March 31st, 2014 | 23 Comments »

wet tango cropped

A few years ago, my friend and author Pamela Hutchins over at Road to Joy blog and I issued two challenges to the internet world to create intimacy within their relationship with their significant other.  The first in 2010 was 30 Days of Intimacy –  and the second in 2011 was 30 Positive Days – where you had to say something positive about and to your spouse for 30 days and in both, blog about it.  (If you click on those links you’ll need to pause one of the players [sidebar] or you’ll be hearing two songs at the same time)

It was slightly discouraging the number of women who replied that they didn’t have time to follow this challenge.  And it wasn’t even a difficult challenge.  We considered “creating intimacy” everything from leaving a note on the mirror in lipstick to sticking a romantic card in their briefcase.  Anything to keep and kindle the fires of intimacy.  The 30 Positive Days was actually more challenging because it required one to THINK of the significant other every single day.  You know, as opposed to thinking of self.

Focus road sign with dramatic blue sky and clouds.

Intimacy is like fuel.  It keeps the FOCUS burning on what is important in a relationship – one another.  I guess you could say Intimacy is Focus.

Today I am going to tell you a wee little personal secret.  Alpha Hubby and I have now been married twenty years (no, that is not the secret).  According to the world’s standards, our intimacy should have flown out the window several years ago along with the honeymoon period of marriage.

couple couch bored

Bored Couple

According to the world’s standards, a marriage should slowly lose its sexual zeal and fervor as time goes by.  Men and women should slowly and naturally lose interest until eventually they are two lumps sitting on the couch watching the latest reality show (and I apologize if that is you.  Well, no actually, I don’t).  People constantly quote the world and say, “Well, we’ve lost the fire we used to have but you know they say that’s natural.”

I say, “Le poop on they.”  Pardon my French.

I say, “NO NO NO!”  Do you know why sexual zeal and fervor fades?  It is not the fault of the institution of marriage.  It is not the children’s fault.  It is not the fault of work.  It is not the fault of hobbies.  It is not the fault of anything exterior to your relationship.

knife in hand

Murderer with Knife

Couples KILL, MURDER, MAIM, and DESTROY intimacy.  By default. Lack of work. Loss of focus.

Default. Here, when we turn off our sound system, it “defaults” back to the factory setting so that every stinking single time we turn on the television, we have to set the sound system to where we want the sound to be.  It is a huge pain and means eventually we need to buy a newer sound system.

A lot of couples default when it comes to intimacy.  Trust me when I say that intimacy requires work yet it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that most couples default to whatever is easiest.  You see it all the time. 

Look around at your friends who have been married a little while.  Are they romantic?  Do they touch all the time?  Do they act intimate?  Or are they in default mode?  The default is always “Doing NOTHING” when it comes to intimacy.  

couple bored texting

Couple, bored texting

Default is “I don’t have time because the kids require so much out of me” or “I have this huge project at work I have to spend a lot of time on” or “I want to go out with my buds” or “My blog needs me to network” or “We’ll do it later” (a lie; it never happens).  There are a myriad of excuses.

The sad truth is, the longer a couple goes without intimacy the harder it will be to get it back.  Why?  Because a wall begins building up between the couple.  It is very insidious, too.  It starts with just a slight separation of the closeness they used to have.  A little bit of focus loss. 

Man receiving attention from a pretty coworker

He begins focusing more on work.  She begins focusing more on children or girlfriends.  He begins focusing on the secretary at work who treats him like he is a god.  She begins drinking more wine and Facebooking old boyfriends.

This couple has defaulted to what is easiest – doing nothing.  You will note that they ARE focused on something.  It just isn’t one another anymore.

You know what I always found funny?  When you first meet and are in the flush of “first love” you would do ANYTHING to spend time with this person.  You would dress nice, be available, sneak out of your parents’ house, ignore other friends – anything it took to be in intimacy with this new and exciting love.

rule book 2

So what rule book said that the work of intimacy that used to be so easy because you were “in love” – what rule book said “Once you marry, you can drop all that work; you don’t need it anymore.”

Wrong – you need to work harder.  The things you did to keep one another focused on intimacy are even more important after you marry – why?  Because everything on earth will work harder to keep you out of intimacy.

So when Pamela and I issued the challenge and so few people joined or finished the race, we were the only two who truly enjoyed the prize – the benefit of renewed intimacy.  Boy did we!!

Alpha Hubby and I are still reaping the benefits of forcing ourselves to do the entire 30 days on both challenges.  It reinforced the lesson of the importance of keeping our focus on one another no matter what is going on outside the relationship.  Neither of us has forgotten the lessons of those two challenges.  We still talk about (and do) them.

Burning heart

That wee little personal secret?  This entire post came about because of something we’ve been saying more and more.  Something pretty awesome if you ask me.  One of us always says it and it is pretty darned cool.

“Pshew! That was hawt.  Again!!  Our sex life just keeps getting better and hotter!”

And lest you think, “Well, they don’t have to deal with what I do.  They have time.”  I say to you “HA!”  He often works between 50-60 hours a week, raises cattle on the side, is late coming home two nights a week because he goes to the gym, is finishing up the remodel on the house and also the 1400 sq ft addition he put in, and sometimes has to be forced to slow down.

words kiss me cropped

We learned the secret – you have to plan ahead.  You make plans to meet up for a rendezvous every single day.  You may not always make it – like last Tuesday when the cleaning lady worked late and it ate into our time.  Or Wednesday when the mama cow had trouble having her baby and we didn’t get that time.

You may make it 5 times a week but if you aimed for 5 and hit 3 or aimed for 3 and hit 1 or aimed for 1 and hit nothing – what do you have?  So aim high!  Because the sad thing is most couples don’t aim and if they are lucky they *might* reach once a month.  It is important to work on the intimacy of focusing or refocusing on one another. 

Because really.  Isn’t that what a relationship is all about?  The focus on one another?  If you said no, bring your dunce cap and meet me after class.

******************

All 30-day intimacy – http://lbddiaries.com/blog/30-days-of-intimacy-links/  or check on sidebar under Categories

March 25th, 2014 | 20 Comments »

chivalry

Begin rant.

Alpha Hubby and I were talking the other day.  I don’t remember what triggered the conversation but we began chatting about the lost art of being a lady (and, I’m sure, being a gentleman).

I know a lot of us grew up with some seemingly ridiculous rules.  I remember when I was a teen it was considered bad form – very bad manners – to eat while walking down the street (such as downtown small town USA).  Not even an apple – it just wasn’t done.

And shorts?  No way did you wear shorts out in public to places like the store or anywhere you should have “dressed” to go to.  Shorts were for play, period.  I remember wearing dresses and skirts with stockings and garters – and even remember when my mom switched us to pantyhose.  Funny thing about pantyhose (invented in mid-50′s) is that they were not that big a hit until late 60′s and the rise of the miniskirt. What a huge blessing – no more garters showing!  Men around the world cried.

stockings 2

Funny how now I am back to wearing garters and stockings.  For a different reason, though.  Hmm.  That is a post for another day.

Chewing gum – have you ever seen someone on television chomping away on a piece of gum?  I always want to go  whack them on the back of the head, put my hand in front of their mouth and say, “Spit that out, you look like a cow chewing its’ cud.” (Shades of my mother’s voice!)

housewifeAnd while some of the rules we lived by when I was young may have been ridiculous and strange, it is what we knew and dictated who we were.  We knew we were young ladies.  It was never in doubt.

Of course, everything I grew up knowing ran head on into the Free Love generation.  That rule-breaking generation.  Hippies, Woodstock, flowing hair with leather headbands, bell bottom jeans, vests with fringe, floppy suede hats, granny dresses, and things that pretty much destroyed everything we grew up knowing as true.  We were freeeeee of those pesky rules.  We were hip.  We were where it was at.  We were THE in crowd.  No wonder we went nuts when we went off to college!

peace_signs_all_solida

Okay, okay – maybe I was a bit young to be there – I mean Jimi Hendrix is just a little before my time, but that generation did influence mine strongly.  It no longer mattered that we were not to do this or that.  We were more focused on doing what we wanted to do, to be totally against the establishment.  Far out, man!

And so that brings us to today.  Crotch-shots.  Daisy-dukes that show more butt crack than a plumber without a belt. Boobs hanging out everywhere and usually NOT in a sexy way.  Drunken hook-ups on reality television shows.   Naked survival shows.  Women who curse worse than any sailor ever did.  Yeah, that’s because it is so much easier to say the F-word, right?

When people cursed in front of my mom she’d say, so sweetly, “Oh I’m so sorry. Obviously you are not smart enough to come up with more intelligent words to express yourself” as she patted them on the arm like they weren’t quite bright – including her boss.  Who roared with laughter but never cursed in front of her again (at least not without apologizing profusely).

f bomb

Women think it is “smart” and “with-it” to let fly curse words all throughout their blog posts now.  When did saying “fu*k” become an acceptable form of expression, the “in” thing to do rather than expressing oneself more intelligently?  I don’t know either.  I am not judging those who do this – far from it.  I’m just trying to make a point.

Where did the rules go?  Were they all bad?  Was knowing what was expected of you so bad that we let all the rules go and are now hard-pressed to teach the younger generation how to be ladies?  I can even hear sneering and jesting about that line – “how to be ladies” – it is a lost art.

Where did ladies go?  The kind men apologized to if they’d let fly a curse word in front of her?  Where did the genteel women go that young girls would strive to emulate?  Those ladies who knew how to put that pinkie finger out when sipping from a beautiful tea cup?  Even sweet Southern ladies and their “Bless your heart” have turned more brittle and harsh.  Where are the ladies?  And where did the women go who cared about things like that?  We’re not talking “Housewives of Blahdy Blah” here.  Can we get any more crass, people?

Anger

Alpha Hubby asked where the women went who earned respect instead of demanding it.  Or who cared about looking good for their men rather than worrying more about not being thought of as old-fashioned instead of a feminist?  I hate that word “feminist” – hate it.  Loath it.  Despise it.  It has become a catch-word to excuse rude, nasty and sometimes lazy behavior.  “I don’t have to do THAT, I’m a feminist.”

No you’re not a feminist.  You are a huge wanna be.  Speaking as someone who was a part of or who is from or was around the loud generation of women who started the NOW organization, and supported Gloria Steinem whom they call the “Mother of Feminism” (and that I beg to differ with since there were so many, many women before her who paved the way including our mothers).  That loud generation of women from the 60’s only got noticed because of the availability of television, newspapers and magazines to promote, advertise or report on them.

WAC Lineup

Yes, those women worked hard for rights like the right to be paid equally for working the same job that a man did (which, unfortunately still isn’t true for a lot of women) but so did women generations before them – before the availability to share and spread the knowledge.  Each generation thinks they were the first to invent the wheel.

Ugh.  Don’t get me started.  My mom said to me once, “I am not a feminist.  That is simply a label people put on themselves or others.  I am not a label.  I am a woman who does exactly what she wants to do.  But I am also supported by a man who loves me.  Together we make choices for our family so sometimes I may not get to do something because he has to come first.  Sometimes I get to do something because he made a sacrifice for me.

“But I love your father.  I fix his lunches for him before he goes to work even though I work, too.  Why?  Because I love him and want to give to him.  I do a lot of things women now call old-fashioned and things they stopped doing because they want to be perceived as a feminist.

“That is just a word.  That word has come to mean a lot of bad things that have nothing to do with being free to be yourself.  Don’t live up to that label.  Do what you want to do because YOU want to do it, not because a group of people, male or female, say you can or can’t.  I have been blessed to be able to do work at anything I’ve wanted to do – sometimes a field predominantly belonging to men way back when.  I just do, not talk.  I just am, and not because of a label.”

mom cropped

In Army-Air Corps as Link Trainer Instructor training young men to be future pilots

My mom was a lady to her core.  She dressed up to go places.  She put her makeup on to be in public.  She did her nails and hair.  She also owned and flew her own plane and trained men to be future pilots as a Link Trainer Instructor (comparable to today’s flight simulators).  My dad was the most important person in her life.  She was the most important person in his life.  Together they had an amazing marriage full of love, passion and romance.  She gave to him, he gave to her.  She gave up things to be with him – to be a wife and mother and not a career woman (until after the kids were a certain age).  She never regretted it for one second according to her own words.

This is a long post that probably rambled off course but I wanted to make a point.  That point is – there should be differences between men and women.  I have a husband who opens my car door (he forced trained convinced me to accept that he wants to do that for me).  I was a career woman and I was an at-home mother.  I have been able to be my best me because of him.  I want to be feminine for him – but I’m also a tomboy.  I am a lady.

woman, retro sized

Now days girls and women are so busy acting like none of this matters that they are losing something valuable and precious.  They are losing a part of what made them special, separate from men.  Being a lady is an art and is a wonderful thing to be.  Women today have lost more than that art.  They’ve lost respect.

End rant.

March 12th, 2014 | 22 Comments »
Book of Past

Book of Past

I wrote a book a few years back.  It was the story of some very bad things that happened to me in life, and in the lives of the many women I’d interviewed over the years, and how we survived.  It is a story full of pain, horror, rape, beatings, agony, torture, manipulation, loss, mental suffering, brutality, cheating, and enough angst to fill a filing cabinet full of country-western songs.

But with a happy ending.

I got that book all the way through the editor before I realized something powerful.  It changed my outlook and then changed what I could do with the book.  

My epiphany was this:  If I had forgiven everyone who had ever hurt me in my past, how could I write a book exposing what they’d done to me?

Answer?  I couldn’t.  Ugh.

Once I had my epiphany, I realized I would have to come back and change up what I’d written.  I would have to mask my own portions more clearly, and leave the book as stories of women who’d been broken, me included, and who had through God, made it to the other side, whole.

It could be my own story but without someone knowing specifically which portions of the ick stuff were mine.  When I looked back over what I’d learned with the women I’d talked with, I realized that, sadly, our stories were pretty similar. 

You know, I may not have had a gun held to my head by someone who promised to love and cherish me forever like one lady did… but a knife? Yep.  Then again, another woman had both knife, gun, and being dragged down the hallway by her long hair going on.  Why?  Because he was angry she walked in on him – in their bedroom – with another woman.

So yeah.  While details may vary, the stories are remarkably similar.  So because of that I can save my book and keep my honor because to me it would be wrong to expose the wrong someone else did to me if I’ve forgiven them.  

In my own life now I have to deliberately sit down and think about what went on in my past.  I actually have to dig it up.  No, that isn’t right.  It isn’t buried so it can pop out of the ground like a hand in a graveyard and scare me all over again.  It is just gone.  So I have to go looking for it to remember it.  And when I find it, two things happen.

One is that I realize its power over me is gone and two is that I think “Why am I wasting my time thinking about this?”  Life is a series of things you exchange your time for which makes time very precious. 

Think on it – you exchange your time for a paycheck.  You exchange your time to use it to visit with friends.  You exchange your time to do things you want to do.  So why would you waste one moment of that time on unproductive things?

My own past story didn’t conclude until Alpha Hubby.  His love helped me start a fresh story, shiny and new.  His love helped heal areas that couldn’t completely heal until I learned to trust him.  His love held me up until I was able to stand on my own two feet.  His love taught me that healing means no scars, and that no scars meant no flinching, no dealing with present circumstances with reactions from past circumstances, and feeling free to be… well, free.

His love saved me.

His love helps keep me whole.
His love empowers me.
His love teaches me
His love frees me
His love protects me
His love never hurts me
His love heals me. Daily.

His love is peace.  The way true love feels.

Happy “this is our 20th anniversary month” baby.

February 22nd, 2014 | 16 Comments »
Hallway Boxes

Old House

When Alpha Hubby and I were in our newlywed stage, we were adapting to combined households – furniture, gadgets, etc.  Sometimes our old house looked like moving boxes exploded in it.  He set a precedent in our marriage back then – he asked, “Give me at least one room to call my own, that is always neat and clean, peaceful.”  

At that time, it became the living room because his only other choice would have been the bathroom or the carport.  I always made sure that room was peaceful – no clutter, no mess, dust, dirty dishes (not that that ever happened with Mr. Anal-About-It in the house); it was a place he could relax, unwind and just “be”.

Man Cave

Current Living Room

Since that time, Man Caves came into existence.  I don’t think Alpha Hubby understands the use most men put Man Caves to as evidenced by our recent conversation after I bought him a gag-sign for the living room here in this house – since that is still considered “his” room even in this house.

man cave sign

Sign Above Fireplace, Current Living Room

 I was telling him about a book I was reading, “Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris” by Jennifer L. Scott.  In the book, the author talks about things she learned while living with a Parisian family as a foreign exchange student.  She states, “Madame Chic took the casual California teenager under her wing, revealing the secrets of how the French elevate the little things in life to the art of living; to embrace the classically French aesthetic of quality over quantity…”

madame chic

This delightful book fits right in with the Zen life Alpha Hubby and I are working toward.  We are clearing out clutter, getting rid of excess (especially things we haven’t used in years), going through items and only keeping those with heart-meaning or what we consider beautiful.

White Heels

White Heels

The author of the book talked about something I grew up with, how the family always sits down to the evening (and breakfast) meal, in courses, sharing delicious rich foods and conversation.  They would never dream of eating while standing over the kitchen sink or mindlessly stuffing their faces while watching television.  One never ate anything while walking down the street (a rule I also grew up with; it was considered gauche).   That rule went along with the “No white after Labor Day” rule (although the original rule only applied to white dress shoes and pumps).

1st Table He Made That I Stole For My Office

1st Table He Made That I Stole For My Office

2nd Table He Made For Dining Room

2nd Table He Made For Dining Room

Back to Alpha Hubby.  I was telling him some of the changes I wanted to make – or some of the things I wanted to get back to that we used to do (such as not eating while watching television).  Our typical Alpha conversation:

Alpha Hubby:  “I think that is a good idea.  When we sit here in the kitchen, we graze.  I want to eat at the table rather than the counter.  I made that beautiful table.  I want to use it.  I don’t want to sit in the kitchen at the counter after work because I do graze and don’t want to.”

Me:  “I so agree.  The book was talking about how the evening meal was always eaten on good china, cloth napkins, and such.  Remember when I had the epiphany about the good china?  How people save their good china for company and there is no one more important than you, so why save it for people who only pop in once in awhile?”

Alpha Hubby:  “Yeah, it goes along with women who put on makeup and dress up to go to town but never do it for their husbands.  Who in town is more important than me?”

Me:  “Okaaaay (minor eye roll), you’re right. I remember we talked about that years ago.  Anyway, I bet those Parisians living in hose aristocratic apartments never heard of a Man Cave!”

Alpha Hubby:  “I like my Man Cave.  Don’t touch my Man Cave.”

Me:  “I’m not touching your Man Cave although it really isn’t a real Man Cave like I think they mean Man Caves to be.  You know, they have a place where they can be all manly, smoke stinky cigars, drink beer and burp the alphabet, watch sports, fart, and just be away from the women in their lives.”

Alpha Hubby:  “That’s not a Man Cave.  Stupid men.”

Me:  “No?  What is your definition of a Man Cave because that’s what everyone else uses it for.”

Alpha Hubby:  “A Man Cave is where you reach out and grab your woman, drag her into your Man Cave, ravage her, then toss her back out and go on with your business.”

Me:  “Oh. Well alrighty then.  OK.  Hmmm.”

Alpha Hubby:  “Wanna go into my Man Cave now?”

We interrupt this post for a short intermission.

(Heard in background: “Whatta ya mean short?!?”)

Couple behind the window

February 6th, 2014 | 10 Comments »

candy hearts

I can’t believe this Valentine’s Day we are going on twenty years together next month!  It seems just like yesterday that I saw you leaning against your supervisor’s cubicle doorway smiling at me.

People talk about Storybook Endings – I find I am still living a Storybook Beginning.  My life’s story is still full of joy, passion, expectations, and adventures – all because of you.

lacy heart

Do you remember that we made a deal not too soon after we were married?  We said, “This is awesome! Let’s never become roommates.  Let’s keep the honeymoon going.  Let’s never take one another for granted.  It doesn’t matter what others do, let’s protect us!” 

In 19 years 11 months, 2 days, and 20 plus hours, you have done an amazing job of keeping your word.  Anytime we began to drift, we’d stop and say, “What is going on here and why?”  Then you’d help us correct that wrong pathway and keep us going straight on the Storybook Pathway.

You have given me the precious gift of realizing that True Love is not a lie, not a fairy tale, not a wild dream.  True Love is reality, in you.

Romantic kiss

How could I have known that evening when you were on your knee asking me to marry you, that my answer was going to be the best decision I ever made?  That it would change my life in ways no one could have told me existed?  I didn’t even know my world was grey until you burst through bringing that sunshine of love that warms me, inside and out.

In our 19 years 11 months, 2 days, and 20 plus hours together, you’ve been there for me in every way possible.  You are the only person on this earth who knows me at all.  You know me.  What a gift because in knowing me, you still love me!  Wow.

heart cc Flickr photo seyed mostafa zamani

When I need hope and inspiration, you are there holding my hand and sharing wisdom.  You are always strong when I am not.  You taught me how powerful passion from True Love is.   I love that we are still learning and growing in that area!  You are my shelter in every storm ever faced.  And what an anchor you’ve been.  You did help mend my broken heart so that my real life started with you. 

It is hard to believe that 20 years ago at this time, we were heading to a Valentine’s Day banquet, secretly engaged a month after we met.  And two and a half weeks later, we were married.  And in all this time, your armor has never tarnished.  The more I know you, the better you are.  You are the epitome of the word honor.  You are dominant but you let me be me.  You are giving, loving, romantic, easy to fight with because you don’t fight fair, and you are so gifted at being my friend, lover, and life’s mate. 

Two bound hearts with raytraced texture. White background.

You love me so boldly and unconditionally.  It still surprises me sometimes.  Your love is steadfast and sure, that ONE thing I can count on in this world (aside from God’s love).  YOU love me.  You LOVE me!  You love ME! 

And the very best part of that love is that after 19 years 11 months, 2 days, and 20 plus hours together, you still love me as madly, passionately and completely as you did in the beginning.  No.  More so, actually.

Happy boy

You still take my breath away with your love.  Sometimes I come across the notes and cards we first shared with one another when we were working in the same office.  I read the things you wrote to me and am amazed how true everything you said to me was and has come to pass.  

You said if I hooked myself up with you, there wasn’t anything we couldn’t overcome, anywhere we couldn’t go, nothing that we wanted to accomplish that we couldn’t as long as we were together.

I truly am still happier than I’ve ever been in my life.  You became the truth of what I’d only dreamed about.

Hot crop

Baby, thank you for these years, each better than the last.  Thank you for 20 years of unconditional love, sometimes warm and fuzzy, mostly insanely hot and passionate.

Thank you for adventures, oceans, giving me the first ever flowers from a man, making me the best fudge, not murdering my snowmen, making me feel precious and valuable, seashells, laughter, joy, passion, and all my wishes coming true in you.  You are so much better than anything I could have dreamed up.

Once upon a time book cover

There is no ending in a True Love Story.  It just gets better and better because you truly are the best thing that ever happened to me.

Here is to The Beginning of our next twenty years.

Je te veux, j’ai besoin de toi, Je t’aime.
Chaque fois que vous voulez.  Partout où vous voulez.

January 11th, 2014 | 15 Comments »

We interrupt this hiatus for a little celebration. MINE!

Happy Birthday sign

Happy Birthday TO ME!

Party, party, party!  PAR-TAY!!

In church service last week, the pastor shared a tradition he and his wife started in their marriage.  He’d buy her flowers for her birthday then he’d bring her a present each day for as long as the flowers were alive.  I think this is a MOST excellent idea, don’t you?  YES.  I can make flowers last a looooong time.

Birthday Record

Birthday Record

Alpha Hubby already started.  My birthday is  NEXT Tuesday so we started it backwards.   A few years ago we began dragging our birthdays out for a whole weekend no matter when the actual day was.   My greatest gift to him for his birthday is to let him be right, ALL DAY LONG!  I know, right?  What an incredible gift!!!

This past Thursday evening we slow danced in the bedroom.  Très romantique.  Très, très romantique.  Oui?  Oui!  (I forgot!! This dancing was after he’d fixed me dinner of smoked pork ribs and broccoli!)

Chocolate

Chocolate and Wine

Today he was going to smoke an eye-of-round for a late lunch.  The meat was finished an hour early so we had it for brunch instead – in front of the beautiful flowers he’d picked up at the florist while out and about.

Tonight we will have a light dinner by candlelight, salad, a bit of the deliciously smoked eye-of-round and fancied-up brussel sprouts*.

FChocCake

Later on we will have a tiny piece of the only desert I’m allowed other than fruit, flourless chocolate cake** I made (except I don’t use ganache).

I sort of already got my birthday gift – it’s a toss up between the Kindle Paperwhite and the new Dell Laptop Computer.  I got them both for Christmas but he informed me that part of those gifts were for my birthday, too.  Only fair since I’d done that to him on his birthday in November with his gifts, a workshop cabinet and a 100% cashmere topcoat.  We did have fun this year!

Chocolate Heart

Chocolate Heart

He used to make me fudge every year but we had to put a stop to that when we began eating healthy.  *Sigh*  I miss my fudge.

Tomorrow who knows what he’ll do but I know whatever it is, I’m gonna love it.  This dragging your birthday out for as long as possible is great fun!

Sweets

Maybe no chocolate but it will be something romantic or thoughtful – like that lovely pantry laundry storage area he’s creating for me!  I tell him that doesn’t count because it is like getting Christmas gifts with handles sticking out (like pots and pans) because I have to keep him on his toes.  But secretly?  I love that new room and it is going to be ‘da BOMB!

He knows me SO well!   And that is, perhaps, the greatest gift of all.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GARLIC BACON BRUSSEL SPROUTS

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 teaspoon granulated (smoked) garlic
  • 2 tablespoon ground rosemary
  • 2 ounces olive oil
  • 1 Teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon real butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a saute pan over medium heat add the bacon and cook until the fat has been rendered. Remove to paper towels to drain.  Not too crispy.

In a large bowl, add all the remaining ingredients, except the butter, and toss until the Brussel sproutsare coated with the oil.

Lay out a 20-inch piece of parchment paper over aluminum foil on a sheet pan and pour the Brussels sprout mixture into the middle, then top with the butter and bacon. Fold the foil over itself and put into the preheated oven.

Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until they smell done. Remove the sprouts from the oven and transfer them to a serving bowl.

If you don’t have ground rosemary, McCormick’s makes it and it is sold on Amazon.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE, EASY VERSION

Original recipe makes 1 -10 inch round cake
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease one 10 inch round cake pan and set aside.

½ cup water
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup white sugar (I use demerara unrefined sugar or as raw as possible)
18 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
6 eggs

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside.

Either in the top half of a double boiler or in a microwave oven melt the bittersweet chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the bowl of an electric mixer.

Cut the butter into pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, 1 piece at a time. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Have a pan larger than the cake pan ready, put the cake pan in the larger pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cake pan.

Bake cake in the water bath at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 45 minutes. The center will still look wet.

Chill cake overnight in the pan. To unmold, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10 seconds and invert onto a serving plate.  I skip this part – who wants to wait overnight???

January 7th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

Yes, my lovelies, it is that time again.  It is the time I take a hiatus to figure out what it is all about.  To clean out my pipes.  To shake things up.  To rattle my brain.  To find myself.  To decide if I want to continue blogging, and if so, about what.  To refresh myself.  To perhaps make some changes to the blog-site.  To find 2014 and figure out where I want to go with it.

Awww, who am I kidding?  I got nuttin’ to say so I’m going away.

Not permanently.  Just for a bit.

Full Bath

Former Full Bath

We are remodeling for the very last time.  I say that because there isn’t anything left to remodel after this remodel.  In the beginning we took one full bathroom in a strange place, moved the tub, took out the shower, and turned the back half of it into a pantry.

Pantry During

Former Laundry Area, pantry to left (unseen)

But the laundry area, right off that pantry, begged me to find a place to not only fold clothes but a place for the baskets, the many bottles of homemade liquid laundry soap, etc.; all dealing with stuff you just don’t want to see when you walk in the back door.  Plus that pantry was super narrow so sometimes you’d hub stuff with your elbow as you turned around in there.

Pantry D-After

Former Pantry After Remodel

So he totally took out the rest of the bathroom (we have two others).  As he creates that new space for me, I am dusting all the objects that were on the shelves in the former pantry.  ALL the objects.  Lots and lots of objects.  All my mom’s cool baking dishes, cut crystal bowls, beautiful this and that, and all my many boxes of tea, cleaning supplies, boxes of Glad zip bags, and more and more and more.  I hate shopping so I buy in small bulks.

bathroom remodel 2

current area for new pantry

Now all those beautiful shelves are gone, to be replaced with upper and lower cabinets, a place to hang clothes that air dry, a place to fold clothes, and rooooom.  I look forward to it!

I also, shame on me, still have boxes to go through from the big move three years ago.  I stuffed a lot of things into closets to deal with later.  Later never came.  So now I sort of HAVE to deal with them since he has built me many lovely storage areas for all the stuff that didn’t quite fit this house like it did our other one.

Anyway, HAPPY NEW YEAR.  I have many goals to set and attack this year.  That is one reason for this short hiatus.  To get those goals set in stone and started, so that I CAN finish.

2014 is starting out a wonderful year that I believe will only get better and better.  May this be the best year you’ve ever experienced in every area of your life.  Happy Birthday to me!!!

Posted in All Blogs, Nan's Blogs
December 24th, 2013 | 6 Comments »

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVE.

stockings fishnet

I hope all your fishnet stockings are hung by the chimney with care (wouldn’t want to snag them!)

And you left some lovely things out for Santa.  NO, not milk and cookies.

nighties

While you’re waiting in front of the

Fireplace2

so you can give personal attention to your very own special “Santa”

couple santa hat

While you’re enjoying this

musical note

and this

cocoa

and this

Santa and his helper relax

Let us not forget the true meaning, the real reason for this Season:

nativity

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS from our house to yours!

jesus cropped

Posted in All Blogs