Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stephen King, A Prophet? And A Shout Out To A Fellow Blogger

I wasn't going to post about this topic. Really, I wasn't, but I can't get it off my mind. Turn on the TV or the radio, look at a newspaper, or spend a few minutes on the internet and you can't get away from it. You know what I'm talking about, The Swine Flu.

My husband said the coverage of the swine flu outbreak made him think of Stephen King's The Stand (and said he was going to start blaring Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear The Reaper). I'm a huge Stephen King fan, so I can't believe I didn't think of the connection myself. If you're not familiar with The Stand, it's about a super flu that wipes out the majority of the population and leaves the survivors to choose between good and evil. I've read the book and seen the mini-series countless times. It's one of my favorite works by Stephen King. I'm not going to say that I believe this flu will mirror the events in Stephen King's story (I don't really think he's a prophet), but it does make you wonder what the world would be like in such extreme circumstances.

I don't want to be an alarmist so I'm trying to keep it in perspective. For a germophobe like me, that's pretty hard to do. There haven't been any reported cases in my state.....yet. Still, I can't help worrying about it, and for good reason. My husband works in a hospital (in a technical capacity, but still, there are sick people coming and going 24/7), my son and his girlfriend go to school with kids who recently came back from spring break in Mexico, and I know that some local families went to Mexico for Easter. Do I think every person who's been to Mexico recently was exposed to the Swine Flu? Of course not. I also know that the majority of the reported cases have not been fatal, but I'm still concerned.

In November, my daughter came down with the flu (non-swine variety) and it took her months to fully recover because she developed some severe side effects to the virus. She came very close to being hospitalized for dehydration and lost quite a bit of weight. She's thin to begin with, so it was scary. I don't want to go through that again with her or anyone else in my family. I don't want anyone, anywhere to go through it. It's miserable.

For now, the best any of us can do is to be cautious. Take care of those you love.

A Shout Out

On a lighter note, I want to give a shout out to Heidi of Tried and True Cooking With Heidi. I bought a huge can of refried beans at Sam's Club so I've been on the lookout for some good recipes. Last night I made the Soft Taco Burgers she had on her blog recently. They were excellent! I did make one small change, I used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce instead of green chilies because I had some I needed to use up.

Thanks, Heidi! Everyone loved them!

~~Note~~ If you haven't seen The Stand and you'd like to, you can watch it here. A word of warning, there is an annoying watermark across the screen. In my opinion, the mini-series was very true to the book. I encourage you to see it or read it if you haven't already.
I'll say it again, I love Stephen King and not because I'm really into the horror genre, but because he has amazing character development. By the time I finish one of his books, I really feel like I know and care about the characters. That's probably why I've read all of his books dozens of times. The Stand and It are my favorites, but for short stories you can't beat Dolan's Cadillac.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cocomochachino Shakes

The kids wanted milk shakes this evening, so I made some. While I had all the ingredients out, I made a few grown up shakes for Mr. Willoughby and myself. They were great enjoyed indoors on a cool day, but they would be fabulous on a sweltering summer day. This recipe yields two to three shakes, depending on how much milk you add.

Cocomochachino Shake

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, softened

  • milk

  • 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup

  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder

  • 1 ounce coconut rum

  • 1 ounce Kahlua

  • whipped cream

Add vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, coffee powder, coconut rum and Kahlua to blender along with a small amount of milk. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds, check consistency. Add more milk if necessary and blend again. Repeat if a thinner consistency is desired. Pour into glasses. Top with whipped cream.

Enjoy responsibly!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Bar Is Open!

Tonight's drink is a classic, but not from the prohibition era. I believe it was created in the 1970's. This is one of Mr. Willoughby's favorites.

Tequila Sunrise

  • 2 oz. tequila

  • 4 oz. orange juice

  • 1 oz. grenadine
Stir tequila and orange juice with ice and strain into a glass. Add ice cubes. Pour in grenadine slowly and allow to settle. Before drinking, stir to complete your Sunrise.

Please enjoy your Tequila Sunrise responsibly! Happy Friday!


I am going to unapologetically, shamelessly brag about my son today. As I've mentioned before, he's a runner. He's been running track since he was in middle school. Way back then, we had no idea how fast he was and we were a little surprised when he said he wanted to join the track team. Even so, we encouraged him to go for it.

We were nervous for him when we went to his first meet. He told us he was doing well in practice, but we had no idea what to expect. He placed (meaning he came in first, second or third) in each event he ran at that meet and at most of the meets for the remainder of the season.

Last year, when he started high school, he wanted to join the track team again. We were behind his decision, but worried that he might be disappointed running against kids who were older and had more experience. This wasn't middle school anymore, these kids took their training seriously. He was determined to show that he could compete against the best of them and trained just as hard. After the first week of practice, he could run five miles like it was nothing and was the only freshman to make the varsity team.

We invited my parents to come to one of his home meets last year. I was standing next to my mom when one of my son's events started. "Look how fast that kid is," she said, pointing to the runner in the lead. "That's your grandson," I told her. He was ahead of the other runners by more than half a lap, running so fast that she didn't even recognize him. He had an amazing season.

This is from one of last year's meets. That's my son in first place by a stride. Believe it or not, I didn't crop this picture. It's so hard to get a good picture when he's running by that I accidentally cut off his head!

See? He has a head! That's him in first place again.

Yesterday he had his first track meet of the season. It was an invitational against three other schools, nearly 300 kids in total. He did well and placed 3rd in the 100 meter and 4th in the 200 meter, and that was in running shoes (he didn't have his spikes) and with two runners per lane (normally there is only one runner per lane). What I am most impressed by, though, is that he placed 8th in the long jump against more than 50 other jumpers. He's never competed in the long jump before, he's never even tried it in practice. It was a last minute decision by his coach to have him try. I'm so proud of him!!

I'll be back tonight to open the bar!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Do You Remember What You Were Doing....

......on this day twenty years ago? I do. I'll give you a hint...

Did you guess it? On April 22, 1989, Mr. Willoughby and I were married. It's hard to believe that twenty years have passed. It was such a wonderful day. I remember being so worried about tripping on my dress as I walked up the aisle or forgetting Mr. Willoughby's ring. I worried about the photographer showing up on time, the cake being delivered intact, the food at the reception being good, the DJ having the right music, and a hundred other things. The only thing I didn't worry about was the man I was marrying.
I wanted to put our wedding song on my player today, but I can't find the right version on Playlist. If you want to hear it, click on the video below.

I don't usually share personal photos, but since this is a special occasion, I'm going to.

With Mom and Dad before the wedding.

With my Dad, hoping not to trip.

"You may kiss the bride."

Finally married!

At the reception.

Removing the garter.

I wanted to include a picture from our honeymoon, but I couldn't find one with both of us in it. This was taken a few months later.

And in case you're wondering, I didn't trip on my dress, and I remembered the ring. The photographer showed up on time (but took disappointing pictures), the cake was perfect, the food was wonderful and the DJ had all the right music. Our wedding was all I had hoped it would be and more.

We were so young, I was 21 and he was 24, but we knew we had something special together. I can honestly say that we are as happily married today as we were on this day twenty years ago. I'm sure I'll be saying the same thing twenty years from now.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Story, A Recipe, A Drink And Some Fun

We're a little hesitant to say it's finally spring around here. According to the calendar it is spring (and has been for nearly a month), but Michigan weather rarely cares what the calendar shows. It was only two weeks ago that my son and daughter and I were parked on the shoulder of a snowy, icy road waiting for the tow truck to pull my son's car out the ditch he slid into. However, yesterday the weather was beautiful. It was sunny and the temperature was in the 70's. After six long months of waiting we were finally able to enjoy our back porch and do a bit of yard work. We also had my parents over for a nice dinner (recipes to follow).

Before I begin today's story, I need to give you a little background about our yard. Our house is on a corner, so our backyard is open to the street that runs alongside it. We have a small garden fence and some hedges, but you can still see directly into our yard from the street. We get a lot of attention when we enjoy our favorite warm weather pastime; watching movies (or sometimes television) on our outdoor movie screen. It's 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide, so you can imagine how noticeable it is. It's not uncommon for cars to pull over and watch the movie for a while or ask questions about our set-up (we don't mind). Neighbors, of course, are always welcome. We do have small white accent lights running along the top of our fence to keep the fence visible and deter people from wandering into the yard.

A Story

Several years ago, we were enjoying a movie on a warm night. I was sitting on our back porch steps and my husband, our son and two of his friends were sitting at a table in the yard. In the middle of the movie, a young guy walked into the yard, shook hands with our son and sat down at the table. My husband and I both assumed this was someone our son knew, so we didn't say anything about it. After a few minutes, one of my son's friends walked over to the porch and told me that they didn't know this guy. I called my husband over and told him. Before he made it over to find out what was going on, the guy dropped his head on the table. He had apparently passed out.

We told the boys to get in the house and my husband woke the guy and told him he needed to move on. The guy was obviously drunk and confused and kept insisting he was in his own yard. When Mr. Willoughby told him he was going to call the police, the guy got out of his chair. We thought he was leaving, but it turned out he wanted to get in the house. Mr. Willoughby had to block off the porch steps to keep him away from the door. So we called the police.

The guy finally backed off a little and laid down on the grass until they came. It turned out that he was from a town 40 miles away. The police couldn't get much of an explanation from him, but they thought he might have been at a nearby friend's house or a bar in town and wandered away, drunk. He probably followed the lights on our fence until he was in the yard. He was taken into custody, and no one was hurt. One of our son's friends was pretty shaken by the whole incident.

A Recipe

We grilled steaks and Smoky Mountain Chipotle Chicken for dinner with my parents yesterday. The chicken recipe comes from my online friend Janine, and you can find it here. The sauce is unbelievable! We always get rave reviews when we make it. Don't worry about the bourbon if you're serving this to kids, the alcohol cooks off when you simmer the sauce.

A Drink

This is a simple drink that you can make in an instant. It's a twist on a standard Rum and Coke.
  • 2 oz. rum

  • 1 oz. lime juice

  • 6 oz. Coca Cola
Mix all ingredients together. Pour into an ice filled glass. Enjoy! *I tried this with spiced rum and I didn't care for the flavor. Trust me, stick to light or dark rum!

Some Fun

After it got dark last night, we got out some flashing lights that we bought for the pool last year. They flash different colors in different patterns and are just as fun to play with on the porch as they are in the water. Here's a few pics of the fun!

Doesn't it look like a mini UFO sitting on the bar?

Our "disco" porch ceiling!

Shining on my daughter's hand.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Bar Is Open

Tonight's drink continues our classic cocktail theme, with a bit of a twist. We've added 7-Up to the basic cocktail recipe to make it a fizz. If you prefer a non-carbonated cocktail, feel free to leave out the 7-Up. Presenting....the Sidecar Fizz!

Sidecar Fizz
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice

  • 1/2 oz. triple sec

  • 1 oz. brandy

  • 2 oz. lemon/lime carbonated beverage (7-Up)

Pour lemon juice, triple sec and brandy into ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake well. Pour into cocktail glass and top with 7-Up.

Please enjoy responsibly! Happy Friday, everyone!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bits and Pieces

I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about yesterday's posts.

On yesterday's "Anger Management" post - It came as quite a surprise to find that I am not the only one who has stopped visiting the Recipe Exchange. I don't know why, but I assumed that I was the only one stumbling upon the nasty comments, negative posts and condescending tone. It's a shame, because I used to look forward to logging in and catching up with other members, but for now, I have no desire to go back. I do still use the site to find recipes, but that's all.

On yesterday's "Fun Kid Friendly Project" - Thank you to all of you who left such nice comments, it truly made my daughter's day to read them. She had so much fun and was so proud of her work, she loved hearing that others liked it, too. Polly, your comment made me laugh out loud! You're right, I've never seen an employee who looked like that in a pet shop!!

I do encourage you to try this project with your kids and post it on your blog, even if you don't use Barbie dolls. The webkinz idea was great (thanks, Polly!). We were also thinking about making a story using fruits and vegetables. Anything goes, really, even letting the kids act out a story and photographing it. Sharing the creative process was so much fun, and posting it on my blog pleased my daughter to no end. You can't ask for more than that.

Have a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Fun Kid Friendly Project

The kids are home from school this week for spring break. The weather hasn't been very spring like so my daughter and I have been looking for things to do indoors. Today while we were playing with her Barbie dolls, we decided to make a story. We used the digital camera to photograph each part and then used Photoscape (free photo editing software) to add bubbles with text.

Next time we'll be a little more creative and make the story a little longer. It was a lot of fun, I highly recommend this project!

Anger Management

Every now and then when I'm searching for something online, I'll run across a message board or a forum. Sometimes I'll read a few posts if the topic sounds interesting. More often than not, I'm amazed at how nasty some people can be and how willing they are to be offensive to complete strangers. Have you noticed this? I don't know what it is about the anonymity of sitting at the computer that seems to bring out the worst in some people. I can't say for sure that they don't behave this way in public, but my hunch is that they use a little more self control in face to face situations.

Recently, I was on Internet Movie Database looking up some trivial information about a movie. I spent a little time reading posts on their message boards and I was shocked at how rude some of the comments were. Stating your opinion about a movie appears to be grounds for insults to your intelligence, politics, race, nationality and mental state. I can't imagine anyone making the same comments to a stranger in a video store.

News websites are no better now that so many of them have comment space after each article. To a degree, I can understand debating news stories, but it doesn't stop there. When my brother in law died last year, there was an article about it on a local newspaper's website. They mistakenly called him a "squatter", meaning that he lived in his house illegally. This wasn't true, he paid rent to live in his house, but because he was presumed to be breaking the law, these are the sorts of comments that were left at the end of the article:

"...the man sealed his own destiny. Obvioulsy his cat wasn't dumb
enough to stick around. Ohh yes PLEASE PLEASE blame this on the government and wall street."

"While I feel pity for the poor guy, I also know that his stupidity
caused property damage.... So because some guy decided to squat in an empty
house people could have lost money and all we feel sorry for is the guy that was
breaking the law by trespassing. "

These are just a few of the comments that were left by strangers after reading that a legally blind man, my brother in law, had died tragically in a house fire. I find it appalling. Would these people have said the same things to any of his family members at the funeral?

One of the few sites I've found where strangers are generally friendly to one another is the Recipe Exchange at Allrecipes. It is, in fact, the place that I met most of my online and blog friends. I have to admit, though, that I haven't been there in over a month. I used to enjoy my time there, but I needed to break away from it for a while. Not only was I spending too much time getting involved in chats, but I was finding that the nastiness of other forums was beginning to show up. In the middle of a fun conversation, a member made a completely offensive remark to the rest of us who were participating in the thread. This was not a "troll" or a "newbie", it was a regular member who has been around for a long time. Everyone ignored the remark, but I was a little shocked by it. Another incident happened last summer when a new member asked a question and three or four of the regulars jumped all over her and insulted her to the point I don't think she ever came back. It was uncalled for. Rest assured that none of my blog friends were involved.

It makes me wonder if there is an anger management forum out there.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Brunch, Cupcakes And Cheesecake With A Shout Out

I hope you had a lovely Easter Sunday. We did. And as with any holiday, lots of good food was involved.


If you didn't run right out and buy croissants the last time I mentioned them (here), you really need to. We made wonderful sandwiches by slicing them open and stuffing them with scrambled eggs (fried would be good, too) and cheese, and heating them in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. Served with Mr. Willoughby's trademark bacon on the grill, hash browns, coffee and assorted juices, it was a fast, easy and delicious brunch. It was so good, in fact, that I have no pictures because everything disappeared the minute it hit the table.

We had dinner at my parents' house, so I didn't have to do any cooking, but the girls and I made some fabulous desserts to take along.


Purple Hoodie Chick and I made filled cupcakes. The original plan was to make chocolate cupcakes, but I was out of cocoa. So as much as I hate to admit it, we got a little help from this guy.

I prefer to cook and bake from scratch, but I have yet to find a great, moist yellow cake recipe (if you've got one, please share!). I had this box of yellow cake mix for a different recipe, but we went ahead and used it to make our cupcakes. After they were baked and cooled, we filled a pastry bag with fudge icing. Using a long star tip (I'm not sure which number tip we used), we inserted it into the top of each cupcake and squeezed filling into them.

Next we covered the tops with a chocolate glaze. I love this recipe because it sets up to a fudge-like consistency.

Chocolate Glaze

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

In small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add corn syrup and chocolate chips, stirring constantly until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Use immediately.

We then finished them off by piping a star on top with the fudge icing that was used for filling. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn't. And yes, they are delicious!


I have to give a shout out to my friend Lissaloo at One Step At A Time for this recipe. She made it a while ago and I've been meaning to try it ever since I read about it on her blog. It's Sopapilla Cheesecake. If you check out her blog, you can link to another blog to get the recipe. It is fast and easy to make, though we did fight with the dough a bit to stretch it over the top and seal the seams (my fault, really, for using a lasagna pan which is a little larger than 9 x 13). Even so, I highly recommend this recipe, especially if you are baking with kids because it doesn't require very many ingredients so it comes together before they get bored. My nine year old daughter loved helping with this one.

This smelled so good while it was baking that I could hardly wait to taste it. It's wonderful with the crispy cinnamon sugar top and the creamy filling. Thanks, Lissaloo! Everyone loved it!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's Saturday Night And The Bar Is Open

We're continuing the classic cocktail theme with tonight's recipe. I did a little research and found there are quite a few variations of this drink. The one I am sharing tonight comes from our quirky, old bartender's guide. It's smooth and a little sweet. I hope you like it.

Road Runner
  • 1 oz. Vodka

  • 1/2 oz. amaretto

  • 1/2 oz. coconut cream

  • 1/2 cup crushed ice
Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into a sugar rimmed martini glass.

As always, please enjoy responsibly. Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Let's Get Cooking!

I couldn't decide what to post today. If you read my blog regularly, you know that I always share a drink recipe on Friday. We made drinks after dinner last night and I was going to share the recipe with you today, but I wasn't sure if I should, it being Good Friday. I gave it a great deal of consideration and decided to wait until tomorrow night to open the bar so that I wouldn't offend anyone. I really don't think it would (or should) be offensive, but I can wait until tomorrow to post it. For today, we will be cooking a main dish and a side dish. We will be using chicken, which I realize is also forbidden on Good Friday, but you can make this another day.

Slow Cooked Chicken

You've probably seen the recipe for salsa chicken before. I've made it many times, usually on the stove top. If you aren't familiar with it, it's basically cooking boneless chicken in salsa, either on the stove top or in the oven. This recipe has a twist to it. In addition to the salsa, you add bottled French dressing (or home made if you're so inclined). I know it sounds strange but the dressing adds a unique flavor that I can't quite describe. It's almost a buttery taste, but that's not exactly it. You'll just have to trust me on this. Seriously, would I ever steer you wrong?

  • 2 lb. boneless chicken breasts

  • 15 oz. jar salsa

  • 1 cup French dressing

Combine salsa and French dressing in a bowl. Place chicken breasts in slow cooker. Pour salsa/French dressing mixture on top, making sure chicken is completely covered. Place lid on crock and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5 hours. Turn off slow cooker and remove lid. Shred chicken with two forks. Stir to combine shredded meat with sauce. Serve wrapped in flour tortillas as burrito filling with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and cheese. Want more ideas? How about on buns as sandwiches, with melted cheese on nachos, over rice, on a bed of lettuce with sour cream, stirred into chili or soup, over ice cream.....

Leftovers reheat nicely, even in the microwave. I usually reheat our leftovers in a covered casserole dish in the oven, but the microwave is great if you're in a hurry (or your kids are ravenous after school). We generally get 2-4 meals out of this recipe. It easily doubles if you're making it for a crowd, and it's very kid friendly. If you want it super spicy, add a chopped jalapeno or adobo peppers in sauce.

Sweet Corn Cake

There are many variations of this recipe, but this one is my own adaptation. It's quick and easy and the sweetness pairs well with spicy food.

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 13.75 oz. can creamed corn

  • 1/3 cup flour

  • 1/3 cup cornmeal

  • 1/3 cup white sugar

  • 3 teaspoons milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl, beat softened butter until creamy. Add creamed corn and milk, stir well to combine. Add remaining ingredients, combine thoroughly. Pour into an ungreased 8 x 8 inch baking pan. Cover tightly with foil and place in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Carefully add an inch of water to the 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove pan from water bath and let cool 10 - 15 minutes before serving.

I'll be back tomorrow to open the bar!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Turn Up The Volume

We like music around here. A lot. Except for my daughter, we like it loud, too. She likes Sara (Starship) and All The Same (Sick Puppies) loud, but that's about it. When we're driving somewhere, she complains if I turn up the volume. When I have the opportunity to drive solo, I crank up the music and sing along. I usually stop singing if there is a car directly next to me or if I'm stopped at light, though. And in the warmer weather I try not to sing loudly if I have the windows down. I can't carry a tune in a bucket. No one needs to hear me belting out my off key version of The Pretender (Foo Fighters) or Black Days (Soundgarden). That would be cruel.

In addition to singing badly, I get the words to the songs wrong sometimes. Some lyrics are especially hard to understand so I fill in the words I don't know with some nonsense that doesn't sound like English or I sing what I think I'm hearing. You know what I'm talking about because you do it too! Have you ever listened to America's Suitehearts (Fall Out Boy)? I'm still not sure of all the words to that song. For a while I was convinced that they were making reference to the magic conch (if you watch Spongebob, you know about the magic conch). Don't believe me? Listen to it and tell me you don't hear it too!

You want more of a challenge, you say? Try these:

  • Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana) - I'm clueless to the majority of the lyrics. I can't do much more than mumble along to this song.

  • Sugar We're Going Down (Fall Out Boy) - Just when I think I've got it, they lose me again.

  • Sleeping Sickness (City And Colour) - I still can't figure out what's going on with the knife.

  • Rock Me Amadeus (Falco). Is that English or German?

Mr. Willoughby has a talent for picking up the lyrics to a song the first time he hears it. When we were dating, I mistakenly thought he knew every song ever written. Over time I learned that he has a gift for guessing the words. It still amazes me. Not that he doesn't get them wrong from time to time, but he can still fool you into believing he knows a song he's never heard before.

If trying to figure out the lyrics weren't enough, what about the meaning behind them? Ever heard Counting Blue Cars (Dishwalla)? It seems to be about a spiritual journey of some sort. Beyond that, I can't say for sure. And what about Santa Monica (Theory Of A Deadman)? "She fills my bed with gasoline, you think I would have noticed". Huh? I love this song, but I'm not sure about that. Dear Lucid, Our Time Is Right Now (Evans Blue) is out there, too.

Listen to some music today and sing along if you can. Slaughter some lyrics and laugh yourself silly. Karaoke, anyone?

~Note~ All the songs mentioned in this post are currently on my player at
the bottom of the page.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Timing Is Everything

I'm kicking myself for not knowing about it sooner. One of my favorite bands was in town over the weekend. Staind, along with some other bands, performed at a free concert on the Detroit waterfront on Sunday afternoon. We found out about it just before the concert started. Since we live about an hour from Detroit, there was no way we were going to be able to get there in time to park and get seated before they took the stage (it's an outdoor venue and you have to bring your own seats). I can console myself with the fact that it was only in the 40's on Sunday and the wind coming off the Detroit River probably held the windchill around 30. Still....Staind would have been worth risking a little frostbite. If we had know about it an hour earlier we would have gone.

It proves, once again, that timing can make all the difference. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Think about how many times you've passed an accident scene on the road and wondered what would have happened if you had left the house a minute earlier, or hadn't had to sit at a red light. Would you have been involved in the accident? On the flip side, have you ever missed a flight or stood in line for something only to find that they "just ran out" or sold the last one? Would a few minutes have made any difference?

Here's a good example of time being in our favor. Years ago my husband and I had dinner at a suburban neighborhood restaurant. It was early winter and it was cold when we walked out into the parking lot. As we approached our car, we noticed that there was a man asleep in the car parked next to ours. He had his window down and we were concerned that he might be sick or may have passed out. We were going to ask him if he was okay, but all of a sudden my husband whispered "Get in the car, now!". I was a little confused, but I got in our car and shut the door. "He's got a gun on his lap" he said.

We drove out of the parking lot and went to a convenience store to call the police from the pay phone (pre-cell phone era). We told them what we saw and then parked in a spot where we could watch for the squad cars to see what was going on. They surrounded his car, pointed their weapons at him and told him to get out with his hands on his head. He complied. They removed a shotgun from the front seat of his car after he got out. Then they opened the trunk and removed at least five or six more guns. It was surreal. What had he been planning and what would have happened if we had come out a few minutes later?

Time works against us, too, and sometimes it's more serious than a missed concert. A few years ago while we were on vacation, we were rear ended in our rental car while pulling out of a store parking lot. If we had pulled out a minute later or not stopped at the store in the first place, we may have avoided some minor injuries and the damper the whole situation put on our vacation.

I'm probably dating myself here, but do you remember the show 21 Jump Street? There was an episode where Tommy Hanson's (Johnny Depp) girlfriend is killed and he calculates that the murder took 3.3 seconds. He becomes obsessed with all the things you can do in that time. It may be a little over dramatic, but it does make you think.

You need to forward to about 6:00 to hear the things he can do in 3.3 seconds. If you want to see the whole episode, start here, it's in 3 parts.

Timing is everything. Change just a minute or two and your life could be completely different. Would you have met your spouse, followed the same career path, or moved to the same city? Maybe we should wish one another "good time" instead of "good luck". Okay, it sounds a little cheesy, but it's better than "May the force be with you"!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Everything Green Is White Again and Reminiscing

Mother Nature pulled a good one on us overnight. The local forecasters said we could be in for another blast of winter, and they were right. What was green yesterday is white today. That's right, last week's near 60 degree temperatures have given way to the low 30's and the grass and trees are covered with snow.

The sidewalk and street in front of my house.

Yesterday there were robins singing in these trees.

School is cancelled today, too. The snow isn't deep but the roads are slushy in some spots and slippery in others. It's a good thing I got the windows washed and the screens in place, eh? Pretty sneaky, Mother Nature!


I'm sick of looking at the snow sticking to my freshly washed window screens, so I'm going to reminisce about sun filled carefree days of times past....

Years ago, around the time we were married, our closest friends were Kevin and Karen. Kevin lived in the apartment next to ours, and Karen was a good friend of his. We spent many Saturday nights having dinner and drinking wine with them at Kevin's apartment or ours. We would talk and laugh until the wee hours of the morning. It was always fun.

Karen had a quick witted sense of humor. We liked her from day one. The first time we met was over breakfast at Kevin's apartment. After introductions, the conversation went something like this:

Karen - "Did you guys see that green car in your parking lot? What a piece of crap!"

Me - "Oh, you mean our car?"

Karen, without missing a beat - "It's a really nice piece of crap. I meant that as a compliment, I really like it."

It wasn't really our car, I was just messing with her. And then:

Karen - "I stopped at the gas station on the corner. The guy that works at the register is an idiot."

Me - "That's my dad."

Karen - "He's a really nice idiot."

How can you not respect a sense of humor like that? We were friends immediately.

That summer, the four of us planned a trip to Cedar Point (an amusement park in Ohio). It was incredibly hot and humid that day but we had a blast riding the roller coasters together. When we got off the "Magnum", the man behind Kevin and Karen's car said something had hit him in the face during the ride. That was when we noticed the combs Karen had used to pull her hair back were missing.

I wouldn't get on the Witches Wheel or any of the spinning rides because they make me sick to my stomach. Karen tried to persuade me, but I wouldn't even consider it.

"You won't get sick, they don't go that fast." She said.

"I can't, I'll puke." I said.

So while Mr. Willoughby and I waited, Kevin and Karen rode most of the spinning rides. After the final ride, Karen started looking a little green.

"I need a place to sit down and close my eyes. The spinning and the heat are making me sick."

We were looking for a park bench or picnic table but Karen saw a patch of grass and trees next to a building and wanted to lie down in the shade (I have pictures, but I thought she might kill me if I posted them). We stood around for a while waiting for her to cool off when she suddenly popped up and crawled into the shrubs on the side of the building and threw up. To her horror and our amusement, we realized that there were windows on the other side of the shrubs. The building was a restaurant and she had just given a table of diners front row seats to her performance. We couldn't stop laughing. She got up, wiped her mouth, smiled and nodded to the the people in the window. I can still see the expression on their faces. I'll bet they tell that story all the time. We still do.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Makin' Bacon With Mr. Willoughby

I do most of the cooking around here, but Mr. Willoughby is the grill master and breakfast chef. A while back he decided to combine the two and make bacon on the grill. It's fantastic! We don't make bacon very often, but when we make it in the oven or on the cooktop, the house smells like it for hours afterward. Plus, who wants to clean up the greasy mess? The grill method also works well if you need to make a large amount of bacon at one time.

Here's what Mr. Willoughby does: Preheat your gas grill to high. Tear off two 24 inch sheets of aluminum foil and stack one on top of the other. Fold the edges up to contain the grease. Lay bacon on the foil in a single layer and place on the grill. Close the top and let the bacon cook for 5-10 minutes. Check to see if it's done to desired crispness. If not, continue to cook for several more minutes, opening the lid and checking frequently. When the bacon is done, turn off grill and remove strips to serving platter. Enjoy your bacon while it's warm. Leave the foil on the grill until it's cool and the grease has coagulated. Dispose of foil.

Mmmmmmm, bacon!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Bar Is Open Again! Bonus Saturday Evening Drink Demo

Mr. Willoughby and I wanted to have a drink this evening, but we were looking for something a little different from the drinks we have been featuring. The Caribbean Mudslide fit the bill. This would be a fabulous after dinner drink.

Caribbean Mudslide
  • 1 oz. Irish Cream
  • 1 oz. Kahlua
  • 1 oz. Coconut Rum
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake well. Serve in an on the rocks glass over ice. Although we didn't try it, I think this would be great added to coffee and served as a hot drink.

Enjoy responsibly, please. Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Bar Is Open!

I have all sorts of recipes, stories and projects that I've been meaning to share with you lately, but I've been really busy. Tonight, though, is Friday night and the bar is open!

We got this recipe from an old bartender's guide. There are some old and quirky, fun recipes in this book and we had a hard time choosing. This one is quite a bit like the Tom Collins we made last week, but sweeter and pink! If you follow the recipe you will get two drinks.

Floradora Cooler
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry syrup or grenadine
  • 2 oz. carbonated water
  • lemon/lime carbonated beverage (7-Up)
  • ice

Place lime juice, powdered sugar, raspberry syrup or grenadine (we used grenadine), and carbonated water. Stir well, do not shake. Pour into ice filled glasses and add lemon/lime beverage to top of glass. Stir gently.

As always, please enjoy responsibly. Happy Friday!