Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This One is For Fellow Top Chef Fans Only

Someone autotuned Marcel. Genius.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fir Real

Way back in the day, when my husband and I were young and foolish and had nothing better to do with our money, we were into Christmas.  Not just into it, but WAY into it.  And the centerpiece of our yuletide obsession was the tree.  Each year we would go on a hunt for the ideal tree.  One that was tall, with lush, full green branches and a generous yet proportioned shape.  We would travel near and far, experimenting with the self cut variety and, when not felling our own tree, we would scour the local lots, thumbing our noses at lots that sold cut trees from anywhere but Vermont.

Fast forward eight years and there is a three year old and and eight month old in the picture and we were faced with the difficult decision of going "fake".   This was a nearly criminal consideration for two demented elves like the hubs and I, so we set about the process of searching for the perfect artificial tree.

After an exhaustive search, we plunked down an obscene amount of money on what promised to be a remarkably lifelike fake tree.   When it arrived in its giant box we looked upon it with a mix of skepticism and sadness as it marked the official end of the days of the glorious, pine scented, real tree. 

When we opened the box, the contents looked less than promising.  Threre were three dark green tree sections , each with its branches squished down against the trunk.   It looked more like something that had been run over than a woodland masterpiece.  My husband reassured me that once we fluffed out the branches, this would be a great looking tree.  I wasn't sure if he was trying to convince me or himself, but I breathed a heavy sigh, and we went about the business of unfurling the branches.

The tree had what seemed like 50 or so limbs, each of which had close to the same amount of iindividual, finger like branches.  Each of those branches had to be bent open.  We had started on the process of opening up the branches at about 11:00 am.  When dinner time rolled around and we were still unfolding, sustaining bleeding cuts and scratches up and down our arms, we wondered whether we had made a tremendous and costly mistake. 

Walking away from the tree to eat dinner gave us time to step back and think about our approach to the tree and when we returned to it, our zoomed out view provided us with a glimpse of what this tree could be.  The side of the tree that we had been focusing on was beautiful, lush and looked surprisingly real.   Over the next day and a half, we finished opening the branches, until what stood before us was an impressively full and natural looking tree.  We on the other hand, were less than impressive looking.   Our fingers, arms and legs were scratched, bleeding and bandaged. 

In the days that followed,we decorated the tree with countless strings of lights, wrapping them from deep witthin the core of the tree, out to the surface branches.  Then came bin after bin after bin of ornaments and every time we thought we were done, we would see bare areas that needed to be filled in.   By the time we had finally completed the decoration of the tree, a solid week had passed.  From that point forward, the long, arduous but ultimately rewarding procedure of assembling and decorating our fabulous fake became part of our Christmas traditions. 

All Christmases except this one, that is.   This year was absolutely crazy for my husband and I, work-wise.   He was travelling all over the place and I was embroiled in the largest and most complicated project of my career.  We did not have the time to dedicate to the complicated assembly and decoration of our fake tree.
 So what did we do instead?  We got a real tree.  The very thing that we had lamented giving up eleven years before.

Guess what?  I hated it.  Hated every last needle, every last branch.  We had purchased it in mid-December, and by the time Christmas rolled around, it was crispy, crunchy, dry and sad.  Which, in a way, represented the overall vibe of Christmas 2010.   This was a holiday season where we were too busy to slow down and enjoy all the things that come along with it and it was a year that in many ways, we broke with tradition.  It wasn't necessarily all bad, but it was different.

Another thing that is very different about this year is my New Years Resolution or just the fact that I have one.  I truly despise New Years resolutions. I think that they are just ways to set your self up for failure and self loathing by the time March rolls around.  Because of this and the fact that I believe that you should work on yourself throughout the year, not just at the end of it, I have never made one. . .until this year.   In 2011, I vow to go back to my artificial tree and to do my level best to avoid assignment to projects coming due in December. The sights and smells and tastes of  Christmas are meant to be savored.  I'll be damned if I choke down another fast-food style Christmas next year. . . or have another real tree.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Twelve Rounds With Mother Nature

Hey, Mutha Nature?  Wat up beyotch?  I keep hearing all over the television that you women of a certain age have tight and unyielding bowels (just ask Jamie Lee Poo Poo Yogurt). So why then, do you continue to "dump" the snowy contents of your intestines all over the greater NYC area  on a weekly basis?  Spike the Hotness Monster has had to to dip the former home of his manly nuggets in a snow bank to do his business for the past three weeks.  Every day I find him hanging from the side lights of our front door like a striped cat-sicle (see figure 1 below).


Your latest offering, bestowed upon us this morning, has gifted us with a delay in school opening and the delightful prospect of trying to drive to work in this mess.   At this point, I am thinking that you are going out of your way to harsh my gig.  One only needs to look back at your first snowstorm of the season, in which you inconveniently shat two feet of snow on our little town, the night before we were scheduled to leave for Atlantic City.   You underestimated me though, as while it took a little longer than planned to get there, my rump still managed to be parked at (alternatively) a bar stool and slot machine the following night.   Don't test me, bitch. 

Bitter and resentful of your inability to stop my own personal fun train, you gave us another two feet two weeks later.  This was obviously the result of some kind of menopausal midweek bender.  Tsk. Tsk.  A woman of your "maturity" should know that we don't process the booze as elegantly as we did in our twenties.  The result of this petulant act?  A snow day for the kids and a sanctioned work from home for me.  Ha! In your facial, harpy!

Today however, you might have me over a barrel.  School has a delayed opening and there's not enough snow not to go into the office, but there is enough to make getting to the office dangerous and slow going.  Well I'm here to tell you that it isn't over between you and me.  You may knock me down with this round, but you can't knock me out.  And remember, I took the first two rounds and there are many more left in the season.

My prediction?  One of us will face the spring on crutches, missing a couple of teeth.  My recommendation? Better put your dentist and your orthopedist on speed dial.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Hairy Dilemma

Middle age bites. There, I said it and I feel better.  No?

OK, OK you got me. That statement was false.  I mean, to some people, middle age might bite, but I  honestly don't mind getting older for the most part. There are some things - chin hair, being called 'mam, dealing with PTA mothers - that kind of suck but I still feel and think like a sixteen year old.   A sixteen year old with the advantage of having much better judgement and a full time job.  So on balance, it's really not a bad gig.

But there is a bit of push/pull between chronological age and mental age in certain circumstances.  For example, how long is it OK to wear teal nail polish without looking like a complete tool? Or, do you buy the giant hoop earrings at Hot Topic when you are shopping for your 12 year old, or do you keep on walking? And most importantly, how long is it appropriate to have long hair?

This question surfaced the other night while I was watching "It's Complicated" for the umpteenthousandth time. I don't know what it is about that movie, but I find it charming. I think I might just enjoy seeing Meryl Streep get stoned and bake croissants.  Anyway, I'm looking at Meryl, who has a good 13 years on me, but looks pretty good, and I'm wondering, would she look better/worse/older/younger with shorter hair? And, if I'm wondering this about her, is someone wondering this about me?

My friends and I have an inside joke about our mothers asking us when we are going to grow up and cut our hair. Why is it that short hair is viewed as "mature"? Quite honestly, I would prefer not to hear my name and the word mature in the same sentence. And when I look around at what my mother's generation might consider mature hair styles, the chunks come up at the back of my throat in what my daughter likes to call a "baby barf".

Let's explore what the "age appropriate" hair options are, shall we? For some reason, all middle aged women are portrayed as having a disobedient bowels, so let's check out the hair on some of the women in ads targeted at my demographic:

The lady from the Dulcolax commercial. Apparently, us middle-agers prefer mom jeans and a conservative bob for our ride on the poo poo blanket:


Jamie Lee Curtis sports a silver pixie and a big green couch to hawk her bowel stirring yogurt to constipated middle aged women:



And best of all, I found this blog offering tips for hairstyles that women over forty could consider because "beauty never stops". Here are some of the examples  They are lovely women, to be sure.  But, do they look like any forty year old women that you know or did this get cast from the local assisted living facility:

According to http://www.beauty-and-the-bath.com/Forty-Something.html, these are the styles that forty-something" ladies should be sporting.  Any one else want to join me on the ledge?  If these hairstyles are a sign of growing up, then I plan to be 16 forever.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

This is How We Do It

This is EXACTLY what my office is like. I loved this video for its pure silliness.  Warning about the language in the video. But then again, if you're worried about foul language, what  are you doing here?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You've Got Questions - We've Got Answers

Thanks to everyone who submit a question  against my last post.  People pleaser that I am, here are my answers:



Hokgardner,

My favorite place that I have visited would undoubtedly be Italy,  My father and his wife have gone to Italy  six times.  As we sat around on Christmas reminiscing about the trip that we took together in August, I expressed my interest in going back and my dad's wife said,  "Now you understand why we've gone six times and are looking to go back again.  Italy is magic."  And she was exactly right.


StephanieC,
You asked many, many questions, for which I have many, many answers. Here goes:


1) Spike, while still muy, muy, caliente, is indeed a nutless wonder. I am a firm believer in responsible pet ownership, so as much as I would have loved to have dozens of little hotness monsters prowling my neighborhood, I neutered him when he was six months old.

2) My favorite smell would have to be the smell of a homemade apple pie cooking in the oven. The delicious combination of cinnamon and baking apples reminds me of every family get together or holiday from my childhood.


3) The worst thing ever said to me at work was said by a coworker when I let out a somewhat forceful sneeze.  He stood up at his desk, turned around toward me and screamed at the top of his lungs "Make us all deaf, why don't you?"  I know that my sneezes would not fall under the description of "delicate", but his reaction was obviously the result of his narcotic drug use and general low IQ.


Rachel,

I currently have shades of brown, green and blue flowing harmoniously from my living room through to my kitchen.  The key to managing that flow of colors from room to room is to pick and use secondary colors.  For example, if your living room is open to your entrance hall, use the secondary (accent) color in your LR  fabrics and accessories in the LR to paint the entrance way.  This ensures a harmonious flow from one living space to the next.

What? You were expecting a smart-ass answer maybe? Sorry. This shiz is serious. 


LPR -
I hate to be repetitive, but my most memorable event from last year was my trip to Italy.  As a woman of (ahem) advancing years who had never traveled any further out of the USA than Aruba, I was completely unprepared for the beauty of the architecture, the landscape, the people and the food. 

When we first pulled in to Florence, we came in on the opposite side of the river from the city.  We were having difficulty finding our hotel, so we pulled into what looked like a huge parking lot.  What it really was was the Piazza Michelangelo, which is a monument to the artist and a scenic overlook to the city of Florence.  One look at that breathtakingly beautiful city and I felt my breath catch in my chest as I literally went weak in the knees.  It was an unforgettable moment.

My most memorable non-event would have to be the break up of my son's band.  Big whoop, right?  But I had grown very used to having a den full of teenagers every weekend and even more used to knowing that my so was doing something productive, creative and (most importantly) that I knew where he was.  I didn't realize how sad it would make me not to have that activity until it was gone.  The good news is that he has two new bands and, while he is taking both of them far less seriously than the prior band, my house is once again filled with music and jokes about genitals (they're 14 year old boys, I expect nothing less).
       
(Sigh)

Kat, 

Does Spike always come back?  Although he gets by on his good looks much of the time, Spike is smart enough to know when he's got a good thing.   He knows that for every time that he goes out to do his business, that he gets to come back in.  Each re-entry makes him eligible to have his food dish refilled.  It takes nothing more than a quick brush against our legs for us to merrily fill his food bowl again.  I guess that's what it's like when Megan Fox goes to a bar.  One brush past an empty headed dude and her glass is refilled.


Bossy Betty,

Here's the 411 on Spike -  My mother is a crazy cat lady.  When I got married, she went bonkers with some kind of empty nest syndrome and started feeding all the cats in the neighborhood.  Those that she could get close enough to pet and pick up, ended up in the house as spayed/neutered house cats.  Those who were skittish, remained feral and had litter upon litter of kittens under her shed.  

One day my son was playing in her backyard. He was just shy of three years old. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, this little gray and black stripped kitten ambles up to him, all friendly-like and got right in the middle of what he was playing with.   My son knew that the cats in grandma's yard were afraid of people, so he was surprised and delighted by his new found friend. 

My mother watched the entire thing in complete disbelief.  As soon as they came in for lunch, she immediately called me at work to tell me that my little guy had made friends with a feral kitten. How could we not keep him?  In a way, Spike chose my son.  My son bestowed the name Spike upon the little fella, after the dog from Rugrats. 

To this day, Spike comes running at the sound of my son's voice, sleeps on his bed and generally looks hot for him.  He's a great cat.  I hope he lives forever.

Kimberly,

Wow, that's quite a story.  I think that if you network and start reading and commenting on blogs that you used to visit (just like you did on this one) you can rebuild.  I'll be back.  And those that read my blog that remember you will likely come back too.  I linked your name back to your site.  Everyone! Go visit Kimberly!


Linda Medrano,

Here's the story behind the name of my blog  -  I initially created this blog so that I could chronicle and share the trials and tribulations of a bathroom remodel that we were doing with family and friends.  It was never intended to be something that I would make regular contributions to, but that's how it ended up.  Once I started writing, I couldn't stop. It was just too much fun and I was meeting too many cool people (like you) to stop.


Empress,

Oh, you want another music video?  OK, being that the last music video came from my trip to Italy, I thought this one was apropos:





Insanitykim,

1) Do you think I should start a blog that chronicles my response e-mails to all the spam I get, namely the ones that offer me $5,000,000,000.00 from an uncle/friend/dying person I never met? - YES! I think that's brilliant and you will never run out of material.


2) Do you say Long Island or LonGiland?  Multi-part answer:

Zero Cosmos - Long Island
1 - 5 Cosmos - Lawnguyliind
6+ Cosmos - hmammnmnerglefft (drool)
3) No, I am not afraid that my family tree has ties to the Sicilian Mob because, hello? Awesome! Imagine the designer shoes and bags I could score for nuthin.

Lin,

Stories about the kids?  Strangely, I never seem to run out.  What is that about anyway?
Well, what would Christmas be if we did not terrorize our families? Right? This year’s Christmas break saw my two little darlings locked in a battle of Facebook hackery, where they each tried to outdo each other by posting the most embarrassing/unflattering picture of the other. Needless to say, much fighting, yelling and general hilarity ensued. I’ll tell you this, I was so thrilled for the first day back to school that I found religions, yes, I said "religions".  As in ALL OF THEM.   And I offered praise and thanks to the collective deities of the world, for sending my children back to school.

Here's a random picture of Brownie, lookin all cute:


Mom of the Perpetually Grounded,
 
Am I ready for another bathroom?  Hell to the mothereffin NO.  Do I "need" to redo another one?  Sadly, yes.  And a powder room.  Collective deities of the universe, give me strength.

SurferWife,

1) Hey, I hate to go all "traditional" on you, but the standard answer to this is the best -

A woodchuck would chuck as much wood a a woodchuck could if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Maybe a better version of that question is "How much tree would Woody Harrelson smoke if Woody Harrelson could  smoke tree? Now that's much more quantifiable.

2) My choice between unwashed bedsheets or bath towel?  I would tie the two together and escape out the window of the filthy house that has no washing machine.

3) If I were in a band, I would call it the Dee Grundy and the Electric Toilet.  That's not really my name, but it fits with the toilet, in some unexplainable way.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, Fresh Start

See this picture?  This is the face of a very cold cat.  One who wants to get inside and into his warm spot behind the comfy chair in the living room, sooner than later.

But what else is this?  It is the same look that was on my face when my boss told me that we had to deliver a year's worth of a project in two and a half months.  The result? I have severely neglected my blog,  everyone got gift cards for Christmas because I had no time to shop and, when the project was finally over, I took a week and a half off work to scrub the prior ten weeks out of my head. 

Now that that cluster-F is over, it's time to get back to some serious  blogging.  Only problem is, my brain feels like a deflated balloon.  I have no ideas for postings and I don't seem to want to do much more than  sleep all day.  I need a shot in the arm, a  kick in the pants, a boost over the wall.   And you can help me.  Here's how:

Leave me a question in the comments.   The question can be about anything you want to know about (except s3x, I would only disappoint you)- chicken farming, the atomic weight of boron, why Spike is the hottest cat on the planet, anything.  And I will do my level best to answer.   My hope is that this will kick-start my brain into action and it will be all easy and downhill from there (delusional, no?).

Let's get 2011 off to an interesting start.   I look forward to your submissions.