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Posts tagged ‘Sunshine’

Who needs brown paper packages tied up with string when you have self-sealing envelopes?

A while back I posted a list of things that drive me crazy. Lest you think I’m a supercrab who only focuses on the negative, I thought perhaps we should have an equally obscure list of things that I adore beyond reason.  Let’s call it….

Things that make me unreasonably happy and sometimes I go on at great length about how much I love them:

  • Priority Mail prepaid flat-rate forever envelopes. Delivered to my home, for free. Or maybe they charge $1 to deliver, I’ve lost track, but still totally worth it for my work-from-home set up.  All I have to do is stuff them full, address them, and leave them outside my house for Mailman to pick up. Postage never expires. No waiting in lines. No fake nuns.  Woot!
  • Dropbox – It’s perfect for file sharing for work, since we’re in different locations. It’s perfect for volunteer work where people need access to the same documents. It’s perfect for accessing random crap from my phone, when I’m nowhere near my computer, like the list I made of movies that I used to own but no longer do but would like to again, in case I see one in a bargain bin somewhere. It’s perfect for everything. And it’s the easiest thing in the world to use. My mom was telling my about a medical emergency her husband had a few weeks ago (he’s fine, I promise) and in the story she had to leave the hospital to go home to email someone a document. My immediate reaction was, “I need to show you how to use Dropbox”.
  • Self-sealing envelopes. I know it probably seems that I’m obsessed with mail. I’m not. But I do like mail, and I do NOT like the taste of envelope glue. Plus, you know, George Costanza’s fiancée Susan. But mostly I can’t believe it took so long for someone to come up with these and now that they exist I appreciate the crap out of them.
  • Shazam. An app on my phone can listen to a few seconds of music and tell me what song it is and who sings it? THAT SHIT IS AMAZING! For this reason alone I consider my smartphone a worthwhile investment.
  • My scarf from Ireland. 3Names and I spent a marvelous week traipsing around and all I knew was I wanted to bring home some piece of knit something. I looked at loads of sweaters, but they were all big, bulky-looking affairs that aren’t my style and probably would have made me spontaneously combust. One day we were in a little shop on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, where it’s literally like going back in time. In amongst some of the more typical souvenir-type items, I found a lovely, soft, colorful knit scarf, long enough to wrap around my neck twice when it’s really cold. The tag said it was hand-made in Ireland. Was this a trap for a gullible tourist? Ha! When I took it to the clerk to pay she said, “Oh, my neighbor Maggie made this.” I wear the crap out of it, but gently, so as to extend its lifespan, and when someone comments on it, I get all happy-like.
  • Fuzzy Blankie, capitalized because that’s its name, not just a description. Fuzzy Blankie was a gift from Sunshine a few years ago and it turned me into Linus. It’s warm. It’s soft. It’s fluffy. It’s comforting. It’s soft. (It’s so soft it deserves to be mentioned twice.) It’s white, and somehow, miraculously, the Queen of Spill (that would be me) has managed to keep it remarkably clean. Dogs are not allowed to lie on it.  Fuzzy Blankie is always there for me when I need it.
  • Compliments from strangers. No explanation required.
  • When Ruby Dogwonkafonka sticks her face right up in mine and burps. I know that sounds disgusting. Ok, it is disgusting. But it makes me laugh every time. Partly because it seems so deliberate, and she never looks sorry. And her timing is impeccable.
  • This one set of hand-me-down sheets that my dad gave me. I have no idea why he didn’t want them anymore. (I know exactly why he didn’t want them anymore; they didn’t match his décor.) They are so soft and comfy that they have made all other sheets completely inferior. I am on a quest to find something that will be their equal, but so far I haven’t found anything. Or anything that I can afford. But. I. Will.
  • This video. I am not sure how many times I have watched it, but I would guess it’s in the neighborhood of 36,284 times. I think it’s hilarious. (FYI, you’re only committing to a minute and thirty-eight seconds of your life if you click the link.)
  • The infamous rainbow shower head.  
  • This blog post. It makes me laugh my ass off. After Beyoncé, it’s the thing I’m most committed to getting the entire world to read.

    He totally goes with the chair with the missing leg, no?

    He totally goes with the chair with the missing leg, no?

  • Tomás, the colorful metal t-rex Klondike gave me for Christmas. Whose boyfriend is better than mine? Come ON, I have a t-rex in my freakin’ living room.  (My style is, um,eclectic.)
  • My next door neighbors, Jim & Phyllis. They give me vegetables from their garden and chili and baked goods from their kitchen. They let me borrow tools and ladders and a power washer. They keep an eye on me. And my house. And my dog. In a nice, neighborly fashion, not a Gladys Kravitz way.
  • Crack cookies. They don’t actually call them that at The Fresh Market, but they should. They actually call them something like Heath bar cookies, and they are stupid delicious. I make people eat them so I can get them to concede that they are, in fact, freaking amazing.

As said when the other, negative list concluded, this is not all-encompassing at all. It’s just my version of Maria von Trapp’s raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. (When did this blog become so full of nuns??)  Personally I think my list is a little better than hers, but she had to deal with Nazis so I’ll cut her some slack.

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Summer Lovin’

Here we are mere days into the season, and I am already in the throes of a passionate summer affair. We’re committing all the classic blunders: intense declarations of love, blowing off friends to be together every day, staying up way too late at night for just a few minutes more basking in the glow, dreaming about each other at night, talking incessantly about it to others. And in typical fashion, I’m pretty sure I’m more into it. Sigh…

We’ve flirted before, sure. People whose opinions matter to me have sung your praises. I’ve caught glimpses of you here and there. But it wasn’t until earlier this spring that the time was finally right and good friends brought you to my house. We spent an hour together, then another, and another. Could this intense attraction sustain? But you have it all: wit, charm, intelligent discourse, snappy banter; instantly, I was smitten.

The West Wing, where have you been all my life?

Yep, I’m spending my summer binge-watching a TV show that first came on the air at the end of the last millennium. And it’s soooooooo gooooooood.

It’s not surprising that it I love it. I’m a huge Aaron Sorkin fan. Sports Night, love. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, canceled just as it was about to find its stride. A Few Good Men is one of the most quotable movies of our time. The American President is one of my very favorite movies ever, and The West Wing is cut from the same cloth. In fact, I think I’ve been driving my dad crazy telling him about the many examples of dialogue in The West Wing that are straight out of the movie. I just learned that Sorkin left the show after season four or five, so apparently I need to relish the early seasons, and time will tell where my affections lie later on.

Here’s how much I dote on Aaron Sorkin and The West Wing. I can make a list of flaws, both with the series and with his work in general (um, hi, ALL the people talk exactly the same, pelting each other with rapid-fire word assaults) and I don’t even care. Blinded by love, I am.

(With one exception. Omigod, I fucking hate Donna. She’s so annoying, and her character is implausibly unprofessional and meddling and generally irksome. She never would have made it to that level of employment.)

I have laughed out loud in every episode. Some have left me in tears. It’s kind of soul crushing how relevant the stories still are. They’re wrestling with legislation about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, gun control, fuel emissions, marriage equality.

Oh, and I want to marry Sam Seaborn. (It’s the first time I’ve ever found Rob Lowe attractive.)

I borrowed season one from the Sunshines and on a Saturday afternoon I was watching a very intense episode, thinking it felt like a cliffhanger finale, but knowing I still had another disc to watch. On the edge of my seat, I popped the final disc in to see what happened next, and IT WAS NOTHING BUT SPECIAL FEATURES – I WAS TRICKED!

I was also in a pickle. Where to get season two? Where to get season two RIGHT THAT SECOND??? I am the one person who doesn’t have Netflix. I started looking for deals on Amazon. But that would take (two) days to arrive. Then I remembered the library! The library had it, and it was, according to their website, available. The only problem was time – I had about an hour and a half to shower, dress, primp and get to a wedding, and the library was closed the next day. Could I squeeze in a quick dash through the library to check out season two, discs 1 & 2?

Answer: Hell yes, I could. And when I got home from the wedding that night I started watching.

I may need a better solution than the library, though – a total of six days (3-day rental plus one renewal max) is not enough time to watch and enjoy sixteen episodes, even for a junkie. The fines are beyond reasonable, but it feels wrong to go into it knowing I have no intention of returning it on time….maybe.  Or maybe I just need to look at it as a donation to a community resource versus paying a subscription fee to a corporate entity. We’ll see.  😀

What’s on tap?

Until yesterday, I had never taken a dance lesson ever my life, unless you count things like when you’re forced to square dance in gym class in grade school.

Oh my god, that is a total lie. Before we were married, my ex-husband (of course, he was my fiancé then – I really get tripped up on terminology talking about someone whose status has changed) and I took ballroom dance lessons for about a year. I can do approximately two steps in each of the following: waltz, fox trot, cha cha, rumba, samba and polka. I can do maybe six swing steps – enough to show off at weddings. I can’t believe I forgot about that.

Let me try this again. I never took dance lessons as a kid. I’m not necessarily what you would call coordinated, or full of rhythm. And it wasn’t anything I had a burning desire to do.  I tried (and quickly abandoned) gymnastics, took lessons and played lots of tennis, went to photography and journalism summer programs, but don’t ever recall asking for dance lessons. (You’re welcome, Mom.)

As an adult, I have developed a fascination with tap. I just think it’s super cool. How can you not love the click click click?  So when Sunshine emailed some of the girls and asked who might be interested in exploring tap lessons, I was STOKED. Me, me, pick me, I’ll do it!!!!! I don’t even know what sparked the idea for her, but I’m so glad it was tap she wanted to try and not….anything else.  A crew of 5 brave souls was assembled. We purchased shoes. (I AM GOING TO WEAR THEM EVERYWHERE!!!!) And last night, we had our first class with Miss Anna.  (I’m not 100% positive her name is Anna. Let’s just say it is….nope, it’s Donna. Sorry Miss Donna!)

I was stupidly excited as I cruised across town to the school where our class is. How often do you get to do something new and goofy and fun, with a gang of cool peeps? Not often enough, in my world.

It was such a hoot; I had a total ball, and I can’t wait till next week’s class. As soon as I got home I put my shoes back on so I could bop around the house practicing what we’d learned. And fucking it up horribly. 😉  I’m really good at pretending I know how to tap, though. Just ask Ruby. I can make a lot of clatter with my tap shoes. I’m pretty sure that’s a sign I’m going to be awesome. Plus, tap dancers often look kind of stiff and awkward in their upper body, and I already have that part down pat. I’m totally a natural. 😛  In fact, I’m so good at holding my upper body still – some might say clenched – that my neck and shoulders were totally stiff and sore. I think it was from concentrating so. dang. hard. on what my feet were doing.

Anyway, this is my new adventure. I’ll keep you posted on when and where we’ll be making our big performance debut – bwahah!

Jon, one of the troupe members (yes, we’re a troupe goddammit!), sent me this video. I’m pretty sure this is where I’m headed. Ruby is a little more dubious.

 

(Can you believe how patient that dog must’ve been to learn that????)

Tap on, my friends!

What’s cookin’?

Confession time: I am a hoarder.

Let me be more specific. I am a recipe hoarder.

I rip them out of newspapers. I cut them off of food packaging. I print them from websites and I gather them from friends and family (especially my mom). I buy cookbooks. I have multiple files of recipes on my computers. I usually have a couple sitting in my printer waiting for me. I have a stack sitting on top of my microwave. I have a Longaberger basket (I know, right?) filled with recipe cards. And a few years ago I organized a big binder full of all those clippings and whatnot. Periodically I gather up all the strays littered around the house and add them to the binder.

This might lead you to believe that I cook a lot. Sadly, that is not the case. I’m kind of lazy, and cooking for one doesn’t often seem worth it.  Plus, when it’s just me the yield is such that it better be something that either freezes well or that I like well enough to eat for several days in a row.

However, a few weeks ago I was browsing for cookie recipes for Sunshine’s and my annual Christmas cookie fest, and I decided enough is enough. I need to make some of these things I’ve been clipping. In fact, given the timing of this, perhaps that should be a resolution for the new year. If I were feeling super inspired, I would aim for one new recipe a week, but who am I kidding. Based on how much I actually cook, that wouldn’t leave any room for recipes I already enjoy making (and eating). Howsabout once a month, a new recipe? Dig it, I can get on board with that.

Anyway, this epiphany of  “I should cook more” came when I was reading a page of brunch recipes I had torn out of the newspaper several years ago. And I thought ok, but who makes brunch for one? And then I said to myself, “Self, I’m gonna DO that!” There was a yummy sounding blueberry cream cheese French toast recipe that I determined I was going to make just for me on Christmas morning. Momentarily forgetting, of course, that Klondike was coming up on Christmas. But his arrival time was undetermined and I decided fuck it, I was making it for myself and if he was here, great, and if not, he could have leftovers. (Sorry, babe.)

As it turned out, he was here, and it was great, and it was decent the next day as leftovers, and I sent another big hunk of leftovers home with him. Perhaps next time I will halve the recipe. But hooray for new endeavors in the kitchen!

And since some of my friends asked for the recipe, here it is. (I snipped it from Eileen Goltz’s column in the Journal Gazette, eons ago.)

Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast
Ingredients:

  •  1 loaf egg bread, cut into cubes (I don’t know what “egg bread” is – feel free to enlighten me. I used one of those bake-and-serve loaves of Italian bread, except I didn’t bake it – it was fully baked, it just wasn’t browned and crispy, it was still a bready bread, and it worked great.)
  •  1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, slightly softened
  •  1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries, tossed lightly with 2 tablespoons flour (The fresh blueberries were ridiculously expensive, so I bought some nice frozen ones and they worked just fine. I didn’t defrost them, since I knew they would have plenty of time for that, just coated them with the flour.)
  •  Cinnamon
  •  8 large eggs
  •  1-1/2 cups milk
  •  ¾ cup maple syrup (Please, for the love of god, use real maple syrup. Not just for this, but for every maple syrup opportunity you run across. You can thank me later if you haven’t already been using it.)
  •  6 tablespoons butter, melted
Midway through the layering - pretty!

Midway through the layering – pretty!

Coat a 13x9x2 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Layer one half of the bread cubes in the baking dish. Cut the cream cheese into cubes and scatter over bread. Layer the coated blueberries over the cream cheese. Cover the blueberries with the remaining bread. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon. In a bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup, eggs and butter. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the bread and press the mixture into the bread with a spatula. This will help the bread soak up the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight (I went the overnight route). Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Serves 8.

Next time I make it, I will use more blueberries – at least 2 cups (total), maybe more. Probably more. I really love blueberries. I also might use a little less bread on top. Like a handful less, maybe.

Hold me to the resolution, k? And if you have something delicious I should be making, please send the recipe – I’ll add it to the pile!

Ciao, babies! Happy New Year!!!

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!)

Ew, squishy!

I lean on my elbows a lot. I know this about myself. I have been aware for the last couple of weeks that my left elbow has been more….sensitive, or something. Like, bruised feeling. But apparently I haven’t actually LOOKED at my bruised-feeling elbow until last night, or I would have noticed that it was 2-3 times larger than normal. And not really elbow shaped. Much more bulbous than usual.

Gingerly, I touched it.

Not only did it not look like an elbow, it did not feel like an elbow.

It felt….squishy.

Ew.

I am extremely squeamish about such things. I touched it again. Why, I don’t know. Because I’m like that. But the fact that it did NOT feel hard and bony and elbow-pointy made me freak the fuck out. (It made me think of that scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Gilderoy Lockhart removes all the bones from Harry’s’ arm. Ew.)

Clearly I had elbow cancer. I knew this because many months, or maybe a year ago, Sunshine (my non-biological twin) had wrist cancer, which ended up being a ganglion cyst, but when all she knew was that she had a bump on her wrist, she was convinced it was wrist cancer. Hence, squishy, bulbous elbow = elbow cancer.

We might have a tendency to overreact to things in my non-biological family. Maybe.

And apparently my elbow has been deformed for quite some time, because when I texted Sunshine to tell her about said elbow cancer, she responded with, “You know, I thought your elbow looked weird in yoga [on Saturday] and I forgot to ask about it!!”

But this is typical for me. I am accident-prone and a klutz and I frequently have bumps and bruises and scrapes that I don’t know where they came from. Yesterday I ran over my foot with my own chair. Today my foot will be sore and I won’t remember why. That is standard operating procedure for me. So I have no idea what I might have done to my elbow, if anything. Perhaps it just happened, got inflamed.

Once I stopped hyperventilating over my squishy, bulbous elbow, I took pictures of both the normal and the abnormal elbows and sent them to Klondike. Perhaps so he could prepare himself for my demise. Or so he could talk me off the ledge.

Normal elbow

 

Scary elbow

I knew it was serious when instead of texting me back, he CALLED ME. (Have I mentioned that we pretty much never talk on the phone? Maybe three times in eight months.) Obviously the situation was dire.

“It’s not cancer. Stop freaking out.”

Klondike’s assessment was that something was going on with the bursa in (around? who cares.) my elbow joint. After he talked me down from my panic, he suggested that I send the picture to Pandi, my nurse friend, for a more professional second opinion. Her response was similar to his, and she assured me I could wait till normal office hours to seek medical attention.  She also asked that I not sue her, should her long-distance diagnosis via iPhone pictures be inaccurate.

My biggest concern/reason for going to the doctor is that I am getting on a plane soonish for a quick trip for a wedding and I want to make sure it’s ok to get into a flying pressurized capsule and that it won’t make my elbow explode. Cuz that would just be gross. And fluid doesn’t really go with what I was planning on wearing to the wedding. Unless it’s in a wineglass. And we’re going to call THAT wine or liquid instead of fluid, because now I’m just thoroughly grossed out.

Fortunately, my doctor was able to squeeze my bulbous elbow and me onto his schedule this morning. Bert, the nurse, took my blood pressure. Typically she uses my left arm, but today she used my right. I’m pretty sure this was so my elbow wouldn’t burst, although she did start laughing when I asked if that was why.

Bursitis.

I have bursitis. That just sounds like something an old person would have, right?

My doctor insisted that young people get it, and that old people get things like osteoarthritis.

He and the nurse did wonder how it happened, though. Did I whack it on something? Who knows. As I said, that’s just how I am – I bump into things. In college, I duct-taped a rag around the sharp corner of my bed frame because I got tired of the bruises and gashes on my leg where I walked into it on a regular basis.

Back to the bursitis….

In case the yoga has been exacerbating it, the Y kindly scheduled a two-week break (boo!), so the elbow happens to get some time off. And the doc prescribed some Prednisone. My elbow should be normal sized and bony again before you know it.

In the meantime, I’m going to use it as an excuse for everything. “I’m sorry, I’m late, but I have bursitis.”  “I can’t serve on that committee because of my bursitis.”  I may even need a support group. 😉

Note: a quick web search reveals there actually are bursitis support groups. Apparently it can be much more severe and painful than my mildly uncomfortable lumpy elbow, and I mean no disrespect to anyone experiencing pain.