*short & sassy.

This is what happens when you tell the dog to smile.

pride goeth.

What happens after you tell the dog to smile is that you do an indelicate face plant into the nearby snow.

*strange company.

The momster is, as a rule, an enormous fan of holidays, but always with a twist. When I was a kid there was no Santa Claus, but there were Christkindls. There was no tooth fairy, but the birthday fairy left you a pretty new outfit at the end of your bed every year. There was no Easter Bunny, but there were still baskets, filled with trinkets and plastic eggs and that bizarre but ubiquitous fake grass.

On Valentine's Day, there were heart-shaped gelatin snacks and notes in your lunchbox, hugs and small presents and shiny red apples with a thick river of peanut butter running through the middle.

So for me, Valentine's Day has always been a family holiday, with none of the cloying romance and all of the laughing and teasing and needling and cocktails. It's a riot.


Or it will be, maybe next year when the celebration doesn't fall during nap time.

I've been clinging to that day lately, because there was so much that this week has not been—cheerful, positive, supportive, relaxed.

mussel check.

I'm very lucky to have such an utterly insane family—a circle of uniquely amazing and loony kindred spirits.


My family doesn't all have to be biologically related to me; they just have to be people who wear their crazy like a brand, so I can recognize it and match it with my own and know that I have people. There's something warm and sparkly about loving someone really really hard who drives you completely nuts.

farro away.

It's also a good defense for the next time you drive them completely nuts.


So as this baffling and unpredictable week marches on, I remember: "They say that good things take time, but really great things happen in a blink of an eye."

for grins.

Yes, I just quoted Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana. That's MY crazy. Look familiar?

*stella's sense of snow.

Where the hell have I been?

Well, I've been snowed in, of course. Yes, in Alabama.

juarez family snow.

I know, right? I could hardly believe it myself. But it was gorgeous and perfect and giddy-making.

stella snow 8.

The flakes fell like Champagne bubbles on rewind, fast enough to make you laugh

stella snow 3.

but slow enough you thought you just might be able to catch one.

stella snow 11.

Living as we do, deep in sweltering summer territory, we weren't quite sure what to make of this particular type of humidity.

stella snow 7.

But once we'd warmed up to the idea,

stella snow 10.

and determined that it meant that most hallowed of all days, a snow day, we were pretty jazzed about it.

stella snow 5.

Especially because all that pretty precipitation could only mean one thing: SNOW PARTY.

stella snow 6.

The sheer awesomeness was almost more than we could fully understand.

stella snow 9.

But we did our level best to whoop it up.

stella snow 4.

We donned our sweats and drank our wine and wagged our tails and ate Fritos dipped in chili.

stella snow 1.

Yeah, that might have been a mistake. But then we had the most incredible epiphany of all: Snow day Friday means an extra-long weekend.

stella snow 2.

And that might have been the greatest gift of all.

Also, there was Valentine's Day. I was curled up by a warm fire, sipping wine and watching the snow drift with the one I love.

stella valentine 4.

Whatchoo lookin' so suspicious about, woman?

stella valentine 3.

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to sound so testy. I could never stay cross with you. What's that you say? "Owl be your Valentine?"

stella valentine 2.

Oh, Stella. You're a hoot.

stella valentine 1.

*ay, there's the grub.

In the absence of any actual news—well, that's not exactly right. In the absence of time to report said actual news (I'm going to try to get to that soon, I promise!), I bring you Things That Have Lately Been Responsible for Threatening My Seams, by K.

taco bar.

Taco bar at la casa del padre. Yes, that would be queso over that there flame.

veg cass.

Mexican Vegetarian Casserole. I made this for LSis and BiL, which meant I wanted to put my own special stamp of love on it. So I added beef.

pan bagnat.

Possibly the strangest craving I've ever had, in that it was for something I'd never tried. Pan bagnat, French for "soaked bread," which at the very least should have immediately signified it as something I'd abhor. But it was delicious, and lunch for about four days. Although if you think anchovies are "optional," you're insane. Not judgin', just sayin'.

scrimp taco.

Shrimp taco, also at La Bonita. Never grill, sauté, or otherwise mess with shrimp again. Sheet pan, drizzle of oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper, roast at 400 for 5 minutes. Do not question Ina.

home fries.

Home fries, that is, fries I made at home. Because I thought I'd flirt with kitchen fire #3 for the year. I prefer unadulterated French fried potatoes; the cheese and bacon you see there were just for photographic purposes. (I picked them off later because I was home alone and strange behavior was therefore permitted. And par for the course.)

pom marg.

Pomegranate margarita. Less a danger to my seams, more a danger to my brain cells. Meh, who needs 'em?

paella peas.

Spanish Chicken and Chorizo Paella, which morphed into Spanish Drumsticks and Hot Smoked Sausage Paella because my trendy Alabama 'hood doesn't carry furrin ingredients.

holy mole.

Guacamole. Creamy, spicy, and crammed as full of fresh tomatoes and red onion as possible.

kitty cake.

I didn't eat the kitty cake. But JBSH did carefully dissect it, to the delight of the kiddos.

color bowls.

Every available flavor: peanut butter, peanut, dark chocolate, and almond

long legs.

LSis managed to bogart $200 worth of Alaskan crab legs from work. They were the length of forearms and contained meat that prompted a rather indecent amount of groaning from around the table. I didn't eat those, either. I can't do crustaceans, no matter how fancy.

'dads table.

I had this, instead.

great gratin.

TFin makes a mean gratin. That's right, he's not just a pretty face.

chili bowl.

RIDICULOUS. Best chili I have ever eaten in my life, and that's not hubris, that's just the truth. Courtesy of The Lee Bros., and Whole Foods, for not being afraid to stock exotic and heavenly chilies of all varieties. I salute you.


*mud puppy.

We had a crazy weekend.

mud paws.

Like this, only infinitely more insane.

four head.

He's not out of the woods yet, so I'm not going to jinx his feeling better by telling the cracked-out story in its entirety, but I will soon.

For now I'm just going to go home and hug his big brown hairy neck and hope he's perked up and not staring at me with those enormous, mournful, make-it-better-Mommy-why-did-I-eat-the-bedspread-again? eyes.

It's hard being a parent.

*rhyme time.

Mommy see:

stella's mommy.

Mommy do:

six of one.

Chicken me:

cast shadow.

Chicken you:

chicken head.

Stella coo:



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.