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Archive for January, 2009

Announcing the first annual Superbowl Cupcake Showdown. Croque Madame is making Red Cardinal Velvet cakes, to compete with my Double Chocolate Malt Shop Cupcakes With Cherry Vanilla Buttercream.

My cupcakes are done, so it’s left to the Croquester to see if she can top them. I have my doubts. These things are pretty phenomenal. The recipe is by Peanut Butter and Julie, who won a Food Network Recipe Showdown with them this month. I had a few questions about the recipe, and she responded kindly and quickly to my email. I hope I’ve done this fabulous recipe justice. The contrast of flavors–sweet with bitter, sweet with tart–is really fantastic, and I think I captured it well.

It’s up to my judges, though, who will be selected at random tomorrow, to decide.

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A daily value.

I have been a Fiber One consumer for several months now. I regularly eat the cereal (I like to mix Caramel Delight into yogurt), the yogurt (though I prefer Activia) and the bars. Today I tried one of two new bar flavors (the other, which I haven’t been able to find, has strawberry in it): Oats & Apple Streusel.

It is delicious! The apple chunks provide a lovely texture contrast in addition to some jam-packed bursts of flavor. The 35% daily value of fiber is a much-needed bonus.

I’m thrilled to see that Fiber One has also introduced a line of toaster pastries. Will Brooklyn grocery stores stock them? Only time will tell.

I think it’s interesting that there are so many fiber-heavy products on the market these days, and the advertising campaign for Activia has been impressive. Not to be unnecessarily crude, but are that many people suddenly having trouble pooping?

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I am getting far enough along in my apartment-settling process that I might be willing to post a few pictures soon. In the past two days, I’ve made huge progress in the living room. Last night I moved the bookshelves (which I acquired in my last apartment from the people moving out) that were flanking the TV to the adjoining wall. They now flank the window, but I might surrender one to Chris, who has been talking about getting another bookshelf since I met him. I think sometimes symmetry can be overrated. Also, and this is pretty amazing, I seem not to have enough stuff to fill my shelves.

Or my drawers. I finally have enough drawers! Chris has suggested perhaps I need to get another dresser to house all of the drawers I’m not using.

Tonight I organized my NYU papers. I need to buy new file folders and then file them away until I decide I’m ready to revise (I thought today, I’m getting close!). And Chris was a real trouper and helped me move a table. He was exhausted, but I asked nicely, and technically it was his idea that I get a table in the first place. It makes a big difference in the living room, since there was just too much empty wall space before. And this table is smallish, but it expands to twice its size. You know what that means. Dinner parties!

This weekend, I finish putting everything away, and then I begin to decorate. Oh, and I watch the Game.

I’m talking about the Puppy Bowl, of course. Piper the Parrot’s singing the national anthem this year!

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As probably everyone who reads this blog knows, it has been a longtime dream of mine to adopt one or more of my children. Several months ago, I began to follow a few (OK, more than a few) adoption blogs (they’re everywhere!), and I’ve learned a lot about both the pre- and post-adoption processes.

One of the blogs I read is about a family whose adopted daughter, Abby, is going through an incredibly difficult round of chemotherapy. As I’ve read about her over the months and followed her journey, I’ve come to know Abby to be a remarkable child. As many stories that her parents write of her illness, and as many pictures that they post of her with her pain and exhaustion written all over her face, there are just as many stories of her amazing ability to also find happiness during this unbelievable struggle, to play and snuggle and be loving, and there are just as many pictures of her smiling and dressing up like a princess and looking just like any other 4-year-old.

But Abby’s having such a rough time. I worked with cancer and transplant patients during my fellowship at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital last year, and as impressed as I was by their strength, I think the most surprising thing for me was how easily I could forget that they were sick. Yes, I had to wash my hands and use Purell before entering their rooms, and sometimes I had to wear gloves, a mask and a gown. Some of the children had lost their hair, most of them were hooked up to various tubes, and nurses and doctors visited them throughout the day. But in spite of all that, they were kids like any other kids! They’d learned how to read their own vitals, and they were adept at maneuvering around and among the tubes coming out of their arms and tummies, and they wrote poems about the constant barrage of needles and how cold the hospital floors were and how they were scared that they’d never go home again. But they also liked to color and watch “Hannah Montana” and play with stuffed animals, and they wrote poems about cute boys they liked at school and how annoying their little sisters were and how much they loved Christmas.

If you pray, please pray for sweet Abby. She is in and out of the hospital. She’s throwing up 20 times a day, and yesterday she threw up blood. Her head hurts all the time. As far as I understand it, she’s got a long way to go, but this is also the most difficult stage of the chemo, and if she can make it through this, well, I think she’ll have shown us that she can make it through anything.

Also, Abby’s brother Landis is obsessed with Spiderman in the most adorable way. After you pray for Abby, you should check out his Spidey poses. As for me, I don’t pray, really, but I do my best to imagine her getting better.

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Second semester of my senior year of college, I did an independent study with two other students and Professor Pritchard. We asked him to define the class for us–esentially, to teach us whatever he most wanted to teach us. We read Roth, Mailer, Bellow and John Updike’s Rabbit series. For class, we sat in his office and chatted about books and other things. I remember reading three of the Rabbit books over a period of 24 hours. I’m not sure I broke even to eat; I certainly didn’t sleep.

Here’s Pritchard talking about Updike with Sue Miller (whom Pritchard had brought to Amherst that same semester to teach a fiction-writing class, which I also took). Perhaps you’ll get a taste for why I insisted on taking as many classes with this man as possible.

Side note: My father studied with Pritchard when he was at Amherst, back when Amherst made all of its students take an English class. Flash forward 30 years to my time there, and Amherst didn’t demand I take any class I didn’t want to take. I can’t say for sure, but I think I chose to take close to 20 classes in the English department, out of 34 total. My only regret is that I didn’t take more.

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Clean break.

Update: The curtains on the other side of the room blow at me too, though not quite as much. Today is a rageful day for me in general, and my shower certainly threw me into a small fit of growling and snarling and kicking and cursing. I’ve come up with an idea, though, to fix this problem. I will highlight it on my tributary blog, to be created and announced in the near future.

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The reviews are in.

I love your blog. Hope you will keep it up. It is great!

Love, Mom

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