Friday, September 19, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Arr, me hearties! Today's grog is not for the lily-livered among you. It'll get you loaded to the Gunwales before you can say shiver me timbers!

Give a toast to International Talk Like a Pirate Day and splice the mainbrace! This is a major global event. Hell, pirates traveled and pillaged the seven seas so they got around. It only makes sense that the whole world will be embracing this event. Beware of calling help desks and travel agents today. I'm pretty sure Babblefish does not translate Pirate.

Buried Treasure

1 oz Amaretto
1 oz Coffee Liqueur (I prefer Kahlua. Is there another?)
6 oz Orange juice (pulp free for sure)
1 oz Whipped Cream (Be decadent and whip it up yourself with good quality cream mixed with a sprinkle of finely chopped orange peel.)

Mix together all the liquid ingredients with crushed ice in a tall glass. Add a dollop of whipped cream if you so desire. Garnish with mint leaves.

Enjoy, me buckos! Drink too much grog and risk becoming a squiffy!
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

40 is the New Me

Ask me how old I am. Go ahead, ask me. Forget all those etiquette rules that say to never ask a lady her age. I never claimed to be a lady anyway. I'm 40. Yup, 4-0. I think I just sat up a bit straighter when I said that. I have no shame. Age does not scare me. I am wary and afraid of what time robs from us, but aging in and of itself does not intimidate me. Bring. It. On. I embrace my future, and hey, turning 40 sure beats the alternative. I'll take my little 85-year old brick house to a pine box (or urn, as the case may be) any day.

I'm not one of those people who hates their birthday. To the contrary, I cherish mine. I even celebrate my half birthday. Oddly enough, everyone dons green and toasts the luck of the Irish on my half birthday. Come on, what's not to like about your birthday? I've been showered with emails, cards, flowers, coconut cakes, cheesecake, high fives, phone calls, shout outs, Tweets. It's wonderful to hear from all the people I love. And it's even more wonderful to know that I am loved.

There is something so freeing about being 40. Really, it is license to be ME. Marlo Thomas had it right with "Free to Be You and Me." It's a lesson that comes easily as a child, and then we wait a lifetime to get find our way back to that magical freedom. The agonizing years in between are torturous but necessary. I do not sulk over lost youth and time misspent. Instead I raise a toast to life lived.

I celebrated turning 40 with some girlfriends at the beach last weekend. That's us in the photo up there. I'm the hottie with black hair and the grey dress. Notice all the empty glasses and bottles. All necessary rehydration after a day spent on the beach with nothing but canned beer and celebrity rags. Oh, and cookies. How magnificent to be at the beach and actually sit lazily on a chair and not worry about anyone drowning or getting caught in the undertow. How unsandy my luggage was with no buckets, shovels, rakes, trucks, and life vests tucked in there. How relaxing to be for a while, not a mother, not a wife, just me. Rejuventation at its best.

Oh, and it doesn't hurt that boys in their 20s (young enough to be my children if you think about it, but let’s not) were glombing onto us, downright trying to mash on the dance floor. Yeah, still got it. Insert strut here. And don't go mentioning the dim light, fog machine, thrashy loud music, and excess of $2 domestic bottles. This is my day and my fantasy, OK?

There were a gaggle of 20-something girls in the bars that weekend. They were the Stepford Girls. All wearing the same tiny minidress cut down just so. The same high wedges that left them teetering on the dance floor. The same pack of Marlboro Lights (DON’T GET ME STARTED.). The same bottle of beer, picking at the label with idle fingers. The same bored come hither look. The same stare and lack of eye contact, noticing the scene instead of each other. The same lack of mindfulness and embracing the moment. The same ginormous purses fresh out of Lucky magazine. What’s in those bags, girls? Are you prepping for a booty call walk of shame with panties, toothbrush, and contact lens solution in there? Whadya need such a big purse for at a bar? Drones, all of them. Yawn. Oh, and been there done that, left the T-shirt at a boy's pad.

We 30-somethings, however (I was technically 39 at the time.), wore outfits that hid our badges of motherhood (I’m talkin’ to you, Back Fat!). Clothes that hugged our curves but masked our cottage cheese. Clothes that allowed ample room for copious consumption of crab dip at dinner (not for dinner, at dinner). Clothes that gave us room to groove without sucking in, tucking, taping, tugging, or squishing. And you know what? Not a purse among us. Yet we managed to carry cash, credit cards, a cell phone, ID, keys, and lip gloss (Thanks for humoring me, Nicole!).

We danced where there was no dance floor and we banged out the lyrics to Pour Some Sugar On Me. With aplomb. We talked our way out of paying cover charges and milked the big 4-0 for free drinks from cute bartenders. We laughed a bit too loud and sang way off key. We drank until we were happy, replenishing our abused systems with water time to time. We chatted up some 20-something fake mustachioed bachelor party-goers and danced with anyone who swayed into our path. We rocked.

You know what sent the pheromone detectors buzzing? Confidence.

Confidence gained only through experience, time, loves lost, lessons learned, hearts won, tests failed, life interrupted, varieties tasted, losses mourned, triumphs celebrated. It is now that I am confident, indeed free, to be the self I have invented. My days of trying to discern others’ visions of me and trying to squirm my roundness into that squareness are over. I walk a little taller in my own shoes. All 100 pairs of them and all five feet of me. Go with the metaphor here, people.

I have no desire to relive my youth. Would you return to the hormonal pubescent days of 17? Your la la la party girl days of 22? Your over worked, in debt, broken-hearted woman of 31? Nah, I didn’t think so. 40 finds me calm, content, confident, and comfortable. It was worth waiting for. Age is not a beast I wrestle. Yeah, I’m lucky to be virtually wrinkle free, nary a grey lock in sight. It’s easy to wax poetic about the gift of aging and life’s mumbo jumbo stew from my perspective. But you know what? 40 is all the more fantastic the more I hear from shocked, flattering souls, “You can’t possibly be 40? You look so young!” I’ll take it. And for now, I'm gonna buy it.

The high temperature today is 68. I was born today in 68. Metaphors are beautiful. See, it really is all about me.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It Happened This Day in 1968

I had a great, insightful post about turning 40 today. Blogger ate it. F%&^!!!!

Now I've got to actually spend some time finishing a report in between bouts of hacking and putting my head on my desk to alleviate the cold building up in there. Argh.

I'll have to muster the energy to rekindle that post tomorrow. I'll write about being 40 +1 day.

Instead I'll leave you with a taste for what happened this day in 1968.

September 17, 1996 Dodger Hideo Nomo no-hits Colorado Rockies, 9-0 at Coors Field (What's with all the sports highlights?)
September 17, 1992 House votes 280 to 128 to give FCC control of cable TV rates (And later voted to have our phone lines tapped.)
September 17, 1992 NFL decides to suspend World League Football (Tell me it isn't so!)
September 17, 1991 U.N. admits Estonia, Latvia, Lithuiania, North and South Korea, Marshall Islands and Micronesia (Who can find these countries on a map?)
September 17, 1989 41st Emmy Awards: LA Law, Cheers, Dana Delany and Candice Bergen win
September 17, 1988 Jeff Reardon becomes 1st to record 40 or more saves in both AL and NL (I don't even know what the hell this means.)
September 17, 1987 Philadelphia celebrates 200th anniversary of Constitution (And now we have a bunch of mavericks positioned to tear it up.)
September 17, 1986 U.S. Senate confirms William Rehnquist as 16th chief justice
September 17, 1983 Vanessa Williams (NY), 20, crowned 56th Miss America 1984, 1st black (No Ugly Betty)
September 17, 1972 "M*A*S*H," premieres on NBC TV (Best theme song ever)
September 17, 1968 Ilina was born in a hospital in Calcutta, India. Ticker tape parade ensued.
September 17, 1964 "Bewitched" premieres on ABC TV (Still wish I could wrinkle up my nose to make dinner appear.)
September 17, 1964 Beatles are paid a then record $150,000 for a concert (Kansas)
September 17, 1964 Supremes release "Baby Love" (Back before Diana was a nut job)
September 17, 1962 Justice Department files 1st suit to end segregation in public schools (1962, people)
September 17, 1959 59th U.S. Golf Amateur Championship won by Jack Nicklaus
September 17, 1958 U.S. performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
September 17, 1956 Black students enter Clay Kentucky elementary school
September 17, 1953 1st successful separation of Siamese twins (Egads!)
September 17, 1953 Ernie Banks becomes Chicago Cubs 1st black player (Yet, I've never heard of him.)
September 17, 1948 WLS TV channel 7 in Chicago, IL (ABC) begins broadcasting (How fitting that TV started on my birthday!)
September 17, 1946 "If the Shoe Fits," opens at Century Theater New York City for 20 performances (Well, if the shoe fits, but it!)
September 17, 1940 Hitler begins invasion of England (operation Seelowe)
September 17, 1900 Commonwealth of Australia proclaimed (Fire up the barbie!)
September 17, 1862 Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam)-bloodiest day of Civil War, 23,110 die
September 17, 1859 Man in San Francisco claims himself Norton I, emperor of America (I'd like to declare myself Empress.)
September 17, 1850 Great fire in San Francisco (Burned all the bread and then called it sourdough)
September 17, 1835 Charles Darwins lands on Chatham Galapagos-archipelago (Sarah Palin does not believe this.)
September 17, 1796 President George Washington delivers his farewell address
September 17, 1787 U.S. constitution adopted by Philadelphia convention (And we must protect it.)
September 17, 1778 1st treaty between the U.S. and Indian tribes signed (Fort Pitt)
September 17, 1691 Colony Massachusetts Bay gets new charter
September 17, 1683 Antonie van Leeuwenhoek reports existence of bacteria (Hence my OCD and fear of germs. It's this guy's fault.)
September 17, 1678 France and Spain sign peace treaty (Imagine the tasty food at this banquet.)
September 17, 1598 Netherland sailors discover Mauritius (Long lost brother of Maury?)
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Getting it Straight

I got this email yesterday that I just had to share. It's got my snarky tone but captures the issues rather succinctly. And yeah, it's slanted. But if you took the lean facts and charted them side by side, you'd come to the same conclusion. Take a looksie. And do your day's public service by passing it on.

Seriously, it's time we start looking at things a bit differently. It's time we start doing our own digging and thinking. It's time we think about the long term impact of the McPain ticket. It's time we apply realistic metrics to what both sides are promising. It's time to get serious.

I realize that Obama is running against McCain, not Palin. But the combination of the McPain ticket is frightening. Take a look at what Eve Ensler wrote about the ticket. It's a package deal, my friends.

Excerpted from the email I got:

If you grow up in Hawaii , raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."

Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers: a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

Name your kids Willow , Trig, and Track: you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating: you're well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl (sports caster), 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America 's.

If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DUI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA , your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Metrosexuals in the House

Deal is currently in the bathroom with Bird. They have become miniature metrosexuals, favoring a shower everyday. We have four body sprayers in the master bath shower, and the shower is plenty big for 3-4 people to shower off chlorine and lake muck. The boys love squirting my various bottles of shampoo, exfoliator, body wash, gel, sugar scrub, and other such things that smell yummy and should really be left for the mother, the only woman, in the house to indulge in. Why, oh why, will they not use the California Baby stuff or Burt's Bees concotions I spent a fortune on?

They have always loved to watch Mac Daddy shave. Now they each stand on either side of him like obedient dogs awaiting a pat behind the ear and patiently wait for their turn to shave. This involves a quarter size dollop of shaving cream and a cotton ball to rub it off. They boys stand side by side cautiously rubbing that cotton ball as if it would really cut a vein. Then they run to me, cheeks pointing upward, begging me to feel how smooth they are. I suppose this display of manliness compensates for the times I let them choose one toe on each foot to paint red, magenta, coral, or whatever hue is in for the season. They are sporting a deep brick red on their big toes at the moment. I don't anticipate any bullies taking out my kid at kindergarten or preschool recess, but I do realize this practice will have to stop soon.

And Bird. Oh Bird. He stands in front of the mirror with his preferred purple (It MUST be the purple one, no, not the blue, I said NOT THE BLUE ONE!, and definitely not the pink one, no, I won't use pink, the PURPLE one is the ONLY one that will work, eeeeeggaaadddsss!!!). Apparently all combs are not created equally.

Deal uses his shower time to try to juggle his testicles. Lord knows what creeps will find me now that I've written "testicles" here. Anyway, Deal has always had a wandering hand. I'm afraid of what he'll be doing once he's in seventh grade hiding out in his room for an entire afternoon. So far he goes up to his room and says he wants to play all alone, but I know he's up there in the rocking chair sucking the hell out of his thumb. I bust him every time. "Ball" wasn't his first word for nothin'.

So this morning, as I write this, the boys are in the shower. Mac Daddy is standing by with the Spiderman and Thomas hooded towels. Licensed character shit is fine for the things the public does not see (towels, underwear, sheets even). But I don't want my kids to be sporting licensing mania to the Nth degree. No Spiderman backpack, but I did cave for the Batman lunchbox. And so I digress.

This morning Deal is fondling the hell out of his little balls. It must be a combination of fascination, curiosity, and well, old fashioned, it-just-feels-good. After squeezing those suckers around for a bit, he looked up with those gloriously long eyelashes beaded with water and asked, "If I squeeze my tenders too hard will they pop out?"

Our eyeballs almost popped out from laughing.
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Monday, September 15, 2008

An Omnivore by Any Other Name

I love food. I love to shop for it, grow it, cook it, eat it, serve it. I read cookbooks like they're novels, yet I never follow a recipe. The Food Network is like porn (when Giada's on, Mac Daddy would agree.). I joke that on my deathbed if I am allowed one fantastic last meal or one last orgasmic romp in the hay, I'd take the food. For one thing, the meal would last longer. No disrespect to Mac Dady here, but you're all with me on this, right? Right?

My boys eat everything without even realizing they are being adventurous. We had chicken cordon bleu (with swiss cheese and proscuitto...panko makes all the difference here too), carrot souffle, and an avocado salad for dinner the other night. These kids eat like kings, I tell you. They have already developed an affinity for tasty delights such as manchego, sushi (and we all love the eel, City Mama!), cannolis, roasted eggplant, and dal. They abhor typical kids menu fare such as dinosaur shaped nuggets (the authenticity of the chicken is debatable), canned fruit cocktail, and fried macaroni and cheese (WTF?!).

We are lucky to have a picky eaters in the family. Bird does not like potatoes at all, and Deal has trouble with the stringyness of snap peas. Mac Daddy won't touch apple sauce, and I won't eat liver, lima beans, cherries, raisins, or black licorice. I guess on paper I am the pickiest one of all. Mac Daddy even ate pig brain on a trip to Vietnam. No worse than what's in those nuggets.

Now here's a fun meme from City Mama.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten. (In my case, everything I've tried is in purple.)
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. I can't figure out how to cross out so I made the font extra small.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at Very Good Taste linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos Rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari
12. Pho
13.PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
(Never again.)
24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
(My grown up lassi is here.)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O (Last week's 5:00 Fridays post)
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
(A major benefit of living in Krisy Kreme's home state!)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
(Does the jam count?)
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini
(My favorite is with Hendrick's gin.)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S'mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst (One the best things about eating in Berlin!)
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill (That's what I think is in those chicken nuggets.)
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini (Wrote about that too.)
81. Tom Yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
2. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox
(What my kids had for dinner last night as a matter of fact!)
97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

23 Magazines and Not One in the Bathroom

I have some pretty highbrow magazines coming to my mailbox. I'm one of those erudite, horn rimmed glasses kind of girl, don't ya know.

Um, not really.

But magazines, or any other reading material for that matter, do not make their way into the bathroom. Staph germs on the pages I flip through?! The horror. Not under my roof.

There are actually pretty flighty publications that pepper my reading list which tends to get a little heavy and hearty. My brain needs material that requires no more attention than a wee bit of perusal while I engage in other activities like watching Alton Brown or listening to Mac Daddy hammer out flight costs and times for a holiday trip to see family back in Wisconsin. I read magazines during my brain's down time.

And, because I work in marketing, it's helpful to see and read what resonates with various audiences these days. For instance, here's what I've learned: Sex sells to both men and women. Children are becoming miniature adults. Everyone eats. Fashion makes us feel like shit about ourselves. Celebrity worship is alive and kicking. Dockers is making a comeback. People still sport the milk mustache. Paul Mitchell must stop starring in his own ads. Target rocks. People are actually willing to spend a mortgage payment on a handbag. Men are eternally trapped in the bodies of 12-year old boys. No one is a natural blond. Indian women apparently do not live in America.

Here's what I currently have a subscription to (and yes, I do read them all, albeit not necessarily in the month in which they were delivered):

  1. Southern Living - Fantastic recipes and tidbits on gardening (I live vicariously.)
  2. Cooking Light - Easy recipes that I actually have the ingredients for, and most importantly, dessert often makes the cover story
  3. Food & Wine - Add shoes and you've got a purely perfect publication.
  4. Details - Men's fashion and what nots that are a good insight into the metrosexual lifestyle.
  5. Maxim - Tasteless and sexist, but the jokes are funny.
  6. Glamour - Still a keeper after all these years. Funny, now all those articles about wrinkles and hair color speak to me.
  7. Inc. - Hipper than your average business rag.
  8. Entrepreneur - Does the opposite of inspiring me; makes me curl up and give up.
  9. Wired - Not written in a language I understand.
  10. Marie Claire - Fashion. Blah. Make Up. Blah. Boyfriends. Blah.
  11. Lucky - Shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Love the little stickies inside to mark what I covet.
  12. Allure - Hair and make up, two things I don't do. I'm a ponytail and swipe of mascara and black eyeliner girl (liquid only).
  13. Self - Awesome workouts, but the lithe models don't fit the "all women are beautiful" message.
  14. Consumer Report - A must-have if you ever buy anything.
  15. National Geographic Traveler - Cool trips but out of my reach.
  16. Conde Nast Travel - Way out of my league. More living vicariously.
  17. Cookie - Fabulous girl clothes that are fabulously expensive. Not for the poor or frugal. And totally unrealistic visual representation of motherhood.
  18. Parent - Your basics. Moms, kids, meals.
  19. Brain, Child - Fantastic essay writing with no fluff.
  20. W - Too big for my mailbox. Obnoxious fashion. And I've hated the letter "W" for at least four years now.
  21. Rolling Stone - Lost all faith when the Jonas Brothers were on the cover.
  22. Newsweek - Anna Quindlen.
  23. Domino - Cool, funky, fresh home decor ideas and inspiration that are actually affordable and doable.

And I did learn one funny little tidbit from this month's Glamour: Apparently Meghan McCain won't be running for office any time soon (wipe brow and exhale here). However, she did say, and I quote, "I would help run a campaign but, I would never run for office. I've seen how it affects families, and I'd like to have one someday." Hmmm... Clearly the interview was ages ago since it made the September issue, meaning it took place before Sarah Palin was a household name.

So what magazines are in baskets and bathrooms around your house?
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