Wednesday, September 29, 2010

a feeling of home


I converted a travel-size baby powder container into a miniature bottle for Comet. Chip uses it to scrub each hotel tub before Bean's bath. He is meticulous in his movements, reaching into the corners and crevices.

Between us, we amass seven pieces of luggage, not counting my handbag. Every bag is unloaded from the car at every stop. A bag for clothing. One for toys. One for extra blankets and diapers, my exercise gear. There is one bag for Chip's work. One for food and snacks. It's a specific system I have designed: bag designation --- packing for ease of travel but not for transport.

I have the same routine at each hotel. Upon arrival, as Chip is unloading our portable arsenal of living from a bell cart, I am setting up a temporary house arrangement. Finding a place for Bean's crib, making her bed, setting up the monitor, plugging in the white noise that will be used later, placing things needed for bath time in a specific order, in a specific way.

Experience has taught me the following: check that the air conditioning and heater are in working order before anything has been unpacked; bring your own fitted crib sheet from home; always pack a few extra kid-friendly plastic cups and plates; keep things tidy so you don't go stir crazy in a small space.

There are rules of thumb stored deeply in my brain. If we're staying in one place for more than a single night, I try to get Bean outside the hotel on the second day: walk to a local park or mall, run around the outside of the hotel, whatever it takes to get sun on our faces and breathe unfiltered air. At breakfast I squirrel away a few things that I can feed Bean at lunch. A spare box of Raisin Bran cereal. A banana. A bagel or piece of bread.

People tell me I'm crazy to travel like this with a toddler - the long distances, the dusty stretches of time spent in a car, the constant movement, missing the creature comforts of home, sleeping in so many strange beds on so many pillows not my own. But the thing is, all the trouble melts away when I spy Bean having moments like this one:

And suddenly I've never felt so light, never felt so excited to be in one place. Watching her enjoy her cousins. Delight in chasing ducks on the gorgeous greenbelt along the river in Idaho Falls. And ultimately, the biggest reason we do it: spending time with Chip - the fixture we so rarely see during the weekdays. Time with a beloved daddy: in Pendleton, La Grande, Shoshone, Idaho Falls, Boise, Logan, Sandy---- no matter where we are, we're home.

Monday, September 27, 2010

so much more


Pardon me for breaching the blogging-about-blogging rule for a minute but I feel compelled to say that one of the strange things about writing a blog is the draw toward completion, collectivity, and cohesion. In other words: the great desire to have things go together, to have things make sense.

If I were writing a book, say, I'd need to have one chapter lead into the next.

But it's different with a blog. It's a snapshot of the author's mental landscape, and that landscape can be varied and wildly changing (can I also add that it does so sometimes at lightening's pace?).

All this to say that when something grabs me, I try my best to write about it and be true to it in the moment it's occurring to me. Sometimes I let something percolate for days or weeks or even months - but usually it's a spur-of-the-moment-write-it-all-down-now-before-it-goes-away kind of thing. And this, naturally, does not always lend itself to Blog Continuity.

One day I'm writing about the Balloon Man Obsession and the next I'm writing to some future teenage version of my kid, warning her about possible roadblocks to her future happiness and well being. So say it with me: not exactly topical.

I don't mind. And I'm glad that you don't seem to mind. Which brings me to this little nugget: I'm going to write more in the series Things I Will Tell My Daughter. It's an idea that has been percolating for a good long while, but the topic of that first post just came hurtling at me out of nowhere. It's one of those moments when I feel like I'm tapping into something bigger than me: a universal topic, an important topic, something that I want to say and I'm so glad that the words came to say it.

And the beauty of all this is that there is so much more to say about it as well. After I posted that first one, Chip reminded me throughout the weekend that what I'd said was incomplete - that there is so much more to say about the good AND the bad about The People That We Meet. He's right, of course. There is so much more to say about it. And I hope to do that. I plan to do that. But not today. And maybe not tomorrow or the next day, either. But soon.

I'm curious about you. What's been on your mind lately?

Friday, September 24, 2010

on parenting and setting boundaries

I used to wonder over the parents who couldn't say no, who waffled and wish-washed, who didn't know how to draw the line.

But I get it now. The smunchy face, the pinchable cheeks, the lips puckered into a small round O after the heartbreaking PEASE?

I used to question why moms said they had to give in. I thought it was about giving an answer and holding their ground.

But I get it now. The insistent questions, the single-minded arrow to one specific goal, the pestering and pants-tugging, and finally the brain-numbing screeching for a cookie, a cooooooooooooooookie, A COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I used to roll my eyes when I surveyed the landscape of other mother/child relationships: the evidence of landslides and storms, the buildings in rubble. I thought it was a matter of mindset and strength, parent as the all-seeing all-knowing all-encompassing pacemaker for everything from weather patterns to traffic jams.

But I get it now. I totally get it: this landscape we build, we're doing it together. There are skyscrapers and parking lots that don't serve us as well as they could. And it's not always my decision. Bean scrapes her knuckles on the fences of our world. She wants to stretch. She isn't satisfied with the town square. She dreams of the fields she can see peeking over the fenceposts. There are acres of grass for her to run wild, and try as I might, my reasons aren't always sufficient to keep her inside these borders.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

their names even rhyme


Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not. Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning and an end. Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm.

There is only one serious question. And that is:

Who knows how to make love stay?

Answer me that and I will tell you whether or not to kill yourself. Answer me that and I will ease your mind about the beginning and the end of time. Answer me that and I will reveal to you the purpose of the moon.

-Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker

Over the past year this quote from Tom Robbins has been wandering over the spaces in my mind. In the wandering, I've been substituting friendship for love.

Who knows how to make friendship stay?

A couple of weekends ago, we welcomed two of my high school buddies to visit. Karen and Sharon. We ate lunch together in some way/shape/form for our four high school years. Occasionally Sharon was missing. And sometimes it was Karen. Our friend Edith was also a prominent lunchtime fixture. There were others that came and went during those years, but these faces were something I could count on. We lost touch after high school. The magic of Facebook cured that last year.

A few things about Karen:
. She is just as dry-humored and hilarious at 36 as she was at 17.
. You might have to look her in the eye and possibly stare at her for a few beats to see if she's being serious or sarcastic or both (not an easy task).
. She is a dedicated mother to two scrumptiously adorable girls - whom she not only feeds / houses / tends to general mothering duties, but also homeschools. Did I say she was dedicated?
. She doesn't take herself too seriously, which is a wonderful trait to have when you are my friend. (I take myself too seriously.)
. She somehow seems to not only suffer through, but actually enjoys listening to my long nonsense rambles.

A few things about Sharon:
. She is profoundly patient when weekend plans get rewritten several times over due to a sick Alice Bean.
. She is profoundly patient with aforementioned Alice Bean.
. She enjoys introducing aforementioned Alice Bean to the wonders of Disneyland and Mickey Mouse, through the magic of mobile phone pictures and videos. (Alice, after the education session and for several days following, "LET'S GO SEE MICKEY MOUSE'S HOUSE!")

Karen and Sharon have been friends since they were 7 (or was it 8?). They met in Girl Scouts.

Between laughing at yearbook pictures and visiting several of my favorite shopping spots, I posed the question to them. How do you make friendship stay? It was late at night over caramel Rice Krispie squares when they told me. Sharon said, "I think we're still friends because we dislike the same people." They both laughed at that - and I caught the briefest of flickering looks between the two of them. The look that says they've answered the question before, that they've thought about their enduring friendship and this is the fun answer. This is the answer they give because it makes sense. It melts their experiences, their fights, their tears, their tenacity of holding on to each other when their circumstances would point to a different option, a much easier option - to let it all go. When faced with the choice of not caring about the other person, they have said no. Again and again, they've said no and they've held on and they've carried on and they've gotten through whatever it was that would have them no longer relating.

This is why I keep wondering over the question, chewing on it like a dog with a bone. How do you make friendship stay? I've stared down the barrel of friendships, watched them in the crosshairs of different life choices and different life circumstances. Time and again, the easiest answer has been to move on. To let go. Not always my choice, either. But you get the picture. Enduring friendships, the ones that last, are few and far between.

How do you make friendship stay?

Karen and Sharon would have you believe that the key is to hate the same people.

But that's not really it. That isn't what has them traveling long distances to visit one another and share in each other's lives despite the fact that they went to separate colleges, the fact that they live several hundred miles away from each other now - and their lives are different. Very different. The key to their friendship isn't that they don't like the same people. It's the opposite: they love the same people. They love the skinny arms and legs and long braids of the girls they were together - and they love the women they are today. They've taken the time, and continue to take the time - to expend the energy to know each other, yesterday and today. They don't rest on the laurels of their past friendship, but continue to pull it into the future by truly sharing themselves and what they've become. Real friends. Real friendship. Karen and Sharon know how to make it stay.

Who knows how to make love stay?

Tell love you are going to the Junior's Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if love stays, it can have half. It will stay.

Tell love you want a memento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a mustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay.

Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning.

- Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker

Tell me your secrets. Do you know how to make friendship stay?

Friday, September 17, 2010

the awesome/not awesome of taking sleepy cold medicine at night


One of the best things about writing a post saying that I've been busy and I'm still busy and it might be a little bit before I write again is that, inevitably, I end up writing the very next day. Every time.

So last night* I took some sleepy cold medicine. Let's not talk about why because I am refusing to even mention the Sick word for fear that my body will just give up, wave the white flag, and then succumb to a constant couch bound shivering mass. So instead let's just say that I took some cold medicine last night for some odd reason.

This morning has me thinking about the pros and cons of that action, as evidenced by my direct experience. Without further delay, I present a return to AWESOME / NOT AWESOME, via sleepy cold medicine, all in REAL TIME, because I am fancy. And also loopy.

Sleep! Sleep sleep sleepy deepy schlepy sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Not awesome:
It is 5am? No?
7am? No?
You're telling me it's 8am and I'm still blurry-eyed and mumbly?!


Not awesome:
Rested but feels very-much-like-a-lingering sweater over my enter body, including eyes/ears/mouth/nose. What time is it again?

No more fiery throat of brimstone and death!

Not awesome:
I have given Bean the following for "breakfast" since I can't even be bothered to know what time it is exactly: wheat pretzels, chips, twisty pretzels, Special K cereal. They are all the very similar shade of BROWN, and each of them has fit nicely in an easily-ported-around-the-house CUP. I'm not sure she's even seen a slip of milk in several days.

Have I mentioned the sleep? The glorious, so desperately needed sleep?

Not awesome:
My ability to even care about things that should be dealt with has dwindled to the following: if I can be sitting down while doing it, and if it involves as little thinking/talking as possible. To wit: in the last several minutes Bean has spilled her brown food du jour and I have merely bent down, whisked the floor-infected bits to the side (for sweeping at a later time) and then refilled the cup. Sleep-walker style.

If I can suspend my distant but still real irritation that I'm not doing anything of substance, it's a nice little ride, the not caring. I like feeling unaffected by the growing list of To Do's.

Not awesome:
Still. It's a REAL irritation. And my list isn't getting any shorter, nor are the ever-growing piles of brown food bits lining my walls getting any smaller. (Add "sweep and mop" to the list.)

I am so easily distracted! I can't be bothered to bother! About anything! Other than sitting here on my tushy and thinking longingly about the couch across the room. Mmmmmmm couch.

Not awesome:
Distracted! Yes! And there is a bathroom to clean! And emails to write! And phone calls to make! And --- Hey there's the couch over there and I think I also spy the comfy green blanket. Mmmmmmmm couch.

Whatcha got on your awesome/not awesome list today?

*And for accuracy's sake I will tell you that I did, indeed, write this post on Thursday morning(ish), but felt that I shouldn't burden you with thinking of this depth and breadth until Friday had properly rolled around.

You're welcome.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

down the dip

It's like this: I was feeling so rockin-on-top-of-everything a couple of weeks ago, and I was saying Yes! Yes! YES! to anything, everything, and as the days passed by and I kept churning along with a steadily growing roar in my ears and the projects started to build and the lists got longer and my patience got shorter and I found myself standing in the middle of the living room spinning in slow circles watching thing after thing after thing focus in and out of my view until I just sat down. Sat down and thought Huh. I'm really tired. Really, really, really tired.

But that's not exactly what happened.

It's like this: There were a lot of fun things and good things and maybe not-so-fun things but still necessary things that were all happening at once. And I tried to do everything in the midst of Chip traveling and Bean getting sick - twice - and my sleep cycles dragged and got funny. Which usually makes me not-so-funny so I kept thinking of blog entries that I should write but didn't.

But that's not exactly what happened.

It's like this: We had a lot of fun. And a full house with some visiting old friends. And lots of laundry. Bean got sick (in succession, and also in reality with barfing sick at night for several nights in a row). I have these welcome-but-still-stressful work projects that I'm tackling. Preparing for a long 18-day trip through Oregon and Idaho and Utah. And the Whimsy energy output has been maxed, leaving an empty shell of a blog here.

But that's not exactly what happened.

It's like this: I pretended to be like other people I know who can do and function and do and function and even though things get tense they still do and function at a similar pace. I forgot for a few minutes that I'm not like those people and I need space and time and a little less motion to my days in order to function. It's how I do what I do, with the heart and mind that I have. I weigh every decision to see if it's going to push me into the red zone, to carefully mete out the strands of sanity and stability that are mine. A long while ago I suggested that The Creamery needed a Threat Level Advisory and though I was quite serious at the time, it's sort of funny that it's so necessary to my days and ways of survival. As the needle on the stress meter rises and flirts with the higher end of the scale, my blood pressure and my brain pressure react in kind. I've gotten to the point that I don't let myself get too close to a red zone before I automatically start shucking things to the side, off my plate and beyond my reach--- things that normally I love to do, but can't be done properly right now so shouldn't be tackled at all.

But I wanted you to know that I'm fine. That I'm bobbing along and will resurface soon. That I am busy but it's a good busy. That I still owe you an entry about my new word, the one that I'm quietly whispering to myself even now, the word that will help me see everything through to the other side.

It's going to be great over there.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

word prescription

There were parts of last year that knocked me out. Moments that cut me off at the knees and left me bloody and limp. By the time fall came around my tank was empty and there was no more energy to be found. I started thinking about my word then, in the darkness of September nights, what it would take to feel like I might survive a string of tough days and still have the energy to face a teething toddler.

I contemplated the idea of grace: how to get it, how to hold on to it, how to use it to better glide through the challenges life had to offer.

I thought about energy and rest. One thing I seemed to lack on a daily basis, the other I craved in just that same amount.

I asked myself a lot about focus. What would it take for me to run with a theme for the year, to hold tight to the threads of it and pull myself forward?

All of this introspection lead me, time and again, to a single word. A word to encompass the thing I wanted for myself and my family. A word born out of this desire for more - more energy, more grace, more focus, more patience, more faith.

The word?


I felt deflated. I felt beaten. I felt weak. In my muscles and bones, yes. But also in my character. In my choices. In my faith. I felt like I had grown soft and lazy, too prone to choose the easiest way. It's not that I sought to excise all vulnerability from my life, because I know that it's the soft center that gives us the best ability to reach and be reached. But there is an opposing side to that vulnerability, where it weakens the bones and melts them down to a moldy mess.

Strong. An antidote for the holes in my body and soul.

That was my word. And it became my mantra, my meditation, my talisman. It was the word I said (and repeated under my breath like a prayer) as I first climbed on the treadmill. It was the promise I made myself as the weight of personal challenges pulled me down into the darkness. It was the word that pulled me forward when I wanted to stop. It was the word that helped me to reorganize my days and my decisions. It was the word to encourage me to make the tough choices. To say no when I wanted to go with the flow and agree. To say yes when I wanted to give up. To stand up for myself, again and again. To be strong.

I'm so glad I did it.

But it's important to know that I didn't take action right away. From those first few days of Autumn last year, when I tucked Strong into my pocket--- I held it there quietly for quite some time. I took it out to examine its texture from time to time. I rubbed my fingers over its surface and thought about the months to come. I dreamed. I formulated plans. I created a structure. I examined myself closely. I asked questions.

Many dark weeks passed in fall and into the winter when the word slept quietly in my deepest center.

As January dawned, I felt a restless movement within: the seeds of my changes stirring in that wonderful internal garden. And that's when things started to happen.

Again and again, I clung to my word. In situations that still sting when I think back on them now, I considered: What is the strong thing to do? I can't promise that I did everything right, or that the year passed by without trouble. But I can tell you this: there is strength in my muscles that wasn't there before. There is a tenacity inside of me that has grown. I feel better and braver and more me than I did a year ago.

I feel strong.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

part two: an invitation

Read part one here.

The slow drop into fall.

Harvesting the fruits of my inner garden.

Looking for inspiration into this year's new beginning.

Robert Fulghum's words.*

The spark of an idea.

Something I want to share with you - and invite you to join me.

As autumn gathers around you like foliage at the foot of a tree, I invite you to reflect on the time that was, the time that has been. What practices, what habits, what mistakes would you like to cast into the sea? And what word would you like to embrace in this coming new year?

What word can you plant in your garden to nourish quietly through the long winter?
What word can you feed and water to grow tender green shoots by spring?
What word will bring you closer to the self that you'd like to be at this time next year?

I'm not asking for huge sweeping gestures or detailed bullet points or complicated plans to reach twenty-seven different goals, although if that works for you than I fully support your efforts. But in the case of this challenge, choose just one word to bring you to a better place, a truer place, a place with some quiet peace.

If you'd like to participate, and want to share your word--- I'd love to hear about it. If you want to take part but want to keep your word quietly to yourself, I'd love to hear about that too. I'm going to be sharing my old word - and my new word - here in the next couple of days. But I'd love to hear your ideas for what you're going to embrace.

* ...and because it would be terrible to not share the original bits from Robert Fulghum that inspired me, here they are, from his book, Uh Oh:

Jewish, I'm not. But I often observe the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Not as Jews usually celebrate - not in a synagogue - and not for ten days. In my own way and time. The temper of Rosh Hashanah appeals to me. The idea of the new year coming in the fall fits my life better than January. During all the years I worked as a teacher and minister, the fall was the beginning of my annual cycle - the end of summer vacation and the start of work anew. That mind-set continues. By January, I am already in the middle of a cycle of living.

The ten days of the Jewish New Year, called the 'Days of Awe,' begin with the 'Day of Remembrance,' and end with Yom Kippur, the 'Day of Atonement.' A trumpet made from a ram's horn is blown, summoning the people for judgement and self-assessment,k for repentance and self0improvement. At the center of this event is a sense of hope. One gets personal accounts squared away so that one may go on with life, with high expectations for another year - a better year - to come. And someday, next year perhaps, Jerusalem - the City of God on Earth, with the Anointed One, the Messiah - will truly come. That is how the Jews see it and believe it.

This year on Rosh Hashanah, I stood out on the end of a high ridge in southeastern Utah and watched the sun go blazing down in a clear sky. September 19. No congregation, no horns, no hymns or prayers or candles. Just the passing of the daylight and the coming of night. Great silence. And a view of 60 million light-years when I looked straight up into the stars. 'Days of Awe' indeed.

On occasion, in years past, I planted daffodil bulbs on Rosh Hashanah, as a reminder to myself that hope for better times is not enough - that one must be an active participant in the quality of the future. If I want flowers in the future, the planting must be done now.

One year I went so far as to plan an apple tree and some strawberry starts, knowing full well that I would not see flowers or fruit for a long time to come. But I intended being there. Hope and faith must be active verbs.

-Robert Fulghum, Uh-Oh

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

part one: enter the harvest

The edges of summer are starting to show around here. I can see them far off, slipping down the shoulders of clouds in the distance, revealing the yummy season of fall underneath.

It has me thinking about new beginnings.

Does that sound weird to you? As summer ends and we watch the slow creep of autumn, the changing colors of leaves, the squirrels gathering food for the long encroachment of winter--- does it seem odd that my mind would drift to a fresh start?

Let me explain: it began several years ago when I read an essay by Robert Fulghum in his book Uh Oh. He is not Jewish. Something more of a all-you-can-eat pick-and-choose buffet sort of fellow in terms of religion. But he says that the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah appeals to him. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, and he goes on to explain why it reverberates for him. He feels like fall is the right time to begin again. As these pieces of earth have grown and flourished, as they come to fruit and are harvested just at this time of year--- so it is with our internal selves. It makes sense on a cellular level that we should visit our internal garden to reap the harvest of our life's fruits. We clear the soil of debris. We pluck stray weeds that have been allowed to grow. And we add whatever fertile blessings we can to this newly cleared land, preparing it for winter's rest.

In the meantime, I dream of a word.

It's a tradition I started with myself last year. As fall crept into my bones I felt like I needed to embrace this concept of a new beginning in autumn. I couldn't wait, and didn't want to wait until January to set myself on a new path. So quietly I considered my options. I thought about setting a whole slew of goals: a litany of rules and sub-rules to better craft my physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental self. A document that would surely set myself up for both fantastical betterment and also fantastical failure. Because if there's one thing I'm a little too good at, it's getting tied up in confusing rules and binding specifics. No, I didn't want to approach my own personal new year with too many goals that would surely languish. Instead, I picked a word. A single word that I promised myself I would live toward. A word to help me to distill my hopes and desires for a Better Whimsy into simple and concrete action. One word for a year of focus.

If you've read Eat Pray Love than maybe this concept will sound familiar to you. It's funny because I've only just read the book in the last few weeks and I had this moment of Oh Right when I came across Elizabeth Gilbert's search for a word for her life. I get that. It makes sense, and after the simplicity I've been able to embrace my one word, it's a tradition that I want to continue.

Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset this year on September 8. For so many friends of the Jewish faith, it is a time for quiet contemplation and seeking personal forgiveness for past mistakes. It is a time for casting old practices, old sins, old beliefs, and old dogma into the sea. For asking to be made clean.

And although I'm not Jewish, I will be doing my own quiet personal inventory this week. As the dark shadows grow long in the twilight and the leaves begin to turn gold and scarlet, I will do my best to evict the little bad habits that have been clinging to my coattails this year. I will take stock of what I've gained and what I've lost. I will savor the sweet taste of those fruits from my labor this year. And I will clear the ground and give prayers of thanks for my many blessings. This is the time to clean my internal garden and ready the soil for another word, a new word, a word for the coming new year.

I can't wait to tell you about it.

* My Jewish friends: please pardon my complete and total layman's take on this very special and sacred holiday. I hope you know that I approach it with the most sincere reverence. If I have made any assertions here that are incorrect or (even worse) inappropriate, I hope you'll forgive me and accept this with the spirit it was written--- to urge all of us, no matter our faith, to look inward and seek for constant improvement.

Friday, September 3, 2010

meditation on the simple rice krispie square

A comfort food, for sure. But not one of my favorites. We didn't make them when I was growing up. I have no memories of standing warm in the kitchen while mom mixed up a batch, slowly melting marshmallows and pressing the finished product into a pan. The first time I ate one I was in my early twenties, if you'll believe it - all that time passing without a single bite of an iconic childhood dessert. And that first bite: a rude awakening. I had imagined something creamy and chewy. The crisp of the rice mellowed by vanilla, strings of marshmallow like spun sugar on my tongue. Instead, my overwhelming sense was... styrofoam.

I wasn't much of a fan.

In subsequent years I've had them a few times - I've grown fond of them in their own light and styrofoamy way. But ultimately, I know why they never suit my tastes, and it's because I've always eaten something else in their place.

From the days of childhood to now, when I get a hankering for anything resembling a cereal cookie/dessert concoction, I don't reach for Rice Krispie Squares. I reach for something we called Caramel Cookies. And oh, besides the name, what a difference.

Imagine the same concept as a Rice Krispie Square, with the crisped rice cereal base and the chewy fluff of marshmallow. But then add the extra soft mellowing of butter--- so much chewier and easier on the roof of your mouth. And the extra shots of CARAMEL FLAVOR, so much richer than the simple bland taste of its well-known counterpart. Of course, mom made these with Special K, which is a flake and therefore performs differently than the little puffs of Rice Krispie.

I don't know why it took me so long, but when Rice Krispies were on some kind of madhouse super sale several weeks ago I bought many many boxes. And promised Chip some proper Rice Krispie Squares. Though luckily I didn't say proper because I decided to translate the caramel cookie of my childhood through the bright blue RK box.

And oh, the results.

Where once upon a time I was barely able to choke through a single RK square--- my new version had Chip and I jockeying for position to cut the biggest piece for ourselves. And come back for more (and more). Since then they've become something of a household staple (helps that I have so many unopened boxes of cereal sitting in the garage).

And now I'm going to share the recipe with you. I feel it's my duty. My obligation. I owe it to the world to share this recipe.

But there are a few directions that you must follow to fully appreciate these delectable pieces of goodness. First, you must not think or calculate the affects of half a pound of butter on your hips. Second, you must not compare this half pound of butter to the much more hip-conscious (but so boring) regular Rice Krispie Square. And third, just let go and enjoy these things. Don't think at all, just take a bite (eyes closed) and think bliss. Bliss in a cereal bar.

Oh it is so possible.


Caramel Rice Krispie Squares

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 sticks of butter (1/2 pound)
4 cups marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 1/2 cups Rice Krispie cereal

Prepare a 9x13 dish by spraying with non-stick cooking spray, set aside. Measure Rice Krispie cereal into a large mixing bowl. Set aside for later. In a saucepan, cook brown sugar, white sugar, butter, and marshmallows until marshmallows are melted. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until everything is melted and incorporated, but be careful not to overcook. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over the cereal and mix thoroughly. Press into buttered pan and let set. After they have cooled, you can cut them into squares.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ushering in the 'bers

Yesterday: the first day of the advent of the official time we like to call The Bers, Mistress Bean accompanied me to the mall where we met a dear friend for lunch. The lunch itself was a little less than fantastical - mostly related to Mistress Bean's intense desire to steer any (read: ALL) conversation to her subjects du jour (namely: Bean herself). That, and she threw everything underneath the table and I had to make multiple trips beneath said table to retrieve lost items.


Prior to the painful lunch we spent some time out in the sunshine where we:

investigated leaves and twigs

watched people walk by

enjoyed the sun on our cheeks

made cheesey faces


modeled some clothes that I just finished making---

the first things I've been able to do on the sewing machine since the whole neck debacle.*

A fine way to celebrate the beginning of fall and the lushness of the beautiful Bers.

I have some fun things planned for The Creamery during this season of the Bers. Tell me: what are you most looking forward to this fall?

(*And in case you aren't my friend anymore because I apparently lack the motivation to get my Etsy shop up and running, there's your reason for the delay: My neck, the pain thereof. I've had to stay off the sewing machine altogether since May and am only now just easing back into sewing. We'll see how things go, but so far it's looking good. You'll be my friend again, right?)