Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Professional Flowergirls

Mary Grace, Norah, Claire, and Sara
July 28, 2012

Claire and Mary Grace
October 18, 2008

Mary Grace (Jill Wise's wedding)
April 24, 2007

The Crazy Happenings

Are you sick of the wedding yet?  No?  Good.  Because this post is about all the crazy things that happened.  I guess we had to get our Murphy's Law out of the way so that the wedding itself would be perfect.

I called my mom Friday morning to let her know when I would be up, and she told me that she had fallen down the stairs in the middle of the night, whacked her chin on the newel post by the landing, and screwed herself up mightily.

I was getting ready to go get my makeup done on Saturday morning, and was getting my things together, and I said to BJ, "Where is my dress?" as in, my bridesmaid's dress.  And he said, "What dress?"  Ack!  It was still hanging in the laundry room at our house, an hour and a half away!

I had to re-pierce my ears on Saturday morning because the hole in my left earlobe had closed.  I haven't worn earrings in a thousand years, because even the expensive ones cause infections.  I'm so sensitive....

As I mentioned earlier, my mother-in-law's generator chose Saturday morning to set itself on fire.

Immediately before the ceremony, two carloads of guests got into a car accident in front of Mom's building.  They were from Sara's side of the family, and I guess one had to go to the hospital.  I haven't heard a status update on them, so if anyone reading this knows if everyone is ok, please let me know.

What's really interesting about all of the little disasters is that each one could have been so much worse - Mom could have broken her neck or her back when she fell.  As it was, she was still able to dance with my brother (their dance was so funny, she changed the song on him and then pulled out an enormous hankie to dab at their tears).  I discovered that my dress was missing at 7 am, instead of at 3 pm when it would have been a REAL problem.  My father-in-law was able to bring it up from our house, with help from Karen (who has a key and let him in).  And because he was there, he and BJ were able to take a look at Diana's generator and make sure that it was safe.  Speaking of the fire, if she hadn't been home watching our kids that morning, who knows how far the fire would have spread?  And while the car accident sounded serious, no one was killed.

I guess any time you have that many people traveling and convening on one spot, you're bound to have stories like these.  Last weekend at Brian and Jen's rehearsal dinner, we set the bread basket on fire (I accidentally put it down with the napkin over a votive candle!).

So what other stories happened this weekend that I didn't know about?  Leave me a comment!

Monday, July 30, 2012

How to Personalize a Wedding

As I've mentioned, my mom owns the ballroom & event center (please do not call it a banquet hall!) where my brother and his wife (!) got married.  It happens to be the same building where my sister and her husband got married AND where BJ and I got married.  Mom says we can get married wherever we want, but if we want her to be able to attend, we should get married at her place.

Our wedding was so long ago that our photographer actually shot on film instead of digital.  Ha ha! It poured down rain that day, so we were married in the ballroom, instead of in the garden where we had planned to have the ceremony. One of these days I'll sit down and scan in all the photos, but here are a few.

Our cake was amazing.  My mom made those roses by hand out of gum paste, one petal at a time.

Our colors were navy and silver with purple and magenta accents in the linens and the flowers.

Compared to what brides are doing now, 11 years later, our tables look practically bare.  Mom has so many more linen options now than she did then.  But they were still beautiful.  Our flowers were just spectacular.  The candlelight made it look very warm once the sun went down.  This was taken before anyone arrived:

Here we are during the ceremony -

They say that the clouds parted and the sun came out just as my dad and I walked in.

This picture gives you a better idea of what the flowers looked like.

I got to here in the scanning and thought, "How is it that 11 years later, so many people look younger?"

May 26, 2001

Except us.  We were babies.  I had just turned 25 and BJ was 24. 

Megan and Trey's wedding was shot on digital, and I have a squajillion pictures.  They were married in the chapel, which didn't exist in 2001.

October 18, 2008 - our family had grown a bit!
I was Megan's MOH and Chuck was one of his groomsman.  In fact, each of us three siblings has had the other two in their wedding - Chuck was an usher for us and Megan was a bridesmaid, and Megan and I were both Chuck's bridesmaids.  Awww.  I think we also all had bridal parties of 8 people - 4 men and 4 women.  Mom says one attendant per 50 guests, and we follow the rules!

It was a beautiful fall day, and we took a lot of pictures in the garden.  Note the ferns.  When I get the pictures of Chuck and Sara's flowers you'll see how much you can change a pergola.

I can't think of a sibling group that enjoys each other and loves each other as much as we do.

For some reason, this is the only picture I can find of the ceremony, which is weird because I know I have more.  It shows you, though, what a different look it was from my wedding in the ballroom, and when I get my hands on Chuck and Sara's pictures, you'll see how different theirs was.  Uncle Doug performed the ceremony for Megan and Trey, and for his son Brian and his new wife Jen last weekend.

The balloon release was spectacular.

Here's my toast, and a good view of the head table.

Chocolate brown and red were their colors.  I used to know how many red roses the florist used.  I want to say 2500.  I think every red rose in Indiana was in Valparaiso that day.

I'm just now noticing the similarities between Megan's dress and Sara's dress, which I'll show you below.

Uncle Stu took the happy newlyweds for a ride on his firetruck.  You can't see Ed Collier, the photographer, in this shot, but he's sitting on top of the cab of the truck snapping away, and I was sure he was going to fall off.

Now for the ones you've really been waiting for -

Sara and Chuck's first kiss as husband and wife.  Click on it so you can see the details in the flowers in the pergola and the bouquets.  Even the flowers that are blooming in the garden are different from the ones in Megan's photos, because of the time of year - October and July have completely different palates when it comes to flowers.  Mom keeps it neutral, but if you happen to marry one of her kids she'll plant flowers for you that match your wedding (in Sara's case, purple).

I'm stealing these photos from Facebook, until the photographer posts the real ones or Mom uploads hers, but here's the first dance:

All that cool ceiling decor didn't exist for Megan and I, but how amazing is it?  And the flowers that Sara and Chuck chose were absolutely awesome - they had kind of a wildflower feel, but there were several (9?) huge statement arrangements on the guests tables that really made you stop in your tracks.

No one has posted a picture of their cake yet.  Let me see cake!

You can kind of see the detail in Sara's (AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL) dress here:

Need.  More.  Pictures!  Their colors were deep purple and green.

Oh, this is a good one of us girls, and you can really see the flowers:

Another good one, closer, of Sara's dress:

The beading was so delicate and lovely.

These are in the order that I'm finding them on Facebook, not the order that anything actually happened in...

July 28, 2012
So there you have it, three kids from the same family married in the same venue but with completely different looks.  You don't have to do anything crazy to personalize your wedding.  With the right venue, creative use of color and flowers, and by varying the time of year you can make your wedding a reflection of who you are - even if everyone you know got married at the same place.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I will probably end up writing several posts about the wedding weekend as the pictures come in and my memory (which has been dulled by one-too-many drinks) is jogged.  I'll try to keep them thematic, so that it's not just one long post about the whole thing that people will get bored with and quit reading after three paragraphs.

Before I get to the beautiful bride, the handsome groom, the wonderful families that became one wonderful family, the breathtaking decorations, the amazing food, the thoughtful gifts...  I have to do something that I kind of hate to do.  I have to brag about my kids.

I try not to be one of those mommybloggers who is constantly droning on and on about her precious snowflakes who are more beautiful and more intelligent than every other baby on the block because YAWN.  Everyone thinks that about their own child, right?  (I know the name of this blog is "pretty babies," it was tongue-in-cheek back when I started and figured that my only readers would be the kids' grandparents.)  I work very hard at not being one of those moms, both here and IRL.

But you guys... our kids...  They were magnificent.

Oh, Jack!  I can't wait another minute to post this picture.

OMG his little pockets!!
And maybe it's just my prideful mother's heart, but I couldn't help but see this:

Seriously, 20 years from now?
You heard it here first, Matthew McConaughey. Your competition has arrived.
Dad took that picture (of Jack, not Matthew McConaughey).  I took very few pictures because my hands were full all weekend.  If I didn't have Jack, I had niece Kate, or one of the girls, or flowers, or a drink.  So as people send me pictures I'll post more.

Anyway, back to the babies...  On the way to the rehearsal I told them, "Look, I know how hard it is to be good all the time, so I'll give you a chance to be bad when we're there.  Just hang in there and I'll let you get it all out when there's time."  So, about halfway through dinner, I took them to the bathroom and said, "Ok, do you need to be bad?  Let's DO IT!" and we made tooting noises and said "bad words" like poop nuggets and stinky head (their choices) and laughed really hard.  Then we wiggled and giggled and jumped up and down for a few minutes.  After they settled down I said, "All right, we've been bad.  Can we go out there and be good for a little longer?" and they said, "OK!"

That was when the first person told me how amazing they were being (at a formal grown-up dinner in a formal grown-up restaurant).  I told BJ that I was going to get them a present for being so great, and the next time they came to talk to us (they weren't even sitting with us, you all) I said, "When we're done, if you can keep this up, we will take you straight to Target to pick out a Merida doll!"  They've wanted the Merida doll since before the movie came out.

That got them pumped, and they kept it up.  Customers who weren't with our party were literally stopping us on the way out of the restaurant to tell us how amazing they had been.  I was SO proud of them.  I think we got them home at 11 pm our time (Grammaland is an hour behind us).  And you can bet that they both slept with their Merida dolls that night.

Saturday was a long day.  It started for us at 7 am and didn't really end until 2 am Sunday.  A lot of crazy stuff happened.  Long story short, my mother in law was watching the kids for us when her generator came on for its weekly cycle and started a small fire.  The fire department came (Jack liked that part - nah nahs!).  The kids listened to their grandmother through the whole crisis and she told me more than once that she was impressed with how well they'd done.

Then they had to get all fancy and listen to me tell them 100 times not to eat or drink anything that would stain their dresses before the wedding.  They had to listen and follow directions.  They had to help little Norah, who is only 2-1/2, get herself down the aisle and drop her petals, they had to sit still during the ceremony in the front row without toys, they had to remember to leave on cue right behind the rest of the bridal party, and they did it all flawlessly.

They were rewarded with unlimited cherry cokes from Carol the bartender, and free reign over the party (my mom owns the ballroom so they basically think that it's Gramma's house - they're very comfortable there and know where everything is, and I know that they've been there enough times since birth that I don't have to worry about them sneaking into the kitchen, running, etc.).  They sat patiently at the head table through dinner and were awesome.  No whining, bickering, or fussing.  Then when the dancing started they PARTIED.  We all had a blast.

Jack went home with Grandmother Diana before dinner (it was already past his bedtime by then, because of the time change), and it makes me sad that he wasn't in the pictures, but that's why we have Photoshop, right?

Ok, I will stop gushing about our beautiful, well-behaved, charming, intelligent, adorable children.  I promise I've paid the penalty for all of this awesomeness today - they have been exhausted and fussy.  We had to skip the brunch at Sara's parents' house at noon because by then we were all done being good.  But first, I need to address the girls directly, for a minute...

Dear Claire and Mary Grace,

You may read this at some point in the future.  When you do I hope you know that while we are always proud of you, you made your dad and I exceptionally proud this weekend.  Thank you for being so good, and for being so much fun.  


Saturday, July 28, 2012

My brother

...and his beautiful bride. Now our family is complete.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Oh my God

I was going to post but the kids were dancing around the kitchen and they dumped a full bowl of dog food and a full bowl of water.  Awesome.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Scouts and Homosexuality

BJ and I were talking about the kids' activities recently, and he mentioned how he's looking forward to being Jack's Boy Scouts troop leader in a few years.  I'm going to be Mary Grace's troop's co-leader next year, so the Scouts have been on our minds.  BJ was a Boy Scout growing up, and made it almost all the way to Eagle Scout (which is a very big deal) before his troop disbanded.  I, on the other hand, was only a Girl Scout for a couple of years.  I remember bridging to Girl Scouts, but I don't remember continuing very long after that.

Both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts have been in the news recently because of their policies.  The Boy Scouts have maintained an anti-homosexual position, drawing fire from liberals, while the Girl Scouts have come under fire by conservatives and religious folks for their stance on reproductive rights and for being "too liberal" when it comes to homosexuality. An Indiana lawmaker even called the Girl Scouts a dangerous, radical organization.

If the Girl Scouts are radical, they're radical in ways that happen to align with my own personal beliefs about human rights.  The Boy Scouts, on the other hand, do not.  Back to our conversation about Scouts, I said, "I hope the Boy Scouts moderate their stance on homosexuality in the next couple of years, because I would have a hard time supporting them right now."

That's when BJ brought up an excellent point that I haven't seen anywhere else in this debate.  He said, "There is no organization, other than maybe the Catholic church, that is as vulnerable to accusations of impropriety as the Boy Scouts."

"Homosexuals are no more likely than heterosexuals to be pedophiles," I reminded him.

"I know that," he said, and then he reminded me that we aren't just talking about little boys... We're also talking about 16, 17, and 18-year-olds on campouts, in close quarters.  He went on to explain that allowing gay members and leaders would make the the Boy Scouts, the troops, the leaders, and the boys themselves vulnerable to accusations, lawsuits, and all kinds of other bad news. Accusations of sexual impropriety alone can be incredibly damaging to the person who is accused.

There's a difference between the way we perceive male and female sexuality in our culture.  Boys and men are perceived as being unable to control their urges, while girls and women are seen as generally having greater control or having weaker urges.  I don't think the stereotype is true, but maybe the difference in our culture's perception of male vs. female sexuality accounts for the difference between the Girl Scouts' and the Boy Scouts' policies?

If that's the case, then maybe the Boy Scouts should look to the Girl Scouts as a model of how to create policies and practices that protect scouts while still allowing participation from all kinds of people.   Maybe they should look beyond the stereotypes of men, boys, and homosexuals and try to see the real people who are affected by the policies they maintain.

I am writing as an individual, and my views and opinions are my own.  They are not meant to be representative of the Girl Scouts in any way.  I haven't led a single meeting yet, so I am not any sort of an authority on any Girl Scouts policies or practices.  All I know of their positions is what I've read in the news. 

Monday, July 23, 2012


He comes from France.

Hotel Hazard

We are in Michigan for my cousin's wedding. While BJ was in the shower and I was putting my make up on, before I had put clothes on, Jack figured out how to open the room door and took off.

Thank goodness for big sisters who fetched him back!

(Just realized that for some reason my posts from the phone didn't upload this weekend...  Here they are!)

Brian and Jen

Happily ever after is just the beginning!

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Sorry for the lack of posting.  There is a LOT going on in our family right now.  And while almost all of it is good, it has been a lot, and I am focused elsewhere right now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I think the Thomas Train cartoons are obnoxious, but they're the only way to get Jack to sit still for two minutes. I'm going to sneak a shower while he is hypnotized.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Business Trip

BJ is out of town on business again (he has been traveling a lot this year).  The first day he was there, the client was hinting around that they were going to keep him longer than we had anticipated.  Thankfully, their testing went well today and everything worked, and he should be home tomorrow on schedule.

I get by with a little help from my friends.  We went over to Monica and Craig's for the afternoon and evening.  Craig is a teacher so he's home all summer.  I have to admit, I'm jealous, even though BJ wouldn't know what to do with himself with three months off.  (Craig keeps busy writing books.  He said that he'd kill me in a future book if I finished reading the one I quit reading because it was too scary.  I'm going to wait until BJ gets home to give it another try!)

A couple of nights before BJ left I decided that we ought to try letting Penny sleep in our room.  Max always did, and I miss having a dog in the room (and loose in the house, as opposed to in her crate) when he's gone.  She still eats toys, but she doesn't have accidents anymore.  I thought I could use the gate to keep her in our room, away from the toys.

At first, she refused to sleep on the floor.  Ok, fine, I'll compromise.  Dog is at the foot of the bed.  "No, not at the head of the bed, Penny, the foot.  Down Penny.  Penny.  Down.  Down.  Penny.  Down THERE.  Dammit, Penny..."

After pushing her back to the foot of the bed, only to have her creep back up again six times, I gave up.  I reached up and turned off the light, with the dog half on top of my abdomen.  As soon as the light went off she started barking her fool head off.

The dog is afraid of the dark.

Guess who still sleeps in the crate.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Our neighbor is older than my kids.  I think she's going into 6th grade.  We must have officially reached the point in summer vacation where the kids go insane with boredom*, because she has been over here all afternoon, watching my kids and playing with them.  I just went in the toy room and she has cleaned it.  I mean, she REALLY cleaned it.  All the toys are back in the bins.  When I saw it I almost cried.  It was atrocious, in a way that only a room full of cheap plastic crap from China can be atrocious, and now it is not.

So, if I get arrested for kidnapping, now you know the rest of the story.  I don't think a judge in the land would convict me if I keep her, do you?

* I know it's not just my neighborhood, because Monica lives across town and her older awesome neighbor girl has adopted her family too.  I don't know if she cleans or not, but she's great with the kids.  Oddly, both of our bored older neighbors live across the street and one house to the left.  If you have young kids and you're ready to strangle them, cross your street and go one house to the left and ask to borrow their bored teen or pre-teen.

Oh my goodness, now she's doing their nails.  I LOVE her.

Thank heaven for bored neighbor girls! I wonder if she does windows.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Excuses to Avoid Housework

A few weeks ago, Jack figured out how to open the dishwasher door.  Using the button lock doesn't stop his opening it from interrupting the cycle (which makes sense - you wouldn't want the dishwasher to keep running if someone opened the door under any circumstances).  We've had to get pretty creative to keep him out of it.  What works the best is to just run the dishwasher when he's in bed.

He just opened the dryer and stopped that cycle, too.  That's new.  But I don't think I can do laundry only when he's asleep.  It will never get done.

He has figured out how to open all of my "child proof" cabinet locks.  Did I tell you that he came out of the kitchen the other day while I was on the phone in the living room with the sprayer end of the Clorox Clean Up bottle in his mouth?  I didn't?  That's probably because I don't want to go to jail for child neglect and endangerment.

All your cabinets are belong to me!
There's a reason why 18 month old children are maximally cute.  It's because they are also extremely aggravating, and possibly suicidal.


Sleepover Survey Results

39 of you took a minute to answer my little survey about sleepovers, and I really appreciate it!  If it weren't so late I'd make a chart, but I just realized that BJ is on the couch next to me asleep, so I'd better carry him to bed.  In a minute...

It turns out that the majority of you (82%) plan to allow sleepovers (or allowed them) between ages 6 and 9, and it was split evenly between 6-7 and 8-9 with 41% each.

5.1% said you would never allow your child sleepovers.

In the comments some of you specified that sleepovers were only allowed with family members.  We started that as soon as ours were weaned (Mommy needs a night out!).

As for the reasons, a lot of you said that the benefit was not worth the risk of something bad or inappropriate or scary happening.  A lot of you said that the sleepover was too disruptive to the normal routine, and that you paid the price for days afterwards, so why bother?  Lots of you said that you'd have to know the other family REALLY well.

One thing that an IRL friend brought up is that it's easier to have a blanket policy ("Our family does not do sleepovers - period,") than it is to have to evaluate on a case-by-case basis and tell one family, "We don't know you well enough..." or "We don't trust your skeevy older brother."  That actually made a lot of sense to me.  Hard and fast rules are a lot easier for kids to understand, and therefore follow, than flexible rules.  Adults too, for that matter.

Since posting the survey, I've found out that 33% of the kids I was going to invite (2 out of 6) are not allowed to do sleepovers.  So that is going to put the kibash on MG's plans.  It looks like I might be going to Chuck E. Cheese instead.

We went to the Children's Museum with Cate today, and I was far too busy enjoying talking and catching up to take any pictures.  In fact, I think I only took 3 all day.  So, if I don't fall asleep immediately when I hit the pillow, I'll try to send them from my phone.

The survey was fun!  We'll do more of that soon.  I especially liked all the comments!  Thanks again for your help.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I have questions about sleepovers!  Will you click through and take a very brief survey for me?

It says "plan to..." but if your kids have already passed that age, read it as, "at what age did you..." and if your kids are hypothetical, that's ok too.

Feel free to leave comments, too!

Thanks, in advance!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Great Tuesday!

Today was a great day. I worked from 10 - 2, which was a much needed break from Mr. Jack - he has decided that he is not subject to the laws of gravity, and has climbed everything climbable within a 3 block radius of the house at least a dozen times in the last 24 hours. I may be slightly exaggerating, but the kid's fast and has no concept of self-preservation. I am getting gray hairs just thinking about it. 

While I was picking up lunch I blew some guy's mind by recognizing that the symbol on his t-shirt was a caffeine molecule.
Well, it's not rocket science...  (from Think Geek!)
He actually walked away, then came back to tell me that I was the first person who had ever decoded the picture on his shirt.  Of course, I let him think that it was because I'm a chemistry expert.  I didn't tell him that I recognized it because I spend a great deal of time finding geeky t-shirts for BJ to wear.  Bazinga!

A couple days ago I decided to do something kind of nuts, and I invited 50+ people (all of my Facebook friends with kids who live in a reasonable radius of me) to the park to play.  Immediately after I did it, I was totally freaked out that no one would show up...  But people showed up!  And it was SO MUCH FUN!  We had over 20 kids there, and they all got along really well and played and the grown ups had time to talk.  Some of us brought snacks.  It was awesome.  So I'm going to do it again in 2 weeks.  If you happen to live near me and aren't my Facebook friend (why??) email me and I'll tell you where and when.

After that I came home and made supper, and we ate really quickly before BJ and his dad took the kids to Science Cafe, and I went to Belly Dancing.  I am still the world's worst belly dancer.  There's only one class left in the session.  Maybe next time I'll try pottery.

I hope you had a great Tuesday too!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Self-Entertaining Children

If they learn how to shop for groceries I can pretty much coast for the next 17 years. MG can load the dishwasher and Claire does laundry. Jack is in training to be the vice-bug-killer when BJ isn't home.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Random Acts of Beauty

This brought tears to my eyes:

The world is full of so much beauty. Happy Sunday.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


My darling son has figured out how to open the "childproof" cabinet locks that we installed back when Mary Grace was a baby.  

Clearly he is gifted.

This morning I was on the phone in the living room, and he came in the room with a bottle of carpet cleaner in one hand, and a bottle of Clorox Clean Up in his mouth.

In.  His.  Mouth.

I've stuck wooden spoons in the handles, and that thwarted him for a little while, but he figured out how to remove those last night.  For now, this is my elegant solution:

When it's 99 degrees outside and you sit on your phone to keep your baby from throwing it,
sometimes you make steam between the case and the lens.

Zip ties.  We'll just have to cut them when we need to get into the cabinet.

I sure know how to fancy up the joint, don't I?  

It's a good thing kids are so stinkin' cute at this age (18 months), because you have to watch them like a hawk to keep them alive.  Other favorite activities include:
  • Standing on the dining room table (maybe I could zip tie the chairs together?) 
  • Throwing things behind the couch (at one point, before I discovered this, four of the five phones we have in the house were behind the couch)
  • Jumping on the dog (maybe I could zip tie her mouth shut?)
  • Trying to open the front door (locking the screen works.  For now)
  • Bashing people over the head with toys (he has gotten both sisters in the past hour)
  • Playing with the water in the toilet (keeping the bathroom door shut keeps him out of it, for now)  
  • Putting tiny things in his mouth (I swear, if the girls' toys get any smaller we're going to need a microscope to play with them.  The people who invented Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shop, etc. obviously invented them for their youngest kids)
  • Climbing up the couch to look out the front window, which would be fine except that sometimes he goes too far and falls behind the couch.  On his head.  And of course, of course, I can't reach him back there, so I have to coax his screaming head out.  Maybe we need to rearrange the furniture or put a trampoline behind there or something.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


via Wikimedia Commons
The kids are fighting over cleaning the toy room, and just now I heard the following:

Mary Grace:  This is a free country!

Claire:  No, it's not!

*sigh*  Happy Fourth of July.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pinvestigating Impossible Custard Pie

I must really, really love Kim.

She asked, after my last foray into the Pinterlands, if I would test the Impossible Coconut Custard Pie that has been repinned all over the place.

Image via a gratefulprayerthankfulheart.blogspot.com, as noted in the watermark
And I just happened to have all of the ingredients handy, so I thought, "Why not?"

Now, with real Ogre!
Famous last words.

We need to have a brief discussion about sweetened condensed milk.  I have become somewhat of a connoisseur of sweetened condensed milk, thanks to a pin (what else?) about making your own coffee creamer.  It's stupidly easy - just equal parts sweetened condensed milk and milk, and a little bit of vanilla extract.  I'm absolutely addicted to it, and I can't drink the Fat Free French Vanilla Coffeemate stuff that I used to be addicted to anymore because it tastes like chemicals.

A pin that really worked!  I know

BJ doesn't love my creamer and continues to insist that I buy him the Coffeemate (back before they made liquid creamers, my mom used to get Coffeemate and its 1980s counterpart Cremora mixed up in her mind.  She called every powdered non-dairy creamer "Creammate."  No wonder she didn't drink coffee until she was well into her 50s!).  

Be that as it may, I have learned that there is no substitute for Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.  I am totally willing to try the generic version of any food, but in the case of sweetened condensed milk I have tried the generic brands from Walmart (Great Value), Kroger, Aldi, and Marsh, and all of the generics taste gritty.  The Eagle Brand does not.  It is well worth the extra money to not have gritty coffee.

But I digress.  And even Eagle Brand couldn't save this pie.

The recipe wanted you to mix three eggs, a 14 ounce can of (Eagle Brand, for the love of God) sweetened condensed milk, 1-1/2 cups water, 1/3 cup Bisquick (I used the low fat version, but I doubt that the full fat kind would have made it any better), 1/4 cup of softened butter (I use generic butter), and 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract in a blender.  

I have no idea where my blender is.  I know that normal people don't lose small appliances, but that's exactly what happened.  I had a blender once, and now I don't.  My kitchen is pretty small, so I don't think it's hiding somewhere.  I think it just moved out or something.  Maybe it was raptured.  I have no idea.  The point is that I assembled the ingredients in my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer.  I'm a rebel like that.

At this point, I started to get a little nervous about this recipe, and I triple checked that it was really 1-1/2 cups of water.  That seemed like a lot.  And it looked disgusting.  But I had measured everything correctly, so I beat it for 3 minutes, as instructed.

Meanwhile I greased the pie plate.  Channeling my inner Paula Dean, I used real butter.

You can tell I'm fancy because I still haven't put away the crystal creamer and sugar from the weekend, and because I use real butter.

Three minutes elapsed, and the filling was looking slightly less vomitous:

Action Shot!
I poured it into the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes, as instructed.

It looked sort of... otherworldly...

...like the surface of the moon, after being pummeled by meteors or something.

When I start thinking too deeply about things, it's a good sign that my blood sugar is dropping.  Good thing I made this excellent skillet lasagna (from Pinterest, of course!) for dinner:

We need to talk about this recipe, though...  Meet me at the bottom of the post.
While the pie sat and made its impossible crust out of Bisquick, I nibbled on my Weeknight Lasagna Toss and tried to clean all the burnt cinnamon and sugar off of my waffle iron.  True story.

The timer went off, so I sprinkled coconut liberally on top of the pie...

...and I put it in the oven.  I put a sheet pan under it though, because I don't trust pies.  I have chiseled enough burnt sugar off of the bottom of my oven to know better.

35 minutes later, it was still liquid in the middle, so I set the timer for 5 more minutes.  That time I stuck a fork in it, and it was done.  

I let it cool while I put Jack to bed, and came back out to find that BJ had given the girls each a piece, and they hated it.  He ate theirs, though, and said it was "delicious."  (He also likes to drink chemical coffee every morning, though, and I suspect that half the time he tells me he likes something, he's just being polite.)

I guess if I had never had real custard, or if the word custard wasn't in the name of this pie, it would have been fine.  The flavor was fine.  The texture, though, was somewhere in between sweetened condensed scrambled eggs and cottage cheese.  But warm cottage cheese.  Small curd.  And sweet cottage cheese instead of salty.  (Do I know how to sell it or what?)  That's not what custard feels like.

I have a feeling that it would be greatly improved by the addition of some Reddi Whip.  It would also probably be better cold.  And it needs a name change.  Coconut cream pie would have been more accurate, except for the fact that that's already a thing that is also nothing like this pie.  There is nothing custard about this custard.  We went out for dinner at a French restaurant on Friday night, and we had real creme brulee (this is America, and I refuse to use accent marks, especially those fussy backwards ones).  Real custard lingers heavily on your tongue like a smooth, creamy bite of heaven.  If that experience hadn't been so fresh in my mind, I might have liked this.  But since I had such a recent custard experience, I knew that this just didn't measure up.

The "magic" crust sort of happened - there was a slightly thicker crust-like formation at the bottom.  It was very soggy, though.  It's possible that it was still slightly underbaked, although the filling was completely set in the middle and the soggy crust persisted all the way to the edges.  If I wanted to perfect this recipe, I might try it again with a longer bake time, but I can think of lots of things to do with sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand, if you know what's good for you) that are much, much better than this.

Impossible Coconut Custard Pie gets a C-.  Desserts automatically lose a letter grade when they don't include chocolate.  It lost another full letter grade for the texture, and a half for being inaccurately named.  Weeknight lasagna toss gets a solid B, mainly losing points because I had to change so much to make it yummy (see below).  Sweetened condensed milk coffee creamer gets a solid A.  Would get an A+ if the sweetened condensed milk was easier to get out of the damn can.

* Regarding the Weeknight Lasagna Toss - I used bow tie pasta (a whole box) instead of the lasagna noodles because it's similar in thickness but easier for my kids to deal with.  I had to add approximately two cups of water beyond what the recipe called for during the cooking time (15 minutes) before the noodles were done.  Also, I added a metric ton, give or take, of garlic salt and Italian seasoning, because the original recipe was meh and needed to be kicked up a notch.  Once the pasta was cooked, I added 4 ounces of Neufchatel cheese, which is hard to spell, to give it a little creaminess.  I used shredded "Mexican style" cheese (how can you tell it's Mexican, Grandpa Bob?  It has an accent!) instead of mozzarella, because in spite of the fact that I remember grabbing it off of the shelf at the store yesterday, it has disappeared from my house.  So basically this recipe was nothing like the one on Pinterest, which is probably why it was awesome.

What should I Pinvestigate next?  Leave a comment...

Good Grief, Pinterest - Cinnamon Roll Waffles

After Kim's encouragement, I decided to start documenting the recipes and whatnot that I try from Pinterest, and sharing them with you.

Boy was the first one a doozy!

You've all seen this one, right?

What could be easier?  Pop the cinnamon rolls onto the waffle iron.  You don't have to heat up the oven when it's 99 degrees outside at 8 am!  Genius!

The first thing that concerned me was that my waffle iron only has one setting - on.  There is no low setting.  I've cooked long enough to know that something as thick as a cinnamon roll is going to burn on the outside before it cooks on the inside if it's cooked at high temperatures.  The second thing that concerned me was all the loose cinnamon sugar coming off of my cinnamon rolls.

But we soldiered on.  We liberated the cinnamon rolls from their can:

We heated up the waffle iron, which was a wedding gift.  We tried to remember whether the ready light being on meant it was ready, or if it was ready when the ready light went off.  We decided to go with off.
It's practically an antique.
Once the light went off, we applied the cinnamon rolls to the hot waffle iron.  The kids started whining in earnest as soon as they smelled the (burning??) cinnamon that they were hungry.  We persevered.

 Then we saw this, and we started to get really nervous:
I stood right next to the damn waffle iron the entire time, and there was never any indication that burning was happening.  Waffles are done when the steam stops coming out, right?  Well, the steam never stopped with these.  In fact, it was still steaming when I opened it up and saw this.

Ok, Rome wasn't built in a day.  We still have half a can of cinnamon rolls!  Let's do this!  Right?

At this point Mary Grace piped up, "Mommy, just make them the way you're s'posed to!  In the OVEN!"  

"But it's an EXPERIMENT!" I replied.

Experiments often smell bad.

 Opening it up earlier revealed doughy nastiness.

...and peeling the tops off of the other side of the waffle iron revealed that they were every bit as burnt as the first set had been.

My project for the rest of the day is cleaning the burnt sugar crud out of my waffle iron. 

And after half an hour of screwing around, the kids had this for breakfast:

Jack likes his with cinnamon and sugar (syrup is too messy for toddlers) so it was sort of the same thing.  Kind of.  Claire had Nutella and MG, the purist, had syrup.

Waffle iron cinnamon rolls get an F.  A big fat burnt F.