What Have I Done?

kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! I read with the sincere enthusiasm of a mother that has just consumed a dark and very strong cup of coffee. It is bedtime. Reed studies the navy drawings, perched on top of her folded legs, listening. She cradles her tiny chin in her tinier hands, holding her head, facing forward. Her overly active (but completely irresistible) eyebrows move with the rhythm of the page turns. Her eyes focus on the bear, or is she looking at the letters, trying to figure out how they are put together and read? She glances over at me as I take a breath, afraid I'll quit in the middle. She poses the frequent and repetitive question, "mommy, what's Sal dooooooooooin'?" (You would understand the extra O's if you have ever heard her cadence, inherited from some long lost southern ancestor, I am sure.) I try to explain to her that if she listens to the story quietly, her questions will be answered. She understands, for the moment, and pensively awaits a conclusion. It is my favorite book from my own childhood and although we've read it 216 times before, she is finally starting to follow the story and understand the relationships therein.

As she studies the pages, I am stunned into silence. The expression of fear returns to her elfish face. I try and continue but my voice is weak. "Kuplink, kuplank..." I try. She finishes, "kuplunk!" with the enthusiasm of a child who is savoring the last few minutes of consciousness, togetherness.

I am awestruck and breathless and just a little confused by how she, came from me. I observe her beauty in perfect contrast with her silliness, attitude, intellect, and incredible heart. She looks at me with eyes that no one color can describe. They are the color of where the sparkly sea meets the sand (in Tortola, my husband would say). Her little nose is like a tiny playground slide, sloping downward and gently curved. Her lips are pink, like Watermelon Bubble Yum. They are the lips we all drew on our princesses in elementary school. So curvy and pouty and perfect. As I so obviously admire her, she turns with a wrinkled forehead, smirks and reaches to push my hair from in front of my eyes, willing me to continue with the story. I oblige. I am shocked to find a little girl next to me. A little girl that I love, inexplicably. A little girl that I admire, so totally.

If I complain about anything, even a hangnail, she asks for the next hour, "Mommy, you okay?"

Sometimes she calls me, "Moms" and I love it.

Sometimes she abbreviates previously un-abbreviatable words. The other day, I asked her if she wanted a banana. She said, "Maybs." Like, short for "maybe."

She says, "Thank you, mommy" every time we sit down for lunch or dinner, even if it is cheese quesadillas for the fourth day in a row.

She prefers to be barefoot.

She almost never wants to be held or comforted when she's hurt but instead walks away from me repeating, "I fine. I fine," as huge, clear teardrops fall from her red eyes.

She gets her brother's juice for him in the mornings before she even touches her own cup.

She has an obsession with lotion that has lasted more than half of her life. She used to call it, "Shosion," and I'm sort of sorry she learned how to say it correctly.

When she wants attention, she speaks in foreign accents. Generally, she gets at least one laugh.

She has the geekiest camera smile but, when she smiles from happiness, it renders me speechless. While I was making dinner the other night, Jason was chasing her in circles around the house, threatening the arrival of, "The Tickle Monster." She pulled and pulled on my pants, shrieking, until I finally acknowledged her. She looked up at me and shouted, "Daddy's chasing me!" As if I hadn't noticed. Her tiny face was overwhelmed by happiness, so much so that it stretched the sides of her mouth as high as her cheeks would allow. I have filed that smile away in the Rolodex in my brain. It was so pure and complete, without question. It makes me weak in the knees, even as I type. If I'm lucky and my Rolodex works properly, I will be able to recall that face and that moment for years and years and years.

She never walks, she dances to the music in her head, from place to place.

After listening to Lady Gaga (Bad Romance) twice, she floats around the house singing, "Rah Rah Rome Ma Ma. Ga Ga Ooh La La. Let's see the bad mens." (Making up lyrics as her mother always has.)

When we play in her kitchen, she makes coffee for mommy and daddy. "Daddy likes looooooots of sugar and some cream. Mommy likes just a little bit of milk." I'm amazed at her attention to detail because we certainly did not conduct a lesson of how mommy and daddy take their coffee.

Her frequent demands include, "Let Reedy do it," "I wanna do it," "I can do it myself," usually referring to some task that far outmatches her skill level. After trying for more minutes than I like to sit around waiting, she hands over the project and calmly requests, "Mommy, help puuuuuuhhhlease." I love that she takes the opportunity to be independent. I love that she knows that I will be there if she needs me. I respect that she can ask.

She has mastered the English language in a way I thought was impossible for children under the age of ten. She is aware of tenses and correctly uses most pronouns.

She may very well be in love with Micheal Jackson and has "perfected" the moonwalk.

When you scoop her up, she gently pats your back for the following minute. Consistent and calming.

Her kindness softens me. Her intellect impresses me. Her will challenges me. Her beauty inspires me.

"What have I done?" I've spent much of my life asking myself that question. I've hurt people. I've ignored what should have been priority. I've been terribly irresponsible and disrespectful and neglectful. I've been callous with friends' feelings and regarded family as if they were disposable. I've lied, a lot. I have been reckless and I have treated life with a nauseating sense of invincibility. "What have I done?" For years, it was a disturbing rhetorical echo in my head. I vaguely recall that person now. I suppose the memory is clouded by shame.

"What have I done?" It no longer haunts me, but the question is the same. I now have the answer. She gave me peace when I was anxious. She enforced structure and values. She demands honesty, kindness, ambition, acceptance, loyalty, generosity, and respect because I want her to be all of those things and I want her to learn them from me. She gave me purpose when I had none. She gives me love.

In the midst of admiration and love and stuck in between respect and pride lurks another emotion, commonly muddled by the more prominent ones. But, I'm starting to see it. I know now why I am sitting on the braided rug on her bedroom floor unable to complete a book I know by heart, while she stares at me, befuddled by my silence. I finally recognize it. It is gratitude. It hits me and knocks me over.

When the numbness leaves my tongue and my throat opens up, dry words creep out of my gut and I quietly whisper, "Thank you, Reedy. Thank you."


Beckett in 7.


* His mouth had a brief encounter with a blue marker. Hence the blue mouth and the blue apple. Kind of gross, I know.

Are you kidding me...

with the gorgeousness that is going on around here? Sorry. Is that borderline annoying mommy? But, seriously.

flour & child gift boxes - filled with goodness.

These are large gift boxes that I custom tailor to the recipients' tastes. I think they're pretty fabulous. But, I bake the goods and package them so they should make me happy. They come with 4 dozen cookies of your choice, some scones, biscotti, homemade granola (that's super tasty and I don't even really like granola), a bag of homemade candy (this one had triple layer peppermint bark) and anything else I feel like throwing in there.

I made these for a lovely client who was giving them to the nurses at a nursing home whom had cared for a parent. Isn't that gracious?

But, they would be a sweet gift for a number of occasions. Anniversary? Birthday? A Thank You?

Hey, you don't even have to wrap it. What are you waiting for?

I hope you all are having a lovely weekend.
xo - f&c


in need of a skirt.

****DISCLAIMER**** This is not a fashion blog, nor do I claim to know anything about fashion. It is a favor to my lovely sister AND an opportunity to learn about posting pictures from the internet. Clearly, I have alot to learn. As for the featured fashion, please enjoy (and don't mind little technicalities like off-center photos, or shrunken pictures, or non-linking text...I beg of you.) ****END DISCLAIMER****

My sister emailed me today. She has apparently bought a pair of "knee-high flat boots (black, sort of riding-inspired, but a smidge cooler than that)." I am so in to the flat boot thing right now. The practicality reasons abound. I can manage to look semi-hip, shield my tootsies from the chilly temps and trip over Legos (and not break my face) all at the same time. Unfortunately, I've had my slouchy pair from Delia*s (where my 12 year old step-sister-in-law now shops) since 2003. I know you just made a sad face for me. I still rock them out of necessity. My once boot-designated money is now spent on fries, not Fryes. Its a good thing I like cooking, otherwise I may be bitter. If I had my pick of the footwear litter, they would include some or all of these deliciously sweet flat boots.

Now that we got that out of the way we can return to my sister. Yes, this post is about her. My sister's quandary was more about what kind of skirt to wear with these riding inspired boots. Now, there is another requirement. This little get-up has to be work appropriate and she's a lawyer. Yeah, like works for a firm, seventy hours per week, in an office, full of men, downtown lawyer. I'm thinking mini skirts won't do. With the mission accepted, I went shopping, sort of.

This one is from Ann Taylor, and you may not really be able to see it because I clearly have ALOT to learn about posting and pasting and resizing and configuring...OMG, I'm having a panic attack. Okay, just click on the link and you'll see a better picture. I sort of like the texture in the skirt, as a contrast to the leather boot. Plus, its short enough. We wouldn't want the skirt to streamline directly into the boot. Yes? Plus, it's on sale. Plus, it comes in gray...said sister's favorite color.

This one is from Piperlime. I just had to put it in here for a safe alternative. I feel as though lawyers, and my sister in particular, are bored of skirts like this and will probably skim right over this one, bored to tears. But, I chose it based on its length. It's shorter than the average pencil skirt. Never fear, there are more exciting skirts on the way.

This one is also from Piperlime. They offer free shipping and free return and are in turn one of my favorite places to browse for boots that I can't buy. This one is a cutie, me thinks. I love the ruffle that would be so feminine against the more masculine design of the boot. Is it too playful for her office? I don't know, I'm not a lawyer. Is anyone tired of ruffles yet? I'm not! I think this little cutie is on sale too.

You best not be tired of ruffles because I am offering you a bevy of them in this Anthropologie skirt. It is gray, she will be happy about that. It's also a little more modest than the last option and a tad more lady like. I feel like a little volume on the upper half would compliment a sleek riding boot.

I believe this option is my favorite. It is also from Anthropologie. I'm digging the tulip skirt. I feel like it's universally flattering. Being that my sister is a skinny mini and would frankly, look great in a trash bag, with or without ridding boots, that part doesn't really matter. But, for the rest of us that have booty to worry about - in steps the tulip skirt. The volume happens up at the waist so it really works to bring larger hips and thighs into proportion. This skirt would work at the office, but not only at the office. And, I think the entire silhouette would be flawless, maybe with a ruffled blouse (I keed, I keeeeed). Bottom line, this one gets my vote.

This one, from Bebe, is also cute but I couldn't bear to put the picture on my page because I detest the way it is styled. Look past the hooker shoes and it really is a pretty cute skirt. Too short for a law firm? I don't know, do they impliment the high school finger tip rule?

There they are my dear. I feel like I've just completed a school project. At least I got the pictures loaded, next time I'll work on the layout, which is atrocious.

Much love pretty sister. And good night lovelies.
xo - w

P.S. As for me, I really want this skirt. And for some reason, I am so feeling these boots. Maybe that's really all we need to get us through Ohio's miserable January and February, super cute and sort of ridiculous snow boots. And, sin.


Humble Chocolate Cake.

I haven't posted about food in moons. Oh, its been around, its been made, its been eaten...it just hasn't ended up here. There have even been terrific new recipes tested and conquered and approved of by the little people running around my house, I think they're my kids but I'm still figuring that out. They like food though. And to keep your job in this house, that's really the only thing I need to read on your resume. "I will eat anything, anytime." That's how Beckett's read so he was hired immediately, no second interview was even conducted. He's kept his promise and he is regularly compensated with edible treats, like homemade oreo cookies.

Oh yes, this kid keeps his promises.

You see, there were a ridiculous amount of cookies made over the holidays. There were also tarts and pies and some deliciously roasted pears. And recently, soups and braises and one pot wonders have been keeping burners busy and getting us through the ten degree midwest weather. Everything has been tremendous but I wanted something so simple, so sophisticated, so profound that it sent me straight to the computer keys to share. Perhaps I have high standards and maybe I'll share the other delicious things in time. But, this must be shared. I can't possibly hold onto it. It would be so...so wrong. Not even a terribly messy laundry room and a bedroom that is begging to be redone can stop me from sharing.

What? You expected there to be cake in the photograph. Ahem!

So, go make this. It'd be good for a dinner party but maybe even better to share on Valentine's Day with some slightly sweetened whipped cream. I envision I'll have this cake in my back pocket for years to come. I'll whip it up for house guests, or small family celebrations. Its not exactly a Celebration Cake that should be adorned with sprinkles or icing or candles. Some things are best when left alone and this chocolate cake is one of them, save for the addition of some slightly sweetened whipped cream or maybe a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Cake - from David Lebovitz's The Sweet Life in Paris
My sister so kindly gave this book to me for my birthday and I immediately read and baked from it. Nothing has dissappointed and the stories about his life in Paris, are hysterical and touching. My absent minded self forgot the two tablespoons of flour and it was still fabulous. I imagine it would be a touch cake-ier with the addition of the flour but every bit as tasty. Of course, this recipe came to David through a French woman...only a French woman could make something so simply indulgent.

9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiradelli bittersweet)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup of sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature, seperated
2 tablespoons of flour
Pinch of salt

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with a strip of parchment paper.
2) In a large bowl set over simmering water, heat the chocolate and butter together just until melted and smooth.
3) Remove from heat and stir in half the sugar, then the egg yolks, and flour.
4) Using an electric mixer or a whisk begin whipping the egg whites with the salt. Keep whipping until they start to form soft droopy peaks. Gradually whip in the remaining sugar until the whites are smooth and hold their shape when the whisk is lifted.
5) Use a rubber spatula to fold one-third of the egg whites into their chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until the mixture is smooth and no visible white streaks remain.
6) Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top, and bake for 35 minutes, just until the cake feels slightly firm in the center. Do not overbake.
7) Let the cake cool in the pan before serving.

Note: Mr. Lebovitz suggests that this cake gets better every day and I simply had to test his theory for fear of publishing something that is in any way misleading. Well, I'll tell you, he was right on. It has gotten richer and somehow deeper since I made it on Friday night which incidentally makes it an excellent candidate for de-stressing a dinner party. Bake it on Thursday, let it sit covered with plastic and just wait for your guests to tell you that you are the Bomb-dot-com. Okay, no one says that but they will be thinking it.



I'm still loving my new haircut. Well, I suppose its not so new anymore. I got it cut in September and I'm still adjusting to being a short haired girl. While I want to keep it super short for a few more months...I'm already brainstorming how, and into what styles I want to grow it out.
Jason thought I would look super cute (okay, he didn't say "super cute, but his enthusiasm conveyed it) with this 'do from Anthropologie's ever inspiring catalogue.

The above haircut is great and I wish I could pull it off. But frankly, I'm just not that sweet. And the girl in the catalogue appears to be classic and sweet and feminine. While I desire to be all those things I do believe that I am most certainly not. I believe this haircut is more suited to my style. But, is it dated? Actually, I think the girl in the photo has long hair but I think you can get the idea of what I would want; long layers in a sharp bob. Your thoughts? Is my husband more savvy with hairstyles than myself...say it ain't so! And p.s. check out the hair accessories that they carry on that link. So freaking sweet, I want every one...no matter what hairstyle I have!

Keeping it short for a while (my neighbors say I look like a "fairy") but, let me know your opinions!