Six On Sunday, Version 33

1. Baking.  This weekend, Emma and I attempted to make cupcakes for a girls birthday lunch I went to on Saturday. We grabbed our trusty box of Butter Recipe Mix and set to work.  This particular mix called for butter instead of oil, so the batter is always on the thick side. As I filled the cupcake liners, I thought to myself “Gosh, this is REALLY thick!”… well, it was really thick because we forgot to put any liquid in it! While cake mix is magical, and can overcome almost anything- overmixing, for example- it cannot overcome a total lack of moisture. The cake never rises in the middle- the cupcakes resembled sink holes. We attempted to fix them, but, sadly, they were un-fixable. RIP mini cupcakes!

2. Ladies Who Lunch. I recommend every girl get a set of friends to lunch with on the occasional Saturday afternoon. And by lunch I mean drink expensive Chardonnay at 2PM. It is a great way to spend an afternoon!

photo 39 700x522 Six On Sunday, Version 33

3. The cold. I grew up in the Midwest, and even lived in Chicago for a while.  I can do cold. Or, could do I should say. I cannot tolerate anything under forty degrees anymore. Last week, I was in Chicago where it was 14 BEFORE THE WIND! As a result, I did not go outside for three days.

4. Quiche. Is one of my ultimate comfort foods. You know that one food that takes you back to your childhood- suddenly, you are ten years old eating in your family’s breakfast room (or kitchen or dining room). My mom’s quiche is that food for me. This weekend, I made dinner for a sick girlfriend and her family. As I was making the quiche, Thomas informed me that he loves quiche. So, I made a second one which we had for dinner last night (and tonight. And possibly tomorrow.) With the first bite, I was transported back to 1989, having dinner with my sisters. It was wild! I will post the recipe under a separate post. You will want it, trust me.

quiche Six On Sunday, Version 33

5. Routine. It’s back! After a rough couple of weeks (surgery, work trips, and out of town visitors), we are back into our groove and it feels so so good!

6. Three year olds. I love LOVE my little girl. She’s the best. She is also rather spirited… Weekends are great because we get to spend so much time together. (Weekdays are also great because school is open!). In all seriousness, I would rather tame a tiger than try to paint stripes on one. These qualities, the very ones that drive me crazy now will serve her very well later in life… however…

lose her shit Six On Sunday, Version 33

 

Six On Sunday, Version 32 (Monday Version 4)

1. My husband had sinus surgery. As loyal readers know, he had surgery ten days ago. Ten Very Long Days Ago. While he has been a model patient, he is a patient nonetheless.  Today, he has a doctor’s appointment where he will (fingers crossed) be released to do whatever he wants to do.  I feel that he will want to vacuum, stack the dishwasher, and fold laundry.  Just a hunch.

sage Six On Sunday, Version 32 (Monday Version 4)

2. Sage Magazine. I was invited back to write another piece for Sage Magazine. This issue’s topic was Valentine’s Day, and while not my favorite day (see #4), it is one of the most memorable days of high school- Valentine’s Day was our Superbowl (please see page 10).

3. Cruises. I met my husband on a cruise. We have talked about going on another one, possibly for our tenth anniversary of our first date. After the most recent mishap involving a lack of electricity, optional plumbing, and irate passengers; I suspect my cruising days might be behind me… All plans for future cruises have jumped ship, and any lingering thoughts about how wonderful cruising is have been cast overboard. (I know I know terrible, but I could not resist!)

4. Valentine’s Day. As a rule, I do not have fond feelings for any Hallmark generated holiday (see also: Sweetest Day, Office Professionals Day, and Bosses Day). (Check out this list of the 7 Most Ridiculous Holidays, it’s pretty good.) This year was the first year Emma ‘celebrated’ Valentine’s Day at school, which gives me yet another reason to hate this fake holiday: candy.  The amount of candy my child brought home from school rivals any good trick or treating run on Halloween. Policing said candy has enforced Emma’s belief that Mommy And Daddy Are No Fun and has made for an exhausting round of conversation. (Why can’t I just eat candy Mommy? I love candy! I want candy! Yes! Now!)

folding laundry Six On Sunday, Version 32 (Monday Version 4)

5. Modern Appliances. I am a HUGE fan of dishwashers- I have lived in several apartments over the years that did not have one. I also love having a washer and dryer in my house as I do not miss schleping my laundry to my parents. However, due to the increase in dishes (see #1) and laundry (also #1), my life has become emptying the dishwasher and folding sheets. I am so over it I cannot even begin to tell you.

6. Caramel Shortbread Squares. So incredible. I used to make these all the time for my best friend Caroline’s husband.  She has moved far, far away, and without Jacob requesting them, I had forgotten about them. I love to bake, but I have found the whole “a moment on the lips forever on the hips” is too true. However, I maintain that calories don’t count when baking if you are baking for someone else, so I rarely bake for our family. Instead, I bake for friends, neighbors, and even the mailman. Saturday evening they suddenly popped into my head (what an exciting life I lead) and so, as my gift to you, I am sharing. You’re Welcome.

CARAMEL SHORTBREAD SQUARES

INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
2. In a medium bowl, mix together 2/3 cup butter, white sugar, and flour until evenly crumbly. Press into a 9 inch square baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
3. In a 2 quart saucepan, combine 1/2 cup butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk. Bring to a boil. Continue to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes. Pour over baked crust (warm or cool). Cool until it begins to firm.
4. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute, then stir and continue to heat and stir at 20 second intervals until chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour chocolate over the caramel layer and spread evenly to cover completely. Chill.

I first found this recipe on Allrecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Caramel-Shortbread-Squares/Detail.aspx?src=etaf)

Six On Sunday, The Monday Julia-Is-Sick-Again Version

1. Girls Night Out. On Friday night, I got to do something very rare- I went out for a Girls Night Out! Don’t get me wrong- my husband is always supportive of me taking time with my girlfriends; life just seems to get in the way. On Friday night, one of my besties was in town. She invited me not only to hang out, but to spend the night at the St. Regis with her- a bona fide slumber party! In true slumber party form, we had a ball and were both exhausted the next day.

jen girls night out Six On Sunday, The Monday Julia Is Sick Again Version

Keeping it Klassy at the St. Regis

2. St. Regis. The St. Regis is a fabulous hotel- from the incredible floral arrangements in the lobby to the doorbells on the suites. It is also a place where the fabulous people go. I love my current roles in life- suburban wife and mother- but it was so much fun to be Fabulous again, at least for a little while!

3. HDMI cords. You loyal readers will remember that my husband seems to have the worst luck with cables- they always seem to be too short! Once he gets the correct cords, the man is a wiring genius! In the past week, he has wired a sound bar with hidden cords and hung a TV in our bedroom- again, with no visible cords.  In related news, he has also built another shelf into an exisiting set of shelves, hidden more cords with cord keeper and hung pictures from a decorative knob. Thanks honey!

family pics Six On Sunday, The Monday Julia Is Sick Again Version

I need a little help with the ribbons… not sure how to drape properly- any ideas?

4, The Superbowl. Who cares? I don’t. I did have a great time with more great friends and greater wine- woops, I think I said that backwards!!  I think the Superdome has bad karma after Katrina… props to everyone for staying calm and being reasonably well behaved during the blackout.

5. Buffalo Chicken Dip. You need to make this immediately. It is life changing.

buffalo chicken dip Six On Sunday, The Monday Julia Is Sick Again Version

I never thought I would be one with foodie pics on my blog! Moving up in the world…

6. Almond Milk. Vanilla. Warmed up. AMAZZINGG!!!

Six On Sunday, Version 30

1. Aunt Judye Cake. We had another family birthday party this weekend, and my loyal readers know what that means- the Best Birthday Cake In The World…aka Aunt Judye Cake. Yes, it really is that good. Think back to one of your birthday parties as a child… remember the cake- the sugary, moist white cake frosted with thick sticky sugar… that’s the cake Aunt Judye makes. I had to marry into the family before they would give me the recipe! (Don’t worry,  we had champagne with our cake.)

2. Date Day (and Night). This weekend, I had not one but two dates with my  husband! I laughed to myself, thinking “we used to do this all time” and now it is a Really Big Deal. We went to a gun range (I know!) and then out to lunch with some dear friends. We all enjoyed ourselves immensely, and it was so wonderful to have an entire conversation without interruption. Thomas and I have made the conscious decision to include Emma(when appropriate) almost always, and while we love to have her with us, it was wonderful to have a break!

 

3. Best Friends. I had a reminder this week that true and loyal friends are very difficult to find. My advice is to hold dear those that are, and to make sure you tell them how much you love them, and how important their presence in your life is. (This post was brought to you by Hallmark.) (Just Kidding!)

4. Guns. I went to the range and went shooting for the first time in my entire life this weekend. This was a major departure for me and from the attitudes about guns my parents had when I was growing up.That said,  I believe it is my responsibility to my family to keep us safe- which I am sure everyone would agree is a parent’s first responsibility- and this is how I choose to do that. Very adult of me, I know!

5. Buy One Get One (half off). I will fall for this Every. Single. Time. I always buy more, and always justify it by the “savings”.  Well played, retailers, well played!

6. Sparkly things. I went accessory shopping this weekend, and like the BOGO deals, I am a sucker every time. My inner monologue goes something like this: OOH PRETTY! SPARKLES! BRIGHT COLORS! OOH FLASHY FLASH! PRETTY! You can imagine how it always ends up…

How Coffee Changed My Life

Of all of the organizations I am proud to be a member of (Nerinx Girls, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Junior League), my newest membership is the one that makes me smile (albeit smugly). I am a proud member of the Fancy Pants Coffee Nespresso Club!

nespresso1 How Coffee Changed My Life

So Amazing

For Christmas, my husband and I received the Nespresso Espresso Machine from some of the best couple friends one can have. It was a hugely generous gift, and we were appropriately grateful as this was a wonderful surprise.

jen fletch julia thomas How Coffee Changed My Life

We love them!

I was so excited for Thomas, because I am not a coffee drinker, and he downs pots of it by himself every morning. For years, I was Team Diet Coke in the mornings, but I switched to tea when I realized that my blood type was coming back as “aspartame” instead of the normal A or B varieties. I didn’t even like what my father has termed “recreational coffee”- flavored coffee and creamers. For years, the only way I could force coffee down was if it was equal parts coffee and Frangelico, topped with plenty of whipped cream.

However, my curiosity was peaked when I witnessed the sheer delight this magic little machine was delivering to my friends and family. Even Thomas squealed like a little girl over the Magical Goodness this machine poured from its little black spout. I decided I had to get in on the action.

I tried the coffee made from this Eighth Wonder of the World.

And my life changed.

I set up the machine under Thomas’s careful eye, him muttering something about my track record of not reading directions and using the ‘push and make it fit’ school of assembly the entire time. After the parts were connected (and he signed off on it), I nervously pushed the green ‘go’ button.

The coffee that came out of the spout looked different from the coffee Thomas makes in the Cuisinart self-grinding fancy coffee maker that he had to have when we got married. (Ask him how many times he has ground his own beans. ONCE. Apparently, it was ‘too messy’.) It was thicker, and frothier.

I might be a coffee amateur, but even I know that fancy pants coffee requires frothy milk on top. I dug around in my ‘appliance cabinet-‘the cabinet where things like waffle makers, fondue sets, and cookie presses go to die- for the handheld Cuisinart blender/mixer thing I received for our wedding (and have used as many times as Thomas has used the grinding part of the coffee maker). I hauled it down, and said a quick Hail Mary that it would work after six long years of non use, and hit the button. Success!

HailMary How Coffee Changed My Life

She totally came through!
source

Limited success, as I was about to learn as the amount of froth frothed was, well, less than impressive. Undeterred, I frothed and scooped what little foam was made, and repeated. And repeated. In the end, it was worth all of the time and effort. This coffee was amazing! LIFE CHANGING! I think angels were actually singing!

As with all things life changing, this revelation was going to make reexamine some of my Founding Principles…

I Belong!

I love to belong. This is kind of a dirty little secret of mine, and it is out of character. I fashion myself an Independent Woman, much like the ladies Beyonce and Destiny’s Child sing about in the song Independent Women.

julia nov 2012 I Belong!

See, I am totally the 4th member!

I am outspoken, opinionated, and confident in my internal belief that I am Always Right. This does not make me a great candidate for being a ‘team player’. I love my position in outside sales, and life is always happier when I am in charge of my own fate. (Life has thrown me a steep learning curve in the form of a very strong willed three year old daughter who feels the exact same way about being her own boss.)

I am also the kind of girl who is asked “What sorority were you in?” not “Were you in a sorority?” My college roommate- whom I did not know prior to move in- said I was exactly what she expected me to be based on our two phone conversations (this was of course the olden days- we didn’t even use AIM until about a year later) from the bright, preppy floral quilt, the over abundance of picture frames with girls mugging for the camera, and the long term/long distance boyfriend… she was expecting me to be blonde, though. (For years afterwards, I tried my hardest to be a blonde. It was not my best look. It was, however, one of the most expensive looks I have ever had.)

In high school, I was a Nerinx Girl. (For my non St. Louis readers: the question of where one attended high school sounds very benign, but it isn’t. Where one attends high school effectively corners one into a social status. It is the equivalent of asking someone’s salary AND what they paid for their house. St. Louis boasts over twenty single sex high schools, and each has their own reputation-very similar to the Greek System on college campuses, except the answer matters more and will be influential in someone’s opinion. The only other comparison I can draw is the blood lust rivalries in the South surrounding football teams spawn.)

Be Kappa I Belong!

source

In college, I was a Kappa. To quote the A Southern Belle Primer, Or Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be A Kappa Kappa Gamma, by Maryln Schwartz: “First you’re born, then there’s Kappa, then you get married, then there’s Junior League, then you die.”

Of course, I am in Junior League.

However, I am most  proud of my membership of the Fancy Pants Coffee Nespresso Club, because my life has NEVER BEEN THE SAME…

Six On Sunday, Version 24

1. Bangs.  Right after Emma was born, I got bangs. I had been wanting bangs for quite a while, and clearly was not going to commit to them while preggo. I loved them for about six months. I HATED them for the twelve months it took to grow them back out.  I recently sent my friend Caroline some old pictures.  After she received them, she sent me a text asking why we had ever allowed her to have bangs. The great irony is that one of the main reasons I got bangs was because they looked so cute on her! I maintain they looked cute on her regardless of what she says!

bangs Six On Sunday, Version 24

2. Getting Gas. I hate hate HATE getting gas. In the nine years I have known my husband, I can count on one hand the number of times I have gotten gas if he is in town. It’s awesome, and a reminder that chivalry is not dead.

 

nerinx hall marker Six On Sunday, Version 24

GO MARKERS!

3. High School Mascots. I saw a bumper sticker this week that boasted of the Terriers… When I hear ‘terrier’ I think little yippy dog.  This image does not strike fear in the heart of any opponent… however, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.  My high school mascot was The Marker… short  for The Hallmark of Excellence.

nerinx hall Six On Sunday, Version 24

4. No more free weekends. We are currently scheduling into January.  In case anyone is interested in plans… Every year, right after my birthday, things get crazy busy- the holidays, family visits, etc.  It is great to be in such demand, but a little frustrating at the same time.

 

julia how big Six On Sunday, Version 24

forgot to use this on my birthday post and it is WAY TOO CUTE to not use… so enjoy!

5. My Birthday. I finally had to accept that my birthday is, in fact, over.  We decorate our mantle with cards as the occassion arises- Valentine’s Day, birthdays, etc .  I took down all of the cards (and put them in my card box in the attic. I have every card I have ever been sent, including cards my mother received when I was born). Now my mantle is bare =(

bday cards Six On Sunday, Version 24

6. Gangnam Style. How can you not love it? Emma LOVES this song! One of the reasons I think she loves it so much is because her father is AMAZING at replicating it! Enjoy!!

 

Flowers Delivered by Julia’s Math

Today was A GREAT DAY.  I was at home working when I heard the UPS guy. I get stuff from UPS daily, so I did not expect this to be the highlight of my day.  I went outside to see what I had received, and that’s when the visit from the UPS man became the most exciting part of my day because someone sent me flowers!

flowers Flowers Delivered by Julias Math

The Price Of Fame

I brought the box inside and attempted to free my flowers.  I alternated between being really impressed with Pro Flowers and their packing skills and being really really frustrated with Pro Flowers and their packing skills.  Finally, the beautiful flowers were out of the box.  After I finished admiring them, I looked for the card.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! YOU, MS. THANG, ARE A PUBLISHED-FREAKING-AUTHOR!! AWESOME, PLUS A SCOOP OF AWESOME, COVERED IN BITCH SPRINKLES = JULIA’S MATH I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!

Wow! The perks of fame! I could get used to this! I re-read the card, smiling to myself. I reached for my phone to call… wait…. The card wasn’t signed! Who could have possibly sent me such a wonderful surprise? I knew it wasn’t Thomas because A) he is way too cheap not the kind of guy to send flowers, and B)he would not have written a card calling me Miss Thang! I knew it was someone I am close to because they had my home address. I racked my brain, and then it came to me! My bestie Liz (who is amazing and proof reads  every word you guys read) must have sent them! I know she is proud of me, and sending flowers is a classy thing to do and Liz is queen of the Classy Club.  I couldn’t believe it! I dialed her number, and left her a voicemail telling her how much she means to me, and how I cannot believe I lucked out so much to get such an amazing bestie!

liz julia Flowers Delivered by Julias Math

Keeping it Classy

A couple of hours later, I received the following text: “Ummm this is awkward, what did I do that was so sweet? I’m not aware of anything.’” (For the record: I still LOVE Liz and I am still not sure what I did to deserve such an amazing BFF.)

Oops.

If Liz didn’t send me flowers, then who did?!

All of a sudden, I knew. My sister Laura had! The card was vintage Laura, and she had called me the night before to congratulate me. Also, Laura is a member of the Classy Club. (Most of the time anyway. I will not hold her senior year of college and her fraternity house of an apartment against her.) She had been off the grid for a couple of days attending a wedding, and had somehow missed the 92 Facebook posts/Tweets/emails of flagrant self promotion I had sent. I called her and told her she was the best sister ever (what are you doing to do to top that JEN?!) and thanked her so much. Also, I appointed her President of the Julia’s Math Fan Club. She accepted with great humility.  She also apologized for not signing her name. She said she filled in her name so many times- to set up an account, for payment, etc- that she figured it would be automatically added to the card.

cheers laura Flowers Delivered by Julias Math

President of the Julia’s Math Fan Club

If this is the price of fame, I am so willing to pay it!

you can read my article for Sage Magazine here

Six on Sunday (Monday), Version 18

to do Six on Sunday (Monday), Version 18

1. The List. I am sure you have one of these at your house. That list of everything, that in a perfect world, would be done. Things on this list are things that are in the ’wants’ category, not in the needs-to-get-done-yesterday category. For example, a needs-to-get-done item might be fixing your back deck before it collapses into the yard; where as a ’want’ would be painting said deck. The things on the list are not that pressing…  until you host a party at your house. We (myself and my two besties Liz and Tanya) hosted a baby shower this weekend (which is why this post is late. I was way too tired to deal with anything yesterday. Also, see #3).  The good news is the party was lovely and almost everything got checked off the list. The bad news is that I was scrubbing fan blades, polishing silver, lint rolling lamp shades, repainting my daughter’s room, scrubbing my porch, and moving furniture for three days. My sweet husband was laying sod, painting mailboxes, trimming bushes, and being the general Errand Boy. .. The worst news is that the list is never-ending as I can already think of several things to add to it (sorry honey!).

2. Not Washing Dishes. I am not a fan of washing dishes.  I do the “cooking” (does steaming vegetables and sautéing something count? Because that’s all I do), and Thomas does the cleaning. We arrived at this arrangement after he accused me of only washing the part of the plate that was dirty. (LIES.)  We rented table settings for the shower, so all we had to do was rinse the plates and glasses and restack them! It was amazing! I had maybe six things to wash when all was said and done.

sesame street live Six on Sunday (Monday), Version 18

3. Sesame Street Live. I remember going as a child, and it was really neat to be able to take my child.  I recruited my friend Bailey and her son to go with us. I wasn’t going to face that solo, and Thomas received a kitchen pass after how awesome he was with regard to the shower.  I’m glad we went, and I’m glad it won’t come into town for another year.

self tanner Six on Sunday (Monday), Version 18

4. Self Tanner. Is amazing! In theory. Once I turned twenty-five, I swore off tanning beds. (Other than the few months before my wedding. This should be self-explanatory.) Once I turned thirty, I swore off laying out in the sun.  So, what’s a girl to do? B.E. (before Emma, also known as the days of DINK (dual income no kids), I went to a salon and had a professional spray tan. These days, both my time and funds are more limited, so I try my best at home. Usually I do a pretty decent job- especially if you do not look too closely! My issue is the fade out. A natural tan fades… well… naturally. Spray tan comes off in random spots and it does so in a non uniform fashion. I look like I have some weirdo blotchy disease…

5. Good customer service.  I purchased two bags of popcorn from Fresh Market and was dismayed to discover they were half full when I opened them. I took them back, and they replaced them without a receipt! The clerk had a bad attitude, but I still count it as a win!

real housewives of miami season 2 bravo Six on Sunday (Monday), Version 18

Real Housewives of Miami

6. The Real Housewives of Miami.  It’s new to me. So far, the gals seem trashy enough that I can get behind this show. However, they all look like something out of my nightmares. A little plastic surgery? HUGE FAN! Redoing your body like it’s your kitchen and updating it every few years? Not so much…Thoughts anyone?

Six On Sunday, Version 17

State Fairs.  My sisters and I were taken to the Indiana State Fair once. We were on a road trip and for some reason stopped and looked around. All I remember is the stink, a gigantic cow, and eating a funnel cake.  As far as I was concerned, that box had been checked. However, I might have checked too quickly. My sister and her boyfriend recently attended the Minnesota State Fair and had a ball. Lesson learned: Any food can be fried AND any food can be put on a stick. They looked at (and touched!) cows, butterflies, and other assorted animals. There was disappointment when my sister realized that she could look but not touch any of the prize winning cakes and pies.  I have also read several blog posts about state fairs. Everyone seems to have a wonderful time. The food is delicious, and the people watching is top notch. We might have to put “Attend State Fair” on our list.

thomas bff1 Six On Sunday, Version 17

2. Thomas’ new BFFs. 

3. BFF necklaces.  I always wanted one. I never got one. Ever. (Note to any of my friends reading this- excellent birthday gift idea!)

Best Friend Necklaces Six On Sunday, Version 17

4. Graffiti artists. I am not one. I have been spray painting baskets for Emma’s converted (upcycled I believe is the current buzz word) changing table.  I managed to get more paint on me than on the baskets. I thought I was to blame as I am a total spaz, but it turns out it was the can (and possibly the wine I was enjoying while painting). As with all Julia’s Math projects, this one required multiple trips to Michael’s (what is it with me and baskets and Michael’s?!) and to Home Depot. I thought I was finished with the project when I had everything painted this yummy pistachio green.  However, when I brought the pistachio green baskets inside and placed them next to the grass green flowers on the quilt, I threw up. Back to Home Depot for round two of paint.  Home Depot carries better spray paint than Michael’s and you will be glad to know that the second round of painting was much less messy!

5. Leftover paper napkins. I have gallon size zip lock bags FILLED with wedding bell napkins, Happy Birthday napkins, it’s a Boy, It’s a Girl, and even Thomas the Train.  I have too many of each to throw away the discards, and not enough to really do anything with them! I was at a friend’s house over the weekend and she told me she had the same problem, and that she was over it. So, she is using up all of her napkins regardless of the occasion printed on them. I followed her inspiration, and used happy graduation alongside it’s a girl at dinner tonight.

6. Finished Project. Finally! Yay!

emma finished projecg Six On Sunday, Version 17