Saturday, January 31, 2009


Jen at the lovely Tater Tots and Jello tagged me a few days ago. When I realized what picture I would have to reveal, I giggled. So instead of the story I was going to give you today, you get another story instead.

Admit it. You're curious what story you missed. Don't worry--it will be revealed soon!

The rules are:

1) I choose the 4th folder where I store my pictures on the computer.
2. Select the 4th picture in the folder.
3. Explain the picture.
4. Tag 4 people to do the same.
5. No cheating (cropping, editing, etc.)

Here's the fourth picture in my fourth folder:

When Ben and I went to Baylor, we didn't usually go to football games. The whole point of football games is to enjoy a rousing competition, and there was nothing to compete with Baylor. We lost almost every game. By halftime, you were either freezing with purple toes during a cold spell, or more likely sweating with your underwear stuck to your butt. And the Blond Duck doesn't do purple toes or sweaty underwear stuck to her butt. There were very few games in my college experience.

My senior year, my friend Val and her fiance David came up for the Baylor-UT game. I thought they were insane. Not only did they drive an hour and a half to go watch a game where we all knew what was going to happen, but they paid $80 per ticket.

But I'm not a Longhorn, so I suppose I don't understand.

Val and David had just gotten engaged. The plan was to stay until halftime, then Val and I would go shop for wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses. The boys would watch television and scratch themselves until we returned to pour over more wedding magazines and discuss more wedding details.

As I've said before, I'm not really into weddings.

But, I was Val's maid of honor, so I bucked up and prepared for a day of football and weddings, my two most favorite things ever. It's what a good buddy does.

The game was in November, so I only put a light coating of sunscreen on my face.

When the ladies began to giggle at David's Bridal a few hours later, I couldn't understand why. I thought perhaps my bra was showing or a boob had escaped my corset or maybe my underwear was showing.

It was only when a saleswoman touched my arm to turn me to pin the dress that I realized everything, and I do mean everything, was burned to a crisp.

Blow up the picture if you don't believe me.

Several dresses and wedding magazines later, the bride's fears of a lobster maid of honor had been calmed.

After all, her wedding wasn't until next September.

So Invisible Friends, it's like that old Baz Luhrman song says: "If I could offer you any tip for the future, wear sunscreen."


You're it!:

  1. Amanda at Amanda's Cooking
  2. Debbie at Friday Friends
  3. Pearl at Fresh and Pure
  4. Pam at For the Love of Cooking

Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! Tomorrow, the Rubber Chicken finally searches for his long lost love....And we have a week full of whimsical goodness coming up!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bitty and Bear

One year ago, two little creatures entered our lives. They terrorized our nights with banshee screams, peed on every inch of carpet and turned our organized home into slightly manageable chaos.

And I couldn't have been happier.

There was the first bath...

The night time snuggles...

The patter of little puppy paws behind me wherever I went...

And the sight of a little head trying to hide in our covers at night.

One year later, Bitty and Bear are even more fun than they were as little puppies that could fit in my palm.

To celebrate this grand occasion, we had all sorts of wondrous festivities planned in the Pond.

All sorts of friends attended,

including Bear's new friend the Moose.

Since Bitty had already ordered all her royal subjects to attend,

Her birthday activities included showing off her new gems.

The puppies and their guests (and ordered servants) then dined on chopped hot dog and nachos made from a corn tortilla and the finest shredded cheese.

For several moments, the only sounds in the Pond include polite snorting, wuffling with joy and slurping as hot dogs and nachos were dragged all over the kitchen floor. They were quite enthusiastic about their meal.

In fact, Bitty enjoyed her meal so much she stole the last nacho and retired to the kitchen rug, growling at all who stepped too close to her birthday treat.

Of course, there is more.

As no birthday in the Pond ever last one day (mine last a month), the Babies will also celebrate tomorrow evening with peanut butter puppy pies and chicken chew sticks provided by the Blond Duck's mom.

After such a wonderful birthday, Bear could only wuffle one last request.

Yo quiero peanut butter puppy pie, pronto.


Happy Birthday to the Pond's Babies!

Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! This weekend, we have the Rubber Chicken's gallant search for his fuzzy love and more whimsical fun! Next week, stay tuned for a new Twirl, Gift and tasty recipe (that for now, shall remain secret!)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Beautiful Mess

Several years ago, a country band called Diamond Rio released a song called "Beautiful Mess."

"What a beautiful mess, what a beautiful mess I'm in
Spending all my time with you
There's nothing else I'd rather do
What a sweet addiction that I'm caught up in
'Cause I can't get enough
Can't stop the hunger for your love
What a beautiful, what a beautiful mess I'm in"

Invisible Friends, this is a beautiful mess. A beautiful mess of meatball goodness handmade by none other than the Pond's resident chef, Ben.

There's only one problem with this gorgeous mess of meaty goodness.

There's no real recipe.

It's different every time and is constantly evolving.

There are however, a few constants. They involve 2 lb. ground beef, Parmesan cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, crushed cracker crumbs, an egg, oregano and various Italian spices, kosher salt and pepper.

First, you mix the big old mess together. Then separate into little balls with a spoon or Ben's favorite, a cookie scoop.

Rolling, rolling, roll the meatballs....

Drop into a dutch oven with your favorite sauce and let simmer for two to three hours.

That's it.

It's simple.

And beautiful.

And messy.

Just the way I like it.

Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! Tomorrow we have a re-cap of the Babies' Birthday party! Then this weekend, we have the chronicles of the Rubber Chicken as he rescues his lady love of frizz, the Fuzzy Duck! And more whimsical fun coming your way! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bluebonnets under the old oak tree

To read the previous Twirl, go here.

For my new Invisible Friends, Twirl is the story of a star-crossed ballerina named Vivi and her handsome cowboy named Wade, who have stumbled into a international ballet scandal and a old Texas legend that might possibly lead to riches! To catch up in the archives, go here and here. Or e-mail me and I'll send you the word document of what I've posted.


If Vivi thought the woman's appearance was bad, her house was worse.

Chipped and broken furniture was covered in boxes of books, papers and thick folders with documents written in strange languages pouring out of them. The walls were empty of pictures or color. Instead, crooked bookshelves that looked as though a blind man had installed them dangled from the walls, stuffed with faded books that suffered from cracked bindings and loose, yellowed pages.

Wade lead Vivi to the only clear space in the room, a sticky leather arm chair. Vivi looked at the seat and bit her lip.

"I'll stand, thanks," she said, smiling brightly at the woman. "I've been sitting for awhile and my muscles are stiff."

The woman's hard black eyes narrowed, her nose crinkled as if she could smell the lie on Vivi's breath.

"Vivi, Wade, this here is Margaret," the sheriff stuttered, standing as far away from the woman as was polite. "She was a professor of languages"--

"I'm a linguistic expert and highly regarded in my field," the woman interrupted, her black eyes glittering. "I've taught at Oxford, Harvard and done work for the Smithsonian. However, considering these two barely speak proper English, I doubt my background is of any interest of them. Shall we get to the point?" She held out a withered hand.

"There better be something damn good in that letter," Vivi muttered, glaring at the older woman. Wade's lips twitched and he squeezed her hand.

Wiping his brow, the sheriff mutely handed the envelope to the woman. Without another word, she scurried over to her desk. Wiggling her fingers so her rings clinked together in a trilling melody, she jammed some reading glasses on her nose and stared down at the fragile paper. Her lips moved as she whispered to herself. Vivi leaned forward, straining to hear. The woman raised her eyes and snarled.

"Do you mind?" she bellowed, her wrinkled face draped in sinister shadows. The silver chain swung around her neck, trembling as she flung her arms in the air. "I'm working here!"

"Sorry," Vivi muttered, her cheeks turning red. "I just wanted to know what you are muttering."

"If you wish to know what is on this page, you will cease disturbing me immediately!" the woman shouted, her black eyes bugging out and spittle flying from her pale wrinkled lips.

When Vivi stared at her sullenly, she huffed and dropped her greasy silver head back to the page. Her lips moved faster as her eyes skimmed across the page, her fingers wiggling in excitement. The cadence of the rings ringing together as her fingers fluttered in the air grew faster and louder as her whispers slid into a single hiss.

"AMAZING!" she bellowed, slamming her fist on the desk. A rotten apple core bounced into the air, knocking over a lamp. The sheriff's face blanched and he jumped toward the letter.

"Oh relax!" Margaret shrieked, waving the yellowed paper in the air. It crinkled like tissue paper, the spidery lines of age dancing across it's surface. "The letter is fine!"

"What did it say?" Wade asked. Even though his voice sounded causal, Vivi could see his eyes glittering with excitement.

Margaret flung the long silver braid over her shoulder. "First of all, it's not German."

"It's not?" The sheriff sounded disappointed. "What is it?"

"It's a code." Margaret smirked. "A complicated mix of German, Spanish and English. Lucky for you, I figured it out in only a few moments. You see, my studies of Latin, Russian, Arabic, tribal languages in the Southwest and Australia"--

"What does it say?" Vivi interrupted. "Could you read it to us?"

The woman pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. "I suppose so," she growled. With a glum expression, she peered at the paper.

"My love," she read in her bitter, ancient voice. "Forgive me for my sins. If I had known my past would effect our future, I would have lived a clean life." Margaret snorted. "Not likely, considering the historical records of Bullet Bill, historians agree that"--

"Please keep reading, ma'am," the sheriff begged in a hoarse tone. "We're all anxious to hear what's in this letter."

Margaret clenched her rotten teeth together and continued to read. "If you'll still have me, Addy, I'll marry you. A proper marriage in a proper church. I don't know if you'll want to have this old outlaw for a husband, but I'd be honored to have you for my wife."

Margaret paused, her eyes glittering. Before she could comment, Vivi asked, "Was that it?"

"No." Margaret sighed, her face tight with irritation. She took a breath and continued reading. "For many years, I stole and robbed from good, honest people. I've killed, destroyed families and taken food from babe's mouths. But that's all over with.

"I made a fortune doing bad, and now I am to do good. I'm a rich man, Addy. And I'm man enough to admit I'm going to keep being a rich man. But I know a way to do it that'll make you proud. In the next letter, I'll tell you all about it."

Margaret peered at the paper. "This doesn't make any sense. The words are so strange."

"What's it say?" The sheriff's eyes were wide. He was hanging on to every word.

"Starlight under the Oak Moon. Blue ribbons. Bluebonnet."

Vivi blinked. "That doesn't sound like a song or a poem."

Wade frowned. "It's not the name of a dancehall or town either."

The sheriff wrinkled his forehead. "Well, I reckon there's only one thing we can do now..."

To be continued...

Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! Tomorrow, we have a tasty new recipe! Friday, we have the Babies' birthday and this weekend, the Rubber Chicken sets off to help the Fuzzy Duck in her quest to rescue her mother. Stay tuned for more whimsical fun!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The story of the Blond Duck's wedding

Growing up, I was never the kind of girl who dreamed of getting married.

In fact, I didn't really get weddings. I'd only been to one or two, and I didn't like them much. People cried, no one would let me dance spastically around the floor and the food was terrible. Plus, I didn't know anyone and I wasn't the center of attention.

Really, I only dreamed of one thing.

Of course, I'd always thought of my husband would be like. But I never pondered about his hair color or name. I never dreamed of what tux he would look good in and what his face would look like when the church doors opened. My curiosity centered around when and where I would meet him. That was about it. I saw marriage as being legally bound to my best friend. Being a practical romantic, I never dreamed of being swept off my feet or knowing at first sight. I had a list of requirements and knew exactly what I wanted. I just hadn't found it yet.

This picture was used on our invitations. They were far from traditional.

Then one grey day at a Jason's Deli by Baylor University, I found it. I was instantly curious, extremely fascinated.

The feeling was mutual.

I'm pretty sure, anyway. I mean, not much the poor sap can do now, right?

Moving on.

Being a non-wedding kind of girl, wedding planning was more of a chore than a joy. If my mother and sister hadn't done most of the work, I'd still be sitting on the carpet dumbfounded with an engagement ring on one hand and the other stuck in my nose.

I gave my poor Mom and sister hell.

First, I demanded apple pie instead of cake. I didn't want cake. I didn't like cake. No cake. Forget traditions--I was not having a cake.

I had a cake. And tiered apple pies.

Next, I refused to deal with bridesmaids dresses. I told them to pick out a sundress. My mom told me to pick three colors.

My sister's the one in green.

For six long months, I snarled and snapped every time someone mentioned the word wedding. I ranted about trends that had nothing to do with love, howled when I received a million silver platters instead of practical sheets and towels as gifts and staunchly refused anything but a traditional bridal shower. I wasn't having a lingerie party, a bachelorette party, an engagement party or a look at me party. For something that was all about me, I tried to make it as un-about me as possible.

But despite all that, my wedding was magical. And perfect.

We got married in Austin at the County Line on the Lake. That's right--it's a barbecue restaurant.

It was also a traditional spot for Pike family special family traditions. The Line, as we called it, was reserved for straight A report cards, special birthdays and major accomplishments. And the lake, or Colorado River, was also ingrained in our family. I'd been riding in my dad's boat on that lake since I was old enough to walk, and water skiing since 8. The lake was in my blood and part of my soul.

Before the ceremony, Ben thought heavily about the commitment he was going to make...

While I thought heavily about the apple pies.

We were married by a justice of the peace at high noon on May 27, 2006. As we walked down the aisle, my father teased me about water moccasins...

Little did he know one would show up later, much to the delight of Ben's city-slicker friends. Trust me, it's there. Look for it.

By 12:30 p.m., the wedding was over and the reception had begun.

It was time for ribs!

And dancing on the patio...

Starting new fashion trends....

And annoying neighbors by throwing bouquets to their 15-year-old daughters even though they specifically asked you not to. Of course, I was just as horrified as he was.

I have no idea.

A little after three, we decided the reception had come to an end. Our guests reinforced this by throwing white bio-degradable rice at us.

Giddy and breathless, we drove away to my parent's a few miles down the road for a post-reception celebration. We spent the afternoon swimming, dining with friends and visiting with family.

The next day, after spending the night in a hotel, we headed to my parent's for a special neighborhood reception that included a tricked out golf cart, lots of rice and a whole lot of fun...

But that, dear Invisible Friends, is another story.

Oh, and why did I get married at 21, two weeks after my college graduation and a week after buying my first house and moving to a city three hours away?

Because I wanted to.

For more wedding tales, visit Eli's Lids. She's linked up dozens of fun wedding post from romantic bloggers.

Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! Tommorow we have a new Twirl and Thursday.... Ben's famous hand-made-sauce-dripping-Mini Meat balls! And Friday, we have the Babies' birthday and the Rubber Chicken's search for his long lost date. Stay tuned!