Email me if you have something to say. I like you.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Put on some lipstick. Or brush your hair. Or something.

I took the kids to the mall Monday for our annual visit - the one where I convince myself that the mall would be a welcome distraction from the tedium of winter break. I also needed to return a pair of pants to Gymboree. I never buy clothes for my kids. I depend on my mom's embarrassment threshold, which is much, much lower than mine. My own bad behavior doesn't even embarrass me so having a child dressed like a street urchin doesn't faze me in the least. My mother tries to dress my children appropriately. I've learned not to waste the money; no matter what I buy, they'll wear the same soccer kits, grimy sweatshirts and well-loved t-shirts over and over. A month or so ago she brought the kids some cute duds from Gymboree. The Tank, after some wrestling, conceded his were pretty cool. O, the big kid, was polite yet firm. The khakis were not for him. Are there any actual fifth graders out there still willing to wear clothing with a Gymboree label? I guess it would be mean of me to call them dorks so, um, I won't*.

I tried to return the pants and found that such a thing wasn't really possible. I had the receipt and asked them to credit the $12.99 plus tax back to my mom's credit card. I, of course, did not have my mom's card. I wish I did. It probably has way more room on it than mine. But I digress. I didn't want to deal with a store credit given the high chance of my losing the credit before my return a year from now. Store policy wouldn't allow them to get the number over the phone from my mom. The full number wasn't on the receipt, just a portion of it. I get the policy, I do, but who would get mad if someone credited their card? But I digress again. I decided to let my mom deal with it and we left.

We had lunch, we rode the carousel and I almost vomited. Fun times. With full stomachs and brighter dispositions, the children and I agreed we might be able to choose some underpants in exchange for the hated baby khakis. Gymboree underpants rock. They are soft and have cool pictures and y'all know how desperate I am to talk the Tank into underpants**. I quickly found three pair, just his size, that more or less covered the credit. I waited in line.

And I waited some more. The woman in front of me had a few questions and she saw no reason the sole employee shouldn't answer all of them. Right that minute. She had a large stack of clothes, a credit card and what I believe was an unhealthy obsession with matching children's clothing.

"Do you have this in 18 to 24 months and size 6?"

"Well can you check in the back?"

"We already have everything from the Cupcake line. Do you have any more of these?"

"How about these?"

"Do you have anything else in the Craptastic line? How about the Silly Twit line?"

"Can you check in the back?"

"Can you check in the back again?"

I was this close to checking her in the back. What kind of mother knows the name of each individual line of clothing at Gymboree? I didn't even know they had names. What kind of person holds the sole employee hostage in a desperate attempt to secure matching outfits for her oblivious children? I'll tell you what kind of person. The kind who spends so much time thinking about how her babies look she's left with no time to put on lipstick, brush her hair or even pick out a decent looking track suit. The kind of person who is either oblivious or doesn't care that the next person in line has a five minute transaction and three antsy children. The kind of person who has "let herself go."

Don't jump down my throat. I'm not asking you to starve yourself, spend a fortune on clothes or spend hours at the gym each day***. I do think we should try to look decent for our spouses, our friends and ourselves. Don't go hating on Heidi Klum either - she speaks the truth.
You may not be a super model, but you can come pretty close to your pre-baby body and you should try, as much for your health as your looks. And if you do keep an extra pound or seven, stop hating and buy yourself some decent clothes. And put on some lipstick. And brush your hair. Children are effortlessly cute, so spend as much money as you like on their clothes, but recognize the frivolity. I have no objection to frivolity - it's the cornerstone of my existance - I just want you to stand up straight and smile.

According to my childless-as-of-yet-but-brilliant-nonetheless friend Kristy, you should set a good example for your children by having high expectations. Demand a birthday cake for yourself, with candles. Insist on presents. Buy that cocktail dress before you even consider any cr*p from the Cupcake line at Gymboree (whatever the h*ll that is). Kristy explained that by not taking care of yourself, you teach your children to feel affection for people with low expectations. Next thing you know, they're bringing home dirty hippies with zero ambition and little to no energy to seek out birth control. Soon enough, you'll be housing your adult child, the aforementioned dirty hippy and their child, who will be adorable, really, but a bit of a burden if you're honest. Don't you want the house to yourself eventually? You paid for it. Shouldn't it be yours? The dirty hippy will not contribute to the rent. Or the housecleaning. So put on some lipstick already. How about this one? I found it at Pout recently and I think it rocks.

Crazy Lady Red - Chantecaille Poppy

Namasté and Happy New Year, y'all!

* I lied. DORKS! Those are baby clothes!

** Didn't work. "I said 'Nooooo, thanks!' Dey not for me. I wanna' diaper." That's a direct quote. Hmph.

*** If you do, however, I salute you. And bet you are hot. Nothing wrong with that, sister!

Monday, December 29, 2008


I do apologize. I know you were all on the edge of your collective seats just waiting to hear from me. I'm sure the speculation was far more interesting than the reality. Isn't it always? I was busy. That's all. And a little uninspired. The best cure for lack of inspiration, I've found, is to start writing. Seinfeld was about nothing and so is my blog. How old-school!

One thing keeping this busy little housewife occupied was a party. Not just a party, but The Party of the Year, at least in our house. It started one year when we couldn't get a sitter and had a few friends over the night after Thanksgiving. We don't get to see our out-of-town friends often and holidays are the perfect time. The next year, it turned into a small party. The year after that, it grew. Soon enough, I received a Sendomatic invitation from my friend J, an arbiter of proper behavior, to a cocktail party at her place. That party was canceled when her mother died a few days before it. J and her husband, as stylish as they are proper, sent an email to all the invitees explaining they would be at home to receive visitors that evening instead. Never cancel a caterer. But I digress.

J's use of Sendomatic proved that email invites were absolutely socially acceptable, fabulous even. Sendomatic has a cleaner look than most and it costs a few dollars, which implies a classy intent on the part of the sender, n'est-ce pas? Ergo, Sendomatic it was for our Post-Thanksgiving bash. We had so much fun obsessively checking to see who had viewed and responded. Last year was big: my husband was nearly 40 years old, so we upgraded from beer and wine to liquor. Nothing says fun like a bunch of liquor. If there is one thing our friends have in common, it's liquor. Go, Liquor!

We invite about three hundred people, because there is no way they'll all show up, given its proximity to the holidays, when many are out of town. Also, it's quite possible more than half the people we invite don't know who we are or don't like us. If everyone came, we'd have to order pizzas or something. As it is, I do all the cooking, which I actually enjoy. This year, I did order a couple trays of sushi from the Social Pig, but I'm still pretty proud of myself. I catered a party for a hundred people*. All by myself. Yes, I'm bragging, but it's my blog.

This year was also notable for the addition of a bartender. We found the bartender, who recently quit working at Nightcaps, through a friend who recommended a bartender who couldn't come but recommended this bartender. As these things go in my tiny town, Amanda the bartender happened to have been on my sister's softball team in high school. Amanda rocked. She is at the top of my list, right up there with Landa. Some people need too many damn directions and supervising them is a full-time job. I like to hire a pro and let them lead the way, which Amanda did. She suggested we buy a bottle of Sweet Tea Vodka from Wadmalaw Island. Y'all know I love local stuff, so I did it. The expert was right; the bottle was nearly empty by night's end. I might suspect it was her favorite and she was drinking it, but she seemed sober to me, definitely more sober than the self-appointed bartender we had last year, a guest who took it upon himself to pour drinks for everyone. next year, we'll hire a bartender and a waiter, although I still plan to do the pre-party cooking myself, if only for bragging rights.

On the day of the party, I had very little to do, having made most of the food and consumed most of a bottle of wine the night before. Which gave me time to plan my outfit. Given that it's my party and my damn time to shine, I couldn't wear something old. I panicked and sent a Facebook message to the buyer at my favorite store in town, asking if they still had this Phillip Lim top I wanted in my size. Alas, they did not. Also, they were closed, but that saint, clearly understanding my desperation, offered to let me come to the closed store and see what was available. Lo and freaking behold, my shirt in my size had been returned by some idiot with no taste a lovely woman who obviously cared more about my feelings than her own. I also wore my brand new, go-ahead-and-mock-if-you-like-I-don't-care Current/Elliott 1957 Boyfriend Jean as Seen on Reese Witherspoon** and a fab pair of Louboutin flats bought at an obscenely low price in the Coplon's sale. If you are still reading, I *heart* you for caring this much about my outfit. You might also want to know that, while I wore flats, I had a pair of heels on reserve if I started to feel intimidated. My outfit was a carefully chosen combination of dressy and casual so no guest would feel under- or over-dressed. I refuse to specify a dress code on the invitation, because I think people should wear what they like. I care far more about what I'm wearing. The rest of the world can wear paper bags for all I care. Aren't I charming?

The last guests left at 2 am and we cleaned up and talked about them until 3 am. I'm so old, I'm still tired. Time to rest up for next year. Speaking of next year, we are terribly last minute about composing our guest list. if you were inadvertently left off (and if you've ever met me, it was inadvertent), please send me your email address for next year - or just show up.

Namasté, y'all!

*For the curious: Turkey barbecue and rolls, ham biscuits, baked Brie, Salmon Endive appetizers, veggie tray with blue cheese dip (nobody ever eats the Ranch), asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and various bowls of stuff, like nuts, wasabi peas, sesame cookies from the Korean market, Whoppers and cheese straws. I had pimento cheese, a cheese tray and frozen Spanakopeta and mini-quiches as back-up. I plan to share the turkey barbecue and baked Brie recipes soon, but I'll warn you - they're so simple I can barely call them recipes.

** If you're interested, I used the code GRECHEN to get 20% off my jeans at that site. Not sure if the code is still good, but it's worth a try.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Three New Things I know.

1. Maybe I'm the last person to know this one. If so, you are all jerks for not sharing. Actually, I know I'm not the last, because my friend and fellow blogger Tracie was tickled pink when I shared my new knowledge. What is it? Well, I finally figured out how to take a decent photo inside, with bad light conditions...with a point and shoot camera. My sister-in-law, who is an actual photographer, like for money and stuff, explained to me that it's all in the light if you don't have a fancy camera with settings that would probably confuse me anyway. So true - anyone can take a great picture outside.

Without further ado, here is my new secret, which is not a secret at all, but was a secret to me. This is my camera, a Leica C-LUX 2 .

My Cute Little Camera copy

The arrow points to what makes the Leica so pricy: that cute little red badge. It cost more than it should because it's stylish. Also, the features, which may be the same as on my old camera, are very easy to use. In fact, I discovered my new trick when I was kind of tipsy and accidentally hit the wrong button with my finger. Yay for me!

First, set the exposure on your camera as low as it will go. On mine, you push the button indicated below by the arrow.

Set Exposure

Next, set your flash. I have no idea what this slow sync thing means, but I like the way the pictures turn out when I use it. The arrow points to the button I have to press to set the flash.

Setting Camera Flash

Anyone reading this who is a real photographer may be cringing and muttering about stupid twits with over-priced Leicas who don't know what they're talking about. Go ahead. I don't care. You're right on the money. But now I get surprisingly decent photos at parties. Your mileage may vary and don't send me any questions about this technique because I will not know the answer.

The pictures of the camera, incidentally, were taken by a window in the middle of the day with my LG Voyager phone.

2. If you are wearing a cashmere hoodie on the elliptical and have your headphones plugged in to the console on said elliptical and you've been dying to try electric shock therapy but can't afford it, take off the sweater without removing the earphones. I did it and lost my hearing for an afternoon. And it wasn't just that particular elliptical, because I tried it at another gym on a different brand of elliptical and it hurt even worse. I also tried it on the original elliptical with a cotton hoodie and nothing happened.

Cashmere + headphones + elliptical = painful, but nonfatal electric shock

Perhaps someone has a neat little explanation for why this phenomenon occurred. I think it's kind of like the time I was in my friend's garage and had one hand on her dad's car, the other on their outdoor freezer and, briefly, no feet on the ground. Ow! Then there was the time I was mixing batter with Iona, my old-school mixer. Iona was a wedding gift to my parents and I love her.


The cord, which comes out of the wall socket and the mixer itself, came loose from the mixer and fell into the batter. Without unplugging it from the wall, I picked it up and licked it off. Ow! My brain vibrated for days after that one. Luckily, I was too disoriented to call DSS on myself. Did I mention I had a toddler in a backpack? He screamed too, which may or may not indicate the current reached him. You can't prove it and he's fine now, so whatever.

3. How to make those damn good ham biscuits my friend Suzi (owner of both Suzi Cooker Catering and the divine El Burrito) made for the Tank's baptism. I can't tell you, either, because I swore I wouldn't. Imagine little mouth-sized biscuits, fluffy and piping-hot, stuffed with something delicious involving ham. They're in my freezer right this second. Love the biscuits, love her.

Namasté, y'all!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hey! You want to hear me on the radio? Do you? DO YOU?

Well, if you do want to hear me on the radio, you can!

Listen to me on the radio, right this very second.

Now a seasoned veteran at radio talking (three times, yo), I think I'm starting to sound a little less like a tranny and more like a born-female, which in fact I am. I don't care what my mother told you. Frank Knapp, host of U Need 2 Know, and Marti Bluestein, host of the Chick Chat segment, are very nice to let me on the show, because I do love to hear myself talk.

SO! [insert syrupy, southern accent here] HAVE Y'ALL DONE ALL YOUR SHOPPING? This question, usually followed by a litany about how hard it is to have money to buy presents and family to buy them for, must stop, along with all the complaints about hosting and attending parties. Last I checked, parties and presents and not being broke were considered to be good things. In fact, those three things top my list titled "Stuff I Like."

I also like Christmas trees, Santa Claus, appetizers, fancy shoes, massages, nice children...I even like children who just pretend to be nice. The Tank likes to wriggle between me and the back of my chair and offer me back rubs.

"You want back rub, Mom? Dat feels good?"

Yes, I do and yes, it does. It would be very nice if it lasted longer than four seconds and wasn't followed with an immediate request for cookies or wrestling or a movie or chocolate. But, gosh darn, that little fellow owns cute.

Hey, speaking of cute, donating money to worthy causes is one of the cutest things you can do. And it makes a great, passive-aggressive present. No matter how much they might have preferred a "real present," no one can complain when presented with a donation to a worthy cause made in their name. And you get the tax deduction. And they don't have to know how much or how little you donated. Best gift ever! You'll appear more thoughtful if you choose a charity based on the person you're donating for. My mother, for example, received a donation in her name to "Reformed Sex Workers Anonymous." If you don't have a reformed sex worker on your list, you may want to choose one of these:


St. Laurence Place

Harvest Hope

Oliver Gospel Mission

Children's Garden

Palmetto AIDS Life Support

Epworth Children's Home

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands

The Nurturing Center


The Family Shelter


Animal Protection League

The Heifer Project (this is a cool one for kids!)

The Free Medical Clinic

Go Red for Women

Most of those are local, as in where-I-live local, so you may want to explore options near you. In fact, I want you to give money so bad, if you email me your location and what sort of organization you want to help, I'll do my best to find one for you. True cliché: Even five dollars makes a difference.

Namasté, y'all!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why my husband doesn't get "Law and Order."

I know, I know. We're not supposed to have access to Law and Order without a television. But don't you know a junkie will obtain her drug of choice by any means necessaryicon? Most evenings, we load up an episode on the laptop, get in bed and fall asleep like any normal American couple too tired and mad at each other for sex.

My husband, who enjoys many hobbies such as tennis, beer-drinking and truck-like snoring, always falls asleep within moments. This irritates me. I'm all into the story and I can't hear because the noise from the other side of the bed sounds like a dying elephant, with a really bad cold. If the story is compelling enough (which it is in every single episode, because Law and Order, in every incarnation, rocks), I pause it and punch him in the arm until he wakes up. He is a big, fat liar and always claims he was awake the whole time. So I quiz him on the plot. And he never knows the answers. Ha!

Anyhow, the other night, after a beat-down by me, he whined,

"You think it's bad for you? Imagine how it is for me. Every night, I watch some guy die. And there is never any resolution."

This cracked me up, which is always the simplest way to end a fight. He had the grace to acknowledge, though, that for a defense attorney like him, murder with no evidence or guilty-beyond-reasonable-doubt perp is pretty awesome.

I used to envy him his ability to pass out cold in any situation. I toss and turn and often, on the verge of sleep, get woken by some small noise and have to start all over. But, guess what? Since the introduction of Wellbutrin into my deranged chemical make-up, I fall asleep after the guy dies, too. Just like that. Now we watch the same episode two nights in a row and I still don't catch the end. Is this what it's like to be normal? Ish?

In other news, The Tank has a new habit. In a past life, he must have been some old guy from the country. About ten times a day, he says, "Well..." But he pronounces it "Way-ull," as in "Way-ull, I reckon them new folk up the road is just a little too citified, with their fancy cars and teeth and wearin' shoes ever' day and such." But the Tank is usually talking about something relevant to his life.

"Way-ull. I'ma play with my trains."

"Way-ull. You change my diaper. It stinks.*"

"Way-ull. I'ma not wear my jacket. It's not for me."

"It's not for me" is another favorite phrase, like he's trying to be polite. What he really means is, "Hay-ull NO, I ain't wearin' no mother-truckin' jacket. Day-um!"

Good thing he's cute. And that we have a lot of babysitters.

Namasté, y'all!

* Way-ull, the potty still ain't happenin' 'round here. Hay-ulp!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My kids are so polite right now, they're practically British.

The Tank wants only two things from Santa: a drum and a chocolate present. I suspect Santa will come through. I love watching kids try to be polite this time of year. What a scam! Look at this:

Dear Santa...

Although we haven't discussed it, I suspect O. knows more than he lets on about the magic of Christmas. In more shocking news, I think he was being nice to his brother when he wrote this. I also think he is wise beyond his years and knows better than to allude to the fact he might not believe in something that results in a huge haul for him. Maybe he's our smartest one.

My brother, who had three older sisters and didn't talk until he was 23 years old, claimed to believe in Santa until last year or so. Santa kept showing up as long as someone believed. My sisters threatened him to within an inch of his life. He had to keep the magic alive! The Tank, I assume, will perform a similar service for his brothers.

Speaking of Christmas traditions and family, my mother had this idiotic idea she wasn't going to have a tree this year. My Dad, not one to argue, told on her. He knew we would fight for him. I called my mom and informed her we wouldn't be coming over on Christmas and wouldn't buy presents for anyone, including my siblings, unless she capitulated. Then I called my sister and told on her. My sister, ever the sarcastic optimist, immediately decided it was all a ruse and mom was actually knocking out the ceiling so we could have an even bigger tree. Then, just in case that theory proved incorrect, she texted Mom,

"Why do you hate the Baby Jesus?"

Yay! We get a tree! I love it when families work together.

Namasté, y'all!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I will not be the #&%-hole*.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Parties are the new bars. Friday night, we were invited to a party. This party was a little bit different from a bar, because it was really far from my house. We chose our house based on its proximity to our kids’ school our church charming shops our dear extended family bars. Neither we nor my hard drinking über-responsible** brother-in-law and sister-in-law wanted to drive. In fact, when my husband suggested we draw straws, I said, "FIne. But if I lose I'm not going." Ergo, I started calling car services.

One such service offered a stretch limo at the low, low price of $75 an hour. This included bar service, television and something that was vaguely described as "mood lighting." That didn't quite seem like what we needed. Next I called Aiken Limousine and Transportation (1-877-648-5466). The word "transportation" indicated to me they had normal cars and I liked that they had a toll-free number, because it made them seem like a legitimate operation. The price was totally acceptable, our driver Landa-rhymes-with-Wanda was awesome and the car, which I pictured as a Honda Accord, was a glamorous Lincoln Towncar, no mood lighting, thank goodness. We've been discussing selling our cars, canceling our insurance and using the car service all the time. But I digress.

I called the day of the party to find out if I could bring anything. The hostess, a good friend who lives way out in the country, has asked me to pick up last minute necessities in the past, like ice, because I live in civilization near stores.

"Well," she answered, "L. is bringing tomato pies and deviled eggs, S. is bringing dessert, K and D are bringing a pork roast and V. is bringing her artichoke dip, so we're all set."

I screeched into the phone, "Why didn't you tell me it was a potluck? Did you think I couldn't handle bringing a dish?" Well, I didn't really screech, because the Wellbutrin takes the edge off nicely. But you get the picture.

My "friend" informed me there was one other person showing up empty-handed, our friend K. She only asked people to bring something if they offered. I had no desire to be the #&%-hole, so I cut her off and announced I would be bringing something. Exactly what was yet to be determined. Let K be the #&%-hole, I figured. She has thick skin.

I called my sister-in-law, who was bringing her famous artichoke dip***, to discuss. Always a positive thinker, she decided this had potential. We could make a game out of turning one guest into the #&%-hole at every party. And then make fun of them, mercilessly. There was even discussion of creating a special hat, which the #&%-hole would be forced to wear. We worried for two seconds about hurt feelings. My sister-in-law concluded any one of them would just say, "Haha! Party for me!" and wear the hat with pride.

So, we didn't make the hat, but I did make the appetizer, a personal favorite. I've shared it before, but now I have pictures. Here it is, yo.

Smoked Salmon Endive Appetizers

I started at the Gourmet Shop, where I bought about a quarter pound of their smoked salmon, which is the best in town.

Gourmet Shop Smoked Salmon

I paused in front of the Viking Pbrrrt and wished I had one. My Pbrrrt broke recently and this one is just like it, but with special features, such as a little bowl attachment that turns it into a tiny food processor.

What I want for Christmas.

Next, I called three different grocery stores to locate Belgian Endive. I live in a small-ish town and it behooves me to call so I don't waste time. I bought a bunch of Belgian Endive. Then I went home and started working.

Belgian Endive. You love it.

Get a bunch of Belgian endive, cut the bases off and make a bunch of little boats out of the leaves.

Belgian Endive, cleaned and separated.

In a mini food processor, mix a handful of chives and mint (which you should be able to find in your yard as they are weeds)

Gratuitous photo of mint and chives.

and equal parts mayonnaise and cream cheese, until they're totally blended.

Yum. Almost.

Put the mix into a zip-loc bag and cut one corner off, so you can squeeze little dollops into the endive boats.

Almost there...

Now put a piece of smoked salmon on top of each one. Yum.


Take the leftover mush and put it in a little container to use as a sandwich spread, such an improvement over mayo alone.

Leftover sandwich spread.

Take the mis-sized bits of endive and make your husband eat them. He's old and needs the fiber. It'll keep him regular.

Leftovers, because your husband is old and needs fiber.

When you bring an appetizer to share, you won't have to hide your #&%-hole face at the party.

No pictures, please.

Namasté, y'all!

* I would say "a-hole", but I said it on the radio Friday and my parents weren't happy.

** My husband once described how he felt jogging down, early on a Sunday morning, to retrieve one's car from a bar parking lot. Equally responsible and irresponsible. Avoiding a DUI is wise. Drinking so much you can't drive is not. But we are what we are. He jogged down there extra early so no one would see our car on their way to church. Hiring a car service inspires that same feeling. Should we really feel proud of ourselves for knowing ahead of time we'll behave badly? Is there maybe a lesson on self-awareness here?

*** Mountains of parmesan, several dollops of mayonnaise and a jar of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped. Stir together and cook in a 350° oven until it's a little bit brown at the edges. So good!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Video killed the radio star.

Lucky for me, I'm not a radio star. If I was a radio star, this video would totally outshine me. I realize everyone in the world has seen this, but 'tis the season to pull it out...

Nothing can make that unfunny. And nothing will make the relationship between Bob the Builder and Wendy ok. He's a jerk and she's pathetic. Couldn't she assert herself just once and tell Bob she likes him? Oh, no. Much better to pine away in silence while that insensitive lout dances the night away with Mavis, that hooker. Bob isn't even cute. And his best friend is a dump truck. Guys without real friends are a bad bet. Although I loved Sex and the City, I never got Carrie and Big. My sister-in-law, not a fan of the show, saw the movie and immediately noticed the problem: He had no friends. Beware the guy with no friends, y'all! If a bunch of guys who don't even care how their friends smell don't like him, something ain't right. bob did build Wendy a pergola, which is the equivalent of Big's closet for Carrie - nice, but not enough to prove he's in it for the long haul. In fact, they were both just showing off.

As previously mentioned, I'm not a radio star. Marti Bluestein, however, is. And I'm going to be on her show, Chick Chat, this afternoon from 3:25 to 3:40. Stream it live here or listen on AM 1230 in Columbia. No promises, but I'll try to be entertaining.

Namasté, y'all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Scary Grass Cam!

While I can't imagine this will inspire as much response as my last post*, I hope you'll join me in feeling a little nervous about my brown grass. I've been here before - driving through the neighborhood, mentally comparing my grass to others'. But this time my grass matches. My previous fact-finding missions were in the summer and spring, when everyone's grass was green. Brown, it seems, is only appropriate in the winter months. it is. My Brown Grass.

Sad Grass Cam.
Originally uploaded by The Daily Digress

I hope to provide a service to anyone else feeling panicked about their grass supply drying up. My lawn dude assures me everyone's grass is patchy and brown at the moment. Do not be alarmed! In the video, you can hear the leaf blowers from our neighbor's lawn dudes. Actually, I think his are landscapers, which increases the price quite a bit. They wouldn't bother doing stuff to the grass if it was flat out dead, now would they? I plan to landscape when I no longer have a herd of little boys trampling my lawn-tastic lusciousness. Or maybe, you know, never.

Speaking of panic, the Wellbutrin seems to be working. I've maintained my sparkling personality while freaking out a little bit less. My sister-in-law confirmed that I seem like less of a freak. She is nice. I think. Just kidding. I know she's nice. She's my favorite person in my husband's family, his brother's wife and the only one not related to him by blood. I'll stay with him because a divorce would make things between me and V. awkward and she rocks. Also, I really like our house and I couldn't afford it on my blogger's income. And he's cute. And buys me grass.

Namasté, y'all!

* Dear Esperantonions, I meant no offense. I'm actually impressed. I barely speak English and only know a few words of French, Spanish, German, Serbian (just the cuss words) and Italian. I think it's very cool that y'all are so passionate about Esperanto. Is it cheap to say "I don't hate Esperanto. I had a friend in high school who spoke Esperanto?"It sounds like, um, a real lifestyle or something. And Chisanbop rules! I want to learn it now!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Things I wonder about (Alt. Title: Things About Which I Wonder)

Whatever happened to Esperanto? Did it go the way of that math thing people did with their fingers? Does anyone else remember that math thing? Am I the only person in the world nerdy enough to have been a tiny bit jealous of people who could do it? Did you know there's a Wikipedia in Esperanto*, but not a Facebook? Did you know you could translate Facebook to pirate language? Seriously, you can.

I, for one, rejoice in knowing Esperanto never caught on. I majored in modern languages - Esperanto, the universal language, would have rendered my oft-employed** degree useless. Like, even more useless than it already is. Also, Esperanto lacks the fun factor. Have you ever heard of slang Esperanto?

If we all spoke Esperanto, how would A and I communicate stuff like, "Après qu'ils iront au lit, tu veut boire la plupart de cette bouteille de Jacques Daniels avec moi?" The boys would understand our every word, except for the ones universally ignored like "clean", "your room" and "stop hitting your brother" of course.

Also, I wonder when my new camera will get here...what's that? The UPS guy? At the door? Right this second? Bye!


I wonder why a camera would arrive in the mail with an uncharged battery. I guess this will help me empathize with the kids on Christmas morning when they beg us to hunt down batteries. We still won't do it, but I'll feel their pain for once. I hate waiting. Just kidding. It's not so bad. Just kidding. It is!

In the Dominican Republic last week, I had a hard time summoning any irritation. The contsantly flowing Malibu and Club Soda helped, of course, but so did the realization we were so unbelievably lucky. I hate commercials that egg people on, "Go ahead. You deserve it." Not true. No one deserves a fancy car, a vacation or even more than enough pairs of socks, but we're lucky enough to have them. And it is luck, because no one doesn't deserve those things, either. I hardly think G-d would provide a car as a reward for good behavior. In the islands, anyone with half a brain knows the people who serve them in any resort most likely live in poverty. I'm not talking about the cute kids who bum around resorts for a few years after college to earn their keep, I'm referring to the waiters, maids, groundspeople and any employee who hails from the island. No one deserves to be served, but it happens. And boy do I feel lucky when it happens to me.

A better person than I would forgo future vacations in favor of mission trips. But I am selfish, selfish, selfish, on my own and my children's behalf. Instead, I've adopted one of the wise mottoes of a wise woman I know:

If you have to complain, don't complain to anybody but Jesus***, because nobody but Jesus cares.

Excellent advice. Try it. "Oh, Jesus, I was at exercise class this morning and this woman behind me was...never mind. How's it going, man?" "Jesus, my husband put the dishes in the" In fact, I was at exercise class this morning and someone there complained, in a non-joking way, every time the teacher got to a new exercise. Translation?

"Jesus, I really hate these hard exercises and I took my valuable time to come to this gym I pay a lot of money for, money I happen to have. Money is so annoying! You just have to spend it and spend it. And for what? My new exercise lycra, which hugs my well-fed curves nicely if I do say so myself, is getting all sweaty. How ever will I have time to change before I go out to lunch with my friends? I'm starving. I haven't eaten since that over-priced coffee on the way here. I could be home watching tv or not doing housework. Why? Why me, Lord?"

If I hated exercise that much, I'd leave. And go help homeless kittens learn to read or something.

Namasté, y'all!

* That is some hardcore nerdiness right there, yo. I mean, who translated Wikipedia into Esperanto? And why? Is there anyone who speaks Esperanto and Esperanto only?

** Haha. Kidding.

*** You may, of course, insert your HPOC (Higher Power of Choice) here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Appetizers are my favorite food.

Cooking is like sex and exercise. If you get out of the habit, you lose interest. Once you start again, you realize what you were missing. Well, it's not quite like sex. Or even exercise. But, um, whatever. This metaphor is boring.

When I've lost the habit of cooking, I start with appetizers. Appetizers fascinate children and entice them to eat vegetables they would otherwise shun. I shun sweet potatoes, or I did before I knew they could be served without marshmallows. Although I have nothing against them, marshmallows on sweet potatoes make me gag. I'd like to propose we put the "potato" back in sweet potatoes. The "sweet," although it comes first, is secondary. It's comparative, not definitive. Sweet(er) potato chips and fries thrill me to no end. But, 'tis the season to eat hors d'œuvres...fa la la la la la la!

Potato (Sweet-type) Appetizers
(Or...Hors d'œuvres de Patates Douces)

Peel and chop two large-ish sweet potatoes. Boil them in a pot until soft.

Drain the potatoes and add half a stick of butter, a dash of cinnamon, a splash of milk, salt and pepper to taste and a dollop of crushed ginger, like this, from Trader Joe's.

Trader Joe's Crushed Ginger

This recipe is interrupted for a brief whine: Why can't we have a Trader Joe's? Why? Please join me in my campaign to bring TJ's to Columbia. /whine

Mash everything together until you get this*:

Sweet potato mush.

A pbrrrt would perform this task nicely. I abused mine mercilessly until it finally broke, so I used a bamboo spoon. Allow the mush to cool and shove it into a plastic zip-loc bag or one of those fancy pastry squirters. Set out a bunch of these

Mini Fillo Shells. Duh. or these
Um. Crispy shells. on a tray. Or if you want to do a taste test, use both.

Now you are here:

Ready to make sweet potato snacks.

Cut off one of the bottom corners of the zip-loc and start filling the shells. Sploosh...sploosh...sploosh...away you go! And now, shall we discuss garnish options? I *heart* garnishes! I tried two yesterday, pecans and chives, which seem to be the only thing I can grow consistently. Probably because they qualify as weeds in certain cultures. But I digress. And not for the first time.

Et voilà! Je vous présente...Hors d'œuvres de Patates Douces**!

Sweet potato snacks.

Perhaps you would prefer to offer them to your guests on a cool tray from Target (damn them and their inexpensive, well-designed home accessories!) with a bottle of wine ($13.99 at Simply Savory, even less with the 15% case discount) and some mildly humorous cocktail napkins (Cloud Nine).

Yummy snack tray.

In a taste test performed by one ten year old boy and his friend, the small shells won out in a surprise upset over the fillo pastry. Only one judge participated, as the friend merely eye-balled the appetizers and politely declined. The friend, previously responsible for turning us on to the delicacy known as M & M's Dumped in a Bowl of Popcorn, remains a favorite. The ten year old expressed a mild preference for the chives, but he doesn't like pecans. I like them all. I found the fillo somewhat overwhelming, but tasty nonetheless. I like funny cocktail napkins. Is that gay?

Cocktail napkin.

Namasté, y'all!

P.S. If you don't use all the mush de patate douce, freeze it for another party.

* Please enjoy this brief apology to anyone who thought yesterday's picture of broken eggs was actually a picture of diarrhea all over my kitchen floor. I'm sorry if you had nightmares. I know looking at a pot of orange mush can't be easy for you during this difficult time. Be strong!

** I am so totally into the French version, in which "douce" follows "patates", as it should. Vive la France!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

When will I learn?

I was enjoying a few moments of peace this morning, in between changing The Tank's diapers. Happy Diarrhea Day to Me! Just for today, I'm thankful he's not potty-trained. So, he was watching a movie in the kitchen - or so I thought - and I heard him moving around. No big deal, because the movie was Billy Jonas and the Tank likes to sing along and dance. I heard him say something, but I was doing really well playing Scramble on Facebook, so I ignored it. I heard it several times, each time more enthusiastic than the last. In between the outbursts, I heard a small sound, like crktt.

"HE DOES IT!"...crktt..."HE DOES IT!"...crktt..."HE DOES IT!"...crktt...

After failing again to beat my sister's high score at Scramble, I investigated. May I present, The Tank's first art installation:

He does it!

He was so happy about it. I couldn't do anything but hug him. Score another one for Wellbutrin! Eggs are very hard to clean up with paper towels. Now you know.

Last week, life was perfect. My whole day revolved around beverages and hanging out. These are some beverages I enjoyed. First, imagine the taste of rich, warm espresso, sipped by the pool from one of these fancy Italian-y looking cups.

Afternoon coffee by the pool at Club Med.

Also poolside, Coca Light quenched my afternoon thirst. I really, really miss reading under these straw umbrella thingies over the lounge chairs. American Wife, by the way, was a great vacation read. I'm finished, if anyone wants to borrow it*. Why does Coca Light taste so much better than Diet Coke? Anyone? Maybe it's atmosphere.

Coca Light and a book by the pool at Club Med.

This last drink was my favorite, Malibu and club soda. Light on the alcohol, so you can have two! This vacation treat is ideal for sipping while playing "European or American?"

Malibu and soda...what a lovely afternoon.

Speaking of "European or American?", my theory about Crocs and Speedos as unquestionable confirmations of nationality was incorrect. This guy proved it wrong, as he sports both Crocs and a Speedo.

European or American?

But, I think we all know he's European, so my new theory is this:

Crocs=American, if and only if accompanied by Speedo

Speaking of pants vs. no pants, both my husband and his brother managed to get locked out of their rooms without pants. I don't really understand how that happens. I never go outside without something covering my bottom. That is one of the rules I live by. Both of them attempted to re-enter via their respective balconies. Our room was on the first floor. My brother-in-law's was on the second floor. Please try not to picture him scaling a yellow stucco building at Club Med Punta Cana with no pants. Ha, ha! Try to get that image out of your head now! I'm thankful I didn't see it.

Namasté, y'all!

* I will not be including it at my next Anti-Book Club if you were counting on it.