We're going to Disneyland!

This is my gift to my family this Christmas. I'll be back when we have had every fun experience possible.

And not before.



Levi (turning 7 next month): Mac just hit me in the nuts with his paw!

Me: Nuts, huh? When did you start using that word?

Levi: Everybody says nuts.

Me: Oh. OK. We've always called them testicles in this house.

Levi: Well, all the guys call testicles nuts. Or balls. Cause they kinda look like them. Have you ever seen them?



Since I have a core belief that food preparation and consumption are the Earthly expressions of love, I paid Nob Hill Foods to do my loving for me this holiday season. Not the consumption. Just the prep.

They baked my holiday cookies for me. I paid them $15. And it was SO worth it.

And tonight the kids and I decorated cookies in our messy and crazy way.

And I feel good.

I'm wondering what else I can outsource...


After lengthy conversations about what we want to give to all of the cousins in the family for Christmas, my son and I had a chat about what he might want from Santa.

Levi: I want a big Infernape(tm). And I want Pokemon(tm) cards.

Me: What in the world is an Infernape(tm)?

Levi: It's a big ape, and he's on fire and he can.... insert endless Pokemon(tm) words here ... and I really really want one. A big one that I can sleep with.

Me: Wow! That sounds great. I wonder, however, if they even make that. Hmmm...

Levi (shooting me a chilly glance): It's OK, Mom. Santa MAKES all his toys.

Oh, OK. That should work out just great, then.



Charlie is my husband's very best friend in the world since high school. Ruben loves him like a brother. Maybe more, actually. Rube tries to get a hold of him a couple of times a year, usually around Charlie's birthday and the Holidays. Charlie sometimes calls on Rube's birthday. I haven't seen him since their 20th reunion when I was pregnant with Levi, who is now nearly 7.

Rube has always wanted Charlie to be a bigger part of our lives. To know our kids and celebrate and hang out with us. I understand Charlie's resistance, though. We are a non-partying family. We play board and card games and make delicious meals and go to bed at a respectable hour. This is not now, and has never really been, Charlie's speed.

Rube and Charlie's history has all those crazy stories that best friends just have from those wild years. There is a hitchhiking (in the wrong direction) story where Charlie came to rescue Rube. There is the "bug rolling" story. Tales of eating fast food meals and double-dip ice cream cones over the very windy Highway 17, all while driving a stick shift. A lifetime of memories, really.

At nearly 11:00 PM on Tuesday the phone rang. It was Charlie's brother, Robby. My heart sank. I was instantly hoping he was in jail or rehab.

He wasn't.

Charlie died in his sleep on Friday. He just didn't get up that day.

We don't have any details about the circumstances. Ruben didn't ask. Robby didn't offer. Doesn't really matter.

Ruben is wrecked. Ruined. So desperately sad. The reconciliation process hasn't begun. What does his life look like without Charlie in the world? I'm not sure Rube knows. I'm not sure he will any time soon. Despair is hanging around him like a cloud. He physically hurts from the loss.

And I can't do a fucking thing.

Today I will love my husband. Today I will love all of you stupid, crazy, irritating people. Today is all that I've got.



It has lights on it.

And all is right with my world again.

I don't know why a cut tree inside my house makes my heart soar. Cause, really, Christmas is just another day. Just another day with an ungodly amount of expectation. And greed. And disappointment. And tragedy.

And when I take a moment to let it sink in I just want to weep.

Which must be why there is so much momentum. And buying. And eating. And laughing. If I am doing all of these things I can't be devastated.

And so today I will be deluded. And will sweetly drift off to sleep with visions of sugarplums and happy children and perfect trees with perfect presents below.

And I will weep when we take the tree down.



Wondering where I went?

I went here:

Tonight is opening night. I'm wishing my daughter well. Hoping she doesn't really break a leg.

Cause after this week (Tech week, called "heck week" by the kids. Cute, huh?) with my child up past 10 PM most nights, we all need a break.

But too bad, cause it's the holidays now!

I'm not as peppy as I was last week. I don't know if you noticed.



I'm trying to come up with some delicious and yet pretty simple appetizers to serve at a dinner party we've been invited to with some new friends. We've met them through the new school. They are foodies and sporties and the lovely wife of the host family is up to her eyeballs in volunteer efforts at the school. Putting me to shame, really.

So, here is what I am thinking for 4 couples:

Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

Cheese Puffs (Gougeres)

Smoked Salmon and Wasabi Cream Cheese Bites (Made with Rube's homemade Smoked Salmon)

And lastly, this Crudite Platter with the "Really" Onion Dip. A much smaller version, mind you. I'm not spending the day prepping all those veggies. I mean, gimme a break - it's a veggie plate.

What do you think? Anything you would change? Any smashing holiday appetizers you'd like to share! Cause I would love, love, love that!



I know I said I was going to slow down with the posting. And I just might. But today I am feeling so very merry. And I had to change my banners and I was thinking about this month and how much fun it is. And how much work that is. And how much better it all is with Christmas music and a hot beverage (perhaps served with a cookie).

So I may be sharing some recipes or some favorite songs. I may be around here quite a bit. Or I might disappear. But you know when you know you are slipping day by day into a sad place? Each day a little darker and sadder than the day before and there is nothing you can do to stop it?

I am doing the OPPOSITE of that. Day by day I am getting happier and happier. And mania like this needs an outlet. Believe me!

So, for starters let's have a cookie, shall we?

Here is a cookie that takes me back to my childhood in an instant. We called them Vienna Dream Bars. Because I think that is what Betty Crocker called them. Whatever you call them, here they are. (Thanks, Razzle Dazzle Recipes for posting the perfect recipe so I don't have to work so hard!)

Date Crumb Bars

1 lb Whole pitted dates
2/3 cup Golden brown sugar; packed
2/3 cup Orange juice
1 tbsp Vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups Old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups Flour
1 cup Golden brown sugar; packed
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 pinch Salt
1 cup Unsalted butter; chilled, cut into pieces
3/4 cup Walnuts; coarsely chopped

Stir dates, brown sugar, and orange juice in medium saucepan over med. heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer until dates are tender and syrup is thick, about 3 minutes. Cool; mix in vanilla. Puree filling in processor until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal and forms most clumps.

Firmly press half of crumb mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Spread filling over crust. Add walnuts to remaining crumb mixture and sprinkle over filling.

Bake until topping is golden brown; about 40 minutes. Cool in pan. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature) Cut into squares, serve.