Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

It always looks better in movies – the gracious tinkling of silver on glass as the room is called to order, the misty-eyed introduction, and the resounding applause to the closing hug. On the big screen, the parental wedding speech looks like a beautiful way to celebrate a child’s nuptials.

In real life, you know that the neighbors are just waiting to quote your one offhand, inopportune, remark for the rest of eternity. To speak at a wedding means that all eyes – your nearest, dearest, and those whom social conventions forced you to invite – are on you. That thought frightens off most would-be speakers. Even those who aren’t afraid to speak are terrified of saying the wrong thing. A few soft-ball jokes and your in-laws storm out. A displaced noun and you’re no longer speaking terms with the formerly-happy couple. Speaking at your child’s wedding is only for the brave of heart – or for the silver screen.

By general consensus, wedding speeches have gone the way of gift-tables. In the present day few parents take the opportunity to address the crowd. However, there will always be someone who wishes to have their screen-star moment. That person, usually the father of the bride, will stop the band, hold up the mic and wait for silence. He will then begin speaking of his love for his daughter, the wife and family who have made his life a bed of roses, and the great respect he has for his new in-laws. He’ll praise the new son-in-law to the skies, usually beginning with “I could never have imagined, when I first met this boy, that we’d be here today at their wedding.” The crowd will then flinch, the first of many in this five-minute speech. He will talk in terms general and specific, sprinkling his stories with personal anecdotes – mortifying to his child – and perhaps a few gleaned from his new in-laws. He will conclude with a smile and a glint of tears, looking around for the child who is carefully avoiding his gaze. Beaming, he’ll thank everyone and sit. If only the curtain fell then, you’d never hear his wife sharply asking what he thought he was doing.



Some people wish they could receive advice from their future self. I can’t help you with that. However, for those of you turning 25, I can offer advice from your 24 year-old self.

Boredom: Lighting your hair on fire banishes boredom immediately.

Cake decorating: Writing “Surprise! You’re Pregnant” on a cake is always appropriate.

What do you call female chancellors?: Chancelleras.

Dowry: It’s better to have pots and pans than camels.

Flotation device: If something can’t double as a flotation device, it’s lacking an essential component.

Kansas: It’s worse than prison.

Micro-mini cows: If they can’t kill mice, they’re not worth $2,000 a head.

Open windows: If you leave the windows open when no one is home, bandits will come and rob you.

The Press: Don’t talk to them. Ever.

Schmutz: There’s a lot of it out there.

Spilled coffee: Make more.

Spilled milk: Don’t cry.

Weather forecasts: Weather should come with a reason. Example: Afternoon thunderstorms [insert picture]: You have all sinned so I’m going to shower rain upon you. Peace out.

Wishing you a happy birthday and many more years of wisdom

A Jarring Experience

A Jarring Experience

She told me to twist off the top. I tried. She told me to try again. I did. I tried with a towel, without a towel, and even under water. Nothing worked. I handed the jar over to my sister and with a flick of her wrist the jar was open. “How did you do that?!” I cried. “Just turn it,” she shrugged.

At the time, I thought she was trying to make it look easy. Then, after I moved away and still couldn’t open a jar, I learned that everyone makes it look easy. I was helpless and everyone else was accomplished. Determined to overcome my natural handicap, I tried any method that came my way.

I tapped the bottom of jars. Didn’t help.

I slammed the bottom of jars. Changed nothing.

I rolled jars around. I didn’t understand how that could help; it didn’t.

I allowed jars to sit under hot running water. Burned my hands a little, but the lid stayed stuck.

Nothing worked, and I gave up. It seemed that the only way I would ever open a jar on my own would be by handing it off to someone else.

Yet that refrain of “Just turn it,” played in my head every time I came across a jar. And I would try. Then I would fail, and go in search of someone more capable. Suddenly, one day, it happened. As I was wondering who  I’d be taking the jar to this time, I turned the lid and it came off the jar. With a soft pop the lid loosened and I had done it. I stated at the lid sitting in my hand and thought, “My sister was right.”

Which leaves me wondering what else she knows.

The Odds are Stacked in Favor of Pie

The Odds are Stacked in Favor of Pie

From those who miss the Summer of Pie, a flashback:

There’s something called stacked pie. NPR’s Pie Week lead me to all sorts of discoveries, but the strangest was stacked pie. The idea is that you and the family head out to a big ol’ barbecue. Everyone brings their finest pie, and while the men are firing up the grills, the women stack their pies. Literally, people load their pies one on top of the other. Once you’ve got a nice mound of pies, you slice through them and give every person a multi-flavor piece. Then you dial up the ambulance as the fat content makes its way to your loved ones’ hearts.

The idea is both off-putting and intriguing. When I decided to make two pies last week, I contemplated turning the experience into a stacked pie – thereby expanding my pie repertoire and cultivating a new culinary experience. Then I ran the idea of a Key Lime & Cherry Stacked Pie past Special Correspondent Ariella. When the gut response is “Gross. Why would you do that?” – especially when coming from a dessert maven such as herself – it’s a good idea to quit while you’re ahead.

Key Lime Pie [derived from a real recipe]


Cherry Crumble Pie

You know to make Aunt Sheryl’s Perfect Pie Crust

4 c cherries, pitted I now know why they invented the cherry pitter. It keeps your hands from looking like they’re drenched in blood. Plus it halves the time this takes.

1/2 c sugar

1/4 c water

2 tbsp corn starch

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

Except for cherries, mix together filling ingredients in a saucepan. Whisk mixture as it heats over a medium flame, until it thickens [about 5 minuets]. Stir in cherries.

Pour fruit into crust, and make

Oatmeal Crumble Topping

1/4 c toasted chopped almonds

3/4 c oatmeal

1/2 c brown sugar [more as needed]

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/4 c margarine


mix together and crumble on top of pie.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, more as needed.