There’s a Bow on This Blog Post – by Hetal

Saved the best guest post for last! BTW – who knew that these guest bloggers would write about me?? Had I known earlier, this would be a regular thing. Seriously. Anyway – here’s my little, bitty sister’s post…my basic take-away from this was that I taught her everything she knows….so…..anyway….enjoy!

I spent some time this past weekend thinking about what to get Neha for her birthday.

But “itty bitty sister,” you may be thinking, Neha’s birthday was last week. I know, okay? Sheesh. We’re all doing the best we can out here.

Anyway, my presents to her have varied in years in form and function. Some years I really knock it out of the park–I get texts from her on a later date about how much she loves the thing I got her. Some years I get her a card sometime in June. I wonder if she notices how inconsistent I am (that’s a lie–I know she does).

Although it may seem to her that I simply forgot to get her anything, the years I showed up with nothing really meant that I spent painstaking hours thinking about what to get her, got angry, and finally gave up. Is there a way to bottle up that trauma and put a bow on it? Because that shit should count for something.

Unlike many of the people I buy books for, Neha actually likes to read, so when I heard an interview with an Indian American cookbook author who had a new book coming out, I tucked it away. Then, over the weekend, a food blogger I know she also follows on Instagram posted about the book. She raved over it, featured several pages and recipes, and I thought, damn it. Because even though I didn’t ask her, I know Neha saw it. And tucked it away. I know that cookbook is being Amazon Primed to her house as we speak, and that there is a 60% chance that I’ll be unwrapping it for my birthday this month.

Because that’s the thing. If you’ve ever met me, you’ve probably thought about how different I am from Neha. And you’re right in a lot of ways. We’re over a decade apart in age, chose very different career paths, and kinda different life paths. Neha left for New York City when I was six, and really didn’t look back. I don’t blame her. In fact, as someone who spends her days with countless 18-22 year olds, I’m impressed at her bravery and independence at that age. You’ve probably heard some of her wacky stories from college. I’ve heard them all at least twice. And the truth is, I could never have done half those things.

She also knows way more than I do about the important things in life: makeup, wine, and reality tv.

But in other ways, we’re weirdly similar. Same sarcastic humor. Same love for food. Once we showed up with the same-ish housewarming gift for our cousin Sweta and her hubby Wendell. For a while we had the exact same iPhone case–bought separately. I know what Neha is thinking right now: she’s thinking that these ways we’re similar–that’s me taking after her. I’ve wondered about that myself over the years, though I’d never admit it to her face. Has she really had that much of an influence on me? Maybe, maybe not. But if saying so gets me out of having to think about her birthday present anymore, well, pass the bow, please.

The gobble gobble 

It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving – my absolute favorite time of year. Who would have guessed that a vegetarian Indian girl who never even really acknowledged the holiday until 1991, would be this obsessed. I hear my husband saying it’s all him. He’s the reason I love it. Maybe. 

First turkey day ever: Milford, PA circa 1991

Memory: Aunt Dee Dee (whose real name is Mary inexplicably) handing me the sausage to cut up for stuffing. First time I ever touched sausage. Good times.

For years we went to her house every year – even right after my little baby girl was born. Speaking of baby girl – she came home for the holiday. On her 18th birthday. We missed cake for breakfast so we did cake at a normal time. 

18. As in a year younger then I was when I went to my first Thanksgiving in Milford. This is some twisted time warp. But she’s home! And by home I mean she’s out with friends but in the same town as us. I’ll take it.

 We also saw some oldies but goodies. Katherine. Howard and Luigi. Santa. And Janey. The picture says it all. It’s blurry. Off center. Everyone’s smiling – even Howard – he’s the bald head floating on top of Janey. (On a side note) Katherine has her tree up. We have neighbors who have lights up. I know it’s tradition but I’m still rocking the pumpkins. I need to hold on to pumpkins people. And that is in no way a diss to Christmas-on-Thanksgiving people. You do you.

So anyway it’s the Tuesday before…Thursday  and all through the house, not a creature was stirr… that’s not true. Creatures are stirring. They’re stirring all over the place. 

Turkey #1 is in the brine! Do you brine? Do you dry rub instead? Do you do none of the above and your turkey comes out better then mine? Don’t tell me.

I brine because I’m a sheep to The Food Network. If Ina tells me to do something – by god I do it. My brine is a combo of mulling ingredients and things I’ve heard are good to dump in there.  Yes that is star anise in there. And yes, also some dried apples and pepper cloves. Citrus? Yep. Onions and garlic? Yep. Good turkey. Nice turkey. What do I care – I’m not eating it! Just kidding..  And now something that has nothing to do with anything but is just as important. I want to share a photo taken by an amazing photographer(among other things) in our town – who as fate would have it just happened to be my baby girls soccer coach in middle school. Small beautiful world. 

He took this pic of the lake in our town. I screenshot (or is it screenshotted? Is that even a word?) it a week ago and have been looking at it ever since. I was totally going to pretend that I took it – but he’s too nice a guy. Thanks Pat for sharing your talent!

 

Thanksgiving week is on – and in the words of Jim Morrison or Mandela or Bobby Flay…the only way out is through. Let’s do this.

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.

20140806-083815.jpg

20140806-083836.jpg

20140806-083845.jpg

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.

IMG_0035

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

IMG_9972

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.
IMG_9973

Cream the oil, sugar and eggs. 

IMG_9975

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. 
IMG_9979

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.

IMG_9982

Add raisins if you want to or if you’re maritally committed to.
IMG_9985

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 .
IMG_9988

I forgot to add pecans to the ingredients photo. So sorry. These very very important. Toast a cup and let cool.
IMG_0010

Then using a highly evolved Ziploc bag/bottom of a plastic bowl method – pound them into pieces.
IMG_0012

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.
IMG_0001
IMG_0004
IMG_0006

Frost between layers and frost. You only have to make the top look pretty. 
IMG_0013
IMG_0014

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. 
IMG_0015

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.

20140803-080855-29335823.jpg
Notice anything?
Here’s a close-up.

20140803-080936-29376712.jpg
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.

20140803-081446-29686729.jpg
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!

20140803-081658-29818736.jpg

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.

20140418-084142.jpg

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…

Kera3

To this…

IMG_5918

Previous Older Entries