Monthly Archives: May 2014

Confessions Of A Cookie-Challenged Mom…


burnt-cookies-picWell, it’s happened again. I’m really not sure if I’ll ever learn the lesson. I’ve come to the painful conclusion that there is something inherently wrong with me that I am absolutely INCAPABLE of baking a batch of cookies. Edible cookies, that is. I used to be a sort-of good baker. Admittedly, my creations were often not pretty to look. I never was deluded into thinking I could pass myself off as a baked goods artiste. But, the treats I baked always tasted pretty darn good. I think I probably just got lazy over the years. But, I mean, seriously, why the heck can’t I bake a decent batch of cookies anymore? I’m not exaggerating. Just ask my family. When I tell them I’m baking, there is an audible groan. One day, after an unsuccessful attempt, which resulted in a pan of lumpy black charcoals, I set the smoking pan outside on the deck. When my husband came home from work, he saw the pan outside and casually said, “Were you baking today?”

Yes, something has changed. I don’t know what it is, but it has become IMPOSSIBLE for me to successfully bake a batch of cookies. I mean cookies that are ooey-gooey good. The kind that people want to eat. At best, mine aren’t burned, technically,  but definitely crispy. That’s become my code word. “They are NOT burned. They’re crispy.” Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, I would love to be able to confidently bake a batch of cookies that doesn’t require gallons of milk to choke them down. I’m not even talking about the kind of baking that involves flour and sugar and eggs and whatever else cookies are made of. I’m talking about the pre-made Pillsbury cookie dough you buy at the store. It’s already pre-cut into cookie shapes! All I have to do is transfer them from the packaging to a baking pan, stick it in the oven and…here where it gets tricky…REMOVE them from said oven after about 10 minutes. The “removal part” I’ve learned, is key to the whole cookie-baking process.

I know what you’re thinking. And, YES I DO set a timer. And, I’ve even figured out that I shouldn’t stray too far from the oven during that ever-important ten minute period, so as not to miss the buzzing alert. And, yet, every single time, I find myself sniffing the air, thinking “Mmmm….something smells good.” Which is probably the time I should head over to the oven and check on the cookies. But, I don’t because, in the matter of several minutes after depositing the pan into the oven, I’ve somehow forgotten that cookies are baking. Instead, I continue whatever I’m doing until I finally do remember. And then it’s always “OH SHI******….” Every. Single. Time.

I remember once, on my way to pick my daughter up from school, I texted her saying I had made Snickerdoodles – those yummy cinnamon cookies. Her response: “Really? That sounds like something someone else’s mom would do.” I got lucky that day – no black smoke billowing from the kitchen. Mary Kate was so proud of me. That was a good day…



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The Most Important Person On Earth


The Most Important Person
on earth is a mother. She
cannot claim the honor of
having built Notre Dame
Cathedral. She need not. She
has built something more
magnificent than any
cathedral—a dwelling for an
immortal soul, the tiny
perfection of her baby’s
body…The angels have not
been blessed with such a
grace. They cannot share in
God’s creative miracle to bring
new saints to Heaven. Only a
human mother can. Mothers
are closer to God the Creator
than any other creature; God
joins forces with mothers in
performing this act of
creation… What on God’s
good earth is more glorious
than this: to be a mother?
—Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty

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Happy Mother’s Day…Or Why You Should Be Happy The Kids Are Gone

Mothers-DayHappy Mother’s Day! Someone remarked to me recently what a good mother I am, to which I responded that it’s easy when the kids aren’t around. My children are slowly growing up and moving away from Mom and Dad. Does that sadden me? No. It makes me happy and proud. That’s what’s supposed to happen. My oldest son, Mike, is married to the lovely Laura 🙂 and living in downtown Chicago. Brian is finishing up his second year of grad school at DePaul University and also living downtown. He has started working on his thesis, which will be the final piece of his graduate studies and will take him well into the next school year. As his mom, I would love if he could make his career in Chicago, and that could happen, however, I know that his field may very well lead him to other parts of the country. And that’s okay, too. If that happens, we’ll miss him terribly, but he must follow his path. My two youngest, Peter and Mary Kate, only have a short time left to be together, as students in the Percussion Studio at University of Iowa. Peter is set to graduate next Saturday and then, together, they will embark on the Steel Band Tour the following week. (Since it’s Mother’s Day, I will boast that Mary Kate is the only freshman who will be going on the tour…so that’s pretty cool 🙂  As a girl drummer, she totally rocks!) The University of Tennessee in Knoxville then beckons Peter to begin his graduate studies in the fall, a short six hundred mile drive away…

Today, I will spend my Mother’s Day in Iowa City for Pete’s final recital. As a music major, he was required to perform a formal Senior Recital, which is much more than simply a performance. It involves choosing the music, researching the composers and the background of the pieces, creating arrangements of pieces and, of course, a perfect execution of the music for an audience. Pete chose to perform a recital his sophomore, junior and senior years. His formal Senior Recital was nothing short of awesome. The recital which I am attending today, is what he has termed, his “fun” recital. I’m not sure how many kids would voluntarily perform an extra recital, just for fun. I’m guessing not many. And I can’t wait to hear and see him play. My husband and I made the three-hour drive to Iowa City two nights ago to see the last Steel Band Concert of the school year, and, more importantly, the last concert Mary Kate and Peter will perform together. Today, we will see Peter’s  last performance of his undergraduate career. And we can’t wait. Next Thursday, I’ll make that drive again to move MK out of her dorm and into her brother’s apartment as they prepare for their tour. I will then return on  Friday for the graduation on Saturday. After sending four children to the University of Iowa, the drive is second nature. Like running to the grocery store. “I’m going to Iowa. Be back in six hours…Need anything while I’m out?”

So, yes, I’m celebrating the fact that my kids are leaving me. You should be too. And, if your kids are still young-uns, remember that this is the goal.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I will leave you with my unsolicited advice on parenting (in no particular order):

1. Don’t be afraid of the word NO. It may very well be the most important one in your vocabulary. Just ask my kids…

2. Instill a solid faith in God. It’s what will get them through the tough times.They may stray, but will hopefully return if they have something to return to.

3. Let them know that there WILL be tough times. I will repeat the wise words of a priest at church: “Parents, teach your kids that life is not fair.”

4. Laugh. Laugh loud and often. Tease and allow yourself to be teased.

5. Expose them to everything – sports, music, chess, books, theater, etc and see what excites them. And then encourage them to follow their dreams. 

And most importantly…

6. Do not discourage or quash their spirit. “Every child is an artist until they are told they are not”  John Lennon

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NUMB book coverHello Box Wine Budget friends! I’m back after a kinda long hiatus. But I come bearing good news.  Today and tomorrow…that is…May 1 and May 2, I am offering you the opportunity of a LIFETIME!! Yes, you heard right. A LIFETIME!! I can hear you already: What amazing opportunity of a LIFETIME could my good friend possibly be offering? Well…are you sitting? Here goes… I am currently involved in a promotion with Amazon to offer my book, NUMB,to the public for a low, low, VERY low price. Yes, that’s right – TWO “Lows”  and one “VERY low.”

NUMB tells the story of an unlikely serial killer. You may even like her. But when an old friend confronts her about his suspicions, he learns a deadly lesson in minding his own business. HINT: you may never go to the dentist again… So, how much would you think a great story like this would be sold for? Hmmm??? What’s that, you say? $19.99? Why, that’s ridiculous. I said this was a great offer, after all. $10.99? Don’t insult me. I wouldn’t want to waste your time pretending that was a great deal.  $0.99?   Seriously, are you NOT listening to me?? I opened this blog promising you the deal of a LIFETIME…remember? So, it goes: For today and tomorrow ONLY, you can download my kindle book, NUMB, for FREE!!! Yes FREE!

Now, don’t you go fretting if you don’t own a Kindle reader because Amazon is so awesome that they offer a free kindle download for your PC, Mac, iPad, smart phone and probably thousands of other devices. I’m not actually sure about the “thousands” thing, so don’t quote me on that. But you get the picture. So, because your friends here at Life On A Box Wine Budget are such nice people, we are going to include the link for that free kindle download, along with the link for this amazing book. All you have to do is move your little mouse thingy over to the links and click. It’s that easy. We did all the hard work. All that’s left for you to do, then, is cuddle up on this cold, rainy day (at least here in Chicago – we’re all in agreement here that Spring will never come) and read.

Oh, and I’d LOVE  if you would be so kind as to leave a review on the Amazon site. Couple sentences is all that’s necessary. Okay, I’ll include a link for that too. Here’s the thing, though. If you love it and leave a great review, that will be awesome and I will be forever in your debt. If you thought it was pretty good and leave a pretty good review, I’ll still love you. If you decided it was so-so and not a complete waste of online clicking, I’ll actually still be cool with that. However, if you hate it, maybe you could just leave me a gently worded message  🙂

THREE EASY STEPS for the deal of a LIFETIME:

Free Kindle App:

NUMB link:

Amazon Review Site:

And, THAT, my friends is how I ended up becoming my own pitchman.  As you can see, it requires using capital letters A LOT. So, how’d I do?


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