Cake for a Forgotten Birthday

I don’t buy cake mixes very often because they stare at me from afar.  They come in handy when you’re a bad blog mother, like I am, and forget Life’s Lemons fifth birthday for 27 days and are forced to make an emergency birthday cake.  But other than that, cake mixes typically just sit on pantry shelves like little pouty children.  They glare.  At times, I can almost hear them hiss, “Bake us, you chicken!” It’s unnerving.  149586_450192651403_2808307_n

Eventually I cry back, “But I have no butter!”  They blink.  “To make frosting!” They shrug their boxy little shoulders.  They don’t care.

Guilt starts to set in. I really shouldn’t think about talking to my cake mixes in such a manner. Especially not in urgent situations, such as this, when I need them for baking a forgotten birthday cake.

So I began brainstorming alternative saturated fats for frosting. Bacon grease, the obvious choice, was ruled out because I had none on hand. So I’ll just attempt to stir up a topping made with coconut oil and be done with it. Blogs don’t have taste buds anyway.

While walking past the pantry, I tried not to but made eye contact with the slivered almonds. They’re just like cake mixes, taunting but more applicable.

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Gummy Bears

I’m not sure the age that people start remembering memories. It probably depends on the person and the magnitude of the memory or the impact that it had on a person. Early memories seem to be a lot like silent movies, mimelike,  in black and white with vivid expression.  A person doesn’t really remember dialog, just the emotions that went along with it.oio

One of my first memories is waiting in a drive thru line at a bank one hot summer day.  At just six or seven years old, I barely sat high enough to see out of the backseat window.  In the car next to us sat two teenage girls probably waiting to cash a babysitting or birthday check before driving off to do the cool things that teenage girls do, such as hang out at the mall, shop and eat soft pretzel sticks without having to share with their mom.  Lucky girls. Someday, I thought, that would be me.  For now though, I was perfectly content in the back of Mom’s brown station wagon eating a rainbow of gummy bears to my little heart’s content.

The teller line was taking forever so naturally I stuck a gummy bear to my upper lip in attempt to kill time.  “Look Mommy!” but she was busy filling out the deposit slip.  Pearing at my reflection in the window, I stuck a few more bears to my lip and wrinkled my nose for good measure.  I chuckled softly to myself, proud of my small accomplishment.

I came out of this preoccupation for a moment and looked beyond my side of the car window and into the girls’ car beside.  The two teenagers were laughing hysterically.  “Gee whiz,” I wondered, “What for?”  They faced me while wiping away tears of pure hysteria and in that moment I realized what they were laughing at.

So I froze, bears on face, not knowing what to do.  Being caught acting goofy by two complete strangers made time stand completely still.  I locked eyes with one girl and then the other. I was utterly petrified.  Without blinking, I lowered one hand to the gummy bag and slowly lifted another bear to my lips.  I stuck that bear right on top of the first one and watched the two girls roar with silent laughter.

At this point, I hadn’t eaten a bear in five minutes but clowning around was much better.   The candy act wasn’t all that funny to me but the girls’ reaction made me go all out. Eventually, my head was tilted way back and there were carefully stacked gummies teetering on pursed little lips a mile high.  The charade continued until sadly one car pulled away.

To this day, I think of that inaudible exchange and smile.  I’m glad that somehow it stayed in my personal archive of, sometimes colorful, silent movie memories.

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That One Time, Wearing Elf Ears

Autumn makes me feel nostalgic, thinking about all the characters that I’ve dressed up to be for Halloween, fall plays, musicals, madrigals and otherwise.  Once, I wore a saucer sled on my back to become turtle.  Another time, I stuffed a pillow up a nightshirt to become the pregnant wife of a 9/11 firefighter.   I’ve worn a wedding dress to became a bride… twice.

Not many people know about that one time I made my big screen debut, fresh out of high school, in a real movie, as an extra, wearing elf ears.

…and I don’t exactly remember how it came to be.  Somehow, I got wind from the classifieds, Craigslist or some desolate radio station, that there was a demand for movie extras who were to be dressed in Halloween costumes, ages 18-25 who like to party and/or “look like they’re having a good time.”  Naturally, I fit the bill and recruited my new, outgoing and equally naive friend to star in this movie with me.

The gig was that weekend, so we had little time to prepare but she had matching fairy costumes and I was up for anything. So after driving almost two hours on that frosty Saturday morning through drizzling rain and an eerie fog, we arrived in the middle of nowhere on the movie set- which, to our amusement, was inside of a gigantic dilapidated barn with a massive gambrel style roof.  At this point, I couldn’t even fathom a way less glamorous to “get discovered,” until I walked inside…

We were greeted with a lengthy Actor Release and Assumption of Risk Form.  “I (insert name here) voluntarily agree,” sign here.  “Acknowledge the risks […] hereby grant […] use my name, image and likeness […] in all forms […]  for all lawful purposes […] but not limited to,” sign here, here and here.

At this point, my friend and I assessed the situation. We were out in the middle of nowhere, inside a barn that looked like it was going to collapse at any second, with strangers asking us to sign some shady waiver.  What would you do?  We couldn’t sign the document fast enough.

Next, we were ushered to the “holding room,” which was really just one drafty corner of the barn sectioned off for us street rats looking for our big break.  For about 99% of the 8-hour day, we hung out in some other dimension of Holding Room Hell but the other 1% was thrilling!  We walked into a night club scene about seven or eight times after, “lights, camera, action,”  instructed to, stand here, walk there or not swing our arms as much.  (That last direction was just for me.)  Which was really too bad, because I had done some pretty elaborate character development in the outhouse while waiting to go on.  I was portraying a really cool socialite, wearing some really cool elf ears, arriving at this really cool party, to meet a really cool guy or something.

We have no idea what became of the footage or if the movie even came to fruition.  For all that we know, it was the introduction to a pornographic independent film. But at 18, you’re not going to want to pass up the rare and exciting opportunity to sign your rights away and become an extra in a movie.  Certainly not!  I did that one time, wearing elf ears.

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Lazy Brownies from Scratch

Brownies are like, the simplest of all baked goods to make at home.  Especially the boxed mix kind- just stir in an egg, add some water and oil, and you’ve got yourself something sweet in 30 minutes flat. There’s nothing to frost, no batches to cool and very little prep. work involved.  Easy peasy.

Ipjlkj_2240I realized that I didn’t have brownie mix on hand the second that I decided to make some.  The good news is, I live 3 minutes from a grocery store.  The bad news is, I really didn’t feel like going.

Because seriously, I know how these “quick trips” to the supermarket tend to go…for me anyway.  It would have taken 3 minutes to drive to the store, one minute to park, walk in, 30 minutes to roam around, 8 minutes to check out and go home.  After unloading a car full of impulse buys, I would begin baking brownies.

Tonight, I didn’t have the time or energy for any of that. So I improvised.  After reasearching about a thousand online brownie recipes, after checking inventory for all of the necessary ingredients, digging them out, after washing up my measuring cup, locating my measuring spoon, I took the lazy way out and just made brownies from scratch.

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R.I.P. Peach

I hosted a Celebration of Life tonight.  No one came- which was fine, because it was sort of a last minute deal and I didn’t invite anyone.  It actually would have been really disturbing if somehow somebody knew what I was doing tonight and showed up solemnly at my doorstep unannounced, head bowed, blender in hand, muttering “we’re here to help” and “nobody should go through this alone.” It’s not like anyone plans to have funerals for 149586_450192651403_2808307_nforlorn fruits that will soon be on their last legs.  If they had any, so to speak.

So I was just shuffling through the kitchen when I made eye contact with an old decrepit peach and I actually felt bad because he was the last one.  He’d been a kitchen fixture for so long that he was practically part of the family.  Now, as I gazed into his little stem of an eye which was surrounded by crow’s feet of wrinkled pink peach skin, I swear that I could see his soul.   Like a whispering breeze I heard, “Why?…  Why me? Or… why not me, rather? For I am all that is left of my fruit basket bunkmates.  You should have left me at the store to rot.”

That was all it took.  In that moment, I vowed to devote my entire night towards saving this juicy little geezer from the jaws of spoilage and was consumed with writing about it afterwards. I put the preserves in my best glass mug, garnished it with a fruit sticker and placed it in a plot surrounded by spicy globe basil for dramatic effect.  Rest in peace, peach.  R.I.P.

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Moving Everything Back to Move Forward

When we first moved in, the furniture was arranged in a certain way.  We shifted it periodically, but it always defaulted to where either the couch or loveseat was facing the only living room wall that the TV could be mounted.  Naturally.

2cb7a448-dcc4-4026-9365-4df90c38fdaf_zpstxipfr6tWhen you started moving out, all the furniture stayed.  So at first, just the closet seemed a little different. A couple of trips later and specifically after your TV was gone, the emptiness really started to set in.   Call me crazy, but there’s just something about staring at a wall with TV bracket holes and scratches that has a way of making a person feel all lonely inside.  It makes a person want some familiar background noise- even if that means listening to ESPN sportscasters.  So I covered up the wall. 

When the vacancy still glared, I rearranged furniture as much as I possibly could.  Somehow, our couch ended up in my bedroom and the whole place turned into one big bachelorette pad.  There was no more staring at empty walls or wishing that a sports channel was within earshot.  It was a drastic change that I loved and needed at the time.

Tonight, as I prepare to move out of our first place, I arranged the furniture in the way that it was when we first moved in together. Doing this, is giving me closure and sweet sentiments to the special time that we shared here.  It’s like an end cap.  It’s comforting and stupidly soothing to my heart- having our furniture arranged in the old way.  Sometimes a person needs to move back to move forward.

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Happy 4th, LifesLemons!

Happy fourth, LifesLemons…I baked you a cake.  speck_pixelskin_hd_wrap_ipad_2_case_1

On this birthday though, we’re baking and blogging from a new place and not everything’s arrived and organized yet from the old. Luckily for us, I came across a glass jar with some brown powder inside.  It was probably cake mix but it could have been dutched cocoa or chocolate pudding.  I added an egg anyway and rustled up an over-sized ramekin to bake it in.  The “batter” proceeded to take about three times longer in the oven to turn into a “cake” than usual but it tasted pretty good.  According to me, anyway.  I’ll eat anything that doesn’t eat me first.

Here are the year’s top posts, you know the drill.

Where I Get My Writing

How to Celebrate Survival of a Near Death Experience

NTT: #Vintage_Microwave_Selfies

Coffee Shop Wasted

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The Seven Year Itch: Part Six

It’s sort of like walking into an ice cream shop knowing what flavor you like best, but wanting to try the Rocky Road anyway.  It’s not about finding a better flavor, it’s about being completely content with your choice and discovering all the nuts and swirls that you can do without.

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The Seven Year Itch: Part Five

Two adults emerged from a relationship that they had been a part of since adolescence. It was difficult to wrap her mind around being single, “available” or even to think of him as, “my ex-.”  But weeks turned into months and they existed as two instead of one.  It was a time to not be guarded, to “test the waters” and find out who they were without the other. ddtureThey opened their minds in ways that had never been done before- abiding only the boundaries that they’d imposed upon themselves.   It was liberating and revelatory.

At one point, she felt as if he were a complete stranger and her heart wrenched at the thought of him thinking the same.  Together, they tried not being taken by each other but in the end, it was too late.

The Seven Year Itch concludes tomorrow at 7:30 A.M. 

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The Seven Year Itch: Part Four

The hardest part was taking a huge step back from a perfectly comfortable and loving relationship.  Still, in attempt to resolve her uncertainty, she insisted on walking away from one of the best persons she had ever grown to know.

kjkCan you imagine?   What sort of selfish person abandons another?  Just “checks out” of their second-nature, their normal, in attempt to “itch” something that, “she can’t put a finger on?”  

In one scenario, this break wouldn’t last and they’d end up together.  The Great Unknown wouldn’t be greener on the other side, her nagging urge to experience independence would dissipate, and they’d live happily ever after, etc.

On the flip side, there was a chance that they would both move on from each other.  Or worse, what if one moved on and the other not?  The entire idea was against his will but what if somehow they each found someone else who was a bit more attentive or compatible?  He could fill her void and she could his.

But would he take a chance of letting that happen? He had no choice.  

The Seven Year Itch Continues tomorrow at 7:30 A.M.

If you missed it, click here for Part One or Two or Three.

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The Seven Year Itch: Part Three

They call it, “The Seven Year Itch” when, approximately seven years into a marriage or relationship, for various reasons, the rate and number of break-ups will be at its highest. Somehow, wearing that ring, on her left hand, on a certain finger provoked something from within and it scared her enough to do something about it- after seven years.

Have you ever walked into an ice cream shop? Rocky-road-ice-cream_thumb2You know what flavor you like the best but decide to try Rocky Road anyway.  Just to be safe- as a necessary precaution.  So that you know that you’re consistently making the right decision by choosing another.  It’s not about finding a better flavor, necessarily. It’s simply about knowing the alternatives, having the freedom to choose and being confident that your ultimate choice was the right one.

Insisting to separate from the person that she’d shared nearly everything and every time with for the past seven years was probably the most difficult decision of her life.  But for some reason, she believed that settling down with your first and only love, no matter how great, wasn’t in the cards for her.  It was something that she wasn’t prepared for.

If spending eternity with him started in 2007, her only regret was not knowing in advance.

The Seven Year Itch continues tomorrow at 7:30 A.M.

If you missed it, click here for Part One or Two.

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The Seven Year Itch: Part Two

kkkThey dated for seven years. They lived together, grew in love together and in March of 2014, she did something uncharacteristic and blushes about it to this day. She walked into a department store and left with a sterling silver ring that would be similar to an engagement ring that she would pick out for herself.  She wore it in private for several months- in the car, during housework, running errands.

That September, she broke up with him.

The Seven Year Itch Continues tomorrow at 7:30 A.M.

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The Seven Year Itch: Part One

When he texted her over the summer of 2007, she was absolutely beside herself. After admiring him for most of their lives, she’d pine over each and every one of his lovely messages- things like, “Hey.  What’s up?” and “Oh, that’s cool.”  She’d have to type, erase and type each response several times before feeling satisfied enough to hit the send button. Should she use punctuation or was that too formal?  Did she use, “yea” or “yes?” It didn’t matter.  In reality, he didn’t care about those things.

He was from a good family and wasn’t like the other boys. When they started “going-out” for real, she was smitten.

 The Seven Year Itch continues tomorrow at 7:30 A.M.

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Lately on Lemons

654654I kick myself everyday for not blogging on LifesLemons often.  Or more.  Or more often than not.  That would be a start.  Lately though, it’s been hard to stop the daily momentum.  It’s hard to settle down long enough to express one complete thought.  Years from now, let’s admit, I’ll wish that I had.  Years from now, I won’t really matter that I skipped a swim or didn’t continue my wild goose chase for the “perfect shower curtain.”  When I read back taking a night off to stay in, and write, is worth it.

Exciting stuff is happening soon and some day, it’ll be super fun to look back and shake my head at all the things that were going through it at the time.  Embarrassingly miniscule, juicy stuff about pointless things that probably only matter to me.   Did I really once rattle on about how I can’t keep a swimming cap on my head?  That’s deep.  Or, I quote, “Wearing bad socks is risky business,” end quote.  What the?  And did I really leave an anonymous note on my teacher’s lecture podium asking him to dismiss class early on a nice day?  That’s bad-ass.  I’m such a rebel.

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Coffee Shop Wasted

I took the day off.  It was a last minute decision that made perfect sense at the time because there are few more opportunities this year to use time-off and even less opportunities to Christmas shop.  I’ll just think up some gifts to buy and head out.  I certainly can’t treat today like a weekend day, when I do not much of anything except pace around the house in my jammies eating white chocolate chips and slivered baking almonds by the handful.  I can’t wind up in a little hole in the wall coffee shop either.  That would get the day wasted.  IMG_0501

On my way to hunt for Christmas presents, I made a point to do a few important things first: swim, deposit a jar of pennies at the bank and stop at my favorite place for complementary donuts while my car got fresh oil.  Next, I passed a local dive and that neon, “Open” sign just sung to me.  One little drink wouldn’t hurt.

The smell alone was intoxicating.  Luckily my laptop was with me, just in case my brain started whirling and I needed a place to crash and blog for a while.  A few rounds later, my stiff legs and I were stumbling back and forth from the bathroom.  At one point, I was staring up at the spinning ceiling fan wondering what a White Elephant is anyway.  It would be most responsible to call a taxi service to drive around a personal Christmas gift shopper- I’m not fit to go anywhere at this point.  (I’d lose my table by the radiator.)  This day is shot.  Speaking of…make it a double (shot) of espresso.  I’d like to dance in the corner to let some energy out.  Which probably isn’t a good idea. So instead, I order some scones to soak up the caffeine in my belly.  I blog, take online personality quizzes and think about dancing in the corner again.

The baristas offer last call and I order a final round for me and all my new-found fellow wifi-bumming friends.  When I leave the building, an officer approaches me and my heart races- did I forget to pay the tab?  “Ma’am, have you been drinking…. coffee, with your car parked here for longer than 2 hours?”

Geeze, is it that obvious?  Somehow, I make it home but won’t get much sleep tonight.  I’ll wake up with bloodshot eyes and a hankerin’ for bacon.  (I always hanker for bacon.) My day off was coffee shop wasted and there’s not many Christmas presents to show for it.

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Berry Therapy

I’m a sucker for berry bargains.  We, on LifesLemons, know this.  So when cousin Taylor and I hit the grocery store to roam around like twenty-something girls do on a late weeknight, berriesI couldn’t resist buying three trays of twelve for just eighteen dollars.  Which is less than half of half-price.  I returned to the store early this morning for five more, to share at work, and again tonight, for six more.  Again…to share at work.  Only four trays are expected to stay in my possession, but here’s the thing- my freezer’s full.

It’s about 5 percent ice cubes, 10 percent animal proteins, 35 percent mystery broths and stocks and the remaining 50 percent is already frozen fruits, namely berries.  Remember The Blueberry Gauntlet of 2014?  Or Abracadabra Apricots? There have been several gauntlets of this nature due to irresistible prices and I can’t resist stocking up my stock.  It ultimately leaves me with zero freezer space and poses a problem. Times like this require stealthy Family & Consumer Science problem solving.

I’m sort of too lazy to can them as preserves and I’d rather not dehydrate.  So I’ve come up with a solution:  I’ll stop hoarding them and start eating them.  Or I can just check myself into therapy.  There’s probably a real nice place for people like me.

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Chili Weather Tradition

Many families ring in chilly weather by making chili.  Each year, around this time, Crock Pots nationwide are dusted off in order to dub the season’s official start by making that first batch of iconic deep red soup, which consequentially- no one probably even thinks of as soup anymore.  Did they ever?  Because it’s chili, duh!  The beans, the beef, the sight, the smell make it such.  And eating it this time of year is that momentous.  It’s a real custom that I can stand behind.wpid-img_20141101_134351_030

My tradition, as it applies to making this fall favorite, involves going to the grocery store to get ingredients for making a lovely batch of my own.  Won’t the house smell wonderful?  The slow cooker and that shiny bag of oyster crackers will effortlessly add to the Autumnal countertop ambiance.

With list in hand, I march in and head straight to the first ingredient for making chili.  It is expected that I see something like, the last of summer’s green beans, and remember that there’s stuff in the freezer (broths and stocks) that should really be used soon. Next, I eye other ingredients that technically don’t belong in chilis but undeniably could make a wicked stir fry or something else.

One thing leads to the next and before you know it, my “Chili Weather Tradition” is in full swing.  My shopping cart gets full of potatoes, carrots, squash or greens- pretty much anything except canned tomatoes and beans.  The original recipe is abandoned in favor of using foods that I already have or have ended up walking out with, during my trip to the grocery store for specific ingredients.  In all my life, I’ve never made chili but every year around this time, I’ll eat countless casseroles and soups that were once projected to be.

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Whole Grain Bacon

If you haven’t noticed, I take this blogging business very seriously.  Someday, I can see myself writing for, or at least contributing to, internet outlets, magazines or, once it goes viral.   Hey Mom and Dad, you helped pay for me to learn about nutrition but I’d rather discuss how dishwashers make french cut green beans cling to butter knives, as a freelance writer, instead.

I could be more astute though.  I could be a liaison between the field of nutrition and those who care to learn about it.  Wouldn’t that be a novel use of my degree?  The best dietitians and nutrition educators, that I’ve met, really engage people and don’t preach.  They find a way to get through.  They find a way to connect.  They’re outside-the-box thinkers and explain why and how a person should make ideal ways of eating more attainable.  Wloophat’s the point of leading a horse to water if it’s not going to drink anyway?  (Or something to that effect.) 

As an author, or “corespondent,” I could filter out the fancy scientific nutrition jargon that tends to lose people and boil the basics down to brass tacks.  People would listen because maybe I’m relatable and extra amusing. They would read my stuff for a painless crash course on amino acids, scroll down and stumble upon a legitimate justification for eating donuts at dinner.  Oops.  Audiences worldwide would come to discover new ways to mac their cheeses or to hear nice stories about Farm to Table eating.  They’d keep reading and stay for the elaborate stories about carrot peelers and my encounters with little old ladies on gravel roads.  They’d probably pick out real gems of advice to eat just a bit healthier.  Kinda, sorta.  Maybe.  Sounds promising.  Let’s talk about bacon.

Everyone, who’s been in my presence recently, knows that I’ve had a tremendous appetite for bacon.  A craving that isn’t the healthiest when succumbed to in the desired quantity.  There’s a solution though, for a person not to eat an entire package of fried meat in just one sitting. That is, if a person can stop shoving their face long enough to use the grease and pop some corn.  Bacon grease popped corn is incredibly satisfying when a bacon hankering just won’t go away without a fight.  Popcorn provides fiber, antioxidants and the fat will aid in shuttling fat-soluble vitamins.  Besides, recent research suggests that the saturated kind, as in bacon, isn’t so horrible after all.

Whole grain bacon.  You’re welcome.

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NTT: #Vintage_Microwave_Selfies


This week on the ICC Surplus Sale we’ve added a totally vintage microwave. #totes_vintage. It’s like, a 500 Series Memorymatic and belongs in a museum or something.  #no_lie   Your Grandma may have used this to warm up her hard tack bread or whatever.  #nasty_olden_days_food.  Nah, she probably warmed up stuff likec69ca686dc620211f164b571b71a6f6f leftover chicken soup but it was probably the homemade kind because back then, they didn’t have Campbell’s or whatever.  Or maybe they had Campbell’s, but not those crazy convenient disposable lunch bowls or whatever.  They probably had to use like, hand thrown pottery or something and food took like half an hour to warm up but back then, they probably thought that was good or whatever.  #back_in_the_day_probs.

You need to buy this because YOLO.  This vintage microwave is probably worth a ton of money because it’s like an artifact of our meal preparation heritage or something.  You could put it on display in your house and it’s like a total conversation starter.  Lol. JK.  You could use it as an end table.  #nifty-thrifty.

You could put it in your room and take wicked microwave selfies in the reflection for days. #nofilter. #back_n_time_babe. #vintage_microwave_selfies. 

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Car Closet

1395907_10201484495091553_254914868_nI came home from work tonight with a plan.  A checklist to execute.  A bunch of random stuff that I wanted to get done.  It was all going along fine, dishes-done, floors-done, until an overwhelming stroke of personal genius brought me to my knees.   I wept.  Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

There’s been a plastic drawer riding around in my back seat since last week, when I snagged it from someone’s garbage.  On Sunday, I washed it and until now, its went without a purpose- been dead weight. How about a trunk drawer?  Duh.

For those of you who don’t know, I practically live out of my car.  Since I go between like five homes, it’s only logical to pack enough clothes, various shoes and athletic gear to be prepared, just in case I decide to stay at one.  My clothes stay nice from the closet bar across the back seat and now, my shoes won’t get squished from limited trunk surface area.  All that I need now is a pop-up hamper.

When it’s convenient to stay at the house I’m closest to,  I’ve got dress pants and matching shoes.  After work, the occasional, spontaneous, last-minute, tennis match-dinner party combo is possible as long as I’ve got a racket and shirt that’s not aassweaty.  It’s quite simple to take your look from day to night with cute leopard flats and a red pair of glasses.  Rubber boots?  Those are handy.  Ankle weights?  Why not?  Bug spray, toilet paper, and wrinkle release?  Perfect- the phone book has had enough pages ripped out for long runs.  But, if it rains today and you can’t run, do you have an umbrella?  More importantly, do you have goggles and a towel to go swimming indoors?   Drying off with dirty underwear isn’t the best way to stay feeling refreshed.  (Get a hamper for those bad boys instead.)

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