Thursday, December 23, 2010

White Christmas

The forecast looks promising for my neck of the woods Saturday.
The meaning of Christmas has changed a lot for me since I was a child, but I can honestly say that one thing has remained the same. My all-time favorite Christmas song has always been White Christmas, performed by the only man who can do it justice: Bing Crosby.
Singers and their remakes come one year and are gone the next, but Bing's voice is timeless. The first to sing it publicly (in 1941), Bing's 1942 recording of White Christmas is the best-selling single of all time.
Take a moment and listen for yourself. Absolutely nothing captures the season better.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Insight from a Four Year Old

WARNING: Toy Story 3 spoiler alert
While watching Toy Story 3 tonight with the kids, one of the toys says, "what a nice bear." My four year old piped up and said, "He's not a nice bear. He's just pretending to be a nice bear, but he's a monster inside."
Holy smoke, I did not expect that sort of insight from my son. Actually, he was quoting a line from later in the movie (as my best friend kindly pointed out), but's amazing what a child can understand about humanity and sin nature.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mad Dentist

Here's the third installment of the dental/tooth cake series. That's a 12-inch ruler at the base of the cake, just to give it some perspective.

Everything is edible, except some strategically placed dowel rods and toothpicks.

Don't you just love the comb over?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


As we cuddled yesterday morning, my four-year-old pinched the inside of my upper arm as hard as he could. I yelped, and he looked at me, surprised. I stuck my bottom lip out, then I said, "That really hurt, buddy." His eyes filled with tears, and he began to cry. Then he apologized for hurting me. I was dumbfounded. Apparently, my sweet son has learned empathy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Literary Vain Repetition

The term vain repetition is often used in certain religious circles, typically in reference to repetitive, ritualistic prayer, based on a comment Jesus made in Matthew 6:7. I’ve decided, though, that vain repetition is the perfect term for a common mistake in writing. Brace yourselves for another of my writing pet peeves.

There are literary techniques that utilize repetition, such as anaphora or alliteration. That's not what this blog entry is about. No, I’m talking about those instances—typically in flowery, poetic prose, though every writer does it, and I have been so very guilty of it myself—where the writer is so enamoured with their own ability to turn a phrase that they can't decide which way they want to say it. So they say it both ways. Or all three.


(Watch for my example in this paragraph.) Seriously. Do us all a favor and pick one way to say it. I realize all three sentences might be lovely, and your mother or best friend or spouse is highly impressed with your prose prowess, but by the end of your literary muscle flex, your reader is no longer impressed. They're possibly annoyed that you’ve wasted their time repeating yourself, or just amused at what came across as self-absorption. Instead of expecting your reader to plow through your repetition, save your other clever versions of the same sentence for another time. Don't beat a dead horse with your re-invented phrases. Please.

Did you count them? I made the same point at least four different ways in that previous paragraph. Weren’t you impressed? I did feel a bit of pride about the alliteration in that little “prose prowess” ditty. Wasn’t that clever of me?

That is why I call it vain repetition. But you got my point, didn't you? So don't do to your readers what I just did to you. And please, please, heaven-have-mercy please don’t do it in fiction.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Pumpkin Dip

Several friends asked for the recipe for this treat, so I got permission to post it from the friend who gave it to me. This dip is absolutely delicious with ginger snaps or molasses cookies.

Pumpkin Dip

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened*
1 pound (16 ounces) of powdered sugar**
1 16-ounce can of unsweetened pumpkin
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes approximately 80 1-tablespoon servings.

*Try light cream cheese for a healthier option.
**The Libby Pumpkin website has a very similar recipe that only calls for 2 cups of powdered sugar (approximately half of a pound). That might be a good option for those trying to cut back on sugar.


I took my children to see the Nutcracker for the first time Wednesday. I'm not sure why, but I tear up every time they experience a first. Their first visit to the movie theater, trip to the zoo, the beach, a football game. Their first time hiking. My daughter's first lost tooth. The first time she read a story for herself. My son's pride in his first drawing.

Getting to see the excitement in their eyes, feel it right along with them. I wouldn't trade their firsts for anything in the world.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Here's the second in the tooth series of cakes, a 3D crown of a tooth. Everything you see here is edible--it's all cake, buttercream, fondant and sugarpaste.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Eternal Optimist and the Smooth Talker

I played my sweet six-year-old in checkers tonight. When she was down to her last man, she said, "I'm alone, but that's okay. I can think better alone."

Meanwhile, this morning my four-year-old learned to say, "How you doin'?" in true Joey Tribbiani style.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mike the Molar

A friend who owns a dental lab has asked me to make some tooth-themed cakes for him. Here's the first one. My kids called him Mike the Molar.