Friday, October 16, 2009

5:00 Fridays

Fall has befallen. Here in North Carolina October usually means flip flops and shorts even though I am itching to pull out my tall boots and sweaters. Well, I got my wish and have spent the better part of this week making sure the shirts I wear have adequate layering because it's cold. Shall we say there's a certain nip in the air?

When I lived in Germany nothing warmed my bones like a steamy mug of gluhwein. There should be an umlaut over the "u" so don't go scolding me for not knowing my Deutsch. Blogger doesn't let me add an umlaut, or if it does, I can't figure it out. Bird learns German in school so all I need is for his teacher to bust me for setting a bad example. In these parts I we'd call gluhwein (just picture the umlaut, OK?) mulled wine. It's a cold weather favorite that just beckons some fuzzy socks, a broken in soft fleece jacket, and heaps of blankets folded across your lap with a loved one's arms draped over your shoulders.

I'm going to whip up a batch to share with friends by the outdoor fireplace this weekend. If there's a nip in the air where you live, you too will appreciate the warmth this pulses through your body and senses.


4 quarts dry red wine (I go for a zinfandel.)
1 pint brandy (Rum works too.)
1 cup sugar
6 cinnamon sticks (plus more for garnish)
12 cloves, whole
3 generous slices of fresh ginger
2 oranges, sliced
1 lemon, sliced

This makes a big batch so it's definitely for sharing.

Pour the wine into a large pot and heat on low. Add sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the brandy and gently stir. Heat but whatever you do, don't let it boil. Toss in the lemon and orange slices. Continue to simmer on low for about 45 minutes to an hour. Go ahead and add more sugar if you want it sweeter. Just make sure you stir until it dissolves. Serve hot in a mug and garnish with a slice of orange and a stick of cinnamon.

5:00 FridaysSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

It's Blog Action Day. Almost 8000 bloggers are writing today about a cause that impacts all of us and quite literally, the world we live in.

I'm not going to get all scientific and political on you. I happen to think the environment isn't a political issue. I will, however, be brazen and tell you that I think you're a fool (which is nice speak for "idiot") if you think the planet is not in peril. And you are a parasite if you're doing nothing to protect it from the likes of well, you.

I know people who don't recycle. They claim they don't because the government can't make them do anything. So I'm guessing they don't wear seat belts or refrain from acting on delusional murderous thoughts too. Oh, and I bet they don't pay taxes since the government can't make them. Of course, Uncle Sam will track their asses down when money is concerned. So until there is a penalty, these people will not recycle simply as an act of defiance. I say it's doltish. A simple act of obtuse ignorance. Worse than that even, these people know that recycling is the right, responsible thing to do, yet they don't as their lame retaliation to "big government."

I also know people who think all this talk about global warming and climate change is a bunch of bunk. They believe it's all hooey and media hype. These folks figure the earth has been around for billions of years and isn't going anywhere. And apparently the earth is flat and mood rings really work. It must be easy to live in a shroud of callow fog.

What worries me is that these people are my peers, educated adults who have children and relish the many adventures to be had in the great outdoors. I always say "I hate nature." I say it under my breath and in jest, of course. What I mean is that I am terrified of snakes, creepy crawlies, critters and I detest dirt. I happen to love nature when experienced from a rocker on a porch with a Hendrick's & tonic in my hand. Yet I recycle and live as green a life as I can muster to do my part to save nature. These other folks of whom I speak actually sleep in nature and frolic on kayaks and skis and boats. Yet they don't value the earth and environment in which such frolicking ensues.

Ignorance can be rectified. But how to battle apathy?

I'm no scientist but I can tell you that based on everything I have read, seen, or otherwise consumed, climate change is real. This isn't a political issue; it's a human one.

Our parents and their parents before them, shared the desire to make their children's lives better than theirs. I think it's a common, if unwritten, theme of parenthood. Don't we want to make things better for the generation behind us? Is it not in fact our duty to leave the earth a better, cleaner, safer, saner place than we found it?

I know that I want my sons to know what amazing creatures roam our planet. Whether I actually want to see them up close and personal is another story. I want them to have access to the glorious riches of Mother Nature. I want them to frolic in the water and sands and mountains and meadows. Without a gas mask or chemical warfare suit. Think I'm freely tossing out hyperbole? Well, you're wrong. We have done irreparable harm to the planet, our Mother, our provider. Our folly and hubris will leave us eating crow. Except we'll find that that too is extinct.

On this day, October 14, 2009, Blog Action Day, I urge you to brush up on the real ways climate change affects us today and generations to come after us. I challenge you to find three ways you can live a greener, more sustainable life. I can certainly do more, but here's how I started:

  • Join a CSA to eat organic, local produce (and let's not forget tasty!).
  • Reuse grocery bags and be vigilant about bringing your own bags everywhere.
  • Wash and reuse plastic food containers and zipper plastic bags.
  • Pack lunches in reusable containers. Trust me, your kids will bring them home. Your husband might not.
  • Switch to cloth napkins.
  • Grow your own veggies (I, Queen of the Brown Thumbs - literally and figuratively, even had a bounty this year!)
  • Be vigilant about recycling - no cardboard container should go in the trash.
  • Don't use the garbage disposal.
  • Keep pesticides off your lawn. Set a new paradigm for what a healthy lawn looks like.
  • Use those funny shaped LED light bulbs.
  • Keep the temp at 80 in the summer like I do (If nothing else, it discourages house guests.).
  • Ditch the leaf blower and use a rake!
  • Walk more, drive less.
  • Carpool.
  • Wash laundry only when you have a full load.
  • Steer clear of any products that contain pesticides.
  • Use chemical-free cleansers.
  • Reuse wrapping, tissue paper, and gift bags.
  • Buy local and seasonal; tomatoes in November taste like crap and aren't worth their carbon footprint!
  • Use the library.
  • Swap clothes and household items with friends.
In aggregate, every single little thing we do makes an enormous impact. It's not just a lousy cliche. Perspective, people. Just like your one vote, it matters. Look, it's not hard. It's not a crippling change for your family. It's easy to get the kids on board.

After all, this is for them.

Love Your Mother.

Blog Action Day: Climate ChangeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wordless Wednesday: Headlock Love

Wordless Wednesday: Headlock LoveSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, October 12, 2009

Toto SoftClose Toilets in Every Parent's House

It's a wondrous life we parents lead, thinking our little children adore us. I know I for one picture a gaze of love and wonder and respect when Bird and Deal daydream about how darn right awesome I am. Oh I have intricate, if not deluded, images of how fantastically perfect I am and that they relish in winning the mommy lottery. I like to imagine that they truly believe that mommy rocks. I sometimes trick myself into thinking that they'd never trade me for the mom who buys Lucky Charms and Lunchables and never utters the phrase "Mind your table manners." Granted, what's lucky about motherhood is that my sons have no other reference points.

We moms and dads like to think that we are the proverbial apple of our children's eyes, as they are ours (most of the time, ahem). What's with all the apple analogies anyway? (e.g. Apple of my eye. Apple that didn't fall from the tree. One bad apple ruins the whole bushel. And let's just toss in the whole apple a day bit for fun.) Anyhoo, we figure it's well into the tween years that our children start finding our faults and uttering the I hate yous and slamming doors in our faces. I don't know if you've ever used a Toto SoftClose toilet before (pegged as "The Ultimate Toilet Seat"...who knew there was such a thing?!), but I'm telling you, there's a market here for SoftClose doors.

Pardon me while I digress a moment. I'm about to impart incredibly important information. Did ya catch the alliteration there? Alliteration comes second to homonyms in the hierarchy of my love of words and all the tricks they do. This is why math is no fun. Math is right or wrong. No tricks. No sleight of hand. Just a bunch of black and white aha moments tied up in a neat bow with exactly the same lengths of ribbon. Now where was I? Aha! Toilet seats! So the Toto SoftClose toilet seat has a lid that doesn't slam. All four of our bathrooms are outfitted with these puppies. Think about it, I have three boys lifting (and closing because I have taught them all about staph germs and manners) toilet seats around this joint. All I need is a trip to the ER because of a slammed little johnson. And I'll never jump in shock while slicing kohlrabi from the sound of a SLAM! What? You don't know what kohlrabi is? What is wrong with you people?! Just trust me when I tell you that toilet seat reduces injury. And it reduces noise. I'll do anything to make my house a quieter home. If it were self-cleaning like my oven we'd be on to something.

Stick with me here, I promise you this toilet seat potty business is going somewhere. We're going places, I tell you!

So I think we need to plan for the teenage years of doors inevitably slamming by installing the Toto SoftClose hinges on all our doors. You parents of girls should definitely heed this. I recall slamming many a door in my day. And wow what a satisfying feeling that was. Better than a Snickers at 10:00 AM behind closed doors. I have a hunch many doors will be slammed in my house. If a smushed johnson doesn't land us in the emergency room a lost finger just might. Wally Lamb said it best, I know this much is true.

Now back to our previously scheduled post.

While we mommies and daddies might fool ourselves into thinking that our children find us irresistible and spectacular, I'm here to burst your bubble that's firmly perched on a high horse.

Allow me to spin a speedy tale.

My friend's 4-year old daughter was wielding a toy magic wand (as opposed to a real magic wand, duh!). This little girls loves to deck out in pink and tutus and tulle. She is really a princess who simply poses as the girl-next-door type of regular kid. We're on to her bewitching shenanigans. And I can tell you that this little girl worships her mommy. So while wielding said wand she asked her mommy what she wanted to be turned into. And my friend, princess' mommy, smiled warmly, fanned the tiny yet powerful flame in her heart, and replied, "Well dear, all I want is to be a beautiful mommy."


Fire's out.

Her 4-year daughter replied, "Mommy, pick something else. I don't have enough magic for that!"

Proverbial door slammed in my friend's face. Woulda hurt less if the words had a Toto SoftClose.

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