Sunday, January 31, 2010

Slide Show Sunday (or A Virginia Snow Day: Take 2)

Remember this lovely snow day back in November? *ick, blech, patooie*

Well, Mother Nature has redeemed herself this weekend. Instead of dirty, swampy, water-soaked houses, we were graced with the real deal. That's right. REAL SNOW! IN VIRGINIA BEACH! A GOOD 8 INCHES OF IT! Whoohooo! We are happy campers.

We've been sledding
throwing snowballs

drinking hot cocoa
making snow angels
looking for the damn dog
taking baths til our toes are pruney
passing out, too tired to get under the covers, dreaming of sledding.
Rinse and repeat for Sunday.

And the call already came at 1pm today that school is canceled tomorrow. Guess what we'll be doing on Monday.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I'll Take Blog Headers for $400, Please...

I was just sitting here staring lovingly at my new blog header. Thank you to those who noticed it without me shamelessly plugging it yesterday. And I was thinking how much I hate the way the title looks. I hate the canned fonts that I'm forced to use in Blogger. And the fact that it's hard to read the words because they cross over the shoes too much.

When it struck me,  

Sidewalk Chalk!

What if the title was written in sidewalk chalk? Just off to the left of the Chucks. Brilliant, right? It goes with the theme and everything. Sheesh, I am clever! I should be a blog designer!

Then I realized,

I have just risen to my own level of incompetence.

I have no idea how to do that except to go outside, write the title in sidewalk chalk, make the Little Ballerina dress up in the crazy ensemble she came downstairs wearing that morning, and take the picture AGAIN.

I could do that. LB might cooperate. The picture could come out looking just as good as the original. But, what are the chances?

Plus, I'm too lazy. I'm sure there are fancy Photoshop keystrokes that could do it in a matter of minutes.

Perhaps someone reading this might be able to tell me how to do this? Or maybe it's time to call for backup?

Yoohoo, PhotoShop Master....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Slide Show Monday

Whoops! I missed my deadline. Slide Show Sunday is a day late. The weather was cold, rainy and dreary this week so it was hard to get excited about going outside. And pictures of dust bunnies and cobwebs are certainly not post worthy. The one picture that I do like this week is my new header picture. That one makes me smile. I wouldn't even bother posting any others, but BSD is lonely out in Haiti so these are for him.

The Little Ballerina being...a little ballerina.

LB doing her Scientist for a Day experiment.

Big Ballerina at her swim meet.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gym Etiquette 101

Dear Impatient Gym Wench...

I know January brings out all the "resolution" exercisers. And, yes, we may wind up using the same piece of equipment at the exact moment that you wanted to. It can be annoying. I get it. I've been there.

But, just because you've been more faithful, it doesn't give you the right to not wait your turn. Would you shove me out of line for communion on Christmas and Easter because I wasn't butt-in-pew every other Sunday? Um...I don't think so. God would strike you dead if he caught you pulling that crap.

So, since the gym is obviously your sacred place, just remember He is watching you pull my hair every time you lay down right next to me to do your crunches on the 8x8 foot mat.

And if by some chance, He is too busy saving the people of Haiti, He told me it would be considered an accident if I failed to catch the 12 lb medicine ball that my friend whips at me during our abs workout.

See you tomorrow, IGW.

Mean-Ass Woman

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Resolution #4: Check

Well, it's not a children's book, but I did submit something I've written. It counts. So, I can officially cross Resolution #4: Submit something I've written off my list. 

I do plan to submit other pieces, but the pressure is off. If I want I can sit on my ass for the next 11 months and still feel successful. Yeah, for absurdly simple little resolutions.

Now, when is "early spring?"

Thank you for submitting your entry in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition sponsored by the Washington-Centerville Public Library. Your entry details are below and confirm receipt of your submission. Please keep this e-mail for your records. Winners will be posted on the Library's Web site in early spring.

Submit Date and Time: 1/21/2010 1:06:11 PM


Locale: Global

Country: United States

Category: Humor

Essay Title: Lasting Memories

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Slide Show Sunday

Well, it's been a crazy week. The only thing I haven't mentioned is that BSD left for Haiti on Wednesday. He's expected to be gone about a month. He travels for work often so this is not unusual. It was just a quick, unexpected exit.

On Saturday, both of the ballerinas auditioned for The 12 Dancing Princesses. This was a first for the Little Ballerina. Very exciting! When I asked her what they made her do in her audition she danced a very elaborate routine so she must have gotten the principal role. Not bad for five.

OK, here's my Sunday Slide Show for the week...

Cooking Dinner

That's LB with Swamp Thing (or the bitch from down the street)


 Auditions (a friend on the left, LB on the right. Don't you just love her number?)

An attempt at an "artful" photo from unwilling subjects

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I Really Don't Want to....

I don't want to think about it. But in the quiet moments, it's all I can do.

I don't want to talk about it. I can't say the words out loud.

I don't want to go there. Because once I do, it becomes real. I can't continue to deny it.

I can accept that my 96 year old grandmother doesn't have much time left. She's lived a long and healthy life.

I can accept that my parents will not be here forever.

But I cannot accept that all of them may be gone before the end of this year.

I don't know this for sure. I only know what I read online.

Because I'm a coward. I'm too afraid to ask.

My mother has been battling a slow cancer for years, but I think it's getting too big now.

And this week my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

How do you bring yourself to accept it? To ask the hard questions? To talk about it?

Because I really don't want to.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hangover Stew

I was sick as a dog yesterday. Spent the day in bed. My head was pounding and I felt nauseous all day. Either I caught some icky germ at the gym or I had a hangover from the whole bottle of wine used in the new short rib recipe I tried. Since I don't want to give up exercising, the ribs are going down.

Sadly, this recipe is PHENOMENAL. Everybody liked it which rarely happens. The flavor is rich and intense. How can it not be with a whole bottle of wine in it? And, even though it cooks for a long time, it's easy to make. It's a yummy winter comfort food. And, since nobody else in the family got sick,  I'm going to test my luck and eat the leftovers for dinner tonight. We'll see what happens.

But, I'm scared.

I don't want to spend the day in bed again tomorrow.

But, I have to figure this out.

I'll think I'll have two Motrin and a quart of water for dessert to be safe.

But, I'm still scared.

If anyone else wants to join me in my little experiment, here is the recipe. We can chase it with Bloody Marys for breakfast. Cheers!

Note: We served it over egg noodles for the ballerinas and boiled potatoes for the adults. It would be yummier over mashed potatoes, but that was too much trouble. Other people have recommended creamy polenta which sounds even better.

Hangover Stew 
(adapted from a Barefoot Contessa recipe)
(It's not a very photogenic meal, but don't let that deter you.)

  • 6 beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (2 onions)
  • 4 large celery stalks, large-diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and large-diced
  • 1 small fennel, fronds, stems, and core removed, large-diced
  • 1 leek, cleaned and large-diced, white part only
  • 2-3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle burgundy or other dry red wine
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4-6 cups LOW SODIUM beef stock (I used 4 cups b/c I like it thicker like a stew.)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven and add the onion, celery, carrots, fennel, and leek and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Pour the wine over the vegetables, bring to a boil, and cook over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Tie the rosemary and thyme together with kitchen twine and add to the pot. If you can, maybe put the herbs in a little bit of cheesecloth first. I had lots of rosemary leaves floating in the stew at the end.

Place the roasted ribs on top of the vegetables in the Dutch oven and add the beef stock and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Cover the Dutch oven and bake for 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.

Carefully remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside. Discard the herbs and skim the excess fat. Cook the vegetables and sauce over medium heat for 20 minutes, until reduced. Put the ribs back into the pot and heat through. Serve with the vegetables and sauce.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

But, What Happened to My Yoga Butt?

The temperature was a whopping 34 degrees this morning, but I managed to drag myself out of bed and hit the gym. I can't take the credit, though. My good friend, Nicole decided to start going on Tuesday and Thursday mornings so I now have a gym buddy again. YEAH!

I'm not going to lie, though. It wasn't pretty. I dug my cute yoga pants out from the bottom of my drawer, put them on, and took a look in the mirror. Staring back at me was a plump, fluffy muffin top. Nice. Months of haphazard exercising and dozens of chocolate chip cookies had taken its toll.

No problem. I hiked the pants up to cover the unsightly spillage. And, um, do you know what happens when you give a yoga pant a muffin top?

You get a nice case of camel toe. Sexy.

Now, if I didn't have my gym buddy waiting on me I would have shredded the offensive yoga pants, thrown them in the trash, and crawled back into bed.

But she was waiting.

So instead, I dug deeper into my bottom drawer, found my baggy basketball pants, pulled them on and ran out the door. I didn't dare look in the mirror. If I had, I'm sure I would have discovered a nice case of VPL or some other telltale sign of an extended exercise hiatus.

Luckily, I found my way back to the gym without having to turn on the GPS, and I'm proud to say I made it through the entire hour. I even managed to work up a sweat. And when I left, I felt energized. Definitely a productive morning.

But I just know the whole time I was there, everyone was staring at me wondering who the heck the lesbian was getting fashion tips from Sue Sylvester.

Thank you, Nicole, for not noticing. I'm off to Old Navy to get some of their "instant yoga butt" pants for Thursday.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Slide Show Sunday

Ok, so the new look is in process. Not in love with the new template, but it'll do for now. I am still hoping to create a banner on my own, but if not, I have the PhotoShop Master (PSM) waiting in the wings to bail me out. Thank you, Kathy! You're the best.

I've posted that one of my resolutions is to take part in Project365 where you take a picture every day. I've kept this up, and while most of the pictures are nothing more than snapshots, I hope that I'll see some nice improvement by year's end.

I'm thinking that Sundays will be designated, "Slide Show Sunday," and I'll go ahead and post my favorite pictures of the week. The plan is that by the end of the year I'll be able to turn these slide shows into a calendar for the grandparents without the hours of whining, crying and swearing it usually takes me. Because, as you can probably guess from my lack of organizational skills, they are lucky if they get a calendar by the end of January, if at all.

The Big Ballerina, what else, studying for a geography test...

The Little Ballerina taunting BB while she studies...

Job training for my new Mall Santa career

The Big Ballerina getting ready for a day of ice skating
(she had a full snow suit on hours before she needed to leave)

 Playing Barbies
(I love this one because she didn't know I was taking this picture. I took it through a little crack in the door.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I've Got Some Funk in My Trunk

Why does the new year start during the winter? You're supposed to work out, eat right and be energized. In the winter. When it's cold. No wonder nobody follows through on their resolutions. What sadist created the calendar?

All I want to do is lay on the couch, pig out and take a nap. It's freakin' cold! Well, by Virginia standards it's cold. Temps in the 30's was shorts weather when I lived in Vermont. If it's going to be this cold I want some snow. I want to be able to strap on some snowshoes and explore a mountain. Without the snow, I have no interest in stepping outside my front door.

Luckily, I haven't broken any resolutions....yet. I know better than to put diet and exercise goals on my list. But, I need to get out of this funk.


Mother Nature, I need your help. Throw me a bone, please.

If not ...

What Am I Going to Be When I Grow Up?
 1.  Bouncer
 2.  Mall Santa
 3.  "Before" Model

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Better Safe Than....a Sorry Sewing Machine

As expected, BSD's recent brilliant idea turned out to be a bust. The foot pedal on that cute little sewing machine didn't work. At all. So, back it went to Joann's Santa's workshop. In BSD's defense, however, he did score major points for another gift he bought.

If you remember, the Little Ballerina likes to steal borrow things. Especially things that belong to her older sister. This borrowing inevitably leads to crying, which leads to screaming, which leads to hitting, which leads to throwing things, which leads to doors slamming, which leads to headaches, which leads to the Mean-Ass Woman searching the Want Ads for any excuse to get the hell out of the house.

In an effort to prevent this vicious cycle, BSD bought the Big Ballerina a safe for Christmas. Together, they stashed all of the Big Ballerina's valuables in the safe. In went her earrings, her DS, and most importantly, her gum. Then, they searched until they found the perfect hiding place for the key. Behind a little flower-shaped mirror hanging above her bed. Genius.

"Momma, what does the key to BB's safe look like again?" the Little Ballerina asked me this morning after Kindergarten, while her big sister still had 3 hours of school to go.

"It's just a key."

"I know, but I just want to see it because I can't remember what it looks like," she tried.

"You don't need to know what it looks like. It's not yours," I reminded her.

"I know. I just want to see it," she pleaded.

"Sorry, sweetie."

"It's hanging on a ribbon, isn't it? I think that ribbon might be mine," she said, trying a new angle.

"Sorry, sweetie. It's hidden and I don't know where," I lied, eager to end the interrogation.

Exasperated, she wandered off to the playroom to play with her new Barbies.

Or so I thought.

Tonight, as I was tucking the Big Ballerina into bed, I glanced down at the ugly, black safe on her floor. Scattered around the big metal box were my car keys, the key to the neighbor's house that we keep for emergencies, and two of the "mock keys" that we store above the bedroom doors so we can gain access if we get locked out.

As I gathered the keys, I wondered how long the Little Ballerina sat there desperately trying to jimmy each one into the lock. Praying that one of them was the magic key. That one of them would pop open that safe like a Jack-in-the-Box showering her in an endless stream of Hubba Bubba.

And, since that didn't happen. I wonder how many more questions about the key I'm going to be able to handle before I decide that flipping burgers at ....

... is a good thing to be when I grow up.

* Day 5 and I've still taken a picture every day. I know it's a lame photo, but I was desperate to take a picture of something today. I wish there were some clouds with a ray of sunshine streaming through in that shot to go along with the story.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Decade, New Look

I need a facelift. 

A Blogger facelift, that is. My current look is just so 00's. So...

Can any of you Blogger pros help me figure out how to change the layout of my blog?  I know there are standard Blogger templates you can choose from, but none of them are exactly right. 

Also, how do I create a banner at the top of my blog with the title and a picture? I have tried to do this over and over, but I cannot figure it out. :(

Any advice or sites with tutorials you can send me to would be greatly appreciated!

Magic Beans

It's Day 4 of the new year, and I'm cruising through these resolutions. I've taken a picture every day. I even tried a new recipe. I'm going to sail through 2010!

I made Hoppin' John for New Year's Day so that we'd all have good luck. BSD added pork medallions and brussel sprouts (it's in the cabbage family so it counts) to the meal so we'd be lucky and prosperous. And gassy. Perfect.

Not only that, but the ballerinas even ATE the new recipe. The Little Ballerina was willing to try a "magic bean" because we promised her a bigger ice cream sundae for dessert. Easy.

The Big Ballerina was a little harder sell. She was finally woo'ed by the prospect of good luck. I think she was hoping it would mean less studying for those damn geography tests. I know that's what I was praying for as she swallowed the bean like a pill with a gulp of orange juice. She even managed a nibble of a brussel sprout for some prosperity this year. Brave girl. She's saving up for some new American Girl doll clothes, and she knows that crap ain't cheap. Smart girl.

Again, so I remember this recipe for next year, I'm going to post it here. It really was great. It was wayyyy better than the black-eyed pea recipe I made last year. And, a little extra trivia I learned. If you eat Hoppin' John as leftovers the next day it's called "Skippin' Jenny" and you get extra good luck. :)

Hoppin' John
recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large ham hock (I used smoked pork jowl which looked like a big slab of bacon)
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
  • Salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper


Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolutions for 2010

It's a new year. A new decade even. 2010. Crazy! It seems like just yesterday I was partying like it was 1999. The clock is ticking way too fast.

In light of this, I feel compelled to create a list of resolutions for myself in 2010. I do make resolutions every year, but I've learned that if they are not absurdly, simple little things I will never stick to them.

So, in the past, my resolutions have looked like this:
  • 2005 - Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink - If I could just get BSD and the ballerinas to get on board with this, now OCD of mine, all would be right with the world.
  • 2006 - Make my bed everyday - Pathetic, I know. But, I have done it every single day for the past four years. Not too shabby.
  • 2007 - Make the kids' beds everyday- Hey, it only made sense to keep the theme going. And, I don't want to hear it from you Super Moms that your kids have been making their own beds since they figured out how to pull themselves up.
  • 2008 - Wear lipstick/gloss everyday - Well, I guess this one was too much to handle. This resolution was an epic fail. I will put on all the rest of the makeup products (when I actually put on makeup), but I still fail to apply the lipstick. It must be because my lips are the only thing left on my face that don't look old. Once they start to wrinkle and droop like everything else, I'm sure the lipstick will be all over the bottom half of my face.
  • 2009 - Try at least one new recipe each month - I think I may have done this. I know in the beginning I was trying more than one new one each week, so I'm sure I tried at least 12 new recipes in 2009. I don't think anyone ate any of them, though. So was this a pass or a fail? looking onward. In 2010, I'd like to...
  1. Continue blogging to try to answer the burning question of What Am I Going to Be When I Grow Up?
  2. Take another writing class
  3. Participate in Project365 where you take a picture every single day (Santa brought me an awesome new pocket-sized point and shoot so I should have no excuses.)
  4. Submit something I've written (I promise, Corey!)  
  5. Be nicer to BSD (That was his suggestion, but I've thought about it, and I wouldn't want him to take away my Mean-Ass Woman title that I worked so hard to earn.)
This list is a little scary. We'll see how successful I am. I hope you'll stick around for the ride. I could use the moral support.

Happy New Year!