Thursday, November 20, 2008

Apple Pie

This past weekend I did something I never thought I'd do. I baked an apple pie from scratch. (Well, except for the crust - Pillsbury just does such a good job!) I peeled the apples, sliced the apples, mix them with seasoning, put them in the crust, covered them up with the second crust, popped it in the oven and baked it up. It turned out really well, if I do say so myself. It lasted an amazing two days in the house.

For as long as I can remember, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, my mom has baked one or two homemade apple pies, fixed a ham and some broccoli casserole, and slid cranberry sauce out of the can. This was our traditional holiday meal. We all looked forward to the apple pie because it was the only time of the year she made it and it was delicious. Now I truly appreciate why she made it only for special occasions - it requires a lot of work. It isn't necessarily hard work, but it takes a while to peel and thinly slice all those apples. I don't think it will be something I add to my traditional meal line up - I'd rather mix up a cheesecake - but I'm proud to know that I could do it if I wanted to.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Holidays Are Coming!

Christmas is only six weeks away, my dear friend Rachel pointed out to me yesterday. How is that possible? That can't be right. Hold on, let me check the calendar. Oh my goodness, she might be right. Last Christmas, we traveled to Kentucky and spent Christmas with Joey's family. We had a good time, but realized that traveling for Christmas with kids just isn't much fun. I had to bring the Santa presents along in a tote so the kids wouldn't see them. Luckily, they never asked about the big blue tote in the back of the van. I had to bring all of our presents for our family and the ones for his family, and then bring all of the goodies back. Doable, but not as enjoyable as spending Christmas Eve in your own home. So after that, Joey and I said we weren't going anywhere this year. If anyone in our families want to spend the holidays with us, they can come here. That was then...this is now.

We have now decided to go to Kentucky and spend Thanksgiving with Joey's family. The Friday after Thanksgiving I'm getting up early to go shopping with his sisters, I hope to take Logan and my two nephews to see Madagascar 2, and we're having pictures made with the whole family. All 8 adults and 6 kids. That should be interesting. I've also had a request to bring some yummy chocolate chex mix, which I'll make the weekend before. We're all excited to get to spend time with his family, but I'm sure we'll be worn out when it's over. Oh well, it's worth it.

My mom and her boyfriend Pete are coming to our house for Christmas, and my sister Catherine and her husband Dave are coming the day after Christmas. More good times. But it's also got me thinking about feeding everyone. I have a plan, though. Christmas Eve I'm making Catherine's Taco Soup, Christmas morning I'm fixing a breakfast casserole, Christmas dinner will be beef stew, the day after Christmas mom is fixing chicken and dumplings, and Saturday morning I'm fixing my coffee cake, which Dave claimed to love last time he was here.

I've already started buying stocking stuffers for the kiddos and know what the rest of their presents are going to be. Affording it all is a different story, but I'll worry about that later. I already have the presents for the rest of our families done, except my niece and one of my nephews. I feel in control. I feel ready. I feel excited for all of it. Now when can I put my tree up? Driving home through my neighborhood last night I passed a house that already has Christmas lights up. It's too early, right? Speaking of Christmas lights, my friend Jessica agreed to help me put up ours this year. Woo hoo! Now how long do I have to wait?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Elect Barack Obama

For him or against him - how can you not be inspired by him?

Obama's Acceptance Speech:
If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he's fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation's next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, "We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection." And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Hooray! The election is one day away and then I won't have to hear campaign ads on the radio or watch political commercials on TV. I may even be able to quit Keith Olbermann (it'll be tough, though - I found out last night he used to be on SportsCenter). There will no longer be a reason to discuss politics at lunch. Yay! A return to normalcy.

I'm not going to try to persuade you to vote for my candidate (go Obama!). I just want to encourage everyone to get out and vote. Here in Charlotte the polls are open from 6:30 am to 7 pm. So hop to it!