowledge that the men around us operate under some pretty harsh expectations. When I stop to look around at the men in my life, I realize that they are pretty amazing and they often work thanklessly, knee deep in crap, just like their female counterparts.

Men I Love….

(Jay’s Finance prepping for doggy birthday)

1. Do a special dance for cheez-its, make silly faces, and play dress-up.

(Rtini the Brother-in-law, always planning the next best dress-up party)

2. Do a latter-climbing (arms in the air shake it all around) dance for FSU football.

3. Sing along with the girls to the songs on the radio.

4. Store the shrimp in their hats when wade fishing.

(Picasso, after a fishing trip  in P’cola)

5. Lets a certain weenie dog lick his face so long that it induces a gagging sound in his daughter.

6. Believes in magic so much that he has listened to the Harry Potter audiobooks so many times that he could recite, from anywhere in all books, the end of any given line.

(Papi, chefy-bro, and sister with chefy-bros puppies))

7. Surprise their wives by being kitchen-fairies and dish boys.

8. Buy popcorn at the movies.

9. Just laugh when their wives stay up way past their bedtimes (or for days straight) to read books in a series.

10. Always believe that I can be more than I ever imagined

In honor of the Men I Love, I made my dad some cheesecake, my brother some chocolate sauce for that cheesecake, and my Picasso his favorite dessert, homemade whipped cream.

I have included my lightened up version of the Better Homes and Garden’s Original Cheesecake Supreme. I did about half the original in the pictures and half light. But, for Thanksgiving I make the lightened up version and it is awesome (really, I just didn’t have egg substitute and Splenda).

Lightened-Up Betty Crocker Supreme Cheesecake

6 weight watcher points for 8 slices or 4 WW points for 12 slices

1 tsp ground cinnamon (only if you use regular graham crackers)

1 cup(s) SPLENDA (if you use sugar cut the servings to 12 to keep it at 6 pts)

2 Tbsp white all-purpose flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup(s) fat-free evaporated milk

1/4 cup(s) fat-free egg substitute

1 item(s) egg

1/4 cup(s) walnut halves

16 oz  Free Fat-Free Cream Cheese, softened

8 oz  Reduced Fat Cream Cheese, softened

1/3 cup(s) butter

6 whole reduced-fat cinnamon graham crackers

First set your oven to 375. Then, use a mortar and pestle or a food processor to crumble up your graham cracker and nuts.  Once they are chopped and crumbled up pretty fine, stir together in medium to large bowl the  graham crackers, walnuts, and cinnamon.

Then, go melt your butter.

While you do that I am going to go clean my microwave,. What is that anyway? How long has it been there? Is it the center of the universe?

While it is melting, add 1-2 tbsp of splenda (or sugar).

I am going to stare horrified and transfixed at the sad, sad state of my nail polish. I don’t even have small children to blame. Jay don’t look (she has a thing for nails), I still want to be friends.

Once the butter is all melty, pour the butter into the crumb mixture.

That is the sweet money, right there. I could just eat this part.

Once this is all mixed and buttery, you want to pour the crumbs into a 9 inch springform-pan. Then push the mixture out to cover the bottom of the pan.

Hold on a sec., 1994 just called and they want the grunge look back…

Ok, now, continue pressing the crumb mixture up the sides of the pan, a little less that half way up.

Then, set the crust aside cuse you done and you  just made a graham cracker crust. Viola!

Now,  in another large mixing bowl add your cream cheese. Give those guys a soft whip.

See how it is thick, watch as the cream cheese changes to end up a little soupy like.

Next, add in the splenda (or sugar) flour, and vanilla.

Then, beat (beat-beat it…80s song anyone).

Next, add egg substitute and one egg yolk (is pre-beat these in a little glass bowl and add them in).  Stir in milk.

It should be getting berry soupy by now.

We are almost ready. Next, pour this soup stuff into our crusty-pan.

See how it has some lumps. I had to go back and re beat the bottom of my bowl (sometimes that stand alone mixer is not your friend). You want to de-lump your cream cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 35 to 50  for 9-inch pan or until it is set about 2 inches out from rim. It is still a little flappy in the center, This is ok.

Also, take the original recipe’s advice and bake it on a baking sheet. That way your house will not fill with smoke.

Don’t worry, Picasso and I only died but the cheesecake was just fine.

Next, cool this puppy on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then, knife the edge, cool again for 30 minutes. Next, remove the sides and cool until it is completely cool  (go take a nap.)

Then, chill in your refrigerator for at least four hours. I only cooled for two and it is a little wobbly.

I heart crust.

and men.

and cheesecake.


Posted by: aauntiem | June 21, 2010

Rinse. Repeat.

Sometimes, on the days when my sweetest dreams fade into reality without the slightest shift in atmospheric pressure, I awake well past 8 o’clock and float stumble down my stairs and peek over the banister to find a sink without dishes and a dishwasher mid cycle.

The fact that 8 o’clock seems like sleeping in aside, these mornings are perfect.

On these mornings, I always rub my sleepy eyes and then hesitantly peek over the banister again (hoping, oh…hoping) to make sure that I did, in fact, wake up because I know, know deep in my soul, that I left that mountain of dirty dishes and goo on the counter from last night’s dinner and baking soiree.

I have never once looked again to find that it was a kitchen mirage. Sometimes, I am just magically blessed with house elves and a kitchen fairy that look awfully similar to a man I married.

Once I get over the sheer giddiness of the picture of cleanliness that surrounds me, I always dance around the house in my PJs trying to locate this man-fairy (wait, that came out all wrong). I find him in the garage working on shelf organization, or fishing poles, or car something or another. Possibly, he is doing homework upstairs. And, then, I kiss this man until he tells me to go brush my teeth.

This picture of awesomeness occurred on Saturday.

For the dishes I made on,


Thursday night.

Wrap that around your mind.

Saturday, Picasso’s father and mother came over with my niece so that Picasso and I could re-design the website for her Wedding Florist company. That evening, his brother and his gang of three came over (so smarty pants brother could speak with smart pants Picasso about meta-tags and embedded image descriptions and Lunar eclipses and shark bites or whatever else nerds discuss in the company of other nerds).

Suddenly, dinner for 98 people was on.

My niece and I baked a pie, made some fresh lemonade, roasted chickens, sautéed a Brussels sprout salad, made a couscous salad for the vegetarians, and rocked out some awesome dinner rolls.

I want you to imagine me in charge of an eight year old in a kitchen. Take what you know about my messiness and multiply it times eight-years-old (so add a factor of one).

After dinner I wanted to sit on the floor and clap at our masterpiece or go sleepy-sleepy-night-night, instead I got back up and made her a blog page for the website.

After midnight, my mother-in-law, sensing what was best for me, nudged me downstairs to clean up my mess while the two nerds continued to embed images with something very important.

Really, the smart people had already gone to sleep, home, or both.

I stood there in my own mess and almost cried.

Then, I put on my big girl pants, tied them because they wanted to fall off, and went to work washing dishes.

Let the record show that I refused to dry them. There was a hefty pile of stacked dishes and towels.

Yesterday, I made cheesecake with whipped cream, blueberry sauce, and chocolate sauce (Happy Father’s Day Dad). Plus, Picasso made waffles for breakfast. Plus, we made lunch.

The sink looked like…well, it looked like I had been there.


So, Picasso told me to put on my big girl pants and tie them tight. He washed. I went to work drying all those dishes.

And. Last night it hit me.

My life is dirty dishes.

And grocery shopping.

Rinse. Repeat.

Washing dishes is ineffective.

Lets destroy the earth instead of my sanity. I propose that I only make kitchen messes with paper, plastic, and that aluminum throw away bake pan stuff.

This is AuntieM and I am running for president.

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