Monday, September 29, 2008

How do you say Doehle in Italian?

Um. Can we talk about how I just found myself on the Italian version of IMDB...?

I mean... What?!?!

Monday, September 22, 2008

724 Days

This is the time when everything starts to shake. My whole torso seems to shudder and vibrate with every shaky breath I take, pulsing in and out with grief. These are the times that make my head spin and my heart ache.

I was in yoga class last week, stretching and tensing my limbs in repetition in a darkened room. In the middle of class I suddenly found my body overtaken by intense sobs. One minute I was standing strong, arms stretched out, eyes locked straight ahead, the next I lay forehead pressed to the rubber mat, tears streaming up across my eyelids, through my eyebrows, and into my hair. Crying upside-down.

This is what it’s like. The grief just comes and hits hard and fast like a weighted blanket swung by someone very strong. Chest goes fuzzy numb and knees buckle. And then two hours later I’m fine. And by fine I mean “fine”.

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.
(C.S. Lewis, "A Grief Observed")

This time around I’ve found myself feeling the same familiar hustle, and looking desperately for an avenue to let some of this steam out. I want to work like crazy and busy myself up to try and match the frenzied pace inside. Last week it worked. But here I am on Monday morning and I’m realizing I can’t do that any more. This week is the countdown, the home stretch. One week until it’s been two years since my sweet momma stopped breathing. It hurts so much it’s almost sweet.

I still miss her so much.

And this week I can’t take that away, I can’t make it better, I can’t drown out the echoing throbs that ache for the innocence I once knew. They say that in a car accident it’s best not to tense up, but relax into the impact. This week I have to quiet my heart that’s throwing a fit to try and protect itself, and stretch out on this bed again and relax into the throes of grief.

This week I have to take it.

But this week also holds a new promise, a new hope. As I look back on the last two years, the past 724 days without my mom, amidst the piles of ash and burned rubble, I see restoration. I see the moment He touched my heart and opened my eyes to his goodness again. I see all those nights I lay on the floor, aching so deeply I thought I’d throw up, and my sweet Lord came and kissed my face and told me it would be okay. I see the night just a few weeks ago when I laughed for the first time since she died. Laughed… Not just a giggle or guffaw, but a true, honest, straight from my belly and toes and fingertips, so deep I cried, laugh! For the first time in a long time, I had tears that weren’t from pain. I didn’t know if that would ever happen again.

So as I’m laying here, still and throbbing, I feel hope rising. This week is the end of two years of battle, two years of war. This week marks the end of another year of pain’s dominion. This week I will remember my momma’s sweetness, her soft strength, her quiet wisdom and authority. This week I will remember all the ways my ravaged heart has been sewn up and kissed better by the one who made it. I will remember how he’s promised to restore me and “make all things new”. This week I will remember his faithfulness, and how it’s made all the difference.

It’s all going to be all right.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Love and Marriage

I've always wanted to get married. I don't think it's very weird-- I'm a woman who was once a girl, and I was raised on Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and marriage has always seemed like this glowing white perfect ending, this sailing off into the sunset of life, all swathed in white organza and lace.

Even though I now know that's an illusion, a well-meaning figment constructed by romantics and idealists like me, there is still this gorgeous, powerful allure to someday being one half of Man and Wife. Marriage is love, forever. What's not to long for?

I recently read an interview with Charlize Theron where she was quoted as saying that she would never get married to longtime boyfriend, Stuart Townsend, because she didn't believe in marriage and "I want to know that I wake up to Stuart every morning because I want to, not because a piece of paper says so."

Immediately when I read it I knew I disagreed with it, but couldn't figure out why. I mean, it sounds romantic and free-- love unfettered by politics and law. What was it about this declaration of free love that felt wrong? As I thought about it throughout the day, I pondered my parents' marriage, my best friend who wed when we were both 18, and so many married people I know and respect. I thought about how I've always longed to be married, and can't wait to commit to be someone's other half for the rest of my life.

Marriage is the deepest form of human love. I truly believe that. And love is not affection, it's not infatuation, it's not an emotion or a feeling-- it's a state of being. It's an all-encompassing presence of heart that puts another person before yourself and honors them above all others.

When a man and woman get married, when they choose to spend the rest of their lives with each other and ask the state to stand as witness, what they are really saying is, "I choose you. I choose to love you even on the days when I don't feel like it, when the emotions aren't there, when you hurt me and don't treat me like you should. I choose you above all others. Because you are the most honorable, trustworthy person I know and you are worth loving. I give my heart to you in exchange for yours. And on those days when I really, really don't feel like loving you, I commit to anyway, because you're worth it. I choose to honor you with my love and my life, forever."

Someday I will stand facing the best man I have ever known and give him my heart. I will look in his eyes and hold his hands in mine, and entrust my entire self to him as he swears to always choose me. He'll give me his heart in return, and I'll vow to choose him, to honor him until the day I breathe my last. I will choose to love him, to be love to him, and he will choose the same for me.

We're going to be a great team. And I can't wait to meet him.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ready for My Closeup

Baby's gettin' a little press!


Photograzing (My little cuppycake was on the Serious Eats home page all weekend!)

...and now Cupcakes Take the Cake!

This is the point where I act all low-key and humbly thank everybody for liking my cupcake so much... Screw that-- AAAAAAAHHH!!! I'm so EXCITED!!!!!

But no seriously, thanks for liking my cupcake so much. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Please sir, I want...

S'more cupcakes!

What can I say?  I'm getting a little adventurous...  With September in full gear I figured this was the perfect time to compose a farewell ode to the waning days of summer.  And what says summer more than chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers?

Soft, yellow cake enclosed around a sweet Hershey Kiss, topped with marshmallow cream icing, drizzled with hot fudge, and sprinkled with salted graham cracker crumbs.  Amen.

S'more Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 Hershey Kisses

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup marshmallow cream
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
up to 1/4 cup milk

1/2 c. hot fudge ice cream topping
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, combine the flours. In a separate bowl, combine milk and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. 

Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Drop one unwrapped Hershey kiss into each cupcake tin, pressing down slightly so only the tip peeks out. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Combine butter and marshmallow cream in a mixer until well combined. Add sugar and vanilla. The mixture will probably be really stiff. If it is, add milk a little at a time until it's spreadable but still thick. If it gets runny, just add more powdered sugar.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing. When cool, frost with marshmallow icing.

Then take hot fudge and warm it slightly in the microwave before spooning into a plastic bag
(I like to use a product called "Hershey Bar in a Jar" that tastes just like a melted Hershey bar so they REALLY taste like s'mores). Cut off the tip and pipe in a little design on the cupcake. In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and salt. Spoon onto cupcakes.

Consume in mass quantity.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Mish Mash, I was takin' a bath...

WOW! It has been so long.  Forgive me, I've been running around like that proverbial headless chicken...  Here are the highlights!

Home last weekend to visit Best Friend before she up and moves away.  Looks like I'm going to be spending a lot of time in Kansas City.

On the drive home I got my very first flat tire.  Here's how it went: 

Rumble rumble rumble
Jostle jostle jostle
Get out of the car to check tires/ fluid
Rumble rumble rumble
Jostle jostle jostle
Turn radio up
Call AAA
Crawl in the backseat and take pictures of feet for an hour

Made it home.  This is Buster and my morning routine.

Note: I made those pajama pants myself in 8th grade home ec.  Represent.

Big ol' goodbye party.

Spent some time with BF and this little nugget.

She's an incredible mom...

But seriously, how could you not want to take care of this guy?

We have quite a relationship already.

This weekend I shot a web-series where I played a homeless lady (totally shutting down your social filter is more fun than I should admit), went to the beach, had a big grown-up sleepover at a home with the biggest, most gorgeous kitchen I have ever seen, went to a football game and watched my alma mater kick some serious tail...  Oh and did I mention I baked three batches of cookies and a chocolate layer cake in there somewhere?

That's just how I roll.

More soon.