Saturday, April 30, 2011

Moving

No, not physcially. Can you imagine? After everything?

I have finally decided to make the jump to a new blog -

Friday, April 29, 2011

I'll Show You Curves

I have a bone to pick with the media.

(And no, I'm not about to get serious on you about politics, or the lack of important coverage crowded out by festivities taking place across the pond. I mean, really, who are you talking to?)

Lately, it seems that different magazines have taken the stand that there is a new "trend" in Holloywood and on the runway. A trend towards the "curvy, voluptuous" woman. Some have gone so far as to say, the "real" woman.

Seriously?

I'll be the first to concede that not every female on TV currently looks like an Ally McBeal character. (Go back and watch some episodes and then try to figure out how every teen watching that show didn't end up with an eating disorder) But frankly, its insulting to be told that actresses like America Ferrera and Kim Kardashian are a sign of times changing. Have you actually looked at these women?

Maybe in early days of Ms. Ferrara entering the world of acting, the "Real Women Have Curves" era, would I feel I could relate to her, but now? She can't possibly be more than a size 8 (and if she is, get me her stylist PRONTO).



Kim Kardashian? Having a bubble butt does NOT qualify as being every woman. Maybe if the rest of your figure was proportionate to the one feature everyone focuses on, I could relate.





Now, one of the few current actresses who might actually have a dress in her closet I could wear (minus 5 pounds maybe) is Christina Hendricks. Or so I am guessing. "They" say she is a size 12. Every last pound of that girl is gorgeous. But, let's be real. Do you think Hollywood would be so accepting if her bust didn't have it's own gravitational pull?




So, if you are keeping track, Hollywood is telling us that it's ok to be a "big girl" so long as a) you aren't REALLY a big girl b) just your butt is big or c) your boobs are large enough that everything else looks substantially smaller.

I'm not saying that Hollywood needs to suddenly start scouring the Lane Bryant's of the world finding their next star. I would just prefer they stop trying to sell us on the idea that these actresses are a representation of "real" women.

Unless you bring back the Lillian Russel era. Then, we'll talk.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Not Invited

There is a lot of talk of this Royal wedding business. I, for one, can't seem to get excited about some people I don't know getting dressed up in clothes that probably cost more than my car, in an event that could easily pay my mortgage several times over.

Not a fan of the opulence.

But, after reading Girl Parker's post today about her willingness to lose sleep to witness the event via TV, I am beginning to understand the pull for some. Every little girl's princess fantasy.

Understanding where her interest stems makes my lack of interest even clearer.

I'm not saying there wasn't a Disney princess I wanted to be.

I was thrilled when the brunette, book-bearing Belle and her Beast showed up in the Disney repertoire. She was a girl I could relate to. But I far preferred her every day dress for roaming the town over that puffy yellow thing she waltzed around in. And I wondered what happened after her beast turned into a prince and she had to live the royal life? Something tells me she probably wasn't throwing lavish galas and hobnobbing with royalty from the next kingdom over.

And when it comes to princes...did you see the guy the Beast turned into? Man, did he look dull. I don't see him coming to my rescue when I'm about to be attacked by ravenous wolves in the forest.

I don't think that means that I lacked that sense of wonder as a child. My dreams involved singing like Patti Lupone or being the heroine of whatever book I was reading at the moment.

And my princes? Probably Muppets.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Time, For Real

I've begun working on my novel.

That looks so weird, sitting out there like that.

I feel kind of silly even saying it.

And yet, here I am. I've joined writer's groups. I'm reading books and sites about editing and outlining and all sorts of madness I've known about in a vague "I need to do that" sense, but not in detail.

I've put pen to paper and cranked out an opening sentence. Not necessarily the one I am in love with, but a starting point to get the story out.

I'm talking about doing NaNoWriMo in November. Making plans to attend a writing conference next year. I'm really, actually, maybe doing this for real.

Excuse me while I take a moment to breathe.

**edited to add a thank you, to Lori...without her kick in the pants, its likely I would not begin this scary journey to rejection. And possibly acceptance.

Do School's Kill Creativity?

I really love this and had to share. From both the student and teacher perspective, I couldn't agree with this more.

And, wow, this guy knows how to deliver.




Monday, April 25, 2011

Please Vote!

Hi blog readers!

Can you do me a BIG favor today? I entered a super condensed version of Jonas' birth story in a contest. The prize is $250, which regular readers know would be of great help to us here in the house of "only recently receiving income".


Then, if you are feeling REALLY helpful, email your friends, share the story on Facebook, Twitter, wherever you can, and get others to vote. The front runner currently has 120 votes, but they have had their story up for weeks.

Much appreciated! Real blogging to come later...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lazy Haiku.

Inspired by Girl Parker's Haiku Fridays, I bring you my day thus far:


Laundry completed
but posterior still grows
I should exercise.

Coffee cup empty,
motivation still hiding
why so elusive?

Internet siren
draws me in with funny blogs
my own pages blank.

Need ejector chair
not comfy swivel seating
propelling me on...

Sitting continues
greater catalyst desired
brew another cup.




Monday, April 18, 2011

Lullaby

Jonas is not much of a sleeping fan, and would much rather be at the park, doing his ABCs, or any number of things, so this seemed apropos



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Fear

I have always loved writing. As far back as I can remember, its what I did. Hobbies and "passions" would come and go, but writing was a constant.

In elementary school, my stories were selected for published compilations. In fifth grade, I won an award for a speech writing/delivery competition. (Looking back I wonder what the judges thought about the 11 year old me delivering a speech about whether man had the humility to learn from the horrific results of dropping an atomic bomb versus others "My Day at Disney with Dad" speeches. Also, I used the word "unprecedented". It is entirely possible that other kids hated me.)

In a slam book from that same year, for the "what do you want to be" question, I answered "a writer".

In middle school I always opted for the extra credit writing assignments when they were offered, even if I didn't need the credit.

And in my AP English Comp class, one that was hated by many due to the very particular grading system our teacher used, I found I enjoyed the challenge of the daily writing assignments, demanding that we be interesting as well as understand the use of alliteration, parataxis and asyndeton.

So why, in my thirty something years, am I not promoting my next novel, or proudly pointing out my latest book in the Barnes and Noble window?

I'm afraid.

I've been in love with writing for so long. It's been there for me through every up and down. When life is hard, my notebook and I find a quiet spot in a tree or a coffee shop and get lost in each other. We cry together, laugh together, we understand each other; all without judgement.

I'm afraid of the third party. I'm afraid to introduce someone new to this relationship. Someone who might tell me that we aren't right for each other. That I'm not good enough. That I should move on.

So, do I continue on as I have, just sharing the surface of my relationship with writing, in blogs and occasional freelance projects, but keep the rest to myself? Or do I take a chance and really put it all out there?

I think I know the answer. It's just a matter of actually allowing myself to act.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It Begins!

As promised, today begins the "do the right thing" plan when it comes to eating and exercise. I have a few friends that have been willing to join me in my quest, so for today, I share with you something delicious and fairly healthy.

Roasted Cauliflower.

I have to tell you, its deliciousness is quite surprising...and the simplicity of the dish even better.

Very simply, I lightly coated a chopped up head of cauliflower in olive oil, tossed some crushed walnuts, threw it all on a cookie sheet with some salt and set the oven to 450. About 35 minutes later, took it out, piled it on a plate with a little lemon chevre and went to town.

There is no picture, 'cause I wolfed it down. Filling and DELISH. Highly recommend it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Work It Out

This post is for the ladies...

It's that time again...a time when I decide that I should probably pay more attention to what I am eating, and attempt to do something more active than updating my Facebook status on a daily basis.

But I need encouragement.

Given my lack of quality local girl friends with whom I am happy to commiserate over my ever expanding posterior...or more accurately "midsterior" (?) I would like to recruit you to get fit with me.

Be the Gayle to my Oprah. The...hmmmph...there seems to be a lack of famous girl pairings. Probably because they all move to L.A., lose weight and become mean. Probably the hunger that does it to 'em.

To that end, we will lose only enough weight that we don't start hating each other. Or eating our own hair. 'Cause that would be bad.

Details on how this will work to come. But in the meantime, who's with me?


Geekin' It

I've lately been getting in touch with the geek within.

Being a mom, I've put a lot of interests and activities on hold. Having a youngster under the age of 2 is pretty consuming in itself, so hobbies and games tend to take a backseat.

Given the recent loss of my laptop, I had an opportunity to express my geekness in new hardware, so I jumped at the chance.

Behold. Quad core processor with liquid cooling system, 1 TB drive, and all sorts of goodness. Isn't he pretty?




While he currently is mostly in use for posting photos and video of the little man, there is the promise of game time and other geek worthy pursuits.


Listening to: Against All Odds by The Postal Service (peeps...I am seriously behind in my music, please send recommendations)


Friday, March 25, 2011

Oh yeah...

I neglected to mention - J got a job!

He started about 3 weeks ago, working as a network engineer for Florida Hospital. It is a one year contract with potential for putting him into something long term.

So, while we still aren't sitting in a situation where we have any certainty about the future yet (we still don't even know what is going to happen with our house) we are in a better place then we were. And for that I am very grateful.

Baby steps.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hi-atus.

Hi.

I've been absent again. But I have the bestest excuse. Or worst excuse, depending on how you look at it. My laptop was stolen.

Yes. That's right.

And not from a laptop bag at a sketchy Starbucks (is there such a thing as a sketchy Starbucks?).

From my house.

A few weeks ago, as I was headed home from visiting a friend, I missed a call from my mother. I called right back to see what she needed and was greeted, not with a "hello" but with a rather tense sounding "where are you". My mother is not the type to call and rudely jump right into 20 questions, so I knew something must be wrong.

As it turns out, she was driving by my house and noticed a car in the driveway (not mine) and the door slightly ajar. Her first assumption was that I had a visitor who had just arrived. She paused momentarily, deciding whether or not she should stop and say hi, decided against it, and continued on to her house. Upon arriving home, which is about 30 seconds away, she rethought the situation and realized that my car was not there, so something was up. She turned the car back around and pulled up to my house, the foreign vehicle now gone. By the time I had returned her call, she was entering through my kicked in door and found Dudley (our dog) cowering and shivering in the bedroom, and all my bedroom drawers open. She grabbed Duds and took him to her house while calling the police.

By the time I got there, the police had arrived and were taking her statement. I then had to walk through with the officer to determine what was missing, damaged, etc and then write up my report. My laptop and most of my costume jewelry were gone, but likely due to the sound of my mom's car sitting in front of the house, nothing else was missing.

The worst part of it all is that feeling that you aren't safe in your own home. Locking the door really doesn't keep any one out. This feeling has made me jumpy and a bit sleepless the past few weeks, but I am getting better. So long as I don't have to sit in silence alone in the middle of the day.

In other news - Jonas took his first major trip. We flew to Seattle for my lovely, amazing, wonderful, there-aren't-enough-adjectives friend's wedding. And I DID post a blog entry about the favors I made for her wedding - but on her blog. So you can get caught up on that here.

Jonas was awesome on the very long, multi leg flight, thanks to a portable DVD player, Oswald, and The Wonder Pets.



Seattle itself suited him as well, as he woke, napped, and went to bed at perfect times. The downside was returning to Florida. He stayed on Seattle time up until about a week ago. I am pretty sure the lack of sleep I have endured in the past month has aged me a couple of years.

Listening to: The hum of my new computer (pictures to come)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Child Labor

Along with letters and numbers, it is important you teach your kid how to be useful at a young age.

I am looking forward to putting my house on "self clean" in the near future.

video

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Anatomy

A little science to compliment yesterday's math lesson...


video

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Numbahs!

It's been requested that there be more video documentation of the little man. So here ya go.

Number time. I'll try to be better about taking and posting more videos in the future.


video

Friday, January 14, 2011

Living Option #23

One of many housing ideas should we lose the one we are in currently...




(enjoy!)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Only one way to go from here...

Before I ramble about what would only be of interest to my good friends and family, its come to my attention that there have been a few more readers on the blog lately.

To you who are not the small handful of loyal readers, hello. Also, it should be pointed out that this blog was never created with the intention of entertaining the masses. It has always been an easy way to keep my closest (yet physically far) friends and family up to date on what has been going on in my life.

To the random passerby, I can easily see how stumbling across one of these posts could elicit a "who cares?" response. And I understand. I mean, you don't know me. Why do you care what I made for dinner, or about my latest unemployment woes? Why on earth would you want to hear me talk excitedly (and repeatedly) about my grand plans for losing weight? And for the childless among you readers, enough about your stinkin' kid already!

So, to any of you whose thoughts sound a lot like the previous paragraph, feel free to stay or go. Just be warned, these posts may bore you at times.


Having said all that, I've had quite the week. And not in the best way.

I came down with some cold/flu bug back in December that hung on for about 2 weeks. I seemed to be rid of it, and then early this week, a sore throat reared its ugly head. I was hoping it was just a sign of the lack of sleep that has become the norm for me, or the "cold" weather we've been getting here in Florida.

No such luck.

I relapsed. Hard. The coughing has been intense. And painful. Add to that having to be responsible for the little guy most of the day as J tries to recover from a messed up shoulder, and you have me walking around barely conscious.

You know what you need when you feel like that? A mini disaster that gives you heart palpitations. Let's see...how about your dog getting hit by a car? Right in front of you. And your child.

That's right. Dudley got hit by a car this week.

I was walking Jonas down to see my mom, and Duds slipped out of the house and followed us. We live in a small, quiet, residential neighborhood - no through roads. While I don't like him off his leash, I couldn't do anything at the moment with Jonas, so I let him continue to follow us. (For those who don't know, my parents live about 4 to 5 houses away - on a different street, but about that distance) Once there, I was poised to knock on the door when I heard the neighbor across the street come outside with her dog. At the same time, I could hear a car up the road. In an instant, I knew what was about to happen and stood horrified that there was nothing I could do to stop it. Dudley darted to see his doggie friend, the car (going faster than it should) came flying down, and SMACK!

My instinct was to run towards my dog. I actually started to take a few steps in that direction and realized I couldn't leave Jonas. Knocking on my mom's door, I saw Dudley jump off and run up towards our house.

In a rush, I told my mom that Dudley had been hit and I needed to go after him, handed off Jonas, and headed up the street, ignoring the man standing outside of his car, who up to this point had only said, "Did I hit him?" and "That wasn't my fault."

Back at the house, J was already on the lookout for Dudley, since he could hear that someone/thing got hit from the house. When I walked in the house, there was Duds, tail uncurled (a sign that he is sad) looking up at me with a frightened look on his face. I examined him head to toe, squeezing his limbs gently to see if he flinched or whimpered.

Aside from a few scratches, he was completely fine. Yup. Smacked by a car, totally ok.

Shortly after the accident, ok, but milking it for the camera.

I went back outside and calmly talked to the driver, who had followed me to my house and told him things were ok, and while I wanted to tell him he needed to reconsider the speed he chooses to cruise down the street at in a neighborhood full of kids and dogs, I decided that it was best that I just let it go.

To recap, up to this point, miserably sick, near heart attack over the almost loss of Duds...that's enough for one week, right?

Apparently, no.

Somewhere in the process of trying to massage J's messed up shoulder, and hacking my lungs up, I pulled MY shoulder.

So, as if the incessant coughing wasn't enough to contribute to my lack of sleep, now the shooting pains up and down my neck and shoulder would ensure that I only catnap.

That brings us to me sitting here, with a bag of heated rice slung over my shoulder, hacking away.

At least I can hold on to the hope that if your week is this crappy, it can only get better, right?

.....

In employment related news, there is no news. BUT, J is getting more calls from recruiters and even had an interview this week, which is a positive way to start the year. And a friend of mine who was let go from the same company I was, on the same day, finally found a job. Which makes me hopeful that things may start to turn around for the rest of us in the same boat.

Yup. Silver lining and all that.


Current Mood: Hopeful. And slightly cranky. Yes, you can be both.
Currently Listening to: the sounds of Oswald playing on the TV

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

I love my Wii.

Just putting that out there.

It is good for so much.

In the past 48 hours I have:

- Had a mini Office marathon
- Got my Nathan Fillion fix
- Played Jonas' favorite tune, the theme song to Psych, over and over and over
- Watched Blues Clues (again, Jonas' choice) at 2:30 in the morning
- "Biked" a couple of miles
- Worked on my balance
- Skateboarded
- Checked in on my weight (I am .2 pounds from the goal I am supposed to meet by Thursday, thank you very much)
- Watched a little Popeye* with Robin Williams


While I realize a lot of that involved TV viewing (Netflix on the Wii is awesome), it was mostly viewing with a purpose...things to occupy Jonas at weird hours of the night, things to play in the background while I got things done, etc. Better than channel surfing :)

So, thank you Wii. You may be yet another time waster in my home, but at least you do it with flair.


*Random fact: the baby that plays Sweet Pea in the Popeye movie, which was released in 1980, was born 22 days before me. Yes, random.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Look, Ma, No Hands!

I have never in my life baked without a recipe. I may have altered something slightly, like spices or flavoring, but the core of anything I baked was always based on something I found online, in a Gourmet Magazine, or a random cookbook.

I got to thinking, there has to be a science to all this baking business. After all, on TV I see people throwing things in a mixer without a recipe in sight, so what do they know that I don't know?

After some googling, I came upon an article in Fine Cooking that discussed the ratios in a standard cake. The article was brief and to the point and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand their baking ingredients.

The trouble with ratios is they are based on weight measurement. So when the article tells me that my sugar should equal my flour, it doesn't mean one cup = one cup. Sugar and flour don't weight the same, so throughout my attempt at a no recipe baking experience, I had to do estimated conversions.

Like, if sugar should equal flour, and I do 1 1/2 C of sugar, and a cup of sugar is approximately 7 ounces, then I need about 10 1/2 ounces of flour. If a cup of flour is approximately 4 1/2 ounces, then I need...2 cups and some more?

As you can see, much math was involved in this process. And I did not add "calculator" to my list of baking tools today, so there was some serious estimating going on.

But in the end, I did get a delicious cake. Moist, tasty, and perfectly cooked. If I felt anything was lacking, it may have needed the tiniest bit more flour flour or egg for structure.

Rather than make more frosting and slathering the entire creation in it, I used leftover frosting from the pumpkin cupcakes and only coated the inner layer and top.


I think the whole process would be even easier with a kitchen scale (it's on my wish list)...but it worked out...

Apple and Cranberry Spice Cake

8 oz butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 C sugar
3 eggs
3/4 C sour cream
slightly less than 2 1/2 C flour :)
1/2 t baking soda
2 t baking pwdr
1 T cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1/2 t cloves
1/2 t ginger
pinch salt
1 C chopped apples
handful dried cranberries

Cream butter and sugar. Mix all dry ingredients together.

Slowly alternate adding dry mixture to butter/sugar with adding eggs. Mix until smooth. Blend in sour cream.

Mix in apples and cranberries.

Pour into two round baking pans (greased) and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kiss the sky!

While my child is dragging his stomach along the floor, pausing to kiss it as he goes (thank goodness I bought a new vacuum and clean my floor on a more regular basis), I will take the moment to tell you about my latest attempts to lose weight.

It's come up several times on this blog, and the frequency with which I talk about it fluctuates about as much as the weight itself. As usual, my desire to get back to losing weight is attached to the need to get dressed up for an event. In this case, one of my very bestest friends in the world is getting married. In 4 weeks time, I would like to be able to wear a dress that does not resemble a tent.

Four weeks is not a lot of time. And to complicate things further, I am on a tight budget, which can sometimes make healthy eating a tougher choice. While grocery shopping at Publix the other day, I noticed that their cans of Slim Fast were on super sale. I realized that the "shake for breakfast, shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner" plan is not the BEST in the world, but it is easy. And in this instance, cheap. So, for the next month, that is the plan. Snacks are limited to unbuttered popcorn, veggies, and fruit.

Time for exercise still seems to elude me despite my lack of employment (with Jaycel cramming for his Cisco exams, I am chasing after Jonas a good part of the day). With that in mind, instead of insisting that I find a way to make it to the gym, I am just trying to make sure I do something each day, whether it be the Wii Fit, or walk with Duds.

I've already lost a couple of pounds, so it seems like a decent short term solution. We shall see what the next month brings.


...and for those of you thinking that I am going to find myself in trouble, what with all these posts about cupcake making being diametrically opposed to my plans for a slimmer me, I've been giving most of those cupcakes to friends and family. So, nyah.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I love all things pumpkin. Pie, soup, cake, bread...whatever else you can think of, I'm a fan. So a pumpkin cupcake was bound to happen.

I used a Martha Stewart recipe, based on descriptions that it was less "muffin-like" but didn't require any ingredients I didn't have, like, say, cake flour and buttermilk. I actually stuck to the recipe on this one, and they turned out really nice, although for my taste, I would up the spices and maybe even the pumpkin.

The frosting was the star again - a cream cheese frosting with just a hint of maple and cinnamon. As a tasty garnish, I placed a sliver of crystallized ginger on top. I use twice as much cream cheese as the traditional recipe, to give it a little more of that tangy-ness that makes cream cheese frosting so yummy.

Enjoy!


Pumpkin Cupcakes

Makes 18 (In my case, it made a dozen regular and two dozen minis, with about a cupcake worth of batter left)

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon coarse salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
* 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree. (And by whisk I mean, use your stand mixer :) )

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes (for regular sized cupcakes, 12-15 for minis)


Cream Cheese Frosting

2 packages of cream cheese (12 oz)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
3 cups of confectioners sugar (can be more or less depending on level of stiffness desired)
dash of cinnamon
2 T maple syrup (NOT extract)
1 T vanilla extract

Cream cheese and butter together, add syrup, then sugar one cup at a time. Add cinnamon as desired (if you like the flecked look, and the flavor, add much more than a dash)