February 27, 2015 in Random Thoughts
After summer, fall is my favorite season. Crisp apples and sweet apple pie, pumpkin with cinnamon and nutmeg, warm, cheesy casseroles to offset the chill in the air, leaves on the turn from green to brilliant reds and yellows, Halloween, entire Sundays on the couch under a cozy blanket watching football, and the promise of new TV shows premiering…what’s not to love?
Here are several fun fall things to help get you in the spirit!
Fall TV: How To Get Away With Murder
The newest offering from Shonda Rhimes is set in a law school with the incomparable Viola Davis holding court in the classroom. The premiere introduces us to several promising students interspersed with scenes of them trying to get away with an actual murder. The students all have their secrets, but I’m guessing Viola Davis’ character Annalise Keating has even more hidden behind her piercing stare that can pin you to a wall. There were plenty of twists and turns in the premiere to keep me hooked, plus a doozy of a twist at the end that made sure I’d tune in for the next episode. If this keeps up, How To Get Away With Murder could become my new must-watch of the season.
Airs on ABC Thursdays at 10:00pm PST
Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and chocolate chips all folded into a cake and sprinkled with a streusel topping…yum! This will be the next pumpkin dessert I make.
What could be cuter, or more delicious, than these little cinnamon rolls in a cookie form?
These delicious ice cream smoothies are perfect for the season!
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
The Dread Pirate Roberts himself wrote this book about his experience making the iconic film The Princess Bride. It includes a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film and interviews with his co-stars Robin Wright (Princess Buttercup), Wallace Shawn (Mr. Inconceivable), Billy Crystal (Miracle Max), Christopher Guest (the six-fingered man), and the magnificent Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya). If you are a fan of The Princess Bride, the release date for this perfect fall treat is October 14, 2014. If you have never seen The Princess Bride, stop whatever you are doing and go watch it. It is a delight from start to finish!
Photo from Timholtz.com
Tim Holtz is a creative genius. He uses simple tags to demonstrate his signature products and techniques, like this ultra cool sepia and white tag with a pop of color and dimension with the butterflies. The best part is all the other creative geniuses in the world that riff on his techniques and create their own inspirational art, like this adorable skeleton that is perfect for the season.
May 1, 2014 in Random Thoughts
People, especially elderly male people, say odd things to me. I have no idea why, but a wise person once suggested that I must give off some sort of aura that makes people feel comfortable enough to say anything to me because they think I won’t judge them. (That is not true. I do judge.)
My “You can say whatever crazy ass thing you want to me” aura was nurtured from a very young age by my dad. He was the King of Odd Comments, mostly in an attempt at humor. He was funny, but some of the things that came out of his mouth were also wildly inappropriate or just plain odd, which was plenty embarrassing when I was a teenaged girl. “Dad! You can’t say things like that in front of my friends!” was basically the only thing I said to him when I was between the ages of 13 and 18. That and “I really really really really want to get my ears pierced!”
ODD CONVERSATION #1:
Last year when my dad was in the hospital, I wandered down to the cafeteria to get something to eat that didn’t come out of a vending machine. I approached the counter, studied my choices, and placed my order. Right about then, an elderly gentleman sauntered to my side. “I didn’t peg you as a chicken teriyaki girl,” he said with a smile.
I was exhausted, worried about my dad, and starving. I was completely unprepared to deal with an elderly gentleman who enjoyed wandering around deserted cafeterias, trying to guess what people would order based strictly on their appearance, nor was I prepared to be referenced as a “non-chicken teriyaki girl.” How does one even respond to a comment like that?
“Wh-a-at?” I stuttered.
“I thought you’d order the salmon.” Really? I hate seafood. What about me screams “seafood lover”?
Even more importantly, why was I stuck in this conversation in the first place?
ODD CONVERSATION #2:
On a recent vacation to Turks & Caicos, my oldest son landed himself in the emergency room due to an allergic reaction to something he ate. The ER doc was from England and I wouldn’t call him elderly per se, but he was older than me.
We were led to a room that had a traditional hospital bed and two chairs. Naturally, I directed my son to the hospital bed while I sat in one of the chairs. The doctor sat in the other chair directly across from me and proceeded to give me a dirty look.
“What?” I asked.
“Are you the patient?”
“No, my son is.” Wasn’t it obvious? He was on the hospital bed! He had on the ER admittance bracelet!
“Where is the patient?”
“Um…he’s right there.” Could he not see that there was another body in the room with us?
“If you’re not the patient, you shouldn’t be sitting in that chair. The young man should sit there.” He fixed me with another dirty look.
“Um, ok.” So we switched. My son sat in the chair and I sat on the hospital bed, situating myself awkwardly on the crinkly paper.
The doctor’s demeanor completely changed. He became Mr. Smiley and Jokey with both of us, to the point where when he asked me if I had any Benadryl (Do I have any? Shouldn’t the ER have a stockpile?), and I said that I did in my purse, he rolled over on his chair and said “Ooh! She has a big bag. There could be a party in there. Let’s have a look at what’s inside.” He then proceeded to peer into my purse while I rummaged around for some Benadryl.
(I am not making this up, nor am I exaggerating for humorous effect. This is all 100% true. And to all you men out there: looking in a woman’s purse is not ok, especially if you don’t know her.)
When discussing my son’s follow-up care, the doctor, still sitting in his chair, reached up and began massaging my arm, making soothing noises about how “Mom shouldn’t worry too much. He’ll be fine and maybe you can have a glass of wine.”
A glass of wine? Seriously? Like I was going to get snockered on a glass of wine when my son could have a relapse. (I was on the island, for God’s sake. If I was going to drink anything, it was going to be a rum punch.) And what’s with the massage? Is that legal in the British West Indies?
ODD (ONE-SIDED) CONVERSATION #3:
Years ago when I was in dental school, I was assigned a charming 70ish-year-old man as a patient. He needed a new set of dentures, and since I was a student, he could get them for a song. He and his new wife came in every single week while I learned how to take the appropriate measurements, select teeth styles to match my patient’s age and gender, and set the teeth in wax so they could be processed into the final set of dentures. I wasn’t very good at it (dentures are an imprecise science) and my instructor was a stickler, so I spent a great deal of time with this couple. They were absolutely adorable. Her eyes sparkled as she regaled me with stories of how my patient surprised her at work with flowers and candy, and he beamed with pride at having landed her as his wife. Honestly, it was the sweetest thing ever.
Until the night he called my apartment and left a message on my answering machine where he said a lot of things, including those three little words you never want to hear from a 70ish-year old happily married man with no teeth: “I love you.”
Odd? Yes. Disturbing? Yes. A giant pain in the butt because I had to change my phone number? Yes.
I am glad that people feel comfortable talking to me, but if these are the kind of things people are going to say, then maybe I need to dial my aura back a bit. There has got to be a better balance between “I am a good listener,” and “You do not need an internal filter to talk to me.” A filter can be a good thing, and if you are an elderly male, two filters are even better. Trust me: it’s better this way.
Want to read more of the odd things people say to me? Click here.
April 15, 2014 in Random Thoughts
Ease in Understanding What I Am Saying
Seattle: Despite being over 3200 miles away, the Turks Islanders have heard of Seattle. Not once did I have to clarify which country or state I was from; simply saying Seattle was enough.
Turks & Caicos:
USA Citizen: Where are you going/did you go on vacation?
ME: Turks & Caicos.
USA Citizen: Turksin— What?
ME: (slowly) Turks…and…Caicos.
USA Citizen: (perplexed) I’ve never heard of it. Is it in Mexico?
ME: It’s in the British West Indies, not far from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
USA Citizen: Oh?
ME: It’s in the Carribean.
USA Citizen: Oh! Now I get it. Tur— What was it called again?
Ease in Understanding What The Natives Are Saying
Seattle: They speak English and so do I.
Turks & Caicos: They speak English too, but some Islanders have such thick accents that it is hard to understand what they’re saying. It’s not so bad when you’re in a shop or a restaurant, but when you are in the ER and a bit stressed out and the intake nurse is asking if your son something-something-fluorimase, it can be a bit disconcerting. (No worries, mon. Said son is perfectly fine.)
Control of My Hair
Seattle: The constant moisture in the air (in the form of rain) makes my fine hair with a hint of curl frizz wildly out of control.
Turks & Caicos: The constant moisture in the air (in the form of humidity) makes my fine hair with a hint of curl frizz wildly out of control.
The Ocean Water
Seattle: Dark blue and always freezing cold, even in the summer. If you do go in, you can’t see anything because the water is so murky.
Turks & Caicos: About 50 different shades of brilliant turquoise nestled against the deep blue of the sea further out from shore…and it’s warm! The water is so clear it’s like swimming in a pool.
Winner: Turks & Caicos
The Weather in the Spring
Seattle: Cold and rainy, with some wind and hail thrown in to shake things up a bit.
Turks & Caicos: Hot every single day.
Winner: Turks & Caicos
Seattle: Local wineries abound, so the wine selection is as varied as it is delicious.
Turks & Caicos: Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! Rum Punch, Pain Killers, and about 50 other dangerous yet delicious cocktails made with rum are available.
Looks innocent, but it is not.
Winner: I like both, so…Tie!
Seafood (Disclaimer: I don’t like seafood.)
Seattle: Salmon is king. I’m not a fan of salmon because it tastes so (gag) fishy.
Turks & Caicos: Conch is king. Conch (pronounced “conk” on the island) is a sea snail that has no taste whatsoever. At last! A seafood that doesn’t taste like seafood!
Winner: Turks & Caicos
Transportation to Restaurants for Dinner
Seattle: Driving in a car in rush hour traffic.
Turks & Caicos: A beautiful barefoot stroll along the beach at sunset.
Winner: Turks & Caicos
Cost of Living
Seattle: A box of cereal costs under $4.00.
Turks & Caicos: A box of cereal costs $8.10, and that’s not including tourism tax, which they add on to everything. Even if you are not a tourist, grocery shopping is expensive. One of our taxi drivers does his bulk shopping at Sam’s Club in Florida. He purchases space on a pallet to have his items brought back on a ship, pays the hefty Turks & Caicos Import Tax, and it is still cheaper than shopping on the island.
Seattle: Must pay income tax.
Turks & Caicos: They do not pay income tax…at all.
Winner: Turks & Caicos (Happy Tax Day!)
Grand Champion: Us!
Thanks for a great vacation Luisa & Jesse!
April 7, 2014 in Random Thoughts
Photo by Robbert van der Steeg
On Friday mornings I take an exercise class called Cardio Strength. It is a circuit class, which means after a group warm-up, everyone finds a station and we rotate through each station two, three, or four times, depending on how many stations there are. Typically, each station consists of three exercises that we do for one minute each, for there is an old adage in the gym culture that says “You can do anything for a minute.”
A minute is only 60 seconds long, but after participating in this class, I can tell you two things:
1) Not all minutes are created equal.
2) There are some things I can’t do even for one short minute…although I’m working on it!
I’m a cardio girl, so doing cardio for a minute is doable, although not even all cardio minutes are created equal. I can jump rope for a minute with no problem, but box jumps (jumping onto a knee-high bench over and over again) are hard work.
The minutes involving leg strength fly by, but the minutes involving my poor, weak upper body drag on, second by tortuous second. A minute of push-ups or plank break downs or the evil torture of pike-ups on a fitness ball lasts a hell of a lot longer than a minute of squats, even with a weighted bar on my shoulders.
But it’s not just exercise where a minute stops following the logic of time. Ask any American Idol, Chopped, or other reality show contestant. When Ryan Seacrest or Ted Allen is getting ready to announce who is going home, it takes forever. The camera is on Ryan Seacrest as he says something like “The one who is leaving our stage forever is…” Then they pan to one contestant for about ten seconds, then to the other, then back to Ryan, then to the contestant’s family members in the audience, then to the judges, then back to Ryan…my God. That is one evil minute for those young kids trying to make their dreams come true.
The last minute of any March Madness basketball game is never 60 seconds long. It can easily go on for ten minutes with all the fouls and time outs and plays under official review. The “Just a minute!” cry of a harried mom trying to have an adult conversation with a friend is never only a minute, a fact kids learn early. When a mom yells for her kids to come running, and they shout back “I’ll be there in one minute!”, she might as well sneak off for a “one minute” spa pedicure.
Minutes can just as easily whip past you much quicker than 60 seconds, like when you’re late. In that case, each minute lasts roughly 12.5 seconds.
In my crazy life where I have no control over the passage of time, I like the fact that my exercise class is reminding me of how long one minute actually is. In one minute, there is plenty of time to look each of my sons in the eye, tell them I love them, wish them a good day, and demand that they throw their stinky socks into the washing machine on their way out the door. One minute is enough time to send a pick-me-up text to a good friend or thank someone for helping me out. Taking one minute to sit down, breathe, and stare out the window is a slice of heaven, and someday, if I keep working hard, one minute of push-ups from my toes will happen.
I hope you take one minute for yourself today and every day.
March 24, 2014 in Random Thoughts
The following is a transcript of the phone call I wish I could have with NCAA President Mark Emmert.
Mark Emmert: Hello?
Me: Hi. I have a complaint.
Mark Emmert: Oh? How can I help?
Me: It’s about the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Rankings.
Mark Emmert: What about them?
Me: Well, I’m sorry to tell you this, but the rankings don’t mean anything. I think you need to re-evaluate how to rank these teams in a way that is, you know, accurate.
Mark Emmert: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Me: I’m talking about Baylor beating Creighton by 30 points! Creighton is a #3 seed ranked #16 on the AP poll. Baylor is a #6 seed ranked #23 on the AP poll. If those are correct, how is it possible that a) Baylor beat them; and b) Baylor beat them by 30 points?
Mark Emmert: Statistics on the court are quantifiable, certainly, but they are not the only factor to consider. (pause) Are you losing your bracket pool?
Me: That’s not important.
Mark Emmert: The system we have for ranking these teams is fine.
Me: Oh really? Let’s talk about Wichita State.
Mark Emmert: I appreciate you calling, but I’ve got a, uh, meeting—
Me: Wichita State is a #1 seed! They are #2 on the AP poll and they were undefeated going into the tournament. Explain to me how they lost to a #8 Kentucky team that wasn’t even in the Top 25 on the AP poll?
Mark Emmert: It’s called a “big upset.”
Me: I’m serious!
Mark Emmert: That game was very close.
Me: But it shouldn’t have been! With the discrepancy in their rankings and seedings, it should have been a blow out by Wichita State. That’s my point: the rankings as they are calculated now don’t mean anything. How am I supposed to predict the Final Four when all I have are useless statistics?
Mark Emmert: Nobody can predict who is going to win. That’s why it’s called “March Madness.” That’s why Warren Buffett can offer $1 billion dollars for a perfect bracket. There is no way to quantify heart, drive, passion, and getting a good night’s sleep before playing in the basketball game of your life. Human beings can’t be reduced to statistics.
Me: So why do you have rankings at all?
Mark Emmert: Excuse me?
Me: Why don’t you just pick 64 teams out of a hat, throw them onto courts across the country in pairs of two, and see who wins?
Mark Emmert: That wouldn’t be fair. You could have a really good team—
Me: Like Wichita State?
Mark Emmert: —blow out a less talented team.
Me: Like Kentucky?
Mark Emmert: No, like…
Me: Like Duke and Mercer?
Mark Emmert: Yes! I mean, no! Listen, I understand you’re upset. March Madness can be a very upsetting time for some. Let me give you a phone number to call.
Me: So I can talk to someone about how the rankings and seedings are so grossly inaccurate?
Mark Emmert: Nooo, this a number for someone who can help you. It’s our March Madness Hotline.
Me: (suspiciously) Hotline?
Mark Emmert: There are psychiatrists on call 24 hours a day—
Me: You clowns rated Kansas 10th in the country in the AP Poll, seeded them at #2, and you think I’m the one who needs a psychiatrist? They lost! They lost to Stanford, and they’re not even in the Top 25!
Mark Emmert: How much money did you lose?
Mark Emmert: And you’re this upset?
Me: It’s the principal of the thing. (pause) I’m a Libra.
Mark Emmert: (gently) I really think you should call the Hotline.
Me: I don’t like injustice. That’s what I meant about the “Libra” remark. You know, balanced scales and all that. (pause) I’m not crazy.
Mark Emmert: Uh huh.
Me: (sighing) Maybe I should call that number.
Mark Emmert: That would be great.
Me: But if there are any more unreasonable upsets next weekend, I’m calling you back.
Mark Emmert: I’ll let security know.
March 19, 2014 in Random Thoughts
I am obsessed with the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. I can’t stop watching MSNBC and CNN for the latest updates, reading about it online, and discussing it endlessly with anyone who will listen.
I am not the only one. Even Courtney Love is obsessed to the point where she thinks she may have found the missing plane.
For me, it’s hard to imagine that a Boeing 777 airplane laden with 227 passengers and 12 crew members can vanish without a trace in this day and age. With the number of military and civilian radars and satellites operating throughout the world, how is it possible that a 777 airplane just fell off the grid? And if a hijacking incident was in progress and/or the plane somehow landed safely somewhere, how is it possible that all 239 people on board have kept silent for 13 days in the age of cell phones?
There are a lot of theories out there based on precious little fact, but I keep coming back to human nature. Based on my in-depth knowledge of aviation (0%), terrorism (0%), ocean currents (0%), and the inability of human beings to keep a secret (100%), there are 2 theories that I feel make sense.
1) A catastrophic event of a mechanical nature occurred. It either happened quickly (explosion) or slowly (depressurization of the plane/lack of oxygen), but however it happened, it either killed the passengers instantly or rendered them unconscious and thus unable to send urgent messages of distress with their cell phones. As we saw during 9/11, there is no way a person would not find a way to let their loved ones know they were a) ok; b) not ok; or c) that they were about to die and that they loved them very much.
2) A catastrophic event induced by a human element occurred (pilot error? hijacking?), quickly rendering the passengers and crew unable to communicate with the outside world.
There have been 13 days of radio silence from the passengers on the plane. I think if they could speak, they would have found a way. The silence, more than anything else, makes me think Flight 370 is now in the ocean.
With the vastness and the depth of our planet’s oceans, particularly the Indian Ocean, it is possible that this plane will never be found. It may just go the way of Amelia Earhart’s airplane, which disappeared in 1937 and has never been found, or the Argentine military plane carrying 69 people that has been missing since 1965, or the squadron of five bombers that vanished in 1945 in the Bermuda Triangle. (Read more about these other aviation mysteries here.)
I want to know what happened just as much as the next person because I am curious and it makes me feel safer knowing we have the technology to possibly rescue anyone on this planet no matter where they are, or in the worst case scenario, to provide closure to the passengers’ families.
But my curiosity is but a drop in the tidal wave of grief and despair the families of the passengers and crew are facing. Misinformation, a lack of information, and deep-seated worry about their loved ones is taking its toll on the family members, and will only going to get worse as the length of time increases without any trace of the missing plane. The families and loved ones cannot function now, but how will they function in the future if the plane is not found? It was a headache wrapping up the threads of my dad’s life when he passed away and I had a certified death certificate in my possession. How will these people collect the life insurance or retirement funds of their loved ones if there’s no body, let alone the wreckage from a plane?
My sincerest hope and sympathy go out to the families of the passengers and crew of Flight 370. The plane needs to be found, and not just to satisfy my own curiosity. For those waiting desperately for any information about their loved ones, this plane needs to be found.
March 17, 2014 in Book Reviews, Chocolate! (and other less exalted food experiences), Random Thoughts
I’m not Irish, but sometimes I wish I was. Marian Keyes and Maeve Binchy (immensely successful Irish authors) are my idols, and I’ve read every one of their novels more than once. I am in love with the way the Irish speak, with their “your man” and their “fecking” and the lovely lilt at the end of their sentences.
Over the weekend I was delighted to find myself sitting by a large Irish family from the opposing team during my son’s lacrosse game. It was like being surrounded by a bunch of chatty leprechauns! I spoke in an Irish accent all the way home, to the absolute delight of my children.
Kids: “Mom, come on! Stop it!”
Me: “No way! It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day. I’ll be talking this way all weekend. Now stop your fecking complainin’ or your man won’t be getting a Shamrock Shake.”
(I’m not entirely sure how bad a swear word “fecking” is in Ireland. Perhaps I should look into that.)
So it should come as no surprise that I love St. Patrick’s Day. A holiday centered around the color green, clever little leprechauns, vibrant rainbows with shiny pots of gold at the end, four-leaf clovers, lots of booze, and Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s—as a holiday, St. Patrick’s Day is magically delicious!
Here are a couple of things Irish that I love and I hope you do too!
Marian Keyes is a master at blending despair with humor. You can’t go wrong with any of her novels, but my personal favorite is Rachel’s Holiday. Rachel’s “holiday” is actually a stint in rehab after a near overdose. It may sound heavy, and it is, but just like real life, there are shining moments of humor, humanity, and triumph.
While Marian Keyes loves a modern Irish heroine, Maeve Binchy’s heroines are firmly planted in the past, trying to balance their strict Irish Catholic upbringing with the passion they feel for the boy next door. Unwanted pregnancies, alcoholism, and forbidden love are some of her favorite themes. You can’t go wrong with any of her novels either, but Light a Penny Candle, a poignant tale of two girls and their enduring friendship, still stands out in my mind as one of her best.
“Fiddle-de-fizz ‘tis magic, it is!” Ten Lucky Leprechauns is a charming counting book filled with the magic of leprechauns, rainbows, and friendship just perfect for your wee ones.
How cute are these? These mini brownies with a surprise pocket of gold sprinkles inside will definitely be part of our St. Patrick’s Day’s festivities! If you haven’t visited Courtney Whitmore’s Pizzazzerie.com yet, you are in for a treat! She has loads of wonderful desserts and decorating tips for any event.
I am in love with Martha Stewart’s Leprechaun Trap! It is eye-catching and I bet it tastes delicious. It also looks like it would take all day to make. The jury’s still out on whether or not I will make this or take a nap instead.
Need more ideas? Check out my St. Patrick’s Day Pinterest Board!
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!
March 10, 2014 in Random Thoughts
Every year, my sons’ elementary school hosts an Art Walk. It is an art gallery-like show where every class and every student showcases an art project they’ve created during the year. Considering the diversity of ages (kindergarten to fifth grade), art mediums, and elements of art represented (line, texture, color, form, etc.), there is a delightful variety of vibrant and creative art to see. Here is a treat for your artistic sensibilities:
February 14, 2014 in Random Thoughts
Valentine’s Day means different things to different people: a celebration of love and romance for some, a torture device for the broken-hearted, or a reason to chow down on heart-shaped chocolates and those Sweetheart candies with the little messages imprinted on them.
For me, Valentine’s Day has become an anniversary. It has been one year since my dad passed away.
I still have moments where I think of calling my dad, only to remember I can’t anymore. There have been many moments over the course of the past year, big and small, that I wish I could have shared with him and that I know he would have enjoyed. The memories of him during his last month of illness still play out in vivid Technicolor in my dreams and I wake up startled before relief flows over me as I realize that it was just a dream…only to remember a split second later that everything I dreamed actually happened.
I continue to struggle with the choices he made, like keeping his illness a secret for one, but I know without a doubt that he died on his own terms. My father was the most stubborn person I have ever met, and even if he had told me he was sick, I don’t know that I could have persuaded him to do anything different…although I would have relished the opportunity.
He’s been gone a year, and yet he’s still here. His name crops up in conversations about the past, or when recounting funny memories, or in those “I got that personality trait from my dad—God help me,” moments of self-awareness. There is (or will be shortly) a park bench in Central Park with his name on it and a trip is in the works to go visit it and the city he held so dear. And on Valentine’s Day, when we remember him with cinnamon rolls and mint chocolate chip ice cream and recall the times we used to go to Swenson’s for ice cream and he’d always order the Swiss Orange Chocolate Chip ice cream and yet call it something different every time, he will be there in spirit.
It’s been a year, Pops, and I still miss you just as much as ever.