Thursday, September 8, 2011

Half-Baked Birthday

I'm annoyed by the trite things I find myself scribbling in birthday cards or posting on Facebook walls. While not untrue, "Wishing you a great day!" is hardly the warm personal message that a birthday deserves. There is so much I love about the people in my life. I'd like to let them know how great they are instead of just telling them to "Have a good one."

This blog has been slowly sputtering to life, and I'm still looking to find my groove here. I want to keep on task with writing, and giving my friends more thoughtful birthday tributes seemed like a great motivation to write often and spread some happiness. Since they are a more specific and personal type of message than my general blather I created another blog for my birthday blurbs, Half-Baked Birthday.

I don't have a master list of people who I'll be writing messages to. A lot is going to depend on how much free time I have - often not much with two kids underfoot. Blurbs for some people will just pop out. Others, especially people I'm close to, are harder to write. I might not know when your birthday is. (If you don't tell Facebook, it doesn't tell me!) And like most of my projects, this one may get derailed for a while if life intervenes. I may not get to you this year, or at all, but that doesn't mean you aren't wonderful and amazing. If you'd really like one just ask. A subtle comment like "Nice idea" or "I really like these" will also let me know you'd appreciate one on your special day.

Until then, Happy Birthday Wonderful You.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Food: Strawberry Mice

This one isn't so much a recipe as a way to make an ordinary bowl of fruit something special. At Lucas' preschool there was another birthday boy on his big day, and that boy's mom was already making cupcakes. The teacher suggested I bring in strawberries, but a pile of fruit didn't seem very celebratory to me. A quick internet search revealed the wonders of strawberry mice. I didn't have any of the decorations they suggested, so I improvise with raisins for ears, frosting for the nose & eyes, and a pretzel tail. I dropped each into a cupcake liner so they would be easy to serve at school.

As you might expect, they were a big hit with the 3-year-olds. All the kids were so excited to eat their mice. Three months later Lucas is still talking about them. Strawberry mice are a popular item at his play kitchen and whenever we play the drive-thru game. From now on I'll skip the baking and make fruit-based animals for special occasions.

Strawberry Mice

There are endless ways to construct your mice. Here are some ideas.

Body: Strawberries
Ears: Raisins or slivered almonds
Nose & eyes: Mini chocolate chips or dark icing in a tube
Tail: Thin shoestring licorice or sections of thin curved pretzels

Slice the top of the strawberry off at a shallow angle so their "noses" point more out than up. Add a nose at the tip of the strawberry, then add the eyes. Use a toothpick to carve out little dents to place the ears and tail in.

They look cutest if the eyes and ears are close to the nose. It takes a few tries to figure out how your mice will come together, but you'll find yourself with a batch of cute critters in no time.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

No Thyself

Lately I've been trying to make myself a priority. The life of a stay-at-home mom means giving nearly every part of yourself to others. The kids demand most of my attention and energy, and what's left over goes into running errands, staying on top of chores, paying bills, scheduling appointments and making sure everyone else is alright.  Then maybe, if there is any time left, I can do something for myself. With the schedule I keep, that something is nearly always sleep. I'm determined to change this before I lose my own identity completely. The problem is, I don't know what to do with myself.

Of all the people who know me, you'd think the one who knows me best would be me. I live in this skin, peer at the world through these wide-open eyes and hear all the thoughts that click around this brain of mine. But when it comes to knowing myself I seem to have a rather large blind spot. I've tried those personality assessment tests (No, not the Scientology one, thank you very much.)  and I can't choose an answer. I'm never sure if I should put down they way I usually behave, what I value but rarely accomplish, what I'm hoping to be, or some mix of the above. I'm all over the map.

In my quest for identity I've been given an assignment: Ask friends to write things they appreciate about me. The idea is learning what others see in me might help me see myself more clearly. I balked at first. Blatantly asking people for compliments seems a little uncouth. But I realized this happens all the time, usually in the negative. We complain about something - a bad day, a rejection, an insult - and then people rush to praise us. Your boss is an idiot. You're a terrific cook. They don't know what they're missing. Why not skip the self-pity and go straight to asking for the good stuff?

So now I'm asking you. If you're so inclined, let me know what you appreciate about me. What am I good at?  What do you think of when you think of me?  Post it or send me an email or whatever. Or don't. I won't be keeping a list of those who don't respond and imagining they secretly hate me. It's not a tally of BFFs, just an little experiment to see if I can see myself better through the eyes of those that know me.