Archives for January 2010

Thursday Ten: Below Zero Doesn’t Work For Me

1. The temperatures this morning were cold. Very cold. With the windchill, we were looking at about MINUS SIX. That’s just too cold. I know, I know… it’s winter, it’s Michigan – this is what happens: It gets cold. But, ya know, I don’t really like cold. At all. (As of this writing, we’re sitting at a balmy 13 degrees Farenheit with a windchill of five below). BOO.

2. I decided to keep the KitchenAid mixer in that grey color. I’m glad I did – it’s a nice neutral grey, looks great in my kitchen and it has replaced the breadmaker as my favorite non-essential kitchen appliance (though both are inching their way into the essential column – I use them both frequently). The weirdest thing I have used the mixer for is to mix meat for meatballs (I hate squishing the ingredients together by hand) – but with the mixer, the texture was more consistent throughout and my hands were cleaner. WIN.

3. My bridesmaid dress is in a box in the front seat of my car waiting to be mailed. When I arrived at the post office today, they were closed. I hadn’t realized that post offices could just change their hours willy-nilly, but apparently they can. Jerks. Tomorrow I will mail this dress for the Cinderella Project. This unexpected crimp in my plan to cross this item off my to-do list put me in a tizzy. I may or may not be a little cranky today.

4. Since the post office decided to spit on my plans for the day, I came home and made a grilled peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwich for lunch. To be precise, I only put the chocolate chips on one quarter of the sandwich in case it was gross, in which case I’d still have 3/4 of the sandwich to chow on. BUT, it’s good. I’m sure I win no good nutrition points for my sandwich, but, it made me happy.

5. My sister gave me some samples of shampoo last week. I love the smell of Biolage, so I gratefully accepted her samples. The stuff smells great and my hair feels great, and I’m just going to try to not take it personally that this is the age rejuvenating stuff. Even my shampoo tells me I’m old.

6. The Princess finally started reading the Beverly Cleary Ramona books the other day. I bought them for her last year, and she avoided them until now. Now? She’s tearing through them. She’s gotten through two already this week and is working on her third. I loved Ramona. I’m ready to go start her on Judy Blume (No, NOT Margaret. Not yet.) I think she’d like “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and “Super Fudge” – and because she’s at an age where she and Pumpkin don’t always get along, she’ll probably love the sibling relationship between Peter and Fudge.

7. I just had a flash to that one scene from “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” where Fudge doesn’t want to eat his corn flakes and his father said, “Eat it or wear it!” and then dumped the cereal on Fudge’s head. What books from your childhood (once you started reading on your own) do you remember most?

8. Last week’s Project Runway confirms for me what many critics are saying (YES, I READ PROJECT RUNWAY CRITIQUES. WHAT?) – that the judges are trying to not boot off the crazy personalities too early, lest the show be left with boring designers (boring designers with TALENT, but boring nonetheless). Because while the losing garment was pretty hideous, I think when you send someone down the runway with their booty unintentionally hanging out, you should be auf’d.

9. JD Salinger has died and I am neutral. I remember liking “Catcher In the Rye” when I was younger, but after re-reading it recently, I was underwhelmed. I remember that I had liked “Franny and Zooey” better – but I have yet to reread it. I just wasn’t a huge fan (and if I can find it, I’ll totally send someone my copy of Catcher, although now that I think about it, I may have already donated it to the library – as I do with ALL books I know I’ll never reread… “Catch-22” I’m looking at you – or I would be if I hadn’t given you away already).

10. I took Pumpkin with me to guitar lesson today. That was an adventure. She did okay, actually – sitting quietly (for the most part) on a piano bench while the teacher taught me bunches of bar chords. And actually, I did okay with the bar chords and after class me and the kiddo went to Costco and ate a bunch of samples of things we’ll never buy. Good time was had by all.

Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo, or Whatever It Is That Fairy Godmothers are Saying These Days

Last week on Twitter, a woman I follow posted a tweet about helping underprivileged girls who need dresses for prom by donating your old bridesmaid dresses. I sent @HouseOfJules a reply and she filled me in on The Cinderella Project.

This organization gets prom-caliber dresses to girls who can’t afford it, and frankly, I’m NEVER gonna wear that dress again (And honestly, I think there’s something implanted in a bride’s brain that makes her TELL her bridesmaids, “SURE. You can wear that again!” In reality, there’s no way you’ll ever wear that again — how many of your life’s occasions call for that many yards of satin?).

Jules has written a pretty thorough blogpost about this project on her blog (here’s the link), but the jist is this:

  • Go digging in your closet and find your dress(es)
  • Take ’em to get drycleaned*. Jules says that some cleaners are nice and will comp you if they know it’s for a charity. My dry-cleaner was NOT nice, but I only paid about $13, so I can totally live with that.
  • Send the dress to Jules (FIRST, email her at CASAJULES at the gmailio for specifics)

That’s It.

That’s all. Easy, right? And it frees up some closet space for the other stuff you’ve been wanting to buy.

As for me? I picked my dress up from the cleaners this morning – yards of periwinkle blue satin that, no, I never did wear again. Tomorrow, I’ll package it up and send it, and smile about how easy it was and my extra closet space.

*If you can’t afford the drycleaning, let Jules know. The organization would rather have your dress and have the challenge of getting it cleaned than not have it at all.

Stupid Animal Planet. And Cairn Terriers. And…

I’m allergic to pretty much everything that occurs naturally in nature: grass, mold, dust. Oh, yeah, animals too.

The degree of my allergy to any of these things varies greatly – supposedly I’m allergic to feathers, but I can’t remember the last time I got near enough to anything feathered to know. I’m allergic to animal dander, but many dogs don’t bother me at all (pretty much all cats do, though).

It figures that my children are, as children usually are, animal lovers. They take it to a higher degree than most – preferring books about animals to any other subject (not including dinosaurs, which may be considered an animal, but they’re extinct, so, yeah… not so much). If I gave them the choice between a zoo or an amusement park, they’d take the zoo every time — and once we got to the zoo, we’d probably spend ten minutes staring at each animal. To me, that seems excessive – I think the zoo is one of those things you do kinda like window shopping — stroll up to each animal’s area, slow down to a mosey, give a once over, speed up and move on.

That’s not to say that I’m anti-animal. I was that kid in elementary school who loved horses so much that she had her dad take her to the racetrack just to see them run (Seriously).

But now my animal loving children have taken to shunning cartoons in favor of… ANIMAL PLANET. I’ve come downstairs in the morning to catch the girls watching televised dog shows – trainers dressed in dowdy clothing gallumphing around a course with their show dogs, the camera zoomed in on thick ankles in sensible shoes. Then there’s the show that’s like Supernanny, for pets – an animal trainer with severely cut bangs and wine-red lipstick tsk-ing at these silly pet owners who are engaged in struggles of power with their pets.

With every show, my daughters become more enamored of animals. “Can we have a bunny? Poodles are hypoallergenic? WHAT ABOUT A HAMSTER?”

No. Maybe so, but no. And NO.

Tonight, there was a blurb on Cairn Terriers (Picture Toto from “Wizard of Oz”). As soon as the announcer on the show mentioned that Cairns don’t shed much, the pleas for one of these rat-chasing dogs began. Thankfully, it was about bedtime and I was able to divert my daughters’ attention by directing them to go brush their teeth.

We have fish. I really thought that by getting the fish, we were finding a nice compromise – a pet that doesn’t make me sneeze and doesn’t require a pooper-scooper. But, nope. The begging for another pet – something, anything – persists. And I just don’t think I want to cave.

Do they still sell pet rocks?

Thursday Ten: I’m So Glad Project Runway Is Back In New York Edition

1. My sense of time gets all off kilter when there’s a Monday holiday. The kids were off on Monday for MLK day and since then, I’ve had this warped What day is it today? feeling. But today is THURSDAY.

2. Speaking of Thursday – that also means it’s Project Runway Day. I was actually pretty pleased with last week’s episode. I think they NEEDED to move back to New York. I thought Ping’s garment was hideous and she struck me as someone who will probably annoy me with her eccentricities, but… Hooray for Project Runway! And for Tim Gunn! And for Parsons New School!

3. Today, in case you didn’t know, is National Granola Bar day. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. I am not really a tremendous granola bar fan. I mean, they’re okay, but… Meh. But in honor of this momentous occasion I picked up a (non-sponsored plug) box of Special K Chocolatey-Pretzel Bars. They’re pretty good. It’s hard to screw up chocolate and pretzels. Together.

4. In guitar class today we focused again on the Key of E which involves the wickedly rotten F sharp minor suspended which my teacher had taught me before and which I had previously hated. Still hate it. She taught me a song that I’ve never heard before – with a beautiful guitar part. It’s fun – finger-picking rather than strumming, so it’s a little different, but… Okay.

5. I went to a local coffee chain for a light mocha today. It was gross. Very gross. Gross as in: I dumped most of it out because somethings should just not be lightened. I’m the type who orders coffee with nonfat milk and sugar free stuff. But mochas? They need to be just an all out indulgence because when you take the indulgence out? NOT GOOD.

6. I’ve finally used most of my iTunes gift card from Christmas. Lots of random and some new apps – including the 100 Pushups app. I used to be able to do 100 pushups. I stopped and now I can’t. So, here we go again. There’s also a 200 situp program. That’ll probably be next. Oy.

7. This year Necco Sweethearts conversation hearts have CHANGED THEIR FLAVOR. It’s bad. Instead of the traditional flavors, they are fruity. And they are GROSS. And I’m not happy. The convo hearts are my favorite part of Valentines Day. Sure, Brach’s stuck to their flavor scheme – but Brach’s were inferior to Necco originally and now I’m left with only subpar candy conversation heart options. This is what we call a first world problem.

8. Yesterday as I was tucking Pumpkin in for her nap, I backed into a toy dinosaur – from then, I tried to catch my balance so I wouldn’t fall on a bunch more plastic dinosaurs. In a scene straight out of some bad sitcom, I tried to catch my balance, then reached out to steady myself by grabbing her dresser and somehow yanked my shoulder out of whack and then? Fell on my butt on a sea of dinosaurs. Today my back is sore, but I still laugh when I think about it. After I fell, I said to Pumpkin, “Wow. That hurt.” Her response? “That’s why you shouldn’t do that.” Sigh.

9. I should have squished this one up there with Project Runway but yeah, I’m watching American Idol again. Really – this is my favorite part. I love the bad auditions. I know it’s horrible – but I do. Yes, that’s totally the kind of audition I would do – I’m a passable singer, but I suspect I’m probably – *gasp* – pitchy.

10. As I type, I’m listening to “Whatcha Want” by Beastie Boys. It is making me type faster. Hmmmm. Someone should do a study on this. What music makes you more productive?

Where Would I Bean Without My Friends?


Last week turned into one of those weeks where I wondered briefly why life was handing me lemons and wishing my aim was better so I could start chucking those lemons back at life. My stepson’s been having a really hard time and we’ve felt particularly powerless to do much to help. It was that frustration that gave me the kick in the pants to hop in the car Saturday morning and drive to Chicago to spend the day with one of my favorite people (see her rockin’ that fabulous hat, above).

We met at the Whatchu-Talkin’-‘Bout-Willis Tower – I had every intent on kicking my fear in the teeth and venturing out on that horrid Sky Deck. UNFORTUNATELY, visibility was zero that day and what would have been the point in facing my fear and being able to see… nothing? Yes, I’m heart broken.


The day was filled with laughs, coffee, and ooey-gooey stuffed Chicago pizza at Giordano’s. The day was filled with chilled walks through the bustling Chicago streets (Wow, tourists are HARD CORE – it was FREAKIN’ COLD this weekend). Speaking of cold, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that apparently living in Michigan doesn’t mean that I have any clue how to dress for cold weather — I had to pop into the Gap on Michigan Avenue for a pink hoodie. Guess I needed JUST ONE MORE LAYER (Dear Gap: Would it be so bad to sell gloves? I bet people would buy ’em. Just a suggestion).

We ventured to a bar outside of the city and met up with some pretty awesome Twitter people before I had to hit the road to drive back to Michigan. And yes, I wore my fancy ring the whole way home.


The drive home took hours and I arrived home exhausted and yet somehow refreshed from a day spent laughing with friends, a day spent in the brisk cold, a day spent eating French fries and mainlining coffee. I’m glad to be back home. I forget how much I am recharged by time spent with my friends – both old and new.

Pssst. Hi. Delurk.

DelurkerDay2010 (1)

I love how Chris from Rude Cactus doesn’t let us forget Delurking Day. Delurking Day, if you didn’t know, is a day to leave comments for the blogs you normally read and don’t leave comments for. A day to say hello and hi. I did a Google search and have seen several different dates listed for D-Day, but… since I missed the other ones and have this wicked graphic Chris sent (via Aimee of Greeblemonkey)… TODAY is the day.

So, while you’re reading your favorite blogs today – even if you don’t usually – leave a comment. You can practice here. Hi, how are you. Good to see you. Gosh, that shirt looks great on you. That color really brings out the little flecks in your eyes.

And tell me where YOUR blog is, so I can come by and say hello to you.

It Had To Be…

Harry Connick Jr.

From one of my favorite movies EVAH.

Kind of looking forward to meeting him in a few weeks at BlissDom  – and not just because he’s ADORABLE. I’m hoping to not have the classic Sarah “I carried a watermelon” moment.

Thursday Ten: Snowmageddon or Snowpocalypse?

1. Hey West Michigan, I see you’ve got some snow coming down. While it is a pleasant change of pace that the weather forecasters were correct in their prediction of a whole buncha snow, the problem is that we’re now left with… a whole bunch of snow. The dude who plows our driveway hasn’t shown up yet – and I really hope he does sometime before the sun comes up tomorrow or else it’s gonna be pretty messy out there.

2. First guitar lesson of 2010 today! I missed it so much. Didn’t learn much, but frankly, I needed a catch up lesson to remind me what on earth I was doing.

3. My BE THE MATCH kit came today for the National Bone Marrow registry. Took mere minutes to swab my cheeks (four times, four diff swabs) and repackage the kit and seal it to return it. SO easy. If you haven’t already signed up, visit to do so.

4. I watched the premiere of the new season of The Biggest Loser the other night. This is one of those shows that I don’t watch all the time, and when I do watch, I turn the channel before they vote someone off because that part of it isn’t interesting to me. What is interesting to me is watching the transformation these people go through – both physically and emotionally. Admittedly, I would love to be in a gym getting trained by Bob or Jillian (though personally, I prefer a trainer somewhere in between the two, stylewise. I love to see the first episode though, when they’re puking in the gym and then they hit the scale that first time with double digit losses and they get all excited and weepy and, okay… so it’s possible I take it a little too seriously.

5. I got an iTunes gift card for Christmas. I haven’t used it yet. Crazy, right? I don’t know what I want – I’m actually leaning towards picking up the Reel Director video editing app though – seems kind of neat to be able to do that directly from my phone. Technology makes me giddy.

6. Starbucks has relaunched their reward program – and this new program gets you free refills on brewed coffee, free soy milk, or free flavored syrups. Also a free drink after you’ve bought 15. No, this is not a sponsored post. I just like Starbucks (Hey, Sbux – call me).

7. Currently, I’m reading Up In The Air , the book upon which the George Clooney movie was based. The book itself is pretty good – but man, I have NO desire to see the movie (despite it getting decent reviews). Have you seen the movie? How was it?

8. Lately, I’ve been having prints made of some of the photographs I’ve taken. I just framed a huge picture of Pumpkin and the print of The Princess should arrive soon. Ideally, I’d love to have a complete photo wall someday – but not really sure I have enough wall for all the photos.

9. I made tea this morning on the way to take Pumpkin to school in efforts to keep warm in the cold while driving. It didn’t do much good since I walked out the door without it and it sat cooling on my kitchen counter until I remembered it right around lunch time. Craptastic memory FTL!

10. How’s the weather where you are? I’m hearing some of my southern friends with snow days and chilly unusual weather (for them) – how are you holding up? Yes, I’m asking you about the weather. It’s not AT ALL because I couldn’t think of a tenth thing.

The Great Debate: Is There A RIGHT WAY to Hang Your TP?

It all started with a tweet. Really, that’s the way it goes these days, isn’t it? A friend tweeted about toilet paper, and I responded and then… and then… Well, you’ll see.

I think the toilet paper should roll under. Behind the back of the roll, next to the wall. Under. I’m not sure when I developed this preference, or why – I know that I think it does look better despite every hotel insisting on hanging the toilet paper over the top (And those goofy little triangle points – I’m not sure what that’s about).

Apparently, I’m in the minority in my belief because most of my Twitter friends have said it goes OVER. One friend went so far as to send me this link which contains actual diagrams which strive to prove their point. The commenters on that post even refer to things as arm distance – as in, claiming that if you hang your TP over versus under, your arm doesn’t have as far to go.


And did I mention there were diagrams?

I don’t get it. We have four bathrooms in our house – in one of those bathrooms the TP rolls under, in two it rolls over the top, and in the fourth (my stepson’s bathroom) the toilet paper is not even ON the roll and is instead perched on the side of the bathroom sink – a location which is logistically not fantastic for when you are in need of said toilet paper (talkin’ about your ARM DISTANCE? Um, here’s where it would apply. I’d prefer to think no further on that maneuvering that might be required to reach the toilet paper in that bathroom).

Which all goes to this point: while I clearly have a personal preference that the TP rolls down the back, I am not so obnoxious about my belief that I’ll turn the roll to go “MY WAY” if someone else puts it on the opposite direction. Actually, I’m usually just thrilled that someone has replaced the empty roll. Some people are not so…chill… about the direction of the toilet paper. A few months ago, somone told me that she will actually change the direction of the roll IN SOMEONE ELSE’S BATHROOM if it is not hanging in her preferred direction.

I mean, at least I don’t do that.

I’ve come to accept that I’m in the vast under-rolling minority. Is there anyone with me in this?

One More Reason To Hate Cooking.

My kitchen runneth over.

It’s official and the new KitchenAid mixer is making me face it – there is TOO MUCH STUFF in my kitchen and not enough kitchen for all of the stuff. And I’m not sure what to do.

I’m fairly sure that this kitchen would be considered a “starter kitchen” – though the house is definitely a family house, it seems the generic kitchen floor plan was designed for a young family that probably doesn’t cook much. Counter space is minimal and the cupboard space and counterspace compete – so it’s a pretty inconvenient kitchen. And if anyone else decides to get underfoot while I’m cooking? Well, we’re tripping over each other.

Unfortunately, construction is no longer an option since we have neither the budget nor the sanity required to undertake another massive home improvement project that would result in the knocking down of an exterior wall and contractors kicking up dust in the main living areas of our house (and if you’ll remember, the last three month project stretched to SIX months, so, there’s THAT).

I need to learn to deal with the space I have, which is a limited L-shaped counter, a stove, sink, fridge, and a small closet size storage pantry.

And I’m overwhelmed just thinking about it. What stuff stays on my counter – and if I take stuff off my counter (toaster, bagel cutter, breadmaker, mixer, kitchen utensils, pot of basil… I’m looking at You. And You. And You. And….), where oh where do I put it? And what about my pantry? What a gigantic tornado mess of crap THAT is – but, it’s like 10 degrees outside, so I’m not too peachy keen on the idea of storing extra stuff* in the garage. Also, why the hell do we have so many canned goods? Blergh.

It’s a new year so I should probably do something productive – so help me organize me kitchen. Tell me your tips and recommendations for not letting your kitchen drive you crazy.

*I’m not talking like Costco quantities of extra stuff… for the most part.