Wednesday, December 30, 2009

So long, 2009

We are off for a few days to ring in 2010 in style. I have a feeling 2010 is going to be particularly awesome--I think I do better in even years, and wll, this one already has lots of pretty amazing things planned.

So here's my not-so fond farewell to 2009.


While the past year was pleasant in many ways, there are a few things that 2009 can keep. My Top Nine Things That Can Stay in 2009 are:

1. New Year’s Resolutions. This is 2010, ya’ll. If the ancient Mayans and John Cusack are to be believed, we’ve only got two years until Armageddon. I suggest we all abandon the resolutions and prepare bucket lists instead.

2. Open microphones at award shows. This was a great list Sub Diva, and I’m going to let you finish, but People had the best Top list of all time!

3. Books about vampires. I love a good teenaged love story with the undead as much as the next gal, but how about we mix it up this year with some sea creature romances?

4. Pirates. Seriously, I said 2009, not 1709. And they’re not even vampires.

5. Guest lists at State Dinners. It’s harder to sneak into an R-rated movie than it is for breakfast in bed in the Lincoln bedroom.

6. Lax golf club laws. Poor Tiger.

7. TLC, a.k.a “The Learning Channel.” Let’s get real, folks. This is the network that gave us Jon minus Kate and What Not To Wear. Unless you’re majoring in family dysfunction and remedial fashion through public humiliation, you ain’t learnin’ nothin’ on The Learning Channel.

8. H1N1. But I don’t mind the built-in excuse as to why I can’t shake hands with a creepy dude at a cocktail party or refraining from dipping my hand into the bowl of Doritos that’s been passed around the room.

9. Top nine lists. In 2010 it’ll just look lazy.

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome 2010.

©2009 (for the last time!) Tracey Henry

Cross-posted at Suburbandiva.com

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Recap

Christmas was what it should be--loud, excessive, messy and totally magical.

We picked up my Dad and Mary Anne from the airport on Wednesday and headed to the Lightning game which is always fun and a good excuse not to cook.

We got an early present on Christmas Eve morning when Santa dropped a load of snow on our front lawn. (I guess Santa was at said hockey game as well and may or may have not had some Zamboni remnants in his sleigh runners.)



The kids played in that for about 4 minutes until it melted in the Florida sunshine and then we headed over to Attention Home to deliver their gifts and got ready for church and partying. I enslaved my father into wrapping an obscene amount of presents and Matty tracked Santa on Norad all night and actually fell asleep before 11:00 because Florida was Santa's first American stop.

Christmas morning began early and lasted late, and we watched Christmas movies, ate too much, soaked in the hot tub and put together 811 toys. Perfect.

We spent the rest of the weekend perfecting the art of chillaxing which might have been the best present of all and a nice way to end 2009.

2010 should be so perfect.

Friday, December 25, 2009

One last thought this Christmas Eve...

The Norad Santa tracker is pretty much the greatest thing ever invented.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My To Do List:

1.) Wrap eleventy five hundred gifts.

2.) Enjoy the holiday.

Both of which I intend to over the next few days.

The kids are bouncing off of the walls--in that good Christmas-y way, and you just can't help but want to put on an ugly Christmas sweater and join them. It's about to get really messy, noisy and happy around here, and I can't wait.

Enjoy yours!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our family's secret recipe: German Twists

I wouldn’t have believed this unless site meter told me it was so, but many people stumble upon my blog/site from the search words, “German Twist Cookies.” Until this digital confirmation, I would have thought my immediate family was the only humans on earth familiar with this delicacy since I’ve never seen them anywhere except my family Christmases.

If you’re not familiar with them, I wrote about the process of epic baking them here a couple of years ago, but I never wrote out the recipe. Something I intend to correct today.

Great Grandma’s (Rick’s?) German Twists

1 package of yeast dissolved in ¼ cup of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar

At least 3 ½ cups of flour (You’ll need closer to 5)

1 tsp. salt

1 cup of Crisco (seriously)

1 cup sour cream (full fat version, it’s Christmas)

3 eggs-- 1 whole, 2 yolks


1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon
(Actually, I have no idea if these are the measurements, you have to just eyeball it, and I don’t think you can screw it up)


Clear your calendar for the day. Take a deep breath and begin.

Mix the flour, salt and Crisco in the mixer on low until it is dry and crumbly. Add the sour cream, eggs--one at a time until blended. Stir in yeast mixture gently to combine.

You will notice at this point that the dough is more bread-y than cookie-y. That’s what you want. If it seems too wet, add a little more flour, but it should be moist, not dry.

Place the whole bowl into a warm (heated but off) oven with a pastry cloth tucking it in. Sing the dough a lullaby. Let it rise and breathe in the oven for two hours.

After it has doubled in size, knead it gently and return it to the oven to rise another hour. Wonder why you didn’t just make Snickerdoodles.

Now comes the fun part. And by “fun” I mean “not really.” Divide the dough in half. Take your working half and roll it out on long sheets of plastic wrap lining your work surface. (You need a lot of room for this.) Roll it out into a long rectangle. The bigger the better. Sprinkle half of the rolled out dough with the sugar mixture--then using the plastic wrap to help you, fold the dough over onto itself. Roll out again, repeat the sprinkle on the opposite side, 3 more times until you finally get a long log-like thing of dough-y goodness.



If you have made it this far, congratulate yourself with a glass of wine or seven. I think a nice Malbec goes nicely with Crisco.

Okay, cut the log into ¾-1 inch strips. Give the middle a little twist as you place onto your Silpat-lined cookie sheets. Or if you recently burned your Silpat in a freak broiler accident--just use parchment paper. Trust me--these things become molten cinnamon sugar lava when hot--you need something to help get them off.

Bake in a 350 oven for 15-17 minutes. Watch them--they suck if you burn them. And don’t forget you’ve got the other half of your dough in the oven before you bake that in the bowl. That that I’ve done that before or anything. I’ve just heard...

Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring them to cooling racks, because you should use as many dishes as possible for this recipe.

Realize you now have to repeat the process with that other half of the dough and alternately weep and rejoice.

With any stroke of luck, they should look like this:



This recipe makes between 3 and 5 dozen depending on your rolling pin skillz, but feeds the soul of all who taste it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Women are from Venus, Men are from Tom Tom

Sean: You need to pick me up at the car dealer later after I drop off my car to be repaired.

Me: Okay, where is it?

Sean: On 60 on the north side of the street.

Me:
Clueless stare.

Sean: Sigh. On the right.

Me: Still clueless blank stare.

Sean: On the side of the hand you write with.

Me: Making typing motions and shrugging my shoulders.

Sean: Huge sigh. I can't believe I let you educate our children. The opposite hand of your left-sided freckle.

Me: My biological left designator that faithfully got me through elementary school and Driver's Ed has now faded with age.

Sean: Seriously, you need help. The opposite side of the hand you wear your wedding ring on.

Me: Processing those long logistics. Oh, okay. I know right where it is!

After almost 18 years, it's the little signs of romance.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My favorite part of Christmas--FOOD!

Let's talk food, shall we? Specifically holiday menus.

Our Christmas Day dinner is traditionally Prime Rib with Yorkshire Pudding. A classic. If you've never had Yorkshire pudding, I so recommend you try it. It's really simple, I swear, and you will be rewarded handsomely with beef flavored eggy pillows of goodness that melt in your mouth. The trick is just to get the pan and juices from the meat really hot--so take the meat out of the pan when it's done and let it rest before slicing, crank up the oven and put the drippings back in while you prepare the batter and you'll have guaranteed success. You can uses individual things like they did here, or just the pan you used for the beef.

Here's a recipe from Epicurious.com, and it's sort of close to the one I use. I don't do those vegetables, but they look good. I make a homemade horseradish sauce and just season the prime rib with Kosher salt and pepper, and you're good to go.

I might have to add another special dish during the celebration week that I just discovered at this week's Sunday dinner. I have never made (or heard of) a New York Strip roast before, but let me tell you--delish! Just sprinkle the outside with salt and pepper, let it stand at room temp for an hour. Sear it in hot oil on each side and then stick it in the oven for about 50 minutes for medium rare (for a 4-lb roast). I made a pan sauce with a Madeira reduction, but you could use any sauce you'd like--my mouth just watered at the thought of Bearnaise...

I'm off to find a good egg bake recipe for Christmas morning. Sean teases me about it, but I know he would secretly miss it if it wasn't there next to the extra batteries under the tree.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I've got you, Hell Week

So I'm pretty sure this last week before school lets out and Christmas begins thinks it can take me down.

It's shaking its Monday at me screeching about Laundry and shopping. Tuesday's already wagging a finger with warnings of shopping, wrapping, baking, writing,and shipping. Wednesday's got its eye on Christmas cards and I think Thursday won't let me leave without doing something about that Santa Claus-esque gray streak I've got going on.

Well, let me just tell you Week of December 14th. I've seen bigger and badder seven day stretches than you, and I will not be defeated until the last snicker is doodled and nuesse is pfeffered. Got it? Good.

Because these are the reasons I kill myself every year.


Because Stevie still asks for "surprises" for Christmas.

Because Matty just will call out from out of the blue, "I love this time of year."

Because Amy sings Christmas carols with her arms thrown up above her head.

And because Jesso has no idea what's going to happen in less than two weeks.
Now go back to playing Christmas specials and last-gift sales. I've got work to do.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Rudolph the spin-off

We're watching the classic Christmas specials tonight on ABC Family. I love this crazy night of 1960's claymation/stuffed carnival animal yule fun--who doesn't sing "I'm Mr. Heat Miser" as their lullaby all of December?

But there is one program that just doesn't put the jingle in my jangle--"Rudolph's Shiny New Year."

If you haven't seen it, basically it's a special that some crack addict hopped up on snickerdoodles and cheap Asti Spumante came up with to fill the dead programming slots for the week of December 26-31. Rudolph is asked to save the Baby New Year from a vulture who will turn into a glacier if Time--played by Red Skelton--is allowed to continue. Rudolph gets help along the way by those traditional New Year's characters we all know and love: Big Ben the whale, a caveman, a knight with a Rip Van Winkle beard, the Three Bears and Ben Franklin. Pure Auld Land Syne gold here. I don't know whether I want Rudolph to win and save time or hope that the ice vulture triumphs so I can have that hour of my life back.

Go, Eon, go.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Dude, I can't win


In the I-can’t-win-no-matter-how-hard-I-try-yet-I-still-do-every-damn-day-anyway (a.k.a “Figures”) category, it seems there’s a consumer group--a really late and completely calendar-oblivious consumer group--that has determined that Zhu Zhu Pets--the hottest toy of 2009--may be unsafe, as my friend, Sharon reports.

The government is investigating the claim, but it seems these guys think the Zhu emits too much antimony, which among its many cited dangers includes the perilous description: "Antimony is toxic and immediately dangerous to life or health at 50 mg m-3 or above. (6) Exposure to 9 milligrams per cubic meter of air (mg/m3) of antimony as stibnite for a long time can irritate your eyes, skin, and lungs. Breathing 2 mg/m3 of antimony for a long time can cause problems with the lungs (pneumoconiosis) heart problems (altered electrocardiograms), stomach pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach ulcers. People who drank over 19 ppm of antimony once, vomited."

I think one of those footnotes refers to other pleasant side effects like optic warts and small pox.

Or it could note that Mattel was the sponsor of the study.

I wonder if the New York Times will be calling for my reaction on spending a king’s ransom on arsenic-laden fake hamsters.

At least I’m on record as saying we got the yellow one.

Random Updates

Collectiong my thoughts around the Interweb this morning...

My Hallmark giveaway is up at Whoa Momma.

My letter to Santa on Suburban Diva.com

And a great local event to attend on Saturday--Snowfest!

Whew. It's been a busy morning....

Sunday, December 06, 2009

O Christmas Tree?

Usually when we pick out our Christmas tree, it pretty much follows the same pattern. Sean picks out one way too big, I pick out one way too small, and we repeat this game of extremes through six tree lot tents until the kids feel like impaling themselves on a pine bough just to go home.

Not this year.

Today, as I was looking at the juniper bush size trees checking needle pressure and trunk straightness, Sean and the kids all went for the single largest tree in the tent. It was a mammoth tree--so ridiculously large that Rockefeller Center probably rejected it because it was just too big. Stevie stood next to it and could only reach the bottom tier of branches. I thought I can hear the Swiss Family Robinson yodeling somewhere near the top.

It was pricey too, this here tree. Double what I thought was expensive. But instead of traveling 4.6 miles to the next identical tent with the identical over-priced over-sized trees, we just did it. Bought the biggest, baddest, most crooked, expensive tree in the county and put it in our living room. And bedroom and kitchen, but sometimes you just need a little a whole heaping lot of Christmas right this very minute.



Even though we don't have even a fraction of ornaments or lights to decorate this Yule Log hopped up on Miracle Gro, the house whole--as well as the whole block--smells of pine and the unexpected.

And Santa can not only leave a whole lot of presents, he can park his sleigh underneath, string up a hammock from the lowest boughs and take a siesta on Christmas night.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Did you watch Top Chef last night?

One of the three shows that I try to make a point of watching every week is Top Chef. I can't help it--I think it's absolute genius to watch a show that the contestants are judged by how things taste, and yet the audience never actually tastes it. But yet week after week, I believe Tom Colicchio when he says the foie gras is too salty. Pure damn genius.

So as a crazy lunatic Top Chef fan, I'm not sure if this absolutely hysterical recap of last night's episode will be as meaningful if you don't actually watch it, but if you don't at least emit a chuckle over the summary of the commercial break, then you have no soul.

A commercial break: Erica, the grand pooba of pasta (Handy!), chancellor of cheese (Fresh!), connoisseur of cold (Chilly!) stuck in eternal repetition of infernal domesticity, the unwanted and illegitimate daughter of Julia Child and Sisyphus since September 2007. The choreography of her misery augmented by the words and sounds that float and freeze across her sound and vision. One voice, a man's; the chorus belonging to women who one imagines wear black velvet dresses; the guitar a twobit Shaft riff from a complacent studio musician named Walter. "Am I insane?" she thinks, panicked behind a Westport smile. "No," she relaxes. "For at least the words the women are saying are the same words that appear on the screen. At least I can hold on to that." Her capillaries relax. But as she holds up her hot dog made from the undifferentiated corpses of a small shtetl of holsteins, (Viceroy of Value!), she sees the word "Tasty" next to her Piggly Wiggly face but hears the word "Yummy!"

The eggshell cracks but perhaps it was just a momentary blip in the world largely seamlessly. She seals her wiener in a Glad bag, still clinging like a rat to rubbish to her happiness. "Thrifty!" the steel gray of the word threatens to bang into her temple. "Alright," she says, "if I hear Wilson Phillips say 'Thrifty' I'm sane and it's all okay. I'm not a sad clown. I'm a woman, a mother. My husband isn't cheating on me. He'll find a job soon." But then the voices come. "Economical!" it says with malign glee. Erica, the grand pooba of pasta, chancellor of cheese, connoisseur of cold, collapses like a soufflé onto her linoleum floor. Her apron bunches, her legs splayed. She's crying and her tears pool on the clear plastic coffins of food unwanted. Happily, her hot dog stays dry. A moment's reprieve is all Erica's misery earns her and then the music starts again. She rises up, compelled by a tourbillon of the wretched, and reties her apron. "Erica!" the voices say and Glad is misery.


Read the whole article here on Gawker.com.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Why our December electric bill is $4,083.52

Today was decorating day.



We went with the more festive lighting options this year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Home

Perhaps since we dined on a delicious steak on Thanksgiving rather than the Tryptophan-laced turkey, I got a boost of domestic energy today.

We returned home from Atlanta late last night, and while the boys were off at a hockey tournament at a very unlady-like time of morning, I unpacked, did all of the laundry, cleaned out closets and dressers to fill a dozen bags of clothes to Goodwill, grocery shopped, did miscellaneous computer tasks, went through all of the catalogs and made a very nice white bean turkey chili with fresh cilantro.

I am recording this not to brag or to bore you, but to prove to myself later that I did something of substance this week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Day Tips

I've written an entire list of step-by-step instructions on Thanksgiving preparations here, but here are a few more:

1.) Save your money on the white truffle butter. Matty claims it was the best turkey he's ever eaten, but I still think it was funky and not in a good, wholesome Thanksgiving sort of way. More like I want to eat Funyons and Mountain Dew after noshing on a turkey leg slathered in peyote buttons.

2.) Deep-fry your cranberry sauce. But eat it hot, right away and sprinkle powdered sugar on it like you were at the county fair instead of a formal dinner. Delish.

3.) Pick the exact opposite of my football picks.

4.) Not really a tip, more of a general question: If your kid gets sick on Thanksgiving, can it be considered swine, or are we back to the bird flu? Or maybe Stevie just is allergic to peyote.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

At $1.83 per ounce, it should smell better

The other bonus about Fake Thanksgiving today?

When you screw up the turkey by getting all Ina Garten on it and spreading white truffle butter all over it which has your kitchen smelling like effing Sherwood Forest in the rain, your guests get to have the real thing on Thursday and you didn't ruin real Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not what I thought I'd be quoted in the New York Times for, but I'll take it

Before I started talking about Fake Thanksgiving, I spoke about Fake Hamsters.

And today, I spoke about fake hamsters to the very real New York Times.

Fake Thanksgiving

Because our plans on actual Thanksgiving Day don't include my kitchen, we're having Fake Thanksgiving here on Sunday.

Fake Thanksgiving is very similar to the real one except I am armed with 3 extra shopping days and a week's worth of Food Network specials. Yesterday I got the prime jumbo turkey because they weren't all picked over, and we can watch other football games besides the Lions and Cowboys.

Keeping with non-Thanksgiving theme, we got an early Christmas/late hurricane present. Because we didn't use our hurricane days this fall (yay el nino!) we get an extra day off from school and don't have to go back until Decemberfreakingfirst, ya'll. You can best believe I'm pretty thankful for that.

And speaking of stepping away from the Food Network, Sean does not think that Paula Deen's Deep-Fried Cranberry Sauce Fritters sound like a little piece of breaded heaven. I think he's crazy and needs to be committed.

But then again he may have had a different opinion if he actually saw her make them with Kermit the Frog.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mayberry, Cuba and CSI

So not all went as planned this weekend. We kicked it off with a little crime here, and while nothing (much) of value was taken, it really rattled me and I'm a little paranoid and skittish as a result.

The police took all of my information, including fingerprinting my car, which I have to tell you, makes me feel somewhat like a suburban bad ass. The neighbors all passed by as CSI: Mayberry was in the driveway collecting evidence, and I bet they're all wondering just what type of drama was unfolding. I'm purposely keeping the black fingerprint dust as a deterrent to future douchebaggery.

But that did not stop us from attending our fall benefit last night,and here is the primer for the event in case you missed it.

This is what pre-revolutionary, post-Fidel, and current-acting Raul, Cuba looks like from Mayberry:



Note the black dress, again. They must have stolen Technicolor from my closet, too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th sucks

I hate it when a day lives up to its cliche.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Things I did and did not do this week

Things I did this week:

1.) I wrote my fool fingers off on both assigned work and le book.

2.) I found a dress to wear to the benefit on Saturday.

3.) I fit into a smaller size than I orignally thought for Saturday.

4.) Finally took care of that Bride of Franenstein thing I had going on in my hair.

5.) Found a missing thumb drive.


Things I did not do this week:

1.) Get as far as I thought on the rewrites because it's like a house of cards when you change something, you then have to re-write 20,000 more words to make the two in the middle make sense.

2.) Drink soda.

3.) Grieve when the temperature dipped below 90 for the first time since last November.

4.) Get the peanut butter out of the earpiece of my phone.

5.) Hear anything anyone said when they called me.


Not a bad way to spend a week.

Monday, November 09, 2009

This worked so well for reptiles...

You crazies, you got me all distracted with iguanas and property law and I totally missed that I had a whole host of other assignments due (ones that actually pay) and so I have to extend my research/interview requests to include:

1.) Suggestions for giving books as gifts this holiday season. Kids, adults, fiction or non--anything that really sticks out for you this year?

2.) Somethng hilarious Christmas column.

You can just write, proofread and submit that last one to my stocking.

Thanks.

(But leave a comment on the first one...)

Friday, November 06, 2009

It's called "research"

Because I'm too lazy to use the Google, here's the novel research question of the day: Do iguanas have long tongues that eat flies?

These are the literary questions that consume me lately. I am proud to say that despite having a double ear infection, peanut butter in the ear-piece of my new iPhone (not related. I think.), and a whole bunch of other distractions, I have, in fact, a beginning, middle and end to the novel.

*waits for applause to subside*

Now begins the task of going back through and filling all of the holes I made and generally tightening prose and bolstering word counts. And research.

In other words, all of the fun stuff.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Interview Requests

No, I'm serious.

I need two reasonably-educated people (or one super smart one) to help me out in a couple of scenes in my book. I don't need binding legal opinion, but I just need to know what the fictional legal ramifications would be for two of my characters. So if any lawyer-type has a few minutes to kill, I'd be appreciative.

The other quasi-expert I need is someone familiar with Roberts Rules and parlimentary procedure in general. If this fits your description, then you could use some fun and read two scenes in my novel.

Help a sister out, please. Divamail@Suburbandiva.com and I'll mention you in the dedication.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Happy Birthday, Stevie

My little boy turned 14 today, and in addition to making us all old, it also means I've had the best fourteen years of my life, and we are so very blessed. So very blessed.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

No really, I'm serious this time. Really.

Perhaps you are already familiar with NaNoWriMo, which translates to National Novel Writing Month to writers around the literary world. November is traditionally the month someone determined was a good one in which to challenge people to write a novel in 30 days.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Here in Safety Harbor, Novemeber is hereby designated as GYFNFA--which simply means, "Get your freaking novel finished already."

GYFNFA has already passed by several times here this year--you'll recall June, August and most recently October as celebratory months. But now, I'm serious. December 1 will mark 2 years of this particular project, and if I don't finish it now, it will never, ever, ever happen.

I really don't have that much more to go, and now that Trunk n' Treat, Halloween, a few birthdays, baseball season and all of my excuses are over, I should be quite prolific for the next 30 days.

Look for my furious typing fingers and furrowed brow this month.

Saying good-bye to October:



Amy doesn't like the spooky music coming from across the street.



Before the sugar coma.




It's already 400 degrees, the fire just ensures that all of the Fun Size Snickers melt.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just made the Jell-o for the oozing brains exhibit, should have saved some for shots

In a few hours, I will be knee deep in All Hallows Eve Eve. Which for this gal, means our annual Trunk n' Treat event at school.

If you look back over the years, you'll see that I love this event, I really do. You will also see that I have skated any responsibility for this party which is probably why I like it so much.

That changes this year. They put me in charge of the whole thing because they are crazy. Or they don't read my blog to know that I am crazy. And unorganized and not fit for planning anything except how I can skirt more planning. It's pretty much a survival skill.

So tomorrow will be interesting. It will either be fine (because really, there isn't a whole lot of stuff you can do beforehand for this) or I will have screwed it up so horribly that they will lock me into a trunk and push me over a cliff.

But if I don't die in a flaming "accident" (Please forward this to law enforcement officials upon my untimely demise) I can always rely on my pumpkin-carving skills when we have to go on the lamb.

As long as that lamb is in Sleepy Hollow or something.

(Dang, don't forward that clue to my soon-to-be assassins.)

Princess Tiana: I met her!




Following a colorful procession in a horse-drawn carriage befitting royalty, the newest Disney princess made her debut at the Magic Kingdom on Monday.



Princess Tiana from the upcoming Disney film, The Princess and the Frog, made her way from the Louisiana Bayou to Cinderella’s castle as Mickey and the gang welcomed her into the fold.



The first Disney princess since Mulan in 1998, Princess Tiana is breaking new ground in the old classic fairy tale. The first African American princess, she is also the first to be set in modern times. The Princess and the Frog, which opens nationwide on December 11, 2009, also returns to the classic hand-drawn animation that audiences have adored for generations. The story is a comical “modern twist on a classic tale” set in the mystical bayous of Louisiana and features music by Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman.

Visitors to the Magic Kingdom can get a glimpse--and ear-- of the high-energy music in the attraction “Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee” which will run three shows daily until January 3, 2010. The nine minute show plays on the Liberty Belle Riverboat and features the movie characters as well as randomly-chosen park guests in the cleverly choreographed production that resembles a Mardi Gras parade on water. Fast-paced without the need for a Fast Pass, you can watch from the docks of Frontierland.

In addition to seeing a lot of Tiana on store shelves this holiday season, little ones can take a look in their magic mirrors after a trip to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for a glittery view. Prices for the girl glam packages start at $49.95 and Tiana’s fresh look is among the royal styles available.

And if you can’t make it to her house at the Magic Kingdom, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot of the new princess knocking at your door this Halloween or on your kids’ wish lists this year--already her soft green and cream petal dress and plush doll are big sellers.

But it is in theaters where kids are sure to fall in love with the beautiful Tiana. The impressive team that has contributed to this movie since the project began in 2006 assures success.

You can see scenes of the film here and if you enter a theme park between now and November 22, 2009, you can get details on how to receive a voucher for a free child’s movie ticket.

(Cross-posted at Whoa Momma! )

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One day

Today--October 27th--the worst day of the year, I’m going to play a game.

I’m going to pretend I get my Mom back for one day.

Actually, I play this all of the time, and I have a nightmare about it at least once a week, but today I really thought about it.

First off, I’d cook you something. Something delicious and decadent and totally wonderful. When you got sick, you lost your appetite. You lost your ability to enjoy a meal with your family and I always hated that was another thing that got taken from you. I would make you Beef Wellington because you loved that. And one of the first real meals I ever cooked for you was that and a homemade mushroom bisque. You said you liked it--maybe you were being a kind, but I thought it was good.

Then we’d play a game. Double-solitaire. Which is a really stupid game, but when we played it our way it was fun and I loved that scurrying play to the finish. We would not play Scrabble because you would beat me--you were the true wordsmith of the family.

And then, like I was five again, I’d say, “Mom! Look what I made!” And I would introduce you to your grandchildren. And I know a day isn’t enough time, but you would be able to see how smart and kind they all are. You’d notice that Stevie LOOKS JUST YOU which you would deny out loud but secretly covet because you could even see it. You would see Matty and know that as old of a soul that Stevie is, Matty is a young one--forever a little boy who loves his dog and his little sister and isn’t at all embarrassed by that.

And Amy. Oh, how you would love Amy. And you would know. You would just know.

And Jessie needs a grandmother to spoil her and keep me from losing my mind with her. She would entrance you with her smile and personality, and you wouldn’t be able to get mad at her when she poured paint on your carpet.

And no matter what time of year it was--I don’t care if it was June--I would set up a Christmas tree and make Sean string lights through the palm trees. I would fly Wendy and your other two grandchildren in, Dad, your Dad, Uncle Norm, Gram and Gramp--anyone who is left and we would have a Christmas dinner and eat again around a huge table laughing and taking a million pictures. I’d make you pecan pie. (I put chocolate in mine and it’s really good.)

I’d wear your shoes. I’d play Neil Diamond. Grandpa would recite poetry from his amazing memory.

I would ask you to wear extra perfume so that it lingered on everything you touched and when you were gone again, I’d bury my face into the blanket and recall you.
I’d hold you.

I would be held.

And to those who would say that a day wouldn’t be enough, I’d risk it.

Because this day is long.

This day is way too long.

Today

I will tell you all about happy things like Princesses and magic tomorrow, but today, like every year on this day for the last ten, I just want to think about my Mom.

And miss her without apology.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Meeting princesses this week

I got a tremendous amount of work done today out of necessity for the sheer amount of work I have to do for the week ahead. Yes, everyone has clean socks and it's not even Monday yet.

On Friday, we have our annual Trunk n' Treat event at school, the day in which the entire year orbits around. At least it does for me since I am chairing this, and I basically suck at doing anything more than 10 minutes out.

But before I fall flat on my painted face on Friday, tomorrow I get to wake up two hours earlier than a normal Monday so that I can go cover Princess Tiana's debut at Disney World, complete with parade, press box seating for her new show and interview opportunities with Disney staff.

And that is a pretty cool way to start a long, full week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Learning more about this everyday

A few weeks ago I did a lot of research on the Swine Flu for the article in The St. Pete Times.

Since that article was published, things are still changing with this bizarre disease, and I’m still learning more about it as we go. In our own school, many more cases were diagnosed and confirmed, but luckily, none were severe and as far as I know, all of those students have returned to school.

But that doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to join a Walgreen’s teleconference with Dr. Gwenn O’Keefe of Pediatricsnow.com and Dr.Gwennisin.com, and I learned a little bit more about the H1N1 and why we need to be aware of it.

~First off, it’s seems to target our kids most of all. For some still unknown reason, this flu hits ages 0-24 the hardest, leaving the 65+ group almost untouched. Pregnant women are given the top priority on the vaccine list.

~90% of the flu circulating in the U.S. right now is H1N1. So chances are, if you feel like you have the flu, it’s probably H1N1.

~This strain isn’t peaking like the seasonal flu does every year. Instead of ebbing and falling like typical flu seasons, this one shows no sign of slowing down. Dr. Gwenn says we really need to pay attention to the statistics to realize how differently this strain behaves.

~She recommends both the regular flu shot as well as the H1N1 when it becomes available in your area. To the critics that say the vaccine for the Swine Flu isn’t “tested,” she says that it is the exact same science and testing as the seasonal flu shot that has been in existence for over 60 years with a rather impressive track record.

We also spoke extensively about the need to be prepared in case you get sick--stocking up on items and food well before you actually need them.

But a couple of things remained constant--wash your hands frequently and make sure your kids are as well. This is still our number one preventive measure.

And definitely don’t waste your money--and false confidence--on the facemasks.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Six

Happy Birthday, A-Dog!




Someday you'll appreciate what we went through for your present.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, here's a fake I.O.U. for your fake hamster

I am currently on the last minute hunt for hamsters. Of the mechanical variety.

It's A-Dog's birthday tomorrow and I am scouring the entire greater Tampa/Orlando area for Zhu Zhu Pets, an endangered species according to Toy R Us. Who knew that they would be sold out before freaking Halloween?

Store clerks are laughing at me when I call and ask if they have any in stock. Amazon just has a huge 'LOL' banner across the page, and I swear Target had the Twitter fail whale on their toy site. It's crazy with a capital Zhu.

The absolute worst part of this whole thing? Not the disappointment when she opens her rain check, but that she might actually want a real hamster instead.

*&^%$ holiday Ebay conservationists...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Giving away goodness this week

I know you're thinking that with all of this partying and blog avoidance that I haven't been working, but you're so wrong.

I've been working incredibly hard giving things away. Make sure you enter all of these current contests to score some swag:

See's Candy (2 readers will recieve gift cards for $25 delicious dollars worth of sweet goodness)

Michael Buble's new CD (5 readers will receive sweet sounds of goodness)

A Journal from Energizer and Susan G. Komen for the Cure (to make sure we are all spreading the goodness.)

Make sure you're entered...

A Tasty Weekend

Since my last update regarding partying through October, we partied some more...

Took advantage of the long weekend to head to Disney. We hadn't ever done Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party (totally worth every penny--no lines!) and I got invited to Epcot's Party for the Senses, so it seemed like a good time to do both.

We stayed at the new Waldorf-Astoria which opened on October 1st, and was absolutely gorgeous. They were offering some pretty sweet Grand Opening specials which actually made it cheaper to stay there than at the Nick Hotel. No choice there. My only criticism may be that it they are going to tout their historic culinary contributions to the world in their in-room brochure--the Manhattan, Veal Oscar, 1000 Island Dressing, the Waldorf salad and Red Velvet Cake--they may actually consider offering them on their pricey menus. I would have paid a handsome sum for the original Red Velvet cake.

But I got my culinary freak on elsewhere.

You'll have to rely on your sense of imagination when I tell you about the Party for the Senses at Epcot since I forgot my camera like the slacker reporter that I am. If I had indeed brought it (which I desperately need a new one) I would have snapped impressive photos of an enormous room with dozens of stations offering the best wines and finest classic cuisine you've seen gathered in one place. Visiting chefs from around the world as well as Disney's award winners prepared an offering of amazing dishes that were delicious. My personal favorites included Confit of Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with Toasted Almond Pain Perdu, Heirloom Apple, and Calvados Cider Reduction, the Herb-Crusted Lamb Chop with Red Wine Cherry Sauce and Crispy Triple Onion Polenta or the Roasted Beef Tenderloin "Diane." I'd list more, but each one has a descriptor twenty words long and it makes me hungry just with the recall.

You probably won't believe me, but I swear it's true: This was my first trip to Epcot's Food and Wine Festival. I may be the only Floridian to ever have written those words in 2009. It is a hopping place and people take their food and wine very seriously. Or at least their wine.

It was absolutely packed on Saturday--the lines for the food stands were decades long and pushing a stroller or seven through the crowds of matching drinking gear T-shirts wasn't exactly a good time for me. Veterans at the party later, which was such a welcome respite from the crowds outside, told me that weekends are usually like that--your best bet is to come during the week. Which is what we'll do if we ever return (sans kids).

But the Party for the Senses was indeed a feast, and I loved every delicious moment of it.

We got home yesterday in time to celebrate the remaining hours of Sean's birthday and the cool weather and gear up for the busy week ahead.

I'm off to the store for that Calvados...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

This explains a lot

Hey you...yeah, you over there in the fetal position in the corner after another football game and Columbus Day party. Yeah, move over, but don’t speak too loudly or she’ll hear us and I could really use a break.

Who? October, silly. The Calendar Party Girl. The cute one who looks to her right at September with its Back to School buzz kill and to the left at solemn November Black Friday and Election Day and determined frivolity is all up to her during autumn. She makes sure that all parties, school events, weddings, festivals, birthdays, tailgating and general fun are planned during her short weeks.

She stocks her crib with lots of food, drink and Fun Size Snickers so you can't possibly refuse her generous invitation even though you know you'll regret it later. There's no cover, but you'll pay the price of admission ten times over as you try to squeeze everything in.

She's the kind of roommate that plays the Black Eyed Peas too loud when you're trying to study or hides your shoes to make you late for work. She plays hooky and forges notes to the teacher. She's forever ordering the “final final.”

Oh, look who the black cat dragged in. Another late night I see, October.

We are half-way through this festive month, and I just wanted to let you know that I'm on to you, October. You may be dressed in that ridiculous Farrah Fawcett costume (that I stayed up late one night to make, I'll remind you) but I see right through you.

Don't look at me like that.

Yes, it would be fun just to stop by that Halloween party dressed up as Jon and Kate, but I don't have time to shop for an Ed Hardy T-shirt and a wig. We've got a book report due, remember?

No, we can't watch Charlie Brown in the car on the way and write something up in the morning, there's a rubric involved.

Of course a pumpkirazzi would be funny, but that would take hours to carve and we should have a nice healthy dinner and go to bed early tonight.

What? I don't think bobbing for apples counts as a serving of fruit. Neither does Tropical Skittles so don't even ask.

Seriously, we should really clean something and get a good night's sleep.

I know you could clean my clock in pumpkin corn hole, but I'm not playing tonight.

You're so 2000 and late.

You seriously need to step away from the World Series watch parties and run some bases around the gym. An imported beer belly is not any more sophisticated than a domestic one.

That is the sound of me putting my foot down, not a lead-off to a polka--you’re going to have to go to that Oktoberfest without me.

Is she gone?

Not yet? That’s right, it’s only the 15th. Unfortunately she doesn’t turn into a pumpkin until the 31st.

Yeah, fine. I’m coming. One refrain of “Monster Mash” and we’re out of there. I swear.

It’s no wonder why we’re so thankful in November...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quasi-Friday

Maybe I just needed a quasi-festival to get me out of my quasi-funk.

Last night we headed down to our town's Okctofest--which was neither fest nor October themed. Under a 95 degree blanket, we walked past the kiosks of Italian Ice and Empanadas and quickly realized that we were not going to get the Brats and beer that we craved, so we all decided to walk down to a restaurant instead.

Our original table of 14 quickly doubled with other friends who completed their festival tour in 4.2 minutes, and pretty soon we had half of the outdoor restaurant in our pod.

We sat in front of a quasi-band that played their karaoke too loudly, but J. and J. got on the dance floor and quickly drew a crowd of cell phone camera paparazzi with their little toe heads bopping to "Dancing Queen." One woman asked if they were twins, then if they were brother and sister, and finally when she looked at me asked if they were adopted.

Dude, it's blond hair not a Roswell discovery. Is it that much of a stretch that I could have given birth to her? I don't think so...

Anyway, it was fun despite not having any of my fall-related cravings satiated and my maternity questioned.

Tonight we're off to a wedding after sports, and this morning the paper printed my swine flu tips because when our community faces a pandemic, it is Suburban Diva to whom the city looks to for quasi-guidance.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Experiment over

This telepathic blogging isn't as effective as the old way.

I'll probably go back to writing it down tomorrow.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A story problem

Question: If there are three confirmed swine flu cases at your elementary school and you have three kids enrolled in grades K-8 and at least two are running fevers at 100.1 or above, what is the total number of minutes your family will be in school next week?

Answer: 2.3 minutes. (But I will accept the 12 minutes of whining in carline before we turn around and come home tomorrow morning.)

Extra credit:
How much money will I spend on Kleenex, hand sanitizer and doctor's office copays over the next 3 days?

(Hint: anything under $17,000 is wrong.)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Well hello, blog.

It's been a little tough to be funny this week.

Not that there has been any earth-shattering disasters, it's just the everyday stuff that normally makes me laugh, hasn't.

Perhaps it's that the sense of humor is located in the sinus cavity, and everyone around here has theirs infected. Doctor visits, Nyquil and hand washing doesn't exactly tickle anyone's funny bone. Or at least not mine.

Usually when I have trouble finding humor at home, I can always find some at work. Or in the assignments I get. This week, I wrote about swine flu. Instead of surfing the Net for preschool pasties, I spent hours on the CDC website. Not exactly a knee-slapper.

The words left over at the end of these tough days ended up fixing a broken heart or writing emails for one of the many crazy events October brings. Or being sunk into the dangerously close end of the first draft of the novel.

Oh yeah, the novel.

I'm serious when I say the end is near. Very near. And the gift I'm giving myself this month (and my family which has to live with me as I pen this) is a completed first draft. It's time.

So this Sunday's dinner menu will be a little less-ambitious, and I'm going to get a haircut this morning hoping to take a few inches of weight from shoulders to make room for something else.

Or at least I can write hair jokes about myself.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I think they grow weary of my art

Somehow, the "Oh, great," Sean muttered under his breath when I announced I was making homemade sausage for tomorrow's Oktoberfest seemed a little less than sincere.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It could happen

Our writer's group hasn't met since early last spring, so at our reunion meeting this morning I am hoping my last 20,000 words will magically appear in the foam of my skinny vanilla latte.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

P.S.

Here's that link to my Kouzzina by Cat Cora post on Whoa Momma.

Whatever it's called is not helping

Well, that actually lasted much longer than I thought.

The first day of fall coincidentally marks our first Sick Day.

I might have thought A-Dog was faking it, but I, too, woke up feeling like I’d swallowed a sea urchin during the night, so I let her go back to bed.

Sean keeps pushing the Eukanaba (or whatever it’s called) on me saying it boosts the immune system or something.

It is now Day 2 of this horrendous head cold lodged where my tonsils used to be, and I feel worse than ever.

I think this Euthanasia (or whatever it’s called) is just Spanish Fly for Strep.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Me and my friend Cat were doing shots of ouzo together...

I wrote about the actual restaurant, "Kouzzina by Cat Cora" over on Whoa Momma, but for my friends, I wanted to tell you about the experience of meeting her yesterday.

First off, you know how much I love food. Eating it, making it, watching it, talking about it. So when I got the invitation for this about a month ago, there was absolutely no way I was going to miss it. No. Way.

But I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The restaurant soft-opened in August, but this was a special Grand Opening event. All the invitation gave was a date and time and that a special "tasting menu" would be served. In my head, I set the bar for "tasting" to mean either supermarket samples in paper cups or if I really reached, waiters walking around with small portions of miscellaneous food to serve the perhaps thousands in attendence.

Oh no, my friends. Oh no.

There were 8 tables of 8, with one of those reserved for Cora and her immediate family. So by my twisted math, I figured I was one of Cat's 64 best friends. And please don't correct me because it's better if you leave me to my delusions.

There was assigned seating, and the tables were set beautifully with 3 glasses of wine, a shot of ouzo and Pellegrino in front of every chair. There were about 3 waitstaff per diner, and the same for chefs in the kitchen.


We sat down and were greeted by the President of Disney--ah hello--who introduced Cat Cora who might be the only adult woman under the age of 109 shorter than me. (She stood on a box to address us.) There are cameras set up along the entire perimeter, and I just know I'm going to be re-living this moment on a Food Network special soon. She gave her very nice opening remarks, juggling her son on her hip like every other mother I know, then instructed the guests to share a shot of ouzo with her, as she likes to do. It is also her custom to do this after an Iron Chef battle, so then my delusion builds, and I think this must make me an honorary Iron Chef. Or not.

And then they start bringing out the food. Either Cat,(cause BFF's call each other by their first names) her head chef, or her mother, each introduce a dish and give the history behind it. And they are not miniscule portions in sample cups. Nope, 12 courses of the most delicious and full, Mediterranean-inspired plates of flavor you've ever seen, paired with wines from her own winery label, "Coronation."



Cat starts making the rounds and personally speaks to every single person in the restaurant. Graciously posing for pictures, answering questions, smiling...and then her mother comes around and does the same. When Cat comes to me, I think I just sputtered out some unintelligible garlic-scented drivel since I had just tried the Chilled Salt-roasted Beets with Skordalia which I think translates to "big pillow o' yummy garlic." I am a little star-struck. I admit this freely. I kick myself for not asking for a photo.

So we proceed like this for a couple of hours, dish after dish, until our limbs have petrifield into bubbling souflee cups. But I seriously don't want to leave. I feel like I should help with the dishes or something.

Because it really was that intimate. It shouldn't have been--who am I to be treated to something the exectuive chef of Bon Appetit is preparing? (Did I mention I have every single issue of that magazine since 1994? Seriously, ask Lisa.)

But I was, and that's how it felt--being treated like I was a guest in her home--a great big, well-staffed home--but a home nonetheless. And as I looked around the room, I realize I'm glad that I am star-struck. I am glad that I eat everything placed in front of me--not that anything is a stretch except for the Brussel Sprouts because I really, really, really hate Brussel Sprouts--and allow myself to enjoy the gift I was given as my hostess intended. I am glad that I can be appreciative of every single bite whether it was something I was familiar with or not.

On the way out, I get up the nerve to say "Thank you," to her as she's cutting up dessert for one of her four sons. She smiles, I know she's got hours of interviews ahead of her, and thanks ME for coming which I almost have to laugh out loud at the lop-sided absurdity of it.

But I don't.



Instead, we pose for a picture together and I try to absorb all of the sights, sounds, tastes and scents of a memorable afternoon.

Even the Brussel Sprouts.





We start with Greek salad but it's made with arugula--a much better choice for a Mediterrean salad than wet iceberg lettuce if you ask me. It had a lovely oregano vinegarette, and tomatoes that are actually grown on property.



Spanakopita. Deliriously good Spanakopita.



Pastitsio, a Greek lasagna, but this one has this cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, Bucatini pasta and a Bechamel. I am still full.




these are the salt-roasted beets. I didn't even know I liked beets, but hello? Seriously good stuff, and so pretty...



Traditional Gigantes beans--Cat's mom taught us how to pronounce it, but I can't remember.



Here's the Fisherman's Stew--scallops, red snapper, mussels, fennel, sea goodness.



This is the oak-grilled Lamb burger. If there was anything on the menu that I couldn't finish, it was unfortuantely this because it was just too spicy for me. Which made me really sad, because I love lamb, and the homemade roll and tsizki sauce were lucious.



And finally, dessert. Or should I say, desserts? Chocolate Budino cake (molten), Baklava, and Greek-style yogurt sorbet with fresh berries in that little jar in simple syrup. We were also served a Frappe that was a deleicious ending.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maybe they should issue a membership card like Costco

The only analogy I can come up with is that guy at the grocery store.

Now before my husband busts me for making such a sweeping generalization--he who buys 2 oz bottles of Coca-Cola in collector miniature bottles for $27 per 4-pack--not all men, just the one with that deer in the headlights look that accompanies a trip to Publix on Saturday afternoon when he's caught in the headlights of oncoming grocery carts filled with BOGO's driven by professional shoppers with photographic memories of Sunday circulars and unexpired coupons while all he wanted to pick up was a case of Miller Lite and toilet paper.

Dude, I've been there.

Today, at Michael's.

I know, I don't belong there, and I apologize right now for attempting to crash the club at 10 am on a Tuesday morning when that time slot is clearly reserved for the professional crafters among us--of which, I am not.

I think they set up that store to purposely confuse the uninvited. I don't understand the subtleties of paint--why can't all of the paint be in one aisle instead of divided into fabric paint, wood paint, craft paint, spray paint, kid paint, floral paint and really expensive, If-You-Have-To-Ask-What's-It-For-you- shouldn't-be-using-it-paint. I need to paint a pumpkin but I see no aisle designating that. Oh, and by the way, I need 23 more of those pumpkins in the exact same size and I can only fit 1 and half in this miniature cart you've supplied.

I manage to get 20 of the pumpkins in three carts, and a smattering of other supplies when I go to check out. The looks from the line--which is inexplicably long for a Tuesday morning--were sinister. Hatred spewing from their eyes as I wheeled my Jack o' lantern caravan through. The cashier has me bagging the pumpkins, which doesn't make it easier because less pumpkins can fit into the cheap plastic bags than the cart designed for hobbits.

But no one will help you.

And it's not like it's even the service hell that is Joanne's because at least they sell fabric that needs to be cut and so the bolts of seersucker and gingham get the lion's share of personnel.

But anyway, the old ladies behind me are guffawing, which flusters me to no end. Guffaws are my Achilles' heels. I don't know why, it's stupid and rather immature, but I really can't take guffaws from old women. Combine that horrendous chin music with the ridiculous awkwardness of 10 inch craft pumpkins precariously balanced and Jessie grabbing chocolate from the cash wrap, that needless to say, I forgot the tax exempt number I was supposed to use as well as the two coupons that I had managed to garner the foresight to cut on Sunday.

I'm sure you can't tell, but the whole experience--which isn't even over yet because in addition to having to get 4 more pumpkins, you know that the paint I bought is probably Vaseline-based and is going to right slide off of those suckers into a pool of black and orange despair--has me once again wondering why I do these things to myself.

And really, the paint will be the least of my problems because you know this pumpkin is never going to look as cute and clever as the one I've designed in my mind.

No, it's going to look like that guy at the grocery store tried to use a glue gun and popcicle sticks after that case of Miller Lite.

Guffaw.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Did I mention I love stuffed grape leaves?

Either the culinary gods are applauding my efforts of late, or they are completely disgusted and want to show me how real chefs cook.

I'm okay with either one of those reasons.

Because on Thursday, I get to meet Cat Cora of Iron Chef and general culinary brilliance fame.

I get to meet her, and taste some of her new dishes she's whipping up for a new restaurant in Disney, "Kouzzima." And I am so excited I've started fasting right now.

So fellow foodies, don't hate me because I'm about to eat beautifully. I will check on doggie bags...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday goodness

I think I may just have turned down some alternate path in the universe--I am actually looking forward to going to the gym this morning because it makes me feel good. That's equivalent to saying I prefer a bowl of some foreign-sounding cereal in an unbleached cardboard box to eating Trix by the handful.

Anyway, here is all the Friday news that's worth mentioning before I continue acting like a grown-up.

The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is selecting its 2010 panelists. Please enter here if you are interested.


I put a new column up at Suburbandiva.com.Are you a subscriber? You are missing out on all of my giveaways and new content if not.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I'll spare you the trouble of sending me hate mail

I've been around long enough to know that the below blog that was posted this morning on Whoa Momma will elicit hateful comments from one of the following themes from anonymous posters all of which have absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote, but via bad spelling and grammar I will be yelled at for one or more of the following:

a)How could I dress my child in such clothing. (I didn't and would never)

b)How dare I bash strippers.

c)Michelle Obama.

d)Remonstration from the Women's Movement.

e)Remonstration from the pedophiles.

f)Remonstration from the art community.

g)Remonstration from Great Britain.

Should be a fun day.




We must put an end to sexy clothes for children! Sing it, Sister!

Young girls are constantly inundated with social messages that concentrate too much on their looks! Preach on!

Let’s combat this social injustice by putting our infants in nipple-tasseled onesies! Ame--WTH?

Clothing designer Suzi Warren said in a recent Aol Parent Dish article that her nipple-tassel shirts and "C is for Condom" tees are actually a protest against sexually inappropriate clothing for children. "There is nothing very sexy about a baggy, lap neck, long sleeved t- shirt for a 6-month-old. So by embellishing this style of garment with printed nipple tassels, the result is not that the baby becomes sexualized by the tassels, but that the tassels are made benign and silly by the baby. In fact the more inert, innocent and unaware the infant is, the more ludicrous the contrast becomes."

Um, ok?

"The trap set to ensnare girls into a life-time of preoccupation with their looks is a subtle one. My garments are not part of this trap because they are about a subtle as a blinking brick and are aimed at parents of children too young to read or speak.”

I am all for a revolt on the short shorts and tube tops for preschoolers, but I’m not quite sure if putting my infant in nipple tassels is the most effective way to show my support for this particular protest. I realize real change has to start somewhere, but I’m not sure birth is the place to announce, "I’ve Done F**k All Day." While I’m irony’s biggest fan, there’s just too many w’s in the Ewww factor of this fashion statement.

Which is considerably better than too many X’s, because X is for X-rated.

Monday, September 07, 2009

An album

I have to admit that sometimes I forget.

I don't know why I do, it makes perfect sense, but it still knocks me over every single time it happens anyway.

I forget that all photographic record of my mother doesn't start and end with the few photos that we have in our possession. There are others out there--other friends and family have pictures of her throughout the years that I've never seen before, and they surface like lost treasure upon a shore. I open them up and I am once again floored by her brief presence here, and I just want more.

Tonight, my Uncle shared some photo scans from 1963-75.



This one is probably 1971 and it's my Mom, my Grandmother, Aunt Edna, Aunt Marge and Aunt Karen. Beautiful, smart and very funny women all getting their Juleps on in the backyard.



That's Mom and Edna and Grandmother. They have all passed in the last ten years and that makes me so sad.



And this one just makes me ache.

Sundays are more delicious than Mondays

On this week's episode of Sunday Dinners Gone Wild, I prepared the traditional Labor Day weekend fare: Beef Wellington Aux Duxelles with Bordelaise sauce. Which translated means Beef Wellington with Mushrooms instead of duck pate so you don't gross out your guests, potatoes with creme fraiche, green beans with caramelized shallots (or shallots sauteed really, really long instead "caramelized"), homemade pickled vegetables, salad, bread, birthday cake and panna cotta with sweetened strawberries.

A serious improvement over hamburgers.

I'd be lying if I said I couldn't get used to this type of dining: cooking for two days so as to linger over multiple courses, friends and bottles of wine for three hours. It beats wolfing down a meatloaf in front of the tv. But in addition to raising the bar a bit high so that on a Tuesday night after baseball and homework you can't throw that meatloaf at your gourmands-in-training, my menus do have one serious drawback.

Dishes.

I use every single one when I cook. Ever. Single. One. Even when I run the dishwasher six times before the actual meal to cut down on this droll post-meal chore, I still end up with sinks, counters, floors, tables and couches filled with souffle cups and pickle forks. I cannot seem to streamline the number of last minute serving dishes before serving.

And so Sunday Dinners have now lead to Monday Dishes. Which is not nearly as much fun, but since eating Beef Wellington on paper plates would be a crime against humanity, I guess you know where to find me on Mondays.

(And since I made twelve servings of panna cotta, Tuesdays as well.)


Speaking of food, here's a link to a food-related post in Whoa Momma! today.)

Friday, September 04, 2009

My love/hate/hate relationship with routines

We have just completed our second week of school, and my jury is still out on whether this whole education thing is really working for me.

Kidding. The kids absolutely love it, which is already worth the early days. We're still working out those new routines though, and that's where the transition still has some kinks. There are some new things that are great, but there are some that might drive me to gouge out someone's eyes with a number 2 pencil.

New Routine I Like: Going to the gym in the mornings with Jessie. For one hour, she loves to play with some other precocious 2 year olds and I get to scowl at their thinner, younger mothers on the treadmill.

New Routine I Hate:
Jessie waking up at three a.m. asking for popcorn and Yo Gabba Gabba. I dream that Luno is chasing me on Jack Black's talking motorcycle.

NRIL: Having the kids sit down and do their homework at the kitchen table while I cook dinner.

NRIH: The homework part of the above equation.

NRIL: Watching Amy stand and walk a little taller everyday.

NRIH:
The fact that Stevie is taller, growing 2 inches last year.

NRIL: Forward momentum on the novel. I see light.

NRIH: Putting some other reading and writing on the back burner for a while until I finish.

NRIL: Picking them up in the afternoon.

NRIH: Dropping them off in the morning.

Once I find the balance between all of those activities, I should be all set.

I figure that should be around April.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Beef Bourguignon. It's what's for dinner.

Butter Croissants

Ingredients:

1 recipe croissant dough(2 3/4 lb), chilled


Special equipment: a ruler, a pastry brush, parchment paper, 2 or 3 garbage bags (unscented), a spray bottle with water


I would add "courtesy of Epicurious.com," but when the only ingredient listed for butter croissants is "1 recipe croissant dough," well, I don't think that's very courteous.

But if you do take yet another click on Epicurious, you will find the actual recipe for croissant dough, and then spend the next 18 hours rolling, buttering, folding, chilling and repeating until the angels come down from heaven and share their lunch with you in the form of the perfect pastry.

The croissant project was part of a larger gourmet dinner menu which featured Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon which I have been craving since reading the book, Julie and Julia. So I whipped up the croissants, beef, noodles, farm salad with goat cheese, baked tomatoes with blue cheese, creme brulee and chocolate souffles.

Of course it was absolutely delicious--if not incredibly time-consuming--but it was also healthy.

But wait, you say. How could anything with that much butter, bacon and wine possibly be healthy?

According to my completely unscientific research and biased opinion, I think there is more to heath food than the Acai berry. For quite some time now, I've been craving food that actually tastes like food, and I think that's where the secret lies. The less processing and more cooking, the better. Less factory machinery, and more kitchen stand mixers. Less cardboard and more Calphalon.

Now granted, I don't think there will be many Tuesday nights in between baseball and homework that I'll be able to prepare recipes that call for use of a ruler and the simmering of lardons, but I will be making more of a concentrated effort of the actual cooking of food.

Or die of heart disease and gout trying.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I don't think it was because I leaned against that flagpole with the wet paint

We may be moving somewhat slower today than previous mornings of this first week of school, but I am high-tailing it to the salon shortly after Pepe le Pew just tried to seduce me with a full dip and something about the Casbah at the French perfume counter.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Let the messy truth be told

After three full days of having no older siblings around to take the rap, I realize now that it is, in fact, all Jessie's fault.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tears of awe



I present to you the mother cliche of motherhood cliches: I am having a tough time getting through Amy's first day of Kindergarten.

I know, I know. You're thinking as you roll your eyes across the mommy blogoverse, Of course you are--you and everyone else with a URL and an offspring are lamenting over babies growing up so fast...yada, yada, dabba dabba do. What makes you so different?

Nothing, really, but while I of course share that nostalgic element that this historic moment dictates, I don't think that's exactly what has me so melancholy today.

After we dropped A-Dog off wearing her new uniform and a smile, Jess and I headed out to try out some things to add to our own new routine. We went to the gym where I read worked out unenthusistically and J played in the playroom with a couple of other younger siblings. Afterward, we headed over to Fresh Market for some caper berries and fresh fruit for the kids' snacks tomorrow because that seemed like a good thing to do. But as we loaded up the bags of over-priced guilt organics the tears began to come in earnest, and I realized maybe it wasn't sadness or nostalgia or anything like that. It was something different, something familar like when the boys were having their first Kindergarten days, but I couldn't quite name it back then.

I can now.

It's awe.

Pure, quiet awe.

Perhaps it's because of her special childhood and all of the unique obstacles she's overcome so beautifully. Maybe it's because we arrived at this place by such a different path that it feels so strange. Maybe it's because she's my little girl. Or it could be that motherhood feels differently as we age. (I really hope not.)

Maybe all or none of those, but that's kind of the cool thing about awe as opposed to just wonder or amazement.

Awe isn't everyday (or then it would be clueless bewilderment) so when you do feel it, no explanation is needed. You simply drop to your knees by the sheer beauty of it, and accept it as is--no conditions.

I'm not going to overanalyze this moment, feel silly or mislabel it. I am in constant awe of these gifts that I'm lucky to unwrap a little more everyday, and if some moments are more transparent than others to appreciate them, so be it.

Those were not sad tears nor joyful ones.

They were awe-inspired.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Paper, pens, and BLT-Rexes

As reported earlier, we bagged the early Back To School prep and headed over to Orlando instead. Although there is no official commandment regarding coveting thy neighbor's vacation, we were guilty nonetheless when we heard that some friends were staying at the J.W. Marriott. We decided to join them uninvited, because it is the greatest hotel ever.

It was a good call.

We had fun lazing along the lazy river, and then we ate one of the best (and most expensive) dinners I've ever had. It was absolutely divine, and had me Googling "caper berries" this morning as the taste lingered on my tongue. So. Good.

On Sunday, we made our way back home by way of Downtown Disney which is our way of appeasing the kids when we come within 50 yards of the entrance to Magic Kingdom but never make it inside of a park. So they got a souvenir to a place we didn't go, and then we sat down to eat at the T-Rex Cafe or something. It's similar to the Rain Forest Cafe in size, scope and robotic giant things, but the theme is prehistoric. You and your party of seven get to journey back to a simpler time when man and dinosaur could share a quesadilla in peace before the next meteor crashed into the planet.

Jessie was not at all impressed by the entire display. It was the first time I've ever witnessed that child intimidated by anything, and I'm tempted to install a rbo-tronic woolly mammoth in front of the pantry if it will keep her from dumping boxes of rice onto the carpet every freaking day. But she still managed to wolf down some macaroni-saurus before we got back into the car.

Today I've paid for our a weekend with some last minute scrambling, but that's just okay. They've all got a clean uniform or two and 2 out of the three new backpacks arrived, so we'll be set tomorrow.

The weekend also provided me a 48-hour reprieve from thinking about Amy going to Kindergarten, so that was a bonus, too.

(How on earth is Amy going to Kindergarten tomorrow?)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We should be, but we're not

On the eve of this last weekend before school starts, we should be doing a lot of things.

We should be cleaning something.

We should be washing uniforms.

We should be labeling school supplies and new backpacks.

We should be stocking the pantry with healthy snacks in lunchbox sizes.

We should be going to bed early to get used to the new schedule.

We should be doing a lot of things.

But this is also the last weekend that we don't have any have-to's. And I have a feeling that it will be a quite while before we can declare that again.

So we're bagging all of the shoulds and spending the poolside relaxing together just because we can.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Can I have some lingonberries with that rug?

Tonight I shed a little of my sub- and got urban when I visted IKEA for the first time.

It was so...so...unassembled.

Which is cool, and fun, and so very eat your chinese straight out of a box with chopsticks-esque. I bought a little couch thing for Stevie's room and some colored pencils, a cutting board and Swedish meatballs. I probably could have picked up a lot more, but it was so overwhelming and I felt so naively unprepared for the experience that is IKEA..

And I realized as I was going up and down the eleventy hundred aisles of mattresses 3centimeters (remember, it's a European store) from the floor, that I like box springs and prefer my egg foo young on a plate with matching flatware.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The beginning of the end

Well that was fun. Celebrated a friend's birthday last night by mopping up the dance floor with some little 20-somethings' bad hair extensions. Apparently, this particular group of shebeasts were as immature as their livers and credit scores and thought they could take over our parquet. Ha! Don't mess with us on a milestone birthday celebration in which babysitters are being paid and there is cake involved. We will eat you alive, beyotches.

*I needed to get that lame attempt at being a hipster out of the way, because this is the week I fall back into full-throttle Mommy mode as the last full week before school starts. There are supplies and uniforms to procure. There are lunchboxes to get. There are doctors and dentists and shoes. Lots and lots of shoes. We haven't worn shoes or socks since May.

And it is also the week that I turn into the raving Nighttime witch as I try and fail to get them all regulated on some sort of bedtime/wake up ritual which is just so hard to do in the middle of August when it's 96 degrees outside and all summer long I've allowed them to go to sleep when it's dark and wake up when it's light.

How are we doing so far? It's 11:40 and we're having a sleepover and everyone is still awake. I'd better go cackle them a lullaby.

Friday, August 14, 2009

We put our names on the straws...

Everyone should have friends that define "having a cocktail together" as this:



Especially when the cocktail is served at 12:30 on a Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 17

There wasn’t supposed to be a Day 17, but we’re still 600 miles from home so there may just be 18, 19, and 20.

But at least I have time to reflect.

If I had an anti-bucket list--those things in my life I’ve done but wouldn’t repeat on a dare--several items would be from this trip. For instance, I don’t think you could pay me to take a 31’ camper on the Cross Bronx Expressway again. Some of my sense of humor flew off from a massive pothole and was hit by oncoming traffic and then unceremoniously flipped off while other angry drivers urinated on it from the Throgs Neck Bridge.

I also will never believe that “clean, modern shower facilities” are defined universally. After one “shower” upon a 50 year old peeling linoleum basin with a faucet pulled on by a rotting tow rope that trickled cold run-off from the dumping station, I told my husband not only not to bother bathing there, but please don’t even go near the bathrooms because if he saw what I had just done he’d think less of me as a person.

And while I know you’re expecting the next item on the list to read “Never step foot into an R.V. again,” well, it’s not. Despite all of our mechanical foibles, I still would love to take this trip again someday. When things were working properly, we really had a great time.

Sure, I’d do some things differently--probably pack more clothes, extra road flares and brush up on the inner workings of fuel pumps--but it wasn’t a total loss. The food poisoning went away after 18 hours and the rental company reimbursed us for all the lost days and hotel rooms without too much protest.

But camping along the Long Island Sound and star-gazing with my kids was something not to be missed. The playing with fireflies and nightly campfire talks were precious. And even watching my kids remain calm and flexible during adversity was surprisingly meaningful. It turns out, they are pretty wonderful people who never complain and can make me laugh even in the most unfunny moments. And while I’m sorry that more of those funny moments didn’t occur at scenic campsites in the wilderness instead of various Fairfield Inns across the south, well, there are many worse things.

And so while it certainly won’t be in this particular make and model (one that I think should be put out of its misery and ours) I will bet that our family will opt for the Holiday Rambler over the Holiday Inn next time.

I leave you with some vacation photos:




"Hey kids! Welcome to your first night of camping! You're all up to date on your tentus shots, right?"




This was the shot I was sure I was going to have to turn over to the police as evidence when they asked where was the last time we saw Stevie...



Why is there no pre-printed page for Baby's First Junkyard Day in the babybook?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Send wine

The complete wrap-up post is coming--just as soon as I get over my considerable state of WTF-ness.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 314 or something

I’m not exactly sure what day this is, but I’m pretty sure it’s the one that I have stopped making sense and have lost all perspective. In the “I shiz you not” category, we have broken down once again.

This time, we are outside Charlotte, North Carolina and I’ve grown weary of this particular routine. This mechanic’s name is Hal, and he has had many past experiences with RV’s. In fact, he told my husband that he doesn’t go into the actual camper anymore because so many of them “are just rolling brothels.”

Really?

Actually, that makes a lot of sense because I feel like I’m getting screwed every time I get into this one.