Friday, February 26, 2010

One more reason musicians kick *ss

I am not really a 'BBQ joint' type of girl. But when JohnnyMac suggested we go to an authentic BBQ joint north of Atlanta, called The Swallow at The Hollow , I was quick to affirm. SATH's mantra is "How can you not have fun" and because they serve endless mounds of  homemade BBQ goodness, JohnnyMac and MiniMac need no persuasion. And because SATH showcases singers/songwriters from Nashville to play live music, I need no further persuasion either.

I have high praise for musicians of all musical genres. Everyone who wants to sing, play guitar, play piano, play violin professionally, simply can't. For people with the gift, I am envious. And for those who get to celebrate such a gift by making a career out of their talent, applause to all of them.

And musician kick ass because of not only their knowledge base of music and music history, but because of the innate quality of knowing the blend of ease and complexity involved in taking an idea scratched out on a notepad and turning it into something that floats to the ear of someone else, and becomes a part of their personal soundtrack. And for many, including me, certain songs are bookmarks into moments of my life I never want to forget.

Musicians also kick ass because they look cool. And if they don't look cool outside of the music arena, put a guitar in their hands and shazam. Believe me, if Slash from G'nR can make it look good, that requires a certain talent too.

As some of you know, our son has shown a proclivity towards music since he was one. I hypothesize this interest stems from both genetics and because I placed headphones on my tummy every day while I was pregnant and played music ranging from Tom Petty to Gary Allan to Bach.

At the restaurant, we get the table closest to the stage. Performing that night were two great musicians Donny Hammonds and Audrey Davis. We sit and I hand our son two straws that he immediately begins using as drumsticks. While he is drumming, he asks for "cymbals" so I move ketchup bottles in his range. He drums in perfect rhythm to the songs. At a song break, Donny Hammond invites MiniMac to come on stage and play the tambourine. Over the next two hours, our son is invited on stage, takes a seat, and swaps his tambourine for the microphone in order to sing Mustang Sally.  Our son also asks if Donny knows Johnny Cash and will sing Ring of Fire.

And here is one more reason musicians kick ass:
Because musicians will do this during the middle of a performance. Our son reacted as if The Edge (his idol) invited him to tour. His fascination so earnest, he even played with his tongue hanging out.

Artists of many genres are willing to encourage and promote creativity and talent in others. If they see a spark, even if that spark stems from a tiny boy only three years old, many artists would encourage it to glow. And that spark may ultimately be a life long path for our son.
Throughout our son's life, he will meet a cast of mentors and pilots who will guide him. Donny and Audrey are great examples of this. And I do think he will be a musician one day. Why?  Because of this:
 

 

Have a great weekend. 


PS: Something else kick ass: My friend PJ is celebrating her blog bday with a multi-giveaway. Amazon gift card, anyone? Go visit.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ache

A phone call changed the entire course of your day. Your brother is sick. If you want to say goodbye, you need to get on a plane.  That night, you waited hours at a busy airport for a standby flight to take you to an unfamiliar city and an unfamiliar hospital. You just saw him a month ago and you spent a week talking about your childhood, where your lives have taken you, and countless memories in between. Now, sitting in the hard plastic seat of the terminal, you realize how unprepared you are. 

You spent your hours at the airport watching families. No one knew why you were there.  It made you realize that while many people get on planes to attend business meetings or reach vacation destinations, there are hundreds of other people getting on planes every day to say goodbye in late night whispers under the false and distressful light of hospital rooms.

You were the youngest and the only girl. Two older brothers who adored you but also knew you had a bit of spitfire in you. They were your first friends, your first confidantes. And also your first accomplices in many shenanigans around your neighborhood.  You had already lost one brother unexpectedly, and now there are no siblings left. Your family was small but complex in varying degrees. And this was the genesis of you instilling the significance of family in us at a very early age.  And the value of telling your family they are loved. Were any children told more often and more sincerely they are loved than we were?  

Both of your brothers packed up and stored their tiny hometown roots to seek out a bigger space, and liberation from a small town.  This brother lived on the Oregon coast most of his life. He and his wife didn’t have children but he certainly created space and opportunity for yours to come and visit. I believe he once told you he could teach you a thing or two about raising children. I know this involved sending your kids outside to pull weeds from the garden for about 8 straight hours. But he had a hidden candy jar not exactly well hidden. We both know that was the intent.

And then an unexpected ringing. Reminding us how quickly change presents itself, all within the narrow space of one phone call. I think of my own brothers and know I would hate that phone call. I know you hated it too.

But you went, and I am so glad you did. The last face and held hand in your brother's memory. But I am so sorry for your loss. Goodbye came abruptly and I wish you had more time. There is an ache in your veins no one can heal right now. A suffering even your kids and your friends can do little to diminish.  But it is ok to ache. The world doesn't need you to be fine with this right now.

I know you feel like ghosts are crowding into all the family pictures of your memory, but make space for them. Those two handsome ghosts had a lot of verve too. Your family history book isn't closed yet. And you, with all your love and brightness, still have much living to do. 

Your brothers and your parents are probably talking about you now. Laughing about how you used to do your hair around an orange juice can. Your family trips to the beach house. The serious crush you had on Robert Mitchum. Or how you used to tell the paperboy, Alger Vass that he had gass that came out his.....

And now, those guardians of yours will be watching future stories unfold saying, she is still a spitfire.  So live your life knowing you are very loved.  And give your brothers some more great stories to talk about....

I love you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Paying penance....

One night in Nashville, and the world’s your oyster. At least I thought so. In addition to being over-served and doing something one should never do to their own Mom, there is often a price to pay for playing hard. This is the second half of the story.

After waking up and feeling like a bag of hammers, I failed to take into consideration we had a full day planned. The previous evening’s shenanigans which included boozing it up with a former coach from Alabama, interrupting my Mom’s interlude, fetching some rides on the back of Harleys, tearing it up in Tootsie’s, and shaking my arse as if it were a bell all over the dance floor of Wildhorse Saloon, did NOT include me sorting out how I was going to wake up without crying inside.

However, all available to me the morning after was a warm Gatorade and very little pity from my Mom. We had tickets for a lunch cruise on the General Jackson. Was it a scenic view of Nashville from the Cumberland River? How would I know. I was so sick, and so often that I decided at one point just to sit on the floor of the stall in the women’s room. That’s not a fancy picture for the holiday cards, I promise you.

Women in the restroom took pity on me and went and asked the waitstaff to bring me some water. One of them asked if I was seasick. Right. If the sea is made of barley, hops, and vodka, then OH YES I am seasick.

I missed any landscape gazing and barely made it into the dining room for lunch. We were seated at a large table with 8 other people. My Mom, not the extrovert, was forced to lead any initial interaction with them because all words had escaped me as quickly as the electrolytes I so desperately needed.

It turns out, I was not a fun lunch guest either, needing to retreat from the dining room multiple times. (Word to the wise: EAT DINNER before cocktailing all night. PS: VODKA is NOT DINNER).

On my final return to the table I note this hangover has lasted for approximately six hours at this point. Perhaps it was beginning to retreat. I am finally able to engage in conversation with our table guests. And of course, my sassiness never rests.

Our table guests are a mother/father and their three grown children and three spouses. They were celebrating one couples’ anniversary. I love “how you met” stories so I inquired. They were a beautiful family and very spirited when sharing stories about the relationship and marriage of the Anniversary Couple. I asked the Woman where they got married.

“In his Daddy’s church.”
“Oh, your Father is a Minister?” I asked the Anniversary Man
“Actually, I am a Baptist Preacher,” chimes in the Father of Anniversary Man seated to his left.
“Just like me,” said the Anniversary Man.

Because of course, we are sitting with a Preacher. And the Son of a Preacher Man. And their entire family were just oh so entertained by this point and not thinking for a minute I was seasick. Because nothing is as funny as being treated to vodka fumes with a big spritz of Sassy. Especially when you are Men of God.

I chose to smile and take a sip of water.

My Mom, who can be quite quippy on her own accord puts her hand over my hand and simply says to them, “Then perhaps you can pray for my daughter?”

Was she paying me back for the previous night or simply knew I needed all the help I could get? Based on their laughter and knowing looks of a harlot in a handbasket, I think she was paying me back.

I am glad to say that I was able to get refreshed and renewed later that afternoon and take my Mom to our front row seat at the Grand Ole Opry. And luckily, the photo does not capture any of my day long pain.

Later she asked if I wanted a cocktail. Oh, no thank you.
Smart assery: Not limited to one generation in our family.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I feel naked without it...

My office replaced our normal soap with something cheap and disgusting that reeks like the soap in the elementary school nurse’s office more economical. I appreciate cost saving measures. However, I have had an allergic reaction to this wretched lye soap new  product. The allergic reaction is only on my left hand ring finger where my wedding bands sit. 

No, I am not allergic to the rings or marriage itself. My Doctor, upon having a look, said it is likely exposure to a new product. Hence, the culprit is the heinous soap. I have tried to work around it but what I have come to realize is this ring finger, which scarcely goes noticed, is now the exact center of my personal universe since it is irritated by everything that touches it including air and my eyes. 

In order to treat it properly, I had to remove my wedding rings which I was hesitant to do. I have not removed my wedding band since the day JohnnyMac placed it on my finger. And an acoutrement my finger lived fine without for 30 years, I will say the first day or two even catching glimpses of my hand sans wedding bands made me feel like I was looking at a strangers hand at the end of my arm.

So while I have my ring off, I run into one of two characters jackasses I know at the gym. JA #1 says nothing about my barren hand or even makes reference to it. How do I know it made the radar? Easy. Because when I saw JA #2, who after idle yammering chit chat, was so antsy she gave me the impression of a burning question under the surface. We live a life of parenthood and domesticity. There are no burning questions right now.

With painstaking predictability, she inquired about JohnnyMac. How is he? Oh, he’s good. Everything going well for him? Everything good between you? OH, I see you are not wearing your wedding ring…followed by a puzzled/weird/Nancy Grace facial expression to the point I feel like I should expect TMZ photogs to leap out from behind the trees.

My thought, if you can see my absent wedding ring, you can certainly see the allergic reaction, yes? I know this because someone standing on their front porch in Mississippi can likely see it. But instead, I find myself being a smartass and saying in a conspiratorial whisper, “I sold it on eBay.”

Go tell that on the mountain. 

But to be honest, it is a big adjustment to see an empty ring finger. I don’t identify myself by  wedding bands but they have become a part of me. I know some people who remove their rings while working out or playing sports, but it is a strange adjustment for me to see that empty finger. I was once told my an elderly woman that removing your wedding bands was bad luck. Is it? I doubt it. But I do feel a bit naked without them. 

My hand is healing, but slowly. In the interim, my ring finger remains bare. Since I can not replace the hand erosion sauce with something more soothing, I have added a supplemental a bottle of soap in the women's room on my floor. 

And I would like to start a petition that we not fill our corporate bathroom with soap made of bleach powder and lye but that is likely not a wise idea. Or I could suggest that a cost saving measure would be to reduce the 10,000 gallons of coffee we make per day in our break room but that will likely get me killed be denied.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Not exactly how I would like to spend twelve hours on my back...

Several weeks ago, Mount Shasta, CA had a significant storm. With no electricity or heat, one of the town residents put on several layers of clothes, packed a small bag of necessities, grabbed a ski pole and set out to the Best Western Tree House Motor Inn for both a meal and a warm place to stay. Because of the storm, the roads were obstructed so she opted to walk. But she never made it. Instead, she fell in the snow and could not get up. And there she stayed. For TWELVE hours. Priscilla Dawson was found, and is now ok. And I got a little kick out of the article.    

1. She said she knew she wouldn’t die, she was just going to be there awhile.

Bless your heart (in a good way) Priscilla Dawson, because I for one might be a bit overcome by fright when trapped outside in snow thick enough to make the roads impassable. Once I got over that fright, there would be a hot mess of bitchery stemming from the fact I was trapped outside in a pile of snow with just an extra pair of long johns and a bag of necessities that are not remotely necessities when you are TRAPPED OUTSIDE IN THE SNOW. A toothbrush isn’t digging me out of any snow hole. 

2. Once she knew she couldn’t move, she gazed at the night sky and said, “It was beautiful, with the snow softly falling. And even though it was snowing, and then raining, I saw (the constellation) Cassiopeia."

Bless your heart (in a good way) Priscilla Dawson. Because while I too would accept my predicament of being trapped in the snow, I can't say my initial thoughts would be centered on making snow angels or appreciating the fluffy snowflakes. In fact, after the aforementioned hot mess of bitchery, I would likely not begin to appreciate the snowflakes and constellations until about 11.5 hours into my ordeal. 

3. Once she was discovered, and rushed to the ER, she was completely fine with only the smallest touch of frostbite on her fingers. She likened this to being in excellent shape and that she has always been a “very athletic person.”

You have been promoted to Badass, Priscilla. I hope that when I am 83, I am in such great physical shape that I can survive being stuck in a snow pile for twelve hours AND overnight and walk away with only a touch of frostbite. I hope at 83 I am not laying in the snow saying things like, “Where the _____ is everyone????” And “I AM COLD!” If going to spend twelve hours on my back, there would be several things I would choose as the genesis. SNOWSTORM not one of them.

4. Finally, she said she was never concerned about her predicament. “After all, I grew up in Iowa.” (Good job, Iowa winters, you have finally proven yourself good for something.) And she said once she was found, and confirmed ok, the calls began to come in from so many people, in so many places who had heard of her ordeal. “Of course, my children were hysterical. But I kept telling them I am fine. Now they want me to carry a cell phone, but I am not really a cell phone person.”

Now you are promoted to Queen of the BadAsses, Priscilla. I hope that when I am 83, I am in such great mental shape that I can survive twelve hours in the snow simply reflecting on some cold winters and watching the time pass by. Something tells me, I would not be as peaceful. And I love that you call your children hysterical and won’t get a cell phone because you don’t want one. I know your family must have been worried, but I have a feeling you are not going anywhere anytime soon. After all, you are an 83 year old bad ass. And certainly, someone watching over you thinks so too.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Flat: NOT where it's at....

One March, many years ago, a motley crew of our friends opted for a fun night out on the town. The austere environment of law school proving incongruent with St. Patty's traditional festivities. Off we went to Westport, the get-your-groove-on sector of Kansas City (at that time.) My BFF, MarciaGarcia and I rolled into the city early as her sister lived on the Plaza.

We chose her sister's abode as the perfect headquarters and invited our 8-pack of friends for some pre- and post-game antics. Before the evening's GreenBeerFest commenced, I opted for a little afternoon shopping spree on the Plaza to buy a swimsuit as Spring Break and my destination of Lake Havasu were mere weeks away.

Later that afternoon as we pre-functioned when MarciaGarcia discovered the bag containing my brand new swimsuit, removed said swimsuit, dangled the highly padded swimsuit top by one finger and asked, "Is this someone's life preserver?"

Many eyes turn to me.

"That is for buoyancy!" I attempted to claim.

Did I deserve to be laughed at then? No. I don't believe I did.

Apparently the crowd disagreed. And as laughter ensued, laughter aimed at me and not for a minute with me, I grabbed my bikini top/life preserver and put it away.

And then later that evening, when my dancing was so enthusiastic, a la Irene Cara and "light up the sky like a flame" that I did not realize that my strapless bra, also heavily padded and therefore practically weighing more than me, had slid down around my waist? The bra in which the shorty-short-ab-revealing shirt I had on (that I swear to you WAS POPULAR at that time) did nothing to camouflage? Did I deserve to be laughed at then?

No.  I don't believe I did.

But that I didn't even realize my bra had taken a downturn until MarciaGarcia's boyfriend now Hub, PK, pointed out to me that my "BELT" was twisted up around my waist.

Well...

And that apparently I am lacking such endowment that frenetic dancing even without a bra on doesn't impact me in the slightest?

Oh yes. The joke is on me. And our crowd of friends, ignited on the litany of black and tans they were drinking could not agree more.

Flat...apparently not where it's at. 
Thanks genetics.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Liquor to go

Is it a good sign when my little brother and I pop into a liquor store one afternoon to pick up wine for a dinner party and we see this:

The man in front of us buys a bottle of gin. Does he leave it in the brown bag? No. He walks over to a large cooler of ice, picks up a cup from below a large sign reading "TO GO CUPS" and pours himself a four finger draw. Does he wait until he is outside to have a little sip? No. He takes a big swig, then walks outside, and gets into the driver seat of his vehicle. 

Hey Liquor Store: WOW. Apparently you aren't aware there are laws regarding public consumption. Oh, you are not encouraging public consumption? Right. I am sure by "TO GO" your sign merely means "TO GO on your coffee table full of liquor only after you are safely at home".

Apparently you aren't aware there are also laws  regarding drinking and driving. Oh, you are not drinking or driving? Of course you are not because you are a liquor store. Worry about the liability? Oh, you don't know what that word means?

Hey Atlanta Police: It is awesome that you can use all your cunning skills to catch me going FIVE MILES over the speed limit yet the liquor store that prominently displays TO GO CUPS might as well be weapons of mass destruction: another thing that is never going to be discovered.  

Maybe I need to post a sign on top of my car reading: I LIKE TO EXCEED THE SPEED LIMIT because then I am assured no one will spot me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wedding Toasted

While in grad school, a friend of mine, S., invited me to a wedding. I love weddings. But primarily of people I know so I proffered up many excuses why I couldn’t go. He promised it would be fun. And he didn’t want to go alone. Need I be the one to remind him that when you are in the wedding party you barely get to talk to anyone because you are busy. But he was a good friend so I agreed to go. Then he told me who the groom was. A friend of his from childhood I had met once during a basketball game. This man was crazy. And not Dukes of Hazzard crazy either. More like Deliverance crazy. Too late to say no, I asked myself how bad could it be.

Here is a tip: Never, ever ask yourself this question if unprepared for the answer.

At the wedding, the wedding party looked wonderful. I was a bit surprised that the entire ceremony lasted 8 minutes. And that included flower girls walking down the aisle. 

At the reception, I am invited to sit at one of the head tables since my friend is in the wedding party. No thank you. I mean, of course. At the large round ten top, I am directly across from the groom. He seems dipped in gin. He tells a highly off color joke. I had also seen him slap his wife right on the arse earlier. I begin referring to him as not as The Groom and instead as The Doom. 

S. goes to the bar and out of the blue, The Doom he asks me why I won’t date S. I am certain he can not be directing that towards me but sure enough. I reply that we are just friends. He, with a pretty heavy scowl, continues to probe. He says S. is like a brother to him. He only wants S. to be happy. I think to myself, do you? Start with shutting the ____ up. That will make S. happy, or since S. is not here, it will make me very, very happy. I seek out S. but, curses, S. is still at the bar.

The Doom is like a backwoods version of Johnny Cochran peppering me with questions.         S. and I have been friends for years and don’t date and don’t want to date. But I don’t share my responses with The Doom or the entire table. Instead, I save my responses in my inner monologue. S. finally returns and listens to The Doom for one minute before redirecting the conversation. 

For about 20 reasons, I want to leave and The Doom is just one of them. We have a few cocktails and soon it is time for toasts. The best man rises to give his toast of run for your life lady to the bride of good luck and future blessings to the happy couple. Since I am also sitting in front, I can see all of the family members including elderly grandparents and aunts and uncles. As the best man takes the microphone, The Doom hops up and grabs it out of his hand. I believe The Doom should not be near fire as his amount of consumption has made him both toxic and flammable.

Into the microphone he says this in a slurry, spitty fashion: Its my weddin’ day and I am going to get DRUNK and I am going to get LAID. 

He is on a MICROPHONE in front a very captive audience.  

What did I wish for? A video to capture this priceless moment and the bride’s face? No. I wished for paramedics to keep the bride’s grandmother from having a heart attack on the spot.

S. turned to me and said, “You can leave anytime you want.”
Except I couldn’t hear him over the firing up of my ignition and gravel spinning under my tires. 

I have yet to attend such a "colorful" wedding as this. I am so lucky.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Wiggle it, just a little bit

Is it too early for cocktails? Maybe but today I am the featured blogger at SITS. 

SITS (The Secret is in the Sauce) is a female blogging community built to support us and help us support one another as bloggers. If you are new to blogging, or new to SITS, go visit and see what a great resource Heather and Tiffany have built.  And welcome to the cocktail party, SITStas.  I am so glad you are here. 

As my bio indicates, this blog focuses on sharing observations on life, culture, parenting, relationships, and news. As well as all kinds of antics I have seen or experienced. For example? Well, let's get down to the wiggle...

On a ski trip to Vail with some girlfriends, I was reminded that a week in the delicious snow is always a good idea. And these girls knew how to maximize the hours and fill them with as much fun as possible. After multiple days of skiing and beverage consumption, I needed a long nap or at least, some down time. My friend LK comes up with the genius plan to skip the lifts one day and instead,  spend the day at Sonnenalp in the spa. Count me in. And how. 

I love massages and go as frequently as I can. There are numerous things about deep accupressure to be praised. Massage is good for the body and for the soul. So, after spending an hour or so in the sauna and steam room, breathing in the heady fragrance of eucalyptus and rinsing out countless sips of Fat Tire Golden Lager, we robe up and wait for our therapists.

I am soon greeted by an incredibly handsome man. My primary interest in the massage therapist is massage and massage technique. However, he was so handsome, my friend LK wanted to trade. On the spot. While I do not go to the spa with lascivious thoughts or the underlying theme of ‘happy endings’ perhaps I can't say the same for LK. He laughed and told her she would just have to make another appointment.

I am face down on the table, shrouded in sheets. He begins to work his magic. I am not a chatty chatster during my massage appointments. It is likely the only time I am truly quiet outside of sleep so I make it count. I am being prodded and kneaded. I am on the verge of blissful relaxation. Until this happens:

While I am face down, he does the origami sheet trick so that my leg is exposed but none of my lady bits. He clasps my foot and in the motion of lifting my entire leg off the table, he begins to wiggle it. More than a little bit. In fact, its wiggling so much I began to think he might be trying to jump rope with that thing.

Does it hurt? Not a bit. But spinach in your teeth doesn't hurt either except it's not that pretty to look at, is it? My issue is purely aesthetic. Unless your rib-to-knee area is made of lonsdaleite which is the hardest substance on earth. Or made of diamonds, which are much prettier, maybe the lower torso wiggle won’t be an activity you sign up for readily. Was I being vain? OF COURSE. Of the two people in the inky dark room, only one of us even cared.

Vain or not, do I want my arse and thigh shaken as if they were a pair of dice held by an enthusiastic man with a pile of money riding on a Craps table knowing if he wins Chesty LaGoGo might become his new wife? No.  

And while the wiggle le jiggle was going on, I only wanted it to end. As in let's not wiggle it, even a little bit. Nothing about your leg being whipped around like an al dente spaghetti noodle has any appealing allure. Oh, and it doesn't help you relax.

After that, we worked into some hot stones. Much better.  Afterward, LK asked me how it was. I told her she should definitely make an appointment with him. And since I was already not relaxed, I couldn’t wait to get back to the slopes AND another pint of Fat Tire.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Take A Bite Of: Chocolate Brownie Heart Cupcakes

 
I already know you want the chocolate so I won't hold it back from you. A little twist on the classic chocolate cupcake? Perfect. And you can decide how many Valentines you want to share these with as well. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite. And have a gorgeous weekend.

Chocolate Brownie Heart Cupcakes 

Ingredients (makes 24)

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 15 ounces (3 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 12 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Coat an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray, line bottom with parchment, then spray parchment.
2.     Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Place butter and chocolate in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring until chocolate melts.
3.     Attach bowl to mixer, add sugar, and whisk on medium-high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture.
4.     Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Spread remaining batter in square pan. Bake until set but still soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins and pan on wire racks. 

Frost cupcakes with buttercream.   Cut out 24 hearts from brownie in pan using a 1 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter. Top each cupcake with a heart.

Friday, February 12, 2010

How not to get a Valentine from your husband

Thanks for all the well wishes. I am back in full moderate form. Now that I have thanked my Hub for pulling all the duty around here for days on end, I hope it makes up for this:

Last week while JohnnyMac was getting MiniMac ready for school, it sounded like it was going none too well. Usually a morning person like his Mommy, I was surprised to hear cat- like screeching. Also known as the sounds of a salty toddler. When they came upstairs, JohnnyMac told me MiniMac was grumpy and had actually been grumpy for several mornings in a row.

My response: Kind of like gazing into a tiny mirror, isn’t it?  
His response: None because he is grumpy in the am especially pre-coffee and his mind was not capable of delivering the wise ass retort I had coming.

And then, more recently, my sauté pan was on the counter drying. I picked it up to put it away and noted it was not clean, so I put it in the sink. When JohnnyMac came downstairs later, he told me he washed it the night before. I told him it looked like it needed to be cleaned again. He picked it up and looked at it, stating, “Well, I wonder how that happened?”

I say, as I laugh: You did a bad job the first time?
His response: None because he is grumpy in the am especially pre-coffee and his mind was not capable of delivering the wise ass retort I had coming.

In these ideal opportunities to be a smart arse toward JohnnyMac, I am also hedging my bets that St. Valentine might be a smart ass too. I better be careful. We are T minus two days and counting. 

PS: Saint Valentine, I did Clorox the entire house from top to bottom so you would not catch any bugs upon your visit. Oh, and for the sake of my family too, of course. 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Swaddled in blankets and movie watching

So, the bug has set up residence in our house and made a sore throat look like a trip to SeaWorld. I stayed in bed until noon yesterday simply because I failed to surmise the energy to do anything else. I watched Friday Night Lights starting at 7 am because I simply wouldn't get up to retrieve the remote. But you know you are sick and totally puny when you watch every Netflix you have in the house including one starring someone named Xzibit. 

And then when you expire that bounty, you don't even want to walk downstairs to get your Sex and the City DVD which you have seen numerous times already, and will clearly see numerous more times in the future. 

So I opted for a selection from On Demand. Is it a good sign when at the beginning of the movie they run a promo telling you to make sure you check out Seventeen Magazine for their co-branding giveaway. Seventeen Magazine? Are they still publishing that? I wouldn't know since not only am I not seventeen, I am older than seventeen plus seventeen. Did I turn it the movie? Absolutely not. Sickness gives you alibis and it is not like I was watching Miley Cyrus.

And in between movies while I submerged myself in large blankets, hot tea, and magazines, I did score the perfect gift idea for JohnnyMac for Valentines Day. Do you know by now that we love holidays in this family? And by we I mean all the women. 

I am sure the air riddled with coughing puts Valentines Day center on JohnnyMac's radar. That or "how can I rinse this entire house in Clorox." Nothing says hot wife and perfect Valentine better than being swaddled in blankets and chugging Alka-Seltzer cold and flu like its Derby Day at University of Kentucky. But I was reminded, that sometimes staying in bed until noon and watching movies all day is not a bad way to spend the day. If only I had an appetite and could eat my new Vosges candy bar. Chocolate can wait. Sickness can not.

But I have a very special bag o' chocolate for someone. Are you curious who will be donning a Jimmy Choo bag on her arm this Valentines Day? Thank you to everyone who entered. The fabulous bag goes to this fabulous woman: Kathy at EmptyNester. Congratulations!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sick day

Yesterday, I did something I haven't done in years. I called in sick.  When I messaged my predicament to my older brother, he cackled via text: Yes, the Superbowl Influenza. It's not that kind of sick. Because if it were, I would have recovered from that by 1 pm on Monday. 

As we all know, being sick as an adult, well, it is really just a pain in the arse. No one wants to utilize a sick day to stay home because you are actually sick. Luckily, JohnnyMac is a champion of handling all things household on the rare, rare occasions I have fallen ill. And yesterday, as my eyes longingly looked at my laptop, I was physically bound to the couch. I can't tell you the last time I laid on the couch for more than 2 hours but apparently, when sick, you are supposed to rest. 

When I was a kid, I loved school but just like any precocious youngster, I had days where maybe I wanted to lie about watching Little House on the Prairie and drinking chocolate milk. 

One such day the following occurred:

My Mom comes into my room to wake me up. She always did this so nicely and the complete opposite of my Father who woke people up like a chainsaw next to a microphone.  I told my Mom I was not well.  She went to get the old school thermometer laden with mercury.  She told me to hold it under my tongue and as she exited, I had a Nancy Drew moment to seal the fate of staying at home that day. 

My fitful crying caused her hasty retreat back to my room. 
"My mowwf," I said, over spastic crying. 
"Let me see," she instructs as I open my mouth. 
"You have a blister on your tongue. How did that happen?"
"I haf fevew in my mowwf???"

OR I burned my tongue severely after placing the thermometer on the light bulb of my nightstand lamp and failed to realize it would heat to approximately 108 degrees. My feeble attempt to jack that gauge up high ensuring I had a "fever" and clearly could not go to school before popping the thermometer back in my mouth.   Kind of like liar, liar, pants on fire. Only much, much worse. I would have gladly sacrificed some pants in lieu of BBQ'ed tongue.

My mom brought me a piece of ice, maybe momentarily acknowledged my creativity, and then told me to get up and get ready. I enjoyed the rest of the week at school with an aching mouth and a dialect like Elmer Fudd. 


And today is the last day for What do you want to Choo. Winner announced tomorrow.  Good luck.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

When is the last time you were this excited about underpants?

When MiniMac approached the transition from wearing pull ups to little boy underwear, we were told to employ severe ardency about this transition. I promise you, on the verge of parenthood, no one told you that someday you would expound enthusiastically about tiny children's underwear emblazoned with Mickey Mouse or Thomas the Train. Ever. And I also promise you, when you were making the child, you aren't gleefully dreaming of this type of family activity. 

But when this landmark moment is about to occur in your home, you take the advice of wiser, veteran parents and you roll out the pomp, circumstance, and almost schedule a parade for "Big Boy Underpants Day."

The night before the big day, we let MiniMac select the inaugural pair. Lightening McQueen it is. And after our good-night routine, off to bed he goes. 

The next morning, we are sound asleep when a tiny voice approximately four inches from JohnnyMac's face says, "Daddy, it is morning time. You need to wake up." Note, it is about before 6 am. It is not time to rise evidenced by the fact that even the sun was still asleep. So we tuck him into bed with us and hope for a miracle 20 minute delay in starting the day. 

When we got up soon after, I took him downstairs. In the sunlit filled kitchen I break into a giant smile. My son, in the middle of the night, got out of bed and pulled his new Lightening McQueen underpants on. OVER his pajamas. And went back to bed. 

Unbridled earnestness and enthusiasm are so common in children. Sometimes it is nice to recall what that is like. On occasion, adults forget how this feels or we are too busy to make room for it.  Who would have known that a tiny pair of Lightening McQueen underpants would serve as such a great reminder. 
__________


And speaking of enthusiasm over underpinnings, the Let's Get into our Fancy Pants Giveaway had such a great response, I reached out to Ms. J at Cosabella and inquired if we could give away not one but two sets. She, being as fabulous as she is, agreed.  Congratulations to Susan Erickson and ChristieJolu. You are both getting into your own set of Fancy Pants. Please email me and I will put you in touch with Ms. J at Cosabella. Cheers and have a gorgeous Tuesday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Manhattan. And not the good one.

Since my BFF, MarciaGarcia, flew in this weekend, we of course went out for cocktails and chit chat and I was reminded of one of our historical antics. During law school, beneath tedious amounts of reading, we certainly had to balance the work with a certain amount of amusement. A particularly fun weekend was that of the KU vs. KSU football game. Fun for us, never fun for KU because the football program at KSU was a powerhouse at that time.

MG had many friends at KSU so she constructed a very fun weekend road trip to Manhattan, Kansas which would include parties, attending the game, my inaugural visit to Rusty’s Last Chance Saloon, many trays of shots, not one minute of rooting for our actual team knowing a lost cause when we see one, and having a giant sleepover at the home of one of her friends.

For some reason, the following activity also appeared on our agenda.

We, for reasons unknown to me now, decided to spend Friday afternoon visiting the mall in Manhattan. Or what I like to call seven stores in a row. While we were leaving, we happen to spot a giant KSU flag waving from a flagpole in front of Dillards.

MG (do not attempt to deny this, MG) said, “We should take that.”
ShaNaNa, our GoodGirl, says, “No, we should not.”

This does not deter us.

ShaNaNa also says, “And if you did want it, there is no way to get it down.” It is, after all, a very, very large flag. On a very long flagpole, mounted about 25 feet off the ground, on another large pole.

MarciaGarcia says, “It wouldn’t be that hard to get down.”

I say nothing and simply take action. Juvenile delinquent-esque action, but action nonetheless.

I scale the pole. Like SpiderMan. Or a monkey. And after a few minutes of persistent trickery, all while wrapped around the pole like Courtney Love, I get the giant flag AND flagpole down. We have no where to easily put this for transportation.

MarciaGarcia, wisely, has pulled up the getaway car. I shove the flag inside her vehicle, aptly named The Golden Nugget, and we drive away with the flagpole easily sticking 6 – 8 feet out of the car.

We take it to her friends. We laugh. They hear the story. They laugh. They tell everyone. EVERYONE laughs. We gloat. We are dubious and sinister. We are the real Ranconteurs. We are the Usual Suspects. We are the Queens of Leon.

We have BIG fun that weekend and leave the flag in their backyard as both souvenir and housewarming gift. We never plan to think of it again but the story shall live on. And indeed it does.

MarciaGarcia gets a phone call weeks later from her Father. “You need to call me today.” Not his typical style so she rings him. It appears the Manhattan Police Department received a call from a witness in the parking lot of Dillards who reported not only the questionable behavior and petty thievery she witnessed, but also the license plate number of the getaway car: The Golden Nugget.

The Golden Nugget actually belongs to MarciaGarcia’s father.
Uh oh.

She, the budding prosecutor and stunning orator, attempts to dissuade his alarm. We pool our genius friends together to craft a plan to protect our incredibly guilty selves. Our feeble attempts achieve no success and the bottom line: Return the Flag. OR ELSE.  This a message both from the Police and MarciaGarcia's Father.

We first have to retrieve the flag. We then have to drive all the way to the police department with guilty evidence protruding from my convertible and flapping in the wind like we are in some Thanksgiving Parade. At the station, we hope to simply ring the doorbell and run. No girls, sorry. We are made to sit and wait. And receive a lecture. And some questioning. Oh, I know we deserved it but it soon became nonsensical even though we had no idea if we were walking away unscathed. MarciaGarcia was actually taken into a separate room to be interrogated. Finally, they let us depart with a finger shake a promise (never to be kept) that we would not cause mischief in Manhattan again.

In parting, the ornery policeman asks MarciaGarcia how in the world we got the flag down. Does she feign ignorance? Shrug and remain silent? Add one more lie to the pile? NO. She points at me and says, “Ask her. She is the one that climbed up there and got it.”

Thanks.
B*tch.

But we did learn a lesson. Flagpoles can be trouble.
And, from that point forward, I was better off with the good Manhattan anyway.



Enter the FancyPants Giveaway? Contest ends tonight. Winner announced tomorrow.
And don't forget to chugga chugga Choo Choo. Contest ends Wednesday night.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Superbowl party for your mouth

This weekend we are hosting a Superbowl Bash. I refrain from asking JohnnyMac what he wants on the menu du jour because the answer is: cocktails and endless plates of meat. I like a little more variety. The party is going to be fantastic and even better because my BFF is here this weekend too.  So, with a medley of recipes for the party, I thought I would share a few.  The idea of Superbowl faire to me is hearty but low- maintenance. I wouldn't want you to miss any of the commercials I mean, game

From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.

Grilled BBQ Potato Skins: a slight twist on the classic
Ingredients

3 russet potatoes, scrubbed
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup Cheddar
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, warm
1/2 pound pulled pork
Sour cream, for topping
2 tablespoons snipped chives, for garnish 

Directions 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake potatoes on middle rack until fork tender, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle.

Bake 4 strips of bacon on a small sheet pan in the oven for 15 minutes. Crumble bacon when it's cooled. Preheat grill to medium heat. Cut potatoes in half, lengthwise, and spoon out the flesh, leaving a half inch shell. Melt the butter in saucepan and add minced garlic. Brush potatoes with the butter and garlic mixture. Flip over and butter the bottoms.

Place potatoes on grill and cook until crisp, about 4 to 4 1/2 minutes on each side and remove from grill. Divide the cheese, barbecue sauce and pulled pork among the potatoes. Top potato skins with sour cream, crumbled bacon and chives for garnish.

Fruit Bruschetta:
There are many options for this delicious treat. It is one of my favorite things to serve at parties.  

Ingredients:
1 8 oz package of cream cheese softened
2 cups strawberries sliced/diced
2 T chopped mint
2 T honey

Mix well. Slather onto sliced baguette. You can also use kiwi, grapes, melon etc.


Beer Dip (compliments of my BFF Marcia Garcia)
She recommends this with pretzels. I recommend it with sliced baguette topped with a little cheese and under the broiler until the cheese melts.

Ingredients:
1/2 bottle of beer (or less, depending on your taste and by taste I don't mean pour most of it in your mouth and the tiny remainder in the recipe.)
2 pkg cream cheese
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. chopped onion
1 pkg dry hidden valley ranch mix

Mix well.  Serve with pretzels, crackers, or sliced baguette as noted above.

And don't forget, it is Hotpants weekend. Contest ends 2.8.2010. 
And do you Choo? I hope you do. Contest ends 2.10.2010.
Next week is all about fab giveaways. Join in.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I see London, I see France

Let's get into our fancy pants.   

What about a giveaway within a giveaway? It can be done, right? You already know about the chocolate kiss with the best cupid ever, Jimmy Choo. But you might need something to go with that bag.

Fabulous Cosabella, is a designer of high end women's apparel and lingerie. Designed in Miami and manufactured in Italy, the options are gorgeous. How do I know? Because I have items from the new AIRE collection. And I am especially fond of the hotpants. What is not to love about hotpants? And who knows hot better than Miami and Italy? Exactly. 

And the AIRE collection is made of the thinnest, lightest material. FABULOUS. And no lines because those went out with legwarmers. (Legwarmers are out...right?)  I love them for being gorgeous and comfortable.

So let's have a little pre-Valentines treat. This is where the sexy undergarments come in. I am partnering with Cosabella to give one reader a bra and panty set from their new collection

Simply follow my blog and leave a comment. Contest ends on Monday.  

And men, you are not excluded. If you have a special dame in your life, consider this as leverage should you be inclined to spend all day this Sunday watching pre-game, game, and post-game analysis of the SuperBowl.

In the interim, visit Cosabella's site for a bevy of other lovely items. They are adding a delicious discount to readers as well. Now through February 28, 2010, anyone that purchases $100 on shop.cosabella.com will receive $20 off their purchase.  Enter Code: AIRELAUNCH. 

Good luck and here's to some new fancy pants in your future. 


Dear FCC: Cosabella and I have a relationship of mutual consent and a pre-nup. But yes, they did ask me to share my views in exchange for some Cosabella goodness. Opinions above are volunteered not paid for however.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Television: How I can mock it and love it at the same time.

Can I poke fun of something? Just a smidge? 

I thought television took a closer step towards deterioration when I witnessed Madonna and Lady Gaga wrestle on an episode of SNL. Lady Gaga’s folle couture makes Elton John’s costumes of yesteryear look about as creative as a jumpsuit from the Federal Pen. That skit seemed positively Golden Globe worthy compared to the recent news Jersey Shore has been renewed for a second season. 

Now, I will admit something. This is a situation in which experience does not a better judge make. I have not seen the show.  I have also never eaten a cow carcass I found in the woods. And I don’t need to in order to know, that isn’t going down easy. From the brief news snippets I have seen, I don’t need to see the show.

From one photo alone, I haven’t seen this much orange since my last trip to Home Depot. They have clearly spent the past decade soaking. Soaking their innards in MadDog 20/20 and their exteriors in some type of bronzer which appears mixed from Sunny Delight and Buffalo wing sauce. Is that spray tan? Then someone needs 20 kinds of refund. 

Oh, MTV, I thought you stopped ingesting inhalants long ago but I am clearly so very wrong. Because MTV agreed to contract negotiations when cast members wanted a face off regarding salary. They are getting paid????? I thought the only person who made money from drinking, punching people, and having sex was Eminem. 

And the cast is making 10K per episode. Which by my calculations is $9,999.99 over current market value. Maybe a guilty pleasure for some but can't I just send you some chocolate?

And since all of the cast members except for one are from New York, I have one comment. Poor, poor New York. When given the choice, David Paterson probably paid MTV to film it elsewhere. Just when you think Joey Buttafuoco will be the biggest clown a state has ever seen. WRONG again.  Is there a DBag meter powerful enough to calibrate this show?  I admit I watched the first season of Joe Millionaire so I am not so lofty that I can't confess to watching crap tv but Jersey Shore is a show where a woman gets punched. In her face.

Apparently, none of the cast members have parents who own or watch television because I can't fathom what my own parents would say. And if you like the show, don't be mad at me. I am not making fun of Twilight! 

And, like any relationship containing highs and lows, TV knows when to give it to me good. TV gave me a smile on Grammy night. Surprise visits from a rock legend like Stevie Nicks and the duet between Elton and Gaga kept it interesting. And I fully admit to dancing in the living room to Imma Be. But for those of you who missed it, this clip was a highlight of the night.

You may not be a fan of this performer, but I found the vocals, and the Cirque performance such a stunning departure from her gritty moto-cross bar-fight protocol. I already like the song but this performance was incredible.  




And don't forget, I Jimmy Choo. Do you? Contest ends February 10.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A picture is worth so many words

 
Sgt. Andrew Cuce of Gastonia, N.C., embraces his daughter Alyssa, 3, after arriving at the National Guard Armory in Lincolnton, N.C., on Jan. 26. Two busloads of soldiers, made up mostly of members of the N.C. Army National Guard Battery A, 1st Battalion, 113th Field Artillery, returned home to their families after a nine-month deployment to Iraq.

I saw this photo while reading MSNBC.com yesterday. As my eyes lingered on it, it reminded me of multiple things. The first being that photography is one of my favorite mediums for what it can express without the use of words. The second thing I contemplated is how lucky I am to wake up with my family every day, in my house, on my own time. And the free time I have is used to read, listen to music, play sports, play tickle bugs with our son, or write on a blog. 

Every minute I get to spend with the people I love is invaluable. And for people separated from their families, especially soldiers who volunteer for the duty, all the time apart slips away and can't be regained.  The sacrifice at the cost of their own personal freedoms  is for the benefit of millions of other people. Me included.

I won't argue the sense or senselessness of war, but I will always acknowledge that others fight war, on all sides, while I sat home safely last night, tucked in my Ugg boots and watching LOST. 

The addage a picture is worth a thousand words might have been based on photos just like this one. I found it compelling and wanted to share. What does it say? Love? Relief? Thankfulness to be alive? Gratefulness to return to a life that was left behind for 9 months? Maybe a culmination of all of those emotions. Maybe pieces of a much bigger homecoming. 

A homecoming unlike any I have ever personally experienced. 

I know how heartsick my Mom was when I simply relocated to college. From her words, my absence perforated a hole in my parents' lives. I will likely feel the same when my own son moves away. Neither of these scenarios even compare to the distance both physical and emotional countless other families are currently experiencing. This picture will always remind me of that.

I am hugging my family extra well today.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The F Bomb: Part of a healthy lifestyle

I would lobby that a logical argument could be made by many a wise scholar to justify my interest in and excellent execution of one of my favorite words that begins with F.

Why do I like this word? I just do. And every time it does a velvety somersault off my tongue, I feel no remorse. I am careful of its placement and venue, believe me. And I don't dish it out multiple times per sentence. But what was once a word not remotely uttered by a lady, has become a word used as a stand alone expletive or placed deep in a saucy phrase that I hear multiple times a day from every walk of life.

Who know the champion of a clear and valid justification for its use would be science?

NeuroReport published an article recently that confirmed findings that the use of profanity actually helps reduce pain. In a study, subject were exposed to painfully cold water. Those that swore like sailors had elevated heart rates, felt less pain, and could withstand pain longer. And this theory is even more prominent in women than men. Women have not yet dulled their senses to the use of such words. It is just so new to us, right?

I watch my words carefully in many circumstances, especially in front of MiniMac. But I will admit one of my favorite phrases is Are you f_____ kidding me? Sometimes it just feels right. Is it classy? Of course not. And I have never once typed it out on the blog.

But now it makes perfect sense. The situations which provoke that phrase are often painful. Either socially painful or jackassery painful. The employment of that phrase only reduces my pain. Reduced pain is the fastest route to health and happiness, is it not? Therefore dropping the F bomb improves your health and your attitude. What further justification do I need to employ the word? Very little.  

So the next time you let one go, remember, it is for your own good.

Thanks science, I owe you one.

Monday, February 1, 2010

After a long day, it can be difficult to remember your gender

Sometimes a new locale can provide much fun. I love this new bar we wandered into recently. Well, maybe love is a strong word, but I certainly liked it a great deal for at least one night.

JohnnyMac and I went out recently to see a friend's band play. This band played in a bar that reminded me of the inside of an outhouse. Or a brothel. Or both. But the music was promised to be fantastic. As soon as we arrived, we learned that good friends we were meeting there had a last minute situation. Uh oh. Confirming they were fine, we took a long look around and thought, well, this ought to be interesting. JohnnyMac asks what I want to do since upon arrival, we also learn the bands will not begin for at least another hour or two. Hmmm. We just got there. We had a sitter. We took a cab. And the fact I was wearing leather pants confirmed my conclusion: we are not going home early.

We go down the street to a different bar for some pre-function cocktails. This is also a bar we don't frequent but it reminded me of one compelling fact.

Rowdy bars = infinite more fun than boring bars.  Here is how I know.

The bar is p-a-c-k-e-d. There was a huge sporting event in Atlanta that night and the overflow seemed to pour directly into this establishment. While waiting to get cocktails, I was standing next to a young couple with body language indicating they were together but in a new and sparkly kind of way. I hear this:

Him: blah blah blah my ex-girlfriend found out blah blah blah and I was banging this chick...blah blah blah
His date: I'm sorry, what did you just say?
Him: What? puzzled look crosses his face. OH! Sorry. I was banging this woman.

Interesting he thought the potential insult was to her sense of  female empowerment so he corrected his word choice from chick to woman. Not a minute thought to telling his date about banging someone. Excellent work, Andrew Dice Clay.

Later, I am in the woman's room. I come out of the stall and while washing my hands, someone comes out of another stall and says @^(!~&^%@*!. I turn to see a man has wandered out of the stall and is still in the process of zipping his pants.

Him: What are you doing in here?
Me: Laughing. This is the women's restroom.
He looks around for proof. I mean additional proof since the mere fact I am standing there and there is not a urinal in sight is not enough proof. Not sure if he was expecting tampons hanging from the ceiling but alas he then says: Are you sure!?!?!
Me: Fairly confident.
Him: I am SO sorry. I have been drinking all day and guess I forgot.
Me (because I can not resist): Forgot you had a penis? hhhaaaaaa.
Him: Oh !@^(^!. SORRY.
Scurries to leave. And then says: Please don't tell anyone.
Me: Sure. Unless of course, I see your friends outside.

Which I did. But he had told them first and I laughed watching them laugh before relaying the story to JohnnyMac. In desperation (or impatience) I have used the men's room before. But my whereabouts never confused me if a man might have walked in.

After a long day of drinking, it can be difficult to remember you have a penis.

After that, the band could only be a cherry on top. And they were fabulous. Me and my leather pants danced the night away.  (Note: JohnnyMac did not dance the night away since he only dances under the influence of heavy Tequila.)