Thursday, December 6, 2012

I dare you not to cry like the little baby that you are

Watch "Wrestler With Cerebral Palsy Wins Wrestling Match After Opponent Allows Jared Stevens to Pin Him" on YouTube

I hope to God that I raise children with enough character and heart to put others first this way. Not in a pity sort of way, but in a courageous and selfless kind of way.

Heck, I hope I someday have this much integrity.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Puppies and Arsenic Filled Gumdrops

Along with the infuriatingly GLACIAL PACE OF MOVEMENT that came along with Chris was a fluffer nugget puppy named Snoop. D-O-Double-G.

Snoop is the kid that gets in trouble in class because he's too smart for basic multiplication tables. He needs to juggle bone China with one paw, perform long division with decimals with the other, and jump up in down in concentric circles all at once to be adequately entertained.


 
God love him, Snoop is one enormous pain in the ass.
 
At the mere sight of a shoe or the reach for a set of keys, he loses his composure. Barking and whimpering and jumping and totally losing his freaking marbles. We have tried pheramone collars and mists, Quiet Moments calming tablets, a bark collar, and putting him in a different room while we work. A ROOM you proper dog owners say.
 
Why yes. Because two summers ago, during a thunderstorm during which Chris and I were away, Snoop took his tiny teeth and tried to chew himself out of his metal crate. Not only did he wreck his teeth, but he tried to jam his head out of the opening and instead pierced his neck with broken metal.
 
Sad and tragic, yes. But more than anything, infuriating and idiotic.
 
We moved him to the kitchen and put up a baby gate to keep him in. We then came home to find that he chewed the buttons and knob off of the dishwasher.
 
Chris and I can't sit next to each other on the couch, no. Snoop doesn't like it when people touch. Not when they touch anyone/thing that isn't him, anyway.
 
Snoop is an attention whore.
 
He's a 16lb ball of fluffy love and over enthusiasm. Surely, he is more human that canine.
 
He understands calendars- predicting which days and times we will leave for work. He anticipates goodbye kisses in the morning and bedtime cuddling. If Chris and I scoot too close?
 
OH NO YOU DON'T, HUMANS!
 
Snoop will throw his entire body down in between mine and Chris's. No joke. A canine cock block.
 
Sigh.
 
Guys. Real dog owners. Miracle Workers. Save me. Snoop is the asshole step child I never really asked for and now have to deal with his bad behavior. I love him endlessly: he's funny and loving and full of character. But his bad behavior actually changes the tone of our day. Snoop is our fur baby- the most doted on member of our family trio-- but another decade with this snippy, yappy, chaotic interruption of human life is unfathomable.
 
 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Warm Your Bellies With This Liquid Gold

About a year ago, after one of those I simply cannot stand you Sundays with Chris, we tromped into a Panera Bread where the mere thought of speaking with him about what I was going to order raised my blood pressure. In an attempt to send one of those I'm too angry to eat temper tantrums messages, I ordered a cup- not bowl, CUP- of tomato soup knowing I wouldn't like it and then could slam down my spoon, food uneaten, and glare at him while he consumed his Cuban sandwich.

Much to my surprise, I did like it! I did like tomato soup, Sam I am!

Since then, I've discovered that Costco makes a delicious version, only it leans on the salty side. I have tried a couple of homemade versions. Buttery ones. Creamy ones. Backyard herb garden basil-y ones. Even some with silly French cafe names. All were meh, but none that tickled me quite like that Panera Bread cupful.

Then THIS happened. And why I am surprised, I don't know. Of course Ina Garten would come up with a blue ribbon worthy version of such a simple, comforting meal.

Yes, I do recognize that the term "grilled cheese croutons" implies a certain amount of Laissez Faire-ness towards any sort of dietary consideration. But people! The winter months are upon us, the days are brief and cloudy, moods lethargic and anxious for something sparklier and more festive than the lingering days of Fall.

For a mere 4 cups of stock and just one simple can of San Marzano tomatoes, this recipe produces quite a lot of soup. And that orzo? OH, THAT ORZO! I questioned it initially, but it truly does change the landscape of something that could otherwise be consumed by straw. So fire up your giant soup spoon, folks, you're going to wish you had a shovel for this one!

Picture of Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons Recipe

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pink Peonies Go With Everything if You Want Anyone With a Penis to Sleep in Your Bed Never

 
Since the chances of me marrying a man that will allow pink and purple and orange FLORAL BEDDING are absolutely nill, I shall instead pin this beautiful bedding and quietly pout about yet another Pin that I'll never have.
 
Dear Pinterest,
 
You have ruined an entire Nation's concept of real life. I hope you're so pleased with yourself that you go bake yourself an Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookie marshmallow and go eat it at the table you whittled yourself from the organic Sugar Maple trees you grew in your raised bed backyard forest.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

If I May Speak on Behalf of Your Children, They Want You to Know that Youre Too Old for that Top, And Also....

Over the years, one of the most valuable lessons in parenting I have come across is to recognize that, oh, how do those Christians say it?-- judge not lest ye be judged.

That's right. KEEP YO' MOUTH SHUT. (please ad lib your own colorful curse in place of the one you feel I would most likely place here)

This lesson applies for a bountiful number of reasons, but the most notable of them is to know that wonderful parents have really rotten kids, and really, super piss-poor parents end up raising Ivy League do-gooders.


parents.com image

HOWEVER. Life lessons are reserved for books and hindsight: this is real life, folks. And the one lesson that I, Megan, Uberest Uber Nanny of All of Time, most want parents to recognize is the following horse-pill to swallow:

Children are not soldiers. Indeed, the trouble with kids is that they are, in fact, tiny humans.

GASP you say. TYRANNY!

No, Grown Up People, not tyranny. Truth.

Children are real life people with real life feelings, thoughts, temperaments, and actions. They are independent in motivation and fear of consequence. Or lack thereof. Of all the many children I have encountered and the variety of parenting atrocities I have endured, the truest of troubles is the power struggle that arises when a parent clenches so tightly that a child is left with no choice but to crumble to the ground or fight back in resistence.

And what the hell kind of choice is that?

We, Grown Up People, are not here to brow-beat children into compliance or to raise them to be so afraid to fall out of step with the masses that they never discover their true self. It is not our job to shame a child for squishing the yellow Play Doh into the blue and jamming it through the green spaghetti stringer. And I know, that makes my skin crawl, too. But how can anyone look at a child and not see joy?

So stop it, fellow adults. Stop squashing the spirits of tiny humans that are merely in search of themselves.



Get Familiar

Promoting products and brands is something I find tough to do. Mostly because I see not a nickel for my kind words but more so because there simply are not that many products or companies worth getting behind these days.

HOWEVER. I need to send a mad shout out to my pals at Zappos.com today.

I first ordered from Zappos five years ago when it was only shoes. Five years in the land of technology is like 35 human years.

In fact, it was so long ago that I hear you can even get your transmission fixed by the Zappos wizards these days.

I kid, of course, but they're seriously selling absolutely everything over there. It's the Amazon of every woman's dreams.

Five years ago, I can recall feeling really wowed by their 365 Day Return Policy. Particularly since I was an unemployed party girl that ordered 7 pairs of shoes and proooobably needed to send a few back.

Today, they still have this awesome and easy return policy, plus free return shipping. Oh yeah, AND FREE EXPRESS SHIPPING.

I placed an order at 8am yesterday morning and when I came home from work today, there on the doorstep before 5pm was a beautiful white box stamped ZAPPOS.

YAHTZEE!

Their customer service and prefab confirmation emails even have a bit of sass to their wording and boy, do I like a little free sass with purchase.

In addition to Zappos, I have to say HOLLA to my pals at Brooks running this evening.

My feet happen to be a circus side show- much like my insanely callused hands. The right foot is 3/4 of a size larger than the left- which is technically not considered abnormal until they are a full size different. It is so like me to not be entirely normal but just miss the mark on being entirely unusual. The right foot is also wider, which has been the real buzzkill. In spite of ordering custom shoes the last two times around, though the length is adequate, the width has become uncomfortable and aggravating. My mom used to grouse at me for wearing impossibly high and pointy shoes- those awesome stilettos of the early 2000s. Now, as I stare at the busted up mess that is my feet, I recognize the extreme correctness of her bitching advice.

Add in about 10-12 hours/week in the gym, a handful on my bike plus an unbelievable amount of stair climbing, baby hauling, and stroller pushing at work and my feet are the clydesdales in the stable. I've been wanting to try the barefoot style to help strengthen my foot and reduce some nagging foot/heel pain, but I didn't want to go that disgusting and disturbing TOE SHOE route. I'd read good things about Brooks and resisted since I scoff at "runners."

Everything I was finding had toe slots or pukey colors though, and I like fashionable funtion. In addition to my Innov-8 cross-fit shoes for lifting, I grabbed a pair of Brooks Pure Connects in a real dope neon orange. At $90, they're about half the price of my previous custom kicks and that's quite nice given that I burn through gym shoes about every 3 months.

Kids... this shit is on point. Room in the toe box for my hooves and cushion in the arch in a barefoot style. I am currently rocking these kicks with my pajamas and I'm even considering running laps around the house just to take these babies out for a spin.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nothing is spookier than having to spend the rest of your life with someone

While I'm not one to watch wedding videos and feel any sort of feelings, the following is a Must View.

Okay. Everything I just said is complete bullshit aside from the part about the following being a Must View.

Sometimes, I even stalk Facebook, trolling for wedding videos and montages to watch. I have wept over the vows of total strangers. Love overwhelms me like a really horrific case of chlamydia.

You could skip some or all of it EXCEPT for seconds 15-65.

If you do not find yourself a little breathless and welling up with tears at the 55th second, you are not human.





We should all be so lucky as to find a love that renders us so eager for one another. May they bicker about the irrelevant and fuss at one another over the frivolous for the rest of their lives. Cheers to LOVE.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

In the very best of company

Although no company will be joining us for dinner tomorrow night, I've elected to re-visit Ina Garten's Company Pot Roast. And as I put the period at the end of that sentence, it is dawning on my tired and sort of drunk on red wine brain that DUH, STUPID! You should've invited your parents over for Sunday dinner!!

Ugh. Opportunity? See ya around the way again sometime, I guess.

This is, indeed, a meal meant for company. It isn't fancy or exceptionally WOWing in presentation. But I'll be damned, I don't like roast, I don't like one pot meals, and I love the crap out of this dish.

I've made it only once before and I distinctly remember Chris and I looking at one another from beneath Meat-Sweats-Brows and saying good Lord, is this filling!

It is, by no means, a standard pot roast. It is complex in flavor and involves no french onion soup packets or cream of condensed crap gravies. This is the only way to do pot roast. Period.

Yes, it takes a little doing. A little searing. A little thought. I sipped on a glass of wine before pouring a few into the dutch oven. Then I sipped on another as I joyfully tossed in the last of the fresh rosemary from my backyard garden. Yes, I know, you hate me and you badly wish you could be as exceptionally wonderful as me.

Please address that letter to my Commonlaw Husband, Chris, and remind him of how exceptionally wonderful women deserve sparkling gratitude.

We'll be feasting on this meal in the loving company of one another; mopping up the red wine and brandy-romatic gravy with homemade, harvest foccacia bread. Damnit, Pinterest, you've really forced all of us to up our games.

To you and your's and the pending Autumn weekend, Salute.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Grilling Up the Rainbow

Perhaps the new It Dinner of the moment around our house is grilled panzanella.

There are innumerable variations on this Italian summertime classic, but today I'm sharing with you my favorite. While it was initially built on a foundation of onions, panzanella is now considered to be a tomato and bread salad. My take on it opts for feta rather than mozzarella, which I find to not pack enough flavor.

I love STRONG flavor profiles served in rustic-y kinds of ways. The zucchini runneth over in our house during the summer, so it is entirely apropos that I'd chop it up and serve it en mass.

Without further ado: Grilled Plumage Panzanella

There's no science to this, only to create an equal ratio of each vegetable. The recipe below makes for 6 to 8 GENEROUS side servings

2 red bell peppers
2 yellow bell peppers
2 zucchini
1 or 2 yellow squash
4 or 5 slices of day old Italian bread, about 1/2" thick
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, chopped
1/3C fresh basil, chiffonade
1/3C fresh mint, chopped
4oz feta cheese
1/3C olive oil
1/4C balsamic vinegar

Core, seed, and slice bell peppers into quarters. Chop the ends off of squashes, slice in half lengthwise. Place vegetables and bread on a sheet pan, oil lightly and season with salt and pepper.

grilled_panzanella_salad_recipe2
photo courtesy of Camille Styles)
Be sure to use a light hand with the olive oil, as you will dress the salad with more later.

Grill vegetables until they begin to char- about 4 minutes on each side over a medium high flame. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large bowl, place halved tomatoes, basil, mint, feta cheese and 1/4C pitted and halved black olives if you so choose. I detest olives and will vomit if you place them in this salad, but I guess I'll let you make the call.

Also add the cucumber- you could use a seedless English one, but I find them to be overpriced and bitter. Instead, peel a regular ole garden cuc, core (remove seeds), and chop.

After the vegetables have cooled, chop them roughly and add to the bowl. Tear the bread slices and add. Whisk together vinegar and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and dress the salad. Season lightly with more pepper (about 1/4t) and salt (about 1/8t, as the feta adds a salty component already).

Tonight, I served this salad with a steak and after a 6am workout, a full day of work, running errands to the granite showroom and the cabinet maker with my Mom, it was PERFECTION. Simple, rustic, flexible (google "Panzanella" and you'll see how endless the possibilities are) and relatively healthy. Minimal mess and vegetable leftovers for the compost bin.

An Earth Mama's wet dream.



Sunday, July 8, 2012

Venti Coffee and Kindness

Last Tuesday was a half day of work for me. As Chris's car was in the shop, I took him to work at 7am as any dutiful wife girlfriend would do. After dropoff, I whipped into the Starbucks Drive Thru line for what was intended to be a quickie cup of coffee before hitting the gym.

The length of the line was long and its forward movement slow. I began growing impatient but stayed ferociously committed to a Venti Iced Coffee, no syrup, two Sweet & Low. As a pickup truck towards the front of the line seemed to be place an eternally long order, I stared at my phone and considered Facebooking how freakin PISSED OFF it makes me when people order more than two drinks at a drive thru.

It must've been 10 minutes before I arrived at the window. Wearing my best Oh No, I'm Not Irritated face, I reached out to had the barista a five dollar bill, only to have her refuse it. "The person in front of you actually paid for your drink" she said.

Starbucks Coffee CompanyWhile I've experienced the kindness of that moment before, that was a particularly special morning. I handed the barista my five anyway and told her to pay for the person behind me and keep the three bucks change for herself. She smiled giddily- an older women with what looked to be a few tears welling up in her eyes. "Incredible" she said. She went on to tell me that the delay in the line was because the SIX CARS in front of me had all paid for one another's coffee.

As the seventh person hoping to grace someone else's morning with a little generosity, I drove away floored by the kindness of strangers. My favorite aspect of this so-called "drive thru difference" is that there is NOTHING IN IT for the person paying- you drive off without the person behind you even knowing you just did something kind.

Kindness that does not seek reward is my favorite kind of kindness.

Friends & Warriors

Ode to My Best Friend

It says a lot about a person to possess long-standing friendships. This is Heather, who happens to have been my best friend since 1988. That's almost 25 years should your algebra be on vacation.

Often mistaken for sisters, she is, indeed, a sister. A girl that has been there when it was really good, really bad, and really ridiculous. She's the friend that takes me as I am, but doesn't beat around the bullshit bush.

We rode the school bus together and used to write down license plate numbers in case criminals were following us to school. We shared goalie gloves during soccer tournament snowstorms. We secretly put Bacardi in our "virgin" daiquiris before packing them up as roadies en route to early morning softball games.

She laughs when I'm funny and rolls her eyes when I'm outrageous. Which is often.

I admire her vim and vigor- her hilarity- her no fluff approach to life. She is tenacious, adventurous, willing to try.

Whether it's Warrior Dash or strolling the aisles of Target together or delivering me ice cream for an insanely terrible hangover, she's my Go To Gal. Ride or die.

To be jealous of the complete badassness of such a friendship is only natural.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Forgiving being myself

Yesterday was a bit of a fitness milestone for me.

For a girl that, according to my June account statement, visited the gym 9 times in the first 8 days in the month, that's saying something.

It wasn't a personal record, no, that was about 3 weeks ago (repping 410lbs on the leg press, thank you!). It wasn't even anything that was physically so totally incredible: It was a Mindset-Shaking-Moment of the This Shit Will Change My Life calibre.

 I love fitness. When I miss a workout or am too rushed to put in the work I want, I feel anxious and worried. Some of you read that and see me in pictures on Facebook or at Target on Sundays and you're saying, yeah, okay Megan, sure.

And you know what? Screw you and your judgment.

When I was six years old, I sat on the scale at my Grandma's house and cried because I thought I was fat. It was spring break and I was wearing a sun dress with that waffley, stretchy and supposed to be fitted top piece that little girl's sundresses often have. The picture of the exact dress and day is at my parent's house and it reduces me to tears everytime I look at how I'm trying to hide the body I already hated behind my mom's arms.

Nothing on me was fat. Not even little kid chubby. My heart breaks for that little girl- trapped by herself within herself for so, so long.

For the next 18 years, I felt bad about myself. I was taller than my teachers and the boys, bigger than my naturally thin girlfriends. It felt like I was not only the oddball, but I was somehow wrong; wrong for not finding some magical way to change who and what I was. Everyday was tears or frustration or turning down invites to prom because I thought I was too fat to wear a fancy dress in front of my peers.

Paralyzing fear and sadness.

Then I met the man in my life. No, not Chris, but that dreadful sludge dwelling ex of mine. Given the impending wedding, I bought a Mack truck ton of personal training sessions and told the head of the department to match me up with a male trainer because I cannot get along with women. What I really meant was I'm so insecure that being around women that are thinner or prettier would make me too self conscious to function. When asked three times what my goals were and what I wanted out of a trainer, I simply said I wanted to be skinny.

It was a short sighted and shallow goal.

The breakup came and so did that infamous workout: the crying on the step up machine moment when Trainer Tim said the next 50 minutes would be a gut check, that the two things in life you'll never regret are going to church and a great workout.

No one has cheered louder for me than Trainer Tim. When boys have heard about my love of strength training and said "don't get all gross and myscley like a dude" and others have made comments about  being "a dyke" or suggested that lots and lots of running and fewer deadlifts would make me smaller, he's there with the next heavier weight on the rack and a big old fuck 'em.

Yesterday was a delectable little athletic morsel called Alpha. Not the Olympics, but certainly a mountain of physical torture that most would be unwilling to try. It's the culmination of what our workouts are: rope whipping and kettlebells, rowing and snatches and log jumping followed by fun filled incline runs with commando crawls. And when those aren't enough of a party, get down, get up, clap your hands and repeat 39 more times.

Burpees are acrylic nailes filed to a point screeching down a chalkboard.

People quit. People were disqualified. People left the course in the back of ambulances. Most did not finish.

The deets of the day are moot. But the waters were not smooth. I came mentally and physically amped up for my 9:15 start time only to find my number and name on the registration, but somehow missing from the schedule. It was nearly three hours before my toes were finally at the starting line. Any competitor can sympathize with how the wait squashed my initial adrenaline and my mental focus and enthusiasm fizzled. There were silly mistakes along the way- mistakes that arise from mental laziness more so than physical failure. They were mistakes that kept me from the leader board that I KNOW I should have been on.

Those are the thoughts I'm trying to not harp on. They are the negative thoughts that bring me down and create self doubt in exactly those Gut Check type of moments. Rather than feel bad for the not so glittering moments, they are going to be exactly what propels me to keep training, keep trying, and keep focused. I finished Alpha on my own two feet knowing I could've done better and that sucks a little. At the same time, I know I could've done better at something 99.9% of people could not do at all.

I suppose the beauty of not winning is that I didn't win. If youre already at the top, what's left? Stay there or come down.

I get to keep digging, keep reaching, keep seeking the height of how high I can take myself and that is an absolutely thrilling rush.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Karaoke ambitions and food truck dreams

Last weekend, I very politely asked Chris if he'd like to shake things up a bit by heading downtown for the Stone Arch Festival along the riverfront. But since my sweetfaced Love was completely engrossed in the US Open, much to my chagrin, I said f these niceties! And rephrased my request, "Chris, we are going out like regular childless people on a Saturday night!"

One of the perks of our extremely central residence is that we are 15, maaaybe 20, minutes from absolutely everything. Including downtown. Parking was a cinch and we held hands and strolled down to the riverfront where we indulged in crab fritters and street fair galore.

After wandering the art tents, we walked across the bridge to listen to some really awesome music and eat brisket nachos from a well-known St. Paul food truck. The nachos were meh; not exactly the earth shaking food moment I was hoping for, but so what?

The music was awesome in that special sucks so bad but all these cool looking Indie people are swaying their Keens and raising their whiskey filled Sigg bottles so oh, what the hell kind of way! The singer hung her head and moved like a rag doll as the not so discreet smell of marijuana loomed.

I love people that simply do not give a fuck.

We headed back up the hill to Nye's Polynaise for some strong drinks and dear God, a black and white photo booth! For two years, Chris has scoffed at my every request for the low quality strip of silly poses, but on Saturday, he obliged. For those that have quietly asked what lies beneath the omni present hat, yes, he does have hair. An entire head of it even.

After a couple of rounds of drinks and flirty love taps and elbow shoves, we busted out if Nyes to head to 1029 Bar for what Bon Appetite has called the best lobster roll in the nation.

Me, I hate lobster. But I love a happy common law husband. As we sank into our seats and eased into another cocktail, the karaoke began. And this was no ordinary karaoke either. People came donning costumes and wigs and put on performances that had obviously been rehearsed in great repetition. My favorites were a heavy set woman of middle age and an unassuming brunette bob. For us, she rhymed Warren G and did not miss a solitary cuss or beat. Also topping my list was a flamboyantly gay man in skinny Jeans singing Maneater. He went so far as to throw himself onto the floor, toss up his legs and kick his feet back and forth as if to personally identify with the plight of being an unforgiving predator of men.

We left 1029 and felt a sense of sadness that we left the small, dark security of being away from home and lost in the moment with one another. We wondered who on the lineup we were missing and what they were singing.

We wondered when we could go back next.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Parmesan Dreams



On Saturday morning, I woke up to nothing but the dog's ass facing me as he perched proudly atop Chris' pillow. Generally, I'm the first awake or awakened only moments after Chris and/or Snoop get up.

It's a Mom thing- the family stirs, the captain takes the helm.

After a continuation of our back-breaking but really awesome pace and busyness, I slept in until almost 8:00. If you, too, suffer from an extreme need to find reasons to create (and win) competitions with yourself over how many items on a To Do list you can pack into a 24 hour period, then you understand that 8:00am is the clock-watchers equivalent of DEATH.

I shuffled into the living room to find Chris snoozing peacefully on the couch. Nothing new- no, not new at all. There he laid, his hat tipped back and to the right, just the way it always does when he has dozed off. The TV was blaring- again, nothing new- but this time, oh THIS TIME, you guys, there on the screen was Ina Garten. The Barefoot Contessa herself.

There he was, unsuspectingly asleep and dreaming of simple recipes and quality ingredients. My infiltration was complete. No one in the world could be more meant for me.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I'll Take 2 Brats & A Good Cause

In case you were under the impression that this 3 day weekend is for boating and BBQing, take a quickie moment away from your Banana Boat session to explore the Wounded Warrior Project.

You don't have to agree with this war-- which I don't. You don't have to agree with military recruiting practices-- which I don't. In fact, you don't even have to agree with guns and bombs and violence at all-- which I don't.

But the fact of the matter is that our country must have a military the way that you and I must have water and oxygen.

The Wounded Warrior Project holds a special place in my Bookmarks because a family member is himself a Wounded Warrior. Minus me and my big mouth, my family is generally a pretty private group of misfits, so the deets needn't be put in public forum.

Just know that no matter how you feel about war and violence and all of that, it is a daily fact of life. While I feel passionately about not being a person who would ever volunteer to go plant bombs in other countries, thank God for those who are willing to do it so that I have the choice to NOT go do it.

Ya feel me?

So while you're jamming your face in a blueberry pie and coating your fingers in Sweet Baby Rays, please remember that there are families sitting at home with an empty seat at the picnic table-- be it because their dad, brother, cousin etc is in Afghanistan or Iraq or Colombia or because their life has already been sacrificed so that your's could be spared.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Rubbing Elbows and Ruffling Feathers

Way back in 2006, when I was a mere lad with wide eyes and the belief that people who have children actually want to raise them, my Dad tossed in front of me this article from USA Today.

On a whim, I Googled Beacon Hill Nannies, filled out the application, and never gave it another thought. The agency was clear about its strict requirements and desire for Pedigreed nannies for the pickiest of snobs the elite. A couple of weeks later, the agency called me back and asked that I submit a video interview to be shown to potential families. I'm cringing as I type that because it has just now dawned on me that when I ditched that circa 2006 desktop computer during last Fall's move, I neglected to save the video footage.

I sat in front of a pond full of geese in a park during a perfect autumnally appropriate and orange day. My sister asked questions and filmed as I sat on the bench in my J.Crew khakis, button up shirt, and denim coat and pink loafers for a touch of, "look at me! I'm a nanny! I'm a professional AND I'm fun!"

Chris mocks me to this day because for every interview, I sport some random, nonsensical accessory. He wiggles his Jazz Hands at me as I go out the door and taunts, "look at me! I'm FUN!"

Khakis with embroidered puppies land the job, every time.

Anyway, I ended up with the agency and felt really proud of the accomplishment. Beacon Hill was known to be THE YALE of nanny agencies and I had somehow squeaked by their SAT requirements. The owner pimped me out as a Midwestern Girl which is exactly the kind of prime rib dinner that hungry East Coast tigers like.

You know, family values, solid morals, and hot dish casseroles? The sort of things that serve as a substitute for parents that don't want to do an ounce of parenting.

Why do what you can pay someone else to do for you!

After years with a Totally, Certifiably Whacked Out Cuckoobirds family, I resigned on my own free will. There was an AH HA moment of holy shitballs, I am almost 25 years old and I have never had my own life because I've been so damn busy managing someone else's!

I took a year to teach preschool. I accepted a job as the nanny of five for a seemingly normal family.

They were not.

Six years after I first read that article in USA Today, I had a flashback moment last week when the New York Times ruffled the feathers of many with an article last week about a $180,000 nanny. I read the article and nodded sagely to some of it-- knowingly-- and rolled my eyes at some of it. I read all 325 comments left by online readers and felt both offended and appalled.

The only comment I found acceptable was this:

180,000 per year
365 days per year
24 hours per day
comes to $20.55 per hour.
That is a FANTASTICALLY low wage for someone with all the various skills, talents, knowledge and disposition that a nanny does. More power to them!

Which is exactly what many professional nannies do and it is what ALL East Coast nannies do. There is not a moment of personal time, not an ounce of privacy, and more use and abuse and mistreatment than anyone could imagine.

To be a professional nanny is to be someone's personal slave, I can assure you.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Oops, I did it again

I know, I know, overuse and abuse of an inexplicably popular song by an inexplicably popular white trash hobag entertainer.

As discussed many times before, I suck at baking. Cooking I do, baking I do not. I found this over the weekend and identified Dilemmas #4 and #5 as the culprits in my dessert mishaps.

Now if only I could FIX the problem.



prob

There are many variables in baking. Pictured are cookies with various problems using the same dough (with flour adjustments in numbers 3 &4).

1. This cookie is done just right. It is pictured to compare with the rest.
2. This dough was not refrigerated. It is still good but a little flatter than it should be.
3. This dough contained too much flour and did not spread much at all. It is interesting to note that the dough looked identical to the correct dough, but was much stiffer and drier.
4. This dough had too little flour. It spread too much and didn’t bake evenly.
5. This dough was over-mixed. It had a poor color, baked flat and had a strange consistency.
6. This dough was formed too small. It was overcooked at eight minutes. It is fine to make smaller cookies, just bake them for less time.
7. This dough was formed too large. The outsides were done while the middle was too high and underdone.
8. This dough was baked in an oven 25 degrees too hot. The outside was overdone and the inside was slightly underdone.
9. This dough was baked in an oven 25 degrees too cool. It fell flat and became too crisp without much of an inside.
10. This dough was frozen when baked. It took longer to bake and didn’t cook as evenly. To use frozen dough, set on cookie sheet at room temperature while oven is preheating, 15-20 minutes. It takes the frost off and bakes perfectly.

Look at Me, I'm Not only Having my Cake, I'm Eating It!

Dear Self,
Today, you are 28.

That's right, kid:welcome to your motherfucking late twenties.

It's a little scary, and the road here has done a lot of meandering en route to THIS moment. The good news is, the track didn't take a total nose-dive off of a cliff, it just ran off course for long enough to taste the bitter bite of being young and dumb and making piss-poor choices.

Try not to be too hard on yourself: none of those choices shamed your family or completely squashed your dignity. And also, in spite of stealing a few pieces of federal property for giggles, the stop signs and construction barrels were all disposed of before words like "arrested" or "convicted" entered the picture.

The neck piercings and Warped Tour Band Member Boyfriend episode were sort of embarrassing, but not altogether tragic. Your hair has been every color, your closet has represented every Shouldn't Have Done That fashion moment since baggy carpenter jeans, and your bank statements have gone from bar tabs to utility bills.

Congratulations, you're growing up.

And oh, those grown-up wrinkles! I know you stare in the rearview mirror during your morning commute four out of five days each work week and are mentally saving for Botox already. You're a planner, a worrier, a Doomsday Prepper.

Those wrinkles were hard-fought and well-earned.

Two years ago at this time, you were sitting in your parents' basement wondering when your time would come. Those were some tough days: years of use and abuse as a domestic employee are hard on a gal. It would only be natural to look at the big salaries, beautiful houses, and growing families that surronded you and feel a little sad.

We all throw Pity Parties for ourselves sometimes. As long as you don't drown in your own tears, it's acceptable for a certain period of time.

Last year at this time.. and brace yourself, Big Girl... you had left the Job From Hell two days ago. The Mrs sent you on your merry way with Bible scripture about selfish people rotting for all of eternity. Those years of tolerating such mistreatment and total lack of boundaries have made you stronger. Tougher. Bolder and more adament about your right to be treated like a valued employee with a schedule, and oh yeah, AN OVERTIME RATE should you be called in early, held late, or worked until your fingers bleed.

This year has been big. Too big to minimize by trying to write about it all.

It feels good to feel good, doesn't it? To have real, grownup relationships with family members and friends. Real friends. Not people that are readily available when you want to pay for their Kamikaze shot and conveniently unavailable when you need a ride while your car is in for an oil change.

Twenty eight is going to be deliciously full of good things. And even when the skies cloud over withe Really Bad Things, your twenty-eight year old self will have the strength and the smarts to know to sit tight, hold onto your britches, and believe in the ultimate outcome.

Happy Birthday, Self. It is a happy day, indeed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Farmers Market Fabulous

If you don't know much about making ass-kicking homemade pizza, you're about to learn.
What I'm talking about is not the Pillsbury pizza dough in a tube type. No, what I'm talking about hardly even involves mozzarella cheese blankets or sugary red sauces.

That crap is for amateurs. Even Domino's admits so.

image courtesy of andjuniorshakers.com

After mastering the art of the dough-- and yes, it does involve more than pouring yeast into flour, letting it rise, then pummeling it into shape-- you can move onto fanciful tricks like GRILLING your muthafuggin PIZZA.

And that is some crazy ass shit, son.

For now, here's the most delicious homemade dough recipe from a most delicious man:

Tyler Florence, Ultimate Pizza Dough

1 ounce fresh yeast
1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Pour the yeast in a small bowl then add 1/4 cup of warm water and the syrup. Stir together and leave for 5 minutes to dissolve.

Put the flour and salt in a mixer fitted with a dough hook and give it a quick spin to mix. Pour in the yeast mixture, the remaining warm water and the olive oil at the same time

Spin on low until the flour and water come together and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Put the ball of dough in a large bowl and drizzle a few drops of olive oil on top to keep it from forming a skin as it proofs. Cover with a towel and leave in warm place for 30 minutes to let the dough proof. When the dough has proofed it will double in size and look spongy.

*Bloggers Common Sense Note: This can positively be done without the jumbo KitchenAid stand mixer and its 17 attachments you don't know how to use. You'll just have to use your noggin and a little bit of good old fashioned sensibility when mixing. Typically, I find that all is as directed above, but mixing by hand uses slightly less flour*


Now, once you have this Ultimate dough, do me a fracking favor and don't try to force it into a circle. I find a jelly roll pan to be prime.

Oil the bottom lightly with olive oil, dust with yellow cornmeal, then proceed to spread dough. Dividing the dough in half and forming two individual, hand pressed ovals works well around here since Chris is such a patsy-ass and refuses to touch my "ONION JAM" pizzas.

Then you'll need some damn toppings for this uncooked slab of carbs. Bobby Flay is a pizza phenom, but he of course GRILLZ his. So save that recipe for when no one is waiting on you to feed their bellies. Rest assured, you will dump half of the pizza in between the grill grates at least the first three times you try. So worth it once you pull your act together though.

Another pizza I'd be willing to have an affair with comes from Cooking Light, volume 13. Which was about 11 volumes more than necessary, but never the less...

Farmers Market Pizza

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound refrigerated fresh pizza crust dough
Cooking spray
5 ounces thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

Blacken the corn. Season. If you cannot handle these two steps, do not pass Go, do not proceed to the remainder of the recipe. If you can handle charring corn, move along.

Set corn aside, add oil to a skillet and saute onion and bell pepper together until onion appears translucent. Add garlic and thyme or even Herbs de Provence if you're feeling sexy.

Add previously burned blackened corn to the onion jam. Scatter over dough and top with mozzarella. Dust with parmesan glitter, season with S&P. Bake at 425 damn degrees for 20 minutes. Remove pizza and add halved tomatoes. The recipe says do this "evenly" but I think that's some real contrived bullshit. Toss those bastards on, bake another 5-10 minutes.

SHAZAM. Sprinkle with fresh basil and devour.

There you go. Legit homemade pizza.

YOU'RE WELCOME.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Terrier Tuesday

Alright, so Drake is no Terrier. But I couldn't stand to wait for Furry Friends Friday or Wet-Nosed Wednesday to share this shamrock of love with you all.

I was so blown-over by the response last week to a simple Pinning of the beautiful, loving Ava and her special need for a compassionate home. Not only did Ava find a home in a matter of hours, but so did fourteen other dogs.

There's always another four-legged friend that needs a home. Feast your eyes on Drake:



Drake is better than all of the marshmallows in a Lucky Charms box combined.

Better than the gold in the pot at the end of a double rainbow.

Drake IS a cupcake frosted in rainbows and a game Duck Duck Goose.

He's bounding with energy and would make a most loving, energetic running partner and buddy. Drake is someone's canine soulmate, we simply have to help him find his human rescuer! (you can find him through Secondhand Hounds)

Lights, Camera, Feelings of Inferiorness

Sometimes when I want to feel bad about myself and often when I want to host, cater, and attend my very own pity party, I check in with my favorite style blogs to see just what the frack the cool cats are struttin with these days.

What I often find is unlivable beauty. The kind I typically work in. My favorite kind of fantasy. The kind that's beautiful in glossy magazine spreads but makes me think- I could never wear sweatpants on that silly couch! And surely someone would die if I ate leftover Sesame Chicken on that bizarre antelope horn sidechair!

And what we all also know is these people never let a television be seen in photographs. Oh no. Television is for neanderthals. Heathens! The Bachelor Watching Bottomfeeders of unrefined societies!

But man, those snobby bitches sure do have some pimped out palaces for acting like a stick in the mud in. Not an Ikea bookshelf for country club miles.

Some of my favorites as of late are the designs of Alessandra Branca. No, no, not the booby Victoria's Secret model. Although I my disdain for her and her perfectness is also overwhelming. But no, Alessandra Branca who is, as far as I can tell, the greatest of the Roman contributions to design.

She's the daughter of a Vatican Museum art historian, for crying out loud!

Her bio also identifies her design as exceptionally livable. Maybe in the context of her delicious life full of antiques and Roman summers and Master Design awards. I even once saw her style called Chinoiserie Chic.Then, right after that, an entire book sited her as the inspiration for a design movement referred to as New Traditional.

She's also beautiful, well spoken, and super self-deprecating.

God, can you imagine being so fricken effortlessly cool?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hatchery

While I haven't quite put my finger on what exactly it is that's so intriguing about this webcam feature, I do know that I check in with Mr. and Mrs. and their eggs before work and bed. Each and every day.

The dog hears the wind and owls hooting and traffic whirring by and sniffs the house out for intruders. After 9pm, it's usually nothing more than a white headed bird sleeping, in night vision.

I heard rumors that one of the adult eagles brought half of a baby pig back to the nest for snacking a few weeks back and knew I had to tune in. The most exciting thing I've seen thus far is what appeared to be a sexual relation of some kind between Daddy Eagle and Mommy Eagle. The nest is in someone's residential neighborhood and if you catch the feed during the day, you can often listen in on people's conversations. Maybe the eagle could talon an innocent bystander's eye out for us to see.

It doesn't look so impressive on camera, but take into account the monster size of these birds then note that the nest itself weighs more than 1.5 tons.

That's a baker's dozen pre-Dancing With the Stars Kirstie Alleys!

Isn't voyeurism delicious?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breeders are for Westminster. You're a Real Person. Woof!

If you live in the Minneapolis area-- or Wisconsin or Iowa or Dutch Pennsylvania for all I care-- never forget adoption when adding a four-legged member to your lifescape.

Two weeks before departing for her freshman year of college, my dearest sister Lo arrived home with the most darling puppy. A 3 month old half Husky, half black lab puppy named Lilly. She found her at the Humane Society and thought HEY! Let me make this 12 year commitment right as I'm about to go live in a shoebox sized, cinder block youth hostel for four years!

Ah, to be young and a moron.

Our dad threatened to return the dog for weeks and we all sobbed and cried with hysteria. It took him a while, but he finally accepted Lilly. Who is also known as Lillybean. Who is also known as the Princess of All Living Things, second in command only to Katie B., may she rest in peace, Queen of All Living Things.

She was the original gangster of canine royalty in our family.

Lilly makes Lassie look like a real half-assed family member. She knows when you need a hug and even leans in when you reach out for a squeeze. She'll sleep at your feet out of protection and adoration, but won't maul you with a slobbery tennis ball. She's well mannered and playful and honest to God, if the Mayan Calendar is correct, I want to die by her side.

Of her litter, Lilly was the last to be adopted. We know in our hearts that Lilly knows in her's that we rescued her. She repays us infinitely each and every day.
Ava is in foster care and comes with special needs
and, I'm certain, a very special kind of
 love and companionship to offer her rescuers.

There are plenty of studies that suggest to us humans that the dogs we rescue love us even better because they KNOW that we were their savior.

Don't get me started on religious saviors, but animal saviors I'm all sorts of into.


Bob Barker asked us to help control the pet population for decades, but we all know that the people that need to hear that message probably aren't watching The Price is Right. So here we are and here are all of these dogs so desperately in need of homes.

Also, try to remember when looking at the puppies that puppies, like those darn babies, grow up. Puppies pee and chew and nip at little fingers: if you're at work all day and can't properly house train a puppy, consider a dog. If you have small children that will throw blocks and play on the floor, consider a dog. The companionship is the same and it is often DOGS, not puppies, that most desperately need placement.

They will love you as you've never been loved before.

And even if you cannot commit to owning the animal indefinitely, consider fostering one. It's the no-strings-attached sex you loved BUT with all sorts of cuddling and kissing.

We all know about the Humane Society, and they certainly are wonderful. I like underdogs though-- Secondhand Hounds belongs to the sibling of a friend of our's and they're doing lovely things.

Not only do all dogs go to heaven, but most certainly those that do the tireless work of trying to save them do as well.

So Easy, Even Your Idiot Brother Could Do It

Does everybody have a blog?

Does everyone have a "lifestyle" worth Pinning about and pining after?

I swear, blogging has given the cool kids another "W" for their self approval talley board.

Listen, I dont weigh 98lbs and blog about scones and wildflowers and my law school husband. I dont wear impossibly cute outfits or go to Crossfit between tea parties and happy hour while noshing on 7 Skittles once every 36 hours. My life is the Paris Hilton of sex tapes: uneventful and uninspiring.

Nothing about my life is lofty or fluffy and oh yeah, I'm not full of shit and trying to blow smoke up everyone's ass about the fairytale fantasticness of my life either.

Sometimes, the extreme boringness of my life makes me wonder why I bother blogging at all anymore. I'm not single and dancing on bartops and I'm not married with adorable children and stories of preschool hilarity either. Hell, I'm contractually no longer even allowed to tell tales of toddler antics and child rearing mishaps at all.

Total and complete Nanny Gag Order. And I gotta tell you, Internet people, I have it so good here that I'm not even going to turn up my nose or flip out my middle finger at the hushing of my employment experience.

Chris and I are so stable that it makes me want to pick a fight over toilet seats or him making eyes at the Applebees waitress simply to have something other than pleasantries and snarky jokes about the idiocincracies about one another that we find so annoying yet oh so endearing to talk about. We go to work. We come home. We like walking the dog on Friday nights and talking about the week. On Saturday, I wake up at 7am to go to the gym and the Co-Op and eat my favorite Veggie Overload pizza with my once weekly Diet Coke splurge.

I imagine it's somewhere between my overhead press and hill sprints that Chris heads out to the golf store. Actually, every golf store. To stare at shit he has already seen and stared at on eBay all week. This is what I know to be the BORE SNORE of shopping tours.

The most titillating event of the past six months came last week when I decided to change my hair color to brewery brown from Malibu Barbie blonde.

And I have to say, I hate it entirely.

I used to change my hair color every other month: hot pink, black, cherry red with bleach bangs. But this time, I looked in the mirror and thought..nope, not me. Not anymore.

My hair- my skin- feels so comfortable, so consistently who I've become that it feels insincere to not be blonde and bubbly and excited to do nothing more on Friday night than wear my pajamas and watch Gold Rush while shoving Sesame Chicken in my mouth. With a fork.

Maybe real adulthood isn't much different from childhood afterall. If the principal doesn't call, if the dentist doesn't have cavities to report, if they're just upstairs playing Wii and coloring, it's alright.

Maybe no news is good indeed.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Calling All Twenty Somethings

If you ever had the extreme delight of sharing an evening at the CC Club with your's truly, then you can indeed testify that the following statement is true and accurate.


A part of me misses those nights. Hell, who am I lying to? Part of me misses those Days-On-End Benders. For now, Glittery Black Eyeliner and Hollywood Tape, Rest In Peace.

Shoveling Snow and Other Words That Begin with S

We woke this morning to no power like many in Minnesota that had also been slopped on by this mucky, slushy late winter snow.

Showering in the dark and without the furnace running was less than luxurious and comical even as I misplaced my razor several times. Nothing like resurfacing the skin around your ankles first thing in the morning.

Chris called from outside, announcing the timbering of a very substantial oak tree right atop of our roof. I figured he was being dramatic, and he was. In his very special only child way, he announced a fallen tree and the end of the world as we know it all in one breath.

He grabbed his keys and barreled down the driveway to check if the plows had cleared our quiet cul de sac and because he is him and I am me, we all know they had not. The snow sat untouched, saturated and heavy from the rain and sleet. Underneath, a great big layer of slop and slush. A venerable layer dip of shitty winter precipitation.

In these situations, I generally chuckle as I flip on the four wheel drive and blast myself free. Chris prefers the Fast and the Furious, Minnesota Remake, and can be found Tokyo Drifting his way to work.  I elect to not be a part of it partly because I'm a buzz kill and partly because I come bearing both the fruits of my loins, as well as common sense.

This morning bore no douchey street driving tactics. Just me and the neighbors pushing and shoveling and sanding and praying to Jesus for Chris and his car to clear the mailbox and somehow get out of the neighborhood.

A neighborhood that sits on juuust enough of a hill to totally and completely shoot the brains out of any possibility of getting to work on time. As we heave-hoed, the cracking and crashing of trees echoed from the back yard. Under my breath, I hoped for one to take out the 12' picture window, a window far too expensive for us to replace without the aid of a natural disaster and a little help from our pals at State Farm.

With no such luck and after two hours of Flinstone inspired car maneuvering, we are both at work knowing that we are headed home to a fallen forest on top of the backyard shed and fence. To a home whose roof is now a few shingles short of being whole.

See what happens when people want more more more? One extra day every few years and look at this mess.

Pack up the grocery getter and get me to the wine shop before anything else goes wrong!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kitchen Lovin

After a momentary lapse in blogging focus (read: drinking beer in the bathtub will get you blasted in less than 2 beers. Efficient, yes. Smart, no), I'm back to share s'more of my most beloved Payroll Mommy tips for da kitchen.

AKA my favorite room ever.

#3) Do a lil' large batch/freezer cooking but ONLY if you can come up with several similar recipes. For instance, do chicken and dumplings, chicken pot pie, and minestrone all at once. All are based on inexpensive, freezer-friendly root vegetables. This means you can chop a shit ton of ingredients at once with minimal cost. Eat some, freeze some. With the recipes above, I can come up with SIX to EIGHT meals.

Das right, bitches.

#4) Whole chickens are your friend. Buy them on sale and have them on hand. Roast simply and shred for a zillion billion uses. My personal favorite is in Mexican dishes- enchilladas and casseroles freeze suuuuuper duper well. Don't turn up your nose at casseroles, I see you!! I do it too, but honest to God, our mothers and Grandmothers had the smarts to throw it all in a 9x13 and call it good. What the hell kind of Le Cordon Too Good for It nonsense is that!

#5) Marry your meats and marinades, THEN freeze. You can use basic marinades or even herb butters, pair 'em up with your animal of choice, and freeze. Not only does this make it easy to take from freezer to frig, but then it'll be saucy and fab once you're ready to cook. It ALSO comes in handy for those "what the fricken frack am I going to make tonight!!!!" moments. A favorite around here is gyro meat and whole turkey breasts loaded up with herb butter.


#6) Breakfast carbs can make a morning feel special. Cinnamon rolls and quick breads are unbelievably fast in spite of their lengthy bake times. They're also cheap (hello, flour and eggs?! Please!), can be done en mass and can make breakfast feel so much better than a lame bowl of Cheerios. Better than Frosted Flakes, even. Around here, I eat a lot of eggs and that means while the bakery treats warm in the oven, I can whip up some eggs and VOILA, a legitimate breakfast. As an aside: most quick breads now come with a Clean Eating version. This means no sugar or oil and I'm a fan.

And there you have it. Six easy ways to WOW your family without sending yourself straight to the asylum.

Are you dazzled or what!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bubbles Of All Kinds

This is my night.

A bath full of Epsom salts and bedazzled with amber bottles full of this deliciousness.

Thank you, Odell Brewing. Straight from my mouth to God's ears to some magical Hop Heaven.

I've had one even though I want seven, but only one can be tolerated these days.

Le Sigh.

I miss the days of chasing tequila with beer and building an alcoholic layer cake. I mean, I don't miss them a fracking shotglass sized ounce, but it would be nice to indulge in a few with my lover from time to time.

Alcohol is sexy you do understand. That's why so many college whores can be seen buying Plan B at a college campus CVS near you.

Tonight, sexy I well not be. But one beer is one better than my sweaty gym clothes and breastmilk puke hair of usual.

Disdain

This week, I find myself having inappropriate, 10 o'clock news kinds of fantasies about my old Blackberry more than ever.

I despise these half witted touch screens. Both the Android and Apple varieties. I hate nothing more than finger smudges and little kid boogers wiped all over the display. Correction, I hate dirty screens and auto type equally. Auto type makes me look stupid. Blackberry never did. Only socially awkward and marginally loser-like. But I could work that thing with both eyes closed and nothing but two thumbs and my dry sense of hilarious sarcasm.

It takes so long to use this thing. I have to spellcheck constantly because the Android dictionary does jackass things like creating really ugly language moments by doing things like replacing my use of the word spellcheck with the word shuttlecock.

Now I might be a real slutbag, but I don't know what the fudge a shuttlecock is. What I do know is that sending such a word to, oh, say, my boss, could potentially be embarrassing. Detrimental, even.
What I'm getting at, lovers, is there's a lot I'd like to say right now, but I'm probably going to be found in a dark alley, skinning hampsters by the glow of my Bic lighter if I have to blog from this sad excuse for technology much longer, but I wanted to get a jump start because I'm a giver.

While being a paid Mom is not the same as being a real mom, what I've found is that having domesticity as a profession makes a girl incredibly organized and methodical about insignificant nuisiances like mealtime and budgets.

When I first started, I would do retarded things like braise brisket in homemade broths and dress them with Argentinian chimichuri.

That was stupid.

Grownups eat that when they have a Patron Margarita in hand at a fancy restaurant and are trying to get both laid and sauced in the same night. Because when you have kids, sex is about nothing more than efficiency, people.

Don't do that to yourself. No one cares and nobody is going to give you the golden star of best moms for it. You'll only feel frustrated and disappointed by the entire experience.
Rule #1: no one cares if you create the Taj Mahal of meals or a South African shanty town. Create nutritious meals based on simplicity. Have fun and be adventurous from time to time, but limit your expectations, investment and time commitment.

Rule #2: dont be a cheap ass. I know that those chincy Ziploc containers are like pennies on the dollar, but honest to God, please don't store your family's food in plastic. Plastic is scary. And if you've invested in the grass fed beef and the organic produce, you're shooting yourself in the Birkenstock by putting it in plastic. Invest in glass storage containers. Don't reheat in the microwave; if pregnant women shouldn't stand in front of one, why would you cook your dinner in it? Capitalize on glass, save yourself a few dishes, and simply reheat in the oven. That, friends, is called frig to fork.

You're welcome, Pyrex. I'll accept my sponsorship check now.


Rule #3: hold onto your seatbelts, my mind blowing third rule for domestic genius will have to wait. It seems that I have an infant that wants a bottle or something equally high maintenance.

Til we meet again...

Monday, February 20, 2012

And Then I Stood There, Staring In the Headlights

Funnily enough, while my face was buried in a Chipotle fajita bowl, my Mom found it a super awesome time to drop a Hey, Let's Shake Up Your Life bombshell.

Her sense of timing has always been particularly enjoyable. If only I were in 10th grade and she had just busted into my pink and purple floral bedroom while I gave my 12th grade boyfriend an H.J. when we're supposed to be doing chemistry.

We're doing chemistry of our own kind, MOM. Don't be embarrassing!

As I'm saucing my barbacoa, she gives me the suspiciously leading, "SO...."

I look up. She looks over. I figure she's finally going to talk to me about the birds and the bees or tampons or something equally uncomfortable.

"Is there going to be a wedding soon?" she inquired.

CHOKE. HOLY JESUS, my life just flashed before my very eyes!

Que the Mother/Daughter laughter and awkward moment of, "I can't fucking believe you just said that" ensues.

On such short notice, I found myself unable to come up with a solid lie to tell my Mom as any good daughter should, so instead I simply blurted out the honest truth.

"No" I told her, "I don't think so. I think you've got at least another year. We all know the glacial pace at which Chris moves in life."

She smiled and shook her head, shaming me and my expectations of disappointment yet again. We bantered back and forth about her confidence in Chris and my Fascist Perfectionism and do we want to get married in a church and you know your father loves a good party.

I think the thing we were both not saying was, HOLY FUCK BALLS, can you even fucking believe some poor bastard hasn't jammed a ring on those sausage fingers yet?!

Guys. I want to tell you a not so secret secret: I don't really care if we get married or not at this point.

Sure, there might be a tax benefit or something, but at this point in my/our lives, I feel like here we are with a dog and a house and neither of us is going anywhere. A legal document won't keep one of us from going somewhere, either, if that's what one of us wants to do.

KnowhaImsayin?

I want to get married mostly for the sake of having a family. Because I'm old fashioned and have traditional values, you judgmental asswipes. I believe one of the primary functions of marriage is children and I'm not ready for that. I mean, I'm totally ready, but if this were a Value Menu and I were building my #6, I would take the dog and the boyfriend, the house, and the remaining 4 years on my Mirena with a Diet Coke.

I like working still, I like spending hours at a time at the gym if I feel like it, and I like giving the kids I raise back to the person that has to pay for them at 5pm.

Truth: I also want to get married because first of all, as lame as it is, I feel like calling him my husband rather than my boyfriend makes us more legitimate in other people's eyes. And also, B of all, I want to get married because, as lame as it is, I feel like it sort of proves his feelings for me.

Does that make sense or should I have left that in my therapy session?

I'm a girl and since I think roses suck and I would only want chocolates if I could eat them in a dark closet by myself, with me and my shame only, I need proof. Blood spatter on the walls, DNA under the fingernails, PROOF. He says it and I believe him and it's enough. Only I'm a girl and even though it's enough, it's not enough.

Only if you have a vagina are you nodding sagely-- KNOWINGLY-- at the completely reasonable nature of that statement.

Also, I love the fricken shit out of his ass and I really want to marry him and make babies and memories. Like, for as long as we both shall live.

That fell out of my fingertips. As long as I didn't let it fall out of my mouth in front of my Mom, I think it's okay to admit that. But Jesus help us all if she hears that and starts talking about playlists and officiants and you know your father loves a good party.

Because god dangit, that man does love a good party and no one, not no one, will party harder than him once we finally make honest spouses out of one another.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A New Dawn

Screw that blood sucking vampire bullshit.

I don't give two craps about that.

Nope, we're trying something entirely new today. Not so ladylike women and, well, probably no (straight) gentlemen: blogging under the influence.

While my blood type is not all together Pinot Grigio (yet), the fast path is certainly leading me in that direction.

Last weekend, Chris and I embarked on a Friday night date. Both the date part and the Friday night part in that sentence are completely abnormal and semi-uncomfortable to us two. We generally prefer our Friday nights quiet, lazy, and at home eating leftovers or bowls of cereal. Why? Because life is hard and we are frequently too traumatized by the daily grind come Friday night to bother putting on lipstick or deoderant for one another. Chris usually falls asleep watching whatever-the-hell golf tournament is airing sometime before 9pm and I generally stomp to bed, watch Diners Drive Ins and Dives and tucker out around 10:30pm.

I love nothing more than my Saturday morning workout. 8:30am, minimum of two hours, followed up by sunglasses, a coffee shop, and wearing disgustingly gross Lululemon workout gear while doing errands until at least 1pm. Stretchy black clothes, soaked so heavily in sweat that the moisture reignites the scent of my beloved Tide Sport.

Thank God I shop Co-Ops where that sort of appalling personal hygiene is tolerated if not embraced.

Anyway, we fancied ourselves up and hustled our asses to a cocktail-attire kind of restaurant that serves things with pretentious condiments like truffle-infused herb butter. Which tastes like dirty bits of grass scraped from the blade of my Craftsman, but it's what you do when you have been together long enough to merit Commonlaw Spouse status and yet, you're too old (and boring, frankly) to do something outrageous like wear high heels when it's cold outside only to trudge through downtown drinking silly blue cocktails and slamming shots of tequila out of test tubes.

I AM A GROWNUP, GOD DAMMIT.

Twas nice. After pitching an embarrassingly enormous hissy fit the weekend before about Chris' lack of initiative or participation in domestic endevours, he went so far as to make the reservations and even take off his Tiger Woods golf hat for the ocassion.

Guys.

He wears a baseball hat to have sex.

OKAY, I KNOW. Overshare! GAH!

But it's like when I want a Snickers bar but instead I eat 32 baby carrots, five graham crackers, a vat of hummus and then eat the Snickers bar anyway, "often" is not going to cut it when explaining just how regularly Chris wears a baseball hat.

He gets naked but leaves a hat on when we have relations.

There.

Moving on.

He was EN FUEGO. And that, suburban readers and equally White bloggers, is Spanish for he looked smoking fucking hot.

We ordered a bottle of red wine. Which I am not sure we have ever done on a dinner date. We giggled and held hands across the table and I worried that there was dirty grass butter in my teeth while sheepishly smiling and cooing in his general direction. We ate slowly and without unnecessary banter over taking out the trash or how annoying his coworkers are. After being presented the wine list for a second time, I opted out in favor of coffee at the meal's conclusion.

It was the most glorious mug of brown water I have ever enjoyed. The bill sat on the table unchecked (and unpaid: DO YOU WANT YOUR 20% OR NOT, SERVER JASON).  I shoved a fistfull of peppermints in my purse as I tried to be coy and swoop past the coat check gal en rout to the car. You know, so she didn't know I was BOMBED out of my mind. You're not supposed to do that in adult places that serve Port and Scotch for dessert. We sip and enjoy, not guzzle and give hand jobs in the bathroom.

WHICH, for the official record, did not happen. No, sir.

But we did love each other more by night's end. Not because we didn't love each other going into it, but because Mr. Sauvignon sometimes reminds us to forget the bullshit that we let roadblock the free-flow of love from person to person after a sort of long time together.

And I love that. I love love and I love FEELING IN LOVE. It took a cabernet flavored reminder to wriggle the lever and let the purity of that feeling wash over the other insignificant nonsense.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ahhhh, Now That's AH-MAZING

For all of the perfectly coiffed gals and immaculately staged living rooms that plaster the glittering walls of Pinterest, I have to say... I don't fancy the perfection of it all.

I think we girls like Pinterest so much because it's like Build-A-Fairytale land for women: the perfect place to create a million dollar wedding to an imaginary Prince Charming, the ideal space to conjure up an enormous house with chandeliers as big as your 1st grade daughter and painted in high gloss blacks.

It's where you escape reality by playfully creating one that will never come to be.

Photo Credit: a perfect gray
What I did find, however, was this gem of a Pin. It's the kind of kitchen that looks good, lives well, and can take a beating. The open shelving is stocked full of useful stonewear, the baseboards are probably chipped from the kids playing hockey in the house (AGAIN, DAMMIT), and that cast iron sink is probably filled to the brim with filthy dishes by 8pm every night.

Pretty but not glossy. Useful but not neglected. Inspired by beauty, rooted in function and family. This is my kind of living.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spotted with Envy

Photo source: Sarah Tucker, FairyTales Are True.

How much does this girl and her polka dot scarf and those ice blue eyes make you want to be her? Schlepping through the snow, probably in Sorels and some sort of legging on your little bird legs. The hat is so... I'm Cool Enough to Dress Like I'm a Hobo and Make it Look Really Fucking Great.

I want to be her, if only for the time it takes to type this post. I want to smile fully, wear funky clothes that reflect my playful inner personality and zest for life.

I want to sip tea from oversized mugs in indie coffee shops while leisurely passing the day away and deliberately ignoring the outside world with the irreverence that only a girl with dip-dyed hair and a polka dotted scarf dangling over free trade green tea could do.

Feeling Feverish

Do you ever feel so sick of everything that you start to feel sick for real?

Sick of the same people, the same places, the same food, the same schedule.

Sick of yourself?

While you could call it a case of cabin fever, it hasn't hardly been winter here in Minnesota this year, so you could even call it spring fever at this point. I've been feeling it for the past several weeks so intensely that my head throbs with migraines and I wake from hours of rest feeling anxious and exhausted with the day already. My anxiety bubbles up into my chest where it sits until I return to bed for respite from the fears, worries, and monotony of the day.

While I have dealt with depression and anxiety for all of my adult life, it somehow feels different this time. It doesn't feel sad or concerned about catastrophic events unfolding, it more feels like desperation and panic about every day life.

Deciding on what to have for breakfast has sent boulder sized lumps all the way up my throat lately. There is this frazzled, unfocused, and neurotic dialog going on in my head that I can't quite seem to quiet.

Life is so luscious right now. I have the job, the house, the boy, and the jam packed race and competition schedule I've been craving. My family is healthy. The sun should be shining in abundance in my world.

Am I waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Have I been so soured that I have become a Fatalist?

I wonder if abrupt and drastic change would be the cure. It feels like the pot is so quiet that maybe the boiling over is immanent: is it me or him or them or should I have gone to Florida for work after all?

What is it about me that can't let the waters or my nerves ever be calm?

The only thing more plentiful than this unsettled feeling is my gratitude for how lovely life really is at the moment. Which exacerbates the worry and compounds it with extreme guilt over what seems to be me sabotaging me with my own special blend of me-ness.

What do you do when you feel stir crazy and on the verge of standing in the open wilderness only to hear your own screams echo from the trees?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pochohontas, Shredded

All of my sassy readers are surely familiar with Minnetonka moccasinsas as well as Under Armour.
As luck would have it, no more than 24 hours after identifying myself as a cozy, highly functional cable knit sock, I stumbled upon myself leaving the gym in an even stronger statement.
Ass kicking hippie.
I generally try to have a pair of cute boots for leaving the gym in, but as the exhaustion of kettlebell swing after lunge after hill sprint set in, my fashion sensibilities failed me. And there I was, leaving the most fashionable, hot mom populated gym in America in moccasins and black gym socks.
I stood at the lockers for a moment, wondering how I could possibly make the moment less hideous: moccasins, no socks? Moccasins, SmartWool socks from today's work ensemble? There's no lipstick for that pig though. And besides, Uggs were cool! Those stupid Zumba pants with neon zippers and shoelaces hanging from the pockets are cool!

Who the hell would mess with a Native American samurai anyway?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Take Heed


We all knew this already. I know we did.

It was always my pledge that "I would never" be a parent that would whip through the golden arches drive thru line. Then you grow up, buy a house, and have a grown up life full of responsibilities, familial commitments and all sorts of scheduled fun.

Life gets busy with good stuff and bad stuff and you get busy busying yourself. Then a Happy Meal started to make perfect occasional sense. Why not!

I always swore that there was a gap in the market for moms: when you're on the run, there's no time to go home and chop a salad, the kids are a disaster and you're not about to take them IN to a restaurant, but you haven't eaten since the ten Cheerios you slurped out of your 3 year old's cereal at 6am, what's a gal to do?!

I'm not a fan, nor will I ever be. But I do see the place of fast food. Moreover, I wish I were smart enough to replace Quarter Pounders with healthy fats, leafy greens, and rainbow-colored side dishes. All served up via a For Your Convenience speedy-serve window. Maybe we would even throw in a "free massage and complimentary babysitting service" coupon to every 10th customer.

I love and believe in the Mommyhood just that much.

We know we're not supposed to eat foods we cannot pronounce; we know we're not supposed to eat Cheetohs and cheesecake and drink Mountain Dew. WE KNOW BETTER, we just don't always do better.

It's human.

My commitment to organic and eco-conscious living is often mocked and I stand firm and back up my more-costly-than-Goldfish-and-McNuggets choices with this:

In 20 years, I can live with myself for having wasted money to buy organic and wasted energy and elbow grease for being chemically-conservative (to say there are zero chemicals in my home is a gross overestimation if not a blatant lie). I cannot, however, live with the risk of making myself or my family chronically or terminally ill with the knowledge and doubt over, "could I have prevented this?"

Let's be real: nothing tastes better on a hungover Sunday morning than a McMuffin and a ketchup-smothered hashbrown.

But it's not that good. 
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