Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baa Baa Black Sheep or the Downside of "Being Mari" (Personal Commandment No. 1)

I'm headed to Vegas in October! I haven't been for a few years and I'm so looking forward to the trip. A group of gals will celebrate my BFF's 40th birthday! For me, the trip is a little more. It's a step toward upholding my commitment to Personal Commandment No. 1: Be Mari.

Big deal, you say? In most cases, it's not. But in this case it is a VERY BIG DEAL because the Vegas soiree is happening on the same weekend as my step-mother's 80th birthday open house. GASP! My decision has solidified my role in the family as The No. 1 Black Sheep (previously held by my sister, who is now No. 2. Finally, I beat her at something!). Essentially, I am waving my slot-pulling arm (kind of like thumbing my nose) at the unspoken family expectation that I will be at every. single. solitary. family. function. forever. After all, we're all about appearances if nothing else.

For those of you who know me and my family dynamics, I can hear you cheering me on. Thanks for your support. It's been a long time coming, right?

I won't go into the gory details of my family's dysfunction that led me to make this decision. Mainly because my family dysfunction is rainbows, butterflies, and sunshine compared to the family situations that so many others face. I know this. But my family dysfunction is my family dysfunction, it feels heavy to me.

Baa Baa Baa (translation: Mama needs a new pair of shoes! Hellooooooooo Vegas!)

Hey Good Lookin'! Whatcha Got Cookin'?

Those of you who know me well know I don't really like to cook. Or bake. Really. At all. In my ideal reality, I'm a super chef. But put that ideal reality into practice, and well, it's not pretty. It's not that I can't cook or bake. With the exception of a few minor hiccops, I'm pretty decent in the kitchen. I just don't like all that is involved: meal planning, ingredient shopping, prep time, bake time. Blech. Too much trouble for something that is going to be obsolete in 30 minutes.

So, imagine my surprise when I got the urge to bake a chocolate cake from scratch this week! I had my "we must save more money" panties on and decided that we needed to use more of the food spilling out of our pantry. Typically, when I get this urge and start foraging through the kitchen I quickly discover I can't make one single meal/snack/crumb with what I have on hand. I give up and get over it. But not this time. This time, I had all the ingredients for a chocolate cake. And I went for it. And the cake is FABULOUS! The peeps helped me out, which renders the cake inedible for consumption by anyone outside of our four-person family, namely for sanitary reasons, but that's the beauty of family, right?

Still floating from my 100%-from-scratch trophy cake, I attempted a second recipe using only ingredients that we had on hand: Chicken and Biscuits using a recipe from a Jiffy cookbook I ordered years ago in one of my "I should really cook more often" phases. Instead of buying the Jiffy biscuit mix as suggested, I whipped up a cheesy biscuit batter, tossed in some home-grown carrots and corn, mixed it with some grilled chicken and cream of mushroom soup, and wah-lah: Dinner Is Served! Pretty tasty, too. By the way, yes, I have a small backyard garden, which might seem strange since I don't like to cook, but growing your own stuff rocks! We're waiting on the cantaloupes to ripen.

The boiling water image? My town is currently under a boil order so it doesn't matter that I don't like to cook. I'm stuck. Unless I go to the store and buy bottled water. But from my perspective, boiling water is the lesser of two evils.