Saturday, November 11, 2006

Books - October (8/5)

I read a few extra books this month to make up for last months slacking.

On the Edge of the Woods – Diane Tyrrel
A Fatal Thaw – Dana Stabenow
Answered Prayers – Danielle Steele
Birth: the surprising history of how we are born – Tina Cassidy
Liquor: a novel – Poppy Z. Brite
Ramona and her Father – Beverly Cleary
The Printer's Devil – by Paul Bajoria
Lakeside Cottage – Susan Wiggs

On the Edge of the Woods – Diane Tyrrel
This book kind of reminded me of a Victoria Holt book, except set in present day and a little bit earthier. It was an okay read. I got a Victoria Holt book out of the library after reading it though (see Nov) and it was much better. I had NO idea how much Victoria Holt wrote. /boggle. Over 200 books (under different pen names) -

A Fatal Thaw – Dana Stabenow
I thought I wanted to read a mystery, so I got this. It's part of a girl detective series set up in remote Alaska. There wasn't really anything wrong with it, and the details of Alaska life were interesting, but the characters weren't very compelling and I don't think I'll pick up another in this series.

Answered Prayers – Danielle Steele
This book was so lame. How can this woman sell so many books? It was about a woman with an abusive past, married to a dirtball man, and the book just kept going on and on about how pathetic she was, and how many bad things she'd been through. Over and over and over again. It would say that her husband was cold, and then repeat it to me so many times I actually felt insulted. Like did she think I couldn't remember? L – you could write so much better than this.

Birth: the surprising history of how we are born – Tina Cassidy
This was non-fiction and I really liked it, and learned a lot of things I never knew. For example, there was a bad time during the Industrial Revolution when a lot of women had rickets (no sun or fruit) and their bodies wouldn't grow and their pelvises were too small to have their babies. I learned about Twilight Sleep and wondered if that's how my grandmother's delivered my parents. It is a lot worse than it sounds. I read about how men couldn't be in hospital rooms and briefly felt proud of how much we'd progressed. But then I read on and agreed that my experience having my husband in the room was not all that great. He didn't know what to do and I felt like I had to be brave for him because he was so worried about me being in pain. Now I think it might have been nice to have my sister there, or a woman friend, or maybe a trained doula. But having husbands in the room is what we do now, just like having having epidurals and babies sleep-in, and scheduled c-sections. We always think that what we're currently doing is "the best and most enlightened," but it seems that women's birth experiences through history are mostly a product of what is acceptable to society at the time, and will continue to evolve and change.

Liquor: a novel – Poppy Z. Brite
This book was set in New Orleans and was about the restaurant world. I really liked it, with just a couple of reservations. These 2 guys come up with an idea for a trendy restaurant and the book takes off from there. I wish they had just stuck to the story, but the author decided to make it into a thriller. The part of the book about what goes on behind the scenes with chefs and line cooks and sautee and desserts, etc.. that part was great, and the thriller part you can kind of disregard if you want and just enjoy the restaurant scene. The other thing that wasn't quite for me was that the 2 guys were gay. I don't have anything against gays, but I don't really like reading romantic scenes between 2 guys.

Ramona and her Father – Beverly Cleary
This is a kid's book from the Ramona series. It's the story of Ramona's perspective of her dad's being out of work and quitting smoking. This is a fun series for kids and I got it because it would be safe car listening for DD.

The Printer's Devil – by Paul Bajoria
This book was pretty well done, set in London a few hundred years ago during early printing presses. The main character is an orphan apprenticed to the printer and gets ] involved in a mystery trying to discover what happened with a mysterious boat shipment from India. There were interesting characters, and the setting really made the story. I think this would be appropriate for young adult age.

Lakeside Cottage – Susan Wiggs
Trite romance about a single mom that goes to stay at her family's lakeside cottage for the summer and finds romance. Pretty good for what it was.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Grey (and other stuff)

It started one day when I was primping in the bathroom at work and saw a glint of something in my hair. Much to my horror, it was a grey hair. And not just a little bit grey at the roots. The entire strand was silvery pale! I tried to chalk it up to a fluke, but I remained unconvinced. I was hypersensitive about grey hairs. The more I looked, the more I found. All of them completely grey. I thought going grey started at your roots and grew in that way, giving you time to adjust and make decisions. I didn't know it would invade all at once. Like aliens.

I asked my stylist if she thought it looked grey and she asked if I would like "highrights" (no, I still haven't found an English speaking stylist - see previous entry) because they would hide it. Frankly, I didn't feel like I could trust her. (See a different previous entry where my eyebrow waxer told me I should wax my lip.)

I finally gave in and bought a box of hair color that I put on myself and no one has seemed to notice, which is good. I'm only 33! I am too young to have grey hair. And even though Lala thinks it's amusing, and claims that she won't fight growing old, I dare her to go grey before 40 and see if she doesn't do something about it.

Plus, I just have to say that this week's Battlestar Galactica was possibly the best ever. I predicted what happened with Starbuck actually, but I still cried. So sad! But the worst was the beginning. oh man. How do those writers take someone and make me hate them, and then make me like them and then make me cry for them? Most shows these days (Lost is an exception) don't change your feelings toward the characters. You pretty much feel the same about them from week to week, while still being entertained by their stories. Good job to the writers and actors that have raised the television bar.

The paper shredder is safely stashed away under DH's desk.

I didn't get any catsup packets last week.

My latest attempt at quick cooking burned me out. I would make 2 huge meals on Sundays and then heat them up during the week for leftovers. I'm done with that though. We've wasted too much food, and I'm so tired by Sunday night and it takes half of my weekend (while DH watches football all day, so I get mad) and then the kitchen is trashed all week. I might just start making a huge batch of spaghetti (DD calls it sableckley) and letting them eat that. I doubt it if either of them would complain.

I was reading old blogs and saw that in February I was losing 2 lbs/wk. if I hadn't quit I'd be down at least 50 lbs now! Alas. Today I decided to diet and last until about 4pm when I remembered that I had made chip dip and had a bag of chips in the pantry. I really should start dieting when I don't have so much junk food in the house.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Catsup Catastrophe

Chick Fil A gave me this entire bag full of condiments and a stack of napkins thicker than a dictionary at lunch on Monday.

Granted, I called ahead food for 12 people, but we had condiments back in the office so I didn't ask for any at the store.

It wasn't until I got back to work and started handing around the food that I realized they'd included a full-size fast food bag of condiments. What an extravagant waste.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils

If you've read my blog you'll see that I've switched us over to free-range animal meat, and locally raised eggs and beef, and organic products. I've also been converting to non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners and detergents (thanks in part to Lahdeeda. Here's what we're using - Let me know if you want to sign up for them so I can get credit!).

Then this vegetable oil thing came up. DH kind of started it, nagging me about margarine. I really like margarine on toast. Really like, as in favorite food. He bought this tub of margarine alternative, but it makes the bread soggy on toast or grilled cheese sandwich, and forms a watery looking puddle in a pan if you melt it. I fully intended to stick with my stick of margarine, but finally decided to do some research on it.

Apparently there is solid scientific evidence that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is directly related to heart disease. There are entire countries in Europe that have banned it. NYC is considering banning it from all restaurants and street vendors, etc. Wendy's has gotten rid of it and so have some other places. This stuff is bad news. I have been aware of "trans fats" and that they're bad and so I try to buy stuff without them (excepting my stick margarine), but get this - the FDA allows companies to put "0 Trans Fats" on their labels as long as there is less than .5 g per serving. So these companies are just making their serving sizes extremely small, but the trans fats are still in the foods! A lot of trans fats. You have to read the ingredients to find them though. Research shows that even the smallest amounts of these is bad for your heart. There is no minimal healthy amount you can eat. Not only do PHVO's raise your bad cholesterol, but they lower your good cholesterol.

The night I did all this reading I stayed up 'til 3am, going through our pantry and setting out every food that had PHVO's on the nutritional info. It was in a number of things, here's where it was mostly - microwave popcorn, cake mixes and frosting, instant hot chocolate, instant oatmeal, dehydrated soup, chips, stovetop stuffing, crackers, fish sticks, ice cream sandwiches. Mainly, it's in the foods that don't resemble foods so much any more. Lots of convenience foods. The most surprising find was in Quakers Heart Healthy Oatmeal. DH just about flipped his lid. I think he wants to sue!

It was his birthday this weekend, and he wouldn't touch a cake with all this stuff, so I found an organic cake mix and frosting mix and made it with butter instead of margarine. The frosting is sooo good, but the cake was a little dusty tasting. I will probably have to start making more things from scratch. I made the best ever blueberry muffins last weekend.

We're making slow progress, but we have a few hold-outs. My stick margarine is still in the fridge and DH put the stovetop stuffing back in the pantry. I have only used butter so far though, and I may try to learn to make stuffing from scratch. The hardest part I think will be the eating out. You just don't know what these places are putting in their food. I grilled six chicken breasts today and boiled some eggs and fried some bacon and I'm planning on having salads all week with carrots and cucumbers and maybe a little lettuce.

No spinach though. Pretty soon nothing will be safe to eat but what we've grown ourselves.

Long Enough Jeans

Long enough jeans are something most people take for granted. Try finding jeans with a 36" inseam in a plus size though! I wear capris all summer and in the winters I have to wear dress pants or else jeans that are slightly, (like an inch) too short. I finally got some long jeans though, and I love going barefoot in them and seeing just my toes peeking out. I could wear a heel with them and it would look right, and I'm no longer seeing glimpses of my socks when I walk by a full-length mirror.

I wore them out shopping on Saturday and it rained. The back of the jeans by my foot got wet from puddles and slapped against my heel. It was uncomfortable, but I was happy about it. I never knew that happened. It's like a whole new pants world out there now.

Books June-Sept (18/20)

Black Dahlia – Nora Roberts
The Giver – Lois Lowry
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares
Tangerine – Edward Bloor
Replay – Sharon Creech

Black Dahlia is typical Nora Roberts, but know that it's the first of a trilogy. I wish I'd known. I don't mind finishing a campy romance, but I'm not really into committing to a trilogy of it. The Giver was the best book I read in June, and Replay was the worst. Traveling Pants was good. I'd have liked it at 15 or so. Tangerine was kind of weird but not in a great way.

"B" is for Burglar – Sue Grafton
A Great and Terrible Beauty – Libba Bray
Rebel Angels – Libba Bray
Our Man in Havana – Graham Greene
"C" is for Corpse – Sue Grafton

DH checked out a bunch of the Sue Grafton books on CD and that's what was in the car, so that's what I had to listen to on the commute. They are crap. After 3 or 4 books I still don't care about the characters, the plot devices are totally contrived, and they are very predictable. The 2 Libba Bray books were fun though, kind of goth and dark and Elizabethan and young. The best book this month was Our Man in Havana. It was subtle and funny and made me LOL.

"D" is for Deadbeat – Sue Grafton
Modesty Blaise – Peter O'Donnell
My Life on a Plate – India Knight

I am sure I read 5 books in August, but I am drawing a blank. Good thing I was ahead for the year already. More Sue Grafton nonsense. I read Modesty Blaise for my book club. It was fun, it was like a woman 007. My Life on a Plate was one of those britcom mom books, kind of Jennifer Weiner-esque, but edgier.

Housekeeping – Marilynne Robertson
Confessions of an Ugly Step-sister – Gregory Maguire
Forestwife – Theresa Tomlinson
Spinners – Donna Jo Napoli
The Book of the Lion – Michael Cadnum

Housekeeping was like an Oprah book or maybe like Snow Falling on Cedars. It had a lot of imagery and beautiful writing, but it was also dark. Its themes were about beauty and abandonment and loss and gypsies. It was kind of haunting, and I'm not sure if I liked it or not. Book of the Lion was mediocre.
I took DD to the library and she was causing a ruckus and ended up putting a bunch of books from a fairy tale display in my bag. I like fairy tales so I kept them - Confessions was a great re-telling of Cinderella and an interesting angle. Forestwife was Maid Marian, and it was very juvenile. I really liked Spinners at the beginning (Rumplestiltskin) and I even wanted to start knitting again (since I will never learn to spin or weave) but I hated the last page. It ended far too abruptly.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Food Lion

I feel like I've hit the healthy food jackpot. Food Lion. Can you believe it? Back in Fairfax the Food Lions were a little scary. They looked old and unswept and wilted. Gangs were hanging out in front of the one we normally went to, and motorcycles raced by outside.

We moved out here and were told that the best place to shop is Martin's (a spin-off of Giant). Apparently it's popular because it... has an olive bar? because it... *thinks* um, has a lot of kid push/truck carts? Probably because it serves coffee? I don't know. I hate it. It's always totally crowded on weekends, and all of the organic foods are mixed in with everything else, so I have to shop the whole store to get what I want.

Did I mention we've switched to organic? All organic dairy products (cheese can be hard to find), humane raised meat for the most part, and organic fruits/vegetables unless they have thick skin that you discard like oranges and bananas. It's more expensive, but we eat less of it. Like I don't just dump cheese on things because I know it cost like triple what regular cheese cost. We also eat out a lot too, and then all bets are off.

Anyway, so 2 weekends ago I went to Food Lion to find something Martin's didn't have (distilled water) and voila! What is this? A whole section of organic items! Including cleaning and beauty products, and even the freezer and refrigerator items! Wait, it gets better - so I went back this week and found free range, organic chicken breasts in the meat department! *faints*

I just haven't been able to bring myself to buy chicken since I found out about the animal cruelty, so we've just been avoiding chicken (much to the dismay of DH). I was going to buy local chicken, but dealing with a whole, bone-in, skin-on chicken was too daunting, plus I'd have to go out to a farm an hour away to pick it up.

I couldn't be happier about the Food Lion here. The store is clean and uncrowded, the organic section actually has a little wood floor, the produce looks crisp, and the international section was huge too, and I can get everything I need for dinner for a week in a half hour.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Maid Update

There are three reasons I'm letting the maid go:

1 - After the first cleaning, she just does surface cleaning. Like, I can spray/wipe the toilet and use a swiffer myself.

2 - She wears totally inappropriate outfits. Last time she was wearing tight jeans and a glittery spaghetti strap tank top and no bra. Good for her that she has a nice body, but when she is so blatant it makes me question her motives.

I could have tolerated the first 2 things a while longer and given her the benefit of the doubt, but the third thing is the real clincher.

3 - After the last time she was here I noticed I was missing some prescription pain killers. I don't know for sure that she took them, but I know I didn't finish them and we haven't had anyone over since the last time I checked the bottle. Also, the bottle was definitely moved during the course of the cleaning, pushed to the back of the top of the fridge and hidden behind some other stuff.

I don't have proof that she took them, but I have too many suspicions to be able to feel comfortable having her over again.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Healthy Eating Plan

I am trying to find a balance between quick cooking and healthy cooking. We usually get home between 7-7:30 and DD is supposed to be in bed by 8:30. I want to do a family dinner where we all sit down at the table 3 nights/week.

Sound impossible? It probably is. DH and I have both put on weight since we moved out here. I figure it's the combination of 3 more hrs/day sitting (commuting) and more fast food meals (sadly, eaten in the car during said commute).

This weekend I browned 3 lbs of ground beef. Last night I used 1/3 of it in spaghetti and we can have it for lunch leftovers at work. I put the rest of it in the fridge.

Tonight I used it to make tacos for dinner. I made my own taco seasonings with herbs, tomatoes and green peppers that I grew (recipe to follow), and we had wheat tortillas, organic cheese, and local corn. On Wed. I'm going to use the rest of the meat in beef and bean burritos. It's a heavily beef week, but I think less variety will make things faster. Next week will be chicken week.

Stan Livingston's Tacos

chopped garlic
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp each of oregano, garlic salt, onion salt, paprika, chili powder
pinch of ground red pepper (I left that out)
2 tomatoes, chopped
3/4 C water
olive oil
I added a green pepper chopped up very fine

You add all of that to drained ground beef and let it simmer for a while. Right before I served it I added fresh oregano and cilantro.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Whole Foods

Finally, a place to shop for humanely raised meat! Organics are good and fine, and although I knocked them in a previous post, we actually had already made the switch to organic milk and yogurt (which imo, if you only switch to one organic thing, it should be milk, and if you only do it for one person in your family, it should be your daughter).

There are lots of places to buy organic food, but just because something is labelled organic, doesn't guarantee anything about how the animals were treated. It looks like Whole Foods is setting standards for compassionate treatment of animals, and has plans to do even more.

They're opening a store that I'll be driving by twice a day on my regular route, woot! I just hope it doesn't smell like a health food store. Whenever I walk into one I lose my appetite. I don't even know what it is, maybe the vitamins?

I'm also thinking about trying distilled water for a couple of weeks, but I'm still a little divided on that.

Friday, July 07, 2006

What Not to Watch

There are 5 hours of What Not to Wear on tonight.

Heeeelp meeeeeeee!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Real Trip

I used to write home about all of the embarrassing things that happened to me. My family would like this one -

I was putting gas in the car and decided to step over the hose and wave to my daughter in her carseat in the backseat. I cleared one leg, but my back leg hooked on the hose and I started falling. I kept shaking it and raising it to get it loose, but it wouldn't come free!

So not only am I tripping in a gas station with all these people around, but I'm also terrified that I'm going to rip the hose out of the car and spray gas everywhere. At the last second when I realized I was going to fall for reals, that all the leg manipulations weren't going to free my leg, I saw the luggage rack on top of the car and grabbed for it. I got it!

I held on for dear life, and managed to hang on through my impact with the side of the car. I ended up face flat against the car, dangling from my one arm, foot still caught on the hose.

My daughter wasn't the only one laughing at me.

It was okay though - because I had the most embarrassing moment of my life in high school, and I don't think I will ever top it. I was lined up to get the rebound from the other team's free throw at a big high school basketball game. I thought I saw her shoot the ball, and started to go into the key. She hadn't let it go though, and I didn't want her to get a free shot. I figured if I kept my feet on the floor I could lean in a little and catch myself on my feet a second later when she shot.

She never shot the ball.

I just slowly...
fell into the key and landed on my hands.

My coach fell off the bench laughing. Everyone in the stands was laughing. They had to stop the game because the refs were laughing. The girl didn't make her shot because she couldn't stop laughing. The coach got it on VHS and played it for all his classes. The whole school laughed.

At least after all that I don't get truly embarrassed by things. Tripping at the gas station is so minor. Nothing can top my whole hometown laughing at me.

-Not when I forgot to buckle my belt or do up my zipper and walked in front of a full auditorium of students when I was in college.
-Not when I fell in a parking lot walking to lunch with my co-workers and landed sprawled on my belly.
-Not when I was trying to be cool talking to a guy in the mall and walked right into a pillar.
-Not when I tried to jump over the wet concrete patio stairs at my house and whacked my head on the overhang and landed on my back in the front yard.
-Not when I was boating with a guy I was trying to impress, and as I smiled at him over my shoulder getting off the boat I missed the dock entirely and fell right into the lake.
-Not when I was trying to cross an icy parking lot entrance on foot and kept falling so many times I finally had to crawl the rest of the way in front of a whole bunch of gawking drivers.
-Not when I sent a kiss-up email to my boss and accidentally copied the whole company on it.

And that's not even all.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Maid to Order

I've been looking for someone to help out with cleaning my house, and last week I finally found a listing on Craigslist by a woman offering cleaning services in my area. I was thrilled! Living out in the country, I was sure I'd have to either clean my own bathrooms (read: have messy bathrooms) or pay way too much for a professional service.

So I called her up and set up an appt. for her to come over and look at our place and give me a quote.

I've had a couple of other experiences with house cleaners. They're usually immigrants that don't speak much English and/or are generally unobtrusive, nonthreatening, almost shy. They usually show up in a t-shirt and jeans, don't say much and get right to work.

Well, this new cleaning lady showed up Monday, and ...

Totally Hot.

She wore a cleavage shirt and jewelry and she's tan and has nice hair and a nice bod. She looked and sounded prosperous and educated. She has no kids and probably a very clean house.

But here's the thing - I feel like I should pre-clean for her, because she is too cute to know about our messes. I don't want someone like that to know how sticky my dining room floor gets after DD spends 2 weeks dropping peaches, cooked carrots and oatmeal on it.

This woman is not inconspicuous or anonymous enough to clean houses. She reminds me of the moms in my moms group - the exact women that I don't want to see that I haven't dusted since we moved in, and that my bras are hanging up to dry in the laundry room. I still hired her to come over twice a month to do the kitchen and bathrooms, but somehow her hotness has tainted my happiness at finding a maid service.

At least for once my frugal DH isn't complaining about paying someone money to clean for us. ;)

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Spontaneous Haircut - This morning I had this one lock(?) of hair that kept falling into my eyes. I couldn't spray or tease it back. So I CUT IT SHORT. Then I looked at it and was mortified. It looks like I have a normal hairstyle with grown out bangs, except for this crooked short bit right in front!

So I cut more.

It's all right, I guess. No one has said anything, so I don't think you can really notice it, and at least it's out of my eyes.

The OTHER hair related thing that I forgot to put down yesterday - I went and got my eyebrows waxed yesterday at this place I've been going to since I moved to Fairfax. I hadn't gone for a year or two though, eyebrow sleekness not being high on my priority list lately. Anyway, so I laid down on the chair thing and she goes, "Eyebrow and lip?"


I don't think I have a 'stache! UGH. I have to believe that she only said that because she gets more money by terrorizing her customers into thinking they need a lip wax. I wavered for a moment, because what if I have an offensive, caterpillar lip!? But then I said no, just eyebrow. I am willing myself to believe that a little bit of blond hair on the corners of my upper lip is not noticeable and that everyone doesn't think I have a 'stache.

What I'm Reading

We all went to the library the other night. I was watching DD and told DH to get me a good book on CD to listen to. He picked out a campy Nora Roberts romance. My favorite part is on the back it refers to the... "Ruggedly Handsome Landscaper" I've listened to an hour of it so far. It's exactly what I expected. ;)

We're also listening to Tuesdays with Morrie, thanks to a recommendation from L. (I should come up with a nickname.)

She mentioned lying to herself about caffeine. I am so all about that. I am not dieting, but I've tricked myself into losing 3 lbs.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I think genealogy is so neat! I've been trying to get more info on DH's side of the family, but I'm not very good at researching yet so progress is slow (okay, there is no progress, I admit).

Thanks to my religious background, a lot of research has already been done on my own side of the family. After getting bummed out about not finding a lead to DH's roots in one night, I went to a church website where anyone can load up their family info and after a while I spotted a branch on my dad's side that took me back 26 generations! I'd seen my dad looking at it before but it was fun finding it myself and putting it into my free genealogy software. :)

I traced roots back to Castle Cary, in Somerset England. Sounds like my kind of place!

It's too bad there aren't any stories about who these ancestors of mine were, or what their lives were like. Part of the path went through an Archdeacon, and part through a woman whose last name was Knight. It's also really humbling to see how many children died in infancy.

There are so many things that you can wonder about a person even if all you know are some names, dates and places! I wonder who did all of this research?

Here's where I had the best luck searching, but it might not be effective if you don't have (long lost) relatives uploading info.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

MNO - Mom's Night Out

Last week I went to dinner with a bunch of other moms that have kids the same age as DD. We met through a hospital group just after our kids were born, We were all first time moms, we were tired, overwhelmed, confused - we bonded. As we figured things (motherhood) out, we stopped going to group, but started once a week playgroups. And a summer picnic, a Christmas party, a birthday party for the kids, a book club, and dinners out with just the moms now and then.

As I've gotten to know these women over the past couple of years, I've realized how dissimilar our lives are. Some work, some don't. Some have had trouble with their marriages or finances. Most seem to be pretty well off, educated, and have a sense of style. One thing that's been interesting is getting a glimpse into a more prosperous life-style.

It turns out all of the moms still have baby gates up (except me). None of the kids sleep in their parents' rooms (except mine). They don't let their children go anywhere in the house unescorted. They certainly wouldn't let them play alone in a room. I listen to how busy their weekends are with swim lessons, gym classes, sign classes. One of them is having a Latin woman come into their home just to speak spanish to the toddler.

Anyway, so here's the thing. There isn't anything wrong with what they're doing. They are happy, they've got a purpose. They're friendly and nice to me. Their kids still go through the same phases as mine does. I like them.

I guess it's like taking a peek at a life that I'll never have. I want DD to have opportunities, but somehow I think that in the end, she will know just as much if not more about the real world if I let her fall off the bed a couple of times and eat non-organic food. I still don't know if I'll put her in public school, but she knows how to walk up and down the stairs now on her own, and instead of babyproofing the whole house I've taught her to what not to touch and now we're working on obedience.

Notwithstanding, I still come away from my encounters with these moms with a feeling that I should be doing more.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Paper Shredder Update

The paper shredder is back! It used to be in the ottoman, but it's been displaced by a whole bunch of seasons of the X-Files. So now it's just sitting out on the floor next to the ottoman.

It could be there a long time.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Catsup Packet Update

Today they only gave me three catsup packets. That's the least amount I've ever been handed at a McDonalds drive-thru.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sesame Place

We took DD to Sesame Place this weekend. It was so fun!

She's a pretty timid kid at heart, which was fairly obvious when we got to the front of the line for the "bug" ride, and we had to shamefully leave without riding, because she was pitching such a fit. This was partly a mistake on our part, since we forgot she is afraid of bugs, and this looked like a giant bug. ;)

Then we saw a man-sized Grover walking around, so we ran over to let her meet him and get a picture. She freaked out, with much scrambling of arms and legs to get as far from Grover as possible. The same thing happened with Ernie a few minutes later, but we did manage to get a picture.

There are a few shows in the park, with the life-size characters. We went to a couple of them, and DD stared so seriously at them the whole time. At one point in one of the shows all of the characters ran off-stage for a second, and DD looked worried and said, "Where did they go?!" So I *think* she enjoyed the shows, but it was hard to read on her face.

So here's what she really liked - the swimming pools and water stuff. There were a ton of places where the ground sloped directly into a wading pool, and there would be little fountains with squirty water. We spent a lot of time playing in those types of areas with her. Only one place had a toddler sized slide with water running down it. We hit that one first, and were glad, because it looked pretty crowded later that afternoon.

She went on a couple of rides with us where you go on an inner tube down a water slide. I think those are so scary! You're up so high, and it seems like if you aren't sitting balanced in the boat it might flip out of the ride. Or like what if you fell out, would a single person fly out? yikes. DD thought they were pretty scary too. ;)

It was a fantastic day and I would totally go again. Hopefully I can find a swimming place somewhere around here with kiddie wading pool so we can let her do more stuff like that without the drive.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Book List - April&May 14/10

As promised, I'm posting my belated book list. In tracking my books, it's become totally obvious to me that I find something I like to read and obsess about it until I've read them all. I had no idea. I mean, I knew that I preferred certain authors, but this is ridiculous. You'll see what I mean once you get to May...

April 5/5
She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb
Sackett – Louis L'Amour
Trail to Peach Meadow Canyon - Louis L'Amour
The Happiest Toddler on the Block – Harvey Karp
Sackett's Land – Louis L'Amour

She's Come Undone was SUCH a downer. Nothing went right for the main character. Just when I would think it couldn't get any worse, it would. And it would be A LOT worse. My biggest pet peeve about it though was the review which said, "[This book] whisks you on a wild journey through life with an unforgettable heroine, both heartbreaking and comical. In [this] remarkable coming-of-age odyssey, a lonely girl satisfies her cravings for love and happiness with her own unsettling solutions. ... [Author] paints such a realistic picture of a young woman's inner world that you'll have trouble convincing yourself he never was a teenaged girl." Sounds pretty good, huh? Let me tell you, it was never comical, her cravings for love and happiness were not satisfied, and this is not remotely a realistic picture of the lives of young women. Don't read this book.

I decided to start reading the Sackett books because I was so appalled at the language and content of She's Come Undone that DD (dear daughter) was being exposed to as I listened in the car. Now and then she would repeat a word she recognized like Snake or Food. I read the Sacketts when I was younger and loved them. They're very good for what they're trying to be - basically the story of the U.S.'s beginnings as told by 3 families. As a child I liked the history. As an adult I enjoy the author's storytelling and colorful language. It's like listening to an old cowboy tell a story. Also, the reader they got to do the recordings is great.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block is a child-rearing book. It was interesting and we've had pretty good success trying some of his strategies. I especially like "the fast food" theory, which is to repeat back to the child what he has said. That's not a new concept in communication, but it was new to me to do it with an angry toddler. Instead of trying to distract her with something when she's mad, I repeat her feelings back to her in similar tones to what she's using and let her know that I heard what she wants and show her by mirroring her emotions that I know she's upset. Imagine how you'd feel if you asked your boss for a raise and he responded by ignoring your question and offering you a new office chair. We've been able to derail a lot of her tantrums early by doing this.

May - 9/5
To The Far Blue Mountains – Louis L'Amour
The Daybreakers – Louis L'Amour
Living Dead in Dallas – Charlaine Harris
Club Dead – Charlaine Harris
Dead to the World – Charlaine Harris
Dead as a Doornail – Charlaine Harris
Real Murders – Charlaine Harris
A Bone to Pick – Charlaine Harris
The Julius House – Charlaine Harris

My secret is out. I'm a Charlaine Harris junkie. In addition to these, so far in June I've read 6 more in 9 days. She's basically got 3 mystery series, all set in the South with female leads with a wry sense of humor and a knack for finding dead bodies and solving whodunits. I realized finally that I'm not reading them so much for the mysteries as I am for the characters. It's like with Monk, the TV show. You partly watch it for the mystery but mostly because it's fun to see how he reacts to the situations he's forced into by his various cases. I enjoyed these so much that it inspired me to write my own mystery series. I've already got some ideas, so we'll see how it goes.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Help Me.....

It's 2am and I can't stop watching TLC.

(It doesn't matter how much I watch it, I still have a closet full of what not to wear.)

Long Time No See

I love our new house. Even now that we've been doing the commute for 2 months, I would still rather live here than in a tiny condo close to work.

I can't decide what I want to do with the garden. There are only 2 spots that get enough sun to grow vegetables. One's up by the street, so that's out. The other is in the backyard and it would take away one of the only flat play areas in the back. All of my plants in pots are doing great though. Having a hose to water them helps so much. I've got a lot of tomato plants, 3 green peppers, broccoli, spinach, herbs and squash.

I forgot to update my book list, and I don't think I remember them all, but I know I'm keeping up with the numbers. Thank you Charlaine Harris for writing short books! :) I'll try to do a list soon.

DH and I finally found the right way to deal with our daughter's hitting problem. We set up the playpen in the nursery and she goes in there for time-out. It really works. Time out in a chair or corner wasn't working. After a few minutes it turned into a time-out issue instead of being a punishment for hitting. We've been using it for some of her other temper issues and it's making a big difference.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Easter Bunny Fails Nationwide

I had a plan too. I bought white eggs, even boiled the whole dozen. I bought an egg coloring kit, candy, plastic eggs. My sister sent Olivia an Easter dress, and I made special trips to buy matching shoes, purse and hair-thing. My husband was sent out late to get a basket for the eggs. I got one of those wind-up chicks that is cute and fuzzy and yellow and hops along. Oh, and I bought pre-mixed cookie dough so we could make sugar cookies.

I left the sugar cookie dough out overnight Saturday, so I didn't dare make those, I didn't color any eggs with my 1-year-old who would have loved it. We let her wear her shoes out to eat the night before to Waffle House (just saying that makes me feel like such a redneck) and we accidentally left them there, so she had no matching shoes for church. (She went without, so now hillbilly redneck). I didn't put any of the candy in the plastic eggs, and I didn't really even hide them, I just took two minutes and scattered them around the deck. There was a little candy, but no Easter dinner. I think we had ravioli's from a can. And finally, my daughter was irrationally afraid of the wind-up chick.

I know there were reasons for all of this but I don't remember them now. L. if you find a place that will outsource the bunny, hook me up.

Update on catsup, shredders, and meat

First off, last time I was at McDonalds I ordered a salad and fries. I tried to limit the number of catsup packets they gave me by asking for TWO packets. Still got a handful. Next time maybe I will take out how many I want and hand back the rest. I can already imagine the look of sheer confusion in their eyes as I wave the catsups in the air between us.

I told my DH that I blogged about the paper shredder and he was dismayed and confused. The shredder is now safely hidden away inside the ottoman in the family room. I'm not exactly sure why that's a good place for it, but it's usually out of sight now and I'm not going to complain. I'd rather have the blankets out than the shredder.

It is really hard to buy meat that comes from happy animals. Companies just don't advertise how the animals were treated before they got them. With a few exceptions - Chipotle uses free range pork for their carnitas, and Ben and Jerry's gets their dairy from local farmers. There's a restaurant up in Tyson's somewhere that says they use local meat as much as they can. But even the flag "organic" doesn't mean "humanely treated." A chicken can be just as miserable and being fed organic corn.

I took it a step farther and ordered a side of beef from a local rancher. I am so excited! We'll be getting about 86 lbs of beef (*faints*) in mid-May (Walt, if you guys want some, I think we can split some). We're paying a flat rate of $3.70/lb and getting a quarter of a steer. That will include about 40 lbs of hamburger, 25 lbs of steak and the rest roasts, ribs, etc. We aren't going to get the organs because ew. But we could if someone wanted them. The farmer was really nice and glad to get the order.

There's a store in my town that sells Farm Fresh eggs from a local farm. (you can buy farm fresh eggs at Frying Pan Park too). I wish there was a local dairy for fresh milk, but I haven't found one so far. I also found another place that you can buy farm-raised chickens but I'm a little more hesitant about that. I ordered 2, same price as the beef, and they'll be ready about the same time. The thing is that I'll be getting whole chicken with skin and bones (no feathers or innards, phew). But I know how to make things with boneless skinless chicken breasts. DH and I both prefer white meat, and I don't know how to chop up a whole chicken or use it. So I'm getting these 2 chickens and will test to see how it goes. If it goes well, then I'll just need to find a pork place and stop eating out.

Oh, and I also wrote a letter to Chick-Fila. I'm not sure what to make of their response, because now I don't really trust the government. What do you think?

"In response to your question regarding the animal welfare practices of our suppliers, we purchase our chicken from various suppliers throughout the country. All of these suppliers have continuous USDA inspections.

"In addition, the National Chicken Council publishes a set of guidelines for the proper and humane raising and processing of chickens. All of our suppliers abide by these guidelines and some of them were instrumental in helping to develop these standards for the whole industry. "

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Meatrix

I've always had the impression that vegetarians are a little off their rockers. Why give up perfectly good food over animal issues that government agencies have under control? And why spend so much more money on "organic" foods? Only snobs would do that.

I just discovered today that I'm completely wrong. My DH (dear husband) would say, "Everyone in the country knew about this issue but you." I was innocently browsing some websites about natural gardening and came across a link to It was on a message board and someone asked if it was true that they really cut the beaks off live chickens. I was completely disbelieving, so I watched it. It's a very informative, non-gross, non-threatening cartoon. Watch it if you get a minute. After I watched it, I looked at a few more sites. The ones with the real photos.

It's awful. I'm not a flag-waver or a demonstrator or a protestor. But I did spend a year trapping feral kittens and taming them because I felt so bad for them living outdoors. What "factory farming" does to uncounted farm animals is so far bad beyond that that I can't even stand to think about it.

I haven't even researched to the part yet about how to avoid giving any of my money to the companies involved in this, but I know I won't voluntarily buy anything that contributes to them if I can help it. I don't understand why there isn't more coverage about this. Is there, and I just didn't know? Why doesn't the government put a stop to it?

I want to go and let all of the baby cows out of crates and take them back to their moms. And I want to let all of the chickens outside and let them have eggs that hatch and turn into little broods of chicks for them. I feel so bad for all of them.

Doh! My boss just walked in and thank goodness I wasn't crying, but I had to blink a few times before I looked at him.

Stupid asshole corporations that give us what we will pay for without telling us the real price. For a while I was thinking they should all get shot, but now I think they deserve the same kind of treatment they give their animals.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Catsup Packet Challenge

Next time you go through the drive-thru at McDonalds, ask them for one catsup packet. Stress that "one" is all you want. I bet that they'll give you one handful of catsup packets.

I am temporarily off my diet, I admit. Packing up all of my dishes and food for a month made it hard to eat healthy so I fell off the wagon. However, I still just order a small fries at McDonalds if I get fries, and each time I ask for one catsup packet. How much catsup does one small fries need? I think one packet is perfect, but they never give me just one packet. I ask (sometimes in spanish, it makes no difference) and they reach into the catsup packet container and come out with a huge handful of catsups, so huge that the packets are spilling out between their fingers. They carefully reach across the distance to me in my car where I have to accept the catsups in my two cupped hands.

Is this a perverse pleasure of fast food workers? Are they punishing me for eating fast food in their own way by inundating me and my car with catsups? What can I do with all of those catsups? Do they think I take them home and squeeze them into my jar of catsup? Do so many people ask for a handful of catsup that the people that work the window are forced to overcompensate to the rest of us that just want one or two? Super-size my catsup? I just want one packet of catsup. I guess I could say no thanks, but then I wouldn't get any. So, given a choice between a catsup famine and a catsup feast, I guess I'll choose the handful.

Any idea how long the catsup in the packets will stay good in my hot car?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

March Books (6/5)

I made a goal this year to read 60 books by the end of the year, and at least 5 books each month. Every month, near the end, I'll put up a list of the books I've read that month and maybe a few thoughts about them. Here's my March list:

Dime Store Magic - Kelley Armstrong
Industrial Magic - Kelley Armstrong
Haunted - Kelley Armstrong
Guilty Pleasures – Anita Blake
Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris
Wolves in Chic Clothing – Carrie Karasyov, Jill Kargman

The first three books I read this month were by the author that wrote the werewolf books I read a few months ago. These were set in the same fantasy type world (where vampires and werewolves, etc exist) but had different main characters. We'd met them in the werewolf books, but in lesser roles. The first two books were about a witch the werewolves helped, and the last was about a ghost in the afterlife, trying to look out for her still living daughter (who is being cared for by the witch). They weren't anything amazing, but they were good and I enjoyed them.

Guilty Pleasures was a dark, noir-type vampire sort-of-mystery book. I thought it was okay, but I hear the series kind of goes downhill and so I'm not sure if I'm going to pursue it any more.
Dead Until Dark was a lighter-hearted vampire mystery book, set in the south. I liked it, and will probably read more of these when I get time.

Wolves in Chic Clothing was my utterly brainless book of the month. I thought it would be sort of "Sex in the City" and I was looking for something to listen to in the car. It was about a girl from California that gets in with a crowd of New York sophisticates, and how selfish and self-centered they are until they finally turn on her. It was all very formulaic and even more shallow than I was expecting. About the only thing the book has going for it is a clever title.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Paper Shredder Update

Still in the living room.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Weight Watchers Week 3

Here's my progress so far:

Week 1: -2 lbs
Week 2: -2.6 lbs
Week 3: -2.2 lbs

Go me! That's 6.8 lbs. The best part is I don't really feel like I'm on a diet. I'm just not denying myself THAT much. To me diets are about starvation, self-deprivation, and cheating. But on WW I have complete control. If I want cheesecake then I can have it, I just have to balance it with the rest of what I eat. There's a big difference between feeling deprived and feeling in control. Plus, how many diets will let you eat McDonalds for lunch (well, now and then) and still lose 2 lbs/week?

I think I've always approached every meal like it's my last. Pizza is definitely something I crave that I find challenging to eat in moderation. One thing a friend said has really been a huge help with that. She said that whatever it is will still be there next time I want it, so just wait.

Sounds simple, right?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

One Man's Mess

On Saturday we moved a van and a car load of boxes and stuff into storage, and I rearranged the living room furniture, and cleaned it all up. It looked great.

So my sweet husband, FIRST THING, goes and dumps a load of clean clothes on the couch. Why? I have no idea. He never does this. I know some people keep clothes on the couch, but we just don't.

The next day he went and bought a Sunday paper. He never does this either. He took the whole thing apart, cutting out coupons, leaving sections and clippings all over the couch. Why? It's a mystery.

The NEXT day he decides it's time to shred documents. IN THE LIVING ROOM. He brings in a trash can, 2 boxes of papers, and the shredder. Need I say more?

I am at a complete loss. I don't understand. When we move I have been saying that the living room will be off limits to kids and cats. Now I think I'm going to have to husband-proof it too. If I just don't put a TV or computer in there, that should do it.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I Just Want a Haircut!

Why is it so hard to find a good stylist around here? Everywhere I go I see salons and barbers and spas, but every one I try ends up being crap. Why can't I find a decent stylist that speaks fluent English and doesn't charge an arm and a leg?

What's the etiquette for walking into a salon and discovering your stylist doesn't speak English? Can you say, "Um, I changed my mind," and then leave? Is it rude to call and ask to get an appointment with someone that speaks fluent English? I thought bringing in the pictures of my haircut (from all angles) would bridge that gap, but it didn't.

I got the perfect cut in August last year (while I was home in Idaho). The stylist considered my weight, the shape of my face, my neck, my double chin, the texture of my hair. Everything. And guess how much a wash, cut and style cost? $14. FOURTEEN DOLLARS. I gave her a $20 and felt like I was robbing her.

I got back to Virginia and the first time I needed a cut I went to a fancy salon. For $55 she trimmed maybe a quarter of an inch (my hair had grown at least half an inch), didn't layer, and didn't even style it herself. It looked like crap, it needed to be cut again in 3 weeks.

Last weekend I went to a Hair Cuttery and got a stylist that barely spoke English, but she looked at my pictures, nodding, smiling, yes yes she can do that. After her first cut she showed me that she's taking off a quarter inch. Since I'd already been burned by that once, I told her to make it a tiny bit more. I was clear on this. "Tiny bit more - another quarter inch." Her next cut took off 2 inches. I swear. 2 inches. My hair didn't have 2 inches to spare. It's so short now that not only did my oblivious husband notice I got a cut, but all the guys at work noticed too. Short. Short AND crooked. My hair is doomed.

Monday, February 27, 2006

February Books (7/5)

I made a goal this year to read 60 books by the end of the year, and at least 5 books each month. Every month, near the end, I'll put up a list of the books I've read that month and maybe a few thoughts about them. Here's my February list:

Stolen – Kelley Armstrong
Shakespeare's Landlord – Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Champion – Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Christmas – Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Trollop – Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Counselor – Charlaine Harris
The Million Dollar Divorce - R.M. Johnson

Stolen – Kelley Armstrong
This is the sequel to Bitten, which I read last month. It's got more werewolves, more rough sex, more strong female roles. Plus now the author has introduced a new angle. Werewolves aren't the only supernatural race. We've got vampires, demons, witches, etc. Joss Whedon would be proud.

Lily Bard series of Shakespeare mysteries (5) – Charlaine Harris
All right, I'm not sure if reading 5 mysteries by the same author was what I had in mind when I said 5 books/month. This feels a little like cheating, especially because the books were so short. But February is a short month! And I really liked the books. Like the werewolf books, these books have a really physically tough female main character. She works out at the gym daily, she's really good at karate, and she's hot. Lily has some interesting psychological issues to work through though, and I liked seeing her story unwrap as the books went along. They went a different way than I expected, and it was a good way. I also enjoyed seeing this solitary woman open herself up and make friends, and begin to overcome her personal demons.

The Million Dollar Divorce - R.M. Johnson
Every month I guess I have to read some trashy novel, and this was it for February. This millionaire gets married, wanting a family. His wife puts him off for 3 years and then finds out she can't have kids because of early menopause (right when they started trying). So he wants to divorce her, but doesn't want to give her half of the fortune he's made since they got married. He decides to set her up to cheat on him. The premise was okay, but I thought the sex was cheesy and garish, and I think both of them were at fault, but the book kind of made the husband into the bad guy. I probably only finished the book because I liked the voice acting.

Even though I didn't finish these, I think I deserve some credit for attempting two other books this month –
Shalimar the Clown – Salman Rushdie
Dearly Devoted Dexter – Jeff Lindsay

Shalimar might have been a good book, but I was listening to it on tape and I didn't like the reader at all. The book had some crude parts, but the reader sounded like a prude when he read dirty dialogue. He sounded like a gentleman, not a voice actor, and the distraction was too much.

The Dexter book was interesting. The idea is that the narrator is a serial killer who only kills bad guys. He's totally mental, and he narrates things from a crazy, demented point of view. He's funny though, and self-delusional about some things. But the book got too graphic when he started admiring an extremely brutal and graphically described crime scene in which another serial killer tortured someone and left them alive. Plus there was a lot of swearing. Maybe I would have finished it if I'd skimmed the offensive parts, but I don't feel like I'm missing anything by never finishing this book.

Weight Watchers

Good news! I am down 4.6 lbs in 2 weeks! That's 2 lbs the first week, and 2.6 the second. If I think about it too much, I think 4.6 doesn't seem like much. I mean, it's been 2 weeks and I haven't even lost 5 yet and I've got sooo much more to go. But then I think - hrm, if I could lose 2 lbs/week for 6 months, I'd be lookin' so good! And hopefully feeling better, and more than half-way to my goal.

I need to try to keep in perspective that it's 4.6 lbs less than I weighed 2 weeks ago. A 4.6 lbs I probably wouldn't have lost if I hadn't joined the program.

January Book List (5/5)

I made a goal this year to read 60 books by the end of the year, and at least 5 books each month. Every month, near the end, I'll put up a list of the books I've read that month and maybe a few thoughts about them. Here's my January list, a month late.

The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
Temptation – Jude Deveraux
Coldfire – Dean R. Koontz
Bitten – Kelley Armstrong

The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
What I liked most about this book was the sisterhood. I thought about my experiences in childbirth and I wouldn't have wanted even my own sister in with me while I was laboring, and she's told me she wouldn't want me there for her either. I definitely wouldn't want my mom there. Yet these women were all there for each other, including neighbors, sisters, mothers, daughters. Even though they still fought and had their feuds and disagreements, their female-ness reunited them. It makes me wonder what has changed so much that modern women don't rely on this sisterhood. Is it because we're supposed to be independent? Is it because we are too busy? I wonder how much more fulfilling my marriage would be if I had close women friends to fill roles that my husband isn't really cut out for.

I was also fascinated by the idea of the women's cycles all following the moon phases. It seemed like such a great idea to me, and I wondered how I could achieve that synchronicity myself. So I checked the calendar only to find that I *am* in synch with the moon. How amazing is that? I've always thought I had an irregular cycle, but ever since I've been paying attention to the moon (3 months now), my cycle is a regular 28 day thing, and always starts with the dark of the moon. It makes me feel tied in to something in a way I don't really understand. But a deep part of me feels a wonder when I look at the moon now, as if I can feel its pull on my own inner tides.

The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
I read this for the book club I'm in at work. I felt the book was teasing me along into the reading, because the action unfolded very slowly at first but I felt compelled to keep turning pages. I liked the stories within stories, and I liked the history aspect of the book. I'd recommend this for anyone that likes Dracula or history, or who has aspirations to travel. The descriptions of the foreign places were one of my favorite things about the book. This wasn't a great book club book though, as it was pretty straightforward overall and didn't lend itself to much of a discussion, at least within my group.

Temptation – Jude Deveraux
This was just a cheesy (and I mean seriously cheesy) romance. I like a good romance now and then, but this wasn't a good one. It was about a woman and a highlander, and it had everything you'd expect. The guy's name was even James. This made me compare it to the Outlander series by Gabaldon, which is a great stab at a romance set in Scotland. Temptation was lacking in every way possible.

Coldfire – Dean R. Koontz
I found out my mom was reading something by Koontz and that surprised me so much that when I saw this in the library I picked it up out of curiosity. I had always avoided Koontz, because I don't really like traditional horror (I've always equated him with Stephen King). Coldfire was just okay. I liked how it started out, with the guy stepping in and saving people who would otherwise die. I like the idea of cheating fate, or being led by a higher power to change what might be. But then the book just got weird. And even though it tried to de-weird itself at the end, it was too late. Weird.

Bitten – Kelley Armstrong
Someone asked me what I was reading and I responded, "Well, it's a werewolf book, but the main character is actually a good werewolf that has to fight the bad werewolves." Although that does sum it up, I actually enjoyed the book a great deal. The lead character is a strong woman that's a werewolf. She's in great shape, she's smart, all the guy werewolves are attracted to her and she has awesome sex. What's not to like?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Grocery Shopping Mind Games

Okay, I admit, I haven't been posting any entries. It's because every time I get an idea of something to write, it seems like it has to do with food. The name of my blog has GRAVY in it for heaven's sakes! I don't want to be the kind of person that can only talk about food, but alas, despite my best intentions to write about strollers or American Girl dolls or belly button rings today, I am about to write about food.

I have been in denial about my food obsession, even to myself. Thank goodness I'm not the woman at the grocery store that has to justify to other people in line or to the checker why she's buying so much junk food ("a party" yeah right, or "these are all for my husband" sure.) If she's overweight, I don't believe her. No matter what she might say - they're all for her.

No, instead I am the woman at the grocery store that feels lucky she finally has a wedding ring so that at least people might *think* the junk food is for someone else. My friend told me that's ridiculous, and people don't notice what other people buy, but she's wrong. I notice what's on the conveyor belt all the time with surreptitious little glances out of the corner of my eye and I size up the person buying it and speculate about their eating habits.

If it's a big person buying junk food I am not surprised.
If it's a big person buying skinny food I automatically think they are just starting a diet.
Now if it's a skinny person buying lots of healthy food, and salad fixings and tofu milk I generally feel guilty about whatever I'm buying, even if it's just batteries. As if somehow these batteries are going to be used to make me fatter.

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago I started on Weight Watchers, and now instead of obsessing about food, I obsess about how many points the food is worth. My friends went shopping with me for our new healthy food and I didn't feel self-conscious standing in front of a box of crackers with my points-finding-slider in my hand. I felt powerful. Oh Crackers - I know you for what you are: Full of Points! I will not buy you. I will buy light popcorn instead. I didn't even feel uncomfortable being the fat person in the check-out buying the healthy food. Let them think I'm just starting a new diet. I know that I'm starting a new way of life.

Eventually I'll have a friendly relationship with these strangers - these healthy foods I'm putting on the conveyor belt. They might look strange to me now - The bran granola bars instead of the candy. The tenderloin instead of the baby back ribs. The apple chips instead of the tortilla chips. But these low-point little gems are going to get me into smaller clothes and a healthier body. Once the initial awkwardness wears off I'm sure we'll have a long and happy relationship.

And someday I will be the skinny (well, at least skinnier) person in the check-out, buying mostly healthy food, and batteries and some treats and I won't fret about whether the person behind me thinks it's all for me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More Gravy

People refer to something good that is additional or unexpected as "gravy." My husband would disagree though. He thinks gravy is what ties everything together. He makes dishing up a plate on Thanksgiving into an art (modern art). The turkey goes next to the pile of mashed potatoes, which are next to the stuffing and then he unifies it all by smothering it liberally with gravy (and sprinkling corn on top). Every bite he puts on his fork has a little bit of everything in it.

Before I met him I was always careful to compartmentalize my Thanksgiving dinner - I'd dish it up making sure nothing touched, and then eat each side dish completely before moving on to the next. Turkey - here. Corn - there. Stuffing - no thanks. I'd carefully indent the mashed potatoes to contain all of the gravy, and then eat them last, so that when the reservoir broke and the gravy spilled out, the rest of my food wasn't contaminated. I would have loved eating Thanksgiving dinner on those plastic plates with the different compartments.

Is it progress to not mind when your food touches? I like to think so. A bite of mashed potatoes really does taste good with a little bit of turkey and corn with it. And I actually like stuffing now that I put some gravy on it. Instead of eating each dish separately, I enjoy the way all of the foods compliment each other, and it's the gravy that ties it all together.

I don't really have a plan for this blog. In some ways it's just bonus, something I wasn't expecting to ever do, but it seems like fun and I hope it will help with my writing. In other ways, I can see it becoming a way to find a common thread in my life, something that will tie together all of the crazy, randomness. Gravy.