Bubbas and Baby Nuggets (Or New Baby Gift Baskets)

I’m writing again — and not just on my blog. I’m back to figuring out the story points of my novel. Outlining is the tedious, necessary part I don’t always love, but you can’t build a house without a floorpan any more than you can write a decent story without figuring out its structure first.

So there’s that….

There’s also this:


The Bubba made a gift basket for his Auntie Nicole.


Okay, I did most of the work.

He doesn’t have opposable thumbs after all.


But he took most of the credit.

(Like boys do.)


In his defense, he did help with the clean up… of chicken scraps on the floor.

He excels at eating meat off of all surfaces (even linoleum).

Wanna see why he we made the basket?


Because Albus has a new nugget of a cousin.

She is divine.


And I got to hold her.

Because new moms have their hands full with breastfeeding, diaper changes, and watching nuggets sleep, I figured I should feed Nicole.

I made two kinds of tuna salad, a chicken salad, pasta bolognese, and buckeyes. (I don’t approve of anything that could be construed as pro-Ohio — particularly when I’m making a gift basket for a fellow Michigan alum, but peanut butter is just meant for chocolate — so I rationalized that Wolverines devouring Buckeyes is metaphorical… or something.)

Recipe links are here:

Green Goddess Tuna Salad (I omitted the tarragon because we don’t get along terribly well.)

Tuna and Artichoke Cooler Pressed Sandwiches (Meaghan and I used this recipe for Katy’s baby shower years ago. It’s divine.)

Pasta Bolognese (Full disclosure: I skipped the veal and used 3/4 lb of ground pork and 3/4 lb of ground beef because veal makes me cry — and because bolognese needs extra meat.)

Buckeyes (There are millions of variations of this recipe. The key is using some Crisco in the chocolate to help it melt evenly.)

I’ll do a proper post on the curry chicken salad another time, as it is my mummy’s recipe and can’t be found online.

Tim and I ate the rest of it for lunch on Monday. (It was a hit. #likeduh)

Now, it’s time to get back to my outlining. (Barf)



Tower of Sierra (Or Overboard Beer Birthday Cake)

Last Thursday was Tim’s birthday. Because he’s one of my favorite people on the planet I decided I should embarrass him on the day of his birth.

So I made this:


It’s a tower of Sierra Nevada. 

Tim loves Sierra and dogs, so it seemed like the perfect present. (Like, DUH.)

The thing is, making things for people is kind of like a present for me because it’s an excuse to get out my paints and my glue gun.

Glue guns are everything.


I made this sign with watercolor paints and a fine tipped pen.

Then I glued it on with my gun.

“Two please” is one of our inside jokes.


So is the Boxer’s sign.

It’s a reference to a rather ridiculous argument Tim and I had recently.

The layers between the bottles are cardboard cake rounds that I covered in gold foil.


I couldn’t bear the idea of white cardboard sticking out.

Who could?


The topper is a weird watercolor thing that sort of reminds me of the eye of a hurricane combined with a rooster. I don’t know why it looks this way. It’s just what came out when I was painting, and I went with it.


It’s pretty whacked, but whatever.

The nicknames on the topper are probably only funny to us, but that was sort of the point. (I’m “The Worst,” and none of us are actually named “Darryl” — just in case you were wondering.)

The pups’ party hats were cupcake toppers. I cut the stems off of them and then glued them on their heads with my gun.



I NEED a Dalmatian puppy like NOW.


And probably a Lab puppy too.

MY puppy wasn’t so helpful in the construction.


He basically slept through the entire process.

Did you notice his hideous couch?

It’s gone now.

Tim helped me haul it away today and now I have a shiny new one.

(More on that another day.)

Oh, and one last thing before I go — Tim’s birthday card.


He loves Snickers.

He also has a Chihuahua named Baby who bit him on the face the day he brought him home, so this little Chihuahua is saying sorry on behalf of Baby.

Okay, that’s really all for now.

Couch post later.

The Women’s March (Or Humankind Needs a Hug)

Today was the Women’s March. I didn’t march… again.

I didn’t spend the day speaking for all women alive.

I spent the day taking care of this woman — the one who needed to deposit money into her account so her checks wouldn’t bounce, the one who needed to call her cable company and fix her DVR so it would function properly and actually record programs while she was at work, and the one who needed to turn off the music, silence the world, and just listen to her baby breathe.


So what if her baby is a 73 pound beast with bad breath?

He is still her baby.

I am that woman. I am the one who needs to take time to write, to cook, and to handle her business.

I am also the one who needs to embrace love and sadness.

Reading the story today about Tyler Hilinski’s suicide (the Washington State Quarterback) brought a flood of emotions about Phil that needed to be felt in the few hours available before I go to work tonight.

What good would I be to womenkind if I didn’t embrace my own needs as a woman today?

Sure, these all sound like excuses and they probably are, but whatever. I accept that.

We are all doing the best we can most of the time — men and women alike.

I’m ALL for the #metoo movement. I’m ALL for women speaking up and telling their stories — as raw and painful as they are. But I’m all for men telling their stories too — I’m all for men embracing their pain and their emotions… before they pull the trigger.

The human experience: male AND female is painful. Being alive exposes us ALL to unimaginable pain, and I want to give the WORLD a hug today.

I’ll probably settle for hugging my dog, but that’s a good start.


He gives the best hugs… when he’s not sleeping.


I love you ALL.

Birthday Scheming (Or Time to Annoy Tim)

It’s that time of year again: Time to Annoy Tim.

See, Tim’s birthday is Thursday, and he hates too much attention so obviously his friends and I are scheming to horrify him with a big birthday display at the bar.

We’re leaning toward a big beer tower like this.*


But with Sierra Nevadas…

and less Mardi Gras beads.

Our friend, Bobby, requested I make the whole thing totally over the top, so naturally I ordered grosgrain ribbons and plastic puppies of all kinds to adorn the tower of Sierra.

Tim loves dogs, so I thought some plastic pups would be perfect.


He did give me these wine doggies, after all….

I’m also working on dessert ideas. I’m leaning toward ice cream sandwiches with his favorite Heath bar and coffee ice cream in the middle.

This recipe for the chocolate cookie is the front runner for the cookie part right now.

I’ll get back to you with updates when it all comes together.

* I found the photo on Pinterest, but I can’t find the link to the original source.

Gift Wrap Goodness (Or Presents for People I Love)

I like presents.

I like giving them, I like getting them, and I LOVE wrapping them.

Since we’re just ending the holiday season, I thought I should show you some of my giftiness.


This was a book for Dan.

Dan is from Minnesota (where the moose hang out). Dan likes Jameson, books, and bread pudding. I didn’t have time to make him dessert, but I did make him dinner on Christmas day, so there’s that.


This was a bartening book for Tim. (He asked for it.)

Tim can be grumpy, but he always brings me clean socks, new shirts, and salad without tomatoes or raw onions because he knows I hate them. He has like 32,000 dogs, so I had to wrap his present in pugs. (Also? I garnished his gift with a lamb’s ear covered in liver paste for one of his beasts.)


My boss, Brian, likes bread and recipes, so this was for him.

It was a soup recipe book because he’s bonkers for soup. I added some holiday flair in the way of bulbs to counteract his seasonal “Ba-Humbug” situation.


This naughty nugget and his gift were for Lauren.

Lauren is my dog’s fairy godmother. She lets him sleep with her whenever he spends the night, and we both love her to death.


This little mouse and his books were for Jody.

Jody and I have been friends since we were 19 years old. We met while we were having meltdowns in edit bays in Ann Arbor, and the rest is history. 20 years later, we’ve been together for funerals, birthdays, Christmas Mass, and everything in between. This is a stack of Narnia books for her son, Connor, who just happens to be my birthday buddy. 

Jody attended my church Christmas Tea in December, and I gave her a copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Connor was HOOKED, so I bought her the rest of the series.

More on the church Christmas Tea later….

Tax Time Again (Or the Ghosts of 2017)

It’s tax time again. That means I’m facing the sins of 2017 head-on.


God, help me, I swear this mess makes sense.

So… yeah… I had my confession with my accountant this morning, and it went reasonably well.

I haven’t been too bad a girl in 2017… REALLY… honestly….

While adding up my receipts, I came across a few that were related to Phil. (I always write names on my receipts at the time so I don’t have to wonder months later why they’re relevant.) For some cruel reason the Phil pile was the pile that kept adding up incorrectly, so I had to count it three times. I didn’t break down crying. I didn’t lose my mind… but if I’m being honest with myself and you, it was a little sad when it set in that those receipts memories are all things of the past.

Phil’s name won’t show up on a receipt in 2018 — or any year in the future… because THE STUPID FUCKING DICKHEAD IS DEAD.


I was maudlin for a minute…

And I was mad. (I probably still am.)

But, since life is about picking yourself up and moving on, I’m going to eat my CPK salad, drink a glass of wine, and be glad I have all kinds of amazing people in my life.


Like this cute crew…

They are everything.

Okay, that’s all.

The end.





Somewhere in the middle of 2016, I met Phil.

It’s hard to know where to begin telling our story, and I’m not sure I can do it justice in a single post.

This is Phil:


 He is a stupid dickhead for dying in 2017.

If I sound cold and callous calling him names, you must understand that dickhead was one of his terms of endearment, and it also sums up how I feel about him checking out on all of us.

Went big with the beard

It is a colossal waste. 

The world is a lot quieter without his big, boisterous laugh.

My phone isn’t filled with funny messages or pictures of his dog, and my life has been forever changed by another man who couldn’t see past his pain.

My feelings shift from rage to disbelief and from regret to sorrow, sometimes all in the same day.

Phil broke through the barriers to love that I had built over the years. He was the first and only man in five years who did, and even though I miss him every day, I will be forever grateful to God for sending Phil my way.


He and his big heart opened mine.

So many songs have brought me to my knees since I heard the news, and perhaps no other one more than this:

See, it all started when Phil drove me home — or rather it all changed the first time he drove me home. It all started when he kicked open the swinging doors of the Saloon.

No one is easy to love, least of all me. I can be aloof. I can be opinionated. I can be intimidating, but Phil was never scared of me. He was a force of nature strong enough to meet mine.

I celebrated the first hours of my 38th birthday with him watching videos on his cracked iPhone screen. He was my first kiss at midnight in 2017, and my best hug of the year. The last day he held me was July 3. If I had known then what I know now, I would have chased him and his stupid Uhaul all of the way back to Minnesota. I would have booked that flight I kept pricing. I would have told him I loved him.

I’m not saying I could have saved him with my words or my actions, but selfishly, I think it might have made this mess just a tiny bit easier for me if I hadn’t held back here and there.

There are so many things that were left unsaid between us, and maybe the only thing I can do now is promise myself I will never hold back the important words from anyone else who means as much to me as he did.

I missed his funeral because I got the news a few days too late, and I’ve been looking for ways to find my own closure. I took up a collection from our friends to send his parents flowers. I’ve been trying for weeks to write his parents a letter. I bought Modelo tall boys from the liquor store where he bought them for us the night we rearranged the rulers and t-squares mounted on his wall.

It all sounds so small, but the best memories often are.

Phil never hesitated with me — or in anything — even death.

God, I wish he had hesitated just that last time.


If he had, I wouldn’t have to sit on a sidewalk outside his office and cry in his favorite beer.

Cheers, Phil.

“Have good times” in heaven.

I love you.