Friday, December 25, 2009

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Merry Christmas!

I'm so lame for writing on Christmas, huh? But I have sufficiently spent time with my family, I'm full of prime rib, and I have consumed an unusually large quantity of cookies. Every year I say I should make less, but every year I still insist on making at least 3 full batches, and thus 100 dozen cookies are created.

Um, because talking about presents is super lame and superficial of me I'll mention my friend Cathy had a baby boy recently. That sounds way more important than my desire for a spiffy apron. I know because she picture texted me. I haven't actually talked to her since her wedding. We're really quite awful friends, but babies tend to always bring forward a feeling of goodwill despite general lack of good communication otherwise. She had a boy and his name is Alex. For the sake of general personal security I'll refrain from yelling his full name from the internets.

Since I've already wandered down this topic I may as well continue this entry by congratulating Susan & Sean on their impending bundle of baby girl joy. Did I mention they were expecting? Probably not. Not that I don't think it's momentous, I just happen to think that it was so completely, ridiculously obvious that it didn't shock me when they announced it. Well, of course they're pregnant. They really wanted it and they (in my humble opinion) deserve it.

And yes, I immediately thought they would be having a girl. It was expressed they wanted a boy. Kim expressed desire for a girl and received a boy. My dad expressed desire for a boy and got me. I'm not saying I believe in bad luck or whatever. It's not quite that cut and dry as saying that god hates you and wants to spit on your dreams. I just think that the saying is true: "you can't always get what you want...you get what you need."

As a good example, I think my dad was destined to always have a daughter. The more I learn about my dad-the person, the more I realize he was a bit of a lethario. I'm not making a character judgment, I'm just saying that with the data I've been provided over my course of being alive that I know he was not an angel and he was not always entirely truthful to the women in his life. And I think that's probably got a lot to do with why he was so incredibly adamantly overprotective of me. He knew what could happen because well...he was a 20 year old man once and he probably did it. He probably tried it. And now as a father he carries on that anxiety and stress because he's aware it exists out there for his baby girl to battle against. Despite all his desire for a boy to carry on the family name and all of that usual macho stuff, my dad needed to have a girl to put his life into perspective.

Of course this puts me in the precarious position of having to analyze my husband's past behavior. haha. But joking aside, I think that god gives you only as much as you can handle. Even if you don't think you can handle a baby boy jumping off the roof, getting numerous stitches, setting fires in the backyard...hey, if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. If you're scared of raising a defiant, emotional, loud, adolescent girl who manipulates your feelings and constantly gives you cold sweats about what she's up to when she says she's out with friends? Well, believe it or not you can probably handle it. If you get both? Well, you're a brave soul.

And if you spontaneously become pregnant without ever knowing the touch of a man and bring forth into the world Jesus Christ...ugh, yeah. You win. Best birth story ever.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fostering a Taste for the Decadent

I have officially created a cookie snob.

I finally made those cookies from the Toll House dough from the refrigerator section of and my husband doesn't like them. (It's snowing, nice warm cookies are a fun treat.) And he doesn't like them. It just figures! I've now cultivated in him a taste for real butter and real vanilla extract and and all the warm deliciousness that it implies. (This is clearly why he blames me for making him fat.)

I don't really like them either but I'm just saying...people are not supposed to know the difference, right? But he totally knows!

On a side note I think I've given up on Holiday Shopping. Am I really done? Not so much. But I'm over it. lol I like the holidays, and I like lame holiday music, and I even like Egg Nog but it's not really the same. I miss Amanda and cooking strange random recipes with her. I miss Kim not being literally attached to the baby all the time and buying me gifts that have absolutely nothing to do with any of my likes or interests whatsoever. I miss having holidays up at the Farm. It just feels a lot different this year and I know I'm an adult and change is a natural progression but it's just a lot all at once and I'm just a tiny bit sad to say goodbye to it all.

I guess it just means we have to actively make new traditions and new rituals and new things to look forward to.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Would Jesus Do?

You're probably wondering, "hey, did you get that house yet?"

The short answer is no. The long answer is...really really long. So I'll keep it short and sweet and just say "it's in the works." Lots of shady and weird stuff has been hitting us from left and right....but "it's in the works." My sanity and patience has been seriously tested but what other choice do I have but to trudge on through it?

I do hope that the Santa Claus I don't believe in, realizes how good we've been and gives us a house for Christmas. I just think it's fair. And I think Jesus would agree. And if he doesn't I'm totally going to ask the Easter Bunny.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Prejudiced against the Pillsbury Dough Boy

Here's a random but funny neurotic tidbit about me.

I don't typically buy pre-made cookie dough, but it was on sale a few weeks ago PLUS (because I'm an old lady) I had a coupon, so it was like $1 for a package I actually bought it. I wouldn't ever buy it for full price but for some reason when something is $1 I fall right off my high horse and I buy it. My morals can calm the heck down when something is only $1.

Stranger, yet? I have not yet baked it. It's just sitting in the freezer like some lonely ugly girl sitting on the sidelines of a high school dance.

You'd think "hey it's Christmas time, people love cookies" but I would never pawn off pre-packaged cookie dough as CHRISTMAS cookies. That's where I draw the line. Holiday food must be made from scratch or you may as well just not eat it at all. Some random Tuesday, sure. Break out the Toll House Brand package full of hydrogenated fat and preservatives, who cares? Clearly I feel bad about myself anyway if I'm in the mood for mid-week machine made cookies.

I'm strange about my food and my food prep. I have no idea where I got this neurosis because no one in my immediate family could care less if a cake came from the box as long as it tastes good. So even though I have perfectly good pre-made cookie dough in my freezer anyway I'm still going to be dragging out the butter, sugar, flour, vanilla extract, baking soda, salt, eggs...etc. and making "real" dough for "real" cookies for "real" Christmas.

Intellectually...that's so dumb. Why am I wasting perfectly good time making cookies when I have perfectly good ones sitting around begging to be consumed? I'm smart enough to realize I'm behaving irrationally, but it doesn't stop me from saying "duh, I'm not feeding my family garbage."

And Christmas isn't even that special to me. I'm not even Christian. I never even believed in Santa Claus. I'm just making the holidays into some weird elitist thing. Like anyone needs any more butter covered calories during the holidays.

And now that shared my crazy with you I've likely made you feel guilty about not making everything from scratch for the holidays (sorry 'bout that)...

Happy Holidays! Merry Kwanza. Happy Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Festivous for the rest of us...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Secret Rewards

I'm on day 2 of my 4 day long weekend. I have PTO to burn up so why not? I have Xmas shopping to do anyway and my mind was a bubbling cauldron of stress, anxiety and general discomfort. I needed a break, if only to wander around Macy's for a bit.

But you know what? It's been really great so far. Like, much better than I thought a break from work would be. Sure I did a heck of a lot of laundry, but I was so psyched about some new bedding I purchased on Cyber Monday (it's not as dirty as it's name implies). I know...I've become far too domesticated, but SHEETS! I love good bedding. These were 400tc King sized Cotton Sateen sheets. Mmmmm. I like our 450's better but for $26 inclusive of shipping to get King sized sheets?! I'm not going to complain. They're fabulous. I'm sure as you go up and up and up it gets better but having too-good of taste only proves to bite you in the butt because you'll never want to sleep in common sheets ever again and unfortunately you have to. Like when you go to hotels and sleep over other people's homes.

I'm sure people with Temperpedic beds have serious issues sleeping anywhere other than at home.

So other than my unusual love of these sheets my Friday was great. I hung out with my husband for a bit, we had lunch together, I bought 2 more plates to expand my set and then I wandered my way to Victoria's Secret. I would usually not mention a specific store by name, but this DESERVES a mention because I received in November a "Secret Reward" card from them. This is normal. I get a number of promo things and I remember getting the same thing last year. The card has no value until December 1st. Then it can have a $10, $50, $100,...etc. value depending on the luck of the draw. As you can imagine, probably 90% of all the cards they send have just a $10 value. I know the one I redeemed last year was for $10, but by some chance when I went and asked the cashier to tell me the value before I bought anything (to prepare myself to spend within that range of value) she asked me to guess what my card value was. "Ten bucks?" "No, guess again." "Twenty bucks?" "Nope."...."A hundred bucks?" "Yup."

I got $100 for doing absolutely nothing other than being a regular customer. Needless to say, I was pretty psyched even though you can hardly buy 2 items for $100. That's not the point, the point is that I won something cool. I really needed that kick of positivity. I've been a seriously grumpy mean spirited gal lately.

The only thing that would be better is if it were a certificate I could redeem for more plates. My current obsession with homegoods is sort of sad, but I guess it's my way of expressing my excitement about the possibility of a much bigger home. The cynic in me doesn't like counting on it, but I can't help but start daydreaming about all the cool stuff I can buy to make it a really stylish home.

I probably shouldn't worry about it until after Xmas because I haven't been too successful thus far. My list of gifts still left to buy is still kinda long and gifts cost money. Money that probably shouldn't be spent on me. But at this rate I'll never find what I'm looking for anyway. I've been aimlessly searching for a tempered glass pitcher to brew tea in. Apparently all the glass pitchers ever made in life are not tempered and therefore if I put hot boiling water in it, then try to throw in ice (thus iced tea) it'll crack and break. I haven't been able to find a tempered glass one. I have a plastic one but I'm slowly becoming brainwashed to believe plastics are evil and the chemicals will slowly kill me.

Anyway, becoming a hippie aside I think things are moving along pretty well. I'm a little nervous still but I suppose I'll continue to be until my signature is on that paper and our attorney congratulates us on our new home. I might be terribly unbearable to be around (unless you really like talking about glassware and plates) until then. You have been forewarned.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's a work on progress

Holidays? Good. I don't have much to say about it because it was nice. Non-dramatic. No burned turkey.

Turkey day with my husband's family. I love them, they're so cute. Day after with my family. Lots of deboned turkey stuffed with duck was consumed. I guess my mom was moved to make one after hearing about Devin's Turduckhen.

I worked Friday because I was not fast enough on the draw to ask for it off and my coworkers were. Not like anyone called or emailed or anything. So it was a pretty good day to catch up and work on stuff I'd been having difficulty with. I did go to HRD's Hair Cut-a-thon because they had a deal where they were donating food to the Windsor Food Bank. If you brought in 6 items you could get a wash, cut and blow dry for $10. Of course I brought in way more than 6 items, but that's mostly in part to my love for food drives. I know there are people worse off than me and my husband is annoyingly negative and will stand on his high horse and say that charities don't give 100% of your donation to the needy. Well, I doubt that charities will take 1/10th of a can of peas before giving it to a needy family. So I can feel relatively confident than what I'm giving away is actually being used in the manner I want it to be used.

So I woke up early and was among the first 4 people in line for the Cut-a-thon. I don't have a lot to cut so it was probably for naught but I like having my hair blown out by someone else. One less thing for me to have to work on.

After work I went to mom's. And no, I did not go shopping. I did not take one step into any mall on Friday. I was thinking about it but one thing always happens on those days when I go out and brave the chaos. I always end up buying something (or various somethings) for myself. No presents are usually purchased for other people on black friday. Here's the thing; my birthday is in November and because I'm a relatively faithful shopper to a certain few stores they send me birthday coupons and birthday gift cards and the gift cards in conjunction with the sales means I walk away with either a free or a cheap item for myself.

I got myself some beautiful plates from Macy's for myself. I'm not gonna lie; I didn't consider Trevor's feelings in the slightest in the purchase of these plates. It's unnatural to love plates as much as I love these plates. I don't know why, but they speak to me. I think I like them because (although they are not actually) they look like hand painted watercolors and I have a soft spot for artisan stuff. Like if I had the patience to do so I'd kiln and glaze all my own plates like this.

Plus Trevor and I do not see eye to eye on all things even though we generally have the same taste. I don't understand it. I think that due to the fact I see and use our plates and serveware a lot more I appreciate and understand what will coordinate with what we have already. Whereas Trevor will pick whatever he happens to like in that moment even if it totally doesn't coordinate with anything. I'm mildly worried about furnishing the house we may get. I think it may be easier to instead of trying to work together, that we divide and conquer instead. ie: I get to pick out all the textiles and wall coverings for the living room if you get the family room.

The house? Um....since it's not in stone yet I don't want to talk too much about the house other than to say it may happen. And that I do not want to do a totally contemporary Ikea-esk feeling to the home because it's too modern to go with the era which the house was originally built. I feel like we'd be doing a disservice to the home if we didn't make it a point to enhance the existing beauty. I usually like that sterile, white-on-white-on-white, really modern, minimalist, hard angles, cold look but I don't live in California and it seems silly to force a historic home to be something it's not. A historic home needs a warmer palette and richer textiles.

It'll be fun to figure out that middle ground without having a hodge podge like we currently have.

If we move I am promised a new couch. Devin kicked loose the right arm of my couch right now and we're just tolerating it for the moment. I think I may not know what to do with myself if I had a house that was fully functional and furnished in a way I'm not ashamed of. How else would I fill my free hours?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bananas for Bananas

I have a weakness for food on sale. As an example, bananas. I don't even really EAT bananas but I buy them. I also don't eat peanut butter but I buy it. I have every intention of giving those jars to food shelters. (So at least that's semi-forgivable) But with bananas I buy them with the intention of eating them and then I realize I don't really like eating them unless they are sliced and floating around in my cereal. Sweet not-as-healthy-for-you cereal at that. I'm fond of Golden Grahams. Honey Bunches of Oats. Something sorta sweet but no marshmallows. I can't get behind dried up marshmallows.

Anyway...bananas turn an ugly shade of black and fruit flies invade my home. And only then do I think "hey, maybe I should do something about this."

I made a banana cheesecake, 20something banana bread muffins and only after hours of the oven cranking away was I free of those putrid bananas.

Mind you, I like banana desserts a lot but the sense of obligation to make them kind of makes it less fun.

So after not doing this in um...forever?!? I'm posting a recipe for banana bread. The old standby of using up bananas. I like muffin form because it's less commitmental and I don't have to cut anything and dirty up a knife. This is a modified version of something The Barefoot Contessa makes but I like it because everything is nice round numbers. No, 2 1/4 cup of this and 1/3 cup of that.

Banana Bread with a Crunch
Oven 350F (the old standby...I think almost everything bakes at 350F)
DRY STUFF
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
WET STUFF
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 apple sauce (I happen to have this hanging around, otherwise you can use 1 full cup oil)
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
Mashed up banana goo. I had 3 bananas.
1 tsp vanilla extract
OTHER
1 cup oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup walnuts chopped
chocolate chips (optional)

Mix all dry stuff. If you're super ambitious sift it all. It mixes together with less lumps if you take the time to sift. I am lazy so I just mixed by hand (less stuff to clean up later). Mix all your wet goo together and then add it to your dry. The trick to any tender quick breads is NOT mixing the tar out of it. Then gently mix the "other" in. The "other" isn't really standard banana bread stuff persay but it adds a lot of texture and flavor. And it makes me feel healthier to see oats in there. I know sugar laden baked goods aren't healthy but just let me pretend...okay?

Standard Muffins? 20 minutes should do it. Fill only 2/3s of the way up. They WILL lift and the will make a mess of your oven. Loaf pan? give it at least 40 and then check on it. Everyone's oven is different.

On a side note? I don't even really like consuming cheesecake THAT much but my dad does like it when I make some from scratch. Clearly it was a mistake introducing him to the "good stuff." So I made a banana cheesecake for him. I'll bring it over tonight since mom is prepping a b'day meal for me. Since I had the oven going I also made lasagna for dinner yesterday. My husband likes lasagna. I'm happier with normal pasta or raviolis since it takes a lot more assembly to do lasagna. After I finally turned the oven off I thought it was funny that for my birthday I was making things other people liked. I should really have just made food I like. Clearly I have become a softie.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gobble Gobble

Happy Mid-November.

Chances are I'm going to forget to mention Thanksgiving but, heck. It's my favorite holiday of the year so I'll make mention of it now.

I think the plan is to go to my mother in law's house. I'll need to come up with a better title than mother in law. Maybe, "Bonus Mother" is a more apt term. Mother in law sound so...negative and ugly. Anyway, I look forward to it. I show my best eating ability around the holidays, though I admit as I get older my appetite seems to shrink. That whole guilt thing about not wanting to die of morbid obesity where they have to cut a hole in the side of my house to get me.

Devin is scheduled to make another Turduckhen. For the uninitiated it's a deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck stuffed inside a semi-deboned turkey and is traditionally considered a southern dish. I would LOVE to host Thanksgiving. I wouldn't so much want to make a Turduckhen, but maybe next year just hosting a holiday? If the thing I'm tentatively concerned about happening actually happens I'd love to have my parents and Trevor's fam over and feed them all until their bellies bulge. They'll have to promise not to judge me for not having a full set of matching...umm...anything, but the food should be good. The spread would be pretty interesting. I don't personally think I have the guts to deep fry a turkey (too big of a fire hazard) but I have a soft spot for sharing home made meals.

I don't really personally care about everything being matchy matchy. Like, I don't think matching plates make your meal taste any better so it's not a huge priority. I don't live in a Sears Catalog. (It's probably just me but I feel it's strangely artificial.) I do oddly enough think you need actual plates and actual metal utensils. Paper plates and plastic forks do not make for an unbelievable meal. I can't think of a single meal I've eaten with a plastic fork that was even slightly memorable.

Last year? I spent my birthday painting our existing house. This coming birthday? I'll probably be rubbing two pennies together because we're trying to buy another one. (The empire has to grow eventually.) I don't know what is up with my birthday lately but it's been falling on particularly odd housing-related times for me. I can't be too sad because, dude...houses! But houses need furniture and curtains and paint...oh so much paint. So whatever money I thought I could blow on pumpkin hued pumps? They now have to go to house stuff. Not like we ever really go wild around my birthday. To be completely honest I tend to like to spend some time with my mom & dad on my birthday because...umm...my mom birthed me and if truth be told the day is much more memorable and special to her than to anyone else. I can't even remember being born whereas she very vividly recalls the day and often uses it as some kind of guilt inducing bargaining chip.

I want to ignore the fact that if we get a new house that we'll have to pack AGAIN. I don't even have that much stuff but packing is painful. Moving is even more painful. Something always breaks. But I suppose it's a good time to determine what stuff we can toss. There's always stuff we don't need but we hang on to because of a sense of obligation. I know my husband is now likely rolling his eyes in the general direction of my dress shoes.

Even if we don't obtain THIS particular house I'm pretty excited about the prospect of a REAL house in our future. Like, a house I'd want to invite people over to and feel genuinely proud of. I guess it just goes to show that I'm getting older, lamer and more settled. Maybe I'll even take a cue from Martha Stewart and start hot gluing pine cones to things. And get a dog. And wear some unflattering mom-jeans with pockets that are attached in a weird position.

I can't look away from mom-jeans...I know they're a disaster and I'm mystified by their ability to make a derriere look so awful and gigantic. And then people think I'm staring at their rear ends for NOT that reason and think I'm strange. I'm sorry for staring. I try to be discreet but I have no ability to hide the emotions on my face. If you get to know me you'll find that quality endearing, but as a stranger I guess it's creepy.

But before you think we're rolling on money, it's a heck of a lot easier to save up for a home when you don't have a wedding to pay for at the exact same time. Even I think it was a tad ambitious of us to get married and buy our first home in the same year. But without that weight holding us down (apart from the general weight of our ball and chain) plus holding to our same work ethics and careful budgeting it's been a lot less painful saving up this time. A lot less pressure. But if truth be told I hope that 2010 will be a bit less crazed with houses. Buying and moving into a different home every year is a little much. I know we're young and we have the energy to do it, but I'm grumpy about it each and every time. I'd like to keep an address for a while.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Next step? Building a hotel on Boardwalk

So yeah, Hi. I didn't die. But I have been excruciatingly busy at work and I've kind of turned into a bleary eyed zombie.

Also, so. many. things. have. happened!

The farm had an offer put in on it so we had a small window of time to rent a UHaul and divide up the furniture among us. Trevor and I, although we have no space whatsoever in our apartment have aspirations of a bigger house and a bigger house requires a good amount of furniture. And furniture? It costs money. Money I don't have to spend. So that we were allowed to take things from the farm was nice. Other folks took things too; don't think it was just me and Trevor. The rest of the clan took chairs and tables and wicker and mirrors...etc.

Halloween. I dressed up as Snow White. Trevor was Herbert the Pervert. We wanted to be a couples thing but we never agree on what we mutually decide is a "cool" costume. Though to be fair I mostly picked my costume to go with my hair because it's not likely to stay this way for too long. It's already grown out an inch and it's only been a few weeks. Clearly my follicles do not agree with short hair because I swear my hair grows at an accelerated pace after a cut...a la Rapunzel.

Other Halloween related news? Kim got induced and little Tyler Edziu was born November 1st at 6lbs 5oz after laboring all day long. Momma and baby are now at home and trying to settle into a schedule. I saw them this past weekend and (after much hand washing) held the baby and caught up with her. I didn't take any pictures because the baby was experiencing some red spots and calloused lips and I kind of think he deserves a better introduction. Also, it seems kind of weird to post pictures of a minor. I think he looks just like his paternal grandfather, but he mostly just looks like a newborn. Not really anything like Kim or Vinnie yet, although obviously there's time for that to change.

Do I have baby envy yet? My mom cannot wait for the day this takes place. Umm...perhaps if little TE wasn't exhausting his mother, but right now Kim can't get even get 4 consecutive hours of sleep because the kid is constantly eating, pooping, peeing, and fussing. She's actually surprisingly chipper given the significant exhaustion, and even seems excited about the future prospect of having more babies. Me? I slept in this Sunday until 11:30 and I'm pretty excited about continuing this habit for a while longer. Sorry, mom.

But I do have to say that we could be ever so slightly closer to domesticity because we might have a 2nd house under our belts. It's a...um...fixer upper house but I think it's a big step in the right direction. I'm tentative about it because there's still a lot left before it's actually ours so I'll stop describing it at all, but it's really a beautiful old house that if given enough love could be magnificent.

I'm really strange because although I have a blog and although I deeply want to share I cannot share more about this. Not the color. Not the location. Not the price. Not anything at all...because I'm afraid of jinxing it. Plus I don't really care to have stalkers. Please do not come to my door trying to sell me a bible or a vacuum or ginzu knives.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Double J Wedding

Okay, I'm backlogged again.

I guess I'm obliged to mention I went to my friends Jeff & Jill's wedding, huh? Story in a nutshell? Jeff and I went to school together and I guess I'd consider him my best male friend in high school. He was just nerdy enough, but didn't take himself seriously or pretend to be cool and mature. We were admittedly weird and silly and that's how you're supposed to be when you're a teenager. And he was as boringly straight edge as I was. We've tried to keep up our friendship through the years although I admit we kinda suck at it. I think we always have fun hanging out but we lead busy enough lives that we don't want to drive long distances to see one another. Jeff and Jill went to the same college and have been together for 8 years. You can probably guess that this was not as rushy rushy as Kim's wedding. In fact this might be the polar opposite of Kim's situation because people have been tapping their foot waiting for those not-really-crazy kids to get married.

So they had their wedding recently. I was kind of surprised to get an invite but it's an honor to be thought of, so why not go? My getting an invite probably slid someone else into the "not important enough to invite list." It'd be lame and lazy of me not to. I'm already feel like a bad enough friend for missing dull boring normal days. Missing his wedding would be uber bad-friend behavior.

It was gorgeous. Not like I'm surprised. Not like I expected anything less actually. If I was with Trevor for 8 years I think the least I would ask for is a fancy party. They held the ceremony and reception at the same site (which I love. I hate driving around getting lost) in RI. They rented a historic mansion outside of Newport and had their ceremony outside. The wedding itself was nice, and actually smaller than I thought. Less than 80 guests. Inside was the reception. Buffet dinner, live band, flip flop favors on the dancefloor for sore feet, pashminas for women who caught a chill, candy buffet for people who like sweet stuff, old timey photo booth with props so guests could take silly pictures. And oh, did I take silly pictures.

I'm not doing it any justice but I'm not about to pick apart their wedding. I appreciated that they really THOUGHT about their wedding and clearly spent a lot of time plotting each piece. Everything was personalized. No Jordan Almonds for Jeff's big day. Like instead of a guest book they had guests fill out postcards and drop them in a mini postal box. Obviously all weddings are nice because the bride and groom are happy and presumably you like them, but if you're in my age bracket and all your friends are stuffing your mailbox full of bridal shower, baby shower, housewarming, wedding invitations it kind of all blurs together.

I blame television and the internet for taking away my attention span. I need a few flourishes or my mind starts to wander and I begin cracking inappropriate jokes. Thankfully I had a lot of fun with a few pals from high school. Justin taught us a game involving spoons. He tried to bribe the harpist into playing some 80's music. I made friends with Monoito's Austrian date. We had a lot of laughs and I consumed 3 varieties of cocktail shrimp. How can you possibly say that's not a good time? See a few long lost pals. Say Hi to Joey's parents. Share a number of laughs with my husband. Good times.

I love taking my husband to events like this. He's really charming and funny and I think it's great to be reminded of how much I love him. It's nice to take us out of our element and mingle with normal people. We're sort of hermits most of the time. Taking a date to a wedding can be awful. Wedding dates you drag up out of sheer desperation to not be alone can be excruciatingly dull and awkward. Ughhhh. Or weddings you attend when you don't know anyone (even the bride and groom) because someone asked you to be their date? Pretty weird.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Spice up your life

So, I don't know if it'll make my mother happy or just make her more frustrated that the only news I ever have is about my hair and the occasional cooking tip.

Susan recently announced she's expecting her first baby.

Universal "Awww"s can be had from near and far. Not too surprising because this is a deeply (DEEPLY) wanted baby.

If you can imagine this, (and you probably can if you know me well enough) I won one of the shower games we had at Kim's house a few weeks back based on baby gadget knowledge. Considering the room included people who've actually had children it's pretty impressive. Sure I called the nasal aspirator a "snot remover" but hey, if we're being blunt that's what that thing does.

So naturally you're probably wondering when I plan on giving Susan's kid a play-friend. Well, I'm not currently thinking about it. I'm not thinking about it because we're still working on getting another house. And by "working on getting another house" I mean that we're right in the thick of it and I'm anxious about what'll transpire. I will say that we fell in love with different house and the afternoon we were going to fax over the papers to put in our offer it was off the market; someone else snuck in an offer before us. This is all the more amazing because the house was only on the market 2 business days so we really thought we had a good chance.

This isn't even a hot time in the real estate market but we've had this happen a few other times. I'm not terribly surprised though. The Warren Buffets of the world became rich by seeing opportunity where other people saw no value. Overpriced houses might be sitting on the market indefinitely but if you price anything right someone's going to bite.

I know you can raise a kid with little more than a pocket full of hope, but I'd prefer to have a house that has a little room and smidge of privacy. Oh, and maybe some money. That'd make life a lot easier.

What? You're anxious about my hair? Well, I guess that's normal since I've TAUNTED you with the wait. Please ignore my washer/dryer in the background. Although I do love that washer dryer. It's energy star rated and everything. Oh right, my hair. It's really short in the back and a bit longer in the front to cup my face. It's intentional...really. I joke around and say it's my Posh Spice hair.

I will say that I enjoy the shorter hair. And And surprisingly, unlike long hair I am obliged to style my short hair so it isn't entirely lopsided with a gigantic cow lick in the back. So it forces me to care more than I normally would. Normally? I'd just pull my hair back into a bland ponytail. Now? It's too short to pull into a ponytail. You can actually see the back of my neck all the time now. So I kind of think it's funny when people ask if it's so much easier to do my hair in the morning. In comparison to doing absolutely nothing, yes it takes a lot more time.

And what I find even more surprising? I kept long hair for a long time because I was under the impression long hair gave you more options. This is a gigantic lie when you're a lazy pony-tail maker like myself. I never actively styled my long hair beyond purposefully messing it up so it looked tousled or occasionally flat ironing it. Short hair somehow gives me a lot more creative license...well, as long as I'm willing to plop in a few different kinds of product to manipulate it with. The volume is CRAZY.

It's easy to fall into a rut so I think it's good to test my boundaries now and again and push myself out of my comfort zone. I spent most of my life trying to have long hair because I had short hair in my childhood and felt very...boyish. In direct opposition to that I decided to have long hair. The change is all the better because people have generally been very positive about my hair and haven't made me feel like I look like a 11 year old boy like I had feared.

I know men typically prefer long hair but I'm old and married. What do I care what other guys think? And my husband tends to feel like he got a brand new wife, so it's a win-win. He's so cute. He wasn't sure if he should hug me at first because I didn't look like his wife. It took a few minutes of hair 0rientation before he settled into his "new wife."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Big Chop

I was thinking about it months ago that I needed a change. I didn't know what. I didn't know how, but I felt like I was in a rut and I needed a small boost to recharge me.

HRD, the local salon that Kim had her bachelorette at will cut your hair for Locks of Love. I stumbled upon this small tidbit of information and it got me thinking. LisaF always seems to do it every few years once hers gets outgrown so clearly it's not a difficult or arduous task. And the more I thought about it (which by the way, equals at least 4 weeks of thinking in real time) I really wanted to do something contributory. I don't feel like I give enough in life. I used to give to charities here and there but Trevor has made me jaded about organized non profits because a good chunk of your donations go into the general business costs of running any business, and not to the actual starving cancer kids you think it's going to. So now I'm freaked out about giving money to people...great.

But giving my hair? Well, I know that hair isn't a tax write off, but as much as I complain about my hair I know a lot of people would envy having long, thick, healthy, non chemically treated, not blow dried everyday, natural hair. If I'm being honest with myself I'd rather have my hair than thin, wimpy, flat, lifeless, stringy stuff any day. But there are people who, by a twist of fate have lost their hair due to chemotherapy treatments and feel alien. Who feel less womanly, less normal, less themselves all because they're balding. And we all associate our physical appearance with who we are. Women in particular don't feel womanly without hair. A guy can be bald and be masculine, but a bald woman does not want to be masculine. She just wants to feel like herself and be able to go to the grocery store without anyone staring at her.

So after a lot (a LOT) of selfishness on my part about wanting to keep my hair, I decided to take the plunge. I started talking about it and the more I talked about it the more courage I got and October is Breast Cancer Awareness month anyway, so that was the last straw. I finally walked into that salon and said "I would like to donate my hair." And that was it.

I gave 10 inches of my own hair. And I won't even lie, I was totally psyched out. My husband was making me nervous by saying "Are you sure you want to do this?" and that was the LAST thing I needed to hear but I still trudged through, even if I was in bed with my blankets over my head just a half hour before the big cut. But knowing I already made this commitment made me keep going. I don't wimp out at the last minute. That is douchey behavior.

I know I can grow mine out again. And it felt stupid because it's just hair, even if it was an awful look on me, it was just hair and I could grow it back. And the person receiving it would love my hair 80 times more than I ever could. I don't even like combing my hair in the morning. I never blow it out. Every rare moon I'll flat iron it. It's a security blanket much more than a fashion statement. I liked it because it represented something to me; it felt secure.

So...you're likely wondering what is left on my head now that I've lopped off such a significant segment. Since I'm mean I'm going to drag it out. HA! No the real story is I'm obliged to show my parents before I show the internets. That someone in Japan gets to see it before my parents who live down 3 streets see it? Yeah, I'd probably get an annoyed look from them like, "gee, that girl. Did we never teach her any decorum?" I'm old enough where I wouldn't be yelled at, but I know they'd be a bit miffed at me.

Where am I donating this? Well, there's a lot of charities out there that'll take it, surprisingly. There's the ubiquitous Locks of Love, but they give hair to kids. No offense to those alopecia kids but considering the tone of my donation I wanted it to go to a woman in need, so I'm giving to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program which specifically targets women who've lost their hair from chemo and who are unable to afford real-hair wigs. Considering real-hair extensions cost like $600 I imagine the cost of a full-on real-hair wig is pretty crazy for someone who's likely spent every penny they've got on medical bills. And I sure hope they have insurance...but anyway, that's a whole other topic.

I forget where I read it (if I find it I'll revise this) but it said something to the effect of long hair being like a black dress. It works on a lot of people and it fits a lot of occasions well, but after five minutes you've forgotten about it. It's unremarkable. No one remembers anything about a bland little black dress. Short hair on the other hand, makes a statement. It's like the red dress in a crowd.

Consider me part of Team Red Dress....with a pink ribbon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dress for Success

Is it lame to admit that I love my bridesmaid dress? Probably, right? Well, too bad. I love it. Probably a great deal in part to the fact I picked out not only the style but then proceeded to pick the color and for some reason Alexis agreed with me.

I didn't even have to bribe her! What a pal.

I mention this even though I bought the dress like over a month ago because I'm on the cusp of attending a wedding and if we're being 100% honest I was deeply considering wearing Lex's bridesmaid dress to this occasion. Because dude...one less dress to buy! But then I'd be really lame because there'd be pictures of me wearing the same dress to TWO weddings. And that's simply unacceptable behavior in my book.

So I bought a new dress. Ugh. By the time I pass away I might have 500 billion dresses in my closet.

But in addition to it being totally unacceptable to have dozens of pictures of me wearing the same dress at two separate occasions I think I'd be really pissed at myself if I somehow ruined this bridesmaid dress. Perhaps I'll involuntarily decide to do a little mud wrestling; you just never know. And if that were the case I'd probably end up having to buy a 2nd bridesmaid dress to replace my ruined one.

Odd side effect of having a bridesmaid dress many months before the big day? I can't gain any weight. So I guess I'll have to refrain from taking baths in lard and entering every food eating contest in the area. Oh, and having babies....sorry mom.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hey Jealousy

So...dudes. I have been a grumpalupomus (yes that is a made up word but it WORKS).

The husband had two dozen roses sent to work this Tuesday. This immediately makes you think "oh how nice" but it's kind of a funny story because there was no reason for these flowers. No one died. I didn't announce I was pregnant. Not my birthday. Not our anniversary. Not even one of those arbitrary anniversaries like "oh it's the 49 month anniversary of our first kiss."

Totally just no reason. And people? They cannot wrap their heads around these no reason flowers. I've been answering questions about the darned flowers for the better part of a week and they just don't stop. Really. I guess it's instinctual to have feelings of "why doesn't my husband do that for me?" and then guilt trip the BAHJEEZUS out of that poor man.

Really? They're just flowers. If my husband never bought me flowers that's okay. I'm not a big plant keeper-aliver anyway. I like that he likes me and wants to do nice things. Believe it or not, I do not guilt trip my husband about flowers, candy and jewelery. If he wants to do it, then it's genuine and it's nice. If I have to layer on the guilt then it's not particularly meaningful and I don't want peer-pressure-flowers. It seems...dirty.

But if you want to see a bright side? I've been pretty amused by all of my coworker's questioning. I also think it's strange human behavior but in a totally entertaining way. A friend of a friend, hitherto referred to as Freida was talking about another mutual friend...ummm...Delilah. (Like the pseudonyms? I'm working on being anonymous and thus slightly nicer.) Well, I guess Delilah's boyfriend got her a Tiffany's bracelet and Freida? Freida was PISSED at her boyfriend for not showering her with gifts as well and was wondering if she should bail on her long-time boyfriend because her expectation of the relationship was clearly different than reality and she was thinking that perhaps she was settling for less than she deserved.

Now, I can see where Freida would feel that way because you always want your relationship to feel fresh and exciting. However, if the basis of your relationship depends on a constant stream of overpriced gifts perhaps there are much bigger problems at hand. Like how you might possibly be a gold digger. But it's acceptable for women to be selfish and..um...gold-digger-like. Strange. My husband doesn't guilt trip me about not buying him enough...um...matchbox cars? lol If that were the case all my coworkers instead of exclaiming that I caught a good one, would probably whisper about me behind my back about being a total sucker.

I'm not saying we should all forgo material possessions and go to Tibet to get in touch with our spirituality. I like random stuff as much as the next sheeplike American consumer. I just don't think it makes your relationship better or your marriage stronger. It's not a litmus test for true love and it's not anything more than just what it is.

A singular nice gesture.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Farewell to Amanda

Sunday was Kim's baby shower. I almost missed it because I thought it was at 2pm and then Amanda called and said, "where are you?" and I began to flip out because it was at noon. I zoomed over to Kim's mom's house and got there about 15 minutes before Kim showed up.

Phew.

I didn't even comb my hair let alone put on any makeup, so I wasn't particularly well dressed either. But Kim's shower was a surprise so I wasn't expecting her to be dressed to the nines either. What cutesy gift did I give her? I chipped in for a group gift. No little ittle shoes. No itty bitty hats. Eh. They outgrow those things in a month anyway. Kim is so inundated with secondhand onesies and slightly used baby gear that she doesn't need for anything. The entire nursery is full of plush animals, shoes, onesies, crib bumbers...etc. It's packed with stuff and that was before the shower. I don't even want to imagine what it looks like now after the shower's done.

Oh, and Kim got a diaper cake. I was mildly considering making one (I love crafts) so I'm glad I didn't because that takes guessing about diaper brands and that's kind of unchartered territory for me. If I got a (pardon the term) cruddy brand of diapers it'd be sort of a waste of money if she just gets peed all over and frustrated. Because first time baby frustrations plus sleeplessness plus recovering from giving birth is enough without adding inadequate pee-pee coverage with a little boy. I hear they're squirters.

I'm not really...um...googley eyed about the baby yet. An extended belly does not bring out a cooing, baby-voice making sap in me. I reserve the right to change my mind, but I think it's just hard to empathize unless you're going through it. I feel bad I'm not really 100% on the same level, but I can't pretend to know what she's going through. I think it would be incredibly disingenuous to even pretend I can understand it. It's definitely just one of those things that you have to do yourself to know anything about. Plus every experience is so unique. Some people love being pregnant and some people despise it with every grain of their being and can't wait for it to be over.

In other life changing news, today is the last day for me to see Amanda. I just got back from her house and chatting with her, her dad, and Lex. I didn't want to be a big blubbering jerk and making Amanda sad about leaving. She shouldn't be sad and no one should make her feel sad. It's a great opportunity for her. If anything I'm jealous she gets to have adventures without me. And she's not going to Africa; she's within a reasonable flight and if I'm any kind of friend at all I'll make it a point to see her. Plus I like how much bigger food is in Texas and umm...I have family out there I'd probably owe a visit.

I also really enjoyed seeing her dad because it's literally been like 7 or 8 years since I've seen him and I always considered him and Louise to be an extension of my own family. My second set of parents. I cooked up some eggrolls for them for their farewell. Mind you, I've never made them on my own ever. It's really more my mom's specialty but monkey see, monkey do. If she can do it, I'm convinced I can do it too and apparently it got raves. I cannot divulge the recipe. 1.) Because I do not measure things anyway and god only knows how much of any ingredient goes into there. 2.) Rich thinks I need to go into business and if that's the case you don't become a multi-billionaire eggroll tycoon by telling the internets your best tricks. 3.) My mom might be really mad at me because she might be small but you don't mess with that woman.

Originally mom wanted to make eggrolls for Amanda's farewell but she was working this weekend and I didn't want to be the bearer of bad news that there would be no eggrolls. So clearly that just left making them myself because I'm not about to let her down even though I'm not fully confident in my Vietnamese food making skills. I'm not that kind of person. I talk a meanspirited, cynical game but I am a tenderhearted fool when I love someone. And I love her very much. I'd bend over backwards to do something kind for her.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dolla- Dollar Bills y'all

So, you might wonder what if I forgot about my list. Oh no...you only wish. I've been busy. Work is like a rollercoaster of busy, busy, go, Go, GO!! My bestie is moving away and I gotta buy gifts again. Darn it! Anyway...

#2 on Things I didn't know before I got married.

Money. Well, obviously I knew money existed. Duh. I'm actually quite proud that I know my way with money. I often thank my lucky stars for having absorbed so much geekiness from business school. But, perhaps nothing could prepare me for sharing finances because there are inevitably inequities. Not to go into many specifics but if you have money and your spouse does not, does saying "I Do" suddenly entitle them to using your money? Maxing out your credit card? Running up your bills?

I think it's a recipe for disaster. The number one thing that couples argue about? Surprise, surprise...Money.

Do I know how to fix this? No. It's really something for every couple to work out among themselves, but it's helpful to know it can be an issue before it does become an issue. People tend to stray from talking about the hard truths, but love can only get you so far if you don't have any money and are shacked up living in your parents' basement because you can't afford the rent.

There's a commercial out now where this woman comes out to the living room in a new dress to show off to her husband. He then starts talking about how he really wants to spend their reward points on a trip or a show or whatever and then she thwarts all of his ideas by inferring she spent all their points on the dress. I know it's supposed to be tongue in cheek, but it's a prime example of not communicating your goals effectively.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bridal Dumplings

What a crazy busy weekend.

I spent Friday evening frantically trying to wrap my shower gift to Alexis. By the way, it was the best shower gift I've given yet. No joke. I like to think I put a lot of thought into all my gifts but this one took the cake. I'll find it hard to top myself for the next round. But I ran out of paper to wrap it and of course I was frantic trying to find something late at night. One day I'll remember not to procrastinate. So I ended up wrapping part of it in a brown paper bag. How lovely...yet ghetto of me.

Saturday was the shower and I was pretty much cooking, serving, cleaning..etc. for hours and hours. Because I volunteered to bring potsticker dumplings and then I also volunteered to help Lex's mom prep before the shower so she'd be less stressed out. So that meant cooking at home my dumplings. Then getting dressed. Going to their house and then cooking and prepping and wrapping and serving other food. It was fun; don't think I mean it in any other way than that I love helping. I think helping prep for a party can sometimes be more fun than the party itself. You get to know all the food first, plus the talking? Very fun.

But there was a lot to do, so thankfully Amanda and Maddy were there to help Lex's mom too because it really took all of us to pull it together and even then guests started pouring in before Lex's mom got dressed for the occasion.

The shower itself was cute. Not too big, not too small. Everyone LOVED the travel theme. We had luggage tags and travel sized toiletries as favors. We served jerk chicken and english cucumber sandwiches, and irish soda bread and garlic chicken, and salad and lots of s'mores pie and s'mores martinis (in honor of Lex's girlscout history). It was a great spread. Lex's family really wanted to pull together something nice and you could tell. They're just so cute.

Lots of fun gifts. Mine was likely one of the least traditional but it REEKED of sentiment. If it could have stood up and given everyone a big fuzzy hug, it might have. I'm not going to tell the internet though. For the sake of keeping Lex's wedding unique and segregated from the pack, I'll refrain from too much detail. If you ask her though I'm sure she'd be happy to chat with you about everything. She was even showing guests pictures of her wedding dress. But that's for her to share and if I weren't in her wedding party I wouldn't bother asking about the color scheme and bridesmaid dresses just to save it for the big day and the big reveal as you walk down the aisle. It's totally natural to be curious, but I prefer to go in totally blind because I always build things up in my head. (I do admit to having a very colorful and vivid imagination.) Because when people say "oh my gosh, you have to meet (insert generic name here). She's so hot. I can't believe Stan's dating such a gorgeous girl." And then I meet her and...hmmm. And I don't know what I was expecting but she was NOT Heidi Klum. And then I kind of have to quickly muffle my disappointment because my expectation did not match up with reality. And I feel like a jerk because, really? What are the chances anyone could date a supermodel, let alone my 100% fictional friend Stan? He doesn't even have a Bentley convertible or good hair. Why would I possibly assume he could bag a woman so hot that people standing in her general proximity would melt from the glow of her 1000 watt smile? But I DO assume that!

I don't think a lot of other people build up stories, details and even entire plot lines in their mind the way I do. It's funny but surely confusing.
Crazy incoherent rambling tangents aside...

Amanda felt bad because she got Lex a double gift, but that happens with Target registries. They don't count the gift as purchased right away so there is a pretty big gap where you end up with doubles. Lex didn't seem too upset by it though because she could always use more than one suitcase. They always get destroyed when you check them anyway. I agree. We travel enough where our suitcases look disgusting and banged up. We did not play games at the shower because it felt like we ran out of time. Like, it was go-go-go for me and the other maids just actively mingling, snacks, serving, gifts..etc. It was a long day, but it was an active and fun one. I guess it's good prep for a bride because that's pretty much how your wedding day goes. It's just rush, rush, rush. Don't sit down. Chat, chat chat. Smile. Laugh. Rinse and repeat. And then it's over and people start leaving you.

Sunday was our horseback re-do. And I really had fun. Trevor was a little bored because it was a beginner lesson and he feels way super advanced at all things, but whatever. He married me knowing how lame I was, so he should be prepared for this. I kindly and patiently listen to him tell me the same stories all the time, even though I was present for the actual event and there's no need to re-tell me what happened. I think this is just fair compromise.

My horse was Bailey and she was way stubborn and did not want to trot. She just wanted to slowly slowly walk in directions I didn't want her to go in. Nonetheless it was an adventure for me. Trevor had a gigantic monster horse (it was part Clydesdale) named Mick whose only joy in life is jumping stuff. Not so much walking or running, but jumping stuff made Mick really happy. I'm not suddenly some big horse lover, but it was fun. I wouldn't mind doing it again.

Today? Errands! Oh the errands. Grocery shopping, making potatoes au gratin, baking a ham, taking my cousin to the mall to pick up her makeup thing she preordered. All the while? My body is aching like I ran 8 miles yesterday. Horseback riding apparently makes you use all kinds of muscles you don't think you use because, hey you're just sitting on a horse right? Except that thing needs to be controlled and when you have super stubborn horses you have to be all the more aggressive. Ugh! My back is killing me today. My legs are sore too, but I can handle sore legs. Sore back made sleeping awful.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy 1st Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, Trevor!

How did we celebrate? I had a mild panic attack about my work and not being at work and kind of wishing I had more time. UGH. But you don't live your life, look back and wish you sat in your cubicle longer. You wish you spent your free time constructively and with people whom you love. So I did. I spent a lot of time with my husband. I made him a three course meal totally from scratch. Mind you, he seemed confused his Vietnamese wife made him such a convincing Chicken Tikka Masala and seemed genuinely convinced I used some kind of prefab mix. For our anniversary? Ugh, yeah...that's not my style.

I also had this weird desire to make mashed cauliflower. It seems like a forgotten vegetable that no one ever buys or thinks about. I liked it okay. You won't ever mistake it's flavor profile for mashed potatoes. It can't ever whip up as beautifully as mashed pototoes, okay? But it's nice if you just take it at face value as being cauliflower. Nix the heavy cream and butter and save yourself some serious calories. You can google it up; it's not a terribly complicated list of ingredients and it's not a weird side dish...one of those big restaurant chains carries it on their menu, so you can see it's pretty tame and easy if you have a food processor. It would have been a TON easier to make with a big 10 cup food processor. Eh, I made due with my awesome blender and it was fine.

We went out too. I can't spend my entire anniversary standing over a hot stove...although I do kind of love it. We actually went to Mill on the River on the day of our anniversary to relive a little bit of that nostalgia. It's a nice enough restaurant although it's not ever going to be QUITE the same as our wedding day. Plus, although it's a nice restaurant I tend to enjoy less mainstream American food. I'd like it a little more ethnic, even if that ethnicity happens to be Italian. Of course they took very special requests for the wedding, so I do give them a lot of props for putting up with throwing in Asian flair for us. It's a bit out of the usual for them.

We had planned to go horseback riding Saturday but unfortunately it looked a bit rainy and stinky horse poop plus rain just doesn't go together very well. So we postponed to the following week. It's not as though I'm the kind of person who cares desperately that we celebrate things on the exact day-of. The fact that we both remember to spend time together is the entire point of making a fuss at all about one's anniversary. My parents never make mention of their anniversary at all. In fact I have no idea when it is. I guess it's a cultural thing. No one in my family makes much of a fuss about anything except Chinese New Year.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Amanda, my Panda

My bestie Amanda is moving. I'm trying to pick my jaw off the floor and then I'm trying not to be selfish and obnoxious. Things which are difficult for me because I genuinely don't want her to go, but I think that it's a good opportunity for her. I will however miss going out to eat with her, having endlessly unfocused conversations that snake between a dozen different topics, and cooking together. She'll be muchly missed by this Kelly. I know she's a little misunderstood, but I like it. I like her eccentric nature. I think it's a colorful splash of excitement in an otherwise boring and conservative dull world full of khaki pants and polo shirts.

I hate saying goodbye, (although given my history with death this year I suppose I should be a veteran at this) but at least I can always hop a plane and visit her. It could be worse. And selfishness aside I think it's due time that she get out. Staying the course has made her miserable. And if you're unhappy you have to do something about it. Life is simply too short to be spent doing things you hate around people who take advantage of your good nature.

I'm very supportive of her decision to go. I think the opportunities that you pass up purely because of fear are the ones that you regret. Fear alone is not a reason to give up on something. And the best time to take chances is when you're single, without roots yet, and the world is yours to explore.

On the bright side? If I desire to go to Texas I have another place to crash. You know, apart from my uncle, aunt, my cousins and various other extended family members out there. I'm not 100% crazy about this notoriously conservative state with 100+ degree heat but I guess it's more about the people you see rather than where you see them.

She leaves soon. Less time to mourn our loss, perhaps? In any case, if you want to reach out to her, I'd suggest doing it ASAP. Otherwise you'll likely miss the window of opportunity.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Best Barbie Doll Birthday Cake Ever

People. Please stop dying. My little heart just can't take it.

Rest in Peace, Carol Ann....and everyone else.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Another Deck Bites the Dust

The 2nd house thing fell through. I'm sad for Trevor because he really seemed to love it. But I'm sure there'll be others.

On the bright side, my husband has ripped up the boards on the back deck and is now in the mist of replacing them with the assistance of his bro Devin. The cabinets are finally repainted and all placed back where they belong, so thankfully the kitchen looks less like a construction zone. The same can now no longer be said of our back deck/entryway, but progress is progress. The deck was beginning to rot anyway. The house itself is over 100 years old, so you have to expect that with the charming quaintness you inherit a few repairs.

It must be deck re-do time because my dad just finished repainting his an incredibly bright light blue. I kind of wonder about the color selection, but Dad insists it's great. Dad takes some serious pride in his handiwork. Mom gets frustrated that it seems to take 5 times longer than it should to be completed, but my Dad's mantra is that it needs to be done in a professional manner and that just means taking one's time and doing it right the first time....so stop hounding me, woman! Okay, I made up that last part but it's a lot more entertaining my way.

And I have to say this now because I'll likely forget to on the day of since I'll be busy doing stuff. I'll be married to my Trevor for one year this month.

I know, right? Crazy! I'll have to figure out an anniversary gift. I hear the first year is paper. (Piñata, it is.)

It's super cliche and meaningless but I'll say it anyway...it just flew by. I guess that's a good sign that overall, it's been a good year. I still hope next year is better but I can't complain. I get to share my time with a pretty rad guy who doesn't mind that I get itchy for international travel every year. (PS: Now that we've gone to Europe I now want to go back to Asia!)

I'll try to continue with this theme but here it goes.
THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW BEFORE I GOT MARRIED

Mind you, I tend to over-research things so I really honestly thought I had this whole marriage thing pretty figured out. Naïve...I KNOW. But having lived with the same person for a number of years I figure that co-habitation in sin thing would prepare us in such a way that being married would be poof, nothing. Marriage is after all just a matter of mumbling some vows and signing a piece of paper right? When it comes down to it, those are the things that bind us legally as a married couple.

Right?

Well the first hurdle (for me, not necessarily for everyone) was changing my name. I was practically dragged kicking and screaming to change my name. I have a lot of personal reasons but foremost was it's MY NAME. I didn't want to change it, but I did because I wanted to be a family and I didn't want to wrestle with that whole hypenation thing. Sure we're just a family of two right now, but nonetheless it's symbolic of a committed union...plus Trevor really made me feel guilty about wanting to be a feminist who kept her own name.

Truth be told, it did not start off on a good foot since I was so anti-changing my name, but it was awful. Taking precious time off of work to sit in public administration buildings among incredibly sketchy people, not to mention just GETTING to the building and finding parking and navigating the line that gives you a number to get into the line to be serviced. It took a lot of patience I didn't really have.

Step one. Social Security Administration. You can mail in this one but I decided to drive there so I wouldn't have to part with my marriage certificate for an extended period of time and I knew that the moment I parted with my marriage certificate I would be asked to show it to someone to get something done. It's a rule. When you don't have it, people need to see it...that's how life works. At least that one's free.

The Department of Motor Vehicles. I don't like being at the DMV under the best of circumstances, but (at least in Connecticut) they take away your old license and they make you take a whole new picture. As many women will agree, taking a new picture can be traumatic...what if you have bad hair and an uneven complexion in your picture? You're stuck with that thing for years. Also free, but be prepared to beautified. Also since you're already there, be prepared to change your voter registration since you will have a new name for that too.

My passport. UGH. Kills me. I don't even want to talk about it but I will. If you've had your passport for an extended period of time and then get married and change your name you have to entirely renew your passport. That means your current (and likely not expired) passport that you barely made a dent in is junked and you have to start all over. New pictures need to be taken, new stamps need to be collected, new fees need to be paid.

The rest is pretty easy, but I think I'm still traumatized by the whole new passport thing.

And none of this is my husband's fault. I'm sure he didn't know about all the time consuming, anxiety causing red-tape, but I had to deal with it and he didn't. And I kind of resented him for it. I felt like in a partnership both of us had to suffer equally but in fact it was just me. He just got to sit there with his own name as though nothing had changed and nothing about him had to be compromised. Of course now that time has passed I'm 400% over it, plus I never have to do it again so there's no point in having a spaz attack over nothing, but at the time it was awful. I don't recommend it. You have to change everything. The name on your loans if you have any, your insurance, your car title, your cell phone service, any cable, credit cards, your doctor has to be informed, your dentist, you have to go to your bank and resign things with your new signature and new name, new checks...it's a huge laundry list of things.

Not to mention that whole sense of lost identity. At least for me. I guess if you have a really awesome first name then who cares if you change your last name? You still get to be Cher! Or Madonna or Lettuce or whatever...

Maybe one day we'll just all come up with combined nonsense names and both the husband and bride will change their names equally. So like, for instance if my last name was Miller and my husband's last name was Johnson we could compromise and be the Millson family.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pots and Pans, oh just clap your hands, oh just clap your ha-ands

Sooo, I only just broke open the box of my pressure cooker and used it.

I got this pressure cooker as a bridal shower gift about this exact same time LAST YEAR.

This clearly just goes to show that I did not deserve to receive so many gifts because I might be 80 years old by the time I break into everything I was gifted and use it. Mind you, I'm grateful for everything, I just might not live to use it all. And this was one of the things I genuinely wanted to have because I was curious how it'd work. In fact it's pretty rad. It's like a crock pot, only without all that pesky waiting time of slowly cooking all day. I do however have to admit that I was intimidated by using it. I've seen a lot of cartoons in my youth where it blows up and expels its contents all over the room. I'm sure a lot of other people tend to feel the same way; I've never seen anyone actually use one on any cooking show, my mother's never used one and my friends never make any mention of.

I think it's sort of retro. But so far I like it, and I think it'll be my new favorite toy when making things like stock that sit on my stove chugging along for hours and hours and hours. Instead of that I can throw it in the pressure cooker and be done in 1/3rd the time. Saves time, saves electricity (I have an electric range..sigh) and they say it saves nutrients and vitamins because they aren't all cooked out. I don't know how much I believe that, but I'll just nod along.

I was about to also use my cake platter/dome, but the tiramisu I made was way way way smaller than the dome and if I put the tiramisu in there it'd look so tiny and sad. Plus it'd eat up like 1/3 of my fridge space because tiramisus need to remain chilled due to all the dairy. One day I'll need to make a normal cake that doesn't require refrigeration.

I do however feel good about wiping all those glasses and goblets off the registry because ugh, yeah..I only have like one shelf in one cabinet available for glasses and those suckers take up a ton of space. Now that I'm married I also do not drink any more than I did previously. In fact, I drink a lot less...so I really WOULD be 80 by the time I finally used those glasses. I know everyone says "oh, but we'll need it when we have holidays at our house" but when is the last time I even had a dinner guest? My dinner table is positioned so that only three people can eat at it. That means, Trevor, myself and one lonely guest.

I've been bargaining back and forth with myself about getting an enamel coated cast iron dutch oven. I want one...but I don't need one. So I keep going back and forth. And then back and forth. And then I hover extra long at Macys looking at one. They are crazy heavy just empty so I imagine I might break my weak chicken arms trying to carry one from the range to the oven and then to the table. But I also don't have a good stove. It seems silly to spend money on something I don't need when I have 90 gazillion pots and pans already. Perhaps when I have a really awesome gas range I'll find it'll be a welcome splurge for myself. A gift for being patient and awesome.

That or I accidentally melt some more of my existing pots and pans by being a doof and thus need to replace them.

I melted one this past weekend because I forgot about it on the stove when I was boiling water. Honest mistake. I didn't like that one anyway...wasn't non-stick. Constantly had gunk stuck to it I had to soak repeatedly to get off. I know that chefs seem to like the stainless, but I can't get into it. I have to use like 4 times more oil to coat the pan and I start feeling queasy about how that's all going to be stuck to my arteries. (Never mind the fact I use olive oil...I still am convinced I'm going to die.)

What did I make this weekend? Lasagna rollups for my Trevor. I'm not the biggest lasagna fan, but Trevor is so I pulled together a crab, shrimp and salmon filling for the lasagna. Rollups? Well, it's a slightly less time consuming manifestation of lasagna that traditionally takes hours to cook in the oven. These, you boil your noodles, lay then flat on your counter and spread your filling on top of the noodle. You then roll them up like a jelly-roll cake...except pasta-y. I had a mix of tomato sauce from a jar and a homemade mushroom cream sauce. Your precooked lasagna rolls still need to go in the oven to get all gooey and delicious. I don't have a timer...I just eyeball it. Maybe 30 minutes?

I would make a horrific cookbook writer, huh? I never have any measurements and I never know how long it takes to do anything. But it was delicious. And I like that it's individually portioned.

I know everyone and their dog's best friend's cousin's chiropractor has a story about how their grandmother made sauce from scratch, but not me. My grandmother never even ate spaghetti and meatballs in her entire life. And everyone just does it from the jar or can anyway. They talk a great game about how they love homemade sauce and then just go out and by it prefab and throw in some garlic powder and oregano to pretend it was homemade. Seems a little odd to me.

How many ingredients do you have to add to something in order for it to go from unhomemade, to homemade? I'm curious...I'm not just being a jerk about it. Like, if I buy bread and take a slice, stick it in the toaster and schmear it with butter, I didn't just make homemade toast?...or did I? Does the heating it make it homemade? If that's the case, if I heat up a frozen pizza can I then claim it's a homemade pizza?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Some bubbley with your shampoo?

Today? Someone else gets to wrestle with my chaotic mop of hair. Don't be too excited, I'm being boring and just getting a trim. I'm still committed to having long loose tussled-on-purpose hair. I'm psyched for salon time though. I'm a very recent convert; before the wedding you would pretty much have to drag me to get a hair cut because it was unfun and mildly stressful to pick a style. But now I dig it, I think I found a good stylist that "gets me." In fact it's the girl who did my hair for my wedding and I've been going back to her since then because she's so nice and makes me feel so welcome. Plus she totally hooks me up. I love it. I recommend her to local friends but I'll refrain from doing that via internets for fear I'll never be able to book a haircut without a 3 week wait. (P.S.: I am selfish.)

My hair history: I started off bald, I stayed pretty boyish looking until 5. I'm not ashamed to admit this because it's just a fact. If you threw me into a gender neutral outfit my mother would often get "what a handsome boy" as compliments. What are you gonna do? Turn back time? Buy baby toupees? My dad however was concerned my lack of hair grow-age would somehow correlate into my being a lesbian (ah, the worries of a first time parent) but he clearly needn't have bothered because it grew out like a dark wavy ocean. Where I got this thick crazy hair is beyond either of my parents. Where once there was hardly any, I suddenly looked like I was distantly related to Diana Ross. Ah, adolescence...what an amazingly awkward unattractive time for me. Thankfully as I grew older it calmed down, straightened a little bit, and I learned a few things about hair product usage and washing practices so now it's actually somewhat under my control.

BUT I still hate styling it. I commend anyone who wants to wake up an hour early to wash and dry their hair. Every hair stylist I've ever sat down in front of runs their hands through my hair and exclaims I have way too much hair for one person's head. Thanks? I never quite know how to reply. One day I'll have to make a list of snappy comebacks.

For Kim's wedding I think I already told this story, but I'll re-iterate and include way more detail. I wanted to give her a great bachelorette. But, as you might imagine giving a bachelorette party to a pregnant woman comes with a lot of intrinsic roadblocks. You can't have her consuming alcohol. You can't drag her around walking all over NYC or Boston or VEGAS the poor dear's feet would likely be swollen beyond recognition. And just going out to dinner is so benign and normal that it wouldn't even register as a bachelorette outing. We go out to dinner just on regular random days...your bachelorette should be slightly more special.

So someone mentioned doing glamour shots. Well that seemed funny enough, but a little too cheesy, so it morphed into doing pin-up girl pictures at a local salon, called Hot Rock & Dye. Because it would be highly inappropriate content to share...I won't. It was hard enough convincing the entire bridal party to do it at ALL because I had to convince them it wasn't the equivalent of selling your body on the streets. It's just a picture. Photoshop exists for a reason. You can wear whatever you want. If you don't want to wear a nightie, wear pajamas. If you don't want to wear pajamas, wear a...space suit. No one can make you do anything you don't want to do. It's never going to end up on the cover of some gentlemen's magazine. And whatever body-related issues you have...well, that's up to you to have. Everyone is their own worst critic. Believe it or not, I have cellulite and zits and a long laundry list of other things I don't feel 100% comfortable and happy about. But everyone has issues. Women have ridiculous quantities of issues, but you can't let it get in the way of living your life.

Soapbox moment, done.

I will however say it was a lot of fun channeling my inner Bettie Page. I don't think my individual pictures came out that fantastic, but it wasn't my bachelorette, so who cares? I also did not plop down over $100 for a personal session, so you can't expect perfection right away. It was a fun experience and I had a ton of laughs. The group pictures we took were nice and Kim's individuals were nice too.

HRD also did the wedding party's hair, so we spent a LOT of time at that salon between pin-up girl hair and makeup and then wedding hair and makeup. They were very nice and from what I hear weddings have been keeping them very busy lately...something I'm happy to hear from a new business because every business's first year is rough when you're trying to start up a new list of clients. Plus I don't really identify my hometown as a rockin' place and all the stylists have tattoos and super colorful hair and piercings...and are generally very "alternative." The fact that there's a niche for this is pretty rad. My Mother In Law told me there's a salon the town over called The Hair Saloon, which has a western cowgirl type theme...plus a bar.

Hair cut, plus a tall cold pint of beer?! What a time to be alive.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Plaza Azteca

I'm suddenly full of this bubbling righteousness that makes me want to post.

So I kind of noticed I haven't done a restaurant review in like, seven or eight months. I promise I've eaten out in that time, okay? I just keep forgetting to write about it because usually eating out is followed promptly with a lazy food-induced coma. And comatose people? Not very good bloggers.

Plaza Azteca recently opened up in Manchester (CT, not UK) and it has inhabited what used to be a Macaroni Grill. It's a Mexican restaurant and although it does not in the slightest bit compare to my beloved Sarapes. But it's a heck of a lot more attractive looking since Sarapes is a prime example of hole-in-the-wall. You wouldn't be embarassed of bring a date to P.A. because it's big, spacious, and re-designed to look Southwestern-like with dark wood type decor and Santa Fe paint color. It's also pretty cheap. Even eating dinner there, most menu items are $10 or less. I do however recommend reading the full description of your menu item because a ground beef burrito contains nothing except ground beef. No cheese. No beans. No tomatoes. To me a burrito is a combination of tons of stuff, not just piles of ground beef, but that complaint aside I think it's a good place when a bunch of friends want to go out. And if you really really enjoy ground beef I guess it's a total win. Trevor got very upset at the server who refused to sub out ground beef for carne asada and then continued repeating the term "carne asada" as though it was something he never heard of before. Mind you, our server was obviously a native Spanish speaker from his very clear Spanish accent, so his confusion was all the more baffling.

It's cheap, the menu is not intimidating (think tacos, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas) and you'll leave full. I went with Kim and Lex once and both of them left happy. Considering their combined allergies, pregnancy restriction, dislike for seafood and general aversion to spicy things it can often be a difficult decision where to go out to eat so that all of us can be appeased. And I'm so over eating plain pizza, so I'm super psyched we can all eat Mexican food together and have everyone be moderately happy.

I've been torturing myself with home-pickled-jalapenos. It's so painfully spicy I physically break out in waves of sweat. Which of course is a sign of good food, right? I'm sure you're thinking this is an unnatural attraction to pain, but I'm lucky enough to be married to a guy who might like torturing his taste buds even more than I do. Usually I don't like pickled things but lately I've found it a nice alternative to allowing 99cents/lb jalapenos to rot in my fridge because I cannot humanly eat even one pound of the stuff before something inevitably starts growing fuzz. You can't say I'm not resourceful. But I kind of have to be; have you seen my fridge? I always over-purchase perishables. One day I'll learn that two people cannot reasonably consume 3lbs of cherries or 3 dozen eggs.

You want to pickle stuff too? I pickle like my mom does, like most Viet people do. No spices. No dill. No peppercorns. No celery seeds. Just white vinegar plus water plus a touch of sugar. DONE. It might seem a little unconventional, but that's everything you need to keep the rot at bay, and it's mighty tasty.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So I went anyway

Okay, okay, okay...

I know I've already previously complained about these tupperware-like parties. I know it, but I still went to another one. None too surprisingly Kim invited me because she might be the only person I know who's moderately interested in these things, and since I'm lonely I figure it's a good excuse to not drown in sad anti-social feelings. This time? Pampered Chef. Which is slightly over priced cookware and cooking accessories.

I'm not saying it's bad stuff, in fact it seems quite nice. I just happen to not need anything because I already got gifted or have already bought everything I felt was important to have for a kitchen. And if I'm going to spend money on myself on product that pretty much never goes on sale, I'd much rather just save my pennies up and get some Le Creuset. But pretty much everything else goes on sale. If you wait it out you can usually even get a small discount on the coveted Kitchenaid Stand Mixer on those ever-frequent Macy's one day sales.

But thankfully I had some company on the ride to and fro the 203 because Alexis came along with me. It's not a far drive but it's long enough that it can be a little lonely and thankfully you can always count on Lex to be chatty.

Funny enough she didn't know I kept a blog. (Hi Lex!) I don't popularize it, but if you happen to have found your way here, chances are you were invited to my wedding and noticed the link on our invites and then bounced around that wedding site that Trevor never updates. Hungry for more information you found your way here. Because what I lack in technical finesse, I make up for in more frequent updates.

Why do I keep one? This was meant to be my own personal, not readily known blog where I kept my recipes and thoughts about food and eating. It still is my favorite place to babble on about my love of pistachio macarons and fois gros and fish sauce and lengua tacos. But ever since we got engaged I have meandered my way and it became a diary of my wedding planning experience, frustrations and general DIY thoughts. But if you think that you can come here and really learn something new, you'd be mistaken. I don't tend to talk about things until well after they're done and I don't tend to talk about deep, emotional or personal happenings. It's really very light and breezy info with a touch of self deprecation.

What is it now? Well, I'm not so sure; I know that time has passed and I'm a little different and my focus is different. I've thought of quitting a number of times. I do believe it's nice for family to have a centralized place to check in on me and notice that "hey I'm alive" and know that I'm not living in a box. But do I feel kind of dirty and gross about the lurkers? The non-family, non-friend folks who just want to peep in on my life and judge me? A little. But then I think "what the heck is there to judge?" I live a pretty good life. How does the saying go?

"Living well is the best revenge."

I guess since this is the first time I've mentioned lurkers, I might as well just say "geez, your time could definitely be better used elsewhere." Because I am not interesting and I never claimed to be. But if you're a beloved friend, or begrudgingly share a bloodline with me, then I guess you're stuck dealing with it. (Ha! I trapped you!) And even though it's boring, it's strangely captivating, huh? What crazy thing will this girl say next? Something about puking her guts out? (No wonder she's so thin. She makes me sick.) Something about fish sauce? Obsession with mineral makeup and french face cream? Oh the options...they are dizzying.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Bracelet Story

So, my exciting life of reading depressing material that makes me think I might die aside...how are things going? Eh, I can't complain.

Trevor put in an offer on a 2nd house. It's already under contract so unfortunately we're still awaiting some kind of notification if the first offer went through. Not to be super boring because house talk can get really dry, but the hope is to have a 2nd house under our belt sometime this year. Trevor will rant endlessly about his house plan, so I will refrain from talking about it because I've already heard the same story a dozen times. Summary? We buy a bunch of houses and those houses float the cost of our real-life house that we love.

Work? I'm still working. I don't talk about work because as we've all learned from dooce, you don't mix work and play unless you wanna get fired. However in very general terms I'll say that sometimes I have great days, and sometimes I have bad ones. I'd say I had a lot more bad than good in recent memory, but in the last week or so I feel reinvigorated and reaffirmed that I am not an awful employee person. If you can't tell I take it pretty personally if my work is not at the level I'd like it to be. Lame...I know.

I was just thinking I forgot to tell the bracelet story.

Rewind to the women's weekend at the Cape. I am done emptying the contents of my unhappy stomach and have replaced it with waffles with blueberries and syrup. (Hey, what comes out must eventually be replaced or I go INSANE. I am awful without food. I am the grumpiest grumpster ever.) So anyway, as I'm eating Liza and the aunts are digging through these boxes from The Farm of GrandMarie's belongings; more specifically they're digging around in her jewelery and picking out who gets what. Moms got first pick and then it tricked down to us kiddies (Susan, Candice and myself) and it was actually a lot of fun. I know it might sound really morbid to dig through an old woman's former belongings, but since I never KNEW her the way they did it was nice to kind of get a piece of who she was from looking at her belongings. Clearly from their prospectives it was best that Marie's belongings go to people who loved her and for whom it would be meaningful, even if it was just costume jewelery. So a few tears welled up in people's eyes and stories were told of how they remembered her wearing a particular bracelet or a particular necklace. It was sweet.

Personally? I don't own a single thing of my maternal grandmother's. I know that must seem awful but I don't take it too personally. She had like 30 dozen grandchildren and I am at the bottom of the totem pole because I don't even live in the same country and I'm like the 5th youngest. I think that things of value definitely went to her own children anyhow. But that Susan and Candice got to have things of their grandmother? That's pretty cool. I guess Marie had her mother's bracelet (Trevor's great grandmother), which listed her grandchildren's names. Included in the bracelet were Liza, Christine and Deborah. It was an amazing bracelet because it was HUGE. It was totally full of names of grandchildren. It was incredibly awkward if you were to wear it, but clearly it was built with so much love. All the boy names had boy shaped profile tags, all the girl names had girl shaped profile tags.

Along with this, there was Marie's own bracelet. I guess at some point it was gifted to her and it was a silver charm bracelet with her four grandchildren engraved on four separate heart tags. Susan, Trevor, Candice and Devin. Somehow it got to us because neither of the moms claimed it, and Aunt Deborah said although it was nice that she wouldn't likely wear it now that she's retired and no longer going to the office everyday. The girls went back and forth about it and came up with a few ideas about splitting up the charms or adding new ones. But after no one explicitly claimed it, I asked if I could have it. And no one said otherwise so I got to keep it.

I guess it's kind of silly because I never really knew Marie, but I think it's so wonderful to have something that was hers. I figure one day, if I should have children of my own in the future that I can show it to them and tell them it was their great-grandmother's. I can tell them I wish I knew her better, but I hold a piece of her with me. And hopefully they appreciate it as much as I do.

I wore it to work this week and I don't know if that's what made my work week so much better, but it really was. I felt like I had a spring in my step. I also tinkled as I walked because the little hearts hit one another so I didn't wear it everyday just in case I was that obnoxious person you could hear from a mile away.

Oh, and before I forget, after hashing out who received what of the various jewelery boxes, we celebrated our fun by putting everything on.