Chin up

Today is my mother-in-laws birthday. She would have been 63 years old. We lost her suddenly and tragically almost 8 years ago. For a while, all I could think about was the day she died. How she was just there, in front of me dancing, and then not. How I just heard her laughing and yelling at her sisters, and then not. I replayed that day (like all those that loved her) over and over again.

But now I think about that day less and less, and the other days more and more. You know the expression,”life of the party”? She was the definition of that. A firecracker that could be warm and loving one minute, and sharp and witty the next. She was one of the funniest people I have ever known. She was a storyteller too – born with the gift of narrative. Her stories were told with her words and her hands and her eyes.

She lived a tough life, survived single motherhood, raised two amazing kids, worked non-stop, and never showed it. If you met her, you’d think she was the happiest, go-luckiest person around. Because she was. She made the best out of everything. She lived her life, however short, fully. No one will ever say she didn’t have fun.

I know wherever she is now, she’s laughing and making everyone laugh with her.

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Carrot Cake 101

A couple of years ago I was gifted a fantastic cookbook called “Flour”. It is based on a bakery in Boston called Flour Bakery (duh). I love this book. I’ve made many of the recipes. I even went and found the bakery in Boston. Like all pilgrimages, there was a little bit of let-down (what? you aren’t impressed that I have your cookbook and love it? I’m not the first person to come in and want to chat about it?) – but in the end I felt validated. Croissants have a way of validating me.
My two go-to recipes are the banana bread and the carrot cake.
My two biggest fails from the book are the granola bar cookies and the chocolate almond dacquoise. That’s another story.

I made the carrot cake this weekend. Try it. People will hug you for it.

As always – here’s the recipe and the visual. You know I like pictures.

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Notice I added raisins. My man likes raisins. What can I say.

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Sift the flour, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon. My “sifter” is a strainer that I warped in the dish washer. Just an fyi.
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Cream the oil, sugar and eggs. 

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Add your carrots. Please don’t use the pre-shredded ones. They are covered in some sort of nuclear coating so they don’t stick together. But that coating also make it impossible for them to soften in the cake. So go old school and shred by hand. 
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Add vanilla. This is a homemade bottle my little bitty sister gave me a while ago. I keep adding store bought vanilla and trying to extend the life. Poor me. If only SOMEONE would make me more. Anyhoo.

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Add raisins if you want to or if you’re maritally committed to.
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Combine the dry and wet ingredients.

Divide amongst your pans. If you are are suspicious of non-stick pans like I am – add some non-stick spray. Otherwise, be normal and healthy and skip this step. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes .
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I forgot to add pecans to the ingredients photo. So sorry. These very very important. Toast a cup and let cool.
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Then using a highly evolved Ziploc bag/bottom of a plastic bowl method – pound them into pieces.
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Make the frosting by creaming butter, powdered sugar, vanilla (poor poor me) and cream cheese together in an empty kitchen, better to do multiple tastings.
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Frost between layers and frost. You only have to make the top look pretty. 
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Take the pecans and use them like Spanx all around the cake. They push and tuck all the unruly bits into place. You have a tight, toned and together cake. 
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Refrigerate for an hour before serving and then sit back and accept all the love. 

Happy Birthday Ho Ho Ho

We spent the weekend with one of my husband’s favorite aunts. I adore her too. She lives in a beautiful home in the Pocono Mountains of PA. She invited us to celebrate both my husband’s birthday (past) and her birthday (coming up). I made my husband’s favorite, carrot cake.

Besides the fresh, cool air – the first thing that hits you when you walk into the house is….well, see for yourselves.

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Notice anything?
Here’s a close-up.

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Have you ever seen a prettier tree…in August?
We teased her about it mercilessly, as any loving family would. She gave us a very rational, reasonable reason for it. But I can’t remember what it was. The twinkling lights were distracting me.
The funniest thing is that by the end of the night, we were all gathered around it and felt completely and utterly normal! Who’s crazy now?
Here’s a pic of the amazingly sane woman with a completely done up Christmas tree in August and her beautiful daughter.

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And here’s a quick pic of the carrot cake I made. I’ll write a detailed post with recipe tomorrow. Again, I can’t focus because there’s a Christmas tree in this house and I love it. I vote for year round trees! I vote for crazy!

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3 year old blog

Yesterday was a big blog day around here – wifemothereventplanner turned 3. Happy Birthday blog. Mazel to us! It’s been so much fun. Yes I don’t write as often as I should, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still in love… With blogging. Absence makes the heart grow fonder right? Ahem.

Connected to this blog is an email, wifemothereventplanner@gmail.com.
I don’t check it often because it’s a scary, dark place where weirdo people from the internet lurk and hide. But buried in that pile of crap are actual, normal humans asking questions. So! As my gift to you – because I’m a humanitarian like that – I’ll answer a few of those questions. Enjoy! And be scared for me.

Are those your real kids or do you get the photos from stock photography? I’m starting a blog but don’t have kids – should I get some photos of kids?

Umm. Yes. Those are my real kids. Although I never even considered the stock photography option. Look for a future post of me wearing a bikini on the beach. It’ll totally be me.

Love your blog but don’t push the posts. Don’t write unless you have something interesting to say.

Ok. Thanks.

How do you decide what to write about and what to keep out?

Easy, if I think you’ll enjoy it in any way I write it. I don’t write as editorial -many bloggers do that successfully. But giving you my opinions on politics, religion, etc isn’t my bag. I don’t think you really want to read another take on Obamacare or Prop 8. I do think you want to read about my obsession with Kate Middleton! Am I right?

You should change your name to TVloverwhonevercommentsoneventplanning.

Wow. Ok, point taken. More posts about TV shows.

Please protect your kids and stop posting their pictures.

Thanks mom.

What advice would you give to new bloggers? Is it worth it?

No advice. Just start writing. There are no rules. And it’s definitely worth it.

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Best Decision Ever.

Ummm…can we just skip over my explanation of not writing during the last 15 days? Ok. Thanks. More importantly – I couldn’t wait to write this post. 

We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout. Really we did. Swear on June and Johnny we did.  And when we made that decision it was filled with worry and anxiety. Are we doing the right thing? Yes. Are we too young? Yes. Will we make it? I sure hope so. But once we were married and living our little life in NYC – all that worry went away. We had a great first year of marriage. Lots of traveling for work and for pleasure. Lots of painting the town red. Not a care in the world. If we wanted to eat out at 2 AM, we could. If we wanted to leave at a moment’s notice to hop a plane to a tropical island, we could. But in reality we never did. We were pretty tame. But we were happy.

Right after the holidays we decided that this would be the year we had a baby. Unlike the wedding/marriage/decision to stay together forever thing- this was an easy one. I loved kids. He…didn’t hate kids. It was perfect. We talked it through. We made a 6 month plan. We’d get our finances locked down. We’d figure out if we could stay in the apartment. We’d figure out if we needed to buy a car. We’d take part of the year to really sort it out. But we forgot something important.

I am a fertile myrtle.  My body was made for baby bearing, and I’m not just talking about my hips. Just looking at babies could get me pregnant. And indeed, just thinking of having a baby was all it took. Well, not ALL it took. I’m not magic, but you get the point. I got pregnant quickly. Supersonic preggers. Look Ma, I got skills!

We were so excited. I won’t brag about how easy breezy the first months were. No morning sickness. No nothing. Just happy little butterfly flutters in my belly. We found out what we were having, because, well, you know. I’m nosy. I need to know things.

A girl!! Exactly what we wanted.

After that, instead of a Friday night movie – we’d head to Barnes and Noble and look up baby names. There must be an Irish/Ukrainian/Indian name right? Not so much. We knew the middle name would be Anne, because 1) Indians don’t really have middle names so I was open to anything and 2) My husband’s family has a long line of strong, beautiful women with that middle name. She could have no other middle name.

But there was an Indian first name that I loved. Asha. It means wish. Not just a small, penny-in-a-fountain wish – but a deep, burning, full-of-love wish. Asha Anne? It could work. I began working on my husband, trying to convince him that this was the name for our little one. He wasn’t loving it, but I think I would have talked him into it. Eventually.

2 months into my “Asha” obsession, my husband came home from work with a deeper than usual frown on his face. Then he proceeded to tell me about a woman who’d just started in his group that was making his life miserable. Anyone care to guess what her name was? Anyone? Bueller? No? It was ASHA. What? Come on!  In the words of Vizzini in The Princess Bride – inconceivable!

Long story short, we didn’t go with that name. But we found something even better. There are so many other details about that time that fill my head.

I could tell you about my doctor (I’d never met a Hasidic Jew before and the first time we were introduced he said,” you don’t ask me why I have curls and I won’t ask you why you don’t wear a dot, ok? Loved him). I could talk about the raging postpartum depression I had that lasted for months, and then one day, just turned off like a light. I could talk about how we painted a hallway yellow and called it a baby room (it was beautiful).

I went into labor at 5am. We hopped into a cab and my water broke. The driver didn’t act surprised, #cabsaredirty. I was in labor for a bit and then she was born. I remember my husband clearly saying to me, in the midst of my epidural haze, “we’re a family”. The next few hours, days, weeks, months were a blur.

I’m sure a lot of people assumed she was a “surprise” because we were so young. None of our friends were even married, let alone parents. We lived in a city where it was normal to see a twenty year old strolling around with a baby – because she was the nanny, not the mommy.

But we were unapologetic. She wasn’t Asha, but she was. Because she was a wish. A plan. A purpose.

That was 15 years ago. There’s a ton of words I could use to describe her. She’s funny, smart, beautiful, kind, thoughtful, stubborn, careful, sarcastic, passionate, loyal – I could go on and on.  Every time someone from the outside world tells me how amazing she is, I try not to do what I naturally want to do – which is to say,” I know right?”. I just say thank you and go cry in a corner.

Happiest Birthday to my first-born. Here’s what happens when you blink.  Your baby goes from this…

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To this…

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Second best decision ever

11 years ago my husband and I met one of his cousins to go on a skiing trip. They brought their two-year old twin boys and 4-year-old girl – who was best buds with our 4-year-old girl.

Before that weekend we had decided that one kid was perfect for us.  We loved our baby girl. She fulfilled every paternal and maternal need we had.  We were a tight little unit of 3 and we were happy.

Then we went away and everything changed. I don’t know if it was the way the three siblings in the other family clung together, or if it was my husband telling funny stories about his sisters, or maybe it was the memory of how happy I was when my mother told me I was finally going to be a big sister at age 11. Whatever the trigger was, then and there we decided our little girl needed one other person in the world that would share part of her history.

One other person that could understand how frustrating her mother could be, or how nutty her father was, or why we have cake for breakfast on our birthdays. A partner. An ally. Someone who knew what the house that she grew up in smelled like on Saturday mornings. Someone she could be angry at and say mean things to and still be able to sit down to dinner with and laugh. Yep. We needed to have another baby.

I got pregnant a few weeks later.

10 years ago today, I woke up at 4am on a Saturday morning and went into labor. I was supposed to go pumpkin picking that day with my girl and one of my best friends who had come to visit. Instead, my husband and I left them to go to the hospital.

The weather was exactly like it is today, cold and crisp. We lived in Upstate New York and the leaves had changed late that year – so everything was shades of orange and red.

He came like a bullet – in about an hour once I started pushing. And like a bullet, there was some major damage afterwards (I’ll save that for another post).

Since then he’s been a whirl of energy, emotion, comedy and activity. He’s always moving. Even in his sleep he’s moving. He’s smart and quick and always late for something. He says things like,” I love my life.” and “I want to be a kid forever”. Then I go cry in a corner.

And he loves, no adores, his sister. Both are Scorpios, if you believe that sort of thing (I do), but on different ends of the spectrum. She’s easy to trust, warm, welcoming and ready for anything. He’s guarded, careful and likes his routines. Bookends of our family.  Our perfect unit of 4.

So Happy Birthday to our little man. We had no idea how much we really needed you.

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Just another Scorpio Sunday

I’m a Gemini mom married to a Cancer dad livin’ in a Scorpio world with my two kiddies.  My oldest, my goldest, turned 14 today. Gulp.  I know she doesn’t want me to post about her, but I have to. It’s a blogging law.

So in 1998, at 5am ish I woke my hubby up. He was sleeping on the couch because we’d had a fight and I needed the entire queen mattress to myself to get over it…..we walked down our railroad apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (passing uncle Larry as he was about to walk Gracie).  We hailed a cab and headed to Lenox Hill Hospital – about 10 blocks South of us. My water broke in the cab but the driver had us there in 5 minutes (we tipped big for the clean up!).

She was born shortly after, the first grandkid for both our families. There have been lots of great moments in between, each worthy of its own post. Like when she was a few months old and I fell asleep feeding her on the couch and dropped her, or when she ate so much cake at her 1st birthday party that she passed out from the sugar high, or when everyone told me she was turning yellow from all the baby food and I told them it was just her skin tone. Good times.

Smart, Beautiful, Funny, and most importantly ours!

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