Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cajun Pretzels

I have to admit I was inspired to start blogging after seeing Julie and Julia, but I'm not a food blogger, and I'll never pretend to be one. This post is mostly a recipe for me to remember how to make this zesty snack food that my friend, Lori gave out as part of her Christmas gift this year.

We "javelled"(as the Little Ballerina says) the gift bag of Cajun Pretzels in a matter of minutes. They're that tasty, have a nice kick, and are thoroughly addictive. They make a great gift all packaged and pretty, but I plan to make them for our next Poker Night. I think our guests will appreciate munching on these rather than the worms I served them last time. And, the heat will go great with a frosty Corona with lime...or two or four.

Cajun Pretzels
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon ground red pepper*
1 Tablespoon Heinz 57 sauce
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
2 lbs pretzels**

*I used only about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper and they were plenty spicy for our wimpy tastes.
** Any kind will work, but we really like the thicker pretzel sticks. Not the logs, though. 

  * The Heinz 57 Sauce is not pictured. I borrowed the tablespoon from Lori.

1. Whisk all of the ingredients except the pretzels in a bowl.

2. Pour mixture into large Ziploc bag. Add 1 lb. of pretzels and shake to coat.

3. Spread pretzels out onto a baking sheet no more than 2-3 deep. Do not dump the bag onto the tray because you need the extra liquid to remain in the bag to coat the next batch.

4. Repeat steps 2-3 using the remaining liquid in the Ziploc bag.
5. Bake at 250 degrees for about 1 hour. Stir after 30 minutes.
6. Let cool. Dump into a bowl and enjoy. Or store in an airtight container.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

No, Wait. I Have A Better Idea!

"I just saw the cutest little sewing machine at Joann's. It's was only about $40, and it's made by Singer. I think we should get it for the Big Ballerina for Christmas," I told BSD about two months ago.

"Why? She just uses yours," he replied.

"I know. And, I'm excited that she likes to sew, but she winds up jamming it, and I don't want her to ruin mine. This one is cute. I'm going to check out the reviews."

A quick Google search told me what I know already. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. The reviews all reported, "It's nothing more than a toy. The thread jams and it will frustrate a beginning sewer."

Since the backup plan is to have the Big Ballerina impress Michael Kors on Project Runway if she doesn't get a ticket to Vegas on So You Think You Can Dance, I decided to listen to BSD and gave up the cheap-sewing-machine-for-Christmas idea. 


"So, BSD, what did you get today on your big shopping excursion?" I inquired.

"Just some stuff for the family. And, something for the Big Ballerina that you'll probably be mad at me about."

"Why? What did you get her?" I racked my brain trying to figure out what novel idea he could have come up with that we hadn't already thought of.

"I got her a sewing machine," he replied, his voice filled with paternal pride.

"WHAT? After that big discussion we had about two months ago? The one in which you told me to just let her use mine?"

"What are you talking about? We never talked about getting her a sewing machine."

"Yes, we did!" I exploded, smoke pouring out my ears. "OMG, don't you remember me telling you about the cute sewing machine I saw at Joann's? That it was cheap, but made by Singer, so it might be decent. Then, I told you the reviews all sucked so I decided to listen to you and not get it."

"I have no idea what you're talking about. Don't worry. It wasn't expensive," he tried.

"Oh God, where did you get it?"

"Joann's. It was only about $40."

"Nooooo!" I moaned, as he pulled it out of the bag. "You bought the same machine we decided was a piece of crap two months ago!"

"I don't know what you're talking about, but if you want to get her a different one, you better go out and get it for her or I'm giving her this one," he declared.

And with that, he walked out the door to go to work, cradling his Father-of-the-Year winning gift tenderly in his arms. Leaving me with the pleasure of wondering where the hell I'm going to find an inexpensive, DECENT sewing machine on Christmas Eve!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Only Four Shopping Days Left

It's really just laziness on my part. If I was an organized person, I would have written a list and stuck to it weeks ago. Everything would be done by now and I would be relaxing at home with the ballerinas baking Gingerbread men, watching the Christmas specials, and sipping hot cocoa. That's not how I roll, though. Nope, just can't do it. So, here I sit with only four days left until Christmas and I have no idea what I still need.

I'm not sure why, but I can't be that organized. When I do make a list and follow it, I usually feel pretty damn proud of myself. Most of the time, if I take the time to write out a list, I wind up leaving it at home and flying by the seat of my pants anyway so that feeling of accomplishment is rare.

I guess I'm just wired differently. By the time Christmas rolls around, I will have made 23 trips to Target (22 of them in search of the same item that I kept forgetting), 9 trips to Borders, 12 trips to Michael's, and wandered aimlessly through the mall for a good 10-12 hours without a clue what I needed.

I've tried to be more efficient with my time. Instead of hitting the gym, I've been counting these excessive outings as my cardio these past few weeks. I see those people walking the malls. That's what they call it. I figured I'd give it a whirl. Guess what? It's not working. Maybe I wasn't dressed properly? In all fairness, I wasn't wearing my Easy Striders, stretchy pants and my I Love My Beagle t-shirt so I wasn't giving it a real college try. Again, just pure laziness.

So, for the next few days, I will continue running walking around the stores guessing at what I still need, freaking out on the ballerinas when they tell me for the 24th time that they can't brush their teeth because they have no toothpaste (back to Target), and praying that come Christmas morning all the presents will have been remembered, wrapped and made their way under the tree.

And, then hopefully I'll be able to get back to this blogging gig more regularly again.

What Am I Going to Be When I Grow Up?
  • professional organizer
  • fitness expert
  • thin

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The $34 Nap

BSD deserves a medal. He's been working out of town for weeks, but the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving he raced home to be with us for the holiday. That Sunday, he turned right back around and drove another eight hours back to Charleston. 

After countless sleepless nights, he arrived back home yesterday afternoon. He went back into work at midnight last night, and worked until 8 in the morning. He had enough time to eat, shower and change his clothes before hopping back in the car. This time with three excited ballerinas in tow. He drove them an hour to the theater, waited another hour for showtime, and proceeded to his seat in the audience to watch his daughter dance in the Nutcracker.

He sat through the entire performance, picked up the even more excited ballerinas backstage, drove them an hour back home, dropped each of them off at their respective houses in different directions, cooked dinner, and then at 8pm, we drove him back to work... for the next six days.

He was grumpy and irritated on the drive back to work. I knew he was exhausted, and he most certainly earned the right to be grumpy.

"I'm sorry I'm in such a bad mood," he apologized as we were driving.

"It's ok. I totally understand. You've got to be exhausted! But, you got to see the Big Ballerina dance which is what this weekend was all about. You're a hero!" I consoled him.

"How much did my ticket cost?" he asked.

"$34. How was the show, anyway?" I replied.

"I have no idea," he confessed. "I was sound asleep."

Yes, BSD definitely deserves a medal, and a long winter's nap...complete with visions of the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing in his head.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tortillas and False Eyelashes

That's my shopping list for today. Sounds kinky, doesn't it? Wish I had some hot date night story to go along with that list, but unfortunately, neither of these items are for me. Nope, the tortillas are for the Little Ballerina's lunch. And, the false eyelashes are for the Big Ballerina's Nutcracker dress rehearsal tonight.

Yes, my nine year old has a much more exciting life than I do. She gets to float across the stage in her little angel costume, gracefully waving her arms, and batting her false eyelashes as the bright lights twinkle upon her diamonique earrings. For eight shows over the next two weeks, she is a "star," and the Little Ballerina and I are her lackeys. We get to drive her back and forth, eat on the fly, wrangle her crazy curls into a slick bun, sit for countless hours during classes and rehearsals, and, finally, we get the privilege of paying $30 plus Ticketmaster fees per ticket to see her dance.

But you know what? When I'm sitting in that overpriced seat, it's all worth it, because the smile on her face is priceless. She oozes pure joy. And I am a puddle of pride.

So, BB, when you make it big, I hope you'll remember to give a shout-out to your dear, old mom. I'll be the one in the audience, rocking a pair of your old false eyelashes, and shoving a tortilla in your little sister's mouth. Break a leg, girl!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

'Twas a Month Before Christmas...

'Twas a month before Christmas, as I was vacuuming the house,
Not a crumb was stirring, not even a louse.
Why am I cleaning? This just isn't fair.
Nobody's coming over. Why do I care?

You see, I have this fancy vacuum that cost more than my Mac,
"It's a Miele. It's worth it," said the salesman, after he had us smoke crack.
"It has the sucking power of one thousand whores."
"Buy it! You'll love it! You'll have sparkling floors."

But, today it is sucking, just not the right way,
The crumbs have decided that they rather stay.
I checked all the possibilities, the bag and the hose,
All clear, so instead I turn up my nose.

"I'm not going to vacuum. No way! Forget it!
This Miele is just an overpriced piece of sh--!"
I shove it in the laundry room, slamming the door,
so much for your promise of bright, shiny floors.

The morning goes by in a blur of web pages,
the animals continue to have dirty cages.
Just great! Freakin' wonderful! What could be keener?
For Christmas this year, I'll be getting a vacuum cleaner!

I grumble and complain to the laundry I'm folding,
"I'm going back to the store to give that salesman a scolding."
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but
A sassy My Little Pony flashing his rear! 

Will you forgive me, dear Miele? If I doubt you no more.
Will you forgive me, dear Miele? You really do suck like a whore.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"This is America! Everyone has a cell phone!"

That was part of the lesson I learned, the hard way, this weekend. How does the saying go? It takes one negative comment to wipe out 100 positive ones. It's something like that. Anyway...I am blogging here today as living proof that this saying is true.

I am not going to go into details. I'm just going to say that I've had the most humbling, humiliating two days of my entire life. I am fine, but in an instant, a total stranger was able to rip the rug right out from under me.

Instead I'm going to learn what I needed to from the experience. And, then I'm going to work hard to let it go. I'm going to wrap it in brown paper, bury it deep within my soul, and let it decompose so that it can grow into something beautiful like these roses that BSD sent to me after this happened. (God, I love that guy!)

Because he knows the truth. My children know the truth. And, if I can give myself a freakin' break, I will be able to see the truth again too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Call Me

Theodore George "Ted" Paraskevakos is my hero. Don't know who he is? I didn't either until tonight, when I googled him, because I wanted to thank him....for inventing Caller ID.

You see, I hate talking on the phone, and I hate talking on the phone to people I don't want to talk to even more. So if you call me and I answer the phone, that means you really rate in my book. If I spend more than 10 minutes talking to you, consider yourself a true blue, cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die friend.

Maybe it's an age thing. Maybe it goes back to the whole Mean-Ass Woman thing I've got going on. (See that new hyphen there? Learned that from my writing class. Yep, mean-ass is a compound modifier. Who knew?) Whatever the case, I'm really not sure why, but talking on the phone ranks right up there with running around the neighborhood trying to find the damn dog.

So, tonight when I was cursing the Big Ballerina's teacher helping the Big Ballerina study for her latest geography test and warming up some old mac-n-cheese preparing a nutritious dinner for the Little Ballerina, the phone rings.

The ballerinas both freeze. They know the drill. Nobody move a muscle. We don't want anybody to know we're home. Slowly, I creep towards the phone. Getting close enough only to read the Caller ID display. I don't dare touch it. God no, I might accidentally answer the thing if I do that.

I check the display and it reads, Marketing. I laugh a maniacal laugh, and say to the ringing phone, "Not in a million years!"

This got me to thinking. All callers need these explicit ID's. Displaying just a phone number is worthless. Displaying the city and state along with the number is pretty useless as well. Sometimes even the name and number does me no good if I've never heard of you, and maybe you're calling to tell me I won a radio contest, but only if I pick up the phone, or they'll move to the next person on the list.

So while Caller ID is an invention of most awesomeness, I really need my displays to be a little more specific. For example, it should read something like this... 

  • PTA president who wants you to chair the Silent Auction committee
  • Room Mom who wants you to bring in $50 worth of art supplies AND do the craft with the kids
  • Friend who wants to tell you every last detail about her month long trip to Italy 
  • "Friend" who wants you to keep her kid after ballet on Friday while she and her DH go to a wine tasting festival...until Sunday
  • Sister who wants to ask you questions about your friends that she doesn't know that she stalks on Facebook 
  • Mother-In-Law ('nuf said)
  • Good Samaritan who wants to return the dog
  • BSD
  • School Nurse 
  • Mommy
  • Friend calling to tell you she got you a babysitter because she needs a movie fix (yes, she really is that awesome)
  • Friend calling to tell you to turn off your lights and look out the window because the crazy neighbors across the street have called the cops on each other, again
  • An editor calling to tell you she wants to publish your essay and "what else have you got?"
So, thank you, Ted. Caller ID has been a real lifesaver. I think you deserve your own national holiday, or at least a wax figure at Madame Tussauds. Now, do you think you can do anything with this list of suggestions? 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

An Author Came to our School

On Friday, I took the Little Ballerina to a school family night. It was advertised as an evening of storytelling by a "famous picture book author." While I thoroughly enjoyed it because she spoke a bit about being an author, the Little Ballerina and the rest of the under-7 crowd, and their parents, were not as enthralled.

I'm guessing this had a lot to do with the fact that our school advertised this as "an evening of storytelling," and what we got were lessons about writing. While the lessons were valuable, (to me as an adult) they sailed over the heads of the intended audience. Again, I'm sure this was the PTA pulling one of their famous bait and switches on us, and not the fault of the author. (As a 4 year PTA board member veteran, I should not be surprised, but I always get sucker punched by this fact at least once each year!) are a few bits of advice from a parent and former teacher for those who do school visits. (StoryQueen, if you're reading, I'd love your comments on this.) They probably seem insanely obvious, but after what we experienced, they may not be.

  1. Introduce Yourself - Yes, you may have already spent the day at the school and the kids may already know who you are, but the parents don't. 
  2. Know Your Audience - I'm assuming the PTA will tell you the age range of the students for a day visit, and it should match up with who is at the assembly. But, if you are there in the evening, you can't be sure what ages will show up. So, be over prepared. Have stories, lessons or activities ready for younger and older audiences and go with the one that matches the majority of your audience. 
  3. Tell A Story - If you've been promoted as a "storyteller," please tell a story. If it's one of your own, even better. 
  4. Engage the Audience -  If you can, have the group chant, sing, clap, move or repeat after you during the storytelling. If you can, bring audience members up to be part of the presentation as well. Ask the kids questions. Whatever works for you to get their attention and keep it.  
  5. Work Out Who Will Take Care of Discipline - Unfortunately, there may be times where some children become unruly...and the parents of these little angels are nowhere to be found. Either be a master at drawing wandering attentions back into focus or make sure someone from the school will have your back and step in. You shouldn't have to stand up there, continually raising your voice, to be heard above the chaos. 
  6. Have Your Books Available for Purchase - Even if you've sent home fliers ahead of time for families to buy books, bring extras along with you. If you don't read any of them to the audience, at least have them on display where families can see them and look at them. Be available at the end of your presentation to sign them. 
I hope this post is received in the spirit in which it is intended. In no way, am I saying that authors are incompetent and need my advice. Who the heck am I?!?!? Just someone who thinks that maybe someday she might like to find herself in front of an audience sharing something she wrote. And, if that day should come, these are just a few of the things I'd like to remember.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If I Bring Home a Ping Pong Table Will You Sell it on Craigslist...

Sounds like a country western song, doesn't it? Actually, it was a text I sent to BSD yesterday. He's working out of town for the rest of November.

His return text: As soon as I got home.

I wish I could say it's because he's afraid I'd turn into Monica on Friends in that famous ping pong game episode. But no, he's seen my hair like that before and it still doesn't turn him off.

 No, it's because...
When he goes out of town, that's when I buy new pieces of furniture, have the house painted or try to sneak things into the garage. It may take him months to figure out there's a new chair in the living room or the walls are a different color, but sneak a tiny weight bench into his garage and he's got it listed on Craigslist before his bags are unpacked.

BSD and I went out and got new phones this summer with full keyboards and upgraded our 400 free shared minutes, dinosaur days plan to one of the hip, new unlimited texting packages. We also just learned how to Skype (but that's a whole other post). Yes, we were living that deep under the technology rock. Shameful, I know. 

Anyway, we're having lots of fun with our new toys. We send each other random texts throughout the day "just because" or to relay important info that is better remembered via text than a phone call. 

The Big Ballerina loves to use our new phones to text too. And, she's more willing to text us her deepest thoughts than to express them verbally. For example, at her Nutcracker auditions this year she found herself trying out for a bigger part than she expected. That night, she texted me,  "I really, really hope I get to be a Party Girl!" I knew she was excited about the prospect. I had been explaining to her that it was a long shot, but I didn't realize how much she wanted that role until that text. 

She didn't get the part, but I was glad I knew ahead of time how much it meant to her. She also sends us random texts of "I love you, Mommy (or Daddy)!" If she continues to text this openly when she's in her teens, it will be worth the extra monthly fees we're forking over to Verizon each month.

So...what @ u? R u a textaholic? Or maybe a non-texter like we used 2 be? Any great text stories 2 share?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It Started With a Dream

Did anyone catch the interview with Stephenie Meyer on Oprah last week? I'm not an Oprah fan and I haven't read any of the Twilight series, but I was really interested to see this interview. And, I'm so glad I did.

For the writers who stop by now and then, this is probably such old news to you, but I was shocked when I found out Stephenie was "just a mom". The author of the most sought-after young adult fiction books with crazed fans across the globe was just a mom who had a dream.

A dream! Not the "I dream of becoming a famous writer" kind of dream. The "I've got three kids under five, I'm so sleep-deprived I'm lucky if I nap long enough to even begin a dream" dream!

Holy crap! I think that's simply amazing.

The woman had no writing background. No aspirations of becoming a writer. No deep fascination with vampires. Heck, she didn't even realize she was writing a novel until she was done. (I'll bet she's also one of those women who didn't know she was pregnant until the baby fell out while she was running a marathon.) She was just "having fun, escaping into a fantasy land" recording what she saw in that one dream.

And then she went on to write three more books in the series at a rate of one per year?! That was some frickin' dream! Her mattress company should be beating down her door begging for a testimonial.

I decided there must be something to this dream business. In a writing book I was reading a while back, it also said to pay close attention to your dreams and record them when you wake up. "Relax yourself before you go to sleep and tell yourself you will remember your dream when you wake," the author suggested.

Well, I tried it, but either I am dream-impaired or destined to write a story about...

1) having to go to the bathroom (#2) and the only bathroom stalls available are either taken, clogged or those ultra bizarrely shaped toilets that have no seats and you'd never sit on it in a million years, not even with one of those paper toilet seat covers. What are those toilets supposed to be used for anyway?


2) not being able to graduate from college because I didn't go to one class all semester and there's no way I'll pass the final (and then I wake up truly wondering if I did, indeed, graduate. It takes me forever to remember that I did because it was so many years ago that I'm already starting to forget. You'd think I should be over this type of dream by now, wouldn't you?)

Not sure there's a best-seller in either of those, but I have them often enough that they must mean something. Anyone here a got a clue what that might be? Do I really want to know?

What about you? Do you have any recurring dreams or have you gotten any story ideas from dreams?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Finding Nemo

The flooding is over and the kids are back in school. We were lucky. Our yard was half under water, but our house, like an island, remained high and dry. Sadly, for many of my friends and neighbors the water did find its way into their homes. 

One of the best things about our neighborhood is the sense of community. From helping a neighbor replace his ruined hot water heater to loaning out your pair of rainboots to someone in deeper trouble, everyone is pitching in to help each other out. There are even Lost and Found emails circulating in hopes of returning wayward items. It's amazing what items managed to float away in the storm. Take a look...

  1. If anyone lost their kayak from the dunes last night, they may find it in a pile down on the beach near McDonald's. 
  2. A large boat bumper - light in color was found.  Email if you are missing one.
  3. Several boat boxes have been lost and found.  If you have found one, let me know and i will post it. 
  4.  A long haired fluffy (but slight) grey and white kitty showed up at our front door last night.  We took her in and fed her and gave her a place to sleep for the night.  She has no collar, but is very sweet (not ferrell).  We let her out in the a.m. and she was gone for the day, but has returned again this (Sat) evening.  We'll keep her for the night.  If you have any idea where she belongs or if you're looking for a sweet pet, please contact ----.
Good Samaritans, huh? I'll say! But this do-gooder really warms my heart...

If anyone lost some goldfish or coy in the storm.  We found 2 of them.

Hallelujah! Nemo is found at last!

*Side Note: If anyone needs anything, please don't hesitate to ask. I'm not good with power tools, but I can loan you just about anything. If it turns out to be something you have to buy, I am good at researching the best deal around. Oh, and I'm a good listener and can bake a pretty good chocolate chip cookie. Both have been proven to be therapeutic.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just One More Halloween Post, I Promise

I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween. I love creating the costumes and getting the whole family involved. I hate making 10 different costumes because the ballerinas change their minds every other week. (Erin, you are not alone.) I love going door to door hearing the ballerinas say, "Trick-Or-Treat." I hate the mountain of candy they drag through the door at the end of the night.

I know everyone is way over Halloween by now. I thought I was too. (I did finally take down the decorations. I swear.) But, this morning the Big Ballerina sing-songed to me from upstairs, "Maaa mmmeee, come up heeeeeerreeeee." I know when I hear that song it's not going to be pretty.

I brace myself, count to 10, promise myself I won't yell, and head to the playroom.

"Where are you?" I ask.

"Over here. Behind the couch," replies the Big Ballerina. "Look!"

Cautiously, I walk over to the couch. My heart is pounding. With my eyes shut tight, I open one to barely a squint and find it...

The Little Ballerina's Halloween stash.

"That's it?!?" I exclaimed. "You dragged me up here because she spilled her Halloween candy? Big deal!"

"No, Mama. Look closer!" cried the Big Ballerina.

I bent down to pick up the candy, still irritated that she summoned me upstairs for this silly incident. And, that's when I figured it out.

That's not Halloween candy. It's Halloween candy WRAPPERS! The only things left were the lollipops and some random Skittles that she had licked once and abandoned for more sugary confections. Skittles that were now stuck to the playroom carpet.

Yes, I am definitely over Halloween. And, I promise not to post about it anymore. Until next year.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Virginia Snow Day

When I was a kid I loved snow days. When I was a teacher I loved them even more. I'm a parent now. Ask me if I love snow days. Um....not so much.

Yes, today is a "snow day". Well, it's actually a "flood day" since we live in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Just east of the Piedmont region, which is separated from our region by the Fall Line. Oh, you weren't interested in that geography lesson? Well, neither am I, and neither is the Big Ballerina, but her teacher seems to think we are because she tests her on this information every 3rd day, and I am required to quiz her nightly on these painstakingly, boring facts. Those of you with kids in diapers, you think it's bad now? Just you wait.

Anyway, it's a flood day rather than a snow day so there's no beautiful, white scenery to gaze upon. No sledding. No snowball fights. Just dirty, swampy water swallowing our street, our cars and my sanity.

It was bad enough that yesterday was a holiday. Now I've got my ballerinas home for a second day in a row, and chances are good that they'll be home tomorrow too. We've already baked the cookies, done the arts and projects, watched every recorded episode of Full House, and it's only 9am. BSD's vacation ended yesterday so I'm left, without backup, to battle them alone...for the next month.

The wind is howling. The leaves are swirling. The rain is falling across rather than down. The water is creeping ever closer to my front door, and high tide is still two hours away. But none of that scares me as much as the flickering lights. If the power goes out, I'll  really be pushed over the edge. I'll miss the Project Runway finale.

 Our neighbor kayaking in the cul-de-sac
My next door neighbor's mailbox

My next door neighbor's flooded garage

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Only One More Week to Go

You may remember that I signed up to take an online writing class. Well, we're already heading into the home stretch.

Last night, I stayed up until the wee morning hours getting my homework turned in only to wake a few hours later with a whole new idea for an entire section. Two nights ago, unable to sleep, I turned on my computer at 1am and worked on my essays until 4am. I've spent hours poring over magazines at Barnes & Noble. For the first time in years, I walked past the Children's Room and crossed the threshold of the Reference section of the library.

I am tired. I am spent. I still have one week to go. But, at the same time...

I am invigorated.
I am excited.
I am learning.

While I miss the camaraderie of a live class, I think it is fair to say it was worth it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The War on Worms

There are worms in my kitchen! Tiny cream-colored worms. BSD said they are maggots. OMG, how did this happen??!?!

I hesitated to even post about this because...
  1.  It is, er, rather embarrassing, not to mention disgusting. 
  2. Many of my new shiny, cyber friends barely know me and this confession may wind up scaring them off. 
  3. Only just recently did LiLa blog about the lack of dignity on Facebook (who, by the way, just got their very first book deal, and are giving away a free Kindle in celebration). 
But, since this is not Facebook, and in the interest of saving you from the same ill fate, I decided it was OK to post about worms in my kitchen.

My first task was to figure out who to blame. I started with the dog.

"I think they're coming from Ruby's butt," I informed BSD. "You know how she scoots on her ass all the time. Yes, it's definitely Ruby's fault."

"They're not coming from Ruby's butt," said BSD protectively.

The next one to get thrown under the bus was the hermit crab we inherited from our babysitter who went off to college this fall.

"It must be Sammy then," I tried next. "You let him out of the cage yesterday for the first time since August, and he dropped the worms as he crawled around."

"Kim, he's a CRAB! Crabs don't have worms."

"No, but dogs do. See, they are from Ruby! I knew it!"

"They are not from Ruby. We already went through this," he said again, shaking his head at me. I'll never get rid of that bitch!

"Then, it's got to be the apples. I just bought a big tote of apples. The apples must have worms," I declared. "Oh no! I just bragged to Anne and Linda about the great deal I got on all these apples, and now they're going to go out and buy their own apples, and they'll wind up with worms in their kitchen too! They'll never forgive me!"

"That's it. The worms crawled out of the apples. That makes sense," BSD finally agreed, his precious pets off the hook.

"hmmm...let me check Google. I thought apple worms were green." I did a quick search and discovered they were not from the apples, and they were not maggots. Thank God!

No, they were moth worms that eat off grains and nuts.

NUTS?!? We just served peanuts on Saturday night for Poker Night. OMG! Our guests were munching on worms! But, the can was vacuum sealed with a tin pull top so that couldn't be. Where were they coming from?

I went into my pantry and pulled every last item out until I finally found my scapegoat...

Yep, an old expired box of Grape Nuts shoved way in the back of the cabinet. That gigundous picture of wheat must have had them pee'ing their pants in anticipation.

So, my friends, let this be a lesson to you all. Do NOT eat Grape Nuts. They will give you worms.

I spent the rest of my morning tossing any other box, jar or can of food that appeared suspect. When I was done, I had a splitting headache and this is all that survived the holocaust.

I'm still not sure what caused the headache. It was either the gallon of Clorox I inhaled or that gallon of Firefly that was full when I started. Either way, I'm up from my blackout nap now.

So...would anyone like to come over for dinner tonight? We're having chocolate covered Spam.

What? You don't like chocolate? You're in luck. We have vanilla too. See you at 10.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bitches Are Bitches

My daughter is a bitch, and I don't know what to do about it. She and the girl across the street have been best friends since they were itty bitty. They are like sisters. They play together every day after school. They're inseparable.
A few months ago, a new girl moved in down the street. She's a nice girl. Plays well. Uses her manners. Pretty, wavy hair. It wasn't long before she became one of the pack.

This morning, my DD's best friend came over to see if she could play. My DD was totally excited to see her, but when she stepped onto the porch, the new girl showed up at the end of our driveway. The three girls all stood there staring at each other. Nobody said a word. You could have cut the tension with a knife.

The staring contest lasted about a minute. Finally, my daughter walked past her best friend and took off down the street with the new girl. Her best friend, odd man out, slowly walked back home.

It was painful to watch. Why are girls like this? The boys don't have these problems. They play ball and wrestle with whoever shows up in the street. They don't have to play with only one friend. Everyone is welcome. Why can't the girls figure this out?

Yes, my daughter is a every sense of the word.

My daughter, Ruby, on the left, hanging with her new bestest friend, Remy, at her house this morning. Sally, her old BFF, was home licking her wounds.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's Time

Taking down the Christmas trimmings is always a chore. I'm starting to feel the same way about the Halloween decorations. Yes, it's a chore to put them away, but more so, I like having them up.

Maybe it's because I was born on Halloween, but looking at them everyday just makes me smile. I don't put up anything really scary. In fact, my giant spider is more friendly than frightening. The crows are more cute than creepy. For whatever reason though,  I feel cozy and content among these creatures.

BSD and I were just discussing when we should tackle this project...

Me: We should probably start thinking about taking down the Halloween decorations.

BSD: Yeah, that's a good idea. When do you want to do it?

Me: When we get the Christmas tree...

But, it's already November 5th, and the Jack-O-Lantern is starting to shrivel and mold. I guess we better get packing. We don't want to be THOSE PEOPLE who keep their Christmas lights up all year long.



No, that would just be batty!

Just ask the Little Ballerina.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Power of a Good Story

I spent the morning in the Little Ballerina's Kindergarten class helping out with the Fall Frolic which is secret code for Halloween party minus the costumes. Halloween is strictly taboo these days in the public school sector lest we all be branded heathens and witches.

The party celebration consisted of fun learning centers all with a Halloween theme. Taking full advantage of the fact that I've "been there done that" with my Big Ballerina, I scoped out the centers and raced for the one that most interested me....the picture books.

I recognized a few of the books, one being a great read aloud, but decided to try the ones I didn't know. I tried out 3 different titles on 3 separate groups, but they just couldn't compete with the other centers. The stories were sweet, but they were lacking that extra something, that "IT" factor, that makes them stand out from the rest. Even with my Little Ballerina's endorsement when her group arrived (That's my mom. She's a REALLY great reader!), these books weren't cutting it. After the first few pages I found myself reading to the backs of heads looking longingly over at the next center where they would drop ghosts and sort spiders.

Refusing to give up my belief that a good story is just as captivating as floating or sinking pumpkins, I picked up the tried and true picture book, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, and began to read. Sure enough, it wasn't long before I had my young charges clomping, clapping and wiggling along with me. We were having a ball and now the other groups were peering over at our table to see what fun they were missing. 

The timer rang signaling it was time to move on to the next center. My group looked over at their teacher with sad faces. "Can't we stayyyyy?" they begged. Mrs. Rose turned to me and said, "They're mesmerized!"

YES! Sweet victory! 

My chest puffed out a bit and visions of being crowned the next StoryQueen danced in my head. When I came back down to earth, I knew it wasn't ME that had captured their attention. It was the power of a good story. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Does Going on a Quest Require Leaving the House?

You know how in all the storybooks the hero goes out on a big quest to find something only to discover in the end that it was right there under his nose all along? I'm wondering if that is what is going to happen to me. I'm going out on this journey to find my "purpose", but perhaps I need to start looking right here at home. Maybe the huge stack of books on my nightstand holds the answer. I think I'll start there.

Let's's a smattering of what's currently teetering next to my head as I sleep...

Hop! Plop! - This adorable picture book by Corey Schwartz is my new go to birthday present for the 5 and under crowd. My little ballerina giggles throughout this story at Mouse and Elephant's struggles and gives the book a "group hug" at the end. It's a sweet story that we both love to read over and over. Corey also has a fun blog about writing picture books that I follow called Thing 1 and Thing 2. Hmm....

Fresh Home Magazine - I found this great magazine at Lowe's the other day. It's a brand new magazine with lots of cool projects. I could spend hours reading these kinds of magazines. Right now, I'm working on getting BSD to let me paint our kitchen countertops based on an article in this issue. So far, all I've gotten out of the pitch is a new dish soap dispenser. I'll try the ballerina's tactic and keep bugging him until I've beaten him down and he agrees.

My Sister's Keeper - I saw the movie before reading the book. Big mistake. Now the book gets cast aside each night for something newer. OK, Anne, tell me how the book ends. I still don't see how it could be worse than the movie's ending. I was bawling hard enough into my popcorn and mochi when we saw it 3 months ago!

 Trinny and Susannah Take on America - I have this one out of the library because I wanted to find a picture of Trinny's hair to take to my hair stylist. Unfortunately, there weren't any recent pictures of her in the book, but I have yet to return it. What happened to their show anyway? I loved watching these two strip down to their undies right along with their makeover candidates. They crack me up.

Making the Cut - Jillian Michaels' latest book promising to take you from fit to fantastic in 30 days. Unfortunately, I haven't even cracked it open. My fitness routine has been suffering. The only thing I've managed to do lately is run in preparation for the Wicked 10k Race on Halloween. I haven't haunted my gym in quite some time. At this rate, it's going to take me a lot longer than 30 days to make the cut.

Time of My Life - This is one of those "What if?" books. What if the main character made a different choice and didn't get married and have kids? What if she kept on her career path? Where would she be today? Then one morning she wakes up 7 years in the past and gets to relive it. Reminds me of that movie with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leone. Not sure what she learns about herself yet or if I'll learn anything either. We'll see.


Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation- I stumbled on this book while researching another book and it intrigued me. Mike Robbins was a professional baseball player whose career ended after an arm injury. This book is supposed to help you stop focusing on all the bad things and practice finding the good in order to live a happier, more fulfilling life. As a glass half empty girl, I figured I could use a little of this. But, if you get all preachy on me, Mike, after 3 strikes you're out.

I think these books have good potential for some thoughtful insight. Now, if I could just read for more than 5 minutes before falling asleep maybe I'd learn something from them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

If You Give a Girl a Table Saw...

If you give a girl a table saw, she will make a play kitchen out of an old entertainment center (see Sutton Grace Play Kitchen) which will lead another girl to start her own play kitchen business and auction one off for charity (see Charlotte Play Kitchens). Then, a mom with kids who are too old for a play kitchen will be inspired to turn an old potting bench into an artist's studio...

And, that is how it began....just like it did for Mouse and that infamous cookie.

BSD wanted to give this old potting bench away. It was just sitting on the side of the house rotting away. I had to think fast. The ballerinas were taking over his beloved tool bench with all of their "arts and projects" (as the big ballerina has called arts and crafts since she was 3) so I suggested we repurpose it into an artist studio for them a la Sutton Grace.

Knowing he would get his space back, BSD agreed. Since he has some time off from work this month, we were able to knock this project out in a few days. Here is what we did...
  1. Cleared out a tiny space in the garage next to his tool bench so they can all work on projects together. (Most of that hanging stuff will be sold in a garage sale as we don't need it anymore.
  2. Painted the wall behind it to freshen up the space.
  3. Cut the bench legs down a bit to make it a   more kid friendly size.
  4. Removed the upper slats and replaced them  with a piece of plywood covered with plexiglass for a smooth table top.
  5. Painted the bench.
  6. Hung shelves above the bench for supplies.
  7. Made an "Arts & Projects" sign.
  8. Added a hook in the corner for their smocks.
  9. Added a child size bar stool.
And, now for the "After" picture....

You can't see the smock hanging in the left hand corner. We also haven't labeled the jars or tins yet. I almost bought a cool label maker, but the fonts weren't any fun so I am looking for cute label stickers that I can just write on. Plus, if I bought the label maker I would have to actually use it which would mean being organized, and that is something I am not.

I also think we should paint the bar stool, but BSD thinks that's too "Martha Stewart". What do you think? Paint it or not?

Martha may not let me work in her test kitchen, but maybe she has an opening in her craft department? I can't take the credit for DOING most of the work here as BSD thinks I'm too messy to paint (which is true), but I do a good job of coming up with ideas and supervising. Martha, do you have any openings for messy cheerleaders?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Dream Help Wanted Ad...

I'm falling behind and I don't like. Nope, not one little bit. It's been a whole week since I've posted here. That's unacceptable.

How can I ask you all to follow me, and then leave you hanging for days on end? I can't start a job and then just stop going, can I? If so, that's what I should be when I grow up. If any of you run across a Help Wanted ad that reads....

HELP WANTED: Not so young, healthy (physically...mentally, optional), well educated mom to show up whenever she wants to not cook, clean, referee children, or drive carpools. Strong surfing skills (computers, not big waves) and extensive knowledge of curse words a must.

please send them my resume. Thanks! Back to my homework now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When I Grow Up: The Theme Song

On Sunday afternoons, the big ballerina has a swim clinic. While she works on her strokes, I wander around Trader Joe's alone checking out the interesting food packages, gorging on their gourmet samples, and tasting this wine and that one and that one. It is me time at its finest.

When her class is over, we pop over to Joann's Fabrics pointing out all the fabrics that catch our eye until we finally choose the one she will use to make a new creation for her American Girl doll. From there, we make our way to Skinny Dip where we fill our bowls with low fat frozen yogurt turned high fat by the heaping mounds of candy we ladle on top. We sit together, sharing our treats and conversation. Just the two of us. It is mother daughter time at its finest.

On the drive home, giddy from our sugar highs, we crank the radio and sing along to the songs we know. This Sunday we tuned in to HOT 100 (or WIFC - Wholly Inappropriate for Children) so we could really get down. I previewed the song, heard the words, "When I Grow Up" and thought, No Way! I have a theme song? How COOL! 

From the backseat the big ballerina squealed, "Yes, Mama! I love this song. Turn it up!" I turned up the volume and found myself head bobbing to the beat. A theme song AND a great beat! This is so much fun! I wonder what it's going to recommend I be when I grow up. I love this song! 

Big ballerina is grooving in the back seat too. She's singing along to the chorus. I ask, "How do you know the words?"

"Julia has it on her iPod." she replies quickly and goes back to singing. I hear her from the back seat....

When I grow up
_wanna be famous
_wanna be a star
I wanna be in movies

When I grow up
_ _____ ____ ___ world
Drive nice cars
I wanna have ______

When I grow up
Be on TV
____ ____ me
___ __ magazines

We shoulder roll in our seats through some random lyrics until the chorus comes along again. I listen to her more closely this time. 

When I grow up
I wanna be famous
I wanna be a star
I wanna be in movies

When I grow up
I wanna see the world
Drive nice cars
I wanna have boobies

WHAT?!?! Did you just say boobies!?!?!

This time I listen to the radio more closely. Sure enough I hear them say, "I wanna have boobies". I look at the digital display to see who the artist is. Of course, they said boobies. The song is by The Pussycat Dolls. I hate this song.

Guess I need to rethink this theme song idea...and this portion of our Sunday mother daughter bonding experience.

Sidenote: When I Googled the lyrics to post them here, I discovered that last line is actually... I wanna have groupies. Listen to the song yourself, and tell me they're not saying boobies! When I Grow Up  (Sorry it's a video. I don't know how to just post the music portion.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009'll have to wait...

I just spent the last hour working on a post only to realize that it's the perfect subject for one of the two essays I need to write for my writing class. So...the entry has been saved to my Blogger Dashboard and will be posted at the end of the next 6 weeks. Unless, of course, some brilliant editor realizes how witty it is and decides to publish it in her fabulous magazine. Then you'll have to pay to read my pearls of wisdom....or at least pick up your free copy at a McDonald's play center nearest you.

It's good to dream, right?

Oh, and how's this for another "sign". My homework assignment this week was to study some of the winning essays in the ERMA BOMBECK writing contest! I didn't even know there was such a contest.

Snakes and Erma Bombeck. Who knew?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mean Ass Woman: The Head Shot

My online class starts tomorrow. I've already picked out my clothes and made my lunch. I'm ready.

Wait? What's this email in my inbox? There's already homework due and it's not even the first day?!?! What have I gotten myself into?

My first assignment is to write a short bio and send in a head shot. What? I thought this was a writing class, not a modeling class. Who's teaching this? Tyra Banks?

I don't have any head shots. I'm just a mom. I don't have any published works that would require a formal portrait. Heck, I don't even have any pictures of myself because, again, I'm a mom. I'm the one who lugs around the 50 lb camera bag on all family adventures. I shoot all the fun; I don't have any of it.

What is this teacher thinking? I thought this class was for moms. I better go back and reread the course description. I think I signed up for the wrong class. hmm...I'm going to email the teacher about this obvious mix-up.

OK...the teacher emailed me back and assured me that ...
  1. I signed up for the right class
  2. This is a writing class
  3. It is for moms
  4. She is not Tyra Banks
PHEW! She also said she understands about being a mom and not having any photos. She recommends I use my web cam to take a current picture of myself.

OK. Let me go put on some makeup and fix my hair first. Let's see...1, 2, 3...."CHEESE!"

I know some of you didn't believe that I truly am a Mean Ass Woman, but here is the proof. Cold hard undeniable evidence. I am not proud of this, but since the purpose of this blog is to thoroughly examine myself I need to accept the truth. The good, the bad and, yes, the ugly truth.  

So there you have it. This portrait of a Mean Ass Woman was drawn by my biggest ballerina when she was about 4 years old. When she shared this drawing with me back then she said, and I quote,  "This is a picture of MAWMAW (pronounced momma) when she's mad".

I knew I should have been concerned that her favorite picture book for so long was When Sophie Gets Angry--Really, Really Angry... It was obviously therapy for her.

So...who wants to sit next to MAWMAW for the next 6 weeks?

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Heart Erma Bombeck...

The deadline to vote in my online class poll has passed. Sorry if you missed your chance. The early bird gets the worm, and all that, you know. After many hours spent counting all the votes, the final tally was 3-3.

A BIG FAT TIE! (although my IRL friends seem to think their votes count more than my shiny, new cyber friends'....ummmm, no)

Yep, all that blood, sweat and tears and it's a TIE! Big help you all turned out to be. So, that puts the decision back on my shoulders. And, after pondering long and hard, the winner is........

  • That
  • B
  • Jersey
I know, I know. Half of you are disappointed, but let me explain why before you rip my jersey dress to shreds in Cinderella's Evil Stepsister fashion. 

You see...I heart Erma Bombeck.

Erma Bombeck, for those of you too young to remember, was a newspaper columnist and author who wrote funny stories about being a suburban wife and mother. I guess you could call her the precursor to today's "Mommy Bloggers". She didn't write as an expert on any subjects. She wrote about her regular, ordinary life.

I had long since forgotten about my love for Mrs. Bombeck. It wasn't until I started this blog that I remembered my junior high fascination with all things Erma. While my friends and I were secretly reading and underlining the racy passages in this...

I was also secretly nose deep in this, guffawing my way through along with the rest of the 35 year old suburban housewives who were her target audience.

Don't ask me why. I don't know HOW I discovered Erma. My mom didn't read her books; neither did my sister nor my grandmother. Yet somehow I found myself waiting impatiently for each of her new books.

Maybe her column was printed on the same newspaper page as the Daily Jumble; another one of my younger days' fascinations. Wow! I never realized what a nerd I was back then. Good thing nobody knows these deep dark secrets. Maybe it was the only book available that I could understand at the airport newsstand on one of our family vacations. Maybe it was Erma herself trying to guide me in my journey of what I should be when I grow up.

I just don't know.

I do know that I haven't thought about her in years yet she came to me in the shower this morning. I was shampooing my hair and I remembered her books. And my love for them. Just like that. Her name and her books came back to me. I smiled and rinsed my hair.  I understood. Erma had cast her vote. And it was for jersey.

Side Note: For those of you who are going to try to figure out how old I am by researching the publication dates of these books, I'll save you the trouble. On Halloween this year, I'll be 29, and not a day older!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Spy....

Hidden in the littlest ballerina's (aka The Kleptomaniac) playroom can you find?

- a pair of pink Tweezerman tweezers (my eyebrows will be forever grateful)

- one 1/4 carat diamond stud earring (I really don't want to pierce my nose to have a use for the other one)

- an old sippy cup of milk (it's either that or a dead rodent causing the stench in there)

- one purple dog leash (left behind from the last time she held Ruby hostage to play Barbies)

- a tiny pair of sharp silver scissors (the clumps of blond hair she cut from her head with them don't count)

- one $35 DS game (Mommy has a headache listening to the big ballerina whine incessantly about its disappearance)

- one baby molar (the Tooth Fairy needs it back)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This or That? A or B? Jersey or Silk?

I've been considering taking an online class for a while now. It's something I've never done. I guess I'm old school. It seems strange to me to take a class yet not physically sit in a lecture hall with a spiral notebook and my favorite Paper Mate pen. I love being part of a class; sharing a common interest with others. Will an online class leave me lonely and unmotivated? The course description talks about "classmates", but who are these people? How will I know who to sit next to if I can't see anyone? This is starting to sound like that dorky TV show, Dating in the Dark. Yes, I'm ashamed to admit I watched some pathetic TV programs this summer.

There are actually two classes I'm considering. Both are writing classes. I learned about these classes from The Writer Mama Riffs blog. I'm pretty sure I'm going to take one of these classes. I just need to figure out which one.

The first class is called Writing and Publishing the Short Stuff (Especially for Moms!) [WPSS]. I love the title. I love the idea of this class. You work on writing and submitting short articles to get your feet wet so that you can move on to lengthier pieces when you're ready. This class sounds like it was made for me. Of course it's for me. I meet the prerequisite... I'm a mom.

The only problem is what kind of articles can I write? What subjects am I an expert in? I guess these are the things you examine about yourself in the class. This sounds like a great way to figure out "what I'm going to be when I grow up." While this sounds great, it also scares the heck out of me. What if I have nothing to write about? What do I know enough about that a magazine would actually publish? Here we go...I'm starting to talk myself out of this. The only difference is I'm actually sharing the idea first.

The second class is called Personal Essays That Get Published. In this class you're supposed to "get real and personal". Write about your own life. Now, this I feel more comfortable with. It seems like a natural extension of what I'm doing here with this blog. And if I can earn some money from writing what I already know, it sounds like a perfect fit. This class seems safe. Interesting, yet comfortable. Aaaaahhhhh.....

So...which class do I choose? Do I go with what makes me comfortable? A simple jersey dress. I go with WPSS and push myself to put on one of those unworn silky dresses in my closet? My inner voice is telling me jersey is more practical. Of course it is...

The classes start October 7th. I need to make a decision already! HELP!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Snake in the Grass...and on the Path

Running along the bike path a few days ago, lost deep in thought, I was suddenly stopped dead in my tracks. I let out an audible gasp and the words, "HOOOLLLLYYYYY  SH$T" slowly escaped from my lips. I had just encountered a snake. An almost 2 foot long, black snake with a red belly was stretched out across the pavement right in front of me. I was frozen with fear. Should I step over him? Should I try to go around him? If so, should I step by his tail or his head?  Nope, I just stood there staring at him, braced for sprint if need be, until he finally slithered off the path into the woods.

If you are afraid of snakes as I am, this may seem worthy enough to write about or it may not. But, you see, this is not the first time I've had a run-in with a snake on my daily run/walk. A few months ago, I stepped down with one foot while running in the grassy area, and a snake (I swear it was the same one) coiled back and hightailed it into the woods as I ran by.

I came home this time, told BSD about it, and tried to determine what kind of snake it was. My good friend, Google wasn't a whole lot of help, but I believe it was one of these Northern Red Bellied Snakes, or as I like to call him, The Huge Freakin' Ugly Scary Ass Snake That Won't Leave Me Alone (THFUSASTWLMA)!" At least Google says he's harmless. it's been a few days since my last encounter, and I can't seem to get THFUSASTWLMA out of my head. I've continued my run/walks each day along the same path, and he's had the decency to leave me alone, but I know he's out there waiting. Waiting for me to let my guard down so he can scare the piss out of me the next time he decides to taunt me with his red belly. I'm tense already sitting here at my computer thinking about that moment. I have flashbacks of that TV horror mini series, Harper's Island, I got sucked into watching this summer. I picture THFUSASTWLMA stalking me through the woods just as John Wakefield patiently stalked each of his victims. I KNOW better than to watch horror movies. WHAT was I thinking?!?!?

I started to think about this on a deeper level. What is this snake trying to tell me? Why do I keep running into him...literally? After doing some research into old superstitions and Native American Animal Guides I was blown away to find this information...

Snakes awaken spiritual and magical intuition in the person who chooses this totem or is chosen by it. Snakes are associated with unseen creative forces at work. With the snake totem the powers of intuition and observation becomes keener and more precise. As snakes represent change and intuition the combination of these characteristics will allow for great new developments in life and the proper instinct for deciding which changes will be effective and which should not be made. They represent openness to new experiences, and thus, opened horizons.

Indeed snakes represent versatility, transmutation and change, their natural inclination to “shed their skins” leaving behind the old, and adapting to the new, supports this idea. 

I am not a Pagan, a Wiccan nor am I a Native American, but when the universe is trying to speak to me I guess I had better listen. I can see the writing on the wall. I can make the connection. I am the snake "shedding my skin", trying on new dresses. This blog is the snake representing the creative force that will "allow for great new developments in my life and the proper instinct for deciding which changes will be effective and which should not be made". I am leaving behind the old and am open to new experiences. I get it! I get it! I'm ready!

But, THFUSASTWLMA are red and black really my colors?

Monday, September 21, 2009

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover (or What I Learned From an Apple)

Yesterday I noticed apples lying on the ground under one of my neighbor's trees. The apples were larger than crab apples, but they were a funky shade of yellow and mottled with black spots. They were not the shiny, pretty apples you find at the grocery store. In fact, they were down right scary looking. Imagine Snow White's apple before the evil stepmother casts her magic spell on it; something ugly and gnarled.

"Are they edible?" I asked my neighbor.

"Yes, as long as you peel them. This is the best year we've ever had. I have tons. Would you like some?"

"," I answered hesitantly.

I picked about a dozen off the tree waiting for the tree to smack my hand like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I'm telling you these apples were creepy. When my girls caught their first glimpse of the apples, they both cringed, turned up their noses and shouted, "EEEWWW!" 

I decided to make a pie out of them. Isn't that what you do with ugly apples? I turned to my good friend, Google, typed in BSD's answer to cooking..."Best (insert name of food) recipe", and discovered Grandma Ople's Apple Pie. I had all the ingredients so it was an easy choice.

Here are all the ingredients needed except for the apples. 

Oh, but I did add cinnamon which was not part of the original recipe.

Do you notice anything wrong with any of the ingredients in this picture? Look closely. Very closely. I'm guessing only another woman will figure it out. Are there even any men reading this besides BSD?

Still nothing? Ok...maybe this will help...

Yes, I know. I cheated. I used refrigerator pie crust. Martha Stewart will definitely not be knocking on my door offering me a job in her test kitchen. I'll cross that career off my list. 

That, however, is not what I wanted you to notice. Look at that bright pink label over the picture of the pie. The one that reads, SAVE $1.00 in big bold letters. That's a coupon! What is it still doing on the box, you ask? That is what happens when BSD goes to the store for me. He doesn't use coupons even when I tape them to his forehead before he leaves the house. If he had his way, he'd buy everything we need at 7-11 paying 3000% more than it's worth. 

Maybe there is a career for me in teaching people about shopping after all. I just have to change my target audience to men rather than women. 

Ok, back to the pie. My youngest ballerina was very excited to help me bake. She wanted a job so I taught her how to peel the apples. Yes, she is 5 and is just now learning to use a vegetable peeler. I know you Super Moms out there already have your toddlers yielding the blow torch to caramelize sugar on a creme brulee, but in our house if it involves a sharp edge or fire you need to pass the American Red Cross First Aid exam before you're allowed to touch them.

She peeled and peeled until she had every last apple as naked as she was. I wanted so badly to jump in and peel a few of them to get moving, but I restrained myself. Instead I hung out with her, talked to her, studied her and took pictures of her. I stayed in the moment. Something that is very hard for me to do. 

You see, I'm originally from New York City. We don't stop to smell the roses. We push and shove to get where we're going faster. So, the oven preheated for over an hour. Her sense of pride and accomplishment as she handed over the last apple far outweighed the extra pennies it cost to keep the oven on.

In the end, the pie baked up beautifully. Thank you, Grandma Ople. The apples turned out to be perfect for baking. They were firm and crisp like a Granny Smith, but with a milder flavor. After the initial hesitation to try a bite, we almost didn't have enough apples for the pie. We were eating them faster than we were peeling them. I don't know what kind they are, but they may just be apple nirvana. Move over HoneyCrisps with your $3/lb pricetag and 'special limited edition' availability.

From the simple task of baking a pie, I learned more than how to weave a lattice crust. Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't pick a tasty apple by its skin. Slowing down can get you farther than racing, and the things you discover along the way make the journey worthwhile. Making memories is just as important as making money. 

I still want to do something more, but internalizing these simple life lessons should help me figure out just what the right fit looks like.

Here are the updates I've made to my career possibilities list recently:
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Debate coach
  • Martha Stewart Test Kitchen Baker 
  • Teaching people men how to shop smart

There's still plenty of pie leftover. If you leave a comment, I'll warm up a big ole piece and scoop a honkin' pile of vanilla ice cream on top for you. Enjoy...