Category Archives: mom

on missing birthdays

I don’t hate much. In fact, I’m one of those optimists that manages to see the teeny tiny glimmers of hope in generally pretty awful people even when I’m trying not to. Current exceptions being Donald Trump and fire ants but let’s get into that once both pests are no longer affecting us, shall we?

But if I had to place ‘hate’ on one thing in my life, it would be missing birthdays. A learned behavior I’m sure, I have a really tough time not physically being there for loved one’s birthdays. OK, anyone’s birthday really. I was looking at the calendar and realized that Finn may spend his 4th birthday with a dog sitter this coming July and actually felt a pang of guilt 4 months ahead of the date for goodness sake.

Birthdays are big in my family. We’ve chatted about this in previous posts (examples here and here), specifically referring to my physiological need to be present at any and all family birthdays, something I’m trying to adapt to living a few states away now. But as each day approaches, I can’t help but feel a little FOMO (fear of missing out non-millennial readers) for “missing” another birthday.

So on this sunny March 12th spring (ok, high of 82 spring) morning, my body may be out avoiding the fire ants in the garden and possibly hitting the pool this afternoon, but my heart is back in Illinois celebrating my mom’s 65th birthday.

And yes, despite the fact that stranger’s assume she’s also my dad’s daughter sometimes, she’s 65 today!

IMG_4617 wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, familywedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, familyzalewski_bk_0039zalewski_bk_0148zalewski_bk_0150zalewski_bk_0268zalewski_bk_0643zalewski_bk_0236

And based on that last photo, I’m starting to think she may care that Matt’s not there a little more than me. Geesh!

So while I can’t be there to enjoy the delicious looking birthday/St. Patrick’s day themed cake that Jake picked out for mom last night, thanks to technology I was able to sing along and watch her blow out the candles from afar.

I’m blessed to have a mom that squeals with as much excitement for scone and a cup of coffee as she does for a new sweater and cookbook, the former being what you can look forward to the next time you visit.

Happy Birthday, Mom! Here’s a photo of a cake from three years ago. We love you!

st. patricks day layer cake, ombre layer cake, white birthday cake, buttercream icing, colored layer cake, st. patrick's day, holiday, baking,


Of these things, I’m fairly certain

There comes a point in a thirty-something’s life in which the random things she’s heard, learned, experienced, seen, tasted and smelled over the first third of her life finally start to stick with her. After all, you rarely hear a twenty-something referred to as ‘set in his or her ways.’ No, this art takes years to perfect. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and call up your grandparents for a lesson. Don’t text them. Don’t email them. Pick up the phone and call them. Heck, by now your parents should be as set as a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie Platinum so you might as well ask them while you’re at it.

What was I getting at again?

Oh yes. Life lessons.

Up until this point, you’ve let these observations float in and out of your life without taking any ownership of them. Sure, you’re brand loyal to a degree, but you’re a millennial for goodness sake and you better believe that you are going to be flexible and adapt to the ever-changing world around you, right? Kind of like the way you’ve shifted every time Apple launches a new iOS or Facebook changes their newsfeed.

And then you turn thirty. And all of a sudden the phrases you use to utter in your 20s like pregaming or late night bars are replaced with let’s just have everyone over for a dinner party or do I have to put on real clothes or can I go in this? 

So today I present you a list of things I’m fairly certain of:

  • That I will never get all of my personal identification documents to have the same last name again. Ever. This weekend I nearly had to provide a retinal scan at The Gap to pay with a (new chip-encrypted) card that still listed me as Murphy because it sat in my wallet next to a drivers license that lists me as Zalewski. Meanwhile, my handsome yet mute in these types of situations husband waits patiently as I toss two debit cards, two credit cards and a blood donor card at our friendly cashier to prove I’m not a spy.

  Oh you have a Costco card? That will work just fine.

  • That there’s no way our dog proves my hypothesis about animals taking after their owners. Nope not our guy. So different, he and I.


  • That a landscape that includes pumpkins and palm trees will always be weird, but never having to wear socks will always be awesome.

  • That heckling is an art form maybe moms are just too sweet for it.

  • That if pumpkin obsession is a real addiction affecting basic girls everywhere, you can crown me pumpkin princess of autumnville. I actually felt a nervous swell when I realized I was down to my last can of pumpkin this weekend for a french toast recipe. And when my audible gasp was met with a side eye from Matt, I yelled, ‘there’s a shortage, you know!’ 

So I’ve got that going for me.

And because nearly everything I’m certain of this time of year relates to pumpkins, I’ll leave you with a recipe for pumpkin french toast sure to satisfy your cravings. That is, if you can get your hands on the limited supply!

pumpkin french toast, recipes, pumpkin recipes, baking, brunch, breakfast, french toast,

Pumpkin French Toast (recipe adapted from Cooking Classy)

  • 3/4 C almond milk (I didn’t have regular milk but by all means use it if you have it)
  • 1/2 C pure pumpkin
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 TBL brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 6-8 slices multigrain bread (or challah or texas toast)
  • Butter (for griddle)

pumpkin french toast, recipes, pumpkin recipes, baking, brunch, breakfast, french toast,

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium heat. In a large bowl, whisk almond milk, pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and spices together. Set aside.

pumpkin french toast, recipes, pumpkin recipes, baking, brunch, breakfast, french toast,

Prepare skillet with butter. Dip bread into pumpkin mixture until saturated. Cook on both sides until browned, repeating butter before each slice.

pumpkin french toast, recipes, pumpkin recipes, baking, brunch, breakfast, french toast,

Serve with maple syrup or honey and dust with powdered sugar.

pumpkin french toast, recipes, pumpkin recipes, baking, brunch, breakfast, french toast,


Hanging up the phone

I must admit I’m a little concerned for Springfield’s downtown businesses as they head into summer. Sure, with kids out of school visitors to the Lincoln sites will increase and give them a little cushion, but who is going to support them on a daily basis now that today marks my mom’s last day of work downtown in over 34 years?

food memories, news gazette, beth bosch, food columnist

Who’s going to keep pots of coffee and iced tea fresh at Andiamo?

What is Incredibly Delicious going to do with their extra macarons, croissants, loaves of multigrain bread and raspberry-filled vanilla cakes?

And perhaps most importantly, who is going to support the commission bonuses of meter maids in the blocks surrounding 6th street and Capitol Avenue if not my mom? So what if she has a parking pass for the lot at the corner? This woman has spent years forgetting to feed the meter so the public sector can benefit. It’s just one example of her unwavering support of her local community over the years.

You see, after 34 years working for the State of Illinois, my mom is hanging up her phone. Sure, she’s moving on to bigger and better things, but in all the pension and retirement talks, I think we forget to see the economic impact that her pocket and purse-stored cash flow has on downtown businesses.

But you’ll see it at the Wednesday morning farmer’s market when you pass a solemn tomato seller who misses her best customer. You’ll see it in the eyes of her former co-workers when they go hungry for weeks on end in search of a breakfast quiche, or blueberry scones, or bread pudding. And you’ll likely see it from a big guy named Murf who will do everything in his power to buy up all the Starbucks via and sweet n’ low packets that downtown has to offer in the short month he has left before joining his wife for the next chapter.


A chapter that likely still involves a lot of visits to downtown Springfield (and hopefully a few to Florida).

Congratulations to my mom on her last day of work and a well-deserved retirement! You’ve set a great example for working moms and we are so grateful for all of your years of hard work and sacrifice so that we could grow into the daughters you hoped we would be.


p.s. I hope we did grow into the daughters you hoped we would be. And happy early Mother’s Day lest I forget next week 🙂