Monday, December 31, 2007

Welcome, 2008!

I was watching the ball drop on some New Year's special (I don't even remember whose it was), and as the crowds at Times Square were laughing and cheering, the camera caught a particular couple: He was on one knee, proposing in the middle of the hoards of people. It touched me, and it reminded me why we celebrate the coming of a new year. A new year marks a new beginning, a time for us to start over, to leave the past behind and make ourselves and our lives better.

And so, dear friends, here are my wishes for you at the coming of this New Year.

May your souls be filled with joy, your hearts with love, and your life with laughter.

May this year be better than the last.

May you continue on the path of love, whether it involves finding your someone or cherishing the one you have.

May you set and meet worthy goals.

May you forgive yourself your mistakes.

May you strive to be better than yesterday.

May you show your love with words and deeds.

May you help someone in need.

May you reach for your dreams.

May you and yours be healthy and happy.

May your trials not break you and your heartache be eased.

May you have someone to lean on in through the rough patches.

May you find joy in the small things in life.

May you love and be loved.

Happy New Year! The slate is blank again - it's up to you to fill it in.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Venting Fruststration So I Can Get Back in the Christmas Spirit

My dog just attacked another dog. Not just any other dog, either, but her best doggy-friend, my boss's dog. How does one respond to a situation like that? Especially a one like me, who is rather prone to freakoutage.

Here's what happened. I'm sitting at work, trying to make another 2400 labels because the last 2400 got all messed up, and all of a sudden I hear doggy yelping and screeching. So I look out the window, and they're in their usual wrestling position, only it's clear something has gone very wrong. I can't tell which is yelping, so I yell and them both, which usually gets them apart, but not this time. So then I think maybe their collars got stuck together somehow, so I run downstairs and get outside just in time to see my boss (who is my dad's partner, which is how he's my boss even though I work for my dad) walking out of the pen with his dog and a stick. "What the heck is going on?" I ask
"These dogs can't be together anymore!" he yells. "Your dog had mine by the throat and damn near killed him!" So he's yelling at me, which I understand, because it's an upsetting situation, but I don't respond to yelling well at all. And my dog is just sitting there inside the fence, just like nothing happened.

I go into the pen with her and check her out to see if maybe she's hurt or something, thinking that maybe he hurt her and she was defending herself, but no, she's fine. I start lecturing her, she she's just looking at me like, "What the heck are you talking about?" Then Lee (the boss-guy) comes out carrying Buddy (the dog victim) and Sadie (my dog) freaks and starts barking and growling!

So now my dog is an outlaw. Well, not really I suppose, but that's how I feel. I have to leave her at home now - not mandated by anyone, but it's the obvious appropriate reaction - and it's going to be as hard for me as it will be for her. It frustrates me that everyone seems to think she's a bad dog, when she's acutally very sweet. And I know you're thinking, "But she attacked another dog!" but this is VERY out of character for her. She's generally very submissive, and she and Buddy have been playing everyday for six months without a single incident.

Really, this is about me. Frankly, I haven't had the best couple of years, and I've been so lonely. Getting Sadie was the best thing I've done for myself, and I'm really attached to her. She pretty much goes everywhere with me. I'm having issues with my current situation, and I know this is going to end up being a big issue, and I'm going to end up crying. The most frustrating thing? If I talk to anyone about it, they'll tell me that I'm overreacting, and I'm taking things too personally, and I'm being irrational, all of which I already know. It just doesn't change how I feel. So I'm sending it out into the void in hopes that it will cure me of the need to vent and the anxiety, and I'll be able to go spend the evening with my family without freaking out. See? I'm already freaking out. I will not cry. Will. Not. Cry.

Does she look vicious to you?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More Nativity

Eight Maids a-Milking

Nine Ladies Dancing

Ten Lords a-Leaping

Eleven Pipers Piping

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Laryngitis S-U-C-K-S

I've never really had laryngitis before. I've been hoarse, obviously, but never acutally lost my voice. And trust me, this time it's GONE. No matter how hard I try, all I can get out it a pathetic whisper. I've given up talking for today, which has made me realize what a chatterbox I actually am. This is hard!

Laryngitis. What a bummer. Just my luck that it would happen two days before I'm supposed to sing in church.

I could use your prayers, or your whatevers if you're not the praying kind.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Seven Swans a-Swimming

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Tagging

I'm it! Jessie tagged me.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

I'm all about wrapping paper. I love to wrap gifts. I did see this way cute bag the other day though, and had to resist buying it.

2. Real tree or artificial?

Growing up we always had a real tree, and I love it. I love the smell and decorating it - basically the whole thing. Now, though, I think that artificial trees are just so much more cost effective and convenient.

3. When do you put your tree up?

I always wanted to put up the tree way before my parents did. I'm a first week of December kind of girl, and my parents are week before Christmas people.

4. When do you take it down?

We always took ours down on New Year's day. I've been known to leave mine up until February (when I was in college).

5. Hot Chocolate or apple cider?

Hot chocolate all the way.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

One year my brother won some money in the lottery and he bought me a Barbie car and boat with a trailer. That was the coolest present ever - plus it was the biggest package.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene?

Yes, I bought it in Stewart Island, New Zealand. It was ridiculously expensive, but I love it and to me it's invaluable.

8. Hardest person to buy for?

My brother-in-law. I NEVER know what to get him. Neither does my sister, acutally.

9. Easiest person to buy for?

Felicia. I know her so well, I'm always coming across something and thinking, "Felicia would love that!"

10. Worst Christmas gift ever received?

I can't think of one, but one year my very "au-naturale" sister got a giant bottle of hairspray.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Mail. Email cards are lame.

12. Favorite movie?

It's a Wonderful Life. I watched it for the first time last year and bawled my head off. Seriously, runny nose, choking sobs. I was almost recovered, but the the angel got his wings and that set me off again.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

No way. I'm not really a re-gifter. I like finding the perfect gift too much.

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Pine nuts and fudge. Not together.

15. Clear or colored lights?

I'm a big fan of colored lights, especially on houses. There are these new colored icicle lights that I LOVE. I'm all for white lights on trees, though.

16. Favorite Christmas song?

O Holy Night or The First Noel.

17. Travel or stay home?

Either, as long as I'm with my family.

18. Can you name all the Santa's reindeer?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Ruldoph. I have an album with this guy reciting "T'was the Night Before Christmas" to music, and he skips Cupid. It drives me nuts. What's wrong with Cupid? Does he have something against Cupid?

19. Angel or Star?

Angel, but it has to be a classy one.

20. Favorite Christmas memory?

Playing poker with my family and the "ghost" of John, and the look our foreign exchange student gave us when we wouldn't let her sit in his chair. I love my family. We're such freaks.

I tag Sara, Laurel and Esme.

Four Calling Birds, Five Gold Rings and Six Geese a-Laying

I'm clearly not very good at this everyday thing. Sorry.




Monday, December 17, 2007

Judging a Book by Its Cover

I was reminded of the truth of an old adage "don't judge a book by its cover" yesterday (that only applies metaphorically, by the way - you can totally judge an acutal book by its cover). There is this man that attends my church, and I have been rather impressed by him since I moved back home. He's a very rough-looking man. His hair is cut short, he has a beard. He had pierced ears and occasionally wears earrings to church. He has several tattoos on his arms; one on each forearm, so they're visible when he is in shirtsleeves. He usually wears a nice suit that fits him well, but it looks unnatural on him. Let's just say that if I didn't know him, I wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley.

Here's where the lesson comes in: This is one of the most gentle, loving men I have ever met. He's married and has four kids, only one of which is his. The older kids use his name, even though they haven't been legally adopted. No one knows where their dad is, so he can't relinquish parental rights. I have seen this scary-looking man play with his wife's hair and stroke her cheek during meetings. I've seen him cuddle his 10 year old daughter on his lap. I've seen him drop her off and activity with a hug and several kisses. The entire family is at church every Sunday, and if I didn't know that the older kids weren't his, I would never guess.

The moral of this story? If the "book" is a person, don't judge it by the cover. You never know what goodness is living inside the pages.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Three French Hens

Friday, December 14, 2007

Two Turtle Doves

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Partidge in a Pear Tree

There are two traditions in my family regarding The 12 Days of Christmas. When I was young, my mom and I would choose someone who we felt needed a little boost around Christmastime, and we would leave a gift on their doorstep everyday. They were usually small things, but the people appreciated the thought. I couldn't think of anyone to do it for this year, and I'm a little short on funds, so I can't give 12 gifts, so I thought I would gift you all for the 12 days.

The other tradition we have revolves around a nativity set. We've had the same set for years. My dad made a stable to house all the figures, and he would put out a new one every morning. Each day I would race into the living room to see which new figure had appeared that day. This year, I'm doing the same thing for you! And so . . .

On the First Day of Christmas:

Two pieces today, since they're both background.

One Finger

I found a fun new blog today - Vintage Thirty, written by Tootsie Farklepants. Yes, it's the coolest name ever. I was inspired by Ms. Farklepants (who shared her favorite commercial here) to share my own favorite commercial. Ready? Here we go!

Save Holland. Hahahahahaha! Dang that's funny.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

German Pancakes

Here's a recipe for one of my favorite lazy morning treats.

3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter

Coat large cast iron pan with oil. Place pan in oven to preheat. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Whip eggs with french whip until well mixed. Combine flour and salt (original recipe says to sift, but I never do). Add flour and salt to eggs in four additions, beating just until smooth after each addition. Add milk in two additions, beating slightly after each. Lightly beat in melted butter. Pour batter into cast iron pan (carefully!) and bake for 15 minutes at 450. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake for 10 more minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR! Top with syrup and powdered sugar and enjoy!

German pancakes are my favorite, and they're so easy to make, but they make you look like a fabulous cook. Look:

However, take note of the all caps "DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR." Don't do it. Not ever. Your pancake will fall and it will cook funny. Just trust me.

If you don't have a cast iron pan, you should buy one. Just kidding. Well, actually, you should, since cast iron pans are good to have, both for cooking and for weapons. The point is that you don't really need one for this recipe. You could do it in a glass cake pan, but if you do, don't preheat the pan with the oven, and you'll have to cook it at 450 for 25 minutes instead of 15. Still cook it for 10 at 350 though.

Here's some more advice. When pouring the batter into the pan, be very careful. If you're not, you might accidentally touch the very hot pan handle and end up looking like this:

In case you can't tell, that's my arm, and the nasty red streak is an incredibly painful burn.

Also, this doesn't really feed that many people, so if you're feeding more than four, you should probably double it. Don't worry about using a bigger pan or anything - they'll just be thicker.

So, grasshoppers: mix, bake and enjoy! Carefully.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cleaning, Exercise and Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie

I cleaned my bedroom, bathroom and car on Saturday. It was pretty gross. Actually, the bedroom wasn't so bad at all, once I put away the clean clothes and washed the rest. I also had to wrap presents because they were starting to pile up. The car wasn't so bad either - Windex wipes are my best friends. It was the bathroom that got me. It was dirty. Like, really dirty.

I won't go into too much detail because, well, I'm embarrased, and I don't want to send Jessie into cardiac arrest (she's kind of a clean freak). The first problem is that the counter in the bathroom is this really pretty grayish marble. It always looks clean. On one hand, that's great, but when you're cleaning it, it's just gross. The second problem is that my bathtub is made of this weird plasticky material, rather than porcelin. Stuff sticks to it easier, and it's a lot harder to get off. I really won't go into detail about that. Suffice it to say that there was enough gunk to look like a tiny male cheerleader. Tough little guy, too - it took some serious scrubbing to get it off. Actually, I ended up on my hands and knees in the bathtub.

Things I learned from my cleaning experience:

  • I'm more devoted to cleaning every week, because it was just plain yucky.

  • Vaccuming up dog hair sounds easy, but it's not.

  • Laurel was right - the best time to clean a shower is when you're in it. I'll get the cleaning supplies with my clothes on, though, if it's all the same.
On to topic #2. I started an exercise routine today. Can you call it a "rountine" on the first day? I probably can't. Okay, then, I exercised today with the intention of making it a routine. I'm going to let you in on a secret: I hate the gym. Hate it. I loathe it. I waited until 2:00 to take my lunch because when I bought my pass, the lady said that was the slowest time of day. There were other people there though, so it was still too busy for my taste. It's not that I dislike exercise (okay, so I don't love it), it's that I hate doing it with other people around.

Exercise is supposed to make you feel better, right? Endorphins and all that? Well, I didn't feel better. I felt hot and sweaty and embarrased. My face looked like a rudabega, my head is still throbbing and everything looked a little blurry around the edges for a while. I'm hoping for improvement with consistancy.

Exercise. Blech. I'll do it, but you can't make me like it.

Finally, on to topic #3: letting sleeping dogs lie. In this case, it's literal.

My sleeping dog:

Notice how her nose is snuggled up to her back feet. That's my baby. She's a freak, just like her mama.

This is what she looks like awake, except without the glowing demon eyes. She acutally has very pretty brown eyes. One is blue around the pupil.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Things Every Woman Should Know

My sister sent me an email containing this "poem," attributed to Maya Angelou.

Every Woman Should Have:

Enough money within her control to move out and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to.

Something perfect to wear if the employer, or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour.

A youth she's content to leave behind.

A past juicy enough that she's looking forward to retelling it in her old age.

A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.

One friend who always makes her laugh, and one who lets her cry.

A good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family.

Eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored.

A feeling of control over her destiny.

Every Woman Should Know:

How to fall in love without losing herself.

How to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.

When to try harder and when to walk away.

That she can't change the length of her calves, the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents.

That her childhood may not have been perfect, but it's over.

What she would and wouldn't do for love or money.

How to live alone, even if she doesn't like it.

Whom she can trust, whom she can't, and why she shouldn't take it personally.

Where to go - be it to her best friend's kitchen table or a charming inn in the woods - when her soul needs soothing.

What she can and can't accomplish in a day, a month, and a year.

[Editors note: I made some changes in the format; mainly puncuation. The person who originally formatted it must have has some kind of obsession with ellipses.]

After doing some research, I discovered that this list was not actually written by Maya Angelou, but rather by Pamela Redmond Satran. It was originally published in Glamour under the title, "30 Things Every Woman Should Know & Have By The Time She's 30."

Here are some of the original items that are not on the previous list (read the complete original
Things a Woman Should Have:

Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.

The belief that you deserve it.

A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don't get better after 30.

Things A Woman Should Know:

How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn't like to happen next.

The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother and the best tailor in town.

That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs or not flossing for very long.

And because Maya Angelou rocks my socks, here's something that was written by her:

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou & Pamela Redmond Satran