Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dynamics of the Pack



This is my baby sister Rachel. She will most assuredly kill me soon for posting these pictures, so please enjoy this post. It’ll probably be my last one.

There’s 10 years between us. A veritable lifetime. There’s 6 years between Rebecca and me. I have to admit, life was pretty good before they came hoarding into the family. I had my own bedroom, the lion’s share of Christmas presents, and Barbies with heads.





And then, that all got taken away. The minute these two came home from the hospital, my world went downhill. I was barraged with hundreds of orders:

“Elizabeth! Pick up your toys!”

“Don’t poke the soft spot on her head!”

“No, you cannot take the new baby to kindergarten in your backpack.”

“Don’t yell at your little sister, she didn’t mean to eat the first 10 pages of Little Women.”






But I got my revenge. I hid their nunchucks. I ‘lost’ the chord to the kiddie record player on which they played “Oh Susanna” ad nauseam. I passive aggressively avoided all games involving sharks and singing about five little pumpkins. I moved all my toiletries to the basement bathroom in avoidance of the wet Barbie disaster always waiting in the upstairs tub (stepping on a rigid plastic Barbie arm almost warrants a tetanus shot). I had my ways.




And even now, I still have to flex my big-sister torturing muscles every now and then. Like posting embarrassing ‘after-Christmas-dinner-snoozing’ pictures of them.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve eaten five slices of cake over the past two days, and they’ve all taken up residence on my body in the form of five brand new butt dimples. I’m off to run myself into the ground.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cheapskate Lamps

I'm calling these cheapskate lamps. After hunting for some affordable retro lamps for several months, my sister and I spotted these in an antique mall for... get ready for it... $8.

Now some of you are saying, "Wow! Way to go Liz! That's incredibly cheap!"

And others are saying, "Uh, those are the homeliest uggos ever made."

And yeah, I can understand that. But here's the thing. Since my love-affair with spray paint began, I live for finding super cheap things to paint. Because if I paint an $8 pair of lamps and they look bad, I lose no sleep.


And as you can see, these are lose-no-sleep lamps. The pistachio hued paint is old and muddled. The gold roses scattered helter skelter along the bases are, for want of a more literary word, a little yucky.

And yet another spray paint project glistens on the horizon. Yipee.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Lost Christmas Puppy


Meet Winston. Or at least, that's what what we decided to call this poor little lost Christmas puppy. But judging from his silver beard, Winston was no puppy.



Frankly, Winston couldn't have found a more perfect backyard to wander into. My aunt and uncle's house just happened to be filled with many, many girls to hold and coo over him. At first he shivered, but eventually it dawned on him that we had no plans to eat him for dinner.





After that there was a lot of tail wagging and friendly sniffing.






Winston, however, was tagless. He had a collar, and a flea collar. He was bathed and clean; obviously some one's baby. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any neighbor who recognized him. And unfortunately for Winston, everyone in the house was a dog owner. Only-children dogs who really, really, really didn't appreciate Winston's endearing little face.







So Winston eventually left the party with this nice officer to spend the night in the local shelter. I know, I know. I should have taken him home with me. But guys... do you not know Mabel at all? She rolled her big brown eyes up at me, opened her little bearded smart mouth and said, "Mom. You bring that thing home with us and I'm outta here. I'll run away and live out of dumpsters. I'll beg from strangers. I'll escape to the woods and hunt with coyotes It's me... or Winston."

Actually, she usually looks at me and yells/screams something that sounds like "Ahhhwooooooo." But I understood perfectly.
So tomorrow I'll probably call the shelter. I've got to find out if little Winston found his home. But shhhh... don't tell Mabel. She'd be pretty darn hacked.



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Wreath

It's Christmas Eve.


I tried to copy this wreath (found the pic on the Hallmark magazine website).


Close, but no cigar. But it was fun, even though making a wreath on Christmas Eve is a little last minute.



I'm camped out beside the Christmas tree watching Band of Brothers with Dad. Mom and Rebecca are in the kitchen making spiced peaches and I'm already full from almond bark popcorn. Let the eating begin.
Have a wonderful Christmas Eve ladies.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Matt Cooks, Mabel Begs in a Rude and Unladylike Fashion





As the weather turns cooler, my affinity for pasta grows. Pasta adds weight, which in turn keeps me warm. And it is this sort of demented circular logic that keeps me out of the 'small size' section of my closet.

This particular pasta dinner included shrimp and my favorite of all favorites; kalamata olives.






I believe this is an old recipe I tore out of a Home Companion and waved in front of Matt's face while saying, "Oohh.. this looks good. Wanna cook it? Cool, I'll be reading more magazines while you do that."






As always, Matt took a few liberties with the recipe and used spaghetti noddles and left out the scallops, but it was still yummy. I helped make salad. Cause that's what I'm good at; opening a bag, washing something, making food look good in a bowl. If it weren't for Matt... I'd starve.






And speaking of starving, Mabel was oddly persistent in her begging. Usually she wanders around under our feet and stares, but somehow tonight was different. At first there was the usual staring.








And then stalking.







What are you looking at woman? I'm hungry and that food in my bowl is a joke.







And then Matt caved...






While Mable gave her very best impersonation of Jaws. An unladylike, demanding, scruffy little Jaws.







And then we dined beside the glow of the Christmas tree. And ate. A lot.




Shellfish Pasta With Kalamata Olives & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1 tablespoon salt

1 pound dried pasta

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Large pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 pound bay scallops (Matt left that out and doubled up on shrimp cause scallops make me gag)

1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined

3/4 cup white wine

1/2 cup oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, undrained, halved if large

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. In stockpot, bring a large quantity of water to a rolling boil. Add salt and pasta. Stir. When pasta is al dente, scoop out a cup of water, set aside. Drain pasta.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and stir until lightly browned, which happens quickly. Scrape crumbs into a bowl; set aside. Wipe skillet with paper towel.

3. In the same skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir until garlic is fragrant. Add scallops and shrimp and saute until shrimp starts to turn pink.

4. Add wine to shellfish; simmer for 1 minutes. Add tomatoes, olives, and basil and simmer for a few minutes. Turn off heat.

5. Toss pasta with the shellfish mixture. If mixture needs more liquid, add some of the reserved pasta water. Just before serving, toss pasta with toasted bread crumbs.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mabel Hearts Milk



The food begging continues. So we've bribing her with milk.





The house is quiet, with the exception of her tags clinking against the bowl.



Milk mustache + pink collar. She makes my heart happy.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookies and Martha



Once again, Martha saved my bacon.

It dawned on me last night that I hadn't even thought of Christmas presents. Nothing bought, nothing wrapped, nothing under the tree. It's not that I'm a Scrooge, but grief is making me do weird things.




Apart from forgetting Christmas in general, I've also gone days without makeup. Mostly because I've cried mascara down my cheeks to the point that Matt began to wonder if it was Halloween again. Alice Cooper had nothing on me. So then I stopped wearing it altogether; which caused coworkers and friend alike to peer into my circled eyes and say, "Are you sick?" To which I would snap, "Yes! I'm sick of you!" You get the idea.
I'm pretty sure Angela is looking down, chuckling and shaking her head at my makeup-less, who-cares-about-Christmas state. Of course she was a revolutionary who didn't put up Christmas trees, so she'd probably approve.



So last night it dawned on me that I had one more day of work before a two week vacation, and my angelic-nervous-breakdown-tolerant bosses deserved at least a tiny token of my appreciation. And once again, Martha came to my rescue with her cute little cookie-gift box kit.




And after I forced myself to turn on all the Christmas lights in the house, I snuggled into my sweat-pants and began icing and sprinkling a vast amount of sugar cookies. And I felt better. It didn't make the tight, acidic burn in my chest go away, I'll miss Angela even if I live to 100, but it did remind me that I'm still here. That my family is still here... and I have to live like it. We all do. Maybe tomorrow I'll put on some mascara.




Thursday, December 18, 2008

Quiet House











Quiet house. Quiet December. Quiet me. Back soon.


Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV) I lift my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Angela



Angela (Mrs. Fox) lost her battle with cancer this past weekend.




In the middle of crying yesterday, I realized how truly annoyed she would have been with me. Angela had no time for sobbing and crybaby episodes. She would have raised one eyebrow, given me a stern look and stated in a no-nonsense voice, “Stop this. Get up. Go write something.”
And so, I am.


I look forward with great expectation to seeing her again. Unlike some people, I don’t have a ‘nailed down’ version of what I think heaven is like. I don’t see clouds and harps or golden gates. I just see the inexplicable joy of being reunited with the people I love, the overwhelming happiness of seeing the face of God, the Great Creator that I’m spending my life serving through faith alone.
I hope that Angela is ensconced at a beautiful writing desk, happily free of the human body that betrayed her. I hope she’s writing her next great novel. I hope she gets to meet my grandfathers, I'm certain they’ll find her charming.




And I hope that all the horrendous suffering of the past two years are but a dim and unimportant memory for her. If you're not familiar with her blog, please read what she wrote about having cancer here.
I hope that this bitter acid in my chest can one day be replaced with only the beauty of her memory, that one day her precious husband and family will know what it is to be happy again. Because that is, above all, what she would have wanted. That, and the no-crybaby thing.

I love you, Angela. Rest in peace my good and true friend, I will see you again.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Target To-Do List, Pirates



Weekends are my ‘blog catch up’ time. I try to accomplish at least one thing of blogging interest on Saturdays. I’ve even started keeping a list of potential projects in my office. Of course it would take a lottery win to finance that list, but it’s there all the same.

Saturday morning was spent inside the sacred walls of Target (after a decent night of sleep, I might add). I roamed the sale end-caps, searching for the perfect dirt cheap tablecloth or clearance lamp. As I rounded the corner of the home section, I came face to face with the toy section.

Toy sections of any store, at this time of year, are battlegrounds. Toys litter the floors; distressed parents whip around, turning their carts on two wheels while racing to nab the last Disney Princess costume with matching purple heels. Children scream. Babies cry. Store workers hate everyone.


But as I hurried to pass the section quickly, I couldn’t help but notice a young mother with two daughters. The mom was smiling and wearing a cute little kelly-green work out suit, patiently listening to her daughters’ discussion. The girls were about a year apart, probably six and five. Adorable.

The big sis, her dark brown hair in two curly pony tails, pointed to the Barbie section and said, “Molly,” (which sounded like Mowwy), “you pick out a Christmas present to give me. I like red dresses.”

“Ok,” Molly responded, pulling on her purple sweater, “But don’t look.”

Big sis obligingly turned her head away while Molly’s hands shot out and nabbed a blond Barbie wearing a bright yellow prom dress.

But big sis peeked, and yelped, “I told you, I LIKE RED BEST!”

The hair on the back of my neck stood up, the way it does during tornado weather. I edged closer, pretending to survey the Polly Pockets.

Mom spoke up, “You have to let Molly pick it out. If you pick it out, then it won’t be a present from her.”

“But I like RED DRESSES,” big sis cried.

Meanwhile, as I’m nonchalantly listening, little Molly’s attention turns away from her big sister and toward my buggy.

She smiled shyly.

I smiled back.

And that's when the cute five year old lowered the boom.





“Pirate,” she stated as she pointed toward me.

The mom glanced away from her oldest daughter’s shrieks.

Molly’s pudgy little hand shot out and pointed at my shopping cart.

I smiled in confusion, surveying the contents of my buggy.

“No baby, she’s not a pirate,” the mom smiled at me, patting Molly.

Molly shook her head, dark hair swinging, “Pirate shirt.”

You see, before the home section and the eavesdropping, I’d picked out a new shirt; a cute little black and white striped turtle neck that was now hanging over the side of my buggy.

The very shirt little Molly was pointing at and dubbing “pirate shirt.”

I bought it anyway.

But now, when I wear it, all I can think about are pirates. I wonder if I should buy an eye patch. Or if my coworkers are laughing at me. I suppose it’s payback for all my eavesdropping. I suppose the next time I see little kids in public I should just flee the scene, or risk my wardrobe being insulted again.

After all, little Molly could have said much worse. She could have noticed the red sweatshirt I was wearing and said, "Mommy look, Mrs. Claus."
Now THAT would have stung.




Friday, December 12, 2008

Pink Sky Insomnia



I’ve been getting the worst sleep the past few weeks. I lay in bed forever, unable to fall asleep, then end up twisting around in the blankets until dawn with bizarre dreams. Last night I dreamed I was so fat I broke the center support in our bed. And we’re back to dieting.

My sleep scale goes something like this:

Nine hours= Saint-Like: complete with back rubs for Matt and lots of armpit scratching for Mabel (it’s weird, don’t ask).
Eight hours= Lady-like & Gracious: letting cars merge in front of me on the freeway with a smile and friendly wave.
Seven hours= Still Doing OK: functioning, able to type correctly, smile and resist the urge to tell others they’re dumb.
Six hours = Dont Poke the Bear: no smiles, lots of coffee, cutting off other drivers on the freeway with creative hand signals.
Five hours = Hell-On-Wheels: so sleepy I forget deodorant and try to put a bra on over my shirt, snicker into my hand if anyone trips and falls.
Four hours= Someone Call the Cops: delusional, autopilot driving (“gee, I don’t remember a thing about my 45 minute commute”), Matt advises others not to make direct eye contact with me, Mabel hides under the dining room table. You get the idea.



So this morning as the dawn broke and I surveyed the dark circles under my eyes (I refer to this as ‘crack-head chic’), I noticed the beautiful pink sky through the bathroom window. It seemed perfectly logical to start taking pictures.

I grabbed my camera while Matt snored and threw a gray pea-coat over my pajamas. I headed out the door, stopping in front of a mirror. What I saw should have horrified me: Spiky samurai warrior pony tail, turquoise pajama pants with various cartoon dogs sledding, old-lady style big glasses, fluffy house shoes, Mt. Vesuvius zit on my chin. The reflection should have given me pause. I should have thought to myself, “You look a little tired. Perhaps a photo session in the front yard for all the neighbors to see is a bad idea.”

But remember what I said about four hours of sleep? Delusional? Yeah. I paused in front of that mirror, did a twist and turn like Tyra Banks and made a kissy face while whispering, “Dang girl… you look good.”

After all was said and done, I took over 28 pictures of the pink sky while standing proudly in the front yard, freezing wind whipping my unwashed hair. I waved at my neighbor who was just coming back from an early morning walk by the lake. I breathed in the fresh air and smiled at a passing car.

I’m not proud of myself. There’s good crazy, and then there's just feel-sorry-for-you crazy. Tonight is sleep night. The lights are going out at 8:00. And next time I see a pink morning sky, I expect to be fully functioning and in my right mind. And NO sled dog pajama pants in the front yard.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How Do I Make Money Blogging? (Insert Insane Laughter Here)





Recently, I’ve had some emails asking me complicated blogging questions;

How does twitter make money?
How much money are you making from your blog?
How do I find sponsors?
How much do sponsors pay?
Are you going to blog full time?

And I haven’t responded because I have a dumb hang-dog look on my face and a weird ‘Huhghggh?’ sound that escapes from my lips and makes me sound a little vacant. Seriously. Insert mental picture of Rain Man yelling/spelling, “Uh-oh. Vern! V-E-R-N!”

Cause ladies, I have no idea.

This is what I have discovered today as I studied on the front steps of Google University.

Twitter
It is a social networking site. My mom calls it Facebook for Blogs. The only reason I signed up on it is b/c Matt’s friend kept telling him, “Liz needs to get on Twitter.” But I haven’t the foggiest idea why or what I’m doing on there. But if you sign up, befriend me. It makes me feel good, like when the cool kids used to talk to me in middle school.
Here’s an article about it, but frankly, it felt like I was plowing through something written in Russian. I got halfway through and my ADD screamed, “I DON’T CARE.” And I stopped.


Making Money
Again, Doofus City right here. I’ve made some money from sponsors (Mabel did get some fancy schmancy dog treats out of it) and doing a guest blog spot, but other than that, nada. Nothing. Unless you count the whopping $28.42 Adsense is racking up. Big woo.






Sponsors.
Getting sponsors, real paying ones, is somewhat like being discovered in Hollywood. Like when Lana Turner was ‘found’ while sipping a milkshake in a soda fountain. And while I do think Mabel has a certain cute appeal, and I am always willing to humiliate myself publicly, we’re no Lana Turner.

Are You Going to Blog Full Time?
Does anyone really do that? Except Dooce and Pioneer Woman? Unless I become suddenly independently wealthy, the answer is no. I need my insurance and sick days and scheduled paychecks. And the free mental health counseling service in our building. I’m especially going to need it when I start yelling V-E-R-N up and down the halls.

*Just for funnzies… check out this link and this one. How’s that for blowing your mind?

**And for VERN reference, just watch Rain Man. Really. It’s a great movie.

*** These lovely pictures, which have absolutely nothing to do with this post, come courtesy of Jerusalem and Jeanetta's lovely shoppe. Love that place.





Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Festivus



Our friends Kyle and Ashley threw a Festivus celebration last night. Between the twinkle lights and place cards and vintage Christmas tablecloths, I was in heaven.


Here is the multi-tasking mom in action, setting out place cards and holding one of the sweetest little boys ever. I know what you're saying, "Liz! Put down that camera and hold that baby!" Don't worry. I did.


And of course, their home never fails to make me drool.



The entire Festivus crowd was very enthused about the food, as you can see.




And this was my seat, in the cutest aqua breakfast room. And as it turned out a few party attendees read the Nair-plosion post yesterday. It's times like these that I think, "Did you REALLY want the whole world to know you Nair your lip?" But nah, I dont care.



There was a lot of laughing. A lot. There was eggnog and good food and (at our table) a particularly rousing debate over whether baths were 'cleaner' than showers. I guess that was the 'Airing of Grievances" portion of Festivus.





And of course, no evening would be complete without baby hand dimples.




Thank you so much Kyle and Ashley for the wonderful party. It was incredible.