Happy Mother’s Day (Cupcakes)!

Beautiful flowers? Sweet treats? Decadent chocolates? Why not surprise Mom with all three, in one. After all, Mother’s Day is the day when moms can have their cake — such as these gorgeously decorated chocolate and vanilla cupcakes from Yummies bakery in my town of Tuscumbia, Ala. — and eat all the icing off before anyone else, too.

Mom’s Day is for Grandma, Too

In honor of Mother’s Day — which is Sunday, May 13, for everybody slapping their foreheads and saying, “Uh-oh. Mother’s Day is coming? I knew it was sometime in the spring.” — here’s a conversation Older Daughter reported to me the other day. Because Mother’s Day is sort of Grandmother’s Day, too:

Older Daughter was driving with her 4-year-old son/our grandson Nolan in the backseat.  Nolan asked his mommy if she would hand him one of his Cars books to read. “No,” she said. “Remember that looking at books while you’re in your car seat makes you throw up sometimes.” He considered this for a moment and then asked, “Mommy, do you feel like you’re going to throw up right now?” Wondering where this was headed, she said, “No. I don’t feel sick at all. Why?”  Explaining his well-thought-out plan, Nolan said, “Well, if you did throw up then we could go home and you could get in bed and Daddy could take care of you and we could call Kacky (Note: That’s me!) to come take care of me and you could throw up with Daddy and Kacky could play with me.”

Genius child! So, to recap — I’m the first person our grandson Nolan thinks of when the subject is being sick and throwing up. Which is exactly what we grandmothers want.

Happy (Grand)Mothers’ Day!

 

DIY Family Fun

Older Daughter and son-in-law are the most incredibly creative parents I know. I understand where my son-in-law gets that from: His parents are do-it-yourself and use-what-you-have advocates from way back. I’m not sure where Older Daughter gets it from since my idea of creativity is making peanut-butter chip instead of chocolate-chip cookies, but somehow she takes ideas from Martha Stewart and inspiration from Pinterest and, with a few fabric scraps and leftover nails, she’ll end up with something wonderful. The two of them collaborated on this fantastic backyard project that’s the talk of their neighborhood: A music station and a tunnel-maze, both made from found and recycled items. First, they collected their materials. Older Daughter hit yard sales and resale stores for the used kitchen tools that would become the musical instruments, and my son-in-law measured and cut leftover PVC pipes for the maze. They then spent much design time working out the configurations before attaching everything to the two plywood pieces they’d nailed to their fence.  The buckets in between hold spatulas, whisks, spoons and other “mallets” for music-making as well as cars and balls for the maze (which also, as almost-4-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable naturally needed only 30 seconds to figure out, works great for small water balloons.) Whenever I visit the Captain’s friends come over, I head they run straight for the backyard. Listen, I can play a mean roasting rack, accented with a really cool saucepan beat.

If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Mardi Gras

Have fun letting your good times roll today — whether you’re eating King Cake (watch out for that baby) or pancakes or paczki or your completely-bad-for-you pastry of choice. Of course, nothing goes better with eating rich fried sugary food than our other favorite activity: shopping. Younger Daughter and I spotted this could-be Mardi Gras wreath in Nellie Mae, an adorable boutique in downtown Tuscumbia, Ala., that’s owned by classmates of Older Daughter. And that sort of threw me. I mean, I’m used to my children’s friends being old enough to check my teeth and fill my prescriptions and give me speeding tickets, but buying clothes and jewelry from people I used to chaperon on field trips takes some getting used to. (Stay tuned for more Nellie Mae photos and other downtown-Tuscumbia finds — so cute!)

Going … Going … Gone. But Never Forgotten.

As so often happens, once you open your heart and fall madly in love, the object of your desire is cruelly yanked away and you’re left only with the crumbs of passion and teasing reminders of happier times. Not that I’m comparing the loss of Mellow Mushroom‘s seasonal Homegrown Harvest Pie & Drunken Fun Guys & other yummy menu items to an intense but doomed love affair … oh, wait … that’s exactly what it is. Mellow Mushroom craftily got us hooked on this absolutely delicious pizza, made with nutmeg-seasoned roasted butternut squash nutmeg on an olive oil and garlic base & topped with parmesan and Montamore cheeses and a swirl of Arugula pesto. And then there were the Drunken Fun Guys — little pillows of pizza dough served with three beer-infused sauces: a spicy cheese dip with Abita Turbodog brown ale, a stout and honey glaze and a Rouge Dead Guy ale spicy mustard. And there there were the Magic Mushroom Soup and Holy Shiitake Pie — also gone but never forgotten. I only mention these now-unattainable treasures because 1) I’m fascinated with how Mellow Mushroom has merged a successful capitalistic business plan with its counter-culture too-cool-to-care laid-back attitude, 2) maybe you’ll be inspired to try to recreate these taste treats at home and 3) maybe the next round of limited-time offerings will be just as good. Fingers crossed.

The New Baby is Here, the New Baby is Here!

I am a bad, bad blogger. I should have my three-year-old WordPress account ripped away and be forced to start all over for not posting in more than a week. That contravenes every piece of blogging advice ever written. But thanks to all who nagged bugged poked reminded me that even though I was BUSY HELPING WITH MY NEW BABY GRANDSON, I could take the time to post photos and share thoughts. You were correct. I didn’t do it, but you were correct. Anyway, I’m back in the decidedly adult home that my husband and I fill with the stuff of our grownup life: Newspapers, page proofs, espresso machines and stacks of to-be-read books along with deadlines, meetings and I-can’t-read-that-right-now-’cause-I’m-late-but-email-it-and-I’ll-take-a-look. That is pretty much my normal everyday life, but for a week I reveled in the precious & priceless world of newborn babies. Of course, you know that by “helping with my new baby grandson,” I actually mean “endless hours of playing with 3 1/2-year-old incumbent grandson Capt. Adorable” — which, it’s true, the new second-time parents (our daughter & son-in-law) considered a huge help. But I did get to sneak in a few rocking-chair moments with Baby Brother. I’m telling you, it was a grandmother’s dream: When I wasn’t playing Cars 2 Tokyo Spin-out Racetrack or building a Thomas train track or jumping on the bouncy thing at the indoor playground, I was holding that sweet days-old baby and breathing in that indefinable newborn smell. And you would be so proud of me. I pretty much almost always usually followed Mommy and Daddy’s household rules, didn’t say anything when they did something wrong chose alternate paths and offered advice only when asked — which, come to think of it, was never. But I was there to help my daughter over the weepy postpartum hump (she cried when she got home and unpacked her hospital bag — we’ve all been there) and when I left, she told my sincerely that she appreciated my being there more than I knew, so I must have done something right. Actually, I’m mindful of being on good behavior when I’m in grandma-mode since my husband has threatened to curtail my visiting rights if he gets any complaints from our daughter, so I rigorously keep to nap-time schedules and limit chocolate-chip cookies to only a couple (or three or four) at a time. And soak up all the grandbaby love I can get.

Jana & Claire: Do Not Read This Post. Look Away! Thank You.

My house was blooming the other night when friends who are co-hosting a bridal shower for the daughter of another BFF came over to make tissue-paper flowers for the decor. These colorful blossoms have been popping up everywhere recently — I see them in store windows and displays. They’re even Martha-Stewart-approved, and she has a video tutorial on how to make them. But we tapped in to our many-decades-ago high-school memories of decorating homecoming floats and transforming gyms into dance floors and didn’t even need Martha’s help. You just layer sheets of tissue paper, pleat as if you’re making a fan, fold in half and scrunch up the center and secure with a pipe cleaner. Then, it’s on the fun part of separating the layers and shaking them out into a flower. We got better with each attempt and soon were experimenting with different colors and sizes. We’re not exactly sure what we’re going to do with them now, but they sure are impressive! This is easy enough for even awkward, uncoordinated and clumsy non-crafty folks like me to attempt and yet creative enough for talented crafters, like my friend on the left in the photo above, to be inspired. You see, after our flower-making marathon, she went home and stayed up until 2 a.m. making corsages out of fabric and netting, using the same tissue-paper principle. I, on the other hand,  drank more wine and went to bed.

P.S. I warned Jana & Claire, the mother of the bride-to-be and the bride-to-be herself, not to look at this post, but they probably did and now are hoping that my flowers somehow don’t make it to the shower in favor of the gorgeous ones everybody else created.  But I’m redeeming myself by bringing coffee and herb-cheese biscuits, so maybe that will help.