The Coffee with Cathy Guide to Everything — Identity Crisis

Having an identity crisis doesn’t seem to be in style anymore. You don’t hear much about it. We don’t pull it out as an excuse —  “Oh, I’m sorry I forgot to pick up the dry cleaning yesterday. I’m having an identity crisis.” — like we used to. And that’s a shame. It sure was a handy shortcut for “I’m just not feeling your Bakery goodiesunreasonable demands right now because I’m questioning the whole meaningless existence of life so just back off. Also, my espresso machine broke.” I guess “identity crisis” has been replaced with “identity theft,” which not only is a frustrating and unwelcome tangle of legal problems but leads to further existential wanderings that require more than a perfect macchiato to fix. Which you can’t buy because some criminal jerk has stolen your identity and rendered your spending capabilities useless. On the other hand, sometimes people simply don’t get your name right. I’ve dealt with this for years. IdentityMy name is one of those that’s easily mis-written: “Kathy” and “Woods” are what I usually get. I’m used to that. I don’t take it personally. And even when folks call me by my former last name — that of my ex-husband’s — I can handle it. (Although my now-husband vehemently objects to people ascribing that name to him.) Even when people call me “Mrs. Pitts,” giving me my husband’s last name which I never changed to, I’m cool. But when I get letters to all three versions of me — or, because I personally am so important to this company, “Current Resident” — it sort of makes you stop and think. And I have no idea who “Cassie Woods” is, although she sounds like someone who is small and elvish and has long curly hair and knows the difference between a pansy and a peony. That person is not me, but the bakery guy who took my phone order for pick-up apparently thought it was. Nice try, bakery guy. Actually, I think he’s on to something: “Hello, XYZ Bakery? I’ll take a half-pound of wild-yeast sourdough, sliced; two almond croissants and a new name, please. I can pick up in an hour.” It’s a whole new business model.

The Coffee with Cathy Guide to Everything — Hair Disillusionment

Crossroads Museum, Corinth, Miss.Here is proof that mirrors lie. Big time. This is me (bottom left-hand side) at a recent morning meeting of the Corinth, Miss., tourism board at the Crossroads Museum. Barely an hour before this photo, I had gotten ready and curled my hair carefully, spending my normal 20 minutes or so on maneuvering the curling wand and applying all sorts of Guaranteed Moisturizer Anti-Aging Shiny Hair things. I’m not a natural hair person but I’ve been practicing and I sincerely believed that my mirror at home approved of this morning’s effort. I could hear it saying, “Girl, you are an awesomely talented curler.” I could see it reflecting luscious and smooth and soft Sofia-Vergara-style waves. I could head out of the house with Hair Confidence because my mirror said so. But … no. (Cue sound of brakes screeching.) So obviously my mirror has launched a guerrilla-attack campaign and Cannot Be Trusted anymore. Because what I see in this photo is not Sofia Vergara but rather did-this-woman-even-brush-her-hair-today? Sad. So sad. And terribly inconvenient. How much to pry a bathroom mirror off of a wall and stage a redo?

What Have I Been Doing

besides being too lazy incredibly and importantly busy to post here, that is?

Well …

I've been giving the grandsons multi-purpose presents useful for all kinds of storage ... and

I’ve been giving the grandsons multi-purpose presents useful for all kinds of storage … and

Friends

enjoying visits from long-time friends (Husband could not believe his good fortune in having so many gorgeous women AT HIS OWN HOUSE all weekend).

Chocolate! Cupcakes!! Messy Kitchen!!!

For almost the past year I’ve been on a super-secret mission — one that required patience, endurance and meticulousity (which is a word I have just now made up to mean “what happens when you’re meticulous.”) But it wasn’t only me. Months and months and months ago, cupcake baker and blogger Stefanie Pollack, of Chocolate cupcakesSt. Louis, asked 50 of us bakers/food bloggers/intense cupcake fans to help test recipes as she searched for the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake. She called us “Explorers,” and, I mean, who could resist setting off for the land of Chocolatey Loveliness?  Who among us would pass up the chance for eating tasting sampling making an unlimited supply of chocolate cupcakes? Although I usually resist any effort that involves being in the kitchen any longer than it takes to pull an espresso shot, I enthusiastically joined Stefanie’s quest. I envisioned spending a couple of days immersed in all chocolate all the the time and then wiping the cocoa powder from my hands and leaving the kitchen behind for more profitable pursuits, such as checking out the new handbag shipment at T.J. Maxx. But I was wrong. Why? Because I did not factor in 1) Stefanie’s dogged determination to GET IT RIGHT and 2) the other Explorers’ refusal to settle for LESS THAN PERFECT. Me, I followed Stefanie’s directions, made the first recipe, invited enthusiastic friends and family to taste-test (“Eat chocolate cupcakes and tell you what I think? Yes, please.”) and happily sent Stefanie the results, confident that we’d found the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake and I now could go on to Bakingother projects (see previous reference to “new shipment of handbags”). Wrong. Wrong. And wrong. Apparently I was in the minority of Explorers who were satisfied with Recipe No. 1. Some thought the cupcake batter was too thick. Some too moist. Some too crumbly. Stefanie promised adjustments based on the comments and a couple of weeks later sent us Recipe No. 2. Still enthused about exploring chocolate cupcakes, I cheerfully bought more ingredients, followed the recipe, distributed the cupcakes, dutifully noted all comments (“More chocolate cupcakes? Cool!”) and passed the results on Stefani, confident that this was the one. But, no. Too dry, some of the testers said. Too cocoa-y. Too bitter. So Stefani adjusted accordingly and soon we had Recipe No. 3. By this time my enthusiasm was waning a bit — as you can see from the photos, I am not the neatest of bakers and spend approximately twice the time cleaning up as I spent actually baking — and I was starting to get pained looks from my testers (“Oh, more chocolate cupcakes? What’s wrong with them this time?”). By Recipe No. 4, my husband took to ducking out of the house when it was Cupcake Time and friends started making excuses (“Sorry — I think I’ve become allergic to chocolate cupcakes.”) to avoid taste-testing. By Recipe No. 5, I was down to enlisting casual acquaintances to help out (“Hi. You may not remember me but your sister’s best friend’s cousin is in my book club Cupcake bakingand I’ve baked these chocolate cupcakes …”). When we got to Recipe No. 6, my reputation was preceding me and people literally would hurry out of my way when they saw me approaching with cupcakes. Even the cats ignored me as I started pulling out the mixer and banging utensils around — activity that usually brings them running in hopes of wayward splatters. Finally — finally! — it was Recipe No. 7. I scrupulously followed the directions, eschewing any rebellious thoughts of striking out on my own (My favorite salted chocolate bar instead of plain? Fat-free sour cream instead of full-fat?) and pressured nicely asked friends to taste. Could this be it? Had we intrepid Explorers reached the Fountain of Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes? And, more importantly, would I ever lose the 5 pounds accumulated from months of chocolate-cupcake research? Answers: Yes, yes and not yet. But if we can discover the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake, then anything is possible. Go here to see the recipe and read Stefani’s story of our explorations.

Hipster-dom Begins at Home

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Hipster-dom Begins at Home

This probably will NOT be his first-day-of-kindergarten outfit, but it’s cute, anyway. (Cut-outs from a Melissa & Doug Jumbo Drawing Pad, although Son-in-Law Jason Behel probably could draw these in, oh, about five minutes.)

Are You Rich & Indulgent or Runty & Sour?

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Are You Rich & Indulgent or Runty & Sour?

Obviously this is a carefully monitored personality test disguised as a simple snack choice located in the hallway of a University of North Alabama building. Your choice — a handful of sour fruity yumminess or chocolately nutty goodness — says a lot about you. Naturally, I would choose fruity chocolately sour nuttiness, but that’s just me.

Make Up Your Mind, Dairy Queen!

Now, I certainly am not one to criticize poor marketing choices or bad grammar or inaccurate wording … Okay, who am I kidding? I love doing that. But Younger Daughter and husband John Pitts are the champs at spotting those details that make you wonder what somebody was thinking. Such as this poster advertising Dairy Queen’s $5 lunch special — or, as JP pointed out, the “Five-dollar-bucks” special. Because that’s what it says. Probably, JP conjectured, the marketing coordinator presented a “Five Bucks” campaign to the DQ vice presidents in the corporate meeting room and one of the bosses said “We need a dollar sign there” and the marketing coordinator could either argue or agree and so we get a “five dollar bucks” message that is both confusing AND redundant. And now I want a sundae.Image