Saturday, January 16, 2010

Not Happy With The Pioneer Woman

I am taking a break from sugar.

For a month. An entire month. Thirty whole, entire, long, gruesome, horrible, sad, sugar-less days.


That’s a very good question.

Partly as a spiritual discipline. Partly as self discipline. And partly to lose a few of the Christmas pounds that crept over and uponst my body when I wasn’t looking.

And WHY wasn’t I looking? Well, I wasn’t looking because it’s hard to look AND eat sugary desserts, all at the same time.

So far, my little ol’ sugar break has been going pretty well. We went to a church member’s house for dinner last night and she served homemade chocolate meringue pie AND homemade cinnamon rolls.

But I was strong. I was disciplined. I was fabulous. I Just. Said. No.

And today, I was also doing pretty well, even though our dear wonderful hostess opted to send half the pie AND some cinnamon rolls home with us!

I was doing pretty well, that is, until I logged onto The Pioneer Woman..

THAT was a mistake. That was a BIG mistake.

Because today, Ree Drummond (AKA The Pioneer Woman and one of the best bloggers alive) shared her recipe for pound cake. POUND. CAKE.

Now this is not a fact that is widely known throughout the civilized world, but I’m just going to share with you right now that the reason that Pound Cake is called Pound Cake is because every slice you eat adds (at least) a pound to your body. I know this for a fact.

In fact, I have done personal, irrefutable research on this topic and am now a world renowned expert on the subject of how personal human poundage is caused by the personal partaking of pound-inducing, pound-producing Pound Cakes.

Pound cakes are crispy on the outside and soft and moist inside. They’re good warmed with ice cream. They’re good plain, and they’re good cold, and they’re good hot and tepid and lukewarm and every other temperature that has ever been recorded in the Annals of Pound Cake Temperature History.

And so that is why I am not happy with Pioneer Woman. Because when I was at my very weakest, she posted this photo.

pound cake

And she had the temerity to post this recipe.

  • 3 sticks Butter
  • 3 cups Sugar
  • 5 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Butter Flavoring
  • 2 teaspoons Lemon Flavoring
  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Sprite, 7-UP, Or Sierra Mist

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing after each addition. Add butter and lemon extracts and mix well. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add soft drink, then mix together until combined. Scrape sides of bowl, then mix briefly.

Pour into a greased Bundt pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until the cake is no longer jiggly.

Remove cake from oven and invert pan until cake drops out. Slice and chow down.

After I saw the picture, and read the recipe, I was NOT amused. Or impressed. Or appreciative. Or happy.

In fact, I may be mistaken but I think that I gained two pounds just by looking at the poundage of the aforementioned Pound Cake.


I guess I should stop whining about this, sign off, and go have a dish of yogurt. Or something.

I mean, if I use my imagination, vanilla yogurt is sort of, kind of like Pound Cake. Isn’t it? I guess the only difference is that it doesn’t have three sticks of butter. Or three cups sugar. Or five whole eggs.

But other than that? They’re exactly the same.

So. I’m off to have some (almost like Pound Cake) yogurt.

And to regretfully rue the reading of Ree’s blog.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Snowy Goes To College

Last night, Sarah, Snowy and I had an adventurous, alarming, entertaining, exhausting, and exhilarating outing.

We went to Dog Training Classes. (Otherwise known--in our family, at least--as College.)

I am hereby here to report to you that Snowy distinguished himself at College in several different ways. (And I use the words “distinguished himself,” in the nicest possible way.)

Here are the unique ways in which Snowy became the most “notable” student in the 2010 Class of Canines:

1. He was the very first dog to have to be sprayed in the face with water by his wise instructor for refusing to stop barking hysterically at the other four dogs in the room.

2. He was the first dog to cause the instructor to have to switch from the bottle of water to a spray bottle of “yucky stuff.” (This was sprayed near Snowy’s mouth to get his attention and short circuit his barking frenzy.)

3. Snowy was the only dog whose owners were presented by the teacher with their very own personal spray bottle for ongoing “barking discipline” as the teacher was talking. (I know the other dog owners must have been incredibly jealous that we had been chosen for that singular honor.)

4. Snowy was the only dog in the room to bite the instructor. (It was just a little nip which the instructor took in stride, but he was still the only doggie to do it.)

5. Snowy was the oldest dog (by far) in the room.

6. Snowy was the smallest dog in the room. (The largest was 120 pounds and he was looking at Snowy as though he might be suitable for a tasty appetizer.)

7. Snowy was the only dog in the room who’d never been around other dogs; as a result, every time another dog came near him, he burst forth into a frothing, frantic frenzy, the likes of which have never before been recorded in the annals of doggie history.

And speaking of annals, that seems to be a good transition into a similar word.

Which is anal.

As in, “dogs sniffing the anal areas of other dogs.” (Bear with me, please. I’m trying to phrase this as delicately as possible.)

But the truth of the matter is that last night, Snowy was introduced to the fine art of behiney sniffing. (Which, I must say, was a riot to watch.) The instructor said that it was important for Snowy to discover what it feels like to be part of the pack, so to speak, and for him to realize that it really isn’t necessary to explode into hysteria every time another canine came near.

And so, to facilitate the Introductory Sniffing of the Behiney Ceremony with minimal trauma to the sniffer and the sniffee, Sable was called into action.

Now before I go any further in this highly edifying post about canine behineys, let me introduce you to Sable.

Sable was, quite simply, an amazing dog. She’d been neglected and abandoned before being adopted by our teacher. When all of us owners and our dogs (there were four dogs in the class) walked into the training room, she was already in there, lying contentedly on her rug. She lifted her head to look at us, gave a cursory glance around and then calmly put her head back down on her paws to await further development.

Now let me just say that if Snowy had been lying on a rug and four dogs had suddenly entered the room (especially if one of the dogs weighed 120 pounds), he would have immediately levitated three feet into the air and flailed around with great alacrity, barking, hyperventilating, and having the next thing to a nervous break down. (One of Snowy’s problems is that he doesn’t know he only weighs six pounds; he really believes he weighs two hundred pounds, and no one has the heart to tell him any different.)

As it turned out, Sable was there to be the role model dog for the evening. She kept her eyes fastened on her master (our teacher) at all times, and even when the other dogs came within inches of her face as they were being led around the room, she maintained an absolutely amazing aura of imperturbability.

She and her master showed us all about staying, and heeling and other tasks that will be learned in the weeks to come. And then, in the highlight of the evening (for Snowy, at least), she was called upon to allow her regal self to be sniffed by a certain hyper, happy, anxious, eager-to-please, scared-to-death, beloved teacup Maltese.

The instructor brought Sable near Snowy (by this time, Snowy was being much less reactive to the other dogs) and lifted Snowy up to engage in a bit of polite sniffing. (If sniffing some ones’ behiney can, indeed, be called polite.)

And then it was Snowy’s turn to be sniffed at a bit, which he coped with in an admirably calm and genteel manner.

And so progress was made.

Snowy began to understand that the other dogs in the room were not his sworn enemies, but instead that they were all a part of the College Pack. He began to realize that he didn’t have to give into dismaying and dire doggie distress every time one of them came within three feet of his royal personage.

At the end of the evening, he was calm and happy, and he and the trainer had become great friends. (The trainer said he understood that Snowy had nipped at him earlier because he was scared senseless by all the newness and strangeness of the evening.)

By the time we all left the building that night, Snowy and both of his accompanying ladies were exhausted. He slept the entire 25-minute trip home and then slept in till almost 7 this morning, which is very late for him. It seems as though all the spraying, biting, learning, studying, heeling, and hiney sniffing that goes into being a Canine College Dude was a just lot for him to cope with.

And just to further illustrate what our dear and darling doggie went through during his first day of college, here are a few closing pictures.

Snowy trying to stay clear of Ye Olde Horse Doggie on the rug next to his.


When Snowy wasn’t looking, Sable (at the back of the room) and Coco were showing a good deal of interest in him. (Were they possibly thinking, “Snack?”)


However, when Snowy turned to look at them, they nonchalantly found something else to stare at.


The attention focuses on Snowy once more. Snowy shows remarkable self restraint and turns the other direction. (I wanted to say that he “turned the other cheeks,” but I would never say such a thing on this blog.)


Finally, Snowy decides to let the Big Guy know that he exists. And that he ain't scared of nuthin’!


Um. Except maybe having a creature twenty times his size hovering over him.


And so ends Snowy’s first day of College. We’ll keep you updated as his college career progresses.

In the meantime, he is spending today taking a lot of naps to recover from the trauma of being a College Dude.



From the Comments Section:

Traci said her husband wanted to know what planes Steve’s Dad flew in the Air Force. Here’s the line up:

T-28, T-6, T-33, O-1, F-84F, F-84G, F-100F, F-111D

Of course, none of those letters or numbers mean a thing to me, but all you airplane buffs out there will understand!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Pre-Dad of the Pre-College Dude

The first order of business today is to click here to see what this picture is all about. There are some changes ahead for our favorite Princess Groovy Chick!


The second order of business is to let you know that I’m feeling pretty well recovered from my under-the-weatherness of yesterday. I slept about ten hours and woke up feeling a bit more perky. Or if I wanted to practice the fine art of using bad grammar I could always say “a bit more perkier!” (By the way, Lisa asked what book I was reading in bed last night. It was “Nerve,” by Dick Francis, who is one of my favorite authors.)

The third order of business is to ask you to indulge me on a momentary pictorial journey down memory lane. I was looking through my photos earlier today and happened to run across some that featured Steve in all different stages of life. So for your edification and entertainment, I’ve decided to post a few.

They’re not in any sort of logical order so I hope you don’t get dizzy jumping back and forth between the years. However, if you DO happen to get dizzy, just sit down and put your head between your knees. And then report back here when you feel better. Or more better-er.

I seem to be on a “bad grammar kick” today!

Steve as a High School Senior. Dig that groovy hair, man!

Steve Grad Pix

We were in a little town in the Midwest a few years ago when he spotted the name of this coffee shop. Of course, he just had to pose as “Grumpy Steve.” In public. To embarrass his poor family. (You dress him up. You can’t take him out.)


A scene from when we were on the road. He’s performing a song we wrote, “Hard Keeping Up with Jones’” in Garth Brooks style.

4-15-02 1

Sarah and Steve at Busch Gardens Amusement Park. Steve was wanting to be all perky and Sarah was wanting to be all non-perky.


Ridin’ the purple dinosaur together. When Sarah was little and we used to visit this town (Hutchinson, MN) she was always scared to death by that dinosaur. However, she seems to have conquered her fear and even made friends with the scary fella.


Steve, the Crab


On Sarah’s Make-A-Wish Trip to Hawaii in 2005.


Dashing Dad and Delightsome DaughterDSC07230

Showing off their loot after going grocery shopping for me.


On their way out the door to a Daddy/Daughter Dance


A tired cancer girl (sporting wig, hat, and nose tube), catching a ride with her daddy.


Steve and the Smith Sibs


Steve and the pre-College Dude



With the pre-Princess Groovy Chick


“Back in the day” with his 19th-century family.


When we were on the road for fifteen years, Steve spent many a day repairing stuff.


Sharing his mechanical knowledge with Nathan.


Steve got his Eagle Badge when he was thirteen which, from what I understand, is very young. Since I am not “up”on all the Boy Scout insignias, I can’t tell you if this is a photo with an Eagle badge or not. Nevertheless, it IS Steve showing a bunch of badges.

Which is a good thing. And also impressive. And that’s also a good thing. Being impressive, I mean.


Steve and his family. His saintly mother raised three blonde, active boys by herself much of the time since Steve’s dad (a retired fighter pilot) was away a lot in the Air Force.


Nathan is obviously greatly amused and entertained by his dad.


I believe this is his first year of college. (He went to UNC in Charlotte.)


Along the way, he found a girl to marry. She looks vaguely familiar.


The girl came into the marriage with ginormous glasses, which she threw into the wedding deal at no extra charge.


The pre-father of the pre-College Dude.


Goofing off in the recording studio. It’s a wonder we ever got anything done!


Umm. Speaking of “goofing off,” here is Steve performing a comedy song we wrote called, “It Stinks In here.” When he was a boy, his mother told him over and over to brush his teeth but it appears as though he didn’t listen.

Steve Billy Bob

And so ends the pictorial meandering of the day. Thanks for taking the journey with us!

Oh, and one more thing. When you look at the picture above? Don’t try this at home.

That’s all I’m sayin’.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Book And A Benadryl

I’m home.  Not really home sick, but “home under the weather.”  (Hmmm.  That just doesn’t have the same ring, does it?)

I am SUPPOSED to be at church right now, playing the piano for a few opening songs and then sitting entranced in the congregation to listen to my husband’s Wednesday night teaching. 

But thankfully, I have a wonderful back up piano player as well as a husband (and a congregation) who don’t believe that the pastor’s wife is required to be in church every time the door is open.  (Hurray and hallelujah for understanding husbands and congregations!) I’m going to post this quick update and then jump into my pre-heated bed with a book and a Benadryl. 

Chills, running nose, fatigue?


Staying home and getting to pamper myself? 


Before I sign off though, I’ll address a few things from the Comments area.

Rachel signed in with a wonderfully easy recipe for chicken enchiladas.  Rachel, I am ALL about easy recipes; thank you so much for sending that one my way!

Stacy asked why we didn’t have more than two kids.

That’s a good question, since we both wanted at least four.  However, I had some health issues with both kids.  With Nathan I had pre-eclampsia;  I gained 65 pounds, my shoe size went from a 7 to a 10 (due to water weight) and I lost 35 pounds overnight when I delivered him.   I was high risk and labor had to be induced toward the end of the pregnancy because of dangerously high blood pressure.

With Sarah, I wound up with a life-threatening complication called H.E.L.L.P. Syndrome.   (H=Hemolysis, the destruction of red blood cells.  E.L.= Elevated liver enzymes.  L.P.=Low Platelets.)

Bottom line?  When the mother is diagnosed with it, the baby has to be delivered immediately regardless of its gestational age.  So Sarah was born at 36 weeks and I ended up in emergency surgery and blood transfusions.

And then the doctor looked at us and said, “No.  More. Babies.”

Sigh.  I would have loved a house full but at least our two Smith Sibs have given us a heart full.

Megan asked why drummers sometime have a Plexiglas shield around their drum set.

Megan,  drummers do that to keep the volume of their drums down.  The shield sort of “contains” the sound a little bit.  Actually, drum shields are usually quite a bit larger than the one you saw around the drums in the recent picture I posted.  In fact, some drum sets are enclosed entirely in a Plexiglas room and then have mikes on them so that the mix and volume is easier to blend with the other instruments.

Okay!  I think I’ve covered all the stuff that needed to be covered!  And I’m sorry to report I have no lovely or funny pictures of anyone or anything to share.  My brain is beyond the point of coherence right now so I shall sign off before I start blabbing and blathering.

Which would not be pretty.

At all.

And now . . .my book and my Benadryl.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Five More? Probably not.

A few recent miscellaneous pictures . . .

Steve and I went to the hospital last week to visit the newest member of our congregation. Is she a cutie, or what? When I held her, I immediately got the Baby Fever and asked Steve if we could have five more children. Immediately.

I have yet to hear an answer back from him.

Our two Smith Sibs hanging out in fine Smith Sib fashion.

Snowy with static. (He looks so much like me with "morning hair" that I just have to laugh.)

Is this not the cutest little dress ever?

I got it for Sarah at a consignment store when she was about four; when she
grew out of it, I packed it away. I just found it again when we were moving
and fell in love with it all over again.

Nathan sat in with us on the drums when he was here the past two Sundays.

The rest of the music team at our church; they are so great to work with.

And now I have the happy job of going downstairs and pondering the chicken
that has taken up residence in the refrigerator. My brain is a complete blank
as to what to do with ye olde bird for dinner but maybe if I ponder long enough,
inspiration will strike.

And maybe while I'm pondering, Steve will make up his mind about whether or
we're going to be having five more Smith children.

Ha. I think not.

(But that doesn't mean that I still don't love holding those teeny, new
congregational members!)

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Chicken Enchiladas (This has been a Smith Family Favorite for about ten years.)

3 lbs chicken, cooked and boned
1 C chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use cheddar soup instead)
1 tsp. chili powder
4 tsp. minced onion (I used the dried minced onion)
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. Tabasco sauce (add more more or less, to taste)
4 C Dorito chips
8 oz. sharp cheese (grated)

1. Combine and heat soups with seasonings, onion and broth, mixing well.
2. Spray 9x13 baking dish with Pam.
3. Cover bottom of pan with Doritos, then layer chicken, half the sauce, and cheese on top.
4. Repeat, ending with cheese.
5. Bake 25-30 minutes.

May be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen.

Note: I almost always increase this recipe by 50%. It still fits in the 9x13 pan if you're serving a bigger crowd, or you can divide it between two square pans and freeze one of them so you can feed your family two meals with just "one meal effort!"


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Fly Away Child

We took down the Christmas tree Friday night.

And since I had had sort of promised (threatened) to do it anyway, I went ahead and put some sugar cookies in the oven.

Nathan is very serious about frosting his cookies.


Steve put an “S for Smith” on his cookie. I told him if he held the cookie in front of his shirt, it would like like the “S in Superman.” So he did. And it did. Sort of.


Sarah ate a couple cookies and then suddenly remembered that we had forgotten to have anyone wear the traditional antler ears this year.

Alas! Oh no! Woe is us! Emergency! Code Red! Red Alert! Man the battle stations! Sound the alarm! (Insert other dramatic phrases at your leisure.)

And so . . . . to save the day (and the season) I present to you the Antler-Wearing Rudolph Girl.


As Nathan and Steve were rummaging around getting out the ornament boxes and tree box, Sarah took a few moments to sneak in some reading by the soon-to-be-dismantled Christmas tree.


It was the last quiet moment she would have for a while because as it turned out, her brother was in Wild Wacky Mode. All. Night. Long.

IMG_0610IMG_0579 IMG_0589 IMG_0591 IMG_0592 IMG_0596 IMG_0597 IMG_0606

Even after Nathan had gotten up to help Steve get the unadorned tree back in the box, he was still being entertaining, as this shot so happily illustrates.


The worst thing about Christmas break is that it comes to an end. All too soon. And all too soon, fly-away-children disappear. Back into their other lives. Back into their other, motherless lives.

It was a happy month. But today is a sad day. Today is the day the wacky, wild College Dude gets on a plane to head back to Florida. I just hope his carry-on luggage is big enough to carry all the happy Christmas memories we are sending with him.

Today our house suddenly becomes one person quieter. One person emptier. One person sadder.

All because one annoying, beloved, noisy, fly-away child has flown away.