Monday, November 9, 2015

Brownies that could cut glass & a zombie apocalypse: An eclectic milestone birthday weekend...

You wouldn't think those things in the title would all be related, would you? But I like to keep things interesting around here, so read on, dear blog reading aficionado! And I have yet another topic to toss into the mix before we get started, because it's Catholic Mom day for me, and this month my piece is on Confirmation patrons:

My Confirmation patron is none other than St. Cecilia, and I would love for you to click on over to read my piece and leave a comment with your very own Confirmation patron. How about your favorite saint with a feast day in November? You can write in with that information too! Let's have a fun comment party over at Catholic Mom.

But in other news, this past weekend was my Henry's birthday. OK. The child is now 10. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! I remember the day he was born like it was a few months ago.


I hate how fast time seems to pass when you're an adult. I suppose part of it is the fact that one has so many more responsibilities as you get older. Alas. I guess the moral of this pointless tale of woe is that adulting is hard. Let's move on, shall we?

At any rate, it was a milestone birthday for Henry, and so we wanted to make it nice for him. His actual birthday is the 6th, which was Friday.  And every year we face the age old question of what birthday treat to send in with him to school for their celebration. See, for most normal people this is not at all an issue. Because they are good bakers and/or simply send in a store-bought treats without needlessly fretting about how they're a failure as a mother because they cannot bake. But if you're me? You're both a terrible baker AND you fret over how this makes you a negligent mother. I feel like if I send in something store-bought then everyone will KNOW that I'm a terrible baker. Plus, I see that as symbolic of the fact that I have officially given up: there is no hope for me, I cannot bake. Ever. I am disgrace to my Italian heritage. If I told my mother that I use Pillsbury pie crusts, it'll be like when I once admitted to her that I'd used pasta sauce out of a jar:

"I didn't *raise you like that*!"

That's really what she said. :0 I *can* at least make tomato sauce, sometimes I'm just too lazy to. ;-) I can also make a pretty decent Italian wedding soup. But see, that isn't *baking*. Baking is kryptonite for me.

And so I fretted over cupcakes here, or cookies there, until Mike suggested that we make brownies:

"I am terrible at making brownies."

"Are you sure? We'll just use a boxed mix."

"Yes, even the boxed mixes. I'm awful at making brownies from them. The edges are always overdone and the middle undercooked."

*Mike looks dubious*

"I've made them and they turn out fine."

"Are you volunteering?"

*Tiffany turns on the charming, winning smile*

This works, only because he is my husband.

"Sure. If you can pick up the mix on your way home from work tomorrow, I'll make them Thursday night before play rehearsal."


Isn't he wonderful? And indeed, on Thursday I came home and walked into a kitchen that smelled like chocolate.

"HONEY! You made the brownies!!"

"Of course, I said I would."

Mike is looking super pleased with himself, hoping for Husbandly Extra Credit Points for taking care of something that was causing me so much stress. His effort was indeed noted and rewarded. :-)

"How many brownies did the 2 boxes of mix yield?"

This is another problem that I have with brownies. So many of them turn out like ca-ca that I end up with far too few that are actually edible. And when I try to cut them into neat little squares?


"I'm not sure. I had to put some of them into a round pan. But there are 2 pans worth. I think they turned out well."

"Well, they certainly smell good. Thank you darling!"

It was a real love fest. Between Mike and I (this love affair persists, despite the part of the story I'm about to get to ;-)) and between Mike, I and the brownies. We had dinner, and while we were undergoing the kitchen cleanup, I grabbed a knife and spatula and tried to remove the brownies from the pans. Notice use of the words "tried to" in that sentence, dear reader?

I didn't want to say anything, because Mike was so heroic in his efforts to spare me from further baking humiliation, but I was having the same problem with these brownies that I always do with my own homemade brownies: hard on the edges + too crumbly in the middle = a big ole' mess to get out of the pan. Mike came over while I was using the spatula like the end of a hammer attempting to pry out a nail:

"Everything OK over here?"

"Well. I'm having a bit of a hard time getting the brownies out of the pan."

That was an understatement, but no need to elaborate and make him feel bad. He offered to help, and is soon jamming a knife along the sides and underneath each brownie in an effort to extract it.

"The box instructions say to use 'short, sawing motions' to get them out."

"Why do brownies have to be so bossy?!"

I was starting to loathe the brownies; not only these ones, but all their hard-edged, chewy offspring in bad brownie generations to come. I was hankering to bring Mike over to the dark side with me.

"I think they'll be fine. Oh. Oh dear."

I told you, I hate brownies. And now, Mike does too. ;-) We barely managed to salvage 15 brownies to send in for Henry's class. Poor, scarred-for-life Henry, having to bring in malformed brownies on his 10th birthday. I will say that he seemed delighted with the brownies, because, you know, they're BROWNIES. They're made of chocolate. How could there possibly be a problem with that?! Bless that child.

So, he had his school party on Friday, and we had a family party for him with pizza and wings (we're rather known for that around here. ;-) And we know where to get *the best* ones, because we're freakish and take chicken wings far too seriously in WNY) on Saturday, and he seemed thrilled with the company and his gifts. All went well.

It was a big weekend for Henry for another reason as well: it was his community theater debut. :0 This fall, he and Mike both auditioned for a play and were cast. Our township's community theater was putting on Night of the Living Dead, and Mike is playing the newscaster. Henry was cast as a zombie. :0 There were LOTS of kids in the play, and so despite it being more scary themed, it was a very family-friendly production. Anne and I went to see it for the Sunday matinee, and she wasn't scared at all. We had told her all about what she would be seeing, and how it was all make believe, and she didn't seem fazed in the least. There were at least a dozen other kids in the audience.

And I was *very* impressed! Henry was very in-character, his facial expressions and body movements showing that he was focused on the direction he had received during the rehearsal period. We were super proud of him! He had one of the more prominent zombie roles. *beams* And Mike was adorable as the newscaster:

"Look! It's Da Da!"

Anne was very excited to spot him. :-) My husband has a *very* nice voice, he receives compliments on it all the time. He's a natural for a newscaster role. And can I say how appealing it is to see him all in actor mode up on stage? In fact...well, I'll digress. Let's just say that his Cute Husband Points are through the roof this weekend. ;-)

So, a BIG weekend for Henry! I can't believe I have a child whose age is now in the double digits. This is how it happens, isn't it, with this nefarious aging thing? Next thing you know, Henry will be 50, I'll be 80, and it'll feel like only 15 minutes have elapsed.


But I'll probably still be belly dancing, so long as I'm not using a walker or anything, so prepare yourself for those future posts now! :0

How was YOUR weekend, dear reader? Thanksgiving prep underway? Holiday crafting? Write in with all the details. :)


  1. No need to fret over what birthday treat to send to school!! I send store bought treats to my kids' school. They eat them during class time, so the the other parents don't know they were store bought, and of course the other kids don't care because it's a treat, so there's no need to worry about it! I'm a decent baker, but I send store bought stuff for the convenience. I just don't really want to take the time to make 25-30 cupcakes or cookies, especially since my kids don't care one way or the other. Glad he had a nice birthday weekend!

  2. Cindy, see, you are the voice of reason. :0 You're right, the kids certainly don't care. If it's edible, and has sugar in it, they're good to go. ;-)

  3. I think brownies are always crispier around the edges that is just they way they are. I've met people who prefer the crisper pieces. So I wouldn't worry to much about there being a difference between the edges and the middle.

    This weekend my aunt celebrated her 50th birthday. My uncle had planned a surprise party and it was a lot of fun.

  4. Hi Melanie! I like really moist, fudgey brownies, maybe that is the problem. But our edges weren't just crispy, they were downright crunchy. And not in a good way. ;-) Happy birthday to your aunt!

  5. Have you considered getting a $5.00 oven thermometer from the grocery store and checking the calibration of your oven? Sounds like your oven might run hot. If you know, for example, that your oven runs 20 degrees hotter than the intended temp, you can allow for that by turning the oven down an equal amount.

  6. Amy, I love this possible explanation over the scenario in which we are just completely incompetent bakers. :0 That's a really good idea, and if I can remember, I will pick up a thermometer!

  7. Tiffany, for what it's worth, I consider myself a pretty competent baker. Like, I made my own wedding cake and groom's cake. From scratch.

    You know what? I *still* got screwed over by oven temps when I moved to this house! You see, my kitchen has two ovens. Which is awesome. However, I rarely use the bottom one, and every time I did, whatever I baked would turn out overdone. When I (belatedly) checked the internal temperature, I found that it ran a solid 25 degrees hotter than the wonder things weren't working properly!

    In short, even pretty experienced bakers can miss an oven temperature issue for a while. :) Seriously, get thee one of those thermometers; you could be surprised!

  8. Katherine, OK, now I'm *super* curious! Could it be that it's not just me?! This is an intoxicating thought. :0 I will report back in on this!


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