Thursday, December 22, 2005
A few weeks ago I went out to lunch with my sisters. Both my sisters work full-time and they were discussing their company’s sick leave policy. One of them said her sick days accumulated year after year. One of them said, I think, that her sick days were a use-it-or-lose-it kind of thing. Not wanting to be left out of the conversation I quickly explained that I didn’t get any sick days ever. They both thought that was kind of funny, but I didn’t. Mom’s don’t get sick days and that is truly a crime. Because nobody needs sick days more than a mother.
In case you can’t tell by my congested tone of voice, I am sick. I have been sick for almost two weeks now. The house is disgusting, the kids are hooked on Nick Jr. TV, and we seem to eat a lot of pancakes and eggs for dinner lately. Why? Because I am just not getting better. I am what I like to call, functional sick. I am not feverish with delirium anymore but I simply feel like a big piece of garbage. I am functional, yet still sick. I feel like a walking zombie.
So today I am breaking down and going to see my doctor. I have no idea why. He’ll simply say something like: “Be patient. This is a terrible bug that’s going around.” In reality I’d like him to say this: “Here is a prescription for valium. Take it whenever your kids are going bonkers. Oh, and I insist you take at least a week vacation in Mazatlan where you will do nothing but lie on the beach all day long and sip fruity drinks. I forbid you to change any diapers or do any laundry. That is the real reason you are still sick. You must be allergic to laundry.” I’ll explain to him that I don’t have any sick days saved up and he’ll say that it’s a shame. Mazatlan really would cure me. I’m sure of it.
Friday, December 16, 2005
I complain too much in my blogs. I know I can be critical when I blog because the other day my friend Jenn gave me an invitation to a bath and body party she was hosting and the first thing she said when she handed the invite to me was: “Please don’t blog about me but I’m inviting you to this party.” I feel terrible that she would think I would blog negatively about her. I need to work on that reputation I’ve created.
Some of (what I thought) were some of my best blogs, Food Snob, elicited hardly any feedback, while some that I thought were not so great, Razor Blades and Cyanide, elicited the most responses. So apparently I have no idea what inquiring minds want to know. Too bad. I keep blogging anyway.
I started blogging because Allison did. And in turn my husband, sister, and my dad started blogging because of me. I’m such a leader. So here’s to another six months of blogging about nothing and having a good time while doing it. Here are some of my favorite blogs I’ve read over the last six months—in no particular order. If you haven’t checked them out, you should.
- I learned that my very quiet husband has a lot on his mind when given the right forum to express himself. From taxes, his childhood paper routes, and his days of evil music, they all make me laugh. He is quiet—not shy—I always tell people. Paul is so quiet that I often can tell when he is about to speak because he clears his throat. Yes, he actually speaks so infrequently that he has to clear his throat in order to speak. Blogging has been his voice I think.
- I have confirmed the fact that my sister Carolyn really is a great writer. She, like my Dad, is good with words and reading her blogs truly brings a smile to my face. She doesn’t feel 600 miles away. Isn’t that a song? Her blogs are also very informative. I had no idea people across this country were dedicating their cars in loving memory of the dead. Oh, what’s next?
- I’m enjoying my Dad’s blogs about his days during the Vietnam War. His ordering of hot dogs in Japan had me in stitches!
- I enjoyed Carlie’s expose on hair salons. With blogs like that the world can change. Boy did she hit the nail on this head! Nobody likes the painful small talk or being forced to look at themselves in a giant mirror for over an hour.
- I love to read Kacy’s blogs about anything from the past. Her Adam Ant blog left me wiping tears. And does she really believe that Bono is LDS? Curious. I’d love to hear more on that kind of crazy talk. Good laughs, good laughs.
Friday, December 02, 2005
There are a number of things in life that are a mystery to me. My top eight ( I couldn’t think of 2 more things to complain about and round this to a top ten—hard to believe) are listed here. In order of perplexment, here they are:
8. Wallpaper borders—A room gets painted but alas, it doesn’t look finished. Oh wait, add a 6 inch wide piece of wallpaper around the top of the room (or worse yet, around the middle of the room to form a faux chair rail) and voile it’s done and looks like a professional tackled the job! Please forgive me if you have a wallpaper border in your house. I’m sure yours is the exception and is beautiful.
7. People who don’t like vegetables—I know plenty of people who do not like any vegetables. I could understand not liking certain vegetables—but all vegetables? I can never seem to give these people the benefit of the doubt and assume they have tried every single vegetable from rutabagas to leeks. I always assume they are closed minded and never grew out of their childish ways of hating vegetables.
6. Wicker furniture indoors—This is technically my sister Carolyn’s pet peeve, but I am stealing it. Once I heard her explain all about how outdoor furniture shouldn’t be indoor furniture I was all on board. Oh yea.
5. Psychological Pricing—Okay this is the marketing term used for pricing things at 99 cents or $11,999. The psychology behind this is pretty obvious. Wow, this taco is less than a dollar! You get what I’m saying. But who is fooled by this? Once, in the Gap, or some trendy store like that, the following conversation took place:
Clerk: Welcome to the Gap. We’re having a special today. Buy two paisr of jeans for only $59.99.
Me: Does the $60 sale include the corduroys too?
Clerk: The sale is $59.99. Not $60.
Me: Okee-dokee. (As I roll my eyes.)
Oh how I wish I were making this up!
4. Carpet in bathrooms—Wet carpet, now sticky from all the hair spray, covered in hair. What about this makes sense? It gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.
3. Fake hugs and kisses—This is a growing trend in the good ol’ US of A. People have started hugging upon the very first meeting. You know it’s fake because they do the pat-pat thing on the back of the person they are hugging. Nothing says “I am uncomfortable now” more than the pat-pat on the back. I see this especially on TV. It drives me crazy when I am watching design shows. The extremely satisfied homeowner hugs and double kisses the designer who was just paid $20,000 to re-do their master bathroom. Hello lady?! This designer didn’t do you any favors out of the goodness of his heart! He re-decorated your bathroom because of the inordinate amount of money you paid him! This isn’t philanthropy. Don’t hug people in professional situations unless you truly have feelings of love for them. And don’t get me started on the double kiss thing. People like to pretend they are French, I guess. I know in Mexico they do this too because I have relatives who double-kiss. I think it’s completely appropriate as a cultural custom. But I doubt anyone double kisses because they want to be a Mexican. No, that is not a slam on Mexicans. It’s a slam on people who wish to be Euro trash. So stop the kissing and fake hugs and stick to good old handshakes. Pretty please.
2. People who make you take your shoes off in their house—When you are a guest in somebody’s house their job is to make you feel comfortable and welcome. Nothing makes me less comfortable upon entering someone’s house than being told to partially disrobe. If you are worried about dirty carpet then get your carpet cleaned or buy dark brown carpet next time. What’s worse is these people also have a sign on their door that says, “Thank you for removing your shoes.” My feet are always cold so I prefer to keep my shoes on. So I act like I didn’t see the sign just to stay warm. I’m not trying to be defiant—just warm. Does this bother anyone else?
And the number one thing that I just don’t understand in life…….
1. Cheesecake—I love how people think that Cheesecake is very special and therefore served only at special occasions. Cheesecake is dense, heavy, and usual not good eats. But for some reason it is served as dessert at “fancy” church dinners, “fancy’ work Christmas parties, etc. You want fancy? Serve me a slice of Scarlet Empress—a jam-filled Biscuit Roulade formed in a dome to encase vanilla Bavarian cream served with a tart raspberry sauce. Now that’s special! But I doubt you’ll be seeing any Scarlet Empress cakes at the ward Christmas party. Let’s be realistic. We serve cheesecake because it is cheaply bought at Costco. Let’s acknowledge the real reasons for our love affair with cheesecake and quit pretending it’s fancy. Can we all agree on this one? The only good cheesecake I’ve had was eaten at Carmine’s in NYC and that’s because it was made out of mascarpone cheese. Now that was heaven.
So what confuses you in life?
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
300 S. 700 E.
Provo, UT 84604
We discovered this restaurant about a year and half ago. We had been in mourning for some time for the closing of our other beloved Mandarin restaurant—Taiwan Café—but felt it was time to move on and find a new love. Red Lantern in Orem made me puke—literally. And Panda Express is for people who also love McDonalds and TGI Fridays. Chinatown Restaurant is a pretty dang good substitute for Taiwan Cafe. Aside from the delicious food served there are many things about this quirky establishment that humor me each time I go.
Décor: All four walls of this dining establishment are paneled with very rustic splintery, knotty paneling. It seriously looks like they have a termite problem. I don’t know about you but the first thing I think about when I think of Chinese food is really bad wood paneled walls. I asked the owner once about the walls. She mentioned that the building used to be a steak house. 20 years ago. “Oh, that explains it”, is all I could say. But that doesn’t explain it. They’ve had 20 years to update the walls. Do you see what I mean by quirky? That must be how prices are kept low.
Music: Each time we go to Chinatown Restaurant we eagerly await to hear what goofball music they are playing this time. The first time we went it was something akin to the William Tell Overture. It wasn’t that, but close. It was really fast classical music that is played during movies when someone has just fallen off of a cliff. Simply not good for digestion. And it was loud. I thought maybe we were on Candid Camera or something because it was simply that humorous. I can’t believe I didn’t complain to them about the music. Tonight when we went it was really bad instrumental themes of really bad movies—Evita, Titanic, Pocahontas, etc. Paul and I would try to guess each song. The only theme we could come up with was that all of these movies sucked.
No Crowds: Tonight we were the only ones eating there. Granted, it was 5:05pm, but still. This made for a pleasant dinner because the service was faster than usual and because we could listen in on the Chinese conversation of the owners’ family at a nearby table. There were 4 of them and it seemed like very interesting conversation. Of course I had no idea what they were saying but it must have been about politics or maybe family gossip. It sounded like one of the two. Each word was enunciated and they made no effort to keep their voices down even though there were customers (just us) eating at the time. I like that. I like that we carry no airs about us so that others feel free being themselves in our presence. Or maybe it was the fact that Hallie wouldn’t stay in her high chair and was screaming and they really wanted us to leave. Nah.
Booths: If you do go, make sure you sit in the booths by the window. Those booths offer an extra bonus. When huge semi-trucks are at the stop light on 7th East your table vibrates as do your innards. Kind of fun in a weird sort of way.
Food suggestions: Wor Wonton soup and Hot and Sour soup. You’ll also love the Orange Beef (filled with lots of strings of orange zest), Pork Fried Rice, Moo Goo Gai Pan, and Chicken with Snow Peas.
Please patronize this restaurant. I don’t see why anyone would go to P.F. Changs, which is over-priced and over-Americanized, when they could have way better food cheaper and the privilege of eating in a log-cabin type building where weirdo music is played and you can actually hear Chinese being spoken. Love it.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
In my neighborhood there is something going on that I find scary and perplexing—anonymous treat giving. Last night we were “ding-dong-ditched”. When Paul opened the door there lay a plate of pumpkin bar treats along with a poem about Tom the Turkey and a big picture of a turkey. The poem explained that we were to make three copies of the poem and turkey picture and then “ding-dong-ditch” three other helpless and unsuspecting families with a plate of “goodies” in hopes that this treat giving will grow exponentially until the whole dang world has been given a plate of inedible garbage! Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one? Oh, and we had to post the picture of the turkey in our window so that other neighbors will know we have been “hit” and somebody else will enjoy the privilege of homemade treats. Unfortunately, the plate of treats had a note that said to refrigerate them. I didn’t see the note until this morning. So I’m guessing it isn’t safe to eat this treat because it lay at room temperature all night long on our entryway table. Bye-bye pumpkin treats that could make us sick!
Two weeks ago we were “Booed”. Yup, you guessed it. We were given a plate of hard hockey-puck chocolate cookies with a poem about a ghost and a picture of a ghost. Same instructions as the Tom the Turkey. You get the picture.
Many things disturb me about this anonymous treat giving.
- How do I know these treats were not placed on my porch by some criminal mind that baked the treats with razor blades and cyanide?
- If I am going to give a treat to someone, they are going to know about it. They are going to know that Cynthia is a dang good baker and a giving person. No anonymity for me.
- If you are going to give someone a treat can you really insist that they give someone else a treat also? I didn’t sign any contract when those pumpkin bars where left on my porch; therefore, I am not obligated to obey the attached note and give three other neighbors a plate of treats.
- The treats are always gross. One bite and straight to the garbage they go.
- I don’t like posting the ghost or turkey picture in my window. I think it’s silly. If that many people love me then who am I to deny my adoring fans the privilege of gift giving?
A few years ago when this silly tradition started in my neighborhood I refused to put the silly ghost, turkey, or Santa picture in my window. I would not conform. Well, night after night the treats kept coming. After at least a week of being “ding-dong-ditched” with plate after plate of yucky treats I conformed and put the picture in my window. This insanity must stop!
So to all you anonymous treat givers out there—please know that I love homemade butter pound cakes.
P.S. If you gave me the pumpking treats or chocolate cookies, I lied. They were delicious.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Being 10 and saying to your parents, in front of the Morans, in hopes of convincing them to let you stay the night at your friend Olga Moran’s house, “It will be one less mouth to feed.” They said no, right there on the spot.
The Teen Years:
Being 15 and getting up to play the piano at a ward fireside only to hear my sister Carolyn shout out, “Look at my sister’s butt.” Apparently my double ruffled oh-so-stylish flowered skirt’s hem was tucked into my pantyhouse. Yup, all the boys and girls saw my Hanes. Don’t deny you said that Carolyn. It is burned into my brain. Forever.
Being 14 and in Junior High and laughing so hard at lunch time I pee my pants BAD.
Being too embarrassed after previous experience to go to the office and call my mom so I stank like pee the rest of the day. I tied a sweatshirt around my waist to visibly hide the accident. Hello Cynthia?! People can smell!
Wearing a swim suit in co-ed sophomore swim class and having everyone tell me I looked like a boy. (With hair down to my waist I can only assume they were referring to my stick-like shapeless body frame.)
Being 16 and at your friend Stew’s house (who is also the Bishop’s son) and flushing their toilet and having it overflow out of the bathroom and onto their carpet. Having to go tell his parents was like telling them, “Um I use too much toilet paper. Sorry about the carpet.”
Walking around Newport Beach after junior prom with my date and dying of humiliation, while thinking, “Is he pausing the walk because he wants to kiss me?” “Should I stop talking so he can kiss me?” “Do I even want to kiss him? He has braces!” No first kiss then, nor for many years.
Only going on one date (see above) during my entire high school years.
Being 14 and having my dad take me to the cardiologist. I was in the exam room forever half-naked having an Echocardiogram done. A nurse comes in and asks if I want my dad to come in to keep me company. “No! Please, don’t bring him in!”
My college years:
Being 18 and walking to BYU in the snow for the very first time in my life. I remember thinking, this is snow? It’s all brown, muddy and can only be described as Coca-Cola Slurpee. Just then I fall in the muddy snowy gutter wearing my brand new white coat at the Hart's Gas Station on Canyon Drive. Even more embarrassing was the cute guy who reached down to help this accident-prone freshman.
Being 20 and going to the traffic office at BYU to fight a truly unfair parking ticket. While standing in line a lady comes in after me and walks right up to the ticket counter. As if I wasn’t in line. Well!
Me, in a huffy: “Um excuse me, I was hear first. The line starts behind me.”
Her: “Um, excuse me I WAS in line, they sent me outside to get my registration.”
Me; “Oh, sorry.”
I hate eating crow!
Being 20 with my friend Winnie at the Brick Oven and having her confess to me that she told my most embarrassing life secret to her brother (whom I was dating) that I had never kissed ANYONE. Paul married me anyway.
Being a senior at BYU and having the professor call on me during a case study of Wild Turkey (or something like that) alcohol. He asked me something about their product’s target market. I get all flustered and start flipping through the case study to find my notes. In the meantime, he says, “Forget it! You don’t know. Someone else?”
Having the same professor call me up at home that night and apologize. “That’s okay”, I say. No it is not okay! Oh to be shamed in public!
A few months ago I was stopped at the train tracks on 820 North. It was a false alarm. There was no train coming. I was the 8th car in line. There were at least 10 more cars behind me. I can’t take this anymore! Can’t they see that there is no train? Why won’t they just drive around? I put my car in park, hop out of the car, and run down to the train tracks, looking both ways to make sure my suspicion is right that there is no train coming, and then motion to the first car to go around the gate because again, THERE IS NO TRAIN. Just as I am motioning to the stupid driver the gates go up and everyone starts driving through. Except for me. Because I am down by the tracks, and my car is 8 cars back blocking the other 10 cars behind me from going through. Gosh, I am an idiot.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Anyone out there still watching Alias? And if so, will you admit it? I am not a fan of how the season is going. But like a car accident, I just can’t look away.
Killing and Cloning: Why did they kill off Vaughn/Andre Michoux? Okay, we know he is NOT dead. They brought back Irina because Jack really only killed her “clone”. I know she wasn’t really a clone, but something like that. I read someone elses blog where they called these doubles “clones” and they got ripped to shreds by all the Alias wanna-be scientists (and I’m suspecting Star Trek fans) out there in internet land who then proceeded to correct this imbecile. So for lack of science expertise, I am calling Irina’s double a clone. Don’t forget they had a clone-like double of Ethan Hawke and of Francie in seasons past so you know in actuality either Vaughn had on a bullet proof vest and he is in hiding because he doesn’t want the really bad wicked new SD-6 dudes to kill him, Sydney, and their unborn baby. Or his clone-like double was killed. Did anyone follow that? And don’t forget that Sloan was put to death by lethal injection and then Jack brought him back with anti-venom. Or something like that. So that’s like four people that have been doubled and or re-incarnated on the show. The writers are simply stretching out the plot to last until their contract with ABC is up—in 2008 I believe.
New characters: I am not loving the addition of new characters. I don't even know their names nor care to. They should have just kept the old and saved me the trouble of having to bond with the new characters. And because this is Alias you never really do know if the new people are good or evil. Never.
And speaking of things I don't like, why are they writing in Jennifer Garners pregnancy on the show? We all know it’s Ben Affleck’s baby and not Vaughn’s. I keep looking at Sydney while I watch the show and I can’t get it out of my brain: “Why is Jennifer Garner with Ben Affleck?” How are the writers of Alias going to deal with Sydney as a Mom? Will the baby be with Sydney in a backpack while she scales the skyscrapers? Will the baby travel with her to Budapest, Sri Lanka, and Hong Kong and be in a perpetual state of jet lag? Will the bad guys threaten to pull out the baby’s teeth if Sydney doesn’t cooperate? Or will the show go down hill once they have a baby—just like Mad About You. You know what I mean—all of sudden Jack’s fatherly instincts will kick in for Sydney and his grandbaby and he will be all mushy and lovely-dovey. If they make him cry the first time he sees his grandbaby I’ll stop watching the show. I will. I’m not bluffing. Okay, I’m bluffing.
Lastly, I predict that during sweeps week Vaughn will be brought back, Nadia will emerge from her coma (although my sister Carolyn contests that this show doesn't have room for two beautiful women so they'll have to kill off Nadia), Weiss will return, and Sydney will give birth. All in that order. (Okay, maybe Weiss is really gone, but you know the others are not.) Mark my words.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Once my days of working in berry factories and bi-lingual business plazas ended I was ready to move on to the era of college jobs at BYU. For three years I worked at the Cannon Center Cafeteria on campus. I started as a cashier and I quickly became the envy of the other college kids because I did not have to start at the bottom of the employee food chain—the dish room.
I was hired as the oh-so-glamorous cashier. I’d like to think I started at the top of the Cannon Center Cafeteria employee food chain because of my poise and good looks but who knows the real reason. Nonetheless, I was a bit hated for working at the same wage as the kids in the dishroom or the salad prep folks yet I never had to get my hands dirty. However, I did have to get dirty in other ways. I had to enforce the dress standards of the BYU Honor Code. Basically I was the gate keeper of modesty before any student could enter and partake of the delicious smorgasbord. This is where I learned to be tactful and yet tell other students to get lost: “Sorry, your skirt is too short. Beat it.” Oh the power! I also was in charge of stopping the smuggling of food outside of the cafeteria. Students loved to load up their backpacks with bags of chips, fruit, and other contraband food items as they left. I pretty much turned a blind eye to the shrinkage of food. Being a meany about the dress code was enough venom spilling forth from my mouth for one day, don’t you think?
Now the really interesting part of cashiering was seeing how many local Provo families came to eat in the cafeteria on Sunday. Let’s analyze this: it is clearly breaking the Sabbath to go to eat at the Golden Corral (although that should be illegal on a whole other scale—see Food Snob blog) but for some reason it’s okay to pay to go out to eat if it was at the BYU Cannon Center. Does anyone else have an issue with this? Usually it was the folks in administration and their families that came. I understand that students need to eat on Sunday as well but do others living in homes with kitchens need to patronize the cafeteria on Sunday? Also, for employees, you could get a free meal on Sunday if you worked at least six hours. Any other day of the week, you had to work 8 hours to get a free meal. Come on! Cheapskates….
After a year of cashiering I moved higher up the employee food chain and worked as a secretary in the cafeteria office. This felt like working in a fishbowl as the office was all windows and situated in the center of the cafeteria work zone. From here you could watch the giant vats of ranch dressing being mixed like potions in a cauldron with huge wooden spoons. There is something eerie about a recipe that calls for 3 gallons of mayonnaise that makes your tummy sick—and that’s coming from someone whose favorite condiment is mayonnaise. Anyway. My favorite part about being a secretary was changing the names on the student files once the female workers got married. And if you know anything about being LDS you know that for the most part we get married young during the college years so updating the names on the student files alone took hours each week. My favorite file was of a girl names Dana Swain. I thought that was such a cool name—nice, short, easy to spell. Then she married a co-worker with the surname of Wolfersberger. Yea, you read that right. It took me weeks to change the file tab on her manila envelope to Dana Wolfersberger. I just couldn't do it. I secretly wanted to tell her that she should claim to be a feminist and keep her once respectable last name and refuse her husbands name. But alas my job description did not entail counseling. So I painfully changed her name on her file. Changing my name on my own employee file was a lateral move if you ask me. I went from Harrington to Winward during my junior year. It’s a toss up which name I like better. Then again, the bonus to becoming a Winward was that professors stopped asking me if I was related to the then-famous Polynesian Harrington brothers who played BYU football. Or something like that. "Do I look Polynesian to you", I wanted to ask? I hardly look Mexican in the summertime and with a surname like Harrington no one ever asked if I was Hispanic. Sheesh I am getting off subject.
During my senior year I entered the real workforce and got a job at Mountainlands Community Health Center on Freedom Blvd. Once again, my inability to speak Spanish didn’t help but that was a fun job. Once I graduated I needed something full-time so I got another job, in addition to the health center, at a security company doing the Accounts Payable. This job was worse than the berry factory in Boring, Oregon. My boss loved all that Steven Covey garbage but implemented none of it into our office. One time I got the credit card bill and on it was a $3,000 charge to an animal hospital in Texas. I approached the owner about this charge and he informed me that his gross and disgusting dog that he brought to work everyday and shed fur all over me needed an emergency hysterectomy while he was doing a job in Texas. “Um, okay, so how do you want me to code that?” His reply: “Just put it under miscellaneous expense.” For more outrage about this very subject look at Paul’s blog called “Paying your Fair Share.” I should’ve quit that job on day one but Paul was in graduate school and we needed the moo-lah. So I suffered at the security company for 9 long months. In the end, I quit to get a full time job at Wasatch Mental Health. Chances are, if you are still reading this blog you are crazy. And if you are crazy, then chances are I have seen your name on intake forms while working there. But don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
After my Mother of the Year blog I made a rule never to have an entire blog about my kids again. It is incriminating and frankly, nobody cares about my parenting. But I am breaking my rule today and am going to blog about my youngest—Hallie.
There are a number of things about this picture that are disturbing, least of which is Hallie’s scraped up nose. Nevertheless, Hallie’s nose is the subject at hand.
Two days ago I strapped Hallie into the stroller to go on an errand walk. You know, walk around the neighborhood and return things to others I have borrowed or to retrieve children playing at neighbor’s houses. I crossed the street with Hallie and left her in the stroller on the curb (bad mom) while I quickly rang Nedra’s doorbell to return her iron. I had to borrow her iron because I was making a board-mounted valance for Nathan’s room (good mom) and my iron broke in the middle of the project again for the 3rd time in three years. Ten seconds later Hallie is face down in the gutter, still strapped in her stroller. I tried really hard not to swear (because I was in front of Nedra) as I ran super duper fast to help Hallie. She scraped up, or rather the concrete scraped up, her nose, left arm and right thumb.
Now for the secondary issues—why does Hallie’s hair look so bad and why is she wearing boys pajamas? Her hair looks so bad because she won’t leave in her Ouchless rubberbands. Apparently they are not ouchless to Hallie. She thrashes around and foams at the mouth while grabbing the Ouchless rubberbands out of her hair, all the while screaming, “Owwww-eeee”. Owww-eee is also the sound she makes for a cat. That’s kind of cute—kind of a backwards Meee-oww. So maybe she is really meow-ing as she grabs at her scalp. Hmmmmm. Secondly, I make Hallie wear her brother’s old jammies because I like to foster a spirit of deprivation among my children. I learned this from Liz Nelson who loves to tell her kids no. It builds character. Someday Hallie will look back and see this photo of her scraped up nose, nasty pompadore, and boy pajamas and there will be no doubt in her mind that she was a deprived child.
P.S. This time I replaced my Black and Decker iron with a Sunbeam iron. The B&D iron broke a year ago and was still under warranty. So as directed by the gods at B&D, I cut off the cord, mailed it in, and was rewarded with a new iron in 6 weeks to replace the piece-of-junk first B&D iron. My second B&D iron broke the other day, as already mentioned. I am not cutting off the cord and mailing it in again because I can not go 6 weeks without an iron. I assume they have you do that to cut down on all the scam artists out there fleecing B&D with claims of bad irons. Instead, I bought a Sunbeam iron in hopes that this one is a well made product. I’ll let you know in a year……
Monday, October 10, 2005
(pictured here making yogurt with Jennifer Garner on her show "Martha")
I have been a big fan of Martha Stewart. There, I said it. I know many of you are contorting your face in disgust and I don’t care. So before I get all the negative comments let me start out by saying that I am not sure if I like her anymore. Why? Two words: The Apprentice.
I first began watching Martha Stewart Living when I was a new mom. Her show came on every week day from 10-11am. I enjoyed watching her show. These were the years before we had satellite—so it’s really Martha’s fault I am a food snob and not the Food Network’s fault. I enjoyed learning new recipes and picking up style tips. Basically speaking, I enjoyed her joie de vivre. She seemed to find excitement in the everyday domestics as well as her field trips like kayaking down the Columbia river and then roasting her freshly caught Salmon on a spit. Mind you, I have never wanted to kayak, but Martha made it look fun! I enjoyed her other field trips to organic Pumpkin patches and small production factories where vanilla is made the old-fashioned way. She was like my Mr. Rogers for grown ups. I started subscribing to her magazine and buying some her cookbooks.
I feel like she helped to make homemaking cool again. My friend Allison would argue, “It’s always been cool!” and while that is soooo true my friends, she helped to bring us out of the 70-80s mentality of the doldrums of domestics. Okay, enough about why I like her.
Even when she went to prison, I thought, “Well, everyone makes mistakes.” Did I want her life? No. Do I wish I lived alone with a plethora of chinchillas, dogs, and well manicured cats? Heck no! But everyone has something to offer—and I thought Martha had a lot to offer.
And then the debut of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart occurred. Mind you—I have never watched a reality TV show. I despise them. I think they are mean and an insult to my intelligence. Shows like Survivior and American Idol I have never seen. Blech.
But I was a bit excited for Martha’s new reality show. I thought it would be some kind of cross between the Pillsbury Bake Off and a sewing contest. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! A bunch of people that are way too good looking (that makes me suspect right there) make up the cast. On the episode I watched they got together to write a children’s book. Huh? They fought and bickered the entire time. If I wanted to see that I would turn off the TV and spend time with my kids. I have no idea how the show ended because I couldn’t bear to watch it. I really expected more from a homemaker. Okay, I know she’s not a real homemaker, but you get my drift. What would have made the show really good is a scenario like this: You only have 20 minutes to get dinner made. Your freezer has some frozen shredded chicken and your refrigerator has tortillas and ketchup. Get going. Now that would be entertaining.
Alas, Martha has fallen prey to all the other garbage nothing-about-reality TV shows out there. I haven't seen her other new show, Martha, but I'll watch it this afternoon and see what I think. This is your last chance Martha. I'm counting on you!
Friday, October 07, 2005
1. Bottleneck--No one bothered to explain what this meant to me in terms of business operations. I’m sure it was defined in a textbook, which I obviously didn’t read so I just kept hearing this word tossed around the classroom for months before I finally caught on. Heaven forbid I ask! This was the most overused word in the Marriott School of Management during 1992-1996. I bet nothing has changed. I bet every professor still urges every student to find the bottleneck in the operations of the such-and-such company. As long as you mentioned the word “bottleneck” in a paper you got an A. Give me a shovel.
2. Opportunity Cost—Unfortunately I saw Dana Carvey’s movie, Opportunity Knocks shortly before coming to BYU so every time I heard the words Opportunity Cost in class I snickered and thought of Dana Carvey’s impersonation of George Bush Sr., “Not gun do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.” This prevented me from focusing on what the Opportunity Cost was that my Professor was talking about at the time and instead to focus on all my favorite Dana Carvey skits. Can you blame me?
3. Paradigm—This word should be illegal. Every time I hear this word to this day I think of the brown-nosers in Professor Perry’s (OB) Organizational Behavior class who always said phrases like “a shift in our paradigms” to prove to the teacher that they were listening. Pardigm. Paradigm. Paradigm. Why not just say example, model, or even prototype. Snooty business school. And speaking of OB, I got a C+ in this class and went crying to the T.A. telling him that I lost my scholarship because of that C+. What I left out was that that scholarship was really my usury of my Hispanic heritage to sustain a scholarship through the Multicultural department. I’m sure those scholarships were intended to help minority students who maybe didn’t have a command of the English language (not that I do) and were underprivileged. But I didn’t care—I needed the money and I did go to public school so that is underprivileged, isn’t it? So the professor changed my grade to a B- but it sill wasn’t enough to get that Mexican Kid Scholarship. Dang!
4. PV (Present Value of Money) or FV (Future Value of Money)—We all loved our business HP calculators and also loved to enter in all the required fields and then hit the “FV” button to figure out just how much money we would have on a certain date in the future, if we sustained a certain interest rate and therefore, how rich we would be. Maybe our (mine and Paul’s) obsession with calculating the FV of money led us to realize how much we were being ripped off if we took the entire 15 years to pay off our student loans! Ignorance is bliss my friends.
5. FIFO and LIFO—No these are not names of dogs, but if I ever have a dog, and I won’t, I would name him FIFO. That way only smart business people would know just how smart and witty I really am. It would be our own little inside joke. I think a dog would respond well to Fifo. What cracks me up is that these terms were tossed around here and there in class and study groups as if we were using real business words like “investment” or “depreciation” instead of some lame acronyms. (FIFO/LIFO are systems of accounting for your inventory—First In First Out and Last In First Out. In case you are just dying to know, which you are not.)
You must be wondering to yourself why I haven’t gone on to get my MBA with such riveting course work as sampled above. Laziness…my friends…just laziness. See my previous blog….would a higher degree in business get me money’s worth? Doubtful.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Now that I have my own sewing business I am getting calls to sew this and that. It makes me feel as if I will again start using my college degree. Is this stretching it? Sewing curtains…..Finance…..Sewing Curtains….Finance. Possibly this is a stretch. Time will tell. If my business ever went hog wild (not that I even want it to) then possibly I would need some tax help and financial statements, but that’s why I am married to a CPA, so again, this is a real stretch. And why did I just say that I don’t want my business to go hog wild? What kind of red-blooded American capitalist am I? A lazy one my internet friends.
My business does involve math, but more like measuring windows and figuring out how many panels of 54” wide fabric I will need to piece to span the size of the window. In other words, 6th grade Math is sufficient to measure a window. Not the Business Calculus or Statistics I took at BYU. In statistics we learned that the standard deviation is equal to the risk in an investment…..but when will I ever use that knowledge in making a slipcover for a chair? Help me out here because maybe I just don’t see the connection. I need to make my $10,000 in student loans very worthwhile here. (At 8% interest we paid those suckers off fast! Paul’s brother is consolidating his student loans at 1%. Boo hoo for him!)
In my final business class as a senior at BYU we had to take Business Management 499. I can’t even remember the whole purpose of this class (there was none really), except that we studied real life businesses as case studies. My teacher was Professor Money. (That’s the truth.) We would analyze the various aspects of a business’ successes or failures—marketing, finance, operations, etc. Gosh I hated that class. We studied everything from Wild Turkey alcohol to Carmike movies and the theory behind charging different prices for different tickets. (It’s called “capturing the market” and has nothing to with the fact they love Seniors and children and therefore give them cheaper tickets and everything to do with Economics.) Speaking of Economics, did you know that it is an economic fact that when you raise the minimum wage you increase unemployment? I could explain this to you on a wonderfully basic supply and demand graph. Oh how I loved Economics! But I digress….
As you can see, my head is filled with charts, graphs, and statistics that I may never use again. But that’s okay because talking about chenille, gabardine, silk, and chiffon is much more interesting for you to read about…..That is if you are still reading. I may have lost you when I said standard deviation.
Is it pathetic to already be missing summer? It’s only the beginning of October for crying out loud!! But it’s true, I already miss summer. The tell-tale sign is that my tomatoes in the garden are not ripening anymore and frankly, the ones that have are kind of tasteless. Tomatoes are all I even plant anymore. I planted three pear tomato plants, three orange tomato plants, one cherry tomato plant, and 2 romas. My salad last night was dotted with beautiful orange and red tomatoes but it was a bit tasteless. Tomatoes need heat to be sweet and delicious. Maybe that’s why I love tomatoes so much? I need heat to be sweet and delicious too. Give me 100 degrees any day over today’s pathetic 56 degrees. Sigh. (Photo: Nathan and Ilene baking like salamanders in the sun at my childhood home in Chino, CA in May 2004)
And today I will make my one last pilgrimage to Allred’s Orchard to buy my last box of peaches. After that it’s boring apples and bananas for the rest of winter. Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman go hog wild eating all the Macinaw peaches? And how they mourned the day that the peach season was over? Oh it’s true my friends! That wasn’t just a sitcom.
I already miss going to the swimming pool—and so do my kids. The other day Ilene asked, “When are we going to the BYU pool again?” My answer: “Oh, maybe in 9 months or so.” That’s just plain sad. To make matters worse—that very same day that Ilene asked this question was the day I dropped my mom off at the SLC airport to return to my hometown of Chino, California where it was 85 degrees that day. Sigh again.
(Photo of Santa Barbara Mountains)
Here is one situation I can cite as to why the cold depresses me: I was watching the snooty show “Homes Across America” on HGTV back in March. And as you all know, or maybe you don’t, each February and March I am ready to put a “For Sale” sign in my yard and move back to California—no matter the circumstance—job or no job—house or not house, etc. On this day on “Homes Across America” they were touring Santa Barbara and all their beautiful Spanish style homes. They have city ordinances enforcing the Spanish style architecture. Even the Ralph’s grocery store has a terracotta roof and stucco walls. I decided on this gloomy March day (that was most likely accompanied by an inversion layer in the atmosphere) that we were going to move to Santa Barbara. So I Googled “Santa Barbara Real Estate” on my computer and proceeded to fill out one of those real estate questionnaire forms where you enter in the price you want to pay, the number of bedrooms you want, etc. Basically, the only homes for sale that returned from the search in the $300,000-400,000 range are double-wide trailers. Brings new meaning to the term “trailer trash”, doesn’t it? Suffice to say, I will never live in Santa Barbara. Or probably anywhere in California again. (Sigh again, wipe tears, etc.)
The one exciting thing to me about the impending cold weather is that now I have new winter clothes to wear because I have been on a sewing frenzy with brown wool, chocolate twill, and green corduroy. (Doesn't Ilene look cute in this corduroy jumper?) And I made my kids their yearly fleece jackets—this time embroidered by their Grandma with their names. Oh and I also bought lots of lovely winter coats at the Lands End Overstock site. Love that website! I’m getting into trouble there though. Who can resist pink wool jackets for $45? Oh the vanity. But if it keeps me sane, then what’s the harm? A monthly purchase of sweaters and wool fabric is cheaper than a house payment in California. That’s one way to look at it Paul.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Dear Rachael Ray,
I was watching your show 30 Minute Meals this afternoon—as I do most everyday from 4-5pm as I cook dinner, or in today’s case, sit on the couch with a cranky baby. I have a couple of your cookbooks and download your recipes quite frequently. Yumm-o, as you would say. Anyway, I don’t mean to be a complainer—it’s just not my nature to criticize—but a few things are happening on your show and I don’t like it.
First—I noticed today you now do all your chopping with an orange-handled Santoku knife. What’s that all about? I also noticed a few weeks ago that you switched from your beautiful All-Clad sauté pan to some tacky non-stick oval pan. I thought to myself—“Why is Rachael doing this? My testimony of always using stainless steel frying pans to produce a good fond will not be shaken!” Then my Sur La Table catalog came in the mail today and there you are on the cover holding an orange-handled Santoku knife. And inside is your oval pan too. Sellout! All-Clad is the best—you know it and I know it—so cut the nonsense and go back to the good pan! I realize you are now a famous celebrity chef and have your own line of lesser quality kitchen stuff, but do you have to showcase them on your show? I am watching a cooking show—not an infomercial. Even Emeril with all his ego doesn't cook on his show with his line of cookware. (By the way, I do own, embarrassingly enough, some of Emeril's pans because not everyone has a TV show that furnishes you with top-of-the-line cooking products.)
Second—I am not fond of the new low-cut blouses you wear. Modesty is always in fashion—but especially in the kitchen. Tsk, tsk. Are you wearing these low-cut blouses now because you are engaged/married to a rock-star? I know he’s in a band, or something like that. I guess the low-cut blouse goes with your funky new lightened hair. Having dark brown hair is always fashionable too. Just ask me. I am oh so stylish.
P.S. The peppers you used on your show today where Poblanos—not Anaheims. Puh-lease.
Reading Lori’s blog about the age of computers reminded me of my own computer experience in typing class. (Were you in my typing class Lori?)
In 1988 I was a high school freshman and signed up for an easy A in typing at Don Antonio Lugo High School—East Campus. (We had an East campus which consisted of portables in a parking lot around the corner from the main campus because our school was so dang over crowded there was no room left for the incoming freshmen.) Our teacher, Mrs. Burr, was used to teaching typing on typewriters. Lucky her, our school had just switched over to computers where we learned to type in Word Perfect 5.1. She didn’t like it one bit. Here she is—faced with a bunch of bratty freshmen who knew way more about computers than she did. Nonetheless, she stuck to her old ways when it came to typing. She laminated sheets of construction paper and taped them to the tops of the keyboards so that we couldn’t cheat by looking at our hands. We had to flip up this paper “hood” to put our hands under top begin typing.
She would teach us to center a title or heading by counting all the letters/spaces in our title, subtract that from 66 and divide by two to get the number of spaces we needed to space over before typing our title. I can't believe I remember that formula. I really am a Math nerd.I remember raising my hand after she explained:
Me: “Um, Mrs. Burr, can’t we just hit “Shift-F6?” That will automatically center our heading for us.”
Mrs. Burr: “No Cynthia. You need to learn to do this the right way. You won’t always have a computer to do it for you.”
I am not making up her response.
Later on in the semester she started having us type words or phrases for speed and accuracy. We were no dummies. We learned how to use the Copy and Paste function. This is where the construction paper hood came in handy. She couldn’t see us NOT typing the words under the paper hood. Instead we were just copying and pasting over and over until the timed test was up. The problem was if you copied and pasted too many times then she knew you were cheating because nobody can type 300 words per minute, let alone a 14-year old kid. Foiled! That’s when she figured out we were up to something. Down came the paper hoods so that she could spot the cheaters. Typing had changed forever for Mrs. Burr. I wonder what she does today?
Friday, September 23, 2005
Things that bug me about being a sewing enthusiast
1. Patterns for lingerie—bras, underwear, skimpy stuff. Is there a shortage of good women’s underwear to be found in the stores?
2. Dealing with the employees at Joann’s. I think the criteria to work here is if you have been fired from the DMV.
3. People who use the word “sew” in puns. “Sew Perfect”, “Sew Exciting”, etc. It’s getting old.
4. Crazy ladies on patternreview.com--
a. Should I reply to their pants reviews that pleats around the midsection are out? And that no one should ever wear tapered pants anymore?
b. The women who make bras and then review those patterns.
c. Ladies who sew anything for a pet and then review those patterns
5. Unable to pay retail because as soon as I look at the price tag the following phrase immediately comes out of my mouth: “I could make that for way less!”
Things that I love about being a sewing enthusiast
1. Buying fabric online. What is it about the UPS man delivering a package to me at 3pm that makes my day?
2. I get to use obscure words and phrases like placket, nap, flat-fell, entredeux, feed dog, pile, selvage, stitch-in-the-ditch, and my favorite: armscye.
3. Giving free advice to the lost customers in fabric stores.
--In Joanns: “Oh, you don’t want to buy knit here. You want to buy it from wazoodle.com.”
--In HomeFabrics: “You’ll want about 8 yards of fabric to slipcover a chair.” I’m such a know-it-all.
4. Unable to pay retail because as soon as I look at the price tag the following phrase immediately comes out of my mouth: “I could make that for way less!”
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The summer before my Senior year of high school I went to Oregon for the summer to work. I stayed with the Hesters—a family I had previously babysat for for many, many years. No, there wasn’t a shortage of jobs in California but this was supposed to be a really good opportunity that didn’t require frying hamburgers. I was a speed demon at typing and the job was for data entry at a dentist’s office. They were changing software programs and needed someone to transfer all the data. Unfortunately, this job fell through once I got to Oregon. I decided to stay in Oregon anyway and find a job elsewhere. The Bishop in the Hesters’ ward owned a berry plant in the city of Boring, Oregon. I am not making that up—the city really was named Boring. Google it. Red Flag #1—the name of the city alone should’ve clued me in to how bad this job would be. My job was to pick all the gross and smooshed raspberries off of the conveyer belt as they headed to Berry Heaven. Brain cells at their best. Oh, and the occasional larvae was to be picked off too. I couldn’t bear to touch the larvae so I let those go by. Oops.
Red Flag #2—I was the only English speaker working in a sea of Latino workers. Yes, I am Mexican also, but I hardly speak Spanish. This made for a lot of silence on the conveyer line. Oh wait, there was a young man also from church who worked there. Gosh, what was his name? Well, anyway, since he was the only other English speaker there we were forced into a bizarre-o friendship. REM’s Out of Time album had just come out so we would have very intellectual conversations, like, what the song, “Losing My Religion” really meant. Deep. (I finally learned it is a southern phrase meaning to lose one’s temper. So don’t blog me about what it means.) This kid also confessed to me all sorts of weird sins he had committed. I’ll say no more.
While I had this job I apparently attracted the attention of a 27-year old man—let’s call him Jose. There's a stretch. I was 17. Isn’t that illegal? Jose didn’t speak English but he did ask me out in Spanish one time to go dancing. “Quieres bailar?” My reply, “Um no. No quiero bailar.” Later that day he got in a fist fight with some of the other guys. I found out it was because they thought he was a homesexual. Great—only gay guys ask me out. I worked there a whopping 4 weeks. Four weeks too long. I didn’t eat raspberries for at least five years though. Oh the trauma.
Once I went back to California I applied for a job at a new eating establishment (I can't bear to call it a restaurant) in the Chino Towne Square called Cajun Joe’s Chicken. I got the job because I had a 4.0 and the owner was all kinds of impressed. Apparently you need a 4.0 to fry chicken. Or was it rotisserie? Anyway, before I even had time to start that job I got a better job (hard to believe) as a receptionist. So I called the manager, Mr. Cajun, and told him I changed my mind. He was ticked. The next day I started getting perverted crank calls. These calls lasted a few weeks—and I know it was Mr. Cajun calling me! I can’t prove it, but this is how I know: One night I got one of the dirty phone calls and I screamed into the phone—“I know this is the chicken man!!” and hung up. The calls stopped. This franchise of Cajun Joe’s went out of business within a couple of years. I’m sure it was God punishing Mr. Cajun for being a pervert and freaking the heck out of a naïve 17-year old girl. But I can’t prove that either.
Now the job I got in place of Cajun Joe’s chicken was to be a receptionist at the El Dorado Plaza—a business plaza in Ontario. The owners were a young chain-smoking Chinese couple from Montebello. They paid me under the table to avoid paying Uncle Sam. They would come in once every few weeks to pay me, get the mail, shut themselves in their office and smoke like a chimney. I never saw anyone smoke that much in my whole life. The cloud of smoke would literally creep out of their office and crawl around the corners in the office--just like the angel of death in The Ten Commandments. Because I was still in school I only worked the afternoon shift. Mr. and Mrs. Marlboro asked me if I knew another girl who would want the job in the morning. The only teenager I knew who didn’t go to school in the morning that wouldn’t mind being paid an extraordinarily low wage illegally was Colleen Kinnick. She had recently dropped out of high school and took her GED. So Colleen became the morning gal and I became the afternoon one. Colleen was a Groovey Gooley, as we called them. She dressed all in black and died her hair fluorescent colors. She loved Oingo Boingo more than should be allowed. (A few years later Colleen got married and on top of her wedding cake was Jack Skellington (the pumpkin head) and the main girl (?) from The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Romantic.)
Apparently neon-haired receptionists were not what the El Dorado Plaza was looking for. Tenants started complaining to Mr. and Mrs. Marlboro. So Mrs. Marlboro called me up one day and asked me to talk to Colleen about her hair. I did. Colleen started wearing a beret to work to cover up her highlighter yellow hair. I don't think that's what Mrs. Marlboro had in mind. That job ended half way through the school year for Colleen—due to her hair—and at the end of my senior year due to my inability (once again) to speak Spanish very well on the phone. My oft used phrase on the phone was, “Mas despacio, por favor.” Translation: “Please speak slower”. Mom—why didn’t you teach us Spanish you crazy Mexican lady? Dad was fluent too!! I’ll never forgive you for that! Thus ended the horrific jobs of my high school era. Thank goodness I left for college and began a whole new era of creepy college jobs. Stay tuned for that installment........
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
My life is filled with embarrassing moments while grocery shopping. What’s embarrassing about grocery shopping you ask? If I were to title this blog, “Embarrassing Moments while at the Doctor’s Office”, you’d all agree those times are definitely filled with embarrassment. But the grocery store? Oh yes, my internet friends, read on.
The embarrassing moments started during childhood grocery trips. At the local Safeway they had a corner in the store where they put all the dented cans and smooshed boxes on clearance in a shopping cart. My siblings and I affectionately called this the “cheap corner.” We loved the cheap corner! Whenever we would go to the store with Mom we’d run to the cheap corner and find a coveted can of Spaghetti-Os for a nickel or Chunky soup for a dime. Mom always let us get stuff from the cheap corner, because after all, it was cheap! The embarrassing part came when the cart was filled with more dented stuff than not. We looked more like vagabonds dumpster-diving than a reputable family out for a good bargain.
The embarrassment continued into the teenage years. My sister Patty has a screwy sense of humor so she always thought it was funny to load up the cart with liquor when my mom wasn’t looking—hard liquor too like Vodka and Bourbon—not just beer and cheap wine. Usually my mom would notice by the time we got to the check-out line and everyone would have a good chuckle. Hee, hee--what’s a nice Mormon family doing with 12 jugs of Vodka in their cart? Patty sure is funny! The embarrassing part would happen when we ran into someone from church. I am sure that’s how rumors get started. “Oh my, there is Sister Harrington with her girls. And what’s that in their cart? Smirnoff Vodka? Shame on her! And in front of her children too.” Oh the scandal! Patty would get bonus points on these days.
And even though I am a good Mormon girl I buy a tiny 4oz. jar of instant coffee every few years. Why you ask? Because just a ½ teaspoon of coffee crystals adds loads of flavor to homemade chocolate cake. Yum-o! However, maybe it’s a sign that I shouldn’t buy coffee because when I do someone from church always sees me. Not sometimes, always. Okay, so I’ve only bought the coffee twice in the last 4 years but both of those times I ran into someone. (FYI--The coffee also makes an excellent dye for muslin fabrics that you want to antique.)
Once again, another embarrassing moment occurred when I went to Wal-Mart to buy one can of beer to marinate our now famous Tio Pepe’s skirt steak. It is seriously killer food. Two years ago though I found out that you can’t buy beer by the can—only the six pack. So the checker asks me if I want to go grab the other five cans. “Heck no! I don’t even drink beer! What am I going to do with 5 whole cans!” Oh the sinfulness of it all. To make matters worse she then asked for my I.D. “Are you kidding me?”, I say? “I am (then) 29 years old.” She must be carding me because I look so young from all those years of clean living--abstaining from evil things like beer, coffee, and cigarettes. In the end I put the stupid can of beer back. So now I go to the Mercado Latino across town when I need to buy that solitary can of beer for Tio Pepe’s Mexican BBQ. I feel as if I am being sneaky. Like I need to knock twice because it’s a Speak Easy. Any moment the Word of Wisdom cops could break in and bust me. Oh the danger!
But truly the most embarrassing grocery store trip occurred two weeks ago when we were remodeling our kitchen and we were eating all week sans oven. So I broke down and bought some frozen foods. I went down the frozen food isle and noticed the plethora of brands available—Healthy Choice, Marie Calendar’s, Stouffer’s—etc. I have no idea which is the “good” brand. Maybe “good” is the wrong word. How about, I have no idea which brand is the least objectionable. This is new to me. I’ve heard of Stouffers and there is a Stouffers factory just a few minutes away in Springeville. So maybe they don’t use as many disgusting preservatives since it is only traveling 10 minutes from Springville to Orem. I’ll try this one. I bought a lasagna, fettucine chicken alfredo, and some frozen Ego waffles for my kids. As I headed to the check-out lane I began to wonder, “What will my story be if I run into anyone I know?” I am a food snob and my reputation would be ruined for buying such items. This is worse than buying beer or coffee. Luckily, no one sees me. But the cashier begins asking me, “Oh is this fettucine alfredo good?” I can’t let this one go. “I don’t know. I’ve never bought it before. My kitchen is being remodeled and my kids are sick of sandwiches.” Why do I feel the need to explain this to her? Judging by the three entire isles of frozen food at Wal-Mart this is a huge industry and people buy this crap every day. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Yet I am truly embarrassed. I have gone to the dark side. And the scary thing is? The frozen foods were not that bad. Not that good, but not that bad. Gasp. The dark side of the force is not stronger, but as Yoda said in “The Empire Strikes Back”, “it is quicker, easier, more seductive”. Oh yea. Yoda’s wisdom is applicable throughout life.
Monday, September 19, 2005
My insomnia usually hits around 3am and lasts until 6am or so. Sometimes I go back to sleep and sometimes I just get up and get my day going. I have tried to pass the time by watching TV or sewing but that just makes it worse sometimes. If I watch TV then I realize that only losers watch TV at such an hour because all that is on are infomercials with Mr. Popeil and his famous vegetable/fruit dehydrater or rotisserie oven. Or Oprah reruns. Did you know that the Oprah shows plays old reruns around 3am? It’s not pretty. Or worse—the ultimate in trash TV--Jerry Springer. Watching TV at this awful hour is not an option. I also don’t like watching TV in the middle of the night because it reminds me of the awful days of forced insomnia due to a newborn baby. Oh gosh, I don’t think any parent ever forgets just how sleep deprived they are when there’s a new baby in the house.
I used to get up and go to my sewing room and plow through projects lying around. I still do this once in a while, but I prefer not to. It makes me feel like a sweatshop seamstress working at such an ungodly hour. Not to mention—once again I feel like everyone gets to go to the Sleepyville ball and I am stuck being Cinderella and doing the chores.
So now I just lay in bed. All kinds of wonderful thoughts come to me. I become clairvoyant. Things occur to me at this hour of the night that never seem to enter my thought at any other time. Take last night for example. Here were some of my thoughts: Paul’s car registration expires at the end of the month—better get that emissioned and safety inspected too. Trust me, during the day I never think about that car. It must be divine. I also remembered that I needed to make dentist appointments for all of us. Blech. No wonder I forget about that during the day. I also get weirdly disciplined at these hours. Last night I decided I would make an exercise chart and hang it on my bathroom mirror so that I am forced to see it everyday. Surely this will force me to exercise more than my usual 2-3 times week. I also decided that canceling satellite TV may be a good idea and instead I’ll read more—good books, scriptures, etc. Will either of these things happen? Dunno. I’ll think about them more next time I have insomnia. Probably tonight.
I have tried taking Unisom at night. But that is truly the Devil’s drug. I took one and felt like I had been hit by a train. It lasted at least 10 hours. During the last couple of hours I swear I had the flu. That’s how awful I felt. So I started cutting the pills in half but never remember to take them. Even when I did remember I still felt gross the next morning. I’ve seen the commercials lately for some prescription sleep drug where there is a little glow in the dark butterfly zooming around the dark night while a woman quietly slumbers in her bed. That’s creepy. Not to mention I am too cheap to pay my $30 co-pay to see the doctor and then pay another $30-50 a month for the drug that has all kinds of horrible side effects like gangrene and kidney failure. What is funny about this commercial is it lists drowsiness as a side effect. Excuse me? I wouldn’t call that a side effect but rather the INTENDED effect. Do you think Oprah gets insomnia?
Friday, September 16, 2005
The worst of the bunch on PBS, in order of obnoxiousness, is: “Caillou”—the Canadian 4-year old brat that whines for everything. And couldn’t they pick a child to do the voice of Caillou instead of a grown woman? Who are they fooling! I forbid my children to watch this show. I tell them that Caillou is a brat and he whines way too much for a 4-year old. The other obnoxious show is “Dragon Tales”, although I do permit my children to watch this show. Ord, the giant dragon on this show, has the dumbest sounding voice. He is an oversized dragon and always reminds me of Shaquille O’neal. Not that I think Shaq has a dumb sounding voice—so it must be the size of the dragon that makes me think of Shaq. The third worst show on PBS, actually, this should be ranked higher--is “Between the Lions”. A bunch of weird puppets singing famous songs while teaching the short A sound is criminal. Oh man, I can’t grab the remote fast enough when that one comes on.
In August my mother-in-law was in town and took my kids to see “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”. Thank goodness she came to my rescue! I had been stalling on that one. The movie had been out for a couple of months by then. I knew that going to see that movie would be sheer torture for two hours. I promised my kids earlier that year when we read the novel together (see, I am a good mom) that when the movie came out this summer we would go see it. Ugh. Thank goodness I was relieved of that parental duty. Wait a minute?! Since when is taking your kids to see movies a parental duty? I mean, come on, my parents only took me to see Popeye, Empire Strikes Back, Annie, and Return of the Jedi (in that order I think) when I was a kid. That’s it. We were so deprived. We waited until the movies came out on Laser Disc and then my dad bought them. Oh yea, my Tia (aunt) Olivia did take me to see E.T. (Curious—why did she take me? Was that because my mother too couldn’t stand the thought of going to see a movie with a shrively alien as the main character?) And while I’m on the E.T. note—my brother Mike and I didn’t want our other siblings to be jealous that we got to go see E.T. so we lied and told them that Tia Olivia was taking us to get our shots. They believed it for a while.
When I was in the fifth grade our school class had a movie day and we all got to go to the multi-purpose room and eat popcorn while watching “The Never-Ending Story.” I remember half way through the movie quietly tip-toeing to my teacher and asking, “When will this movie be over?” That movie is what nightmares are made of—oversized dogs flying through clouds. Puh-lease. Torture, torture, torture.
Earlier this year my friend Liz lent me “The Incredibles” so my kids could watch this on a Friday night and have popcorn. She told me that it was really good. I was skeptical. She knows how much I hate that kind of stuff. I told her I would give it a shot. I sat down with my kids and Paul to watch it and fifteen minutes into it was hooked. This was a cute story, I thought. I no longer had to make up the excuse that I had to go make the popcorn and sugary drink-ade to escape watching the show. I paused the movie and went to make the treats. This is a huge step for me. So I guess there is hope.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Let me start at the beginning. When I was 15 I was at a stake dance in Hacienda Heights, CA and there was a cowboy kid there who asked my friend Laurie if she knew how to fox trot? Fox trot, what? We also noticed he was wearing cowboy boots. What kid in southern California wears cowboy boots unless he seriously wants to get beat up? So naturally we made fun of “Cowboy Roy” as we affectionately called him. And no, Laurie wouldn’t dance with him—get real.
And when I was 16 and went on a trip to Oregon (see previous blog of me in Oregon with HUGE hair.) I met these other teenage boys in Grants Pass, Oregon and I immediately began talking about Depeche Mode and Oingo Boingo? “Oingo what?”,they said. Excuse me? You’ve never heard of Depeche Mode and Oingo Boingo? Savages!
Fast forward to now—2005. I am picking up my friends Allison and Jenn in the car the other day and in the CD player is one of my compilation CDs made by my sweet sister Carolyn called “Hit’s of the 80s and 90s, volume 6”, and what’s playing is Suzanne Vega—Blood Makes Noise. A classic--“Blood Makes Noise…..It’s a ringing in your ears.” Both Allison and Jenn had never heard this song and thought I was weird and maybe somewhat evil for listening to a song that said the word “blood” in it. Maybe they would approve of her song “99.9 F°”. After all, that song is about science, right? Temperature, heat, etc.
Yesterday I was driving in my oh so cool mini van to Nathan’s soccer game and the current CD in the car was the best of Siouxsie and the Banshees. I quickly fast forwarded to “Peek A Boo”. That’s educational for my kids right? Hallie, my 18 month old, loves to play peek-a-boo at home so why not play it in the car right? I kept looking in my rear view mirror at her, covering and uncovering my eyes at just the moments when Siouxsie would shout out “Peek-A-Boo!!!”. Then I realize that doing that while driving could cause problems. That’s a great song, though. The whole backwards-accordion thing really makes that song too, don’t you think? I am happy to indoctrinate my kids with my music—someday my kids will tell their friends that they know “classic alternative”. Ugh. Just the way I told my friends that I knew “classic rock” because my dad listened to Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimmy Hendrix, etc. When I talked to my dad about his love of drug-addicted rockers he defends himself and says, “I didn’t know any of that then!!” Too funny. I guess him being in Vietnam and all kept him away from all the gossip. Anyway…..
Then I met my husband Paul and realized that if I listened to weird music, then he definitely listened to weird music. He liked the majorly (yes that’s a word) unknown stuff from the 80s—Ultravox, Trash Can Sinatras, Joy Division. He said he never liked Duran Duran because they were too popular. Well, excuse me for not being enough avant garde for him! (I am sure I spelled that wrong.) My mainstream taste was such a turn off to him. Whatever. When we were dating and in that I-Can’t-Bear-To-Be-Away-From-You phase we were away from each other for a whole 6 weeks while I completed a Spring term at BYU and he went home to work in an ice cream factory in East L.A. (Paul should write a blog about that experience—seeing the projects get raided by SWAT teams, etc.)
Anyway, once I returned home for the summer he had made a cute compilation-poem of his favorite songs that expressed his undying love for me. Songs like, “Blue Jean” by David Bowie. “One day I'm gonna write a poem in a letter; One day I'm gonna get that faculty together; Remember that everybody has to wait in line; Blue Jean-look out world you know I've got mine; She got Latin roots; She got everything.” Oh yea, he was whooped for this “Latin” girl.
So now that I am in my 30s I realize that I am holding on to the music of my youth and not really loving the new alternative music that comes out anymore. (Although Depeche Mode’s new hit is pretty good. Good grief, how old are they now? They’re taking a cue from the Stones I guess.) I take pride in the fact that Ilene’s favorite song is “Magic Moments” by Erasure and Nathan learned to count, or at least had fun counting, while dancing to XTC “Senses Working Overtime”. Everything can be a teaching moment.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
As I was archiving old photos today on my computer I realize I have a few things to say about some photos. I didn't start out with any particular theme when starting this blog, but it kind of turned into a big hair theme. You'll see what I mean....
Topolobampo, Mexico, circa 1977 What makes me laugh about this picture is that my sister Patty is filthy with sand and I am all clean (that's me out of focus in the front). Nothing has changed. I still hate to get dirty. Even now, if my kitchen floor is dirty I will wear socks or slippers in the kitchen to avoid having my feet feel all gritty. Blech! I must have some sensory issues because I still can't touch a fuzzy peach without getting the heebee-jeebees.
Heart Bar Campground, San Bernardino, California When I see this photo I can't help laughing at how HORRIBLE all my siblings look, me included of course. Our hair is uncombed and look at that pink tassled jumpsuit Carolyn is wearing! (I am second from the left.) What my siblings and I all remember from this picture is that Patty is the only one wearing flip-flops. (We used to call them thongs but that word now means something else in clothing attire.) She had forgotten her sneakers on this camping trip and our parents were furious--"How could you forget to pack SHOES!" Poor Patty, she had to wear thongs the whole trip.
Me, circa 1984. Oh the embarrasment of this picture. Look at my stick-like legs! I remember during junior high I wore some white ribbed leggings to school and the most popular boy in school looked at me and said, "Bock Bock", as in a chicken! I was horrified. Having chicken legs as a young woman is worse than having a second head. This picture is proof.
This picture of my mom with her sisters (she's on the left) proves that my big hair is not my fault. It is in my genes. Somehow, though, my mother looks beautfiul with her big hair.
Me, 1990, in the middle of nowhere in Oregon. No wonder I had no boyfriends in high school? Look how big my hair is? You could surf on my bangs! And the over sized shirt in neon colors? And oh yes, I am wearing high-top sneakers with scrunched socks. There are those chicken legs again. Oh the inhumanity of it all!
July 22, 1980, Mark's first birthday, Chino, California This is how 90% of our birthdays were spent as kids. The birthday kid with the cake and the other 4 looking on with drool. And we are all toasty brown because it's summer. Notice that Mike is wearing a Pepsi shirt tank top, Mark is wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform, and Patty has on her adorable glasses!
My senior picture, October 1991. Again with the big hair, giant silver hoop earings, etc. I made that oversized purple blouse. Once again, I wonder why I had no boys EVER interested in me.
Paul, as a missionary, 1991 Belgium. While I was having a miserable time as a senior in high school, Paul was a missionary in Belgium. So eventually I did get the cute boy after all. I must admit--I had grown out the claw bangs by the time we met. See? It was the bangs holding me back all those years. In my dry spell of the dating years I used to say, "If good things come to those who wait, then great things come to those who wait longer." I guess I am calling you great Paul. :)
Friday, September 02, 2005
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, and then embrace.
-Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
How true this is! Almost eight years ago we moved into our brand-new home. It had plain vanilla walls, cream-colored carpet and for many years it stayed that way. I didn’t really care much to decorate. I remember thinking then, “Why waste all the time and effort?” I guess you could say, as does Mr. Pope, I “hated” decorating. My mother-in-law would come into town and do little things around my home to make it pretty and cozy. I didn’t really think it mattered, but she liked it, so I let her. Decorating was “endured” at this point.
Then the tide really turned. We got satellite TV 3 years ago because we didn’t want to miss any of the winter Olympic sports that were to be broadcast. (Ironically enough the winter Olympics were right HERE so we really didn’t have to miss anything if we would’ve forked out thousands of dollars to go to the events.) With satellite TV I discovered HGTV (Home and Garden Television). Ah, 24 hours a day of non-stop decorating advice. What started out as something hated, became something endured, and then embraced. I am now a decorating addict. What started out as simply a form of entertainment has led to a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine, a purchase of many decorating books and power tools. (For Mother’s Day I asked Paul for a pneumatic nailer. Dang it! I didn’t get it.) I am on fire. I find that a beautiful room makes me feel better. It’s somewhat of a high to be in a room I have “made over”. (That’s lingo for—this room once was disgusting and is now sort of livable.) Ah, the fruits of my labor!
Now I wish I could say that I simply paint a room and buy cute furnishings but this obsession has cost me much more. It has cost me sleep, frustration, money, etc. I think I am Superwoman. After all, if they can do it on TV then surely I can do it too! I have a brain so I can figure things out, right? Let me explain, and then you decide how wacko I really am—
1. I have been obsessed with getting new countertops in my kitchen for at least a year now. I must have been crazy when I chose blue laminate for my counters back in 1997. They were in style then, I think. I have had bids to resurface them (a cheap look) and bids to install Corian (a budget breaker). Financial reality has set in so I decided that we would tile the new countertops ourselves! I have never tiled before but I have a brain right? I can do it! I have been running around town all week buying this and buying that. I lay awake at night and wonder how I am going to polish the edges of the granite tile if I can’t get a hold of a 4” grinder saw. (So I bought one last night.) Who knows how this will turn out? The worst is I drag Paul along on the crazy schemes. I overhead him say to his dad on the phone the other day something about “dragged into.” I can’t imagine what he’s talking about?
2. I resurface furniture too often. The fumes must be affecting me because I find it enjoyable. In the last year I have re-surfaced my dining table, a dresser for my room, and last weekend a little dresser for my 7-year old Nathan to use as a nightstand. Oh and I can’t forget all my kitchen cabinets in their entirety. I sanded, primed and painted for two days straight (14 hour days) last Labor Day.
3. I paint my walls like crazy. In fact, I have painted my kitchen walls 3 times in the last year. I know, that’s embarrassing. My motto is, “Some women paint their nails, I paint my walls.” I tell Paul that he could have a froo-froo wife instead—one who loves to shop weekly at Nordstrom and gets manicures or one who spends that money instead on our house. He says, “Is there a choice?” Ha, ha. Funny guy.
4. I’ve planted 7 trees in the last month. Okay, five are evergreen trees and will someday hedge a view of my neighbor’s yard, but still, who plants trees in August? I am certifiable! I swear I almost got heat stroke the day I did all that. Digging holes in this yard is tantamount to digging through concrete. Smart.
5. I slipcover anything and everything. Oh yes, I have slipcovered 8 major pieces of furniture (two of the couches were my friend’s) in the last 2 years. I buy used furniture at the thrift store and then buy yards and yards of fabric at cheap fabric stores—or else make special pilgrimages to the garment district in downtown Los Angeles to find what I want—“Yes, I would like 25 yards of this brushed twill in beige.” What am I thinking? At the time I did that I had an infant! Who slipcovers giant couches when they have a 6-month old baby? Lots of naptime and nighttime work for this sweat-shop seamstress. Ugh. I think I need medication.
6. Does it get worse? Oh yes. A year and a half ago I decided I wanted to take up carpentry. My dad can do it, so it must be in my genes, right? So I signed up for a night class and attempted to make a blanket chest out of Alder with drawers, decorative panels, etc. The class was a 6-week course. I was so in over my head. It took me 6 months.
7. My kitchen is finished and gorgeous with the granite tiles and “subway” tile backsplash. This is one happy woman. And yes, I drag Paul into these projects but he is so proud of himself for accomplishing such a task. So see? New skills are learned and confidence is built during all these crazy projects. I am naïve when it comes to the time commitment required for these projects. I thought this was a Labor Day weekend project. It turned into a week of frozen meals and sandwiches on paper plates. Never again!
I know I am an addict because I think I could stop at any moment, and yet I realize that I don’t want to. I love this kind of stuff. Gotta go, Divine Design is on.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
(Photo: Here I am slicing a gorgeous Strawberry Cream Cake. Wow, it was good.)
I am a food snob. I don’t want to be labeled as such, but nonetheless, it is true. I think the definition of a food snob should be added to the dictionary and this is what it should read:
Food snob: noun, a person who looks down on chain restaurants, refuses to eat Hamburger Helper or other such packaged “food”, never uses dried parsley—always fresh and preferably flat-leaf parsley, and always insists on bringing at least 1-2 items to a potluck in case there is nothing else at the pot luck worth eating.
If you do not fit the above definition I urge you to stop reading now as some of the following may offend you non-finicky eaters out there.
If that definition still leaves you in the gray area of whether or not you too are a food snob, read the following 2 paragraphs.
I have six types of rice in my house: Arborio rice, Basmati rice, Calrose rice, Jasmine rice, Orzo (okay this is technically pasta but I make it like a pilaf so that counts as rice to me), and regular old long-grain white rice. I rarely use the latter because it is bland and tasteless. It’s still okay for pilaf though. Do you agree with me on this one? If so, keep reading.
I do not buy margarine to bake with. (I do however buy Canola Harvest margarine spread for toast because I have inherited from my mother her high cholesterol.) I only bake with butter—especially cakes. A cake made with shortening or margarine is tasteless. A cake made with butter is magic. I do not like cakes from a mix. Chocolate is the only suitable cake from a mix, and only in a pinch. I only use mixes for last minute cupcakes for my kids. (See—they are not total food snobs yet.) Do you agree with me on this cake thing? If so keep reading. If not, I take no responsibility for hurt feelings that may result from reading the following. If you have cooked with canned cream of mushroom/chicken soup in the last year you are forbidden to read any further!
Have you noticed that we food snobs say the stuffiest things? My friend Liz is often quoted as saying, “I could hardly choke it down.” My friend Kelly says, (in reference to Applebee’s or TGIFridays), “I can make better food than that.” And then there are my own comments. Taco Bell is referred to as Toxic Hell.
Speaking of Taco Bell, that’s really when my evolution into food snobbery began. It was approximately 1984 and I was 10 years old. My family and I had been on a camping trip in Yosemite for two weeks. On our way home, in Bishop, California my parents reluctantly stopped at Taco Bell to get some food for us. I say reluctantly because my mother is from Mexico and I think this is her one lapse in judgment when it came to eating “Mexican food.” Anyway, every one gets their nasty “Beef” Tacos and I refuse to eat anything. We are at least another 5 hours from home and I, a 10-year old kid, would rather go hungry than eat that Textured Vegetable Protein garbage stuffed in a “shell” and sold as safe for human consumption. (Shells are found on the beach, not in restaurants!) Thus the downward spiral into food snobbery began.
It’s not enough that I am a food snob either. I am determined to force my children into having such a discriminating palate. I’m not doing too bad either. Their favorite restaurant is Bombay House—spicy Indian cuisine. Yum. Sometimes I’ll have Paul pick up take-out on his way home from work. This always disappoints Nathan because he says the food tastes better if you eat in the restaurant. That’s my boy! And how many kids know what a citrus reamer is? My 4-year old daughter Ilene does. That’s my girl! They rarely drink soda and I don’t think they even know what a Twinkie is. (Just as yours don’t either Liz!)
Okay here’s a funny story: My friend Kelly’s husband was complaining to her that at Scout activities they like to make something they call “Peach Cobbler”, which consists of canned/fresh peaches spread in a Dutch oven with a yellow cake mix mixed with a can of 7-up spread over the top. Then you bake it. Then you eat it. Then you vomit. Okay, maybe you don’t vomit but you should. Anyway, a few weeks ago I was camping with most of my family, including my two sisters Patricia and Carolyn. I barely heard Carolyn say “cake” and “soda” in the same sentence to which Patty then “shusssed’ her. “Excuse me!”, I say. “What are you talking about? Are you going to make peach cobbler with 7-up! I don’t think so.” Patty then defends herself, “It’s really good!” Apparently they weren’t going to let me in on this secret recipe hoping that I would take a bite of this poison and declare it’s the best dessert I’ve ever had. Oh, and did I mention they were going to use DIET 7-UP?
Now I could go on and on with food horror stories like these although I know if I get too specific that this will somehow be read by the offenders and my aim isn’t to personally hurt others but rather to create a few chuckles.
Oh, dang it! I can’t resist. I will be as ambiguous as possible so as to protect the innocent.
I know someone who stacks processed cheese slices and grates them on her box grater to make Cheeseburger Tacos. She is so proud of these and I am glad that she loves them. She is a wonderful person, but come on, that’s disgusting.
I had a roommate who made another atrocious concoction. She crumbled saltines and mixed them with tuna and cream of mushroom soup. Then baked it. Then ate it. It seriously looked like cat vomit. And this is coming from someone who did have a lapse in food snobbery during her college years. I confess I did eat packaged mac n’cheese and ramen noodles quite a bit. Okay, I still like ramen noodles. There, I said it. So I guess I am not a full fledged food snob yet if I still like ramen, but I find that I am getting worse as the years go by. All this talk about food is making me hungry. Pass the Doritos.