Thursday, December 27, 2012

Making The Most Of A Roast

Wow! I'm expected to know how to give birth and blow torch a roast?
courtesy of drewslowfoodcu

This year I hosted Christmas dinner.
I said, "Sure, I'll host and make a roast!"
It sounded traditional and picture book perfect.

...And they all said Merry Christmas and had roast. The End.

Only I had never made a roast.

I had never purchased a big hunk of beef nor known how many cuts there were under the category of roast. I didn't know the (shocking) price of a quality roast for 8 people.

After weeks of preparation for this curious thing I called Christmas Roast and sorting through many ways to cook one, I should now have an associates degree in bone in rib roast making. Thanks to a lot of looking around online, asking various butchers at meat counters, checking several recipes I landed on this site that had all I needed to make my Christmas Roast. Well, I'm happy to say with luck and research they all said Merry Christmas and had a deliciously prepared roast.
The End

Monday, December 24, 2012

Half Baked Christmas

I tried to get the house in a Christmasy spirit and all that happened was some half-ass as-quick-as-I-could bad light jobs. A lame project here and there that just needs more time and attention. My Christmas cards were dark and someones chin was partially chopped off. But they got out damn it!
More than once Rich has said, "that's embarrassing". I don't have it in me to care. Maybe next year. Maybe never.

Everything I can get done in a weekend occurs in the 2 hour window when Stella takes a nap. (If Sam is napping too.) This includes showering and maybe brushing my fangs.

The most tiring part about motherhood I've found is the 10 levels of multitasking and mental planning going on and on in my head. Doing everything interrupted is not good for concentration.

When can there be just one thought.
One task.
And the time to do it?

I got a project done yesterday that had been on my mind for several months. I've been waffling around about what to put above the buffet in the dining room and after accumulating a decent collection of plates to use they were hung. Rich helped with the arrangement and wall anchor technique. I have lamps on order so I'll attach a picture when it's "more done" as all the way done may be a thing of the past.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Favorite Things

These are a few of my favorite things. This year and right now. Happy Holidays!
By artist Paige Bridges
Explore  blog about a 30-something Colorado couple currently going around the world in 18 months. What do you pack for that?!
HGTV Magazine  forever looking for my Domino replacement
Flipping Out  Jeff Lewis is part artist, mental patient, pervy friend and bravely bares a lot of himself in this t.v. show

One Kings Lane daily specials on interior decorating and gifts - new stuff and antiques
Zulily good deals on kids stuff. Shipping takes a few weeks but usually it's worth it.
Arbonne RE9 Advanced Intensive Renewal Serum not a big lotion person but when I put this on at night my skin is seriously softer and actually 'radiant' the next day.

No contract phone! I now pay half of what I used to pay per month and I have unlimited everything. I LOVE IT. So far so good.
Pinterest for filing ideas, images, decore, food, you name it. File the picture so you can look at it later and go,"oh yeah, good idea!" The image often takes you back to the url if it's still active too.

Lori's Lemon Honest Tea good natural tea with a little sweet (no corn syrup)
Sweet Leaf gallons of sweet tea for my honey (also no corn syrup & their original site is corrupt right now)
Perdue Simply Smart Chicken - my 1 year old loves this chicken. She knows when I substitute with a different brand. Just chicken and a light breading. For grown-ups throw a couple strips on a salad for a healthy quick dinner.
Allrecipes for really decent recipes and a lot to choose from
Simply Naked wine they had me at unoaked. Decent wine for meals and for the unspecial occasion of you, your love and some t.v.

Wegmans Cranberry orange bread good right out of the bread bag plain. Anything else makes it just that much better. Seasonal and sooo tasty.
Bad Santa my favorite holiday movie. Hey, I'm twisted. This is a real different take on Christmas spirit. If you are OK with rated R movies & you like Billie Bob Thornton check it out.
Bull Run Festival of Lights  Maybe there is a good light show in your neighborhood.
I love getting in the car Christmas eve and getting my cheesy light display on. The babies get to sit in my lap we go so slow through this park.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Green Dogs Are Great

Celebrating December 13 will be the 4th year I've had my rescue dog. In Byrdie's honor (formerly Robin) I'll tell you our story of adoption.

Once upon a time I was looking for a French Bulldog. I wanted a rescue, adult, non-chewing, house trained dog. My quest led me to Petfinder. Which led me to a million different breeds. Who knew Frenchies were hard to come by as they are in demand.
Elvis, Bubba, Byrd, Byrdie, Bbbbbyrd, Robin
I made an inquiry call about a dog and ended up being a foster parent the next day for Family Pack Rescue. The dog I liked had been rescued so I was asked to foster 2 beagle brothers that were going to be killed by the weekend if someone didn't take them home. Not what I had planned but I liked being a foster mom. I helped get some pups out of danger and move them through the system while I looked for my forever dog. I'd never owned a dog so fostering was a warm up to ownershipdom.

One day I got an alert from Family Pack Rescue with a list of dogs that were in need "or else" and I saw my girl. Not a Frenchy but a sweet funny face that spoke to me. I made the call did the application and planned my overnight trip to Roane County Animal Shelter. One of my best rash moves ever. She is as sweet as her picture.

I learned shelter life is brutal. Many shelters don't have the funds to pay for electricity or man power over the weekends so animals either get fostered/adopted out or die.
Coming into the holiday season if you are considering a pet consider your local shelter Shelters by state. Such a gift! 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Heart Wegmans

You know how Charlie felt when he got a golden ticket? Elated to go into the magical, dreamy chocolate factory? That's about how I felt going to the SAC base Commissary with my mom as a kid. I dreamt up ways to get locked inside overnight so I could taste all of the things she wouldn't let me get. I wanted to lick the bubble gum wallpaper!

Fast forward to now and if a grocery store is "all that" I can find myself getting well, a bit of a crush actually. Like I did with Trader Joe's. It took me awhile to notice him but now I have a crush. Whole Foods is always breath taking but he's a bit of a poser-rich boy who lies. We're kind of on the outs but so goodlookin'.

That brings me to my king crush of the moment. Wegmans. Cue the angles singing. Inside is the culmination of old-timey markets with all of the glass cases and fresh food displayed for sale with friendly vendors who know their stuff. Fresh bread, seafood, pastries. Meals to go. Buffet style entrees.

Gourmet cheese an olive bar and wine, OH MY!

There is a natural food area. There are also regular budget conscience isles with the usual affordable items. There are places to eat and drink wine. A Coffee bar. Subs and pizza to go.
It's a store within a store within a restaurant within a bar within a old timey market. Whew! It's an experience. I can't go there for a quick stop. It's an event that deserves time and attention. It's big. It's bad-ass. It's food love.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Good Boys

I'm going to introduce you to the men in my life.
Mountain Man, A.K.A. Rich, has the hairy chin. He and I were coffee buddies for years. Every day @ 3:00 p.m. we'd get coffee @ work. Then one night we went bowling and a romance was born. The guy can build anything and knows a lot about a vast array of subjects. He is part motor head, geek and Wall street prodigy. He also has great taste!
The other dude is Sam. He is the best hugger.
Now I know what my parents meant when they said I was an "easy baby".
Aside from coming into this world 3 months premature, Sam has been easy. The good thing about him being early is I get to have an infant for that much longer. Soon he's going to be independent like his 21 month old sister. These are my BOYS. My heart swells.  (P.S. MM needs a new recliner!)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Home Sweet Nebraska

Growing up in Nebraska is all I know. As a youth I found films and television shows skipping over middle America. They seemed to jump from one coast to the other. The lack of exposure of my state & landscape was upsetting. Why couldn't E.T. have landed in Nebraska?
Let's cut to a scene that includes the Platte River where 500,000 Sandhill Cranes migrate through Grand Island. Perfect for a murder.
A Lost Boys type movie in Fontenelle Forrest along the Missouri River. Where someone runs away from home or escapes the bad guys by wading over to Iowa.
Or a highway-chase movie going through the Sandhills and roaring past Chimney Rock.
How about a family trying to keep the rodeo life going. Brad Pitt lead bull rider!
I long for some vistas of grassland and small towns in my films. I'm tired of big lights and dry dessert landscapes.

Cue the tumbleweeds!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Post Thanksgiving

Wanted to post a few quick pictures of the tables. The wild grass proved to shed way too much to put near food. So maybe better luck next year. 
Part of my creative process is accepting when there is an epic fail and keep on moving. :) 
Things turned out o.k. even without the wild grass and feathers. Surprisingly the usual suspects didn't get drunk and my dish was the only thing there without butter.
BTW I sewed a pillowcase with an actual sewing machine yesterday. It's been since I was about 9 that I have used one because I was so frustrated by the experience. I do think it may be a little easier now. No promises but this could be something...the reveal of that stuff will be with the bedroom reveal. Now I may be able to sew the drapes rather than iron the hem.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stolen Meatballs

Mountain Man has been working 3 weekends in a row so I have not been very adventurous lately. Thanksgiving we go to a pot luck with 25-35 people. Alas, someone signed up for my meatball appetiser. I thought Swedish meatballs were my thing.  
I have brought them for a few years now.
So I am left flailing a bit to come up with a substitute. 
Friday night I did a test run on Warm Fennel and Parmesan Dip by good old Martha. Because she's usually a bit complicated I did a dry run and ended up eating 80% myself which went LOVELY with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I had only used one fennel not the three as it calls for. It was pretty good so I shall bring it to the feast.   

On Thanksgiving eve we get together for prep time and festivities. I set the tables & decorate them. This year I will try and be a little more natural. I work with the props I am supplied and bring a few of my own. Here is a hint of what I'm thinking this year.

 If I had a staff I'd have them comb the fields for more cat tails and pretty grass.
More pictures to come after the decor is finished but in the mean time. Enjoy yourselves this Thanksgiving. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Big Dreams Do Come In Small Packages

It's the story of when desire meets instinct and passion. And how when this happens doubt and fear take a back seat because all you can smell is victory. SWEET VICTORY! 
I love when that happens. I admire when that happens because I know someone is following their dream. Doing that takes courage. Down fear down!

Smokey And The Bandit

The planets aligned Sunday morning and I caught a wonderful CBS Sunday Morning interview. Something about that show gives me moments of sheer bliss. Has since I was little.

I secretly want to be a guest one day. A low grade dream but fear BEWARE.      

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Letting Go Of Cool

I have long since given up on the hunt of good independent films and reading all about them. I no longer thrill on finding secret foodie spots in D.C. My trendy clothes shopping is on the back burner. My dance moves are stuck in the 90's.

In spite of these tragedies this has also given me new perspective. It gives me the chance to see myself without all of the frills and love me undone. And in turn I look at others with a more gentle gaze. The way that I in my current state would like to be seen.

I play a game that I'm looking for others who can see in this way. When we meet we will know telepathically. No need for words just a cool mental handshake.
Photo from William Sun

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

After The Storm & The Tempest In A Teapot

As Sandy was blowing closer to the Mid-Atlantic this weekend there was change brewing throughout our house. 
I'm going to step up now and apologize; to all the mothers out there I snuffed my nose at and thought, "NOT ME!" or "WHAT HAPPENED?" I'm sorry, OK?!! It happened to me and I get it now. Unless you have a personal trainer, the will of steel or some non-human genes your body enlarges & changes from pregnancy. Then you have no time for yourself or sleep/energy to do much about it. My days of deliberate exercise have come to a complete halt.

There were warning signs. I knew my wardrobe & body were in jeopardy when I had to purchase clogs. My feet were so swollen during my first pregnancy that none of my cute shoes fit. 

Finally after two years of stillness I went through my forgotten fashionista wardrobe with a gale-like force. It had been sitting untouched and I basically got rid of it all.  As I said good-bye to my old smaller sized stuff I believed we would meet again in a more updated version so I was o.k. This is just a passing storm that too will blow over. Besides, in it's wake it has left something breathtakingly beautiful.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Milestones Blah!

I am apparently a delayed adult according to the charts.

In the last 20 months the word milestones has been rearing itself. I suppose I understand the need for them but being from the Midwest it feels like a lot of East Coast pressure.
I do not enjoy the notion that my child needs to pick up x amount of blocks by x age in order to get into Harvard. And anyway I commend people who listen to their own drummer. Milestones feel like using the same measuring stick for things that are too different.
I suppose getting a full time job, married, kids, retiring with money are typical adult milestones. Aren't those goals too?

Possible considerations for new adult milestones; When...
  • You find your first therapist (in spite of insurance obstacles)
  • You don't get divorced - is that more of a goal?
  • You are addiction & addict free
  • You accept and love yourself
  • You realize you can't control others
  • You figure out love is never lost because you created it in the first place
  • You can lose 20 lbs in a week (post baby)
Most of those are a lot more difficult than setting up a 401k plan and are music to my ears.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Going Interior To Decorate

Yep Baby, it's getting cold outside. Which is a fine time to pull out the blankets and buy a new rug for the chilly cement floor. I am finally getting to decorate the new (transitional) master bedroom. Mountain Man is a carpenter/contractor so we have been converting garage space into living space. For a WHILE now. All of the logistics of heat, electricity, drywall, doors and that boring stuff has been put in place. I...we are now picking the decor. I have looked at enough magazines, blogs, Pinterest boards, TV & websites to have a degree in decorating.
Garage in early stages. We added that wall on the right.
We are (working on) not buying a lot of new stuff and trying to use things in a storage unit of furniture or build it. The coolest thing in the room aside from the view of the woods and sunrise are the beams made from re-purposed pallet wood.
There are 3 of these pallet beams in the room.
We looked and looked at barn doors but the hardware just made them crazy expensive since we wanted two sets. So he made those too from plain Home Depot doors and MDF. He did one wall in wood for a custom look.
There are 2 barn door sets. They go on the new wood wall.
To see my potential finishing touches you can check out my Pinterest Master and Master Final boards.   Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll reveal how things evolved.

Mostly finished...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Halloween, I've Got This!

Halloween has stumped me for as long as I can remember. I feel a crazy pressure to come up with something cool or original and fail miserably. Of course never wanting to just buy a darn ready-made costume I try to piece something together from the thrift store or closet. I have acquired some fun wigs at least. And I'll be darned, I'm not copping out to be something "sexy" for Halloween, that's not for me.

Some past "costumes" I created to go out in were a waitress, Axl Rose, an evil doctor, a model w/ bad teeth, someone in a dress trying to look dead and many more lame forgettable characters.

One year I wore a flannel shirt & headband like Axl.
Last year was my daughter's first Halloween and her dad got her a skeleton onesie. So I thought I would do an elaborate Day Of The Dead face to go with it. Major Fail. The lameness of my DOTD attempt sent me into a hysterical laughing fit it was so far from cute. We went to my dad's busy neighborhood to trick-or-treat because we live in the woods and she rubbed it all off anyway by the time we got there.
Make-up reapplication was simplified.

This year we have a son and a daughter! Pinterest and Google give me support & images for ideas. Sam will be a skeleton (last year's outfit hey, where is it?) or a bee (gifted) and Stella will be a mermaid (thrift store) or superhero (closet). We've planned earlier. Rich already got makeup and props. What could go wrong? If we can get this down one day I may even dress up again & have decorations beyond pumpkins.

Photo taken from Pinterest.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ghosts of Charlottesville

I took a day trip to Charlottesville, Virgina on a lovely day this fall. It was a girl trip to visit Monticello. I did no reading to brush up on my history. Did little research on the city. I just Google mapped it. Bought tickets. And off we went. The day was to unfold loosely (sans babies).

The town has an old air with a renewed young vibe. The architecture has an industrial, green, minimalist look scattered about town on many buildings. We ate lunch on Main Street at Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar near a cute market.  When in doubt go to Main Street in any new town!

Then we took the tour of Monticello. In the foyer there were maps and trophy heads. I imagined it perfect for a Vogue shoot. Wigs and bright silk poofed dresses would look gorgeous there. Throughout the house I was surprised at many facets that are popular decorating features today. Even the exterior style of the home is still seen all over Virginia.

So we continued with another tour afterward about the slaves of Monticello. This was done outside along the road where some slave quarters would have lined up leading to the main house. They no longer existed because they were wood but stone markers represented the aprox. 12'x14' size. Archaeologists were there digging to find the original road. Below would have been a view from a slave's quarters. 

Looking South from Monticello
We set out on our own to see the wings of the home where there was ice storage, cooks quarters and wine/beer rooms. But for me the insight to the cruelty and inhumanity of our nation overshadowed whatever accomplishments may have resulted at this residence.
Who put those stones in Monticello?

Dinner happened when we stumbled upon the downtown mall . For a Thursday night in a small city the place was bustling. There were lots of shops and restaurants with outdoor seating. The mall was like a carnival with outdoor entertainment in the form of a traveling theater troupe, a woman walking on five foot stilts, drag queens, and such diversity everywhere. It was a real dream for people watching. We had a great dinner outside at The Blue Light Grill .  Later, with a light buzz, we forged north into the cool night trying to shake the ghosts of Charlottesville.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Girl Band

  Did I mention I'm in a girl band? Or was. We broke up.Well it's true. We were the Circ Girlz. Three members of diverse chicks bonded by books to start. Then music, dealing with the public,TV, thrifting, food, road trips, and alcohol bonded us further. Through the years we debated who would be lead singer and what instruments we could fake play. The point is we wanted to be rock stars. Or maybe just do what we did together -play- MORE often. Like as in all of the time.
  We're actually similar to a small book club or talk show. We often thought we could be rented for party entertainment or be really interesting friends to famous people. Tracy and Mimi are very well read and intelligent. I am the person of action. Tracy wanted to have a cooking show or talk show and hang out with Oprah. Mimi wanted to be an astronaut wife or girlfriend to several skinny musicians. I wanted a shorter commute and to get rid of my acne. I also wished to live in a music video with Sting or Eddie Vedder. 
Taken on Circ Girlz beach trip.
  All 3 of us are comedians and artists. Something maybe only our band members recognize in one another. We actually were each others biggest fans. Sounds like a support group now. Oh yes, we had therapist too.
  For gosh, maybe 10 years we took an annual voyage to the beach in the dead of winter. The routine was to thrift shop til we drop, watch CMTV, DVDs, eat brunch & boardwalk food, drink mimosas and do facials and pedicures. Crammed into 3 days. Recently 2 of us started a Pintrest group.
And that's where we get to hang out until we reunite for another excursion.

  Contact me if you want to rent the Circ Girlz for a party. We may 'get back together' for the right price.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Waxing Nostalgic Drive-Ins

What is better than a drive-in movie in the summer? NOTHING, that's what. I just Googled the nearest one and I have no clue where these towns are. Too far is where they are. I'm going to have to think about opening my own drive in now. How much could it cost to have a parking lot in the boon docks with a big screen & some concessions? 
Why are they almost all gone? 

The first drive -in was Hollingshead's drive-in which opened in New Jersey June 6, 1933.
The Moonlite Theatre has been a Virginia-drive in since 1948.
Some of these retro signs shout poodle skirts & pony tails!  I bet a lot of spit has been swapped here. And how many kiddies fought to stay awake for the last movie or screamed in fear at the horror flicks?
Laying in the back of a pick up truck looking up at the stars is awesome and then you add watching some cheesy movies? That's living. That's youth. Ahh nostalgia.
If you are looking for something different to do take an adventure and support a drive-in before school is back in. Keep an old summer tradition alive. Get your bug spray, cooler and blanket set for a starry fun night.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Today's word; glamping

The word glamping is a blend of camping with the adjective glamorous, i.e. the notion of glamorous camping. The word first appeared about five years ago, and the concept is thought primarily to be a British invention – possibly spawned by an increasing guilt over carbon footprints among the middle classes. by Kerry Maxwell

Well Hells bells that's what I'm talkin' 'bout! Glamping!
I stumbled upon this glorious word while I was obsessing over vintage campers last week. 

1958 Ken Craft by Crissy Brennan
Shasta Trailer from Design Sponge
Now I can fantasize about G L A M P I N G with a bunch of my besties at a music festival or the fam at a beach side park. So this way I don't have to get out the flashlight and carry my toiletries down the dark scary road to the (grungy) public restroom to brush my teeth. I can be in my vintage camper or yurt, tepee or podpad. Preferably with a toilet and running water, thank you very much! This is a fantasy remember?

So instead of a big luxury hotel on the beach or a little tent at the campground there is something in between. And there is even a website for you to book your glamping trip today.  So cool. This can be taken to the extreme or minimal I'm sure. I mean, I don't need to eat scrapple on china. But a king bed, cute sheets & a stove? Heck ya, that would be swell.

1950 Vagabond, Steven & Jenay Katkowsky
 The day would be spent sipping on mixed cocktails lounging around the glampground by our glamper and somehow awesome food would get made and someone would bring us steamed shrimp & clams and maybe we'd even do a crab feast. On second thought picking crabs takes away too much time from drinking.
In this fantasy I don't really need that much food. I can be sustained by alcohol alone. We wander to the VIP section wherever we go and get perfect tans in the perfect 77 degree weather. The kids don't cry and play all day with the friendly neighbor glampers who are inviting us over for champagne and oysters right now...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Job fantasy #136 - Yoga Studio Owner 

Yoga for me is like getting a Richard Simmons hug at a Grateful Dead concert. A little less enthusiastic maybe. No, it's a therapy session on Sunday after church and a steamy trip to India bound into one. 

Slow down. Imagine an hour in your day with no one judging you (or the intent not to). A room full of people focused on positive experiences. Accepting yourself AS YOU ARE. Even if you don't have the prettiest pose or best ___ in the room. (Insert your favorite self hated item here.) And sweating your butt off from movement! 

                                                               Jody Kivort
The conventional notion that real exercise needs to be the most distance covered or weight pumped to work will be tested. The most challenging aspect of yoga for me is the mental push ups. There is the opportunity to quiet the noise in your head and be...


It takes practice to be the pose...the air...the universe. You uncluttered.

No one is shouting your name to finish. But if you can find inner stamina it's a zen win.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer On The Rocks

   Summer vacation in Michigan has become one of my fondest vacation memories and anytime trips when I can get up there. My dad and his wife have a Frank Lloyd Wright like lake house that has been a family home for two generations. The first half of the 1900's her father's family spent summertime cooling off, fishing and golfing at the lake instead of in the heat of New Jersey. Eventually buying land on a point in one of the quaintest towns you will ever see.
   The minute you get off the plane in Traverse City the air smells like sweet nothing. It's as if the oxygen molecules are brand new and your lungs can finally fill completely. We make our winding drive north through small beach towns as we go along remembering this dock and that post office. Moving further from our busy lives at home. There is a building anticipation for the first glimpse of our lake town. Where is that bridge crossing over to 'Mayberry'!
   In town bicycles and boats are the mode of transportation and dogs have a chance to be mayor, like in the neighboring community. The T.V. is on very little and supper goes late into the night. But the star of the summer is the water. Hearing waves from bed is at the top of my things to live for. When I was sixteen I learned to water ski here. Any summer we come we may kayak, swim to the other bank, pontoon, find ancient fossils on the lake shore, paint rocks, watch the sunrise or set over lake water. You name it. One of my favorite things is to spend a whole day looking for blue rocks on Lake Michigan's shore. They're remnants of an old glass factory where some bizarre oxidization happened and created a variety of brilliant blue and pine green porous rocks.
   Historically I get bored quickly with quiet towns but here I have had to give calm a chance. It surrounds you. (You have to embrace it or go insane.)We went to watch the sunset on Lake Michigan one evening and Dad and Barbara sat on a bench watching a pair of Wood ducks.They sat. And sat. And they laughed at some minute detail about the duck couple and how wonderful they were. I was in awe they were entertained by so little. My city demons desire a little more action. Back here in the city however I'm daydreaming of that boring old lake.