Friday, January 29, 2010

The Darndest Things

This repost from 2008 was too good not to share.

I wasn't around for this one, but I thought it was definitely worth telling secondhand.

Matt took Bryce to Costco to get his glasses adjusted, and pick up a couple odds and ends. As they were passing a table of samples, Bryce asked if he could have one.

"No," Matt said. "But do you want to know why?"

Bryce, with a sly look and joking tone, replied, "Because you're a jerk?"

Matt said he almost cried he laughed so hard. Then he told Bryce never to say that to anyone else, ever ... but because he made his Old Man laugh, he could have the sample.

To the kid's credit, he wouldn't even repeat the story to me.


While I was driving Bryce to day camp, he started asking me all about my work.

"Do you have friends there?"

Sure, I answered, and rattled off the names of some of my co-workers, including my boss, Mike.

"Is he a good boss? Is he nice to you?" Bryce asked. (He always asks this about everyone's boss. I'm wondering who had a bad boss.)

"Oh yes," I answered.

"Does he play with you? Do you get free time?"

Hmmm. "Well, I get to eat lunch, and I have a couple breaks," I answered. "What do you mean by free time?"

"You know, like playing on the swings, and in the sandbox."

Don't I wish! :)
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Things my father told me

I just spent a good 30 minutes slogging through the rain, without a coat, scarf or umbrella. In heels and hose, no less.

As the wind picked up, chilling my already damp form to the bone, I thought about the advice my dad has given me through the years. Topping the list of oft-repeated suggestions, I think, is this:

"Bring your jacket--it's cold."

I'd inevitably roll my eyes and stomp off to grab my coat, refusing to put it on and cover my adorable outfit no matter what the temperature. He'd roll his eyes back and mutter, "Girls."
Let me tell you, it's good advice.

Other pieces of wisdom I wish I'd followed more over the years include gems like: "Those aren't the right shoes to wear for this," "Do or do not, there is no try," "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got," "Don't be embarrassed" and "Go help your mother in the kitchen."
He is a smart man, my dad, and I realize it more every day.

But just when I get to thinking that he may be all-seeing and all-knowing, I remember his advice when I was talking to my stepmom about bathing-suit shopping for my honeymoon

"Why don't you just go to Costco? They've got lots of swimsuits there."

And I remember that we're all fallible.

But I put an extra jacket in the car, just in case.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Inevitable "Twilight" Post

A co-worker dropped this off for me today. She did it because I lent her three of my four Twilight books.

And then we went to see "New Moon" together. Opening weekend. We stood in line, wearing business attire, surrounded by teenyboppers wearing black sweatshirts and Converse.

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not a goth, nor am I 15 and lonely. I don't cry or faint at the sight of Robert Pattinson (I might not even be able to spell his name correctly).

The superior, intellectual part of me doesn't even think the movies or books are all that good.

How, then, do I explain the dog-eared copies of the Saga on my bookshelf? The fact that three of them are in hardcover? My nagging urge to order additional copies for my Kindle?

What about that time, about a month back, when I rented the movie? Or the fact that I happen to know it's going to be on Shotime this Saturday, and can't figure out how to secretly record and watch it without the hubs' knowledge?

I can't explain any of it. The truth is that I love those damn stories.

And I'm only a little bit ashamed to admit it.
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

That'll fix it

Emboldened by my happy results from the Two Layer Pineapple Upside Down Cake, I decided to use the box of butter cake mix I was squirreling away on Saturday. I figured I'd bake a two layer cake for the hubs, and use the opportunity to make my own chocolate frosting.

I prepared the cake per the directions, and put it in the oven. Thus ended the "classical music" portion of my dessert.

The chocolate icing was pure jazz. The recipe I found in Betty Crocker called for a half-cup chocolate powder, eight cups of powdered sugar, 3/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup milk and two tablespoons vanilla.

I could see right off the bat that there wasn't enough chocolate. And that I didn't have enough butter. So I dumped the stick of butter I did have into the Kitchen Aid mixer, and added a half-cup of chocolate ... and then some.

Ooops, I was supposed to cream the butter first. Better add some milk. But not the nonfat in the fridge ... I picked up the half-and-half we use for creamer. I added it until the mixture looked creamy, then dumped in a box of powdered sugar.

Too thick. More cream. And more. Oooh, the vanilla! More creamer. More sugar! More creamer.

And so on, until the mixer was about half full of a delicious first attempt at homemade chocolate frosting.

I used dental floss to even out the top half of each cake, then plopped the first half down and slapped a pile of icing on top.

Did you know that thick icing will actually tear a cake? Getting crumbs in the icing and putting holes in your beautiful dessert?

Did you further know if you slap on more icing, it will cover the ugly spots?

There was close to an inch of icing in some spots before I put the top layer on the cake. I frosted the top, and then the sides ... and then looked at the four cups of remaining icing in the pot. I did another taste-test, and thought, Why not?

By the time I finished, there was almost more frosting than cake.

But with chocolate jimmies and some artistic flourishes from my spatula (no professional frosting equipment here!), you couldn't tell without cutting into it.

The hubs asked for an enormous, Matilda-esque slice, and I obliged. He lost some color when he saw all the frosting, but dug in like a good soldier.

Then, days later, he politely suggested that next time, I add a little cake to my chocolate frosting.

Sure, babe. Just hand me that fork.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winning at "Marriage"

If marriage were a competition, my husband would be winning.

This weekend, anyway. It started Saturday morning, when we took Koa to his first dog park. Our superior canine far preferred our company to the company of other dogs. We left when he just laid down next to us, coolly surveying all the pooping and chasing. No other dogs were cool enough for him.

When I got home from grocery shopping afterwards, my darling husband--the best one in the world, I might add--was cleaning the bathroom. Bonus, I thought. This must be because he washed the dog last weekend and I successfully pretended that I did not see the layer of German Shepherd hair on the floor. Passive-aggressive win!!

But after he finished that bathroom, he cleaned the other one. And the guest room. And collected the laundry. And swept and vacuumed.

For no reason. I didn't ask, nag or cajole. He's just that nice. Then he made me a steak dinner. I baked him a two-later butter cake with homemade chocolate frosting. He preferred the ice cream he'd just bought, but it was the thought that counted.

With the house clean this morning, he decided to change the oil in our cars, so I took over laundry (which has become his domain). We went for lunch at our favorite Indian food buffet, and watched "Angels and Demons" together in our new reclining chairs.

I tried to repay his awesomeness by NOT saying, "I've been there!" every 10 minutes; explaining the origins of the word "conclave" or giving away the ending when he asked, "So that's a good guy, right?"

So here I am, laundry done, house clean, looking at a tomorrow with no obligations in it. Looks like another work holiday spent with my knitting ... and Lifetime: Television for Women.

But I'll put in some time plotting on how I can swing next weekend in my favor.
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Dream Interpretation

Last night, I dreamed that I was trying to park the hubs' truck ... but I was sitting in the passenger seat, and the brakes wouldn't work.

It's a dream I have often. Different cars, different scenarios, same nightmare: I'm in the wrong seat, trying to control the vehicle. And usually, the brakes go out.

It got me thinking about my other recurring dreams. See if any of these sound familiar to you:

  • I have a pet that I've forgotten about for months.
  • I am in a public situation without an appropriate article of clothing. It could be shoes, a shirt, pants ... or I could just be wearing pajamas or a robe for a business meeting.
  • I'm in school but have forgotten to go to class for the entire semester.
  • I'm dating someone, but am frantic because I know that this individual is not the right person, and the hubs is waiting for me somewhere.
And there are certain regularities to my dream world. For instance, I always dream in color, I always remember my dreams, I can typically control my dreams ... but I can never dial a phone. Ever.

Hmmm ... control issues, much?

Maybe tonight, I'll try to work in some new themes. I wonder if David Boreanas' subconcious is busy?
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To Do List 2009: Create a Signature Pastry

I tried muffins.

I tried scones.

I tried pies, cakes and puddings.

But when it comes to the desserts that I am known for, I've had to accept something: It's my Christmas cookies.

Christmas Cookie Extravaganza comes once a year, when I set an entire weekend aside for baking and divvying up hundreds of cookies. The hubs takes some to his work; I take some to mine. The list seems to grow every year.

This year, I outdid myself. I made these:

If you want a taste of my signature pastry, come visit me around the holidays.

Trust me. There will be leftovers.

(All images were borrowed from the Web. For the record, they are: Pecan Pie Cookies, Iced Sugar Cookies, Red Velvet Whoopie Pies, Italian Anisettes and White-Chocolate-Cranberry Cookies.)

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

To Do List 2009: Cook with Meat

All you women crowd in close now. I want to tell you something that will make you jealous to your core.

My husband makes dinner in my house.

Yep, I said it. It's true. I plan the menus, I do the shopping, but when it comes to meal prep, it's all him.

Well, I throw in a casserole or premade something-something here and there, just so he doesn't get burned out.

But dinner is typically his responsibility.

It's because I can't cook. I can bake my hiney off, but I can't cook. The times I've tried have been so disastrous that he'd just rather I didn't, anymore.

The first time I cooked for him, I learned that pork chops have to be appropriately thin to be cooked in a skillet for 2 minutes on each side. Otherwise, your date will believe you're trying to kill him with food poisoning.

Early on, when we started living together, I learned that you can't just leave chicken in the oven until you're darn well ready to eat it. Otherwise, it takes three or four cans of Dr. Pepper just to make it go down.

When we moved to Santa Cruz, I learned that the same goes for roasting cashews for Cashew Chicken. Your boyfriend will get tears in his eyes after smelling crock-pot cashew chicken all day only to be told that the essential ingredient has been burned to a crisp.

So I don't try much with meat anymore. After we got married, though, I got it into my head that every woman should know how to grow a garden and roast a chicken.

So one day, when I was home from work for one reason or another, I went to the Fancy Grocery Store in town and bought a chicken. I followed the directions, I put it in a pan, and I roasted the ever-loving heck out of that chicken.

I served my beautiful bird with a salad and homemade biscuits. I dug in, my stepson dug in ... and I noticed that my dear husband was pushing his chicken around on the plate.

"Don't you like it?" I asked, my heart falling to my shoes because I already knew the answer.

"Not really," he admitted, pleading silently not to be kicked to the couch for the night.


I'm sticking with casseroles. There's a lot less blood, sweat and heartache there.
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Friday, January 8, 2010

Go Away, World

I am cranky this Friday morning.

After 31 years of the world generally working in my favor, Karma has decided to intervene. Here's a rundown of why I am cranky:

Best Buy Sucks.
The hubs hopped over to Best Buy the day after Christmas, and using a return item, some cash and money we didn't have too much of in our bank account, bought an external hard drive. As happens to the best of us in retail situations (see the time Steph bought a $160 bra in New York), reality stepped in five minutes later, and he turned right around and returned it.

Literally. Five minutes later.

We still have not seen our refund. Best Buy is keeping their merchandise and our money. That is the same as if we kept their merchandise and our money. Stealing. I believe there's a commandment out there regarding that.

The store tells us to call the 800-number. The 800-number (after hours on hold and multiple disconnects) tells us to go back to the store. The latest we've heard is that we may see our money back in a few days.

Car Warranties Suck.
When we bought my car a few years back, we decided to pay an extra $1600 for an 80,000 warranty. This would bring our total warranty to 110,000, meaning we'd pretty much not have to worry about anything as long as we had the car.

That mileage is right, by the way. I checked the warranty contract we signed. It has the total mileage as well as what we paid for it. I had to sign it. There's lots of legal language to it.

But I just paid $450 to have my engine mount replaced, because the warranty company told us that they changed the terms, and would only be covering my car until 80,000 miles.

Now, if I went and spent $5 on a pound of potatoes at Safeway, and then the price of potatoes went up, Safeway would not be able to come to my house and take half of my potatoes away.

How is this any different?

My sweater sucks.
It's too short. It's a top-of-the-hips sweater, and we live in a below-the-hips world. It hits me in all the wrong places and accentuates my winter weight gain. But I love 3/4 sleeved black sweaters. So there we are.

I'm thirsty. It sucks.
OK, I could get up and get a glass of water, but I'm far more into my angst right now.

Bank Accounts Suck.
The hubs has almost nothing in his, because he does not get paid for vacation. That sucks in itself. But mostly, because Best Buy is stealing from us, we have no money in one of our bank accounts.

And I like having money in my bank account. It's something I've grown accustomed to over the years. Not a lot, but enough.

My hair sucks.
It's too long. I need a cut. I committed the ultimate sin and cancelled my last haircut an hour before I was supposed to go in (Really, it was a work thing. I am not That Girl.). And thanks to Best Buy, I can't schedule another appointment for at least two weeks. Probably four.

I realize that I am very, very lucky that all of our money problems are temporary; and that we have enough to catch up to the ones that aren't. I realize that there are many people out there who haven't had a haircut in months, and who can't go to Best Buy to get ripped off in the first place.

I'm just being petulant.

I'm sorry.
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

To Do List 2009: Lose 10 Pounds

Considering I gained, oh, too many, I'd say that was a massive FAIL!

To be fair, I did run a half-marathon during the time that I expected to lose 10 pounds. They told me that I would not lose an ounce during training, and I did not believe them.

How hard could it be to lose weight when you eat sensibly and run 12-20 miles each week?


Very, very hard.

I did not realize that running 12-20 miles each week makes you want to eat everything in sight. I've never been so hungry ... and never had a better reason to make enormous breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

So I gained weight. But I also spent three months eating amazing scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon and toast.

Sometimes when you lose, you win.
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

To Do List 2009: Organize a Home Office


Terrific, absolute fail!

The closest I came to a home office was setting our defunct desktop computer up on the hubs' childhood desk. And even then, I inadvertently chose the plug that is attached to the room's light switch.

Turn the light off, turn the computer off. Not ideal.

Of course, I did go through five years worth of files, and purge almost everything. But since I didn't do that until Jan. 1, I don't think it counts.

What it comes down to is this: To have a home office, you must have office furniture. And that's dreadfully expensive.

Maybe next year.

(I did get rid of an old computer desk, a Rubbermaid storage container that had seen better days, and two or three cardboard boxes. I wish I had made that a goal instead!)
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pioneer Woman

Okay, people.

Which one of you told me to check out The Pioneer Woman's blog?


Because I am soooooo obsessed with it. I have spent almost two days reading about how she met and fell in love with her husband (Black Heels to Tractor Wheels: A Love Story) and all about her family.

If you keep track of those who blog about you, O Pioneer Woman, I have a girlfriend-crush on you. I want to invite you to my house and crack open a bottle of wine and let you tell me the secret of life.

But since you've got about 100,000 admirers, I will worship quietly from afar.

And keep reading.
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To Do List 2009: Run a Half Marathon


After a few painstaking months with Team in Training, the wonderful individuals who not only convinced me that I am a runner, but made it so, I completed the Nike Women's Half Marathon in three hours and eight minutes.

By the way, my first half marathon was in San Francisco, everyone. There were hills EVERYWHERE! Hills are my nemesis.

While I'm not looking forward to my second half-marathon (although I did ask a friend to include me in the team she submitted to the Nike lottery system), I'm really glad I did the one!
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Monday, January 4, 2010

My wish list for 2010

I know everyone is complaining about 2009.

Some people really deserve to, with economic breakdowns, illnesses diagnosed, the passing of loved ones and more.

But it makes me a little sad for poor old 2009. Last year I got married. I went to Maui. I moved into a great house. I got a dog. I started paying off debt and was quite successful at it.

I will miss 2009.

But that doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to all the surprises this year has in store. 2010 has nothing but promise.

I like promise.

While I never make resolutions (I'm resolved about very few things in life, and would like to keep it that way), here's what I'd like from 2010:
  • Teach me to play the guitar. It's time to stop beating around the bush: After years of trying to convince everyone I know to pick up a musical instrument, I've come to realize that it was all about me. I've always wanted to learn the guitar and piano. So this year, I'm tackling the guitar. (It seemed a lot simpler and less expensive than the piano.)
  • Help me figure out how to buy a house. I am so not ready to buy a house. I don't have a down payment saved up, I don't have a savings account to speak of AND I still have a lot of work to do to pay off my debt. But ... I've got a plan that's working to get me to all of those places, sooner rather than later. So I want to check that plain with the professionals out there.
  • Take me on vacation. My honeymoon in 2009 was an utterly magical week. And it made me realize how much the hubs and I need to get away from it all. We need it for ourselves, for relaxation; and we need it for each other, for bonding. I'd like to see Seattle and New York this year.
  • Keep me on track, financially. Like I said, we've got a great plan in place for debt/savings. We just have to keep going.
  • Avoid all my attempts at excuses. I have some wonderful excuses that I've worked hard on over the years to keep me away from the gym and in the cookie jar. I'd like all those excuses thwarted, if possible.
  • Allow me some kindness. I firmly believe that we don't show ourselves enough kindness and acceptance. I hope to change that this year.

I also resolve to change and adjust these requests at will, based on my needs at any given moment in 2010.

How's that for a resolution?

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