Friday, July 31, 2009

30 Days of {Blank}

In my daily perusal of all things mommy blogger, I stumbled upon this 30 Days of {Blank} idea at Room 704. It excited me.

Since college, I've taken a more front-seat approach at becoming who I want to be. Over the past three years, this has involved 'adopting' two girls (I sponsor a little girl from India and a little girl from Nicaragua), getting my health under control, fighting for what I want in a career, and so on and so on.

The result of this new mindset has completely changed who I am. I'm much more responsible, less forgetful, more structured, less spontaneous, more fulfilled, less scattered. While I miss some of my old traits, I believe wholeheartedly that this is who I need to be for now. And, when the time is right, they'll return (fingers crossed for the spontaneity).

While there are still many areas of my life that need tweaking, the one that has proved to be my arch nemesis--my Lex Luther, my Inspector Javert--has been finishing a novel. Not even the novel. Just a novel. Any novel.

I couldn't do it when I was 'promised' publication. I couldn't do it when there was a chance I needed it to graduate. And, I haven't been able to do it now that I'm on actual speaking terms with an agent.

So, my commitment for the next 30 days is to write every night. Any number of words. Any length of time. Just.Write.

I'll keep a running tally of words written here on the blog (probably published during my lunch break).

Hopefully, this is what I need to get this area of my life under control.

What about you? Anyone else willing to commit to 30 Days of {Blank}?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Dog Spanky

Meet my little friend.

Play dead.
Roll over.

At first, you'll probably tell him to do what he's expected to do.

When you're tired of that, tell him to 'kiss'. You'll be glad you did.

What Gentlemen Prefer

How did I not know about Barbie's Blonde Ambition Collection?

I vaguely recall telling Tad I wanted the Marilyn Monroe awhile back, but I had no idea it was part of a collection that celebrated being blonde! How could I have missed that?

The Goldie Hawn, I could do without, but the Heidi Klum? No blonde in her right mind can turn that doll down.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pine-Sol Magic

Household tip #1

Has food been sitting in your fridge for so long that you fear your Tupperware has been compromised?

Come on, we all know how it goes. Soups, casseroles, gravies--when they're forgotten the plastic-ware used to house them takes on its own aroma, reminding you of that tortilla soup you had six weeks ago and didn't get around to cleaning up until last Thursday.

But fear not, desperate housewives! Pine-Sol works wonders, eliminating signs of plastic-smell-absorption within minutes. Simply have your husband dump the old soup in the alley. Pour a bit of Pine-Sol directly into the smelly Tupperware. Fill with warm water. Let sit. Rinse out, and presto! Your plastic-ware smells good as new!

But don't take my word for it. Go on, dig out those neglected side dishes and give it a go!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pet Lightning Bugs

When trapped in your bedroom at night, lightning bugs do not turn the world around you into Lothlorien or the Great Hall at Hogwarts.

Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Musings: The Great American Novel

Tad surprised me with these books, the other day. He purchased them for 25 cents each from the Allen County Public Library. I almost had a heart attack.

Middlesex I read in 2006, during my senior year of college. Thousand I read sometime last year after being blown away by The Kite Runner.

Here, I am reenacting the span of emotions felt when reading one of Khaled Hosseini's books:

You can guarantee I will become a frequent patron of this used book section, my pockets bulging with quarters. Quarters!

This almost reminds me of the time Erin, Stephanie and I snagged some books from a library in Littleton, Colorado (I think it was Littleton . . . maybe Estes Park). We were under the impression that it was a "grab what you can" type thing, but after examining the stickers on the book covers, found out that it was a "take one, leave one" sort of thing. Oops. It's okay though. They can't possibly miss the 104 volumes we confiscated.

Besides, I thorougly enjoyed Susanna Clarke's masterpiece.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Honeymoon's Over: Day 99

Earlier today . . .

I sat down at the computer and opened a game of MahJong solitaire. The tiles fell, but there wasn't any sound.

My hands flew to the computer's speakers, adjusting the volume and frantically reaching for the area where a port for earphones should have been.

"What? No . . . no!!"

The last of the tiles fell. Sound was completely absent.




"What?" he asked, turning briefly from his XBox game.

"Why isn't there any sound?" I screamed at him.

"My earphones are in."


"I was using them."

Again, I waved my hands where the earphone plug should have been. There wasn't anything there, and the poor lighting prevented me from seeing much.

"You sure they're in?"


But I couldn't find them. Too frustrated to ask for assistance, I finished my game without any sound and closed out the program.

A few hours later . . .

I came back to the computer and this time examined the tower. Sure enough, earphones were plugged into the port. I removed them.

I fired up MahJong, cranked up the volume, and sighed in happiness as the tiles trickled down the screen.

"Mmmmm," I smiled. "It sounds like rain. The most beautiful sound in the world."

Tad turned from his XBox game, and stared at me for a moment. "Is that why you freaked out earlier when the earphones were plugged in? Because you couldn't hear the tiles falling?"

"Yeah," I admitted. Then, to justify my actions, said, "It's my favorite sound in the world. I love it and am sad when I can't hear it."

"So that's why you always freak out about the volume."


He looked at me for a few seconds, blinked a few times . . . and then turned back to his game.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dead and Gone, Dead and Gone

Last night, I attended a celebrity-infused awards ceremony when out of nowhere, Kanye West's mother went into a seizure on the floor.

I was the first to rush to her side. She didn't make it through.

Kanye, grateful for my care and assistance, invited me to her funeral and to a private viewing in his hotel. I told him I'd try to make it.

Later, he called me to make sure I'd be there. I assured him I would, and, true to my word, attended (bringing Ashlee and Cassie along for the ride). While signing the guest book, I overheard a few people complaining about all the posers who pretended to care about her passing just so that they could get on Kanye's good side. I felt their eyes on me.

I immediately wished Kanye the best, and left the viewing.

Then I woke up.

What the heck happened?? I've never given Kanye West a second thought (except for when I noted that he actually wears pants that fit). I am going insane. Perhaps it's this alien life form.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Excuse me, Mr. President?

Dear American journalists/media people who were lucky enough to attend Mr. President's Q&A session tonight:

Have you ever considered asking straightforward questions? If logic serves me right, straightforward questions demand straightforward answers. None of this three tiered, multi-comma-ed hogwash. Enough of these addendums to the addendum of the addendum.

Also, what ever happened to going with the flow of conversation? If something sounds fishy, why not ask about that instead of what you've rehearsed? What's the point of a live Q&A if the questions aren't here and now? May as well move the Q&A to a chat room or something. Or an email blast.

In conclusion, when the President admits that everyone will be contributing $$ for healthcare because it's what we need, and then goes on to say the next 10 years will have us seeing a two-point-something trillion dollar decrease in our national defecit, then that's where you step in and call him on it and say something like:

Mr. President, it seems to me, then that you're not considering national healthcare out of need as much as you're considering it as a means by which the government will acquire more dollars to put toward the defecit. Am I right?

Really wish someone would have broken script and shot this one at him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Country-Wide Sigh of Relief

I proudly declare that I never jumped on this bandwagon.

Monday, July 20, 2009


July 15, 2009:

Oh, look at the children, playing in their yard! Why, that's what we used to do when we were children. All the neighbor kids would come over and we'd play and play until one by one our curfews would call us inside. What fun that was! How I miss playing in the yard! How I miss having a yard!

Oh! Wouldn't it be grand if I had pockets full of candy that I may sprinkle the grass with goodies as I ran past? My, that would be magnificent! I would be known as the Candy Runner! Or, Goodie Goodie Run-Drops! Yes! Yes, that would be grande!

But I must devise a way to avoid parental fears of poison . . .

July 20, 2009

There is one of the little children now! Oh, fiddlesticks! I have forgotten my candy.

Oh, wait! Wait, little boy! Why are you running inside?! Why do you continue to look at me with those terrified eyes? I am just a runner, little boy. I am of no harm. Don't go inside! Don't hide behind your dog!

Ah! But it is too late. I am a monster.

I now fear my primary adversaries are the children themselves.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Musings: A Hard Knock Life

I am at work . . . on a Sunday. I am not alone. And people wonder why I believe my best years are behind me?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In Memoriam of the Sears Tower

Before reading this post, I ask that you open another tab and play this song in the background. Thank you for your kindness.

To remember my friend, the Sears Tower, I purchased a Lego set. I had eyeballed it during our honeymoon, but at the time it was simply too expensive. Now, I realize, there is no price tag on loyalty and friendship.

I had Tad play Sufjan Stevens's The Seer's Tower in commemoration. The haunting melody was exactly what my hurting heart needed. I sang along, trying not to cry.

Block after block, I constructed the tower. I took my time, reflecting on the good times we had had together. . . the time I used it to find my way back . . . the time I realized that nothing too exciting happens at its base. I also took a few moments to shake my fist at Mayor Daley, his Irish mob, and Great Britain.

How would Britain like it if we bought Big Ben and renamed it Anheuser-Busch Time Piece? Or if we took Buckingham Palace and called it Washington Place? And where is Barack Obama in all this? He considers himself a Chicagoan, right?

But I digress. . . Sears Tower, we will miss you more than words can describe. You were my friend; you were my brother. You represented everything good and pure. You were the tallest, and then you weren't, and then you kind of were, but then you weren't. You were the newest, and then you weren't. You represented modernity, and then you didn't. You played your role well, Sears Tower.

I will miss you greatly, my friend.

Cue Sufjan Stevens's The Seer's Tower

I cannot believe this is happening.

It makes me want to have a Chicago Tea Party or a revolution or something like that.

In the midst of the economic downturn, I cannot believe that we're having to sacrifice a good, three-decade old piece of Americana.

Please, sign the petition. Join the facebook group. Just go here!

We beat them once, we can do it again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

For Better or Worse

(Crazy eyes)

When you hire a photographer and demand access to every picture, you end up with quite a few funnies. It's not their fault. It's yours. You wanted them, so you got them. (Photographers who don't give you access to every photo usually pull the bad ones so that you don't even know they exist).

As I sift through my mass of weddings photos (taken by Cole and Lindsay May) and pick out the ones I want to be re-touched, I cannot deny you the pleasure of viewing some of our most outrageous outtakes. Get ready, you're in for a ride.

Uniform pose:

A bit too Armani:

A bit too creepy:

Just plain unflattering:

Where's mom?

Mom? Are you there?

Straightest arm in the world:

You're welcome.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Songs Will Go On and On

When I'm sitting at the computer playing MahJong, I sing.

The song selection ranges from Nicole C Mullens Redeemer to Michael Jackson's Billie Jean to Brenda Lee's version of Jingle Bell Rock. Yes, even Jingle Bell Rock.

I can blow through 3 songs in 5 minutes, jumping from one to the next while remaining completely oblivious to the phenomenon that is taking place. It isn't until I catch myself trying super extra hard to sound exactly like the original artist that I realize what's going on.

And Tad? He's usually right there in the room, being force-fed my absent-minded melodies. I've often wondered if his annoyed factor is shooting through the roof at that point . . .
"What a hmmm time
It's the mmmm time
To rock the night away
Jingle Bell Time, it's a swell time
To go glidin' in a one-horse sleigh
"Giddy-up, Jingle Bells, pick up your feet . . ."
"JINGLE WHORE!" Tad yells from the kitchen.

I didn't even notice.
". . .Giddy-up, Jingle Bells, pick up your feet . . ."
"WHORE! JINGLE WHORE," he yells again.
" . . . Giddy-up, Jingle Bells . . ."
"It's JINGLE WHORE!" he screams.


"HORSE! It's jingle horse."

"Jingle HORSE?"

". . . Giddy-up, Jingle Horse, pick up your feet
Jingle around the clock
Ringle and a dingle and a dingling dee1
That's the Jingle Bell Rock . . .

". . . near, far wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on . . . "
Nah, he's not annoyed. Not annoyed at all.

*actual lyrics can be found here.

Of Vampires, Aliens and Super Evil Guys

Today, for some unknown and crazy reason, I decided upon the following:

1) That my lunch-time Easy Mac would be best enjoyed outside, and
2) That I should give Twilight another try.

For anyone who claims to know anything about me, you'd quickly remember that:

1) I hate nature, and avoid the outdoors like the plague, and
2) I have zero tolerance for poorly-written, teenage faux-smut.

I cannot explain this strange activity other than to suggest that an alien life form has overtaken my body. Seriously. Watch it shoot out of my stomach.

All we can do now is hope and pray that:

1) When the mothership comes to retrieve its exiled Being it does so in my sleep, causing minimal pain, and
2) I don't completely bore you to death with my running commentary about how bad Twilight is and how ashamed Stephenie Meyer should be.

*As I was thinking about how nice it would be if the mothership would take Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad along for the ride, I realized that, based upon his Wikipedia photo, the role of Ahmadinejad in any movie should be played by Steve Carell.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Pie Maker: Strawberry Pie

Ladies and gentleman . . .

I have mastered the pie crust

It started with two wives and a dream--a dream to craft pies that would rival those found at county fairs and on 1950's kitchen windowsills.

Some said it could not be done. They feared The Crust, knowing it has left many pie-making aspirations in its wake. Death and destruction surround it, and thus far, the only solution has been to go to Wal-Mart and pick up a store-made pie for approximately $5.

That is until the Pie Makers, armed with their Magic Touch, swept past the aisle of pre-made baked goods and went straight for the Crisco, corn starch, and fresh fruit.

The Crust would not stand a chance.

After seeking counsel from Pamela, daughter of Evelyn, they stirred, mixed, cut, folded, rolled, and pressed. They agonized over each accomplishment, knowing it only brought yet another step in the process--another challenge. Another possible loss.

Yet, when the last pie was pulled from the oven and the husbands gathered to partake in the spoils, there was nothing to be had but the sweet taste of victory. The Crust had admitted defeat without a fight. Its flakiness and perfection an unheard of accomplishment for two amateur Pie Makers.

And so goes the story of how The Crust was defeated by the Pie Makers and their Magic Touch.

(Left: Amanda's Strawberry Pie - Right: Cassie's Apple Pie)
Thanks for the crust recipe, Mom!


Location: I-75 in OHIO
Time: Night - coming home from Beth's wedding

We pass a large highway sign that reads:
XXX miles

"How would you pronounce that?" Tad asks.

"I don't know. Bel-fon-TAYNE?" I suggested in my best faux-French accent.

"Nope. In Ohio, they say Bell Fountain."

. . . . "Oh, my . . . "

"Yup," Tad said. "Bell Fountain."

At that point, even Indiana seemed too far away.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Good Morning!!

Tad is one of THOSE. You know, those people who wake up with a smile and a crackle-free voice.

This morning, when I shook Tad awake to tell him I was headed off to work, he broke off into this song:

"Have yourself a good day at work,
May the day go fast.
Then, at 5 you can come home at last . . . "

It was a variation of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Because I had already been up for an hour, I was able to smile and appreciate his serenade.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it . . .

When I first met Tad he always only ordered the bacon cheeseburger at Applebee's and the chicken bacon swiss at Arby's. He always only got the nachos at Bandito's, which was the only mexican restaurant he'd ever consider visiting, and his lunches always and only consisted of hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.

Over the years, and partially thanks to my somewhat eclectic interest in food, his tastes have improved.

Foods/restaurants that Tad used to either dislike or avoid but now very much enjoys, include but are not limited to:

1) Cream cheese
2) Salmon
3) Buttered noodles
4) Penn Station
5) Bleu cheese dressing
6) Roast beef sandwiches
7) Provolone cheese
8) Pepper jack cheese
9) Any cheese except American (which used to be his favorite but is now his least favorite)
10) Specialty coffees (he used to just drink regular)
11) Jimmy Johns
12) Portillo's
13) Rainforest Cafe
14) Chimichangas
15) Gyros
16) Sour kraut
17) Swedish pancakes
18) Shrimp
19) Mushrooms
20) Specialty coffee creamers and syrups
21) Salads
22) Iced tea
23) Qdoba
24) Olives on pizza
25) Giordano's
26) Lou Malnati's
27) Fettucine alfredo
28) Rally's
29) Tomatos
30) Oriental flavored Ramen
31) Picante chicken flavored Ramen
32) Beef flavored Ramen
33) Subway
34) Flannigan's
35) Tilapia
36) Chinese food
37) Arabic food
38) Culver's
39) Lays Stax

RED indicates items that I introduced
PURPLE indicates items Tad either discovered or changed his mind about on his own

I'm so thankful that even though he's resistant to change, Tad really puts forth an effort for me (and in case you were wondering, this is going beyond food. Come on, people).

I'm NOT thankful that he's come to the point where his taste buds have spiraled out of control.

Tad is now craving mushrooms and tomatos--two foods I abhor.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Look! It's Shredder!

As I limped across the parking lot toward Britton (work) today, I had a sudden and terrifying realization:

Should one of my co-workers haphazardly careen into the parking lot, I would be a goner.

Should zombies, Terminators, or Uruk-hai appear in the distance, there would be nothing I could do. I would be dead. I would be so dead.

I'm on day 3 of Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred, and the suffering is immeasurable. My knees give out mid-stride, my arms shake under the sheer weight of a laptop case, and my ability to maintain forward motion is embarassingly unreliable. Why, only last night, Tad had to physically help me off the couch because I was incapable of standing up on my own. My legs and arms simply would not oblige.

So, I'm a sitting duck--a perfect target for any of the aforementioned monsters. I am unable to save myself from the throes of terror because I am unable to move. Yes, that's right. UNABLE TO MOVE.

So until my muscles kick in and resume their position of allowing me to walk without looking like an idiot, I'll leave you with a quasi-appropriate quote from John Conner . . . yet the only thing I could think of as I hobbled across the parking lot and glanced over my shoulder for any sign of red eyes or squealing tires:

"We are dead! WE ARE ALL DEAD!!"

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Friday, July 3, 2009

The Pie Maker: Choco-Butter Pie

Voila! Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie (only 550 calories per slice one-tenth of the pan!!):

Would you believe they didn't have any chocolate wafers? I was just going to substitute Chocolate Teddy Grahams, but at $2.30 a box, it was more economical for us to go for the pre-made Oreo crust ($1.50). This saddens me greatly because that means I STILL have two pie pans that haven't seen the light of day.

The above is the the final step. The combination of the three most important ingredients: The peanut butter filling and the whipped cream (yes, yes I formed soft peaks and all), and the chocolate minis.

And there you have it.

We'll see what Tad's family thinks of it tomorrow at their cookout. They don't suspect a thing. In fact, I asked Tad if he wanted to tell them we're bringing dessert.

"Why would we do that, when NOT telling them means there will be TWO delicious desserts for us to eat tomorrow."

Well said.

Potluck Initiation

And so it starts . . .

The never-ending adult activity of providing a dish for the potluck. It's a practice that eventually consumes us all, and suddenly we find ourselves making mounds of potato salad for the family reunion, "that-really-good-chocolate-pecan-dessert" for the nephew's graduation party, and fruit stuffing for the family Thanksgiving. Sure, it's all done to help out the people throwing the bash, but seriously . . . it never ends.

I've avoided my initiation for quite some time. Living a couple hundred miles from home, I've been able to pass as the guest at many events. But now, that I'm a wife . . . things are a bit more tricky, and, I'll admit it: I'm beginning to see why people end up offering their award-winning chili and secret-family-recipe spice cake over and over and over again.

Because initially, it seems fun.

I have a kitchen full of gadgets, two pie pans that haven't seen the light of day, and a hankering to show everyone that yes, I CAN make delicious foods and no, it WASN'T a big deal.

We go out to purchase ingredients for a certain Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie this afternoon.

More to come later tonight . . .