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Archive for October, 2012

The best $30 ever spent

I like stuff. I have a lot of stuff. Shiny, sparkly, colorful stuff. It’s all over my house. And I can be an impulse shopper, but I try to limit the dollars spent on shiny, sparkly, colorful impulse purchases. You can get more shiny, sparkly, colorful stuff (impulsively, of course) if you don’t spend too much on one shiny, sparkly, colorful thing. This is, in fact, one of the benefits of living alone: you don’t have to worry about whether anyone else likes your shiny, sparkly, colorful things, and no one cares about your impulse purchases.

(I just walked past another benefit of living alone. There is a heap of laundry on the floor over there, some in a basket, some just on the floor. It’s been there for, oh, a while. And no one has to know, or be annoyed by it.)

The other day I was reveling in the awesomeness of one of my impulse purchases, and I thought, “This is the best thirty dollars I have ever spent.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m talking about my (shiny) purple toaster, which I impulsively bought one day for $30 at Target, even though I had a perfectly functional (and boring) toaster already sitting on my kitchen counter.

Haha! Wrong! I do love, love, love my shiny purple toaster, and someday I hope to have more purple appliancy friends for it in the kitchen. But no, the amazing $30 dollar purchase I was marveling over was my showerhead. Don’t go there, it’s not what you think. I have a light-up, LED, color-changing showerhead. And it. is. da. bomb.

I first discovered it, of all places, on the Facebook wall of a local seafood restaurant. (We can discuss their lousy use of social media another day.) It was apropos of nothing, just a cool looking picture:


I reposted it to my wall because, holy crap that was pretty damn cool (and shiny and colorful)! And before I knew it, a friend had Googled it and located it for sale. And it was ONLY THIRTY DOLLARS. And there were only THREE LEFT!!!! It was a shiny, colorful, impulse purchase perfect storm. I hemmed and hawed for a few minutes. I mean, come on. I’m a grown up. (Sort of.) Is a light-up rainbow showerhead really what I need in my house?

Answer: hells yeah!

I ordered it. It arrived. I kept my expectations low. Were the pictures online and on the packaging a little misleading? Yeah. Does it lower my water pressure a teeny, tiny bit? Yeah. Does any of that matter? NO. It’s soooooo awesome! Especially in the dark.

Which is what happened the other night when I had my Best Purchase Ever revelation. I came home from a less-than-stellar Zumba class (NOT your fault, Lori, if you’re reading!!!!), and I was cold and tired and kinda crabby. Hot shower would be a good remedy for that anyway, but add in the bitchin color-changing lights and it is impossible to be in a bad mood in the disco shower with all the other lights off. It also might be kind of impossible to shave your legs with all the lights off, and hazardous getting out after turning off the pretty light-up shower, but who cares???? I kind of want to go take a disco shower right now, even though I’m fairly clean, having just showered earlier today.

It’s spreading, too. For my birthday, Klondike got me a faucet for the kitchen sink that lights up. That one is temperature-indicative. Blue lights for cold, red lights for warm, green for in between. It pretty much rocks, also.

Someday I’m going to die, and my house will be a realtor’s nightmare. Perhaps in my will I should indicate where I put all the original, boring, non-light-up water features (the linen closet, in case you should be the one settling my estate). In the meantime, it’s my house. Colorful silliness prevails.

Mine 🙂

Thanks, 3Names, for the groovy pics.

_______________________________________________________________

UPDATED, 20 minutes post-publishing….

Um, yeah, so I might need to get this. Thanks, Krista.

Facebook & Politics

Lately a lot of people have been bitching and moaning about all the political posts on Facebook.

“No one’s ever going to change anyone’s opinion by posting something on Facebook.”

People seem put out by the sharing of articles and cartoons and videos and ideas and opinions.

Not me.

True, I have hidden and unfriended some people. Mostly people where there was never any reason for us to be friends – I don’t actually know them in real life, and they don’t contribute in any positive way to my Facebook experience (and where I’m not sure why they friended me in the first place). I’ve also had that moment of shock & dismay when a FB friend shows up in my stalker feed as having liked Mitt Romney. (This is my blog, I don’t need any pretense of neutrality here, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise anyway.)

I try not to take it personally, too – the complaining. I am a heavy FB poster, and it is a rare day that I don’t post something political or current eventsy. Some days, lots of things. My joking defense is that I haven’t amped up for the election season – I post like that all year ‘round. But I am sure people have hidden me, and that is fine (their loss).

I find that many of my Facebook friends read and share interesting things, from a broad pool of sources I could only scratch the surface of on my own. I really appreciate the things they share; it’s like having my own personal shopper for reading material.  Hopefully some of them enjoy some of the things I post in return.

Do I think people’s minds are being changed? Probably not. However, some of the conversations I’ve been in have been lively and interesting and respectful. (That last one is key.)

But here is the real reason I am not only not pissed off by political posting on Facebook, but truly grateful for it.

I have lived in Fort Wayne most of my life, other than a handful of glorious years in the Ann Arbor area. I have spent most of my 41 years in a world where I am different, suffocating under the blanket assumption that we are all the same here. We are all Christian, we are all straight, we are all Republican, we are all socially conservative. “Midwestern values.” I’m not those things. (FYI, I am straight. Not that it matters. I feel the need to include sexual orientation because like my Judaism, it isn’t visible like skin color. Does that make sense?  Because I identify with anyone who is different.)

College was so liberating. I didn’t have to think twice about voicing my opinion or finding like-minded friends. There were lots of Jewish kids – I was no longer the only voice representing an entire freaking religion. I went to Washington with a roommate for a march for reproductive freedom. Ann Arbor wasn’t just a liberal haven – it was equal opportunity. Every culture and way of life in the world had an officially sanctioned student group.

Moving back to Fort Wayne was a bit of culture shock. I had gotten away from that assumption of sameness, and I resented being lumped back in again. My then husband worked at Lincoln, and we joked that finding other Democrats was like a secret society.

It’s not even a question of discrimination or something overt. It’s just the idea what we’re all the same. We all agree. The way people assume.  If you’ve never been the one sneaking peeks around the room to see if anyone else is sneaking peeks around the room, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s exhausting just trying to make people grasp the concept that maybe the person sitting next to them doesn’t share the same belief system. And not only that, it’s a good thing.  Celebrate diversity. It’s boring when we’re all the same. Quit trying to make it so.  

Anyway, back to Facebook. Glorious Facebook with our rampant oversharing and lack of filters. You know what I found when Facebook came along? A whole bunch of people right here in northeast Indiana who are just. like. me! Who I can relate to. Who share my values. Who I can talk to about stuff that gets me fired up. For the first time in my life I feel like I have a large pool of people who get me. It’s not a secret society. It’s a community. And I love it.  

For Lettie, my love

I have a handful of people who I claim to have stalked and forced into friendship. This might generally be a slight distortion of the facts, but I really don’t think it is when it comes to my friend Lettie, who does not get a fake blog name, because how awesome is her name and what could I possibly come up with that is half as delightful? (YAY, run-on sentences!)

Lettie and I have been working closely together on a project for a number of years (story for a different day), but in the beginning we were simply Facebook acquaintances. Until I emailed her and said, “I think we should have lunch.” She probably thought I was cuckoo, seeing as we didn’t actually know each other, but even from afar I could tell she was witty, AND she’s a librarian – swoon!

Lunch was a wee bit clumsy, seeing as we’re both kind of shy. But eventually we made it through the awkward phase into true sisterhood. We were both divorced, and although she was a single mom and I have no kids, there was lots of common ground, including the agony of dating, the loneliness of not dating, a love for community, dogs, volunteerism, charming older homes, wordplay, and general mischief.  Even though we run in different circles and have very disparate lives, she occupies a special corner in my heart.

So I was delighted when lo and behold…she met someone. And holy cats, she was on cloud nine. You could tell from the word “go” that this wasn’t just some guy; it was serious. Tony. You could almost hear the little hearts floating in the air around his name when she talked about him. I was so freakin’ happy for her.

Since my divorce I’ve maybe been a tad bit cynical about love and romance and relationships. But these two crazy kids seem like they were made for each other. Ok, so I barely know him, but I know ABOUT him, and I love him because he loves her, and because he totally acted like it was normal that when I saw them in the produce section at Fresh Market, I flung my arms around him even before introducing myself. And check this out….this weekend….they got MARRIED. Woot!

Lettie, Tony, and her (their) daughters, during the wedding. Love.

The wedding was lovely and unique and very Lettie (and, I assume, very Tony). It was a picnic at Fox Island, and they asked us to bring food and share recipes and good god, their friends can cook. Um, person who made that rice (was it rice?) & black bean & feta salad, if you’re reading this, can I have the recipe please? I brought my mom’s famous oatmeal cake. It’s fucking awesome. And while I already shared the recipe with Lettie & Tony, I’m going to share it with you also, in honor of them. I have no idea where my mom got this recipe. As far as I’m concerned, it originated with her. I know some people keep their kick ass recipes secret, but the world needs oatmeal cake, and I can’t possibly make it for all y’all.  Eat it in good health.

Oatmeal Cake
This is a delicious, moist, dense cake, maybe somewhat similar in nature to a carrot cake. (I don’t actually like carrot cake, so I don’t really know. But I feel like I’ve heard that comparison before.) Also, good news, it’s made with OATMEAL (hence, the name) so you can totally justify eating it for breakfast. It’s DELICIOUS and a crowd pleaser, so don’t be put off if you’re one of those people who thinks oatmeal cake sounds weird. I promise you’ll like it, and if you don’t, may I please have your piece? And it’s totally easy. I promise that, too.

Boil 1.5 cups of water, pour it over 1 cup of quick oats, and let it stand for 20 minutes. While it’s standing quietly off to the side, you can get everything else ready. Ooh, and maybe you should preheat the oven, too: 350 degrees.

Combine and add to the oats mixture ½ cup margarine or butter (softened), 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, and 2 eggs. Add 1-1/3 cups flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. That’s it! Ta da! I told you it was easy!

Pour the batter into a greased & floured 9” x 13” pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Note: if you use a glass pan, bake at 325.)
Let the cake cool in the pan for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to finish cooling on wire rack. Side note, mine broke when it came out of the pan – grr. So maybe let it cool a little longer in the pan than I said above. Fortunately, the frosting functions like glue.  

When cake has cooled thoroughly, frost the crap out of it with the following. People will fight for the corner pieces.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Let one stick of margarine or butter and one 8-ounce package of cream cheese soften. (Do NOT use reduced fat or fat free cream cheese wannabes, as they won’t work – the frosting will slide off the cake. I have tried.)

Cream together the softened butter & cream cheese. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and approximately 1 box of powdered sugar, until the frosting is the right consistency. How do you know what is the right consistency? I mean, you’ve never made it. Right. Ok, thick, but still spreadable. Jesus, that sounds dirty. I’ll work on this section. How about….when the frosting tastes delicious and doesn’t slide off the spatula, it’s ready.

Gently cover the cooled cake with a liberal layer of the good stuff. If you’re so inclined, make pretty swirls on the top.

You will likely have a fair amount of extra frosting. I recommend saving it to eat later on graham crackers. Or a spoon.

I store it in the fridge because of the cream cheese. That is a partial-truth. I store it in the fridge because my mom stores it in the fridge. Presumably because of the cream cheese. It also freezes well. If you somehow have some leftover.

And now, please raise your forks to my friends.  Lettie & Tony, I wish you much love and happiness, with heaps and heaps of laughter. I love you guys!

Ready to eat!

p.s. They ate the entire cake at the reception. Success!

Be daring!

I had the deodorant-breaking-into-a-million-pieces experience the other day, so I grabbed a new one from the closet.  And I just discovered that the scent of my deodorant is “daringly fresh”.

To which I say….WTF, Lady Speed Stick?

Daringly fresh????

Isn’t that the whole fucking point of deodorant? To smell fresh????

I would like to think it’s the status quo.

How about “appropriately fresh”?

Or “everlastingly fresh” – that might be a selling point for me.

I can even see “astonishingly fresh” – you won’t believe how long this shit keeps you smelling….um….FRESH.

But daringly? I double dog dare you to wear this deodorant?  Um. This makes no sense.

If your deodorant DOESN’T smell fresh, I’m not sure I’d call that a good idea, but it might be a daring marketing move: “Daringly damp”. Ew, yes, but more legit.

Clearly I am in the wrong line of work…..right?

 

That 10K Was My Bitch*

*This might be a slight exaggeration.

I am not a runner. I am never going to be a runner. I have perhaps, from time to time, explored whether or not this might ever change. It will not. And I am totally cool with that. I have embraced my non-runner status. If, someday, a bear or a zombie were to start chasing us, I would put forth some good effort, but you would have nothing to worry about; you will be able to escape while said bear or zombie feeds on me. You’re welcome.

So I have ignored the runners geeking out over the Fort4Fitness event that has taken this community by storm the last few years.

Except the route travels half a block from my house, and last year some friends wanted my dog to come out and cheer them on (what? that totally makes sense!), so I got up at the ungodly hour of 7:30 or 8 on a freakin’ Saturday, and trudged to the corner with Ms. Ruby and we clapped and barked and encouraged runners and walkers, and saw all kinds of motivated friends and strangers pass by.

The event features a 4 mile run/walk, a 10K, and a half marathon. And while I was sitting on the curb cheering on those 4-mile walkers at the back of the pack, an older woman went by. With a walker. Not as in a fellow walker in the event. She was using a walker. I was already sitting on the curb (in my pajamas), but somehow I think I shriveled up a little more. How pathetic was I, sitting there watching? I decided then & there that I would participate the following year (aka this year).

The 10K sounded like a good challenge. (As a walk. Nothing has changed about the not being a runner, never being a runner, ok with not being a runner status.) 10K was not scary like the half marathon, but clearly more than a good jaunt with the dog. I promptly rounded up some friends to participate with me, registered, and had good intentions to, you know, train. Which didn’t so much come to fruition. The preparing part, that is.

Nevertheless, this past Saturday I was up before sunrise (what the what??), bouncy and enthusiastic. That is not my m.o., in case that isn’t clear. Much like I’m not a runner, I also am not, nor will I ever be, a morning person. Especially on Saturdays. Klondike and I geared up and headed downtown to meet up with our walking pals.

The weather was perfect, the mood was strong, and despite my utter lack of preparation, I prevailed. I wasn’t able to maintain Sunshine’s exuberant pace, but I finished, and I wasn’t last, and that was pretty much my only objective. 🙂 And it was a total blast. I saw lots of friends, both participating in the various events and in the throngs of people along the way cheering and staffing water stations and being generally awesome. It was fun to be part of such a positive community event, and I especially love that it goes through my beloved neighborhood. And holy crap, they give you JEWELRY just for finishing!

I’m wearing this bad boy EVERYWHERE from now on!

Was I more tired and sore than I was expecting? Yes. Did I get a blister on the pad of my foot? Yes. Did that piss me off royally because I know better how to manage for blisters? Yes. Am I doing it again next year? Hell yes. Will I do a better job being prepared? I certainly intend to.  Which, I believe, is what those pesky event planners are hoping for – a general increase in our activity levels and, you know, making positive changes. Bastards.

It’s kind of hard to argue with the merits of that, right? And I’m always interested in walking buddies; give me a shout if you want some company.

So….see you out there next year?

Approaching the finish.
(Thanks, Amy H., for the picture!)