Category Archives: You’re My Friend

Pick Your Poison

We celebrated a couple of friends’ birthdays this evening at Benihana, and when our waitress came around to take drink orders, Marc asked for a Sprite and a water. Surprisingly, the waitress seemed a little confused by his request. We thought that we had it all straightened out when the waitress held up two fingers, which we presumed meant that she would bring out two glasses — one with Sprite and one with water. But lo and behold, when the drinks arrived, Marc looked surprised to see just one glass with a few meager bubbles floating around inside. He started giggling and said, “Honey, I think that she didn’t understand what I meant. I think she thought I meant Sprite and water in the same glass.” No way. I removed the cover from the straw and took a sip. Sure enough…Sprite and water. The best part was that she brought out several refills of this soda/water combo, and Marc didn’t say a word. He just continued to suck it down. Later, when I asked why he didn’t say anything or ask her for two separate drinks, he said that he couldn’t bring himself to do it because she was just so nice, and he kept picturing her back in the kitchen with the two hoses — one Sprite, one water — carefully being sure to get just the right proportions. Good thing he didn’t order OJ and Coca-cola.

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Belated Birthday Pics

Yes, it has officially been one million years since my last post.  So to tide you all over, here are the pictures from Marc’s birthday/graduation party a few weeks ago.  I know that they are late coming, but I thought that some of them were too cute not to post.  Here you go…  We’re heading to NYC next week, so hopefully I can whip up some good blog material for everyone upon our return.  Until then….enjoy!

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Like Two Donuts…

At Broadway, the end of each service always reminds me a little of the final wrap of an SNL episode. You know, when the host comes back out, lets everyone know that it’s been a great show, and then waves farewell as the rest of the cast and crew meander around the set while ambling music drifts over from the band. If you go to Broadway (or have visited), you can probably understand what I mean. Chris plays the postlude, and those folks who don’t head out right away to fulfill their Sunday plans often stay in the pews chatting it up with their fellow “remainders.” Personally, I think that it’s during this time that some of the best conversations happen. And to top it off, almost everyone claps when Chris finishes the song—a gesture I especially enjoy, since we’re not much of a clapping church (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I suppose).

So after the service today, Marc and I were standing around in the side aisle—Marc talking with Jeffrey and his friend Grant, while I caught up with Troy. Due to my location, which physically planted me right in the middle of the two conversations going on at that second, I suddenly heard out of my left ear Marc laughing and saying, “Yeah…like two donuts at a pitch-in!” I quickly glanced sideways. “What in the world,” I thought. I noticed that Jeffrey looked confused, too, at the humor Marc found in his statement. Marc laughed and said again, “Like two donuts at a pitch-in, right? Isn’t that what you said?” Jeffrey thought for a second and then said, “NO! I said, ‘If there’s too much you have to pitch it!” The five of us cracked up when we realized Marc’s auditory mistake, but then we thought about it for a minute…what a great saying! For awhile, we bounced it around, determining what exactly such a phrase could mean. I told Troy that I thought it would describe the “well-suitedness” of two objects for one another. Kind of like two peas in a pod. Can’t you hear it? Marc and Karen….they’re just like two donuts in a pitch-in. But then I concluded that it didn’t make much sense that way. Marc had a totally different interpretation and explained that it should actually be used to describe something that wouldn’t really be missed. As when someone says that they need another cookie like they need another hole in their head. Regardless, I think Troy hit the nail on the head when he said that it was definitely a term that needs to be introduced into the vernacular.

So here is my charge to you, dear readers: Help us come up with a legitimate and viable definition for our new phrase! Like Two Donuts at a Pitch-in… Whatever could it mean? I can’t wait to find out!

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Muddy Buddy Makes a Friend or Two

Troy called this morning to let me know that Claire asked if Barkley could go to the park, so I hopped out of bed, packed our gear, and drove on up to the Indy Humane Society’s Bark Park. We’ve been wanting to sign Barkley up for a long time, but we couldn’t decide if we wanted to go with Indy Parks or the Humane Society. The Broad Ripple Bark Park—part of the Indy Parks system—always seemed so busy, and we heard horror stories of friends who took their dog there only to notice lots of nicks taken out of him by other dogs while playing. But we admittedly have some ideological differences with the Humane Society that gave us pause before handing 50 bucks their way. Eventually, we made our decision when John and Troy signed Miss Claire up at the IHS Bark Park. So today, I was on my way, vaccination records and debit card in hand ready to let Barkley indulge in some off-leash recreation.

Thankfully, Troy offered to be Barkley’s handler while I filled out the requisite paperwork. Rabies shot…check. Bordetella, distemper…check. Neutered…yes, sir. But not so fast. The girl at the desk informed me that Barkley’s record actually had to show in writing that he was, indeed, male and neutered. At that point, I was feeling a little miffed. I wanted to tell the lady, “Lift tail…take a look. You’ll answer both of your questions.” Instead, however, I politely asked if I could call my veterinarian to see if she could fax the information. Once I had the administrative details squared away, I went back outside to fetch the dog, and we were ready to go. [Funny side note: Troy informed me later that Barkley took the opportunity while waiting outside to mark both of the pet memorials on the grounds…shameless.]

John and Claire were already inside the park area, so we headed that way and let the two pups enjoy a little meet and greet. At first, I was nervous that Barkley would be a too rough with Claire, given his obvious size advantage and uber-exuberance for meeting new canine friends, but she definitely let Barkley know the she was no pushover. And after only a short time, they were like old friends who just happened to enjoy sniffing each other’s bums and splashing through enormous mud puddles. While Barkley has about forty pounds on Claire, she more than dominates in speed—so all things considered, it was a pretty even match up.

Things didn’t get too crazy until Sarah, a beautiful Llewellin Setter, came onto the scene. I’m not sure if Barkley was jealous that someone else was going to take away from Claire’s affections towards him, but he got a little snippy with Sarah. So it was back on the leash until he could learn to “play nice” with the new gal. Eventually, he calmed down, and the three of them were off to the races. By the time Foster and Scruffy showed up—both large Australian Shepherds—I couldn’t determine if Barkley was too tired or finally acclimated enough to not raise much of a fuss. We stuck around for a little while longer until it was time to pack it in and hit the road. Covered in mud and happily panting away, Barkley hopped in the back seat and rested his head on the console the entire way back.

It wasn’t until we stopped at the Starbucks drive-through that he finally perked up enough to get a bone from the barista. As I fiddled around with getting my bank card back into my wallet, the barista said, “Hey, I didn’t notice that he had brown in him.” Puzzled, I thought for a moment about what he said before realizing that what he saw was the mud caked onto Barkley’s fur. When I informed the pink-haired barista that the “brown” was actually mud, he casually replied, “Oh…I thought maybe he just had brown highlights!!” [Hmm…making a mental note of potential new business venture.]

All things considered, I’m glad I dragged my tush out of bed and finally signed our boy up. Of course, Barkley still seems to be recuperating from the exhaustion, but as they say…a tired dog is a happy dog. Amen.

Freezer Burn

For weeks, folks in Indianapolis have celebrated Blue. Blue Fridays….Blue Mondays….whole blue weeks. But I had little idea that Blue Sunday would actually refer to the color of my toes after Marc, Troy, and I headed downtown after the game to celebrate the Colts’ awesome Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears. We spent our evening watching the big game at Pat & Judy’s. John & Troy came over to help us cheer on the Boys in Blue, and we chowed down on everything from shrimp dip to pimento cheese sandwiches. The six of us were quite a crew — cheering and yelling at the television — and Troy even telepathically influenced a few plays, commanding once that the Bears fumble and another time that the Colts pick one off. As the game wound down and our victory was sealed, Marc and Troy decided that the only appropriate thing to do was head downtown to join in on the revelry. John, Pat and Judy decided that it was both too late and too cold, so we bundled up and headed to the great unknown of post-Super Bowl-victory madness.

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By the time that we were about two or three blocks from downtown, the three of us knew that we were in for some definite entertainment. Horns were blaring, folks were literally dancing in the streets, and some were even standing on the roofs of their cars. We waited in bumper-to-bumper traffic holding our cell phones out the window to give our families and loved ones an earful of the festive noises. By the time we got to our private parking lot, we realized that it was each man for himself — all of the “reserved” spots were taken — so we headed to the nearest street parking and made our way to Monument Circle. Among the most impressive views of the night were “Captain Colt,” the “I’m so Drunk I’m Stripping” pair, and the color of my face by the time we got back to the car. After about an hour, our trio decided that it was time to pack it in for the night. Given that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I’ll have to say that my frozen toes, frost bitten cheeks, and unhumanly numb legs were well worth the chance to cheer on our Super Bowl Champs!

 

C is for Cookie

One of the things I admire most about our friends John and Troy is their ability to throw a good get-together. And one of the best parts is that there is often some underlying theme or mission for the gathering. Take, for example, “Fry Day,” which, incidentally, takes place on a Saturday during the summer. Fry Day is a celebration of all things fried, be it sweet, savory, or otherwise. Then there is Booze & Cookies, and, yes, the title just about sums it up. Last year, I was sick on the big day, so I didn’t get the chance to join in on the festivities; but, this year, I was ready to go. So we put on our baking shoes, called up our friend Joe, and headed to Chateau Smythe-Moore for the infamous cookie bake.

Although I wasn’t quite sure what to do when we got there, I was ready to jump in wherever needed. My first task involved unwrapping Hershey’s Kisses for the Cherry Chocolate Kiss cookies. Marc and I were completely surprised when Joe showed up at our house with supplies in hand to make his favorite cookies. The Chocolate Cherry Kiss cookies, which quickly and fondly became known as “Joe Cookies,” were definitely a crowd favorite. Imagine a cookie that tastes just like a cherry cordial, and you’ve got a Joe Cookie.

It was amazing to watch the show run so smoothly when I considered the kind of output that was going on around me. The best was when John would yell out, “Hot Cookies…Coming Through…Get the Door!” Everyone seemed to fall perfectly into their specific roles…John’s friend from work, Jennifer, and her husband Denny took over on spatula patrol, scooping cookies from the sheets onto the grocery bag-lined table.

Dave, Kathy, Eric and Duane fought off hypothermia while taking one for Team Kiefle.

Marc and Joe kept tabs on the Colts’ Game in order to keep the crowd apprised of the score [even though the home team ultimately bit the big one after a 60-yard field goal].

Todd helped Mari and Daniel make cool magnetic toy cars. And even Claire played her part by supervising the general goings on of the day. She looked especially cute in her ever-so-appropriate holiday sweater!

 

One of my favorite photos from B&C is this one of the countertop filled with all the supplies necessary for a real humdinger of a cookie bake. I was completely impressed by Connor’s knack for whipping up a variety of delicious cookie doughs. Be it Cowboy Cookies or some of the best ginger cookies I’ve ever eaten, he was on the ball. That boy truly knows his way around a stand mixer!

By the end of the afternoon, I told Marc that I was in desperate need of some protein, so we packed it in and headed out for a sandwich. We’ve slowly been weaning ourselves off of the cookies by having one or two per day over the last couple of evenings to avoid going through cookie withdrawal. Hats off to John and Troy for yet another fun gathering!

Sterno Inferno

Marc and I hosted a dessert and coffee party at our house last night. It was the ultimate result of an idea I had late this past summer, and I was glad that we actually pulled it off. Usually, we say, “Wouldn’t it be nice to do [insert any variety of social gatherings]?” but it never comes to fruition. In typcial Marc and Karen fashion, however, we were busting our butts at the last second to get everything in order…literally. Marc was still out buying ice and cups when our friends, Molly & Kendrick, arrived with their unbelievably cute son, Carter.

Thankfully, our friends are gracious! No one really seemed to mind when they walked through the door that I had dish towels wadded up on the countertop and a saucepan soaking off its layers of chocolate in the sink. I know that I’m always harder on myself than I should be about having the house in tip-top shape, but it doesn’t seem to stop me from stressing out before our friends arrive…just ask Marc, who spent the better part of his weekend cleaning instead of studying. There is definitely a corner saved in heaven for him after all of that furniture vacuuming; which, by the way, he claimed to be one of his least favorite things to do in life! I have the loveliest husband…

I’m not sure what planted the seed for our shindig. Maybe the fact that I love baking (especially for friends). Or maybe that we love getting folks together and don’t do it often enough. But my guess is that it was probably the union of the two. So out went the invitations, in came the friends and neighbors, and we had ourselves a party. It seems that as stressful as planning a get-together can be, there’s something so delightful about having your house filled with people laughing, chatting, meeting, and enjoying each other’s company. I wish that I would have taken pictures, but I was too darn busy to try to find the camera.

Speaking to the true procrastination Marc and I embrace in our lives, we raced out to Bed Bath & Beyond at about 2:00 (the party started at 6:00) for mini-Sterno gel-flame canisters. Mind you, I’ve never used one of these contraptions. But I was dying to make Chocolate Coconut Cream fondue, and nothing, not even a tiny metal flaming can of gel-fire was going to stop me. I made the chocolate dip without much ado, sneaking a few tastes and letting Marc lick the spoon afterwards. Then I set aside the liquidy-Mounds-bar-tasting goodness while I worked on the cobbler. When the time came, I carefully poured the chocolate into the fondue pot, relinquished the matches to Marc, and went about ironing out the finer details of the dessert spread. At one point, I noticed that the flame had gone out, so I scurried over to grab another canister. I loaded it up, lit the gel, and nearly died one minute later when Kathy said, “Ooh, it’s really bubbling,” followed by, “Oh, no it’s burnt!” Ahhh! One and a half pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate down the drain…or more truthfully into the garbage. It was a sad night. The fondue wasn’t going down without a fight, though, as Barkley (our 75 pound black lab) decided to resurrect the chocolate from the garbage can…a feat that left Marc calling the emergency vet service at about 10pm to make sure Barkley wasn’t going to kick the bucket. The technician reassured us that it would take much more cocoa than what he ate to “take down a dog that size.”

The “Biggest Hit of the Evening” Award went hands-down to the Turtle Cookies, followed closely by the Blackberry-Peach Cobbler. I also made a Pecan Pumpkin Spice cake that is actually shaped like a pumpkin. The real recipe calls for a stem and leaves made out of marzipan…too bad the marzipan box actually points you to a website for instructions on how to use it. I’m not sure what that is all about [marketing, probably], but there was no way that I was going to find time to get online for the how-to’s. So I just stacked some extra cake scraps into the middle of the cake top, and voila! Makeshift pumpkin stem!

Everyone seemed to have a good time, and I’m sure that most of the folks had a major sugar crash just in time for bed. Unfortunately for Janeen and De’Amon, our friend Troy realized a bit too late that it isn’t always a good idea to feed extra cookies to a four year old just before bedtime. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it either, but maybe that’s because I’ve never had to try to get a little one to bed on five pounds of sugar. Maybe next time I’ll use Splenda!

Oh-so-Yummy Turtle Cookie Recipe

2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt (may omit if using salted butter)
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened (I prefer to use butter flavor Crisco sticks)
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. half-and-half
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
8 oz. Mini-Rolo Popables (or regular Rolos cut in half)
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2-1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Combine flour, soda and salt; set aside.
2. Beat together butter and both sugars, until well blended.
3. Mix in egg, half and half and vanilla.
4. Blend in flour mixture until smooth.
5. Stir in, by hand, rolo candies,pecans and chocolate chips.
6. Drop dough by tablespoon onto parchment lined baking sheets (you must use parchment or the caramel will stick like cement to your cookie sheets).
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-13 minutes until edges are golden brown and center is still slightly soft.
8. Cool on wire rack for a few minutes to allow caramel to set. Enjoy!