French Toast Mode

They’re forecasting our first significant snow of the season tonight and tomorrow. Actually, they’re saying it might be one of the biggest November snowstorms in St. Louis history! In honor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Weatherbird’s “French Toast Map” and all of the people who hit the grocery stores to purchase large quantities of milk, eggs, and bread before a storm hits, I made French toast for dinner. It’s a win-win situation…we like the snow and don’t freak out about it like so many in St. Louis do, and French toast is one of the children’s favorite special dinners!

The 9th Annual Apple Dessert Contest

At the end of August, I saw a contest that STL Today (the online home of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) was running. They were looking for apple recipes in two categories–pies, and other desserts. I entered a recipe in each category, and promptly forgot about it.

Then while Ryan was out-of-town, I received a phone call telling me that my apple-pumpkin bread had been chosen as a finalist in the dessert category! I was shocked, if only because I had put the contest out of my head, and also excited. Today was the big day (the contest was part of the St. Louis Builders Home and Remodeling Show), so after smelling the bread all throughout church, Sunday school, and choir rehearsal (I kept it with me all morning, because it was just too hot to risk leaving it in the car!), we headed west to the lovely Convention Center in St. Charles.

Now, I make this bread at least once a year in the fall, every year. I have done so for at least a decade. But I was really nervous about baking it yesterday, and I was worried that it was underdone and overdone, all at the same time. I also fussed over the presentation, until I came up with this (which I think looked pretty nice!):

If making the bread wasn’t nerve-wracking enough, waiting through the judging process was a nightmare!

But I had the best cheering section there (thank you family, for making me laugh when I felt like I was going to be sick!), and they were just as excited as I was when I placed second!

Even without the prizes (which were a wonderful surprise!), this was a fun thing to do. One thing you have to say about me…I’m always putting myself out there, and sometimes, like today, it pays off pretty well!

“What Age Would You Allow Your Children to See an R-Rated Movie?”

There was a poll in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch today asking this question: “What age would you allow your children to see an R-rated movie?”

The poll had four options: 10-12; 13-14; 15-17; and 18 or older. Aside from the fact that the last option is kind of ridiculous, as a lot of 18 year-olds are no longer living with their parents full-time, and are old enough to make that decision for themselves, I couldn’t answer the poll.


Because I don’t think it’s a black and white issue. In my opinion, there are several factors to consider when determining whether or not to let your child, regardless of age, see an R-rated movie.

I’ll admit that according to this poll, I’m probably a bad parent, because my two oldest children, who are currently 12 and 11, have seen an R-rated movie, The King’s Speech, and at least one of them was under 10 at the time we watched it. But there were several reasons (other than, “I’m the parent, so I get to decide”), that I felt this was an appropriate decision.

  • It was timely to our history lessons. As a homeschooling mom, if I can find a book or movie to support what we’re learning in history (or any subject for that matter), I jump at the chance. The King’s Speech fit the bill perfectly, and as it was already one of my favorite movies, I knew that as soon as we hit that period of history, we would be watching it.
  • It was appropriate. You cannot tell the story of The King’s Speech without including language. It would lose all meaning without it. I’m no fan of gratuitous language (or violence, or sex), in movies, but in this movie, it wasn’t gratuitous. It was a key plot point, and really demonstrated how speech disorders work. I wish they hadn’t made a downgraded, PG-13 version of this movie available, because without the original profanities, the movie loses a great deal of its impact.
  • The primary reason the movie is R-rated is because of the aforementioned language. A lot of people think The King’s Speech shouldn’t even have received an “R” rating. Other than the language, it’s really quite a tame movie. And maybe some would suggest that since this is the movie I’m using for my example, it doesn’t really count, because “it wasn’t that bad.” But isn’t that why this isn’t a black and white question? Different people have different opinions of the rating system, and what movies do or do not deserve certain ratings. That’s why it’s such an individual decision, whether you’re an adult deciding to whether or not to see a movie for yourself, or deciding for your minor children.
  • I know my children. My two oldest children, at the time they first watched The King’s Speech as well as now, were able to watch a movie with extended amounts of swearing without laughing or acting silly about it or repeating it. And because their younger brother has dealt with speech problems, they had an extra amount of empathy for the struggles of King George. My younger children, however, have not watched the same movie, because I don’t believe they’re currently able to respond in an equally mature fashion upon hearing profanities. So while the decision for when an R-rated movie is appropriate varies from family to family, it can also vary from child to child within a family.

There are probably other reasons why watching this R-rated movie was OK for my children. There are plenty of reasons why not watching many, many R-rated movies is currently not OK for my children, as well. But, it really depends on the movie, the reason for the rating, and the individual child, and those issues are too complex to allow me to answer definitively in a simple poll!

Cakeway to the West–Personal Favorites

Now that I’ve seen all of the “Cakeway to the West” displays, I feel that the time has come to pick my very favorites. It’s not easy to choose, because there were so many awesome artists decorating these cakes, but I have narrowed it down. The names in bold represent my “top ten” of all my favorites.

The Dogtown cake is my very favorite, for a lot of sentimental reasons. Dogtown was the neighborhood Ryan and I lived in when we were first married, and it was the perfect first place to live, as a newly married couple, and as new residents of St. Louis. There’s a great community feeling, and a great history, not to mention the awesome ethnic (Irish) flair…and this cake is like a love letter to all of that. I couldn’t have designed it better if I had tried!


The Rigazzi’s cake is awesome, not necessarily because of the cake itself (although it references a lot of St. Louis favorites like the Zoo, beer, and baseball), but because of its location, both on The Hill, and beneath one of the remaining All-Star arches. It’s like a St. Louis tchotchkes Holy Grail!


I also love the Blueberry Hill cake. It’s a tribute to pop culture icons…Darth Vader, Pac-Man, the Simpsons, and more. It’s random and awesome, and when you add in the bright colors of the cake, it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite!


The cake at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in Soulard makes my list for two reasons (three if I’m being honest). First, it was done by my very favorite local artist, Mark Hurd, who I’ve had the opportunity to meet at Art on the Square (and buy several pieces of art from!). Second, I love the way that the candle is an extension of the steeple. And, if I’m honest, I also love that it’s at a Lutheran church. You can’t talk about the history of St. Louis without mentioning us Lutherans at least a bit, right?


I also love the cake at the University City Lion Gates. I’m not sure that there’s one more recognizably St. Louis culture cake than this, because it asks (and answers!) the all-important St. Louis question, “Where did you go to high school?”


The cake at The Cheshire is just awesome in all of its fleurs-de-lis glory. I especially love the candle, with the writing, and the extra fleur-de-lis. It’s just a beautiful, elegant cake!


The cake at Shaw Park is fun, because it shows all of the activities that can be enjoyed there all year round…swimming, ice hockey, and tennis all included!


The Busch Stadium cake is a favorite because Cardinals. Enough said.


The Ted Drewes cake both captures the spirit of the place, and gives us an excuse to get some frozen custard. It’s a win-win cake!


The Carondelet Historical Society cake is a favorite because it references so much St. Louis history, some of which was new to me. I love how much I’ve learned through the Cakeway to the West project!

IMG_4112_2The cake at Saint Louis University is all kinds of awesome. The placement is perfect. Depending on which way you’re looking, there are fountains or flowers or a gorgeous church in the background. And the cake itself is really pretty, and perfect for the location.


The College of Pharmacy cake might seem like a strange choice, but it really tickled me. Notice how it’s designed to look like a pharmacist’s lab coat? I love it!


The cake at the Boys and Girls Club is great for a few reasons. I love the way it’s divided right down the middle to showcase the past and the present. And I really love that one of the cakes pays homage to the long-gone St. Louis Browns baseball team. Another bonus is that I learned a little something extra about St. Louis history after seeing this one, which is probably the most fun part of this project (for me, anyway)!


The cake at St. Louis City Hall does a great job of showing what’s important in St. Louis. Notice all the fleurs-de-lis? Each one is painted in a specific way. My favorite, of course, is the baseball fleur-de-lis!


The Post-Dispatch cake gets points because it’s Weatherbird. Really, what else could it be? For those not in the know, Weatherbird is the oldest continuous cartoon in the United States…it’s been around since 1901! More history…


The Drury Hotel cake is another “what’s what in St. Louis” masterpiece. You’ve got the city flag, you’ve got the skyline, and in the letters of the city’s name, you have tributes to the Arch, King Louis, Lewis and Clark, the Cardinals, the Zoo, and the Blues. Plus, more fleurs-de-lis. Love!


The Gaslight Square cake gets retro points from me, for being placed in a historic spot. Plus this is another great past and present cake, showcasing the importance of Laclede Gas back in the days of, well, gaslights, and its importance today. The lamp bases in the background are an added bonus!


The cake that sits where the old St Louis Arena used to be is also cool, mainly because of the ticket stubs affixed to the top. You get a good idea of who performed there, and there are some impressive names listed!


The West Alton cake was an unanticipated favorite for me. It recognizes the major natural disasters in St. Louis history: earthquakes, storms, floods, and the terrible drought we had a few summers ago. It’s not only the pleasant events that shape a city, and I’m glad these were included.


The cake at the original Imo’s location looked boring when we first drove up to it, but once I looked at it, I realized how cool it is. The base is pizza boxes, while the top is decorated to look like the famous “square beyond compare” pizza. Perfectly awesome!


The Ferguson Station Depot cake is the one cake that recognizes St. Louis’ contribution to the space race. It also focuses on other forms of transportation, and is wonderfully brightly colored. Plus, there’s a great ice cream shop just up the hill from it that we discovered and enjoyed…total win!


The Old Cathedral cake is just beautiful. Covered in flowers and other images such as King Louis and religious and local symbols, it’s beautiful and peaceful. It’s just what you would expect at the site of the first cathedral west of the Mississippi!


The Warren County Courthouse cake is a favorite for several reasons. It’s a tribute to all four seasons, which is fun. I enjoyed seeing a snow scene on the July day we visited it. It also has the Halloween scene from Meet Me in St. Louis…a perfect tribute to a great movie!


The Greenville Public Library cake is decorated to look like Busch Stadium. I have no idea why this cake is so far away from the Cardinals home base, but it’s completely awesome…the Rally Squirrel even makes an appearance!


The cake at Francis Field is a tribute to the 1904 Olympics. There was just no doubt that this would be on my list…history plus Olympics for the win! It even tells what sports competed in 1904, and it’s a very different list from the Olympics games of today!


I really tried to limit myself to 10% of the total cakes, or 25 cakes, when compiling this list. I was right on target, too. But this cake, at the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, kept coming to mind. I love all the old signs, many of which are neon, that are painted on it.


The cake at the Shrine of St. Joseph was another that kept coming to mind. The cake is beautifully decorated, and the church is so beautiful, and I wouldn’t have even known it was there if it wasn’t for Cakeway to the West. So I’m allowing myself a second bonus cake. And since Stl250 ended up placing a few bonus cakes, I guess it’s OK that I have bonus favorites, too!


And, one final late addition to my favorites list…the Reunion cake, which debuted at First Night on 12/31/14, and was then moved to the Missouri History Museum. It’s like a slice of all the cakes (I’m really very sorry about the pun), and was completed by many of the cake artists…the perfect way to wrap up Cakeway to the West!


All of the Stl250 cakes are beautiful and tell great stories that share the history and culture of our city. It was really hard to narrow down my favorites, because I really love them all. These are the cream of the crop for me, though, and really define what this city is all about.

A look at 20 of the birthday cakes going up around town

In case you’re wondering about the Stl250 cakes I’ve been photographing, here’s an article that goes into detail about 20 of the cakes. My favorite of the 20 they chose isn’t even one I’ve personally seen yet, but I love that the Post-Disptach used the Weatherbird on their cake…it’s wonderfully, iconically St. Louis! I think this is the coolest thing St. Louis could have done to celebrate its 250th birthday this year!

Location • In front of the Post-Dispatch building, 900 North Tucker Boulevard, at the northwest corner of Tucker and King Drive

Description • The cake has been transformed into the Post-Dispatch Weatherbird, in bright, visible colors. The top tier is his hat; his fingers are pointing at the “250.”

Artist • Dan Martin

Inspiration • The Weatherbird is the symbol of the Post-Dispatch; Martin is the one who channels him. He’s painted in a way that’s “as simple and as fun and as comic-strippy as I could. I tried to keep it in the spirit of the newspaper.”

Fun fact • “The Bird is a one-dimensional thing; I had to make this flat image somehow flow over three-dimensional surfaces and have it somehow still make sense,” says

Martin. “I was working with industrial house paint; it’s not like you can paint fine lines on it.” He painted it in the old plate room, off the old press room. (SBM)

via A look at 20 of the birthday cakes going up around town : Entertainment.

The Story of the Comeback: In the Players’ Own Words

I love this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about game five of the NLDS. I especially love the last quote, from pitcher Adam Wainwright:

I told them all, ‘I’m just real proud to be a St. Louis Cardinal, and to be your teammate right now.’ That show of heart, and that show of fortitude right there? It was special for me to watch. It was just special for the fans to watch. I was taken aback, and moved by what they’d done. I just felt I needed to tell the guys just what it meant to me, and a lot of people who love the Cardinals. This is an amazing team. Don’t ever doubt our hearts. Because we have heart.

via The story of the comeback: In the players’ own words : Stltoday.

Cardinal Nation Shows Its Class

We were at the Friday night game mentioned in this letter, and I have to say, it was one of the most unusual and touching things I’ve ever experienced at a baseball game. I was very proud to be a member of Cardinal Nation, standing and applauding one of the game’s greats!

I would like to tip my ball cap and express my most sincere and heartfelt appreciation to John Mozeliak, the Cardinals Players and the entire Cardinal Nation for your recognition of Chipper Jones — and the superior manner in which you recognized him while the Braves were in town: the 45 second standing ovation on Friday night — amplified by Jadier Molina when he stepped out from behind the plate; but especially the pregame presentation on Sunday. This had to be one of the classiest things I’ve ever seen in the sport of baseball, if not any professional sport in my lifetime.

via Cardinal Nation shows its class.

Please Stop Insulting Our Intelligence

I’ve stayed away from writing about the whole Albert Pujols situation, partly because it makes me so angry, and partly because I didn’t think it deserved any more attention.

But, I’ve gotten angrier, and writing is cathartic, so…

It would be really nice if Albert, and his wife Deidre, would stop insulting the Cardinals fans’ intelligence. If I hear “It wasn’t about the money,” one more time, I may scream. Of course it was about the money…it’s always about the money. At least Lance Berkman was honest enough to own up to that fact earlier this year. But Albert, the man who two years ago claimed that he wanted to stay in St. Louis forever, and didn’t need an extra three or four million a year somewhere else because he’d already made his money? He wants us to keep believing that the reason he left St. Louis for Los Angeles was for some nobler purpose, some idealistic reason having to do with commitment, and not money at all?


Yes, the Cardinals most recent offer was for “only” five years. Perfectly reasonable, if you ask me, given Pujols’s (reported) age. But lets not forget that prior to that, there had been a 10-year deal, with the added incentive of having some sort of stake in the team, some kind of front-office job, and a lasting legacy here in St. Louis. He was set to become the next “Stan the Man” here in town; he almost certainly would have had a statue outside the first base gate someday, as a testament to his time and success here. The fans loved him, even when his performance slumped, and would have continued to love him, even as age started to take its toll, as it certainly would have. That’s the kind of town St. Louis is; that’s the kind of fans the Cardinals have. That’s why they call this “baseball heaven.”

But we weren’t committed to him. Right.

I’m with columnist Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He tried to be sensible about this unpleasant situation, and not cast blame. But, like many Cardinals fans, myself included, all he had to hear was Albert’s very insulting press conference with the Angels to get his ire up. When your town’s (former) hero turns on you, and openly states that the team, the organization, and by extension, the city, weren’t committed to him, you can’t help but get mad, and call a spade a spade. In the end, Bernie was spot on with his first reaction to this whole mess:

I’ve mentioned this before, and will talk about it again: the sentimental side of me wanted Pujols to remain with the Cardinals for his entire career. I know better, but I still suffer from the disease of naiveté. Baseball does this to a lot of people, me included. Makes us all sappy and romantic. You want the hero to stay and complete the storybook. But it doesn’t work that way in modern sports. Not very often, anyway. 

That about sums it up–we baseball fans are a bunch of romantics at heart, and even though common sense says otherwise, we want to believe that we’ll get our happy ending–all of us, players and fans alike. After all, “faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to,”* right? So, our initial reaction of shock and dismay, was honest and real, even though we may have tried to justify it after the fact. And our anger and disgust are equally justified, especially after hearing our support criticized.

It’s all about the money, Albert. It always has been, and always will be. Stop deluding yourself, and stop insulting the people of St. Louis. We know where your loyalties lie, now more than ever.


*With thanks to George Seaton, and by extension, Fred Gailey in Miracle on 34th Street, for summarizing faith so well.

Quote of the Day

“So I guess in the end, Anaheim traded the Rams to St. Louis for a baseball icon to be named later.” Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Albert Pujols’ departure from the Cardinals