the day after puke-mas

it was a wonderful day.
just me and herb.
i woke up to a quiet, snowy day.
spent a few moments reading, praying, and reflecting
before my cute man came bounding out from the bedroom -
"okay! let's do presents!"

it was really great -
this is the first of four christmases (one dating, three married)
that we have done on our own
(SO fabulous, by the way!)
and so i actually don't know his "present style".
if i had to guess ahead of time,
i suppose i would have said he was a mellow present guy.
you know, kind of not even mention them until around 10 or 11am!
but he is not and i love that!

we had a wonderful morning opening presents and eating omletts.
in the afternoon we played with our new wii and finally went to a movie.
(charlie wilson's war . . . a must see!)

and about half way through, i looked over and noticed my husband
litterally shrinking in his chair.
"my stomach hurts. i am going to the bathroom."
20 minutes later i went to look for him.
"i threw up"
much coddeling and cooing over him took place.
since we went to the theater with our neighbor, allison,
i went back in to finish the movie with her.

that is when my stomach started twisting and turning.

collaboratively, over the course of the eve, we puked four or five times!

yesterday, we woke up, feeling okay.
because our movie marathon was cut short,
(the three of us had big aspirations of AT LEAST two movies)
i figured i would grab allison and go see a matinee or something.
but not quiet yet.
i just needed to lay down on the couch for a little bit.
surely by noon, i will be up and at 'em - movie going, laundry doing.
plus, it was a beautiful day here yesterday!
it had snowed ALL DAY on christmas
but a bright, blue-skyed day, is just what the day after christmas should be.
i had big aspirations of long, sunny walks!
but it was not just the day after christmas,
it was the day after puke-mas.
so there i lay, at 7am, on the couch.
finally, at 9pm
(yes, 14 hours and two project runway marathons later)
i got up, took a bath, and went to bed!!!
herb stayed up later because his SIX HOUR nap
from 8am-2pm had him pretty well-rested!
or at least unable to sleep!

so, today, it is snowing again.
yesterday doesn't count, so it is my official
"day after christmas".
i have big plans for laundry and puttering about -
just as the day after christmas should be!

check back later -
i will post pictures of THE BEST
christmas gift from my sweet herb!


and check this out:


doing what i can . . .

to celebrate the things i am doing right now . . .
(those little greasy looking pucks are actually cheesy corn muffins that i froze a few weeks ago because eating a dozen corn muffins all at once would be bad news for anyone! but a few minutes in the micro this morning and . . . yummo!!!!)

. . . and looking forward to the things i plan to do later tonight

herb is hoping we can reconfigure our $10 target gingerbread kit
to look a little more like this $80 mod gingerbread house kit from red envelope.

therefore, i bought brown, orange, and green frosting to help him pursue his dream.
like i always say, aspire big!
(no, i don't actually ever say that!)

i am sure i will have a few pictures to share tomorrow!

what are YOU doing to enjoy the day?


My oh my! I just can't get enough of blogging today!

After a few months, I finally did some scrapbooking again yesterday!
And I was reminded how much fun it is!
(and it doesn't hurt that i feel pretty proud of this one!)
If you want to see more of this little beauty, go on and take a peak over here!

if you know a little girl . . .

you really must go get this book for her!!! my beautiful, 10-year-old neighbor will soon know how to make a sit-upon, the history of spanish queens, and how to tell a good ghost story! if you are a grown-up girl-child of the '80's and find yourself sort of sad that little girls these days are growing up so differently than we did, go make friends with a cell-phone carrying, iPod listening, video game playing, mini skirt wearing little girl and give her this book. i bet she might thank you for the whole new world you would be showing her!

a little party

last friday,
we had a little party
after a fan-tastic dinner out
with our supper club.

(by the way,
if you are ever in denver,
this place
is known among
the top 10 sushi places
in the country!
however, if you are with non-sushi lovers
like myself -
i know, GASP! -
then, i highly reccomend
this place!
it is across the street from sushi den,
same owners
same chefs
same daily fish orders from japan,
BUT they also have a creative,
and delicious menu of world fusion,
non-sea-derived tapas that is

after dinner,
we came back to our house
for what i promised to be
a simple dessert and coffee.
the promise was actually just made to myself,
as i had a full week leading up to the party.

but as herb exclaimed
(with a very heart-warming sense of pride and appreciation),
i just don't know how to entertain simply!
it is true.
i can't.
i love it so much!
when you can make a stuffed brie dish
and add a fancy cocktail
for just a "little" more effort,
it seems like a crime not too!

so a simple dessert
(fresh berries in chocolate cups
with a dollup of fresh whipped cream)
turned into quite a little show!

here are some details:

The above is actually quite easy!
Fresh figs with blue cheese and proscuitto.
Slice your figs in half
place a small chunk of blue cheese on top of each half
wrap in a ribbon of proscuitto (fancy itallian ham found in most delis)
place on the grill or under the broiler
(always my choice in 9 degree weather!)
for just a few minutes
until ham begins to crisp!

and there you have a fancy-looking
(but oh, so easy)
dessert for all of the low-carb eaters out there!

and finally,
brie stuffed with brandied cranberries, almonds, and apricots:

roughly chop an 1/8 of a cup of dried apricots

toast almonds in pan
melt 1 Tbs of butter in pan
add apricots and 1/8 cup dried cranberries
allow to carmelize for a few minutes
add brandy (less than 1/4 cup)
allow to simmer until most of the liquid
has evaporated.

slice open a wheel of brie cheese
place half of fruit mixture on top
of one half of the cheese.
place the other half on top
and spread the remainder of the
fruit mixture on top.
wrap in a pre-made sheet of
puff pastry.

bake at 375 until pastry has cooked
and is a golden brown (15-20 minutes)

a marscapone kind of christmas

a week or so ago, i wrote about contentment;
in the end, sending my readers off to make
the delicious marscapone and mushroom risoto recipe
that i shared.

there is no magic in marscapone
(yeah, right, says my friend stacy . . .
i know, stace, you and i know better!)
but when i pay attention to the smooth creamy texture
and the sweet
but not too sweet
flavor of the cheese,
i find myself entering into the present.
not thinking about what has happened
or what needs to happen
or what i fear may happen.
but right in the moment,
licking my fingers,
my breath begins to deepen
and my feet sink into the floor.
i notice my neighbor's beautiful yard
outside of my window
and hear the sweet voice of patty griffin
as she sings about making pies
and i realize how good my life is.

and i become thankful;

it has been that kind of christmas so far around here.

it has not been perfect,
but it has been so good.

in the past, i have tried to orchastrate
a holiday right out of the gilmore girl's
star's hollow;
witty banter and all.

i have say,
people don't like being told
what festive hats to wear
or when to banter witty-ly.
they really don't.

this year, i was content to put up
my new silver, pre-lit tinsel tree
the day after thanksgiving -
instead of rushing around,
trying to find a place to cut a tree.

so i set up my little tree in the window
while herb was
using "the fascilities"
of all things!!!
and then we snuggled and read on the couch.
hardly out of a norman rockwell painting,
but it was MY life,
reality -
so it turns out, it was actually not so bad.

a few weeks later, we walked down
to the winter market in our neighborhood
and picked out a live tree from
the gellato guy
(nice move on replacing your seasonal job, gellato guy!)

again, we have slowly,
and unceramoniously been decorating it.
and it is perfect.
because i am enjoying herb
and the process
and the reality;
not the fantasy.


a little ear candy

i have really been loving THIS!!!
(will automatically download an internet radio stream . . . just so you know in case you are at work or something)


it is here.
the time before
christ's birth.

my heart is craving things
this season
that will remind me of
and draw me deep into
the journey of




i want to be reminded of
the journey one takes
when the lights have gone out
and there are no more egg rolls.
and not only that,
all of the egg roll stores
are closed.

and nobody seems to care.

when promises have been broken
and tomorrow seems like
a silly figment
of an imagination that is




this dark,
egg roll free zone
is the background
of our world.

when we don't notice that
we are constantly covered in bruises
as a result of bumping into
the coffee table, and the couch, and each other;
and that our belly's are empty,
it is simply because we have become
very very good
at disguising our disappointment
and our terror that the last bus
has left
and we are still here.

we laugh
and smile
and watch movies
and eat processed foods
and buy iPhones
and wear bright, cheery dresses.

but the truth?
under it all?




i love that this is the time of waiting.
because in waiting,
there is

this is the time that,
out of the darkness,
after there was no more king OR egg rolls
to be had in Israel,
and order was naught,
and all of the iPhones were on back order,
(so the dark really felt dark,
and they could not longer pretend
that their hot pink dress was relevant),
that there came a ridiculous promise.


but it was better than anything else they
had to go on.
so they waited.
and hoped.
they believed.

and during this time of
(which means BEFORE en francais)
we are reminded that we are living
the same way.
not just in a state of darkness.
but also, in a state of waiting.
in a state of hope.

we are reminded that we can
take off the pink dress
and put down the iPhone
and really sink into reality.
and as we sit here,
we wait.
and wonder.
and wander.
and ponder.


that life will not always be this way.

this is the time that we remember
that we are waiting for something
so much better than *gasp* anything
that steve jobs could ever sell.
(those are gutsy words to utter in this house!)

this is the time that we remember
that a promise was made
and a king was born.

and now,
if we choose to,
we simply allow ourselves

to wait




mmmm . . . mmmm . . . marscapone!

a few thoughts on marscapone cheese and contentment . . .

several weeks ago, i wrote a tongue in cheek post
about "cheery, peppy people"
and my life-long
love-hate relationship with them.

i remember the girl that was my co-counselor
back at summer camp in college.
her nick-name was panda bear.
i even found that annoying.

she was so perky and perfect that i often did things
(such as, but certainly not limited to)
subtly removing my pants
and displaying my backside.

i wanted to disrupt the perfection.
because i believed there was more
below the surface.

there has always been something about people
who always seem to have it all together
that leaves me
a little jealous,
and often feeling quite prideful.

prideful, because i feel that living a
life is more

i know that the people who appear to
have it all together are just as broken
as me,
but they hide it well.
(or maybe not so well)
and maybe all of that hiding is part of
their individual brokenness.

but in my brokennes,
even the implication of their perfection
leaves me feeling even more broken.
that is where the jealousy comes in.
and then the anger.

and yet,
i would give up all of the
authenticity in the world
just to live in blind denial
of the pain and confusion
that life seems to breed.

i revisit this because i received a comment
after i posted about the bubbly, cheery conundrum.
it has been on my mind for over a month.

i have hesitated responding to it, up to this point,
because it was written anonymously.

my dad always taught us that if you
believe something enough to say it
that you should never be afraid
to attach your name to it.
part of me felt that, for that reason,
it should not be acknowledged.

so, this post is for anonymous.
but not just for anonymous.
it is for me.
it is for you.

the idea was,
could it be possible,
that from some perspectives,
that i AM the cheery, bubbly people?
that i AM the one who has the life
that people want?
that, perhaps the hardest one to think about,
i AM the one who is inauthentic and dishonest?
living in a candy-coated world?

blogs are such a funny thing.

i think for me,
over the past year or so,
mine has been a place i have been able
to just focus on the beautiful,
the hopeful,
the silly.

it is the place i have gone to
post pictures of my (herb's) garden
and scrapbook pages
and recipes.

it is the place i have used to feel
normal and human.
the place i have gone to remind me
that it is not all dark and bad and scary
and that the sun will come up tomorrow.

i have used my blog as such because
the past year or two have been so
and difficult.
i have been struggling
with my health
and facing a really difficult
reality check about myself
and about marriage.
i have been fighting
for my health
and for my marriage.

i have doubted
and cried
and yelled
like never before.

i have lived a life i never wanted.
i have struggled to have a life
that i can live with.
that i can enjoy and delight in, even.

and yet, i concur with anonymous
that i have posted a life
that many people would want.
i think that is why i post the things i do.
as a reminder
that there is much in my life
that i want.
that is good.
that i like.

i this in authentic?
i am not sure.
and perhaps not.
i suppose it depends on what the purpose of blogs are.
and that is probably another story
for another day.

over the past month,
in thinking about this,
i am not so sure that the question
to be asked here is
whether or not
i am authentic and honest.

i think that the question is,
"cara are you really living the life that were given?
are you grateful?"

and THAT is a question i have been pondering.

shortly after anonymous posed this question,
i attended a wedding out of state.
as a bridesmaid, i spent a lot of time with
the other girls in the wedding party.
this is always a funny thing
because you don't always know these women
that you have flown out of state
to spend time with.

after a comment i made about
visiting with my neighbors
after they get home from school,
one of the bridesmaids had her interest peaked.
school, after all gets out around 3:30.
she asked me how often i work.
i replied that i work part time
and that i spend a lot of time
taking care of the house,
our responsibilities,
and my health.
she thought that sounded nice.
inside, i agreed, and reminded myself
that it is, indeed nice.
i reminded myself to remember that
more often.

later, as we were getting our make-up done,
she asserted, a little more passionately this time,
that she wished she had my life.

i assured her that it is indeed, not perfect.

i felt uncomfortable.

she was missing the point.
it is not about my circumstances.
it is not about her circumstances.

she, apparently, felt quite comfortable.

she wanted proof.
she wanted proof that my life is not perfect.

at this point, i could not believe
that we were having this conversation.

i feel that anyone with a christian theology KNOWS
that nobody's life is perfect.
that by nature of her very belief system,
the world, the people, the earth . . .
it is all wounded.
none of it or us functions perfectly -
the way we were created to function.

it upset me.

somebody walked between us.
i broke eye contact.
i hoped it was over.

she asked again.
this time, with anger behind her voice.
(come to think of it,
not suprisingly, she asked most things,
most of the weekend,
with anger behind it.
even her face looked angry.)

she wanted an answer.
and she wanted it now.
proof that my life is not perfect.
proof of why she would not trade her life
in for mine if given the opportunity.

all of this from a woman, whose beautiful body
was carrying a huge, lovely baby inside.
she was angry with me
because i work part-time.

for all she knows,
heck, for all i know,
my body might not be able to do that!
to carry a big, beautiful baby inside.
but she was mad at me
and probably her husband
and her life
and god
because i work part-time.

whoa. something was out of sorts.

angry is a good word for it.
angry is how i feel when i see people
who don't seem to be plagued by
angst and tendencies towards depression.
they have what i think want.
and i, apparently, have what
angry bridesmaid thinks she wants.

the reality is,
she did not want what i have.
the reality is,
i think,
that she is not content with what she has.

like the anonymous comment left
a few weeks prior to this experience,
it left me feeling rattled
and thoughtful.

rattled and thoughtful are good.

rattled disrupts the current system.

and thoughtful implies that you give a shit
about what you are discovering
as you are being rattled.

and my current system
to be

since then,
i have been thinking about
living the life you actually have.
not just going through the motions,
but actually living it.

i have been floating through
the structure of a "really great life".
but i have not been living it.
i have not been enjoying it.
i have not been appreciating it.

and i don't just mean appreciating
in the way your mom meant when
she used to say,
"you don't appreciate anything around here!"

although, i suppose that could apply too.

what i mean, is really paying attention
to the life i lead
to the gifts i have
to the people
to my neighborhood
to the trees in my front yard
and the pretty pillows on my couch.

paying attention
and then really digging in
and LIVING it.

taking a nap on the pillows
and smiling as i watch the trees change
from green to golden to gone
day after day.

and here is the kicker.
i don't think that there is anything
special about my life today
that makes this lesson more
or less pertinent.

i might work less than some people.
i might have pretty pillows on my couch.

but i faced the same delima
that i face now
when i worked 50 hours a week
and had a hand-me-down couch.

i did not appreciate life.
i did not live the life i have.
the one that is right in front of me.

the problem,
i think,
is not with my circumstances
or calendar
or paycheck.

the problem,
i think,
is with my,
with our,

the problem is with our hearts.

when i say, i am not living life,
i mean this:
when i am on my couch
or with my husband
or at my job
or painting at my orange table,

i am often somewhere else
in my mind.

i don't want to be where i am.
it is not perfect.
so i don't indulge in it.
i don't sink my teeth into it.
i don't live it.

everyone has pleasures
that are in front of them.
while i have more free time
that i can choose to waste
or really revel in,
some people have children
that they can choose to waste
or to really revel in.

the circumstance is sort of not the point.

but that is where anonymous
and angry bridesmaid got stuck.
that is where i have often gotten stuck.

the "if only . . . " lie.
if only i had what she or he has.
then i would be happy.
and not only that,
but she or he does not deserve what they have.
i do.
i deserve that.
i would really enjoy that
so much more than them.
i want what they have.
and i am beside myself that they have it.

i am here to say, it is only an illusion.

i have lived a busy, hectic, under-paid life, single life.
i currently have a slow-paced, part-time-working, financially comfortable, married life.

and in both i have experienced discontent and lonliness.
and in both i have strived for peace and for joy.
and in both, sometimes, when i have settled myself enough,
i have found peace and joy.
in both circumstances,
peace and joy are what i crave the most.
and in both circumstances,
they were available to me.

if you have traveled to a third world country,
you have probably been overwhelmed
by the peace and joy
that flows forth
from some people
seem to
have nothing.
whose circumstances are desperate.
it depends upon, not their circumstances,
but rather,
i think,
the state of their hearts.

when i am feeling most sane,
and i think about the lives of others
that i would like to lead,
they have nothing to do
with the person's circumstances.
but rather,
their hearts.

and i am not talking about those times
when i would trade it all in for ignorance.
i am talking about the times when i am
a bit more in touch with god
and the kind of life he designed us to live.
when i am craving THAT life.
when i am craving TRUTH.
and not an easier outlook,
or better health,
or more free time,
or a newer car
or a magical debt fairy to come and give me
financial freedom . . . or
or . . . or . . . or . . . .

when i am craving a life that is based on TRUTH,
i look to my friend who does not have
the easiest circumstances.
she has a lot of good stuff in her life
but also some struggles
and even more mere inconveniences.

but she is over-flowing with love and peace and joy.
she loves life.
she loves her job.
she loves sex with her husband.
she loves the people she works with.
she loves getting a macaroon cookie from dean & delucas
on any given tuesday
for no reason at all
and she savors every last damn shred of coconut.

and here is what makes her differnt than
the peppy bubbly people:
she really feels this way.
she is sincere.

and she can live this way,
not because she has the perfect
or job
or coworkers.
not because she has a better lover for a husband.
not because she goes to a magical dean & delucas
or that she was somehow blessed with superior
taste buds which allow her to enjoy coconut
more than the rest of us are permitted.

but sometimes i believe all of that.
sometimes i loose total perspective
on her peace and joy.

she enjoys and loves and lives in peace,
i believe,
because she believes that god loves her.

that is it.

and she believes it down to the core of her
very being.

and she lives her entire life
looking at
and car payments,
and her husband,
and macaroon cookies
through the lens of god's love for her.

and when she knows she is loved,
she can love her life and the people in it.

and that is what i want.

and that, is what, at the end of the day,
i believe anonymous expressed that he wants.

and i hope, that is what
angry, sad bridesmaid wants too.

now, take this delicious recipe
and cook it for a friend.
pour a nice glass of wine
and put on some good music
and feel the knife in your hand,
as you slice through the shallots
and mushrooms.

then sit down
and give your friend some marscapone and mushroom risotto
and remind them that regardless of whether you are sitting on the floor
and eating off of a cardboard box,
or dining at the white house off of gold-plated plates,
that you are loved
and that is
the only
reason why you were able to
enjoy your wine
and your music

and then
tell them that they are loved
and that you really want them to enjoy every last bite
of their risotto
and their life.

1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 ounce)
1 (14-ounce) can less-sodium beef broth
Cooking spray
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine boiling water and mushrooms; let stand 10 minutes or until soft. Drain through a colander over a bowl. Reserve 1 1/4 cups soaking liquid, and chop mushrooms.
Bring soaking liquid and broth to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep broth mixture warm over low heat.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add rice, shallots, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add wine, and cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes).

Add 1 cup broth mixture to rice mixture; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Add mushrooms, cheeses, thyme, salt, and pepper; stir gently just until the cheese melts. Serve warm.

4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 198(28% from fat); FAT 6.1g (sat 3.2g,mono 1g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 8.9g; CHOLESTEROL 15mg; CALCIUM 113mg; SODIUM 449mg; FIBER 1.2g; IRON 1.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 27g

Kathleen Kanen , Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2005


It Is Time!

The Little Orange Table is HERE!!!
Thanks for all of your kind comments and excitement as I have been preparing my shop!

I hope you are having a GREAT December so far and have many plans to have a quiet, lovely, festive holiday!


it's beginning to feel a lot like . . .


late afternoon.
the big reveal.
get excited.
i am!

the link to the shop
will be posted here.

enjoy the day!
- cara