Monday, September 27, 2010

For My Birthday, A Good Nap. And Happiness.

I am 48. Have been now for over a week.

Truly, truly, truly – I don’t mind getting older. Truly. (It won’t bother me when Cougar Bait turns 48 next month, either. I’m just saying.)

I don’t yearn to be 18. Or 28. Or 38. Well, I wouldn’t mind having my 38-year-old body back. All those eyelashes. All that naturally-colored hair. All that naturally-occurring collagen. On the other hand, at 38, I had a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old and couldn't run two blocks without getting a stitch in my side. In the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna,* “Never mind.”

Despite my petty hair and skin complaints, September 17, 2010 was the best birthday I can remember. It was fun, it was surprising, it was decadent, it was comforting, and it was also -- restful.

I know. “Sleep” shouldn’t a fabulous birthday make, but after 48 years, I'm now enamored with naps.

That’s how old I am. More sophisticated people may grow to love fine wine, or appreciate opera, or treasure literary works. I’ve become discerning about sleep. I prize it. I revel in it. Given the opportunity, I might marry it.

I had an even better birthday gift, though. One of Darling Daughter’s 13-year-old friends said this to her mom, who then repeated it to me, “Ms. Wiles smiles all the time. She’s so happy, she should get married.”

Don't you love it? “She’s so happy.” C’mon. Think about it: Isn't that exactly what we parents always insist? “I just want my child to be happy."

We all know the drill: “They don’t have to get soccer scholarships, and they don’t have to be valedictorians, and they don’t have to be the most popular. I just want them to be happy.”

I do want my kids to be happy. True, I have no worries that I’m doing laundry for budding Ronaldinhos or Zuckerbergs or Kardashians. But even if I were, bottom line, I'd still want them to be happy. And if I get to be happy too, all the better. Even without eyelashes. Or collagen. Or shiny, bountiful, brunette hair.

Sigh. I do miss the hair of my youth. But I’m happy.

I’m 48, I’m happy, and Cougar Bait will be 48 in 13 days.

Life is good.

*Gilda Radner, SNL, 1978-79. Yes. I am indeed that old. And happy.

Ginger Spice Cookies
An incredibly dear and thoughtful friend -- who's kept a special eye on me since my divorce -- delivered these cookies on my birthday. I haven’t made them myself yet (although I’ll be stirring up a batch tomorrow), but they are crazy and intensely good. The crystallized ginger packs quite a snap. I may just double the batch.

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup (packed) dark or light brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg

1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses


 (for rolling)

Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Mix in crystallized ginger. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar, shortening and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add egg and molasses and beat until blended. Add flour mixture and mix just until blended. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 2 baking sheets. Spoon sugar in thick layer onto small plate. Using wet hands, form dough into 1 1/4-inch balls; roll in sugar to coat completely. Place balls on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. 
Bake cookies until cracked on top but still soft to touch, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 1 minute. Carefully transfer to racks and cool. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)
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