June 26, 2010

Just An Update

We interrupt the regularly scheduled wedding festivities for the following annoucements:

1. It apparently is Mark's greatest ambition in life to wake me up. The last two days I have had the chance to sleep in until about 9am, yet Mark has awakened me before 7am each day by phone calls. This is not okay.
2. I was made to get a french manicure yesterday. Only on my toes. All us bridesmaids had to get matching pedicures and the concensus (my vote didn't count, I guess) was french pedicures. I can't tell you how strange it is to look down at my toes and see bright white tips on my toenails where the familiar crusty, grimy tips of my toenails should be. The look is also deliciously trashy. (Snack on THAT hyberbole for a minute, will ya?)
3. I'm a dancing fool. And my feet hurt.
4. I kind of went on a dress buying spree yesterday. Ross, I heart you. I bought 5 dresses from there yesterday and none of them cost a dime over $12.99! And they're all super cute!
5. I went to Dunkin Donuts this morning. It's like my car was on auto pilot, I swear. I had no intentions of going there, I promise! I won't tell you what had already gone missing before I even pulled out of the DD parking lot.
6. Okay, okay. One glazed donut. Please don't judge me.
7. Kids love me. They flock to me. I can't figure out why. I want one.
8. You know how I sing the praises of my mandolin all the time? One of the kitchen utensils I can't live without? Well, it betrayed me the other night. And my thumb really hurts super bad and I'm all out of bandaids. Someone bring me one please?
9. My favorite holiday is coming up. For me, July 4 beats out Christmas. Don't know why. I just love it. What's your favorite July 4 activitiy? Mine is fireworks. I can't get enough.
10. And okay, okay. The ribs. I love the sticky ribs.
11. Ms. Domestic USA update: I made my own homemade spaghetti sauce last week. Holy cow, guys. Deeeeeeeelish. If you'd like to join my campaign, please contact my campaign manager, Martha Stewart. (I know! Can you believe she accepted the position?!? Apparently, she's not too busy these days for some reason.)
12. Mark just bought a new laptop. I want one too. And I need one. Desperately. This thing has about zero storage space left and is as slow as a turtle. Seriously, have you ever watched a turtle trying to get somewhere? It's so frustrating. Yep, that's my laptop.

Ok, I think that's just about it. I think you're pretty well updated on the last 24 hours of my life.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

June 23, 2010

About Me #5 - Hey! Over here! I'm right here! Here I am! Look at me!

About Me #5

I like to be noticed. I like to be the center of attention. I have a need to be constantly recognized, constantly validated. It's one of the more annoying traits I possess. Funny enough, my main prayer request in youth group growing up usually centered around this trait I consider to be a flaw. "Peyton, do you have any prayer requests," my leader would ask. "Just that I'll try to shift the focus off of me and not try to always be the center of attention" I'd reply, while everyone else mentioned their sick cats or elderly grandmas. Imagine that. If that's not narcissistic, I don't know what is. Man, wasn't (aren't) I shallow back then (now)?

That's the reason I started this blog, I think. I wanted (want) to be noticed. I wanted (want) to be the center of attention. I wanted (want) praise. Heck, the very first blog entry I wrote was this one and that was only because I wanted you to think I was cool. I could just hear your thoughts, "Oh man, look at all the cool stuff she's eaten! Wonder where she had a hotdog from a street cart?" And I would happily begin my diatribe about my trip with my roommates to NYC. And I'd be so stinking delighted you asked. And I'd be just as delighted to tell you the story. Because what I have to say is of the utmost importance.

This thing, this need to be noticed is just built into my framework. Obviously, the prayer requests from 10+ years ago were not answered. I don't think I'm necessarily prideful about anything (ok, some things, yes), I just like you knowing about me. I like it when you give me feedback. I think this trait is alive and well in most human beings, it just comes to the surface quicker and easier for some than others.

Ok, I'm starting ramble. I'm not quite sure how to end this post. Up until now, the About Me's have been relatively positive traits of mine, not flaws. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with you knowing my flaws. You won't hold this against me, will you? You'll still let me go on and on and on about myself, right? You'll still listen patiently, without having nary a chance to get a word in, right? You'll still think I'm cool and want to know more about me and be waiting in anticipation for my post, right? You'll still leave nice comments and say 'Great job, PeyPey', right?

Good. Because I like to be noticed. I like to be the center of attention. And I have a need to be constantly recognized, constantly validated. I hope you don't mind that our relationship is pretty one-sided.

June 21, 2010

Veggie Chips

I made these tonight:

Zucchini, squash and eggplant chips. With sea salt and rosemary.

I got the veggies on trade from Market Days and needed to use them before they met the stinking, rotting fate that most of my vegetables meet. Not really. Well, maybe a little. There's some stank nasty lettuce in the fridge that I'm pretty sure, if left another day, will turn completely into brown sludge. But that's another story.

So yeah, I used my mandolin to slice circles of the vegetables really, really thin. Then I patted them dry with a paper towel to get some of the moisture out. Throw them in a vat of oil next. I used my new cast iron skillet (thanks Julie!) and filled it with olive oil. Olive oil has the potential to burn pretty quickly - for some reason it heats up quicker than other oils - so I left the heat on medium. I let it heat up for awhile. It's important to not put your frying subject(s) in before the oil is hot enough. Otherwise, your stuff will just soak up the oil and just be one big ball of oil. Oily balls. There's nothing grosser. Wait, what?

Moving on, so drop the veggies into the hot oil and wait for them to curl up and get light brown. When they've reached this point, take them out and put them on a paper towel covered plate. Sprinkle with some sea salt and chopped rosemary.

And eat them. Eat a lot of them. And please forget that I used the phrase "oily balls". Thank you and goodnight.

In Honor of Father's Day...

I got my dad four different flavors of cake for Father's Day: double fudge, chocolate, coconut, and carrot. I'm convinced that inside my father's mouth is just one large tooth. One, large, sweet tooth. All of his teeth have just joined together in his mouth to form this one giant sweet tooth. The man loves sweets.

I also got him a gift card to Books-A-Million. I've also given him one of these for the last two Christmas. He informed me that he still had the two I'd given him for the last two Christmases and I said, "Dad! Why don't you use them? You could get coffee and sweets from the cafe. Or you could buy art books. Or a thousand bookmarks; I mean, the possibilities are endless!" He replied, "Oh no! I have been using them! I use the gift cards all the time!" Me: "Wow, you must be pretty thrifty with them, then. I think it was only like $25 on each of the gift cards. So you've found some good bargains, huh?" Dad: "Oh, I buy books all the time. I buy 'em off of the bargain shelves, bring 'em home, read 'em, then take 'em back when I'm finished reading 'em and they apply the refund straight back to the gift cards."

Attention Books-A-Million: LOOPHOLE alert. You may want to look into this.

So I figure that $15 gift card for Father's Day, combined with the two gift cards from Christmas's past, will allow my father to buy books from Books-A-Million well into the twenty-second century.

ANYway, I know it's going to sound weird, but in honor of Father's Day, I wanted to give you a "Mom-ism". I went over to my parents' house last night to see my dad and to drop off his gifts and somehow, this is how the night ended:

Molly, my little sister, who I'll remind you is actually named "Victoria Marie", yet has been called "Molly" since she came out of the womb because my mom is convinced that "Molly" is a nickname for "Marie", was regaling us with a story of how she went to Starbucks yesterday. You know how they ask you what your name is so they can write it on your cup? Well, of course, Molly, said "Molly", but when she got her White Chocolate Mocha Frap, it said "Pally" on the side. We laughed, then this:

Me: "Well, a lot of times, I'll introduce myself to someone and they'll think I said 'Peggy'. 'Peyton'? 'Peggy'? Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but it happens all the time."

My mother, God love her: "Well, you know 'Peggy' is a nickname for 'Margaret'."

Me: "Geez mom. What are you, the walking dictionary of nicknames? And I'm just going to have to take your word for it on that one because that makes about as much sense as Molly being a nickname for Marie. What. Ev. Dad, love you, happy Father's Day, enjoy your gifts, I'm outta this crazy house."

(Side Note: Yahoo Answers and Wiki Answers do, in fact, confirm that Peggy is a nickname for Margaret. That doesn't mean that it makes any more sense though. Oh well, mom, I'll give you this one. Mom: 1, Peyton: 4,837.)

So Dad, in honor of Father's Day, bless your soul. Bless your ever-loving heart. Bless you for putting up with my mother for thirty plus years. You're a better man than I am. Oh, and I love you.

June 18, 2010

Regarding Archie Comics

When I was seven, I bought two huge boxes of over a hundred Archie comic books at a junk store down the street from my grandparents house.

I originally wanted some green Adidas tennis shoes but my mom wouldn't let me get them because she said it was gross to buy used shoes. She had a point.

I also wanted these two boxes of Archie comic books because they looked fun and I liked to read and had gone through my arsenal of Anne of Green Gables and Misty of Chesapeake Bay books. However, my mom also did not let me buy the Archie comic books. She never gave me a clear reason for her disapproval of the comics, but I can assume it had something to do them not being Christian. (I need to interject something here, in hopes that you will gain a better understanding of who my mother is, while at the same time hopefully gaining sympathy from you regarding this lifelong thorn in my side which I lovingly call "mom". This has nothing to do with this story, but I think it will accomplish the aforementioned goals. The reason I was not allowed to attend a certain high school in my hometown, the high school where all of my friends ended up going after middle school, was because the mascot was the Blue DEVILS. And you bet your bottom dollar that if I had attended high school there, I would have turned into a devil-worshipping, Wicca-practicing freak. I mean, that would have been inevitable, right? Riiiiiiiiiiiight. So do you now understand my mother a bit better? And do I now have your sympathy? Good. Moving on.) 

So what did I do? I went back and bought them, of course! After me and my mom left and walked back to my grandparents house up the street, I told her I was going to play at my friend Tiffany's house. Instead, I high tailed it back to the junk shop and bought those two boxes of Archie comics with my own money. I can't remember how I lugged the two huge boxes back to my house. My guess is that my dad somehow got involved, as his main objective in this life is to spite my mom. Or perhaps Brad helped me. No, no. He wouldn't have done that. He would have sided with my mom and told me they were stupid and that I was stupid for wasting my money on comics instead of something more constructive like Lego's. Or maybe Tiffany helped. Who knows.

All I know is those boxes filled with Archie, Betty, Jughead, and Veronica made it safely to my bedroom and under my bed.

For almost a year, I studied those comics. I read every single word. I fell in love with Archie. Archie and I grew very close. Whoever he liked at the moment, whether it was beloved Betty or vixen Veronica, I became her. Archie and I went to school dances together; I met his parents; we had picnics together; we kissed. (I had a very active and vivid imagination, okay?)

I read and re-read. I memorized. I was fascinated by the colors on the page, the conversation bubbles that floated about the characters heads.

Archie and I spent about a year together until one day, quite abruptly and quite painfully, he was ripped from my life.

I came home from school one afternoon, ran to my bedroom, reached under the bed to find the familiar face of Archie, only to discover that the boxes, along with every single trace of my beloved Archie were gone. Vanished. It didn't take me long to figure out who the perp was that stole my books, along with my heart.

"MOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!!!" How could she? She knew nothing of the romance Archie and I shared. How could she take that from me? But then I remembered the forbidden nature of my purchase almost a year earlier, the forbidden nature of my secret Archie affair. I couldn't bring it up without taking the risk of getting in trouble for buying the books in the first place. I would have to lay it to rest, along with my heart.

"Yes?" my mom said. "Oh nothing. Never mind. Can I have a snack?" I replied. And not a word from either of us was ever uttered about the sacred, now missing, Archie comic books. (Much like the whole incident of her finding my cigarettes in ninth grade. But that's another story.)    

I dealt with my loss quietly, mourning the end of my relationship with Archie. I'd like to think he has been successful in his future endeavors and remembers me fondly. But I've heard it through the grapevine that he can't seem to pass his classes and graduate high school, and he's still toying around with two different girls' hearts.   

Shame on you, Archie.

June 17, 2010

About Me #4: I would do anything for love

(Do you have that Meatloaf song stuck in your head yet?)

About Me #4: Regarding the grape kool-aid snorting incident...

I know you've all been eagerly awaiting this post so I'll get right to it.

I had a crush on the same guy for about ten years. His name was Kurt. He was twelve years older than me. My crush developed at a very early age; I'd say by the time I was about six. Before I was six, though, Kurt saw me in my diapers. Witnessed diapers of the dirty persuasion. Witnessed me being a dumb kid. But at the age of six, something sparked within me. I experienced what I would later learn is called a crush, a sensation or feeling I'd never felt before.
I was six. Kurt was eighteen.

It was a bit awkward.

The early days of my crush were marked with pigtails, hugs, and him hoisting me into the air and carrying me around like a sack of potatoes. I. Loved. It. Kurt and I went to the same church and while I was busy making macaroni wreaths in Sunday School, Kurt was running the sound booth. This was so dang cool to me. I would run upstairs after Sunday School to the balcony (where all the magic happened) to the sound booth. He'd be sitting there, looking cool with his gotee and headphones. He'd hoist me onto his lap and he'd let me speak into the microphone, checking the sound coming out of all the speakers. 'Twas glorious.

Kurt stuck around through college. I grew up a little. But only just a little. I eventually found myself on a church bus headed to a week-long summer retreat with the youth group. Kurt was driving the bus and all the youth were in tow. It was my birthday. I was turning thirteen. At 1:43 p.m., the exact time I was born, which also happened to be the exact time our bus pulled into the South Carolina summer camp, I let out a huge, excited scream. I was thirteen for crying out loud! The lady in our bus who was sitting next to Kurt (where I should have been) yelled at me to shut-up. I was mortified. It was then that I finally realized how big of a difference in age Kurt and I were. He was 25. I was 13. And as much as I'd imagined him being my boyfriend, I knew at that moment that it would never come to fruition.

Even though I came to this realization at the age of 13, I still spent a good 2-3 more years crushing on Kurt.

Kurt had a yellow Camaro. I don't remember what year the Camaro was, but it was a classic. Canary yellow. With racing seats. And the five-point harness seat belt. He drove me around in his yellow Camaro.

One day when I was fourteen or fifteen, after youth group (he was a youth leader), he took me, my friend Audrey, and Brad, my older brother, on a drive. I can't remember at the time where we going, but Audrey and I had big plans to dye our hair purple at the end of the night. We had an envelope of grape Kool-Aid with us in the back of the car.

We were getting close to a gas station and Kurt needed to fill up. Before we got there, though, Kurt dared me to snort the purple powder up my nose.

Did I do it? Of course I did! You would too if you were desperate to impress the guy you'd been crushing on for the last 10 years of your life. I know you would. Don't even try to deny it. My sole purpose in life at the time was trying to attract the attention of Kurt. So I snorted. And then I choked. And then the most horrid, stinging, burning sensation I had ever felt in my 14 or 15 years on this earth filled my entire head. I was close to tears. (Please consider this a Public Service Annoucement to never snort Kool-Aid.) We pulled into the gas station and I made a beeline for the bathroom.

As I was blowing purple snot out of my nose, I heard the familiar rumble of a, we'll say, 1969 Camaro. I ran outside, toilet paper still up to my nose, just in time to see the flash of yellow pulling out of the gas station, leaving me stranded with my purple, leaking nose. Apparently, Kurt (with some influence from my brother, I'm sure) thought it would be hilarious to leave me there, stranded at the gas station, purple oozing out of my nostrils. The crush pretty much fizzled out after that. (And yes, they came back to get me.)

So I guess my About Me #4 would have to be that I would do anything for love. Even snort grape kool-aid up my nose in the backseat of a muscle car.

On a side note, my affinity for Camaro's apparently remains. I love Camaros. Here is Mark's:

But I hate grape Kool-Aid.

Reason #438 why you shouldn't bake drunk:

Here's reason #438 why you shouldn't bake drunk:

Confectioners Sugar.


But alas, look at these beauties.

Okay, okay. Grape kool-aid story coming. I promise.

This people? This is called being delusional.

Would you please look at this bottle of ketchup? Look at it! How cute is that??? I want to wrap it in a blankie and push it in a stroller. And feed it cheerios. And I would name it Herman.

June 16, 2010

I'm sorry. But not really.

I know I said I'd post the grape kool-aid snorting story today. But I've been busy.

I finally dragged myself out of bed after hitting the snooze button nine, count 'em, NINE times this morning and then I got ready for work and then I got to work and checked facebook, pioneer woman blog, my online bank account, hotmail, got some coffee, talked to a few coworkers, did a bit of work and then it was lunchtime and I got to Chick-Fil-A and placed my order but then I forgot the new Spicy Chicken Sandwich had come out and I wanted to try it but had already ordered so I just stuck with my original order and then I got back to work and checked facebook, pioneer woman blog, my online bank account, hotmail and got a Diet Coke, talked to a few coworkers, did a bit of work and then it was time to go home, so I got home and made myself some dinner and then I had to go pick up my cast iron skillet from Julie and stop by my parents to pick up the pants my mom hemmed and then to drop off some Fat Rolls at my aunt and uncles house and by that time it was time to go babysit some rugrats named Jack and Phillip who just might be the cutest eight and four year old rugrats I know and we watched a Clint Eastwood movie and played Halo and then we played a boardgame and then their daddy came home so I got to go home and when I got home I put my pj's on and watched Top Chef with my roommate and then we gave each other tickly back scratches and now we're watching this new art show on Bravo that's pretty dumb but at least it's better than that dumb hair cutting show on Bravo called Shear Genius and man isn't that Tabitha girl on that show one big bitch? So that brings us up to now. Sorry peeps.

Don't hate me because I'm busy (lazy).

June 15, 2010

I'm calling these "Fat Rolls"

I made cinnamon rolls the other night. Just like with most of my other baking endeavors, I had some early onset anxiety about making these puppies. But it turns out, as long as you've got some patience, they're pretty easy. And delicious. And if you ate one of these a day for the rest of your life, you'd eventually be as big as a house. No, a skyrise. Ok, no, maybe just a house. No. You'd be as big as 10 whales. There we go. You'd be big. You'd be blubbery. That's why I'm calling these Fat Rolls.

I'm not going to go through the recipe with you because there's a lot of steps, and well, I'm lazy. You can go here to check it out. Instead, I'm just going to walk you through the pictures. And please excuse the blue hue in the photos. I have these really stank nasty under the cabinet flourescent lights and they don't do much for picture taking. As usual, my baking project started out this way:

"Scalding" the milk, oil, and sugar:
Here's how it looks after you've added all the dry ingredients and t's risen:
The dough it very, very elastic:
So you divide the dough in half (each half makes 2 dozen) and roll it into a rectangle:
After you spread on the butter, sugar, and cinnamon, this will happen if your butter is too hot. And the recipe called for 2 cups of butter; in the second batch, I used a half a cup and this did not happen:
Yeah, that was not fun:
See, here's the second batch. No mess:
Aren't they cute? They look like roses to me. After cutting them, you have to let them rise again for a few minutes:
Rise, dough, rise!
See how they got puffy:
And here are the little babies after they come out of the oven:
You pour this delicious maple glaze over them:
I wish you could smell them. Oh man. The smell. I want perfume that smells like this:
I'm a proud mama:
And then I cleaned up my kitchen, because after all, I am working towards my goal of becoming Ms. Domestic U.S.A.:
And then I cleaned out my pantry:
You wish you were me.

And that, my friends, is the story of the Fat Rolls. Come back to story time soon. Maybe we'll travel to Italy and I'll teach you how to make Focaccia Bread. Toodles!

About Me #4

I crushed on the same guy for about ten years. Because of this crush, one day, I ended up snorting powdered, grape kool-aid up my nose in the back of his yellow Camaro.

But you'll have to wait 'til tomorrow to find out why...

Beat the Heat

It's hot here. It is so dang hot. Perhaps you're a PeyPey reader who resides in a more balmy climate, such as Portland Maine, where it's a cool 74 degrees outside and where the wind is blowing in from the north at 13 mph (it is, I googled it), and do not dread walking outside. However, I'm not an idiot and I realize that the good majority of you (ok, all of you) are residing right here in this fiery furnace called Georgia.

So I have done what comes as second nature to me and compiled a list of things I enjoy doing when it's a hot, wet, 100+ degrees outside.

1. First things first, I'll make no apologies about this one: Please someone put a frozen margarita in my hand. Once I've got the cold, frosty glass resting safely in my palm and the straw - the vehicle which brings that icy smooth concoction - on my tongue, I begin to settle down a bit.
2. Give me a float, I'm going swimming. With my margarita in my hand, I slip down into that cool water with my sunglasses on and am instantly refreshed. Unless of course, the pool is never in the shade and therefore it feels just like bath water and oh my gosh, gross who wants to take a bath outside in a bathing suit when it's scorching hot outside and there's no fun bubbles and you start sweating and getting hot while you're in the pool when your one ambition was to get in there and cool off. No one wants that!
3. Only eat cold foods for one of your meals. Try it! Maybe sushi. Maybe a bowl of fruit. Maybe gazpacho. Or perhaps an entire carton of ice cream. Mmmm, or margaritas with chips and salsa. Speaking of...
4. Someone refill my frozen margarita glass please!
5. Men, disregard this one, unless you actually take the time to smooth on lotion. Which, maybe you should. I mean, I like a rough, tough man just like the rest of 'em, but some lotion on your crusty feet or elbows might do you some good. So go ahead and put your lotion or, ladies, other beauty products in the fridge. You have no idea how good this feels until you've tried it. It's so stinking refreshing.
6. Fans, fans, fans.

That's about all I can think of right now. Wish I had a margarita. And a pool. And some ice cream. Oh well, at least it's air conditioned in here.

June 14, 2010

A quick post

As most of you have figured out, everything's usually all about me 'round these parts. If you're new to this game, simply go here or here or here or here. Okay, you get the idea. I like me. And what better way to celebrate me than talk about the day of birth?! My birthday is coming up. Okay fine, it's still 45 days away, but I wanted to go ahead and compile a little list of things that I want, in order for you to have ample time to save and shop.

1. A diamond ring. That goes on a certain finger. And to be asked a certain question. A simple, four word question. Five syllables. To which my reply would be "YES". Moving on...
2. A Kindle.
3. A Keurig.
4. The Pioneer Woman Cookbook. (By the way, have you read her blog? I'm pretty much in love with it.)
5. A cast iron skillet. My friend Julie has an extra one that she's never used that she's giving me! Yay!
6. Glass canisters for my flour and sugar.
7. iTunes giftcard.

That's really all I can think of. So why don't you readers get together, throw in a little cash money, and buy me a birthday gift (from choices #2-#5, because getting #1 from anyone besides Mark would just be awkward).

Oh, and on a side note, I started writing a book today. So there's that.

June 10, 2010

About Me #3 and a little bit of a Thoughtful Thursday

So do you feel like you're getting to know the real PeyPey yet? I hope so. Who knows how long these posts could go on? Seriously. Who knows? I have a lot I want you to know about me, ok?

Ok, so I haven't done a Thoughtful Thursday in two months and I'm hoping that this About Me can double as one of those, because what I'll be writing, although snarky, will be thoughtful.

First, let's review.
About Me #1 - I make friends easily.
About Me #2 - I am a brothers girl

So making it's Thursday debut, here's your About Me #3.

3. I love the beach. And I'm actually leaving today to go to the beach for a long weekend with a bunch of girls. There will be wine coolers, sunburns, headaches from twelve different flavors of perfume, a multitude of hairdryers, all with a side of "Beach Bitch" thrown in, I'm sure. (That's the term I use when a group of girls go on a beach trip together. Some bitchiness is inevitable. Am I right or am I right or am I right? Right?) So yes, at 5:30 today, I'll be beach bound.

Girl beach trips have been a staple for me since I was about fifteen. I usually go at least once a year with a group of close girlfriends. And there have been times over the last five years when I've gone with Mark and his family. But one thing I haven't done in the last, oh, ten years is go to the beach with my family - mom, dad, Brad, Alex, and Molly (you may remember her better as Victoria Marie).

We used to go all the time growing up. We usually went with my dad's parents, Papa (pronounced PawPaw. This is important to mention because Papa, pronounced Pa-puh, and Papa, pronounced PawPaw, are two different names entirely. Ahem, yes, where was I?) & Granny. Papa & Granny (Alvin & Nell) were mill workers their entire lives for Swift Spinning Mills. Granny sewed denim jeans and I have no idea what Papa did. They lived where most of the mill workers in my city lived. It was a small but quaint house in all its asbestos-siding glory, with olive green kitchen appliances, linoleum floors, a cement front porch, lacking of central heat and air conditioning and it was in the not-so-nice area of town. There was a shed out back where Papa kept his tools and where Brad and I found, ate, and subsequently got sick from packages of MRE's left over from Vietnam (but the hot sauce bottles were just so dern cute!). Papa grew a huge garden every year. Granny smoked a pack a day. Papa watched Wheel of Fortune, went to bed, and was up and sitting on the front porch at four the next morning. Granny took me to the beauty shop every Friday with her. The ladies french braided my hair. Sometimes, when my mom had to be at work early, Papa would drop me and Brad off at school in the mornings. Before we got out of the car, he would say, "Y'all don't take no wooden nickels, ya hear?" And then, like clockwork, he'd be back to pick us up from school later that day and he'd ask, "Ya'll didn't take no wooden nickels, did ya?" I had no idea what this meant. Still don't.

Although my dad's parents never had a lot of money and lived life pretty simply, they could always afford a week-long beach trip with us. (Back then, it was just mom, dad, me and Brad. Alex and Molly were just one failed contraception device away though.) To afford our trips, my Papa would collect coke cans for a whole year, turning them in when he knew he had enough to pay for our accommodations at a pretty basic, ocean-side motel called "The Wind Drift". I don't tell you this so that you will take pity on me. No, not at all. Instead, I'll ask you to smile with me. Smile with me, remembering the dedication and discipline required of my Papa to collect thousands upon thousands of cans. Smile with me, knowing my Papa would do something that would be considered socially unacceptable to most, all so he could take a vacation with his family. Now laugh with me, thinking of just how many coke can filled garbage bags there had to have been in my Granny & Papa's backyard before he had enough to amount to the money he needed for the trip. The lesson I learned from this: if you need money, just collect some cans.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, my grandparents had a Chevy conversion van. (My dad was an only child. Who was grown. Who only had two kids of his own at the time. Yet, they needed a conversion van.) It was one of those that seat, like, ten people and have the curtains and mini-blinds you can pull over the windows. That's what we always took to Florida. I. LOVED. THAT. VAN. And if I had the chance to drive one now, I would. In a heartbeat. Papa would blare southern gospel until Brad would sneak in his Dino tape (ummm, Summer Girls? Best song ever. If you don't click on that link, we're no longer friends.)

We'd spend the week at the beach. My mom would claim she got "windburns" but she said her "windburns" would eventually turn into a "windtan". (People? She is crazy. There are no if's, and's or but's about it. She is crazy. I thought the crazy didn't show up until a few years ago, but remembering her "windburns" and "windtans", I know now that the crazy has been around for quite sometime.) I got "suntans" because I have this really great olive skin that never burns, unlike my mom, whose skin is prone to "windburns". (Ok, I'm done with that one.) My dad would walk the beach for hours. And hours. And hours. And come back and show me and Brad all the treasures he'd found. My Granny would smoke a pack a day. Papa would fish. Or he would put goggles and a snorkel on and spend all day looking for coke cans on the ocean floor. (Just kidding. He was looking for loose change.) We'd have dinner somewhere unfancy and then walk to get ice cream. The Wind Drift was across the street from FunLand, a Chuck-E-Cheese type place. We'd go there after ice cream and play for hours.

Even though I've been to some pretty great places with friends and with Mark, nothing, I'm telling you nothing, will compare to these lazy, unpretentious, paid-for-by-a-thousand-coke-cans vacations with my family and grandparents. Granny and Papa passed away when I was still pretty young, but I will be honest with you. I would give back every single vacation, girls beach trip, weekend road trip with Mark to be able to go to the beach with my Granny and Papa. Maybe Papa would let me drive the van (which would be AWESOME!) I'd still sneak in the Dino tape. I'd get tan, mom would get windburned. Granny would smoke a pack a day. I'd share a diet coke with my little sister and then we'd hand over the empty can to Papa, who'd throw it in his coke can collection bag for next years trip. I miss them very much.  

June 9, 2010

Hey there cupcake

My wonderful, always put together, cute as a button, four years younger than me, red-headed, I want to be her BFF, cousin, Sara just called me. Did I mention already that she is wonderful? Oh I didn't? Well, she's wonderful.

She just called to ask what kind of icing to put on a lemon cake. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Ferris Bueller? Ding! Ding! Ding! That's right, cream cheese icing. Mix some lemon zest with cream cheese icing and spread it on thick.

I recently made what you see in the pictures below and they were such a hit! Before you go asking me for the recipe, I will first direct you to your local grocery store. Usually around aisle five or six in most grocery stores, there's this thing called the boxed cake aisle. Yeah, um, they have, like, every flavor of cake mix you could ever want or wish for or hope to stuff in your mouth. And if you look closer, usually to the left, right or on the shelves above these convenient little boxes, there are these tubs of ready made icing, again, in any flavor you could ever want or wish for or hope to dip your finger into. Yeah, go ahead, it's okay. You can cheat. No flour to sift, no sugar to measure, no butter to soften. I cheated with these. But they don't look like they came from a box & tub, do they?

To make them a little snazzier, instead of using paper muffin wrappers, cut small squares of wax paper and press them into the mini muffin cups. Give them a quick spray with Pam. (I like the Baking Pam with flour in it!) Using a ziploc bag, pipe the cake mix into the wax paper cut-outs. (Just lay a ziploc bag in a cup or empty jar and fold the ziplocking ends over the side and pour your batter in. Close the bag and snip a small hole in one of the bottom corners of the bag. Pipe away. You'll do this for the icing too.) Bake according to Mrs. Crocker's or Mr. Hines' box directions. While they're in the oven, using a citrus zester, microplane, or the smallest blade on your cheese grater, zest a lemon. If you like lots of lemon taste, zest quite a bit (I'd say about 2 Tablespoons worth) and vice versa if you don't like a lot of lemon; just do it to taste. I like to use a flat, offset spreader spatula thinga-ma-jig, but you can use a spoon if you don't have a flat, offset spreader spatula thinga-ma-jig handy, and mix the zest in with the cream cheese icing still in the tub. Put it into a ziploc bag but wait to snip the end until you're ready to frost. Let the cupcakes cool completely, then pipe the icing on in a circle motion. Top with decorations and say a prayer of thanksgiving to Saint Crocker and/or Saint Hines for putting their awesome recipes into boxed form.

Now go eat a dozen mini cupcakes.

And look, I know you don't care about any of this, but I was pleased that my cousin would call me with such a question. It makes me think I'm closer to reaching my goal of becoming Ms. Domestic USA, ok? So just humor me. And bring me a cupcake.

About Me #2

Continuing with yesterday's "About Me: I make friends easily" post, here is the second installment of "About Me".

2. I am not a mama's girl (for obvious reasons), nor am I a daddy's girl (the similarities stop at our shared appearances). Instead, I am a brother's girl. My older brother, Brad, is three years older than me, yet he is light years older than me as far as being responsible, mature, hilarious, and did I mention responsible yet? Because he is. Responsible. A word I will never use to describe myself. He has been, is now, and I am sure will continue to be a mom, a dad, a brother, and a best friend all rolled into one. Most life lessons I learned from him. Most of my favorite memories involve him. The characteristics of the perfect family member? He embodies them. I love him and would not be the person I am today if it weren't for him and his influence on my life and my character.

It wasn't always this way though. Of course, being brother and sister, we have had our fair share of quarrels. Like the time I was about three, which would have made him six, and we were wrestling on my bed. After a few good tussles, the next thing I knew, I was waking up from unconsciousness. Brad had flipped me off the bed and I had slammed the top of my noggin into the dresser. I'm sure Brad felt bad about it because we were, after all, just playing around, but this seemed to spark something in me. That spark? Revenge, sweet revenge - something my three-year-old mind had not yet conjured up until after this incident.  

So I got him back. At his birthday party a few short months later, I was riding my tricycle through our house, trying to steal the attention away from Brad. All of his friends were over and my mom was getting ready to serve the cake and ice cream. Brad and his buds were sitting on the floor in the den and one of them spilled their drink. My mom, who was carrying the cake on one of those flat cardboard cake boards, put the cake down on the floor and ran to grab a towel to clean up the spilled drink. I came around the corner on my tricycle, saw the cake laying unattended on the floor, and immediately recognized the path that lay before me. I lowered my head, my snarling lip curling in determination. I cranked my trike handles, spun the pedals. I started pedaling hard. I started pedaling fast. My handle bar tassels blew in the wind. And right before everyone's eyes, I drove my trike straight through his cake. There were skid marks where there should have been frosted balloons. It was a wonderful feeling. I knew the inevitable spanking would blister my hiney, but friends, the victory. The victory was worth the beating, trust me on this one.

The ball was now in Brad's court.

On a leisurely afternoon, not long after the cake incident, Brad and I were playing in his room. I was trying to get him to incorporate his GI Joes into whatever Barbie and her friends were doing that afternoon, but he was having none of that. He suggested we do something more constructive with our time. He suggested I let him cut my hair. Being naive and relatively uncaring about my appearances back then, I let him. So he found some scissors and before I knew it, I had bangs. Half inch bangs. It was bad. We went back to playing with our GI Joes and Barbies, having decided that the hair cutting was fun, but fleeting. At dinner that night, my mom finally recognized the difference in my appearance. It's amazing it took her so long to notice because I had glorious hair back then. I mean glorious. I was three, yet my hair was down to my butt in long, soft waves. Oh boy did she notice. She demanded to know, "WHO DID THIS?" And before I could swallow my bite of fish sticks, Brad was pointing at little, innocent me saying, "Peyton did it to herself, Mama! She got the scissors and cut it! I saw her do it and tried to tell her not to, but she wouldn't listen to me!" My eyes welled up with tears, not because I had been betrayed by my own brother, but because I knew the inevitable spanking would blister my hiney. And boy, did it. Brad never said he was sorry, I had a blistered hiney, and worse of all, my beautiful locks were now tarnished by half-inch bangs. It was a bad day.   

The ball got tossed back and forth between my court and Brad's for years. Brad was much more creative in his tactics; I usually just annoyed him and tattled on him.

Brad, if you're reading this, even though you gave me a concussion, even though you made me walk around Preschool with half-inch bangs, even though you called me Papoon, and even though you and your high school buddies pummeled me with glass root beer bottles on my walk home from middle school, I love you.

And I will always be a brother's girl.

June 8, 2010

Cooking 101

I mentioned the other day that the Bread Baking Bunch was taking a trip to Chateau Elan. Well, we went this weekend and had an absolute blast! You can view the pictures here. We went to a cooking class while we were there and the chef made this pretty kick-ass, roasted corn salad. While I didn't have most of the ingredients the chef used on hand tonight, I decided to make my own version of it. First, I roasted two ears of corn in the oven. So simple: just put the oven on 350 and stick the ears straight on the rack for 35-45 minutes. When the corn comes out and after you've let it cool and pulled the husk and silk off, you'll "saw" the kernals off the cob. To do this, first cut off the bottom and top of the cobs:

With the fat end on the bottom and with the cob standing straight up (verticle), carefully cut down one side of the cob. After you've done this, lay the flat side down on the cutting board (horizontal) and keep cutting each side off, rotating the cob so that the flat side is always on the board.

Once you've got it all of the cob:

Place it in a bowl. Next, finely chop some cilantro. You can use the stems of the herb, too - that's actually where the most flavor lies. After the cilantro, chop up a white onion very fine.

Next, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil and minced garlic in a saute pan. Throw your corn/cilantro/onion mixture in and saute until you just begin to smell that sauteed onion smell.

I cooked a piece of salmon in the toaster oven (yes! In the toaster oven!) with just some olive oil, salt and pepper to go with it. Top the salmon with a little bit of PeyPey's Picante and chopped cilantro. Throw some of this roasted corn salad on the plate, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and chopped cilantro and enjoy your dinner. I like to pair this with a citrus-y wine. Kim Crawford white, Nutura Organic white, or Menage A Trois white all would go wonderfully!

This concludes PeyPey's Cooking 101 class!

About PeyPey

...and speaking of me. Wait, we were talking about me, right? Thought so. I was thinking yesterday about all of the potential items I could put in the "About Me" section on a social networking site. And I just know that you guys are dying to know more about me, right? Well, that doesn't really matter. I'm going to tell you anyway.

If you look to the right, you'll see my profile. This is the place that Blogger has designed for the writer to mention something about themselves so that the readers won't just blindly read some random person's blog. This is the space for you, the reader, to know concrete things about me. You know, like, "I live in Georgia. I have brown hair. I am a girl," that kind of stuff.

My "About Me" section simply says, "I like hosepipe water."

While I feel that this sentence is pretty indicative of the kind of person I am, some readers may not read between the lines of that sentence and may not understand or get a grasp on the fact that by me telling you that I like hosepipe water, I am also trying to convey to you that I am a whimsical, random, fun-loving, laid-back, and thoughtful person. And as the reader, you can expect to come to this site and read my entries which exemplify all of the above. Instead, some Type-A readers will read that one line and think, "Um, that's really weird," and go on their merry way, not stopping to read one single blog entry.

I'm okay with that.

But for those of you who have patiently stuck around, I have a treat for you: a detailed "About Me" section. This may go on for several posts, so if you're interested in getting to know the real PeyPey, keep sticking around. So here we go.

1. I make friends easily. I have never been lacking in the friends department. I still keep in close contact with several friends from elementary school and middle school, while my high school friends are very much still a huge part of my life. The friends I have made since high school are abundant and at any given time, if I want to go to dinner, I have about 65 friends who I could call to join me. Making friends just comes natural to me. Sometimes, however, this can be a dangerous trait.

Case in point: while perusing the lip gloss shelves of Walmart as a fifteen-year-old, an unassuming light skinned black girl came to stand next to me. She appeared to be a few years younger than me and from her appearance, had an affinity for tweety-bird clothing. Because at that point in my life, I could spend no less than thirty minutes on this particular aisle each time I visited Walmart, I was there for awhile after my tweety-bird clad friend showed up. We struck up a conversation. She had a weird speech impediment which I decided to dismiss because, after all, I make friends easily. "So what's your favorite lip gloss?" I replied without hesitation, "Bonne Belle, hands down." We continued our lip gloss discourse and then she introduced herself. "I'm Tamara." (Pronounced Tuh-MARR-uh. I don't think that's important, but I thought I'd throw it in there.) "Hi, I'm Peyton."

And then the conversation went somewhere I wasn't expecting it to go. I mean, any girl can discuss beauty products, at length, with a complete stranger and without formal introductions, but I was just humoring her and being nice, because, after all, I make friends easily. "So, where do you go to school? How old are you? Can you drive? Do you have brothers and sisters? What do you do for fun? What's your favorite school subject? Do you like going to the movies? Have you ever dyed your hair? Do you have a boyfriend? Have you ever kissed a boy? Who's your favorite celebrity? Do you like Coke or Sprite? Do you like wearing jewelry? Have you ever been out of the country? What's your favorite ice cream flavor? What do you want to be when you grow up? When's your birthday? Do you want to be friends? Can I have your phone number?" After this daunting diatribe, I sat there in stunned silence not knowing what just hit me. Again, Tamara asked, "can I have your phone number?" This simple, joyful lip gloss shopping trip had transformed into a balls-to-the-wall interview from a stranger named Tamara who now wanted my phone number. "Can I have it? Your phone number?" Panic. But then I calmed down, and thought, "how harmless can she be? She's wearing tweety-bird clothing for heaven's sake. And after all, I make friends easily." So I said, "Um, sure. It's ***-****." "Awesome! Ok, I gotta go Peyton, but I'm going to call you and we're going to hang out soon!" And with that, she trotted off and I quietly laid down my basket full of Bonne Belle in the middle of the aisle and high-tailed it out of there.

A few hours later, the tweety-bird stranger was forgotten and I was back to normal. Until later that night, when she called. I sat on the phone with her for what seemed like hours, agonizing over the fact that I had just given out my phone number to a complete stranger who seemed a bit off kilter. After that phone call, I was sure there would be no more. That was just a fluke, something random. Probably won't hear from her again.

A few hours later, the speech impediment on the other end of the line was forgotten and I was back to normal. Until the next day, when she called.

This went on and on, everyday for a few weeks. I was weirded out, my family was weirded out and was getting tired of my lengthy phone use. So one day, my little brother, who at the time was 5 or 6, picked up the phone when she called and lit into her. I had no idea the capabilities of his little lungs or the ugliness of his tongue. If I were Tamara, I probably would have crapped my pants after being yelled at like that from a 5 or 6 year old. He was ruthless. I wasn't mad though, because I was annoyed by Tamara. I mean, who did she think she was trying to be my friend and all?

A few hours later, the tongue lashing from the kid was forgotten and me my little bro got back to wrestling and picking on each other and all was back to normal. Until the next week when she called. People, this went on and on for ten years until my parents finally changed their number. TEN. YEARS. Ten years.

Ten years.

So while I consider this make-friends-easily trait among the best and most attractive things about myself, it has its flaws. Moral of the story: Not everyone is your friend, Peyton. Some people are crazy. Don't give your phone number to strangers on the lip gloss aisle. You can say no. You already have plenty of friends, ok, self?

Ok, I feel better that you all know that story about me now.

Stay tuned for more "About Me" stories!

June 7, 2010

Childhood Cuisine

For a long time, when I was in a group meeting and we had to tell "one weird fact about ourselves" (dang college), mine was always that I used to eat roly polies as a child.

Are you shocked? I wasn't really either when my parents told me about my three-year-old self scarfing down the little insect balls. My dad said I would stick out my little pudgy, balled up fist, flip my palm right side up, and offer him my collected smorgasbord of roly polies which had defensively rolled themselves up into perfect little balls. They knew not their own fate.

The fact that I ate them is not surprising. I was three. Who knows what else my little fist stuffed down my piehole? No, the surprising part was that, when presented with my gift of what I considered to be good eatin', my dad would politely decline and say, "No thank you pumpkin, I'm full. You eat 'em all." Is it just me or do you find it quite odd that my father still let me ingest them? He didn't knock them out of my hand or say "Peyton, pumpkin, don't eat bugs, ok?" Instead, he just let me keep right on snacking. There is no telling how many roly polies met their fate in the bottom of my tummy.

I think if I'm ever again in one of these stupid meetings where we have tell a group of strangers some weird fact about ourselves, I will save myself the embarrassment and not tell them that I used to eat roly polies as a little girl. Instead, maybe I'll tell them about my triple jointed toe.

Wait, on second thought, I might just stick with the roly polies.

******NEWS BULLETIN******
This just in! So I just googled the scientific name for Roly Polies and guess what it is? It's going to gross you out, I promise. Are you ready? Are you sure? Because it's getting kind of close to dinner time and I wouldn't want to spoil your dinner or anything. And I don't want to put a bad taste in your mouth for roly polies (wait, what did I just say?) because this will forever alter the way you think of these cute little bugs. Are you sure? Like, absolutely sure? Ok, if you're sure. Here goes. The scientific name for roly polies, the cute, harmless little balls, is ARMADILLIDIUM VULGARE. See? I told you. I shouldn't have done it. Now you're thinking of vulgar armadillos aren't you? Ok, well goodnight ladies and gentlemen. Enjoy your dinners and may you have sweet dreams tonight. Dreams free of vulgar armadillos. Until next time!

June 4, 2010

One of my biggest pet peeves...

Is when businesses spell "cool" like "kool" and when "clean" is spelled like "klean" or "kleen". Why? There is no reason for this. For reasons unbeknownst to me, this makes me pretty mad.

Ode To Friday

I love your name
And that I will soon be playing games

The next two days
Just go by in a haze

Soon it will be
Freaking Monday again and we

Will be back to the grind
Leaving Saturday and Sunday behind

But the promise of another you
Will be enough to get me through

Another whole week
Sorry, I know I’m such a geek.