Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

For Mrs. C.

Don’t Laugh.

Goofy 19-year-old Maevey….really, my hair wasn’t that poufy – I swear!

Me and Mark at Penn State

UH – everyone wore sweatshirts with skirts back in the day!

A more dignified Maeve, just a few years later…

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She combs her hair, puts on some lipstick, good grief, we have a grown up!

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Another Thing Big Sisters Do For Their Younger Brothers

 [29 Aug 14 – Because there are REPULSIVE PERVERTS out there, I edited this post to reflect the following spelling “p*rn”.  You see, today a @#$%!*&^ PERVERT found my site by searching:  “big sister with younger brother p*rn”.  UGH!]

Long Ago – say, summer 1983, if I remember correctly – I’m minding my own business in my room, when brother #1 barges in and shuts the door behind him.

Paul:      “Maevey?”

Me:        “What?”

Paul:      “I need you to do something for me.”

Me:        “What?”

Paul:      “I need you to hang on to this”

I am handed a brown paper bag.

Me:        “What’s in here?”

Paul:      “Just stuff I need you to hang on to”

Me:        “OMIGOD this is your p*rn stash! You want me to hide your p*rn?!

Paul:      “Will you keep it down already? You know how Mom freaked the last time”

(note that “the last time” was the prior year’s Boy Scout camping trip and idiot brothers #1 & #2 hid their collective stash between the mattress and box spring of brother #1’s bed. Which would have been OK except that my Mother decided to use this opportunity to do a good spring cleaning of their rooms and flip mattresses, etc. I was privy to her reaction upon finding the stash. It wasn’t good.)

Me:        “Why do I have to do this? Can’t you get one of your buds to cover for you?”

Paul:      “There’s no time. So, are you gonna hang on to this or not?”

Me:        “FINE FINE FINE – but you owe me big time!”

Paul:      “Cool. Just don’t look in the bag”

Me:        “You’re a complete perv!

Paul:      “Yeah. Whatever.”

So, I hid their stash inside a box at the back of my closet. And the whole time I felt like I have my very own “Tell Tale Heart” situation going on in there.  I swear, my mother knew – just knew – I was covering for them. She never said anything, but still….I JUST KNEW.

One of the longest weeks of my life!

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Fallout

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They don’t smile like this anymore. I can forgive a lot, but not this.

[Ed. 12 Feb – my dear friends – thank you all for your prayers and kind words of support.  I can’t begin to express my appreciation and thankfulness.  Let me also convey my apologies for causing any undue worry or concern.  Things all of a sudden came to a head and the only smart thing I could do was just stand down.  When you’re finally forced to accept things you just denied and denied and denied, well, it’s just about the most overwhelming feeling out there.  I don’t think I handled it all that well and I certainly needed some space to get myself under control.

Maybe now that this red haze is starting to clear from my vision, I can get back to productive things, like blogging about Blue Velvet Birthday Cake; and how it’s not enough that we have tights with holes in them, but also now the dog is eating the feet off them; and  how some people in my family don’t understand that every day missed during the regular school year needs to be made up at the end of the year; and it’s nearly impossible to get exploded marshmallows off the inside of the microwave; and how one of my CCD students seemed to think that one of the 10 Commandments was “thou shalt not plagiarize” (because all he could remember was that I used plagiarism as an example of taking something which does not belong to you, ie, “Miss Maeve, which one is the plagiarism one?”).  And maybe this stupid headache will take a hike already!  -Maeve]

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Fathers and Daughters

“Maeve, Honey?”
“Yes Daddy.”
“You know, it’s OK to think with your heart…”
“I know.”
“But you need to think a little with your head, too.”
“I know Daddy.  I’ll try. “
“You’re sure you want to marry him?”
“I’m sure.”
“Alright then.  Let’s get you married.”
“Love you Daddy.”
“I love you too Punkin.”

This is my Father’s favorite picture of him and me.  Six months ago I couldn’t even look at it.  But now, well, they’re all together and I think I’m ready to stop mourning.

Dad and I

In Loving Memory of My Father
23 January 1928 – 18 January 2009

 

 

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Who’s That Girl?

Taking a little trip down memory lane…

A really young Maeve (her freshman year at Penn State)

Just a Penn State Girl

(Don’t let the U Mass shirt fool you – I’m a die hard Nittany Lions fan!)

 

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Maeve’s Childhood Christmas Cookie Recipes

These are the cookies I make every year – and they’re also the ones my mother made.  I’ll post pictures later on as I bake them, but figured if anyone (Morvena, I’m looking at you LOL) was looking for some tried and true recipes, here they are!

Ethel’s Sugar Cookies (the recipe name, not my Mother 🙂 )

This is my go-to sugar cookie recipe; it’s the same one my mother used.  The texture is really nice.  You could vary the flavoring (maybe use some lemon or almond).  They’re not overly sweet and make a nice base for the frosting.

  • ¾ cup shortening (I used salted butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light; add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined.  Whisk together the dry ingredients, and then add to the creamed mixture.  Chill the dough at least one hour.  Roll out your dough (@ ¼ inch thick) and cut as desired.  Bake in a 400F oven on ungreased cookie sheets (I like insulated baking sheets for these) for 6 to 8 minutes.  I always add the caveat that one should know one’s oven – some run hot and take less time.  Cool completely before frosting.  I double this recipe all the time; it freezes well, so you can make it ahead and then use when needed.

The frosting – I found this recipe on the box of SOFTASILK ® Flour.  It makes a ton and it outstanding for frosting both cookies and cakes.  I’ve made a couple tweaks, but if you want the original, it’s online at the Pillsbury website with the recipe for Deluxe Devil’s Food Cake (which is a pretty good cake too BTW).  My mother used a frosting recipe from the box of Domino’s Sugar, but this one is pretty much the same thing.

  • 1¼ cups butter, at room temperature (I use salted)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 – 9 Tbsp. milk (8 Tbsp. is ½ cup and I generally use just that)
  • 7½ cups (1 2-lb. bag) powdered sugar
  • Food coloring gel/paste
  • Sprinkles, etc.

On medium speed, beat the butter, salt and vanilla until creamy.  Gradually add the milk and powdered sugar alternating between the two.  Scrape the bowl frequently.  Beat on high speed and add any additional milk by the tablespoon until you get a spreading consistency.  Divide and tint as desired. 

As far as quantity goes – I have no idea how many you’ll get because we use large and small cookie cutters but you will get a lot if you double the recipe (which I always do).

 

Russian Teacakes

Certain people in my family (I’ll let you guess) are not fond of nuts in anything (which I think is nuts – haha).  My mother always made these with crushed walnuts (she used one of those nut crusher things that makes them just this side of ground – don’t use a food processor).  I think they’re better with nuts, but maybe I’m the one who’s nuts.

  • 1 cup soft butter (you know what I use by now)
  • ½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar (and yes – I do recommend you sift it)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flout
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cups finely chopped nuts (optional)

Mix the butter, sugar and vanilla thoroughly.  Blend together the flour and the salt and stir into the creamed mixture.  Add the nuts if you’re using them.  Chill the dough for an hour or so.

Heat the oven to 400F.  Roll the dough into 1-inch balls (I end up using a cookie scoop).  Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 10 – 12 minutes (you know your own oven).  While still warm, roll in confectioner’s sugar.  Cool, then roll again in the powdered sugar.  Hide them.

Makes about 4 dozen 1-inch cookies

(Note – I’ve never gotten 4 dozen from one recipe – probably because I make them larger than 1 inch.  Also, this dough doubles really well,)

 

Snickerdoodles

Next to the chocolate chip cookie, this is the single most requested cookie in my household.  My mother made them exclusively in the winter and served them with hot chocolate.  We always had them when decorating our Christmas tree.

  • 1 cups soft shortening (I use salted butter)
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Heat oven to 400F.

Mix shortening, sugar and eggs thoroughly.  Sift together the dry ingredients, then stir into the creamed mixture.  Roll the dough into 2-inch balls.  Then roll in a mixture of 2 Tbsp. sugar & 2 tsp. cinnamon.  Place them 2-inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8 – 10 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.  They will puff up and then flatten out when they cool.

Makes about 5 dozen 2-inch cookies – says the cookbook – I never get that many.  You’re really going to need to hide them.

Recipes for Ethel’s Sugar Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, and Snickerdoodles from Better Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook, 1961. 

16 Comments »

A Sophie’s Choice of Sorts

“Tirith wasn’t at school today. His brother wasn’t either,” Paul announced at dinner. Tirith was his best friend, the son of an attaché to the Cambodian Embassy in Paris. His younger brother and Mike were friends, too. “They weren’t at school yesterday either.” My parents got very quiet. Dinner took on a somewhat strained feeling. We knew something was wrong, but were not sure what. My mother changed the subject. Tirith and his brother never came back to school.

A few weeks later, the phone rings. It’s Tirith’s father wanting to know if his sons can come over to play with Paul and Mike. A date is set. The family arrives and the boys race down the hall to the playroom. The adults adjourn to the living room. I am busy with my own affairs.

Later that evening at dinner, Dad asks the boys if they know why their friends were no longer at school. “Yes. Their Dad had to leave the Embassy and become French or they were going to die.” My dad looks at my mother, who nods her head. “Sort of,” he says. “The Cambodian government was taken over. The new government ordered the Ambassador and staff back to Cambodia.” Paul butts in “yes, but they can’t go back because they would be killed. All their family is dead because they didn’t go back. Tirith says their Dad had to choose. So he chose to stay in France. And now everyone else is dead. Tirith says they would be dead too if they go back. So they can’t. They had to ask the French to let them stay and they did and now Tirith’s dad runs a grocery store that’s why he’s not at school anymore.”

(In 1976, the Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Phen and recalled all diplomats, with threats of execution of family members remaining in the country. Some returned to find their families executed anyway and faced the same fate; others refused and sought asylum with host countries, with the certain knowledge that this meant the death of their relatives. Between 1975 and 1979 over 1.7 million Cambodians would perish.)

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Time Well Spent and Remembered

224 Rue de Rivoli, Paris, is home to the legendary Librairie Galignani, “the first English bookshop established on the continent”. We shopped there a lot. It’s where I acquired “Anne of Green Gables” and “Daddy LongLegs”; where my mother purchased her Mills & Boons romances and Jean Plaidy novels;  where my brothers found their Asterix comics and books about tanks and jets. My mother often took us there during the week in summer time. We would make our selections and then head over to the Jardin de Tuileries to read and play before going home. It was a very good life.

On one particularly memorable trip, my mother purchased Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. No side trip to the Jardin that day – it was straight home to dive into this treasure. We get home; dropped our gear and headed to the living room. I can still see the four of us sitting on the floor, leaning against the couch: Me, Paul, my mother, Michael. She cracked open the book and began to read. The afternoon passed and evening came. At some point, one of us must have turned on a light. Finally we hear the front door open. Its Dad home from work – had to be at least 7pm. Apartment dark but for one end table light in the living room; no dinner started; all of us still on the floor. Mother stopped reading and we look up. There he was, just standing there looking at us – he had his briefcase still in his hand, hat in another and his suit jacket was over his arm. Mike piped up “Mike TeeVee just got shrunked, Dad. Wanna hear?”

My dad just kind of smiled and asked, “Isn’t anybody hungry?” We all were, but nobody wanted to fess up. We needed the rest of that story. My mother made a movement to get up off the floor, but my Dad just shook his head. “Do we have any ground beef?” “Yes.” “Well, looks like we’re having Dad Burgers tonight. Who wants to help?” We all jumped up – Dad was making burgers, a rare treat – my mother was a wonderful cook but she couldn’t make a hamburger to save her life. I set the table with Paul. My mother was finding rolls and some salad and the like. Mikey helped Dad pat the meat into shape. During dinner we all brought him up to speed on the story and afterwards he had my mother bring the book to the kitchen to finish reading while he and my brothers and I cleaned up. At some point we left the kitchen and ended up in his study. He was in his big easy chair with Paul and Mike in his lap. My mother and I were on the floor leaning against it while she finished the last chapter.

By the time she closed the book it was very late. Paul and I stumbled to our bedrooms, my mother following us. My dad carried a nearly asleep Mike. We got into our pajamas and climbed into bed. My parents kissed us goodnight. And I remember hearing them laughing and my mother saying “I can’t understand it, once I got started I couldn’t seem to find a place to stop.”

(There are things I have to remember because there is nobody else to remember them anymore and they’ll be gone if I don’t. My nephews won’t know about their Dad as a kid, or the uncle they never knew. I have to be the one to tell them and it’s bitter.)

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Not Really an O Henry Tale

A long time ago, when we were first married, the H was working as a chef and I was working for a non-profit.  Our schedules conflicted wildly.  I used to tease him that the most commonly uttered phrases in our marriage were “good morning”, “good night” and “good bye”.   For all that, we were wildly happy.

The H used to take the train to Stamford to the restaurant where he worked and nearly every Friday he would buy me a bunch of flowers at the train station.  There was nothing fancy about them – they varied a little from season to season, but they were typical train station bouquets.  And I loved them.  He would buy them in the afternoon on the way to work and stash them in one of the coolers until he got off work.  I was often snoozing on the couch, waiting for him.  And he would have those flowers.  I would scramble to find something to hold them.

I wanted something special to put them in and finally found a turquoise jug with pink trim.  It was perfect – and far too expensive for me to buy outright.  I saved for months.  Finally one Friday night I had enough.  I went by the boutique on the way home from work, brought my treasure home and waited impatiently for him.

As was often the case with Fridays, it was the early hours of the morning when he finally arrived home.  I jumped up expectantly.  No flowers.  I can still see the abashed look on his face.  “They’re still in the cooler.  I was hurrying to catch the last train so I wouldn’t have to call you to come get me.”  The two of us broke out in laughter.

I still smile thinking about it.

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[Edited to add:  Fuzzie asked me if I still had the vase.  Took me a while to find it, but here it is.  The light is bad and the colors seem a little muted.  Maybe I’ll put flowers in it again some day.]

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Things Big Sisters Do For Their Baby Brothers

One Random Saturday morning – July 1994

(phone rings)

Me:    Hello

Mike:    Hey Maeve

Me:    Hey yourself. What’s up?

Mike:    Going to the beach. What you up to today?

Me:    Not much. Housework. The usual.

Mike:    Great. So, can I borrow Angharad?

Me:    Can you borrow Angharad?

Mike:    Yeah – just for a little while. Couple hours tops. And can you put her in some really girly dress and one of those hat things Mom got for her.

Me:    OK – hold on a minute. Why do you want to take Angharad to the beach?

Mike:    To meet girls.

Me:    You want to take my baby to the beach to meet girls.

Mike:    Yep. She’s better than a puppy. Total Babe Bait. So, when can I pick her up?

Me:    (Sigh) Give me an hour. And you better take good care of her or you’re dead meat.

Mike:    No problem. See ya soon. Bye

I don’t remember how many girls’ numbers he got that day.

The Babe Bait

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Michael

30 December 1966 – 18 September 1994

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