46 and Beyond!

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I turned forty-six last week. I thought I would write a really long post about all the things I’ve learned in my vast and extensive forty-six years but you know what? I don’t know squat. I have learned a lot of things, most of them private and embarrassing and I think anyone older than me would probably smile and roll their eyes over. I hate it when I read posts from thirty-year-olds thinking they are so smart so I’m going to be even smarter and stay mum. All of you youngsters can learn the hard way just like I did. Just kidding. Let’s take a walk sometime and I’ll share some wisdom privately. Or just laugh. That’s good too.

Anyway, this birthday was kind of a bust. First of all it was the HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR, clocking in at a sweaty 108 degrees. That meant we pretty much bunkered down the hatches (aka closed all the windows and  drew all the shades), turned on the AC and didn’t leave the house all day.

I did, however, leave the house in the morning to have breakfast with my pack of girlfriends. Do you have a pack of girlfriends? They are the best thing ever. Everyone should have a pack. There are five of us and we go out to breakfast monthly. Sometimes we go on excursions. Sometimes we bring each other food when we are sick or having surgery.

This birthday my friend Ana gave me a gold friendship bracelet, the fancy kind from Nordstroms. I love being a grown up and getting grown-up friendship bracelets. I like regular friendship bracelets too but I love this one so much because I feel like I’m part of secret club and when you get into your forties you trade up from embroidery floss to GOLD. Age has perks!

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So yeah, it was hot.

Payam promised to make me the chocolatiest of chocolate cake and EVEN THOUGH IT WAS 105 degrees in our kitchen he persevered and made it for me anyway!! I couldn’t even believe it. There he was wearing his batman apron and dripping in sweat while he mixed and measured and the OVEN PREHEATED. That is LOVE folks.

It was really really good too. Flourless so it pretty much tasted like dark-chocolate-flavored butter which is my favorite! That evil cake called to me all week long. “I’m in the fridge, Brendaaaaa…. You know you want me….” I’m telling myself that since it didn’t have flour in it it was Keto or Adkins or something. We’ll see what the scale says next week.

Isn’t it amazing how resilient our bodies are? If you eat a 2000-calorie piece of cake  you can get on the scale the next day and it won’t budge. You’ll amazingly stay the same weight. BUT you can also work-out for two weeks straight and eat 1400 calories a day and it won’t budge either so there’s that. Resilience baby.

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The other reason my birthday was a bust was that every single night of my birthday week, Joon had rehearsal for the play she was in this summer. We had planned to go to my favorite restaurant for my birthday dinner the night before my birthday but of course a last-minute dress rehearsal was called and that jacked that up and then opening night was my actual birthday so it just didn’t happen. We had McDonald’s instead.

Whine, whine, whine. Would you like a glass of wine?

I was a diva about it for about half a day and then I snapped to my senses and realized that this play Joon was in was REALLY COOL and I need to grow up and be the bigger person. She didn’t have a big part or anything but it was a fun summer camp that lasted a month and a half and she made a ton of friends and really enjoyed herself. I was the idiot fool that happened to have a birthday right when it ended. I should have been born in August instead. And really? Do I need more than breakfast with my girlfriends, a gold friendship bracelet, the chocolatiest-chocolate cake ever AND my kids singing me happy birthday at ten o’clock at night? No, I do not. It was NOT a bust it just was challenged. A very challenged 46th birthday.

I did however tell Joon that if she wants to be in a play on my 50th birthday, I’m not going. She can send me a birthday photo postcard of her and the cast to my hotel in Paris.

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And that was that!

Here are some pictures from my morning walks with the dogs. We’ve moved our walks earlier and earlier to beat the heat which makes for prettier pictures with better light. I’ve finally cracked the dog-walking code. In order to really enjoy dog walks you have to find a podcast you really like. I don’t dread them anymore. I think of dog walks as my podcast hour instead and sometimes I even find myself taking the long way home because I’m so hooked. Summer-2018-Swimsuit-Cover-ups-1

In other summertime news we made the most awesome swimsuit cover-ups on Alphamom this week. They were so fun to make! I’m sure this craft has been around forever but when I searched it on pinterest very little came up.

Joon showed me how to make really cool starburst designs and Bug outdid herself in stencil work. We spent hours on them, which when combatting summertime boredom translates to major currency. They didn’t binge-watch Friends (what they’ve been doing all summer) for three hours straight which says a lot.

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Then they we headed off to Payam’s mom’s pool for a photoshoot. They turned out great. Don’t you love how Joon’s personality is so different from Bug. They are both nutballs but Joon is definitely the more out-going of the two.

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It was a really big deal that Bug finally got up enough courage to jump off the diving board. So much of a big deal that she asked me to document it on sport-mode. Gifs all around!

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Happy Summer!

When Life Gives You Jalapeño Jelly Rocks

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I have a little pepper garden in the back of my house. It wasn’t supposed to be a pepper garden. Payam built it for me to grow herbs but I threw in a few pepper plants because I wanted to make salsa. Over the years the pepper plants have somehow taken over and the herbs have retreated. I think there is a tiny bit of rosemary that is barely hanging on.

These pepper plants produce! They are small but mighty!  Cody helps me harvest them regularly. I think he forgets he does not like them.

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The other day when I got a big bag of jalapeños in my produce delivery box I decided something had to be done with all these peppers. I decided I would make jalapeño jelly, my favorite thing to put on bagels with cream cheese!

Problem is I’ve never really learned to can. I’ve watched my mom do it a thousand times and even helped her but I never really tried to can myself. So I called up my mom, got the basics down and headed for the hardware store to pick up jars. I chopped my jalapeños (With gloves on of course. At least I’ve learned that lesson over the years.) and started them boiling with all the added sugar. Which is a TON by the way. Maybe I lost track of how many cups I was supposed to put in and put in an extra…I don’t know!

I got distracted LIKE I ALWAYS DO. I am the queen of distraction. I am the absent minded professor of many creative projects going on all at the same time. Ooh, shiny thing! Next thing I know I was in the garage helping Payam with some design options for his cutting board business and when I walked back inside my jelly boiling timer had already gone off. I had no idea if it was one minute over or twenty. That is how deep into distraction I can get. Time is a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff

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Also I may have added two packets of pectin instead of one but I swear the micro-printed IRS form-esque directions inside the pectin box said to. Part one said: add one packet of pectin and then follow the directions to part 2. Part two said: add one packet (total 2). I swear!!! It said “total 2.” But then I threw the directions out because they were all sticky and I couldn’t pull them out of the trash because they were buried under other gross stuff so I can’t really prove anything.

Distraction + a possible misreading directions x2 variable = ROCK HARD JELLY STUCK IN JARS!

The jelly wasn’t hard when I poured it into the jars but I do remember at one point I was on the phone with my mom and the jelly mixture was off to a royal boil and it did sort of smell like candy. That may have been a clue. My gut says the pectin is fine I just over-cooked it. But I could be wrong. Maybe too much sugar, maybe too much pectin, very probably too much time.

So what to do now? I sat on it for a few hours (while social-media-ing the hell out of it of course) and then decided to microwave a jar and see what happened.

Guess what? The sticky rock jelly turned back into liquid! It bubbled and boiled right out of the jar and onto the microwave rotating dish in a royal boil mess! That seems to be a theme with me and canning. I carefully took the bubbling jar, poured it on some wax paper and let it harden.

Some places of my splat of liquified jelly were smooth and others were sticky clumps. The smooth places peeled up like a fruit roll-up when played with, while the clumpy lumps turned into the worst kind of gooey taffy that sticks to your hands and everything else in it’s path.

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Sooooooooo I decided to make little balls out of my sticky mess and roll them up in squares of wax paper. Because why not! I am like a grandmother who lived through the depression and I refuse to waste food!

The slick smooth stuff worked great, the jelly clumps not so much. It was a very sticky afternoon.

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Then because I am me, I did some quick graphic design for packaging (which is so much more in my comfort zone) and wrapped them all up in little bags to take to school pick-up aka parent social hour and handed them out to all my friends.

Guess what? They were a smashing success! Everybody loved my sticky jalapeño jelly balls even if they did have to lick them off pieces of wax paper and get their hands all sticky! They were delicious and spicy! Before I knew it I had handed almost all of them out and people were asking for more.

Now if only I could figure out how I made them!!!