Sunday, November 30, 2008

A lot more magic in the kitchen

First, I have to thank Cakelaw from Laws of the Kitchen for giving me a second edition of this lovely award. Even though she's a jizillion miles away in Australia, I'd love to live by Cakelaw. She's always whipping up great cakes and baked treats for her co-workers, and is a lawyer to boot. I used to want to be a lawyer when I was younger, until I found out they wouldn't let me argue in the courtroom all the time. Then I decided to flit around and write stories.

You can be sure my Dad was thrilled with that decision.

I'd like to pass on the Butterfly Award 2.0 to these five lovely ladies:

1) Culinary Adventures of a New Wife
2) Heather
3) Emily
4) Emma
5) Jane

Thanks again, Cakelaw!

And now, without further ado, the next edition of Kitchen Magic...

For the next two days, Bizzy found reasons to shoo her family out of the house. The second the door shut, Sprinkles began to bark instructions and lecture her on the art of cooking. The louder Sprinkles got, the more nervous Bizzy became and the more disasters that occurred. Sprinkles often sat on top of the fridge, smacking herself in the head with a wooden spoon as she wept with frustration. It was enough to make Bizzy stick her head in the oven.

Then things got worse.

Bizzy burned the turkey. She turned the stuffing into a watery paste and had more lumps in her mashed potatoes than a bad plastic surgery patient. She even burned the pie that Sprinkles had made the crust and filling on. All she had to do was stick it in the oven and she still ruined it.

After a particularly unsuccessful round involving marshmallows and sweet potatoes, Bizzy burst into tears. She sank to the ground and buried her head in her flour covered hands.

"What are you doing?" Sprinkles shrieked. Her normally perky face was lined with worry and her wings drooped and were splattered with gravy. "Your parents will be back in thirty minutes! We've got more to do!"

"Why don't you just face it?" Bizzy said, looking up at Sprinkles. "I'm terrible at this and I'll never do well. Just give it up."

Black smoke began to leak from the stove and the smoke alarm shrieked overhead.

"I can't do anything," Bizzy cried over the noise, banging her head backwards into the stove. "I couldn't even bake a pie you made for me. What's that say about me?" The beeping alarm overhead drove it's piercing cries into her ears as the smoke began to make her eyes water. The entire cabin was black and smelled like burned meat. Sprinkles cursed and threw up her arms, silencing the smoke alarm and clearing the air in a single second.

"Get that out, would you?" she asked tiredly, pointing to the oven. Bizzy stood and pulled the oven door open, staring a perfect golden loaf of bread. Her eyes filled with tears as she set it on the stovetop, staring down at its crisp crust. She could only have made bread like that if she bought it from a store. Sprinkes was exhausted and she could still create food that was better than a four star restaurant. Sniffing, she turned away and plopped into a kitchen chair. She heard a tiny sigh and looked over at Sprinkles. The fairy was pale, leaning against a cabinet and fanning herself.

"You know, I refuse to believe it," she murmured, pressing a hand to her white cheeks. "I refuse to believe you can't cook anything. Something is holding you back. You're just not trying or something."

"I am trying!" Bizzy exclaimed, her face and chest blazing red. "I've devoted my entire week to trying to learn how to cook! Do you know how I feel knowing that they all think I can cook, when I can' t even make toast?"

"But you should be able to," Sprinkles argued. "No one can be this bad. It's simply not possible."

"Maybe it is!" Bizzy shrieked, her voice tearing through Sprinkles' ears. "I'm terrible. I'm going to spend my life eating take-out and microwave dinners. Now just let me be miserable in peace!" She slammed her head onto the table, the wood surface cooling her warm cheeks. "Why can't you just do it for me?" she mumbled into the table surface.

"Because it's my job to make sure you succeed," Sprinkles replied sternly. "What kind of kitchen fairy would I be if I couldn't teach you how to cook?"

"A smart one," Bizzy muttered under her breath. "One that knew when to call it in and give it up."

"I can't do it myself, it's against kitchen fairy rules," Sprinkles snapped back. "You have no idea how hard it is to be a kitchen fairy. It's very rigorous."

Bizzy snorted rudely. "What, you have to frolic in flour or something?"

"It's a lot more than that," Sprinkles retorted. "One has to abide by the laws of Kitchen Magic, swear on the Oath of the Spoon, dance in the Crystals of the Enchanted Ice Box..." Her eyes gleamed and she leaped off the counter. "That's it! What day is it?"

"Wednesday," Bizzy groaned, grounding her forehead into the table. "The day before the end of my life as I know it."

"What time is it?" Sprinkles demanded, bouncing up and down on the oven burners.

"Almost six in the evening," Bizzy moaned, clutching her watch in agony. "Just hours until my demise."

"Perfect." Sprinkes' smile stretched to her ears. "Get up and open the oven door," she said, digging in her pockets frantically. "Hurry!"

Bewildered, Bizzy stood up and pulled the empty oven door open. "What now?" she asked. With a gleeful whoop, Sprinkles dumped a bottle of pink sugar over Bizzy's head.

"What the"-- Bizzy cried, trying to shake the brush the sugar from her face.

"Baking and broiling,
Braising and basting,
Stewing and stirring,
It takes only a pinch,
maybe a cup or a pint,
With a dream and a taste,
Food fairies delight!"

Something blue flashed and Bizzy felt the world go dark. When she opened her eyes, her breath caught in her throat.

"Isn't it wonderful?" Sprinkles shouted, spinning on a cupcake floating by. "You're in the world of kitchen fairies!"

To be continued....

Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! Tomorrow we have a preview from the Christmas Book of Stories that will be released shortly (by me!), a new edition of Twirl, a look into the life of a Christmas ornament, more kitchen magic and Beef Burgundy. Prepare for a week of fun!

Friday, November 28, 2008

To Twirl

For the previous edition of "Twirl" go here.

After the week whirled by in a mixture of neon lights, school and hours of dance practice, Friday finally came. Vivi stood outside The Club, tapping her foot impatiently. It was twenty after nine, and Wade should be there any minute. She smoothed her dress with her hands, shivering slightly in the cool night air. It probably wasn't the smartest thing to stand on a sidewalk downtown in heels and a strapless red chiffon party dress, but Vivi hadn't been smart since she met Wade. If she was smart, she wouldn't be sleeping four hours a night because she couldn't tear herself from his arms at night. She'd spend more time studying instead of listening to his soft drawl on the phone after her parents had long gone to bed. If Vivi was smart, she would work on her leaps and turnout instead of her two-step.

If Vivi was smart, she'd turn around right now, walk back into the Club and forget all about Wade and how he made her feel like she was dizzy when she was standing still.

Her red heels stayed planted on the sidewalk. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned around to see her friend Bette, short for Elizabeth.

"Hey Bette," she greeted her. "What's up?"

"What are you doing out here?" her friend frowned, brushing her dark straight bangs out of her eyes. "The floor's packed, girl. Come dance with us."

"I will in a minute," Vivi said, craning her head to check down the sidewalk. "I was just waiting for Wade."

Bette rolled her eyes. "Forget Wade," she said, tossing her dark hair over her shoulder with a coy smile. "You know, Damien's been asking where you've been. I think he's hot for you."

"Damien's only hot for himself," Vivi snapped.

"I'm just saying," Bette shrugged. "With the performance coming up and auditions in two weeks, it wouldn't hurt to align yourself with talent, you know?"

Vivi rolled her eyes. "I don't care about talent," she said, an image of her father popping into her brain. "I care about twirling."

"What?" Bette cocked her head. "Twirling?"

"Never mind." Vivi checked her watch and sighed. 9:45 p.m. She glanced down the sidewalk and shook her head. "He must be running late. Let's go inside and I'll come out in a little bit."

Bette grinned and took her arm, pulling her up the sleek black stairs. Inside, red lights glowed over a slick black floor. Black couches and liquid-smooth tables lined the walls as bored-looking patrons sipped martinis and colorful drinks in pewter goblets. A deep pulse echoed in Vivi's brain as Bette pulled her onto the dance floor. The silver floor glimmered with flashes of colorful lights as dancers gyrated to the beat of the pounding music.

Vivi joined her friends, feeling as though someone had thrown her into a Christmas present that had exploded. She had become accustomed to the rowdy calm of wooden dance floors and local country bands, not a club that served truffles and women wearing body paint.

Several of her girlfriends pulled her on the dance floor, and Vivi let her body sway and move to the music automatically. Her eyes scanned around the room for Wade's face, but all she saw was the usual club crowd. Shimmying and wiggling her hips, she felt a pair of hot hands on her waist. She turned, her smile fading when she saw the owner of the sweaty palms.

"Damien," she said in a neutral tone. "What's up?"

His eyes flicked over her with a lecherous grin. "You look good, Vivi. Hot dress."

"Thanks," she said, stepping back out of his grasp. "Thanks for coming to Susanne's party. I know she appreciates it."

"I didn't come for her."

Warning bells rang in Vivi's ears and she stepped back. Damien's grin grew. He reached forward and pulled her toward him, his arm wrapped around her back.

"What did you come for?" she asked, pressing her lips together.

"To talk to you," he said with a smirk. "Mrs. Angelson stopped me the other day. She thinks we should work together for the audition, create a duet of sorts."

Vivi shook her head. "I work alone," she said in her most polite tone. It was the same tone she used for telemarketers and car salesmen. "Thanks though."

Damien's grin grew bolder. "She wants us to recreate the Lover's Dance from the Firefly."

Vivi sucked in her breath and tore herself from his arm. The Firefly was one of the most passionate ballets ever choreographed. Her father had a starring role in it during his prime years. The Lover's Dance was so intimate that it was the cause of countless divorces, marriages and illegitimate children.

"No," Vivi said, shaking her head so hard her hair stung her eyes. "No. Absolutely not."

Damien scowled and grabbed her wrist, jerking her toward him. "Vivi, you know you're the best in our class. Hell, other than me, you're the best in the school. We need each other. We need this dance."

"I don't need you or anyone," Vivi snarled, pounding her fist into his collarbone. "Let go of me."

"I'll tell Mrs. Angelson," Damien threatened, his fingers digging deeper into her small wrists. "She can make you."

Vivi responded with a kick to his shins, jerking her wrist from his hand. Damien yelped and lunged toward her, his eyes blazing. A calloused hand slammed into his chest, knocking him into the ground. Vivi turned and saw Wade standing with a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a daisy threaded through the belt loop of his worn jeans.

"Who the hell do you think you are?" Damien howled, climbing to his feet.

"Someone who's going to keep you from messing with my girl," Wade replied in a hard voice. He pointed to the edge of the floor. "Git. Go on now. Don't be ruining this girl's birthday." Vivi's jaw dropped as she watched Damien slink off the silver dance floor. She turned to Wade and beamed.

"I thought you weren't coming."

Wade put one finger under her chin and tilted her head up, pressing his soft lips to hers. "I always come," he said, running a hand over her hair. "I told you that, darling." He entwined his fingers with hers and said, "Now, who is Susanne?"

Vivi turned and pointed to her friend, who was watching Wade with wide eyes and a dropped jaw. "Susanne and Bette, this is Wade."

Wade dipped his head and handed Susanne the bouquet of flowers. "Happy birthday. Thanks for inviting me."

Susanne giggled and buried her nose into the blooms. "You're welcome anytime, Wade." She winked and nudged Vivi. "We need a big strong man like you around."

Wade blushed and murmured a thank you. He turned to Vivi and handed her the daisy. "For you," he said with a smile. "And I must say, you look wonderful tonight."

"It's for you," Vivi blurted before she could stop herself. "I wanted to look pretty for you."

"Darling, you don't have to," Wade said, his eyes crinkling at the corners. "You're pretty all the time." Vivi felt her legs weakening as he pulled her onto the dance floor. "But do you know when you're prettiest?"


"Just like this," Wade said, dipping her and pressing his lips to hers.

Vivi closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his neck. From the other side of the club, a pair of eyes watched with a grimace.

To be continued....

This weekend, the end of Kitchen Magic! And we have a fun week ahead! Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ode to the Food of Thanksgiving and Pecan Pie Bars

Ode to Thanksgiving Foods and How I Love Thee

For some, it's the green beans with onion rings,
For others the Watergate salad.
Some want new and improved treats
while others want foods of the past.

Here at the Pond, I'm very particular about food,
Particularly at Thanksgiving.
For you see, this is the one day of the year
that I gorge myself stupid.

I don't want your stuffed mushrooms,
Your fancy hors d'oeuvres,
I'm not eating any soup or seafood,
And don't you dare shove that stuffing in the bird.

Get the peels out of my mashed potatoes,
And the celery out of my dressing.
Don't even mention your fancy vegetables
And stop with the exotic flat bread.

You see, I come from a simple Texas family.
I grew up eating canned vegetables heated in the microwave with butter (squeeze butter),
steak fried like chicken,
and mesquite smoked turkey.

So you're welcome to your new ideas,
your new twists on tradition,
and your marsh mellow jello salads.
I appreciate the offer,
but I won't be having any.

For you see, there's only seven delicious foods I need,
for my perfect Thanksgiving.
And I can guarantee you won't find any of them,
in the new baking magazine.

Foodies, avert your eyes!
Culinary critics beware!
For what you're about to see,
Is true "simple food" that just can't be compared.

First, I need a good mesquite smoked turkey,
from the family favorite Robertson's.
If I had to choose a second favorite, it'd be Butterball,
No deep frying, Turducken or Tofu here.

Next, I need some good dressing.
But not the kind you're thinking.
Give me two bags of Pepperidge Farm stuffing and some chicken broth,
That's all you need to do.

Now for the mashed potatoes,
Made with love of course.
And a can of green beans or corn,
zapped with some butter and salt.

Don't forget the cranberry sauce,
straight from the can.
I don't care if you think it's tacky or gross,
It's the best thing since sliced bread.

Don't judge me!

A few dinner rolls later,
It's time for the pie.

Pecan, apple, or pumpkin,
They're all mighty fine.

And now, in case you're still hungry after your own perfect feast--have a pecan pie bar!

This came from the "Sweet and Simple" cookbook Marie gave me for my birthday.

I made them for our office Tex- Mex Thanksgiving and everyone loved them! That's right, instead of turkey and dressing we had tamales and tacos and pecan pie bars!

Be warned, they're quite addictive...

Pecan Pie Bars

2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 1/4 butter, sliced and divided
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
4 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups pecans, ground
1 t. vanilla extract

Combine flour, sugar, salt in large mixing bowl; cut in 3/4 cup of butter until fine crumbs form. Press firmly into a 13x9 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Add brown sugar, corn syrup and remaining butter to sauce pan. Bring to boil over medium heat and stir gently. Remove from heat, stir 1/4 of hot mixture into beaten eggs. Add remaining hot mixture and stir in pecans and vanilla. Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until set. Cool on wire rack and cut into bars. Makes 16.

Did you read the latest Kitchen Magic below? Then go read! Tomorrow we have a new Twirl and more fun over the weekend! Happy Thanksgiving!

The stress of Kitchen Magic

For the previous edition, see Wednesday's post.

Bizzy swore under her breath. Shoving her mother into the wall, she rushed by her and thundered into the kitchen. Her father was standing there with an incredulous look on his face. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Bizzy whirled around to explain. Her jaw hit the ground and the words stuck in her throat.

Sprinkles was smirking, perched on top of a perfectly golden roasted chicken. A bowl of mashed potatoes sat on the stove top next to a roasted corn salad. The oven chimed and Sprinkles pointed to a drawer on the left of the stove. As if in a dream, Bizzy stepped forward and pulled the drawer open. She took out a pot holder and opened the oven door. A loaf of golden cornbread lay inside, the rich buttery smell making her mouth water. She pulled it out and placed it on the stove, giving Sprinkles a look that spoke what she couldn't say.

"It's magic, baby," Sprinkled said with a sly smile. Bizzy gasped and immediately looked at her father. His face wrinkled in concern.

"Did you burn yourself?" he asked, stepping forward.

Bizzy's mother stepped into the kitchen and gasped. "Darling, how wonderful!" she cried, clapping her hands together. "I can't believe you cooked this!"

"I can't either," Bizzy replied honestly. She looked at her father. His ears had turned pink with pleasure and his fuzzy eyebrows were dancing along his hairline.

"Bizzy, I have to be honest, I thought this was going to be a terrible Thanksgiving," her Dad said, licking his lips as he looked at the kitchen. "I thought it was going to taste like cardboard." Sprinkles fell off the roasted chicken into the mashed potatoes, kicking her legs as she shrieked with laughter. Bizzy narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms as Sprinkles sank lower and lower in the potatoes.

"You must REALLY be bad," she cried, wiping her eyes. "That's pretty bad for your daddy to say that."

"Shut up," Bizzy muttered under her breath.

"What was that?" her mother asked, cocking her head.

"I said, 'Let's eat up," Bizzy said, trying to smile. "Why don't you call whoever is here and we'll have dinner?"

"Wonderful idea, darling," her mother beamed, pulling her cell phone out of her pocket. She held it up to the light and squinted. "The signal is terrible. I'll go outside to call."

"I'll go with you," her dad said. "I've got to get the bags." He paused in the doorway, his eyes crinkling around the edges. "Really, Biz, I'm impressed. This is amazing."

"Thanks, Dad," Bizzy replied, blushing at his wink. The warm feelings winging through her were ruined by Sprinkles' maniacal laughter from the mashed potatoes. She waited until the door shut and whirled around, glaring at the fairy.

"What is wrong with you?" she cried. "Why are you just sitting there talking and giggling like a madwoman?"

"What is wrong with me?" Sprinkles glared at her and put her potato covered hands on her hips. "I just saved your grits with a gorgeous dinner. What's your problem? They can't see me, nor hear me."

Bizzy sighed with relief. "Really?"

"What part of magic don't you get?" Sprinkles asked. "Does this concept not compute with you?"

Bizzy ignored her and rubbed her hands together. "This is brilliant!" she whispered. "I don't know why I never thought of it before!"

"What?" Sprinkles hopped out of the bowl, looking alarmed. "What are you talking about?"

"You can cook Thanksgiving dinner!" Bizzy informed her. "It'll be great!"

Sprinkles threw her head back with a snort. "You wish."

Bizzy's face collapsed from a smile into a look of utter despair. "What do you mean? It's so easy for you!"

Sprinkles shook her head. "It's not about me. It's about what's good for you."

"What's good for me is surviving this dinner," Bizzy snapped. "Do you know how crazy my family is?"

"No," Sprinkles said with a grin. "They can't be worse than you."

"Shut up."

"Here's the thing, Bizzy-O," Sprinkles said, sloughing potatoes off her arms and wings. "I help inept kitchen folks like you. It's what I do. So you're going to learn to cook, and you're going to make the Thanksgiving dinner for your folks without any help from me."

"Any help?" Bizzy swallowed hard.

"Any magic help." Sprinkles grinned. "Doesn't this sound like fun?"

As the front door opened again, Bizzy thought she'd hit her knees and cry.

This was the stupidest thing she had ever done.

To be continued....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kitchen Magic With Family

On the third day of Thanksgiving week,
the Blond Duck sang off key
"I'm grateful for my buddy Libby!"

Well, I'm not just grateful for my buddy Libby, though I do adore her. I'm also grateful for my buddies Marie and Emma (seen above. We were in a pie coma.)

These three women are essential to my life, and the first ones I turn to for very different reasons. Poor Libby gets the brunt of my whining, not that poor Emma and Marie get their fair share. But not only did Libby have to deal with me sitting on her desk and pestering her for two years, she had to deal with me dragging her over to my house as often as she had a moment in her busy social calender.

Marie often gets e-mails full of my brilliant ideas and questions about cooking. I truly believe we're kindred artistic souls--she understands things a lot of people don't about me. I love when I catch her on instant messenger and talk for a minute before I scurry off to work.

I met Emma at a writing conference. Every since then, she's shifted through pages and pages of my work and offered tons of encouragement and support. If I hadn't had her, I might have given up on writing long ago. She also listened to weeks of whining about my job and other issues.

I like to whine.

Even the Babies understand the importance of friends, as you can clearly see with Bear and the Dolphin. They've become so attached the Dolphin now follows Bear to bed every night.

And, Invisible Friends, I have to thank you. People like Prudy, Lucy, the Noble Pig, Grace, Marjie, Bunny, Jane, Linda, Kelly, Katherine, Jen and Candy supported me back when no one was reading. They were the first to like all my stories, and have offered nothing but encouragement and support. You all mean a lot to me, and I strive to make you all happy every day.

Also, considering I just ate four of them, I'm very appreciative of biscuits and all breakfast foods, including my beloved waffles.

Biscuits are tasty.

I need to get on the treadmill now.

And now, a new edition of "Kitchen Magic". To read the previous edition, go here.

"Who's here?" Sprinkles looked up from the chocolate chips cookie and peanut butter sandwich she had just made.

"My family!" Bizzy hissed, banging her head against the window. "They're here three days early! Why are they here three days early?"

"Ask them, not me." The fairy licked her lips and shoved the cookie sandwich in her mouth. Her eyes fluttered closed and she fell back on the counter, a smear of peanut butter and chocolate spreading from her lips to her mouth. "That is so good," she mumbled in a state of reverence. "That is sooooooooooo good. I'm going to need three more of these." She sat up and began to try to shove the jar of peanut butter behind her wings.

"Would you stop eating and help me?" Bizzy snapped. "What am I going to do?" Her eyes widened and she moaned in dismay. "What am I going to do with you? Oh God!"

"With me?" Sprinkles looked up from shoving the sixth cookie behind her left wing. "I think the question is what I'm doing with you. I live here. This is my kitchen."

Bizzy rolled her eyes. "You're going to have to hide," she growled, watching her father try to peer through the wrong side of the peephole. "If they see you, everything will go to pot."

"You don't even know how to work a pot," Sprinkles retorted. "That's why I'm here." She hummed with glee and took another bite of her cookie sandwich. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head in ecstasy and she let out a very improper moan.

"Would you stop that?" Bizzy hissed, her cheeks flaming red. "You sound disgusting!"

"You would to if you were eating this," Sprinkles drawled, licking the peanut butter and chocolate off her fingers. "It's completely SINFUL." She sucked the mixture off her finger and exhaled deeply. Bizzy yelped as her parents knocked on the door.

"Bizzy?" her father's voice called. "Bizzy, are you here?"

"Hide!" Bizzy squeaked, clomping toward the door in her impractical fall boots. She pulled the old wooden door open and forced a smile on her face. "Mom, Dad! You're early!"

"We're sorry," her Mom apologized, stepping inside. "We heard the weather was going to be bad and wanted to beat the traffic."

"Plus, we wanted to help," her father boomed, his deep voice filling the tiny cabin. He looked around and raised his bushy eyebrows, ducking through the door. "Well, it's uh, charming, isn't it? Think it'll hold everyone?"

"Everyone?" Bizzy echoed, feeling her blood pressure beginning to rise. "There's just 11 of us, right? My brothers, grandma and grandpa, ya'll and me. That's 11."

Her dad grinned sheepishly at her. "Well....."

"Well what?" Bitty exploded.

"Your dad's sisters are coming with their husbands," her mother murmured. "And their children."

"And Uncle Bob," her dad added, his bushy eyebrows threatening to crawl off his face.

Bizzy took a deep breath, hoping her heart wouldn't explode into a million pieces all over the room. It was either that or screaming and bashing her skull into the hardest wall she could find.

"Mom, dad has seven sisters. And they each have four to five kids. And Uncle Bob is an alcoholic."

"And Mary," her mother added, shrinking back as Bizzy's neck physically twitched.

"And Bob's lesbian ex-wife," Bizzy muttered, biting the inside of her cheeks. Feel the pain, she thought to herself. Feel the pain. Feel the pain so you don't cause pain. Causing pain is bad. After another deep breath, she was able to keep her words calm. "Mom, this dinner is going to need to feed nearly 50. I don't have that kind of money."

"We're going to chip in," her mother said, her forehead wrinkling with worry and shame. "I'm sorry honey, we weren't trying to make you feel like you had to provide for all of us. They're just going on some hard times and your Daddy invited Sarah and she invited Mary and...well, you know how that goes."

"I know," Bizzy repeated numbly. She couldn't even peel a carrot, and she had to cook dinner for 50 people on $100. Even with a kitchen fairy, this was going to be impossible. Her chest was tight and her stomach felt as though it had been turned into a blender of acid. Any moment, she was going to be ill all over her shoes.

A loud clash rang out from the kitchen. Her dad's fuzzy eyebrows knit together and he rushed toward the noise.

Bizzy felt her heart drop to her toes and gasped. Sprinkles.

"No!" she cried, running after her dad. "Don't go in there!"

She heard her Dad swear and shout, "Wow! Oh Wow!"

To be continued.....

Tomorrow, we have a doubly delicious treat: an ode to the Blond Duck's favorite Thanksgiving foods and a delicious recipe AND a new Kitchen Magic. And by popular request, Twirl on Friday! Stay tuned for the end of Kitchen Magic this weekend and a look at the Blond Duck's Christmas decorations...remember, nothing is what it seems in the Pond! One more day until Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving for a Queen

On the second day of Thanksgiving Week, Queen Bitty said to me......

"Give me my own post or off with your head!"

Before I am chased by a four pound dictator with the world's sharpest nails, let me tell you what I'm grateful for for the second day of Thanksgiving week, both food and otherwise.

I'm thankful for my parents and sister. They help us out a lot, being an hour away, and it's nice to have them so close. My mom and sister always help me with things I'm terrible at, like decorating, shopping without killing someone and organizing. My dad always gives valuable advice, and I love hearing his stories of growing up in West Texas.

I also want to say I'm thankful for Ben's family, who have always been kind to me. It can't have been easy to see their son marry a pink twirling dancing maniac. And they actually read my blog. My parents have to read my blog. I'm their kid. Ben's parents choose too.

The poor things.

And, because I can't last five minutes without talking about food, I must admit the one food I am seriously grateful for: beef.

No matter how it's fixed--ground in bacon cheeseburgers, barbecued in ribs or brisket, sliced in nachos or tacos, smushed into meatballs, meat pies or meatloaf or gryos or sprinkled in pasta....

I could go on. The point is--I like beef. A lot. It's for dinner. And lunch. And breakfast.

Excuse me. I need to go find my fiber pills.


And now, for Queen Bitty's Thanksgiving Declaration:

First, I would like to say thank you for the compliance and loyalty of my deplorable subjects. It seems my minions have done a good job of keeping you in line. I am pleased.

Oh, the wuffles!
Next, I would like to thank my faithful subject--er partner, Bear. With his permanent look of worry and tendency to wuffle when nervous, happy, excited or just breathing, the Blond Duck has never figured out I'm the one eating the carpet in the front hallway. My ploy is working!

I am grateful we're going to the Blond Duck's parent's house for Thanksgiving. This will give me the opportunity I need to brainwash her father into admiring me. He will submit!

As Queen, I am thankful to Ben for having a nice soft belly and hot smelly armpit to curl up in at night. I do enjoy sleeping in stinky warm places. It's like sleeping in a furry swamp.

I am thankful for my adorable looks and past career as a model. It's a lot easier to rule a country when you're pretty and can snarl at the press if they mention your tiny overbite.

I am grateful for the large amount of food and treats the Blond Duck's mom and sister bestow upon me. I deserve it.

You know you want to send me toys and treats. Look at me. Come on.

And last, I suppose I might be a tiny bit thankful for the Blond Duck.

I had to say that. She feeds me.

Now excuse me. I must return to my plans of world domination.

Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! Tomorrow, we have a new Kitchen Magic. On Thursday, we have an ode to the Blond Duck's favorite Thanksgiving foods and a really tasty recipe for pecan pie bars. And don't worry-- we'll also have a new Twirl for all you romance lovers!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Day After Thanksgiving

Welcome to Thanksgiving Week at the Pond!

We're kicking off our ode to all things turkey with a flash from the past and the first of my grateful tributes. On the first day of Thanksgiving week, I have to say I'm thankful for a certain someone.

Ben has been putting up with me for nearly six years, and he has still maintained his sense of humor. As much as you, my darling Invisible Friends adore me, I'm not as easy to live with in real life. Peanut butter and dancing obsessions are only funny in theory. Or for at least three days. After that, you'd probably clutch your hair, pluck out your eyeballs and scream, "Please get this dancing creature dripping with pink and sprinkles and smelling of peanut butter and apple pie out of my house! All she does is talk about food and goofy stories! All I want to do is have a conversation that doesn't revolve around food, puppies or publishing!"

And poor Ben sits there day after day, feeding me waffles and bbq and listening to me babble until his eyes glaze over. He's tolerated the Babies destroying the carpet with their nuclear peeing habits and still dances with me wearing a smile.

He's a true prince.

And because I like to talk about food, I'll also list a food every week that I'm eternally grateful for.

I've been craving these every hour. I bow down to whatever brilliant person created pancakes.

And as Paul Harvey would for the rest of the story.

When I was in college, I loved to write. However, I had shoved my creative writing on the back burner and pursued public relations because it was practical. I had no illusions that I would exit college, turn in a story to a publishing company and receive a large check, whirlwind tour and my own fan club.

Fine. I might have had some tiny secret illusions.

Anyway, I was resigned to writing press releases and profiles for the rest of my career. Then I met Dr. Carol Perry in PR writing. On the first day of class, she took my hand in hers and gave me a warm smile.

"I'm so glad you're here," she said, pumping my hand. "I don't get many PR majors. I look forward to seeing your work."

She had me in the palm of her hand.

Dr. Perry did more than just teach me how to write a press release. She taught me it was ok to write my little stories and line by line, pulled me out of my shell. She challenged me, worked with me and was the first one to coax all the little stories I write now out of me. She was the first one to reveal my niche and style to me, and one of my first major supporters.

I owe this blog to her.

Even though I've never been able to reach Dr. Perry, I hope she knows what she meant to me. Because in her class, I felt like my words were gold. I was challenged and I pushed myself. I wanted every word to be perfect, every line to be brilliant.

And until you, my dear Invisible Friends, I hadn't felt this way in years. I was beaten down by the piles of rejection letters, torn by the sharp critiques of my work. I'd been called juvenile, plotless, one-sided, dark (yes, dark) and aimless. Everything felt wrong, and everything was wrong.

When I quit worrying about what the publishers and agents thought and started to write what I wanted, that's when I met all of you. When I quit worrying about word count and coming up with brilliant ideas and forcing out stories in a standard medium, you began to read. And when I quit trying to write books and just wrote, you asked for more.

So I owe this to you as well.

Dr. Perry, I want to thank you for what you've given me. And Invisible Friends, I want to thank you for reading.

It all started with this Thanksgiving assignment in the fall of 2005, when I stood up in front of the class and read this until tears formed in Dr. Perry's eyes. I still remember the hug she gave me in front of my bewildered classmates. At that moment, I felt like a real writer.

Thank you.

“The Day after Thanksgiving”

It was the day after Thanksgiving,
and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.

My father was sitting in his big leather chair,
hoping that my mother would let him stay there.
All the turkey had been eaten,
all the relatives had gone,
and now it seemed like no one could smile, just groan.

I was six years old with nothing to do,
with no cousins to entertain me,
not even a friend or two.

I walked up to my Dad who was glued to a football game,
and asked him, "Daddy, what can I do today that's not lame?"
My dad said, "Go play outside," without ever taking his eyes off the TV.
"I'm much too busy watching football, as you can plainly see."

So I bundled up and put my dog on a leash,
and Princess and I set off down the street.
We passed a few houses and I was happy to see,
old Mr. Ritter was sitting on his porch as his son hauled in a Christmas tree.

I scurried up the sidewalk with Princess by my side,
and said "Hey Mr. Ritter whatcha doing? Isn't it kinda cold outside?"
Mr. Ritter just smiled and said to me, "I'm happy watching my son and grandkids buy and decorate a Christmas tree.
I'm grateful for my family and that I get to spend one more Christmas with them,
before I head up to heaven."

"Are all people grateful on Thanksgiving?" I asked curiously,
and old Mr. Ritter said, "Well if they aren't they should be!"

So I waved good bye to old Mr. Ritter and skipped down the sidewalk to visit my old babysitter. "Hey Leah," I said to her when she opened the door.
"What is it that you’re grateful for?"

Leah looked shocked and said to me, "I'm grateful for my friends and my boyfriend Ben.
He cheered me up when I was blue, and my friends are coming to get me to go to the zoo.
Love and friendship are very important to me,
and I'm grateful I have both in my life, don’t you see."

Just then a car filled with teenagers pulled up to the curb,
and the blaring music had the neighbors looking disturbed.
Before old Mr. Wayne could yell "Turn that down ruffians!";
I waved and skipped down the street as the old man started fussin'.

A few houses down and what to my curious eyes should appear?
The Smiths loading up a moving van, and not even shedding a tear!
"Mr. Smith," I asked him curiously, "What are you grateful for? And why are you moving? Is it because of me?"

Mr. Smith smiled and shook his head,
"Child, it's nothing you've done or said.
We were evicted from our house, so we must find somewhere else to live instead.
I'm grateful we have some money, and plenty to eat,
but I will miss living on this street.
I'm grateful I have my wonderful wife, so I know we'll be ok in life."

"You can live in my tree house," I offered.
"There’s lots of room when you live high in the trees..."
Mr. Smith laughed and said, "I don't know if I'd quite fit. But it's quite a nice offer, and I'll think about it."

I said, "I understand, and I'll miss you as well. I hope you find a home that's for sale."

I waved goodbye and skipped down the block until I ran into my dad, who didn't look happy but rather looked mad.
I skipped right up to his glaring eyes, and when I said, " Dad, what are you grateful for?"
I really took him by surprise!
He said, "I'm grateful for you and your mother, and for my parents and brother. I'm grateful I have a job and a home, and I'm grateful I'm not alone.
I'm grateful for my friends and I'm grateful for my wife. If you break it down, I've got a great life. And you're the best part of all!" he said as he swung me over his head. "No one else could have had such a great kid!"

"So you're not mad I went on a walk?" I asked when he put me down. My dad just laughed and said, "I was mad but I guess you turned me around."

Stay tuned Invisible Friends! Tomorrow Queen Bitty announces what she's grateful for. We also have a new Kitchen Magic and a monster Thanksgiving ode to food and how the Blond Duck really loves thee. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Magic of Cooking

We interrupt this discussion of all things magic to thank K, my darling Southern college buddy blogger. K has bestowed the honor of the Uber Amazing Blog onto me.

K, for those of ya'll who don't know her (and probably won't b/c her blog is private), is one of the coolest girls I know. She's smart, pretty, fashionable and would have intimidated the crap out of me at Baylor. She's got oodles of friends and a cute new boy she's dating, so it's a wonder she actually enjoys reading all my wacky stories. I'm honored, I truly am. I'm uber honored, in fact.

Update: If any of ya'll want an invite to K's blog, e-mail

The Uber (synonym to Super) Amazing Blog Award is a blog award given to sites who:
~ inspires you
~ makes you smile and laugh
~ or maybe gives amazing information
~ a great read
~ has an amazing design
~ and any other reasons you can think of that makes them uber amazing!

The rules of this award are:
* Put the logo on your blog or post.
* Nominate at least 5 blogs that for you are Uber Amazing!
* Let them know that they have received this Uber Amazing award by commenting on their blog.
* Share the love and link to this post and to the person you received your award from.

The five Uber winners are:
1) Paula, for her ability to make me uber-crave French/ Italian Toast Pizza five days after she posts it
2) Grace, for her uber-love of cinnamon
3) Pumpkin, because she just went to pastry school away from her husband and family and needs some UBER cheering up.
4) Marji, because she's uber nice
5) Pam, for her uber delicious Mexican recipes that have me eating more tostadas than any girl who wants to fit in her jeans should...

And two UBER bonuses...

6) Linda, who needs some uberness after a family death
7) Katherine, who is always uber supportive with all my wacky stories

Thanks so much K! Ladies, congratulations!

And now, for more Bizzy and Sprinkles....

For the previous post of Kitchen Magic, read yesterday's post.

Sprinkles grinned and waved her hand in the air. "The first thing you need to learn," she said, twirling a wooden spoon between her fingers, "is to love food."

Bizzy snorted. "I do love food," she said, looking down at her not-so-girlish figure and wincing. She hadn't picked up the best eating habits in college.

Sprinkles shook her head and wiggled the spoon at her. "No, you love fat and sugar and preservatives and feelings of comfort. You don't love food. If you loved food, you would relish the bite of an apple or the crispness of celery as a stalk broke. You simply pour a box of macaroni in a pot and eat it watching Sex in the City DVDs as you whimper about how your life is nothing like theirs."

As Bizzy's eyes widened, Sprinkles crinkled her nose. "I don't understand that show anyway," she wondered aloud, hopping on the spoon like a pogo stick. "It's just so....shiny." Sniffing in disgust, she waltzed across the cooktop as she danced with the spoon. Bizzy would soon learn kitchen fairies had a very short attention span. The only way to make them focus was to involve food.

Bizzy's cheeks burned and she looked down to the ground. "Is it that obvious?" she whispered. "Am I that pathetic? I must be the only Southern girl in the world who can't cook."

Sprinkles groaned and bashed her head into the microwave. Flour exploded from her hair and floated in the kitchen air.

"See, this is the problem," she moaned. "You're too busy stewing in your own pity party to make an actual stew! Who cares if you don't know how to cook? That's what you're here to learn!"

"But I only have a few days!" Bizzy wailed. "How can I learn to roast a turkey and mash the potatoes in that short of a time?"

Sprinkles sighed and cradled her face in her arms. "Kitchen fairy," she shouted in a muffled roar, banging the spoon into her head. "I'm a kitchen fairy. I just re-did a old kitchen into this new wondrous creation in front of you thirty minutes ago. What do I have to do to impress you, transport a chef here?"

Bizzy perked up. "Well, actually..."

"Do you know how rude and obnoxious professional chefs are to kitchen fairies?" Sprinkles howled. "Forget it." Bizzy's shoulders slumped and Sprinkles rolled her eyes. She opened the oven door and pulled out a pan of chocolate chip cookies. A blast of warm air hit Bizzy's face as the scent of warm chocolate filled the air.

"Were those baking when I got here?" she asked as Sprinkles placed the pan on the cook top, sliding closer to the warm cookies. Her mouth began to water.

"You really don't get this whole magic thing, do you?" Sprinkles snapped. She whirled around and held her hand out, standing protectively in front of the warm cookies. "Stop. You can't have one."

Bizzy's face twisted in a scowl. "Why not?" she snapped, looking mournfully at the cookies. "You can't eat all those yourself."

"Sure I could," Sprinkles countered. "I've eaten entire pies for snacks. That's not the point." She pulled a carrot from behind her glimmering wings. "Eat this."

Bizzy looked at the carrot in disgust. "Look," she said, putting her hands on her hips. "I know I gained a few pounds from stress eating, but I'm going on a diet right after Thanksgiving. A few cookies won't hurt me."

"This has nothing to do with your weight, you twit!" the fairy roared, slapping the carrot on the oven as the glasses in the cabinet rattled. "Just eat it!"

Bizzy sighed and took the carrot. She detested carrots and could normally only eat them with ketchup. Wrinkling her nose, she bit off the end and chewed. It was dry and bitter in her mouth, crunching in her ears as she chewed. She had never felt more like a horse in her life.

"What do you taste?" Sprinkles asked.

"A dry, nasty carrot," Bizzy answered, spitting the mouthful in the trashcan. She couldn't bear to swallow it.

Sprinkles raised her eyebrows and pulled a cherry tomato from a pocket of her dress. "Try this."

and tingled her sinuses. She spit it out in the sink and scraped her With a sigh, Bizzy popped the tomato in her mouth. The acidity of the juice burned her tonguetongue with her teeth, trying get the taste of her mouth. "That was really gross," she informed Sprinkles. "Give me a cookie now. I played your game."

The kitchen fairy rolled her eyes. "This is going to be harder than I thought," she muttered. "Close your eyes," she ordered.

Bizzy shook her head, but she closed her eyes.

"What do you smell?"

"Chocolate chip cookies that you're hoarding," she responded promptly.

Sprinkles sighed, trying to keep her temper in check. "What do you smell?" she repeated. "Don't answer, just smell."

Bizzy took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of warm cookies. She waited a minute and took another deep breath. This time, she smelled roasted turkey. Cocking her head, she took another deep breath. Now she smelled stuffing. And mashed potatoes. Was that pumpkin pie?

Her eyes flew open and she gasped. She was back at her childhood home, standing in front of the dining table that had been passed down from generation to generation. The table was filled with her mother's crystal dishes for a Thanksgiving feast. A roast turkey shone on the table next to a rich bowl of stuffing and creamy mashed potatoes. A tiny bowl of cranberry sauce was next to her aunt's special corn salad and a plate of rolls so fresh they steamed. On the sideboard lay the pies: pecan, pumpkin, apple and even caramel for her diabetic uncle Joe, who always said if he had to go it would be with a piece of caramel pie on Thanksgiving.

Taking a seat, Bizzy inhaled the plate that had already been filled for her. The second she took a bite of the tender turkey, she thought she would melt. The stuffing was savory and the potatoes were so creamy she could have sworn it was ice cream. Every dish was better than the next. By the time she got to the pecan pie, she thought she would cry with pleasure.

She had just taken a bite of the warm pie when she felt her teeth crunch down on something. Bizzy looked up and started.

She was back in the kitchen of Mrs. Patterson's cabin. Sprinkles was watching her carefully. Bizzy looked down at her hand and saw the carrot clutched between her fingers. She took another tentative bite and grimaced. She was eating carrots, not pecan pie. A satisfied grin spread over Sprinkles' face.

"That is how you love food," Sprinkles said. "Do you understand now?"

"Anyone is going to love turkey and dressing and pie over this," Bizzy snarled, waving the carrot at her. "That was a terrible trick."

"It was necessary," Sprinkles corrected her. "You loved what you were eating because of the memories and nostalgia. That lead you to appreciate the flavors and the taste and how it made people feel. That's true love of food. You weren't thinking about yourself, you were thinking about those who helped make the meal and those who would enjoy it. You're not ready to learn how to cook."

Beaming, Sprinkles scuttled off to a cabinet as Bizzy scowled after her. Cracking the cabinet door open, she began to pull down cookbook after dusty cookbook. Bizzy reached for a cookie and took a bite, closing her eyes in bliss. She didn't care what Sprinkles said, cookies were much better than carrots. "By the way," she called over her shoulder. "The dinner you ate had no calories. You can thank magic for that."

Bizzy took another cookie. The doorbell rang, and she flew to the kitchen window. The happy grin on her face drained into pure horror.

"Oh no," she croaked, the cookie shaking in her hand. "They're here early."

To be continued...

We have a fun week coming up Invisible Friends! It's Thanksgiving week here at the Pond! Not only will you have whimsical stories and more food than anyone could eat in a year, but each post will feature something I'm grateful for! We've got the conclusion of Kitchen Magic, a new Twirl, lots of tasty treats and more! Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Mystery in the Kitchen

Before you learn who is behind Bizzy's mysterious kitchen makeover, I have to thank Michelle at Chocolate and Marmalade Tea for the butterfly award.

For those of ya'll who don't Michelle, she's an old fashioned queen of whimsy and delight in this big modern world. She's got the cutest cottage this side of everywhere and is one of the sweetest, most open people I know. Go say hi. It'll make your day better just to visit her page.

The rules of this award are:
1. Pick ten people to pass this onto if you choose.
2. Contact them and let them know you have chosen them for this award.
3. Also, link back to the person who gave you the award.

The winners are:

1) My buddy K from Life of Southern College Girl. Because she's cute.
2) Linda from Just Another Day on the Prairie for her stunning photography skills
3) Cathy for continuing to try to please her picky kids. I know the feeling.
4) The Noble Pig, for being truly noble. And funny.
5) Candy from the Courageous Cook, because I am not courageous in the kitchen.
6) Lucy from Sweet and Savories, because of her new puppy baby and grandbaby.
7) Louise because I learn things over there.
8) Marie in honor of her new cookbook!
9) Ingrid for all her support and love of my writing.
10) And finally Stephanie of Live, Love and Eat, who took the time to teach me via e-mail how to do links. Without her, none of this would be possible!

And now, you'll finally learn who the stranger in Bizzy's kitchen is.......


"It's happened," Bizzy murmured aloud to herself, her eyes glued to the creature--person---hallucination that was grinning manically at her from the counter. "I've cracked up. The stress of my job and cooking this dinner has made me batty. I'm nuttier than a fruitcake."

"I love fruitcake," the voice chirped. Bizzy gaped and nodded. "Of course you do," she murmured. "Of course you do."

Sitting on the counter, a small fairy the size of a large cup smiled up at her. Delicate wings the shade of gossamer fluttered as she put her hands on her minuscule hips. A cloud of caramel hair spun into a swirl with the tiniest curl at the top surrounded a tiny face filled with two eyes the color of fresh blueberries. Her frothy dress was the color of cotton candy and dotted with sprinkles and gum drops. Giggling, she leaped up on her small feet.

"You have to snap out of this," she chided Bizzy. "We have too much work to do for you to stand around and gawk at me all day. So ask your questions, fast. You have a lot to learn before we put on Thanksgiving dinner for your family."

Bizzy's jaw dropped and she blinked rapidly. "How did you know that?" she stuttered, looking around. Was this entire house filled with strange creatures?

The fairy smirked and pointed to the surface of the oven. Pulling a sugar cube out of her pocket, she crumpled it in her fingers and scattered it on the cook top. "Look," she commanded, crooking her finger as if reeling Bizzy in. Gulping, Bizzy stepped closer to the cook top. She saw herself tearing at her hair in the center of the kitchen.

""I can't do this," she saw herself mutter over the burners. "I've only got four days until Thanksgiving. I don't know how to cook, I don't have any food and I only have $100 to spend on this dinner."

"You never thanked me for the dishwasher," the fairy pointed out as Bizzy stumbled back, clutching her chest. The fairy sniffed and crossed her arms. "And you never said if you liked it. It takes a lot of work to redo a kitchen like this!"

"Thank you," Bizzy said automatically. She shook her head and narrowed her brown eyes at the fairy. "Wait a minute," she growled. "I never asked you to do anything!"

"I'm a kitchen fairy," the fairy explained as if Bizzy was daft. "That's what I do."

"A kitchen fairy?" Bizzy repeated, running a hand through her hair. "What's that?"

"Me!" the fairy bellowed, rattling the plates in the cabinets and the pots under the sink. "Have you never seen a kitchen fairy before or something?"

"No," Bizzy replied.

"Oh," the kitchen fairy said, her shoulders dropping a bit. "Sorry then. I'm Sprinkles."

"Sprinkles?" Bizzy repeated, trying to keep the corners of her mouth from twitching. "Is that your real name?"

"No," Sprinkles scowled, obviously offended. "It's a nickname. I don't know you enough to tell you my real name."

"Oh," Bizzy said, nodding. "So what do kitchen fairies do?"

"Anything," Sprinkles shrugged. "We cook, we create, we imagine. As long as you're in a kitchen with one of us, anything can happen."

"What happens if you leave the kitchen?" Bizzy asked.

"Nothing," Sprinkles said.

"Then why do you stay in the kitchen?" Bizzy asked.

"Because I wouldn't exist outside of it," Sprinkles said. "I meant nothing as in there would be nothing. I can't leave a kitchen. Once a kitchen fairy is mixed into being, they spend their life in the kitchen."

"I'm sorry," Bizzy said sincerely. That sounded like hell. She couldn't spend five minutes in a kitchen. She bit her lip and looked around. "So how are you going to help me throw Thanksgiving dinner in just a few days?"

The fairy grinned. Bizzy grew nervous. Very nervous.....

To be continued tomorrow!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A new day

First, I've got a confession to make.

I've decided to end the giveaway early. Thanks to all of ya'll who entered, but I decided that a winner had shown itself and there was no sense in running it anymore.

Queen Bitty said I could do it. I have permission.

You see, Bobbi Jo first won my heart with her love of Christmas and her enthusiasm for the stocking. Any woman who puts a tree in every room and is full of the Christmas spirit is already in the running for a stocking, in my book. Most of my Invisible Friends felt my pain all too well and wanted nothing to do with sewing, but Bobbi was ready for the challenge.

And then I read Bobbi Jo's blog and learned her husband lost her job and she was worried about making Christmas special for her five kids.

There's no one who needs a sugar plum fairy stocking more than that, particularly when you're a fellow Christmas enthusiast with little girls.

Now, Invisible Friends, this is no pity prize. This is no charitable donation. I wanted this stocking to have a good home with someone that would love and appreciate it, and cherish it for years to come. I know Bobbi Jo will do a splendid job of that. So really, she's helping me out.

Bobbi Jo, congratulations! E-mail me your address at and I'll get it shipped your way.

And now, for today's tale....


It was the same walk, but on a different street in a different part of town. The roads were different, the sidewalk foreign. But the trees rustled the same, the sun glimmered overhead and the blue sky stretched above me the same way it always had.

But it wasn't the same. Biting my lip, I scuffed my shoe against the sidewalk and glanced around nervously. Before I walked alone on a long street on an empty part of town. Now I was surrounded by people and buses, the open blue sky interrupted by towering buildings. My throat burned and I looked down.

"I know." The words were a whisper and I smiled and held out my hand. His tiny feet landed on my skin, softer than a warm breeze on a fall day. His wings opened and closed, brilliant yellow and black in this land of beige and grey.

"I wasn't sure if you'd find me." I smiled wryly as his wings twitched with amusement.

"I will always find you." His wings opened and closed slowly. "It is you who can't find yourself."

"What do you mean?" I asked, mouth open. "I'm not having a personal meltdown."

His antennae twitched. "No," he agreed. "But you are lost. You are in a new chapter, a new day. And you're hiding under the covers ignoring the alarm clock."

It's not that bad," I muttered, pressing my left hand against my burning cheeks. "Is it?" I looked at him uncertainly.

"That depends on you," he said, climbing daintily up my arm. "It's always depended on you."

Exhaling deeply, I stared down the never ending sidewalk as cars rolled by.

"I just feel like I've been handed the bad end of the deck," I said, chewing on my lip as I spoke. "I didn't do anything, yet everything at work has changed. I've got a different position, we're in a different office with different people and different rules and Libby's gone. It's better for her, but it's not the same."

"The days are empty now," the butterfly murmured, reading my thoughts. "You feel as though time crawls by."

I nodded. "I care, but I don't care," I said definitely. "I know what my goals are, and they aren't here. And I'm lucky to have a job and the freedom I do. It's just in a way, I feel as though I'm on the verge. I've felt that way for a long time."

"Of what?" His wings brushed my arm and a shiver tingled down my spine.

I was quiet for a moment. "That it'll be my time. That I'll finally break through."

The butterfly giggled gently. "People don't break through," he told me. "They chip through. Day by day, hour by hour, they take steps to their destination. You've chosen your road and are making your way. Don't worry about the time or the progress--just worry about the next stop. To compare yourself to others is futile, because you're not them. You're you."

You're right," I said sheepishly. "It's terrible to get so worked up, isn't it? I just--I was comfortable."

"Comfort is an excuse for not wanting to change," the butterfly said reasonably. "You use your structure, your routine as armour for creativity, at least that's what you say. But to be truly free, you must be comfortable within you, not the structure you dwell in."

I scowled. "I resent that," I said. The butterfly nodded.

"Of course," he said. "It's not easy."

"I never asked for it to be easy," I pointed out.

"But it is natural to wish for it," he reminded me. "But you're better than that."

I shook my head and the butterfly landed on my nose, pressing his face to mine.

"Trust me," he whispered. "For when you trust you, everyone else will. Then it will all create itself. You must have faith."

I do," I murmured, my voice cracking.

"I know." And then he was gone, floating above the city streets and into the warm sunshine. I smiled despite myself, watching him drift among the clouds in the piercing blue sky.

And then I turned back down the sidewalk.

It was a different street, and a different place. But I had the same hope I always did.

Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! This weekend, we have a double edition of Kitchen Magic! Also, next week is Thanksgiving week. Any suggestions? Do you want to talk gratitude or food? Tell me what you'd like to see! Do you want a different thing I'm grateful for each day or an ode to my favorite Thanksgiving treats? Let me know!