Monday, February 27, 2012

Words to Live By

Last weekend I attended a conference and heard Dr. Red Duke speak.  Dr. Duke is in his mid-80s and has had a prolific career as a trauma surgeon.  He's quite a character and a true Texan.

In his talk last weekend, he offered a bit of advice to everyone, and it's worth sharing at least a summary of what he said.

Do something nice for someone every day.
Read an hour a day of something.
It's never too late to start stretching.
Admit when you're wrong.
Always read the directions.  
Always ask for directions when you're lost.
Using simple words like "please" and "thank you" will serve you well.
Pay attention to everyone who works around you.
Touch old people more often because they don't get enough human touch.
Don't be afraid to show your tears.
Say your prayers.
Laugh.  And if you think you don't have anything to laugh about, look in the mirror.


Oh my goodness!  It's been a week since I've underwhelmed a very small audience with nothing of importance!

Work.  School.  Family.  Conference.  My real life has been a bit busy, but never fear!  I will be back soon with more useless information very soon!  Titles may or may not include:

What You Need to Know About Me In the Event of a Zombie Invasion
Words to Live By
You Thought I Was Kidding
Apparently a Cupcake Is Not Considered Currency
Pinterest:  Website for  Sharing Ideas or Cleverly Disguised Stalking Tool?
Things I Would Like to Say to My Stalker

And for the handful of people paying attention, please feel free to submit your own title.  I'm sure I could come up with something to write for it.

See you soon....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Ode

Have I mentioned that I write poetry?  It's really awful poetry, but I write it.

Here's a sample of my 'work':

Ode to a Cupcake

Oh cupcake, how I love thee
A miniature cake, just for me
With chocolate or strawberry or vanilla on top
Once I taste your goodness, I just can’t stop.
When I am happy, and when I am sad
Having a cupcake is never bad
Until I get on the scale and much to my surprise
I see the cupcakes now live on my thighs.

Today I could have used a dozen or so cupcakes to drown my worries, but that's not really going to solve anything except my overwhelming craving for a cupcake.  I would have liked to go for a run instead, but the timer ran out on the day before I could get that done.

So I guess I broke even, maybe?  No cupcake, no run.

TOMORROW I will get one up on the day!  I go to a strength training class every Monday, Wednesday and 6:00 a.m.  It's early and I usually haven't had coffee yet, but I enjoy it (mostly when it's over, but still I enjoy it!). 

But enough of that...back to cupcakes...

Did you know that December 15th is National Cupcake Day?  (As if I needed a special day for a cupcake).  

And despite the title of my blog, I prefer my cupcakes fresh...from the cupcake bakery place, of course.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Jenny from The Blog(gess)

That's a stuffed weasel.  Her name is Juanita.  She belongs to Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess who is one of the funniest women I've seen or read.  She's up there with Tina Fey for me and I heart Tina a lot.

Jenny, The Bloggess, is a very busy writer, with several other blogs and a new book coming out in April (I've already pre-ordered a copy).  Her posts are about her daily life, so it's that much funnier because it's true.   Check her out if you haven't before.  I recommend starting with this post from a year or so ago:  (When I made Bill read it he laughed then looked me straight in the eye and said,"Don't you dare go buy a 5 foot metal chicken.")

Secretly (or not so secretly) I wish I could make a living writing like her.

Back to Juanita...

I think she's kinda cool in a very creepy way.  The Bloggess shared this PG version of the picture so followers can make up their own caption/quote/meme.  What do you think she's saying/doing thinking?

Here's mine:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You Drank What?

"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing."  Benjamin Franklin

I have done neither of those today...other than earning a "did-you-fall-and-bump-your-head?" look when Heather and I decided to try a liver-detox-cleanse cocktail.

Here's the recipe.  I'm pretty sure Paula Deen doesn't have it.

4 ounces unsweetened cranberry juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 ounce B-12 something or other
juice of half a lemon

It is truly disgusting, but promises to 'cleanse the liver' (I didn't know my liver needed cleaning products), 'increase energy', and 'melt away the pounds'.  Right.

But guess what?  I am soooo doing this...whatever this is.. because I want a clean liver!

By the way, we got the concoction from My Fit Foods.  I'm sick of frozen Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, and Weight Watchers for lunch at work.  And when I'm sick of them, that usually means I head to the nearest Chipotle  (I could consume gallons of their hot sauce).  Heather turned me on to My Fit Foods for healthy lunch meals that are way better than the frozen stuff.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Awesome Valentine's Day

Good grief it has been busy in this house!  We had our Valentine's Day celebration Saturday night at one of my favorite places, Steiner Ranch Steakhouse.  And then I actually made cookies and chocolate candy things for Scarlett's daycare buddies.  Yep...rolled that cookie dough right out of the tube and into the oven.

The most stressful thing was getting Bill's V-Day card and gift.  I am awful at buying greeting cards. Birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day...I always get something lame. Usually I'm overwhelmed by the racks of paper and cartoon images, so I wind up picking the first card that doesn't have a picture of a kitten on it.

But not this year!  I found the perfect card for Bill...

He loved it, which I think says a whole lot about our relationship.

I also scored major points with this little guy:

I don't think he has a name yet, but he's very popular at work with Bill.

I would rate this as a successful Valentine's Day.  Next up is our anniversary and Bill's birthday in March.  I should start now, but I'm sure I will wait until the last minute and panic as usual.

In the meantime, here's another Valentine e-card that I think is just perfect.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

As Seen On TV

I broke some hearts the other day when I posted on my Facebook wall, "free pajama jeans to everyone who follows my blog."

I was kidding.  But apparently, several of my friends were disappointed that I was not giving away PajamaJeans.

I was relieved, however, to know that I am not the only one who secretly wants a pair of PajamaJeans.  Who doesn't want to wear something that "feels like sleepwear but looks too good to keep under the covers"?

And you know what?  There are a whole lot of other infomercial and 'as seen on TV' products that I have secretly wanted.

The Clapper

I could use this like right now.  The TV is on and the remote is way over there.

Sham Wow

I want to buy one just because the dude is so awesome.  Also, I would like to yell, "Get the Sham Wow!" whenever something was spilled.  And don't forget the free second set!  That's a lot of Sham Wow!


If you could see a picture of my hair in high school (late 80s), then you might not think the Bumpit is so bad.


You know, for just a bang trim.


Oh wait...I have one already!

There are so many other infomercials and 'as seen on TV' products that are classics.  Life Alert, anyone?  Sweatin' to the Oldies?  Tony Little's Gazelle?  PedEgg?  What are your favorites?

I really think that some day I'm going to have a Christmas party gift-exchange.  The rule will be that the gifts have to be something from an 'as seen on TV' commercial.  Put me down for an all edges brownie pan!

So...what products have you ordered late at night after watching the infomercial or bad commercial?  Did it work?

Friday, February 10, 2012

And That's Why I Should Have Taken Home Ec

Me:  "I burned up dinner. In a crockpot."

Heather:  "How did you manage to do that?"

Me:  "Exactly."

Heather:  "Wow. That takes real talent."

It's true. I threw some pork chops, seasoning and soup in the crockpot before I left for work. When I got home, it was a dry, charred, stinky mess.

It occurred to me around 3 in the afternoon that I might have set the pot on the high setting instead of low. I was in a hurry to get out of the house and didn't pay attention.

When I finally talked to Bill around 5:30, he asked the standard "what's for dinner" question.

"Weelll," I said. "That depends on what happened to the pork chops in the crockpot."

"What does that mean?"

"I may have left it on high and they may have burned up.".

"Ok then. I guess I'll go home and see if the house is on fire."

Thankfully there was no fire. But Bill was standing in the drive-way with the front door open.

"You may want to take a look at this. "

Ever so supportive, he left it up to me to decide if the burned, dried-up mess was edible for dinner. It wasn't.

So off to our local café for dinner.

"Look, babe. The special tonight is pork chops."

Seriously, not funny.  Ok...maybe it's funny.

I would like to say that this was a rare mishap for me in the kitchen, but sadly it's not. It's not the first time I've burned up something in the crockpot. Other times I've forgotten to turn the damn thing on and had a pot of room temperature raw food at the end of the day. Bill cringes any time I decide to cook or bake because I create the biggest disaster in the kitchen.

And I have always been this way.  I was never interested in the kitchen as a kid, and never took Home Economics in school.  Now I feel this obligation to at least try to cook something every once in a while, but I'm really not very good at it, and I'm okay with that.

From time to time I think I might want to take a cooking class, but the reality is that being Julia Childs or Rachel Ray just isn't me.  I'm messy.  I don't know my way around my kitchen very well.  One time I actually looked up how to hard boil an egg.  And I'm busy.  The last thing I want to do is spend my time in the kitchen.  Cooking is just not my thing.

Some day I may take that cooking class, just for the experience, but I doubt that it will change who I am.  I will still put the crockpot on the wrong setting, burn grilled cheese, add the wrong spice or ingredient  (I once added lemon extract instead of vanilla to a brownie mix).  The downside is that I probably won't be able to teach Scarlett much about cooking.  But maybe that's something we can learn together if she takes that home ec class I should have taken in school.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Flying Monkey Security

Bill:  "That is the ugliest monkey I've ever seen."

Me:  "Leave the monkey alone.  He's part of our security system."

Bill:  "Why do we need a security system?"

Me:  "Because you said that burglars were on the loose!"

He shakes his head and laughs because clearly he thinks I'm nuts.  But seriously, he's the one who called earlier to "check on things" since there had been another home invasion near us.  Two guys busted into a house, tazed and tied up the homeowners, and left with some stuff.  None of those things are on my Bucket List.

Hence my flying monkey security guard, strategically placed in the hallway in front of the door.

I'm hoping that he will distract any burglar long enough for me to get to the shotgun, or at least to something I can throw at them.  Like one of Scarlett's Weebles.  (Yes, I honestly believe that a burglar will stop to read a note I left him.  How can you ignore that monkey?)

And honestly, how can Bill say that's the ugliest monkey he's ever seen?  I think he's kind of cute.  Now he needs a name.  Suggestions?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Never Talk to Strangers.

The answer should have been "No."

The question was, "Can I join you for a few minutes?"

Not wanting to be rude, I said, "Sure!"

And so began a 15 minute conversation with an intoxicated man while waiting for lunch.

His questions were simple.

"Where do you work? Why do you do that kind of work? What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen?"

And repetitive.

(Takes a swig of beer) "Where do you work? Why do you do that kind of work? What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen?"

After the third time of this series of questions, it was clear that he was either not able to process our answers or was looking for a more entertaining answer.

So after the third "what's the weirdest thing you've ever seen" question, Heather says,

"Pineapple on pizza."

And then our food arrived and we said our goodbyes to our new friend who was clearly confused by pineapple on pizza and wandered away.

And that's why you should never talk to strangers.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Favorite Books

I read every night to Scarlett before she goes to bed.  I love that time we spend together.  Right now we're really into Sandra Boynton books - But Not the Hippopotamus, The Going to Bed Book, Horns to Toes and In Between.  We also have a little Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) and a bit of Dr. Seuss (what was that man smoking?), and of course Goodnight Moon.

These books don't make much sense to her now (or to me sometimes..seriously Dr. Seuss!), but I'm hoping they are the beginning of a love for reading.  I started thinking my favorite books as kid and which ones I can't wait for her to read as she grows up.

The Story of Ferdinand
Where the Wild Things Are
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Alexander and the Awful, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Peter Pan
Where the Sidewalk Ends
Charlotte's Web
The Boxcar Children
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
James and the Giant Peach
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
A Wrinkle In Time
Black Beauty
Nancy Drew
Little Women
The Black Stallion
To Kill a Mockingbird

By the time she's old enough to read these books, there may be a whole new list of 'classics'.  She will probably even think that Miss Nancy Drew is lame or not really appreciate the history of Little Women.  Nevertheless, I will have these and many more books on the shelf...I mean downloaded on some sort of device.. for her to read.  What else should I add to the list?

The Night Circus

When was the last time you read a book that you just couldn't put down?  Could you tell me what it was? Because The Night Circus was not that book for me.

The premise sounded great - two magicians forced into a duel but wind up falling in love.  David Heyman, producer of the Harry Potter series, is rumored to have picked this up for a big screen adaptation.  The story is beautifully told - lots of imagery.  The story is intriguing in the beginning, but about halfway through, the story felt like it was wandering aimlessly.  And it just kept wandering.

I love to read and often finish a book in a couple of days.  It took much longer to get through this one, but I can't stop reading a book, no matter how boring it is or how much I don't like it.  I have to know how all the stories end...even the bad ones!

Now that I'm done with this book, I can get back to what I've been avoiding - a textbook called American Urban Politics in a Global Age.  I'll spare you the review...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fun with Scissors

"I want to make a Valentine-heart-wreathy-craft thingy."  Heather blinks at me then says, "Um...ok."  I'm not surprised she's a bit suspicious.  Because (and I may have mentioned this before)....

I.  Don't.  Craft.

But, lots of things I didn't do before have changed over the past year or two, so why not give some sort of crafty decoration thing a try.

Once I convince Heather that I am, in fact, serious about doing this, she is all on board.

Heather:  "I'm going to get supplies!"

Me:  "How much do money do you need?"

Heather:  "Oh no...This one's on me.  It will be worth it just to watch."

As usual, any endeavor that the two of us embark on is rarely simple.  The first update from Heather comes by text message.

"Bad news.  Styrofoam heart wreath is on backorder."

I blame Pinterest for this rush on styrofoam heart-shaped wreaths since that's where I found this crafty idea thing.

But Heather is not discouraged from making my dreams of crafting come true.  After a few phone calls, heart-shaped styrofoam wreaths are found.  I pick that up, along with some red felt and straight pins from her.

"Use a soup can to make your circles on the felt to cut out," she says.  I nod my head like I have a clue.

After decorating my Valentine's tree on Saturday, I decide that Super Bowl Sunday is the perfect time to start my brand new crafting project.

For point of reference, here is what it's supposed to look like, and a link to the instructions in case you want to do your own...

With coffee in hand, I gather up the supplies from Heather.

Then I remember the "use a soup can" tip and already I'm confused, so I text Heather.

Me:  "What kind of soup am I supposed to use for the wreath?"

Heather:  "Any flavor will do of a regular can, not a big can."

Me:  "So regular not chunky?  What about a vegetable can?"

Heather:  "Any CAN will do!"

This is a relief.  I've made queso to snack on for the game so the "which can" dilemma is solved.

As Bill snores in his recliner and my daughter tries to get into the dog food for a snack, I begin cutting circles...and more circles...and more circles.  Finally I think I have pretty good amount of circles to start folding and pinning to the wreath.

Yes, that is my coffee getting cold.

I'm about half-way through when Heather sends another text:

"Are you cutting circles or still trying to decide which can to use?"

I ignore her.

After pinning circles all around the styrofoam wreath, I take a picture and send it to Heather for approval.

"It's not done yet.  You have to fill it all in...all the way around so now white shows."

Deep sigh.

More pinning.  And then...voila!

Silly little thing took 3 hours to do and for a non-crafter, I would say it was easy to do.  I'm happy to report that no one was injured, and my daughter did not eat dog food for a snack.

Maybe I will find a St. Patrick's Day craft for next month....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Sitter

This evening we attended an awards banquet for my husband's department and had to hire a babysitter.  We don't have any family near-by for these events, but our daycare provider has two college-age daughters who are wonderful.  Scarlett loves them and so do I.  At the banquet, a few of us talked about hiring babysitters, what the going rate for them is, how old is old enough to babysit, and a little bit about our own babysitting experiences.

I remember very little about having a babysitter when I was little.  What I do remember is a couple of high school students that occasionally babysat while my parents went out for an evening.  My dad was a high school band director and we lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone.  I vaguely remember busting one of them on the couch with her boyfriend when I snuck out of bed into the living room.

I didn't babysit for other people very much when I was in high school.  My only brother was born when I was 15.  After spending a lot of time babysitting him, I wasn't really interested in babysitting other kids.

I only have a few distinct memories of babysitting.  The first was the very first time I took care of someone else's kids for the evening.  I showed up, fed them pizza, put them to bed, and then I watched TV.  When their parents came home and asked, "How much do we owe you?"  I panicked and said, "Um...well...nothing," and bolted out the door.  It was obvious very early that I would not be an entrepreneur.

The other memories I have are of taking care of my brother.  On one occasion, when he was just a toddler, I stepped outside the front door to get something out of my car.  When I got back to the front door, he had locked the glass door...and was laughing at me.  On another occasion, a cake my mom made for his birthday was on the counter, and while I was in the bathroom, he climbed up and grabbed 2 fistfuls of cake and shoved them in his mouth.

When we got home this evening, the babysitter was on the couch (alone, thank goodness) and not locked out in the front yard.  The baby was asleep and there wasn't any sign of a destroyed cake.  Money was handed over to the sitter (because she didn't freak out and knew how much her time was worth).

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Most Awesome Holiday Tree

Christmas 2011.  We had some problems with our old Christmas tree.  One night Bill said he was going to Lowe's for something or other, so I said, "Hey, while you're there, see if they have a slim pre-lit tree to replace our other one."  He nodded his head and off he went.

About an hour later, he returns.  With a tree.  It is neither slim nor pre-lit, but apparently it was "on sale."  Right on.  I put the decorations on it, presents under it.  Christmas was celebrated and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  After the first of the year, it's time to put all of the Christmas gear away.  I pack away all of my Santas, all of my stockings (don't ask me how many we have), and all of the tree decorations.  Then...

Me:  "Ok, honey.  Can you take the tree down and put it away?"

Bill:  Awkward silence.  Then, "I don't have anything to put it away in."

Me:  "Where's the box?"

Bill:  "There is no box.  It was on sale.  I took it straight off the display and put in in the back of my truck."

Me:  "When I asked you to 'look' for a tree, did you just panic and buy whatever they had?"

Bill:  "Pretty much...yeah."

I have this habit of making Bill feel like he has to bring something home when I tell him to go look for something.  I'm sure that has something to do with the 'hunter-gatherer' something or other.  Anyway...

So we have this clearance Christmas tree with no storage box.  Not a problem.  I'll just go get a Christmas tree storage bag or box.

That was January.  It's now February and this is still in my living room.

Yes, that is our Christmas tree.  Have you read my earlier posts about how easily distracted and lazy I am?

We still don't have anything to store the thing in, but I thought, "Why even take it down?  Why does it have to be a Christmas tree?  Why can't it be a Holiday tree?"

And with that I was off to the crafty store, and for the same cost as a tree storage bag, I purchased decorations and now we have this:

Isn't it awesome?  It needs a tree topper.  And probably some lights.  But now it's my Holiday tree.  For now it's a Valentine's tree.  Next month it will be a St. Patrick's tree.  Then Easter, and so on.  Before you know it, it will be Christmas again and my tree will already be up!

Commuting Dos and Dont's

I have a 30 - 45 minute drive to work every weekday. Sometimes it's longer if there's a drop or 2 of rain. As we inch along, I'm sure we look like a mindless herd of drones heading to our separate destinations full of email and meetings and projects.

That 30 minutes in the car can set the tone for the whole day.  Occasionally, something happens that just really irks me.  I wish I could give everyone a list of Dos and Don'ts for Commuting.  In addition to not picking your nose AND THEN INSPECTING YOUR FIND (ew gross), it would include these gems.

Do crank up that classic rock station on your satellite radio. I enjoy watching you make that silly face while belting out "More Than A Feeling" in your Toyota. And who knows, we may be moving slow enough that blasting Journey out of your sun roof may inspire a flash mob on the freeway.

Don't turn up your sub-woofer thingy blasting that "thump thump thump" to everyone around you. We all most likely have a headache already and don't need any angry rap or metal music to make it worse.

Do use your blinkers.  Use your blinkers, people!  At least give us some warning before you cut someone off.

Don't leave your blinkers on for miles.  And miles.  I am one of those people that will let you in my lane if you signal, so if you leave your blinker on, it really annoys me.  Do you need over?  Did you forget the blinker is on?  What's going on?

Do give me a courtesy wave (with all of your fingers, thank you) when I let you in.  It's just good manners and for some reason I am annoyed when people don't do this.

Don't put your makeup on while your driving.  I WILL laugh at you when you smear it across your face trying to avoid the car that suddenly stopped in front of you.

Do you use your pay attention to traffic around you.  It's amazing the accidents you can avoid just by PAYING ATTENTION!

Don't tailgate.  This will just guarantee that I will slow down even more.

And finally, Do smile and wave at all your fellow commuters.  They will think you are crazy, but it will almost guarantee you a wide berth all the way to your destination and a much better day.

This is a good start.  Maybe Monday I'll have a few additions.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How Expensive Is The Cleaning Lady?

I bought The Cleaning Lady a new washer and dryer this weekend.  No really.  Here's a picture of her thank you note.

I love The Cleaning Lady.  (Although I doubt she reciprocates the feeling.  If you saw my house on the day she's supposed to come, you would understand).  I love that the day The Cleaning Lady is scheduled to come, I leave my house in complete disarray, and come home to a fresh place.  Dishes are done, floors and countertops are clean, beds are made, and laundry folded.  And I didn't have to lift a finger to do it.  (Other than to write the check).

In an earlier post, I said that outsourcing your domestic duties every once in a while is worth it, but can be tricky to keep from getting expensive.  How expensive?  Brand new front-load washer and dryer set expensive!

See, The Cleaning Lady left a very lovely thank you note for the new stuff.  But you should have seen the previous notes.

"Sorry I didn't get your undies finished.  Your dryer doesn't seem to be working well."

"Wasn't able to get laundry done.  Your washer's spinner doesn't spin very well."

(I'm paraphrasing...mostly).

Please notice that I am more distressed about my faulty laundry equipment that prevents someone else from doing my laundry than I am about a stranger going through my underwear.  Yep.

If you can't tell already, I am inherently lazy and have little patience.  I'm sure that will become more apparent as this blog continues.  That being said, there are some things I hate buying:  furniture, vehicles, appliances, houses.  The thought of going through the process of haggling the purchase of these things gives me anxiety.  That's probably why I had my old washer and dryer for almost 20 years.  And quite frankly, I think they worked just fine.

Sure they had their quirks.  Occasionally you had to kick the washer to get it to spin.  You had to know the right angle to hold the dryer door to get it to latch.  And it might take an extra cycle to get things dry, but still...they worked!

But as The Cleaning Lady visits progressed, it became clear that we needed to a new washer and dryer to keep her happy.  So, I sent my husband to pick a set out.  (You caught the part earlier where I said I hate buying new appliances, right?)  I agreed with his choice, and last night it was delivered.

Man...have these things changed in the past 20 years!  The delivery guy was setting the whole thing up in the laundry room and I kept wondering why he wasn't answering his cell phone.  Turns out it was the dryer making that tinkling noise.  These things have buttons and bells and whistles and settings I've never heard of.  My old set basically had "on" and "off".

So now I have a new washer and dryer.  The Cleaning Lady says they work great.