Ruth's Birthday Today!

Happy Birthday Rufie! You're special to me and I love you!

I just love this picture of you getting ready to eat your cake! The smile on your face reminds me of when you were a little girl.

French Dinner (Read this first, even though it's last)

Okay, it took me a while, but if you start with "The French Dinner" and then follow in order with French Dinner 2, French Dinner 3, etc., they'll be in order (sort of). I only picked out a "few" pictures. Hope you enjoy. I had a blast preparing this for Norm for our 15th Anniversary of our first date. For those of you who know me well, you know this is a major record for me :-)
I don't think Norm knew what to think when I said, "Mon cadeau pour toi." or "Assaie-toi s'il vous plait." or "Tu es la meilleure chose qui m'est arrivee." and much more! And despite the fact that I practiced like crazy, I still had to look at my cheat sheet.

French Dinner 9 (Norm)

And here's who it was all for! Bonjour Monsieur Norm!

French Dinner 8 (decorations)

Here's some of the decorations and the table setting. I moved out all of the furniture that was in the greenhouse area except for the glass end tables (that held the wine display on one and the cake on the other). Our regular kitchen table is actually two tables pushed together, so I moved one of them into the greenhouse. I moved the CD player that was in the garage into the area to play the French music. You can see it sitting under the table that's holding all the candles (last picture). The CD player in the living room doesn't work and the other stereo doesn't have a CD player. Once Norm got home and I went to get him, I had him take a seat. I went to get the "la salade" and the CD quit working. We had a short interruption while we fixed the music. I was grateful as the music helped with the overall ambiance.

French Dinner 7 (menu)

Here's the menu I made and Coquilles Saint Jacques - which is scallops and mushrooms. The last pictures has the end result of the Coquilles Saint Jacques and Belgian Carrots on the plate. And there I am cooking. I'm getting rid of those shoes. I slipped them on right before Norm came home and before the meal was over, off they went. Anyone want them?

French Dinner 6 (random stuff)

While preparing the dinner, I took some random pictures. My black-eyed-susan's from my garden. My bugar boy who separates my eggs, and the egg white leaks out of his nose like snot. Kids love this guy. It's pretty. That thing on top of his head is the vanilla bean that was used in the creme brulee.
My little "sweet" picture - I was actually snapping a shot of what is in front of it, a hunk of butter. Don't ask me why.
Then there were the few accidents I had. I was drying off my 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup when it fell out of my hand and I watched it bounce once on the floor (it felt like it was in slow motion) and I was amazed that it didn't break, and remembered, oh yeah, it's Pryex, that stuff doesn't break. Then it bounced again and boom! it all shattered. Less than an hour later, after I removed the creme brulee from the water in the 9x12 Pryex pan, I carried it over to the sink to empty the water. It slipped and Bang! splattered in the sink. Wow, broke two Pyrex dishes within an hour of each other. Had never broken one before!
There's some herbs from the garden too. And the butter for the French bread!

French Dinner 5 (Le Salade)

Le Salade! And home made dressing: Jacque's Vinaigrette

That first picture is chopped garlic. As you can see, not only was I having fun preparing the French dinner for Norm, I was having fun shooting some pictures along the way. "Je voudrais faire la cuisine."

French Dinner 4 (French Bread)

My sister Ruth is the breadmaker in the family, but I wanted to attempt this myself. I haven't made bread since Jr. High where we totally messed up. The bread was like a brick and smelled of beer. I never tried since, until now. Ruth gave me lots of tips, but I still called her panicking. "After you divide it in two, do you put it in separate bowls or back in the same (one) bowl?" I worked up a sweat kneading the dough. Ruth, you can still be the breadmaker! Yours is much better, but I don't think I did a half bad job. And you were right, it is fun to "punch" down the dough. The fourth picture shows the dough "punched." At first I thought, how in the world is this ever going to come out.

French Dinner 3 (Creme Brulee)

Here's the Creme Brulee. Those pictured are not "crusted" with the brown sugar, which then they'd be served simply as pots de creme. We had pots de creme later that evening and the next night creme brulee. Hmmmm, and I wonder why I'm gaining weight. "delicieux"

French Dinner 2 (Cherry Quartre Quarts Cake)

I can't seem to figure out how to load all the photos - can't rearrange them, so I'll have to do this in parts.

After the Lemon Sorbet, I started on the Cherry Quartre Quarts Cake (A French pound cake).

I made the stencil and decided to put a little tab on it so I could lift it off the cake and not get powdered sugar all over the heart area.

The French Dinner

It first started with my best friend, Susan and I driving my daughter, Rita to Ottawa, Canada where she was going to live for six months with her friend, Rebekah. While there, we visited a nice French cafe. When Susan heard Rebekah speaking French to the baker, Susan fell in love with the language. We traveled home, fantasizing how we would open a French bakery, speak French and call the place Fabulous French Friends. That's where it ended.

Susan then invited me to a book discussion class where we met a gal named Sarah, who is a retired French teacher. When Susan found out, she told Sarah how we wanted to learn French. Sarah arranged a class in her home for Susan, myself and another lady, Charmaine. For six weeks, we attempted to learn French. During the beginning of this French class, I was on "sabbatical" writing - no cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, babysitting, socializing (this included taking French), so I would sneak out of the house to take my French lessons. I would tell the girls that I felt like I was cheating on my husband. I justified that it would help my memory by learning a foreign language. Then I had an idea that I would surprise Norm with a French dinner for our anniversary.

The anniversary of our "first date." Norm always remembers and I don't which is usually the opposite. I was determined I would remember this year and with justifying my French lessons, this made it perfect for me. I had three months to get the French down, prepare for the dinner and surprise Norm.

For the next three months I planned for the event. I shopped. I found some dishes. I bought a French apron at a little French boutique in Maplewood. I searched for French instrumental music. I borrowed French cookbooks from Kim and Ruth. I scoured for recipes. I practiced my French. I found a betty bargain book of France.

I spent three full days prior to the event getting ready. On Monday, I got creative and made collages with the pictures from the book. I made hanging mobiles with the photographs. I created a card with French words. I made the menu. I gathered different items I would use to decorate. I practiced my French some more.

On Tuesday I took a trip to the grocery store. And then started preparing ahead what I could, starting with the Lemon Sorbet. I continued practicing French. "Bon anniversaire du mariage."

Getting There - 2

Story Number 1 involves the two siblings with a sense of direction, siblings two and four. This story involves the other two, the odd ones (ha) who have no sense of direction. (Maybe that explains it.) I sat in the back seat wondering how could we be related.

It was Bunco night at Linda's. Linda lives in south St. Louis, or at least that's what I call that part of town. I'll stand corrected if I take the time to determine the exact neighborhood. Anyway, it's definitely not NoCo or a part of town frequented by any of us.

Having only been to Linda's once, for Bunco, Lynn drove and as I recall, got lost then too, but being the back seat passenger, I didn't pay attention and couldn't remember how to get there. Lynn offered that we meet at her house, she would drive and plug the address into her onboard GPS. Again, I got in the back seat. Sue rode shotgun.

Lynn's GPS chose the fifty-eight-street-take-twice-the-time route. First, we got off the highway miles from the nearest logical exit. This was compounded by a miscommunication of "slight right, then left" which actually was supposed to be translated into go straight. With every turn or missed turn, the little GPS would do its darndest to reroute until Lynn was screaming at it to "Shut up, I'm turning here!" Which, of course, the little GPS didn't like and insisted we turn the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Sue is desperately tapping away at her spiffy new i-phone that also has GPS capability. At one point, we sat at an intersection with the four of them debating on left or right. I had no opinion and was just enjoying the ride and seeing where we would end up and how we got there.

After several more turns of playing Left or Right, we made it Linda's and only fifteen minutes late. Along the crowded one way street, the parking god granted us the lone empty spot directly in front of her house. Lynn's tensed shoulders had to be forced down from her earlobes and everyone enjoyed hearing how wonderful GPS systems can be.

Getting There - 1

Bud, Josh and I went to visit Warren recently and I used my GPS system. Not that I needed it because Warren gave good directions, but because those little devices fascinate me and I like to see how accurate it is. I call mine Gladys because her voice sounds like someone who is glad to give directions. She deviated slightly from Warren's directions--Gladys wanted to be more direct and we would have traveled a long gravel road straight through the county versus going through town and staying on paved roads the way Warren suggested. Gladys quickly redefined the route and she and Warren were on the same path, so to speak.

Gladys's screen shows all the roads you pass and those nearby along with whatever I choose to include such as stores, gas stations, points of interest, etc. The farther from town we drove, the blanker Gladys became--no more icons of stopping places, fewer lines of roads. We made the final turn onto a gravel road and followed it straight to Warren's house at the end. It was indeed the end. Gladys announced we reached our destination and the last white line of road disappeared as we rolled down Warren's driveway and her little screen was nothing but green.

The Siblings M

I didn't put our last name in the title--guess I'm paranoid or something. We all started out as M's of course, and until about ten years ago, three of us remained with our last name beginning with an M. Sue went from a maiden M to a married M. Warren naturally has always been an M. I went from a maiden M to a married M and then remarried a P. Lynn, however, gave up her M right from the start, although she had one briefly after two H's. Now she's an O. I guess that makes her water because she's H2O. ha ha ha

The Picture of the Four of Us

Blogging is sort of new for me. Okay, I have blogged a bit on St. Louis Writers Guild’s Eliot Blog, which you can check out at and then click on Eliot blog. There’s an archive section and you’ll probably have to do some searching.

One important thing I have learned in the way of blogging is to make sure what you have to say is something you want the entire public to read. I like to ask myself a few questions before I post: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? I guess that’s another way of saying, don’t gossip and don’t be mean and don’t make up something unless you’re writing fiction.

My siblings, Suzanne, Warren and Ruth (I listed them in chronological order) are all great writers. They write better than I do and that’s why they all need to join St. Louis Writers Guild (SLWG). Smiley face. And then they can be really cool, like me. Another smiley face.

I wanted to share about the picture that is posted of the four of us on our last Sibling Day. This was in August. HOT HOT HOT (not the picture, the weather). We shopped and browsed around old St. Charles on Main Street nervous that one of us (Warren, Lynn or Ruth) would slip, as little did our older sister (Suzanne) know, that in the evening we were going to be surprising her with a birthday party for her 60th birthday. She shouldn’t be upset that I’m spreading her age because she looks fabulous and I can only hope I look half as good in another nine years. One of the highlights (although there were many) of this party where some 100+ people attended was her gifts. Younger sister, Ruth had the bright and brainy idea (wish I had thought of it) to have each guest, if they wanted to give a gift, to bring a pair of shoes since Suzanne is a shoe-aholic. They could bring any kind, new or old, so long as they were her size. That night, all night long, Shoozy tried on shoes of all sorts from boots to slippers to high heels to flip flops to tennies. Some were created by hand like Ruth’s husband, Bud who welded and sculpted a pair of metal high heels. Suzanne got up and danced with the person who gave the pair of shoes she just opened and you could tell she was having the time of her life. Unfortunately the night didn’t last long enough for her to go through all the shoes, but I had the pleasure of loading up my car with all the shoes. Shoes filled the trunk, the entire back seat, and the front seat of my car. I drove to her house late that night wondering, If I were stopped by the police would they think I just robbed a shoe store?

Quarter to Ten

Blasted from my dream to dogs barking and a pounding on the door. What time is it? I struggled to focus on the clock. Eight eleven. You’ve got to be kidding me. Grab a robe. Corral the dogs. Don’t open the door. The dogs are still loose. We have a door dasher and I’m not prepared to run through the neighborhood in my robe after a speeding wiener. Wave timidly at the neighbor, let her daughter in. My son, running after me in all directions, realizing his failure to watch the clock and wake me up–on time–tries to help with the dogs, the door, the disaster unfolding. I realize now he was waiting for the eruption that never came. I didn’t have time to have a fit. Get breakfast. Half day. No lunch to pack. Here’s your clothes. Do they match? Who cares, it’s clothes. Find your shoes. Comb your hair. Drink your milk. Big yellow forty-four rolls up the street. We have four minutes. Got your bookbag? Heavy coat; it’s cold outside. Down the sidewalk. Chat with neighbor who laughs at my morning.

Coffee. No. Couch. Yes. Nap. Finish my dream. What dream? Dogs want out. Dogs want in. Television is so stupid in the morning. Phone rings. This better be good. It is. Nine six five number. This won’t be short. Turn off television. Coffee it is. No nap. Chat. Chat. Chat. It’s good to talk. To connect. Problems and solutions. Questions and answers. Observations. Laughter. Writing. Poetry. Challenges. Chat, chat, chat. Oh jeez, it’s quarter to ten. What can I get done in two hours? And yet we chat some more. Oh hell, it’s quarter til eleven now. Really gotta go. Where? Nowhere. Get something done. I’ll check my mail. Drain the coffee pot. Eat chocolate donuts, the little ones. First I’ll play a game. Don’t get sucked in.

Wait. There’s a story to be told. It must get out. Write. Write. Write. Yeah. I should start a blog. The world would love me. The world does love me. But I have a very small world. Maybe this should be a poem. Don’t know how. How ‘bout real sentences? Nah. Choppy thoughts deserve choppy. Words.

Eleven fifteen. That was pretty quick. Damn I’m good.

Thu 3/12