Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cooking Channel

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the Food Network.  I can still remember right after I started my first "real" job, racing home after work to catch two episodes of Rachel Ray (the 5-6pm slot), working out during Emeril (not my favorite - the 6-7pm slot), and then settling in with dinner for some Unwrapped and The Secret Life of Food.

But actually, Food Network holds a dear spot in my heart, because I attribute a lot of my love of cooking to watching it.  And I can say, somewhat wholeheartedly, that if i hadn't watched so many cooking shows when I first emerged in the "real world" and needed to make my own food, I wouldn't know a lot of the cooking techniques I know.  It sounds melodramatic, I realize.  And of course I learned from watching my mom - but she & I never had a sit down where she said, "ok, this is how you saute; this is how you braise; this is how you julienne" - I was taught all that stuff by Rachel, Giada, Ina, Alton, Tyler, Bobby, and Mario.

I jumped on the Food Network bandwagon at an exciting time, as well (circa 2005).  Anyone who is an avid viewer can certainly agree that in the past 5 years (but even more, the past 3) the network has exploded.  Its expanded, tried new things, explored new paths, hired new chefs - and has been pretty successful, I think.

So I love the success - I absolutely think more Americans should be watching something (even a reality show) that teaches them to cook, vs watching any of those real housewife shows or bachelorette-type things.  But my own personal preference doesn't lean towards the reality shows on Food Network Nighttime. They're fine - and I'll watch them if I'm bored - but I can't get into The Next Iron Chef or The Next Food Network Star or Chef vs. City, just not my thing.  And additionally, as my own cooking has evolved, there are certain chef cooking shows that aren't that relevant to me anymore.  I love Paula Deen & the Neelys, for example, but their shows aren't really teaching me anything - I think they're appealing more to new cooks or people who don't care about calories.

So what's a girl to do?

Enter Food Network's newest, fantastic, cooking-centric branch of their company: Cooking Channel.  I'm quickly falling in love with this the more & more I watch it.  Tons of new chefs with fresh ideas.  Nighttime programming that isn't a reality show.  Shows about food & food origins that don't have cartoony graphics in the into and aren't visiting typical, mainstream food producers.  Sleek, streamlined logos and self-promoting ad time.  It's basically a grown up/artistic version of the Food Network - and I love it!

It's not in basic cable (it's channel 248 for us).  But I highly recommend you guys tune in if you have it in your area (and maybe if you don't want to watch it, you could just keep it on when you're not home so the ratings are high, because ohmygosh I would hate to see this concept fail).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Flower Thievery

As far as I can remember, I've never stolen anything.  Like, I don't have that one funny story from childhood where I was in a store and saw a toy and had to have it, etc.  I just never did that.  I was a huge friggin wuss I must've had an early grasp of moral responsibility.

And that same wussiness moral duty has accompanied me into adulthood.  Until now.  Enter: the Crape Myrtle

These things are as abundant in my neighborhood in Summer as the azaleas are in Spring. And they're gorgeous!  Usually they're dark pink (pictured), light pink, purple, or white.  In our own side yard we have a few light pink and white ones.  And trust me, if ours were all small and I could reach the blooms, I would cut my own tree.  But they aren't - ours are too big.  So, um, sometimes, I, um, cut other people's flowers for display in my house.

[cue lightening bolts & thunder]

I guess? know it's bad.  It's rude to snip anything out of someone else's yard.  But to be fair, these trees are big and have tons of blooms; and they don't really require work - so it's not like I'm visiting the house of an award-winning gardener who slaves away on her trees.  I don't think I'd ever steal someone's real flowers - like the kind that require maintenance and care (unless maybe the house was vacant, then it would seem like fair game, but that's neither here nor there).

So I'd like to admit to the world that I've done this a few times lately.  Once before I hosted book club at my house, and once before my in laws came over for a birthday dinner.  Because flowers from the store are expensive!  And the flowering myrtle blooms are so pretty!  And it's just soooo easy to go out there and gather flowers instead of driving to the store.

I know, it's bad.  But then I started to think about my own trees.  If I looked outside and one of my neighbors was snipping from my tree, I don't think I'd be mad.  Or if I was mad, I certainly wouldn't have the guts to go out there and say anything.

Do you guys ever have wandering scissors?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Unacceptable Facebook Behavior

1) Posting something "witty" every couple hours.  Not ok.  Use Twitter for such frequency.

2) Starting every single post with "Dear _____" and then saying something witty to the proverbial person.  Boooor-innnnng.  A Dear Whomever post is funny every now & then - no more than that.

3) Trying to get attention by:
          a) Posting something intriguing/mysterious/ambiguous, but not explaining
          b) Posting about an illness or injury (unless the illness/injury was acquired in a unique way or the illness/injury is actually quite serious and/or life-threatening)
          c) Writing something specifically to "you" (ie, "why do you constantly make my heart burn with desire?")

4) Posting vehemently about politics.  Keep it light, folks.

5) Writing really long status updates - again, there's got to be another online outlet for that (a blog, maybe?).

6) Writing back & forth with your spouse (I'd say "significant other" - but I guess I could maybe see how a young relationship would possibly do this to flirt?) - but if you guys have been seeing each other more than a year (or are married to each other), just talk about it at home or via text/email.

7) Using pet names in reference to your significant other (ie, "my baby is so sweet, he got me flowers!!!!" or "good luck at work today, babe, I love you!").

8) Going through all your birthdays and sending birthday wishes at the same time - especially when you say the same thing & it's a little quirky.  I signed on today and saw five in a row from the same guy, seconds apart from each other, "Happy Birthday _______, good job being born."

9) The same guy from #8 (the "good job being born" guy) didn't send me birthday wishes on my birthday.  He sends them to everyone.  We were the same year in school.  Our parents houses have been next door to each other since 1991!  He still lives in that house with his parents, next door to mine.  He parks in my mom's garage!  Like, he has a garage opener & that's his permanent parking place!

10) Farmville, Family Feud, Mafia Wars, Sorority Life, etc.

11) Posting the same thing twice on different accounts.  So, if you have a personal page AND a work page, posting the same thing on both, so both are right on top of each other in the news feed.

12) Taking dumb quizzes & asking others to take them too.  What color/animal/number/season/douche/tree are you?

13) Saying "goodnight" every night.

And can I just say a small grievance I have with the Facebook app for iPhone:

If you're looking through your list of friends and click one millimeter too far to the right on a person who has their phone number listed, it CALLS THEM!  There's no pop up asking "do you want to place this call" (as there is in the google app) - it just does it - goes straight to the phone!  I don't know about you, but I can think of a good handful of people I don't want to accidentally call.

Did I miss any more unacceptable Facebook behavior??  Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Weekend O' Midtown

I guess I should've written about our past weekend sooner than Thursday before a new weekend, right?

Well, um, oops!  Anyway - last weekend was designated as a "Midtown Weekend."  "Midtown" is the area of Memphis we live.  While pretty large in size, as a whole, it's an eclectic part of the city - lots of cool old houses, interesting people, great restaurants, concert venues - it's the part of Memphis that doesn't give off too much of the snobby "Old Memphis" vibe.

So Friday night we went with another couple and their 2 kids (aged 2 & 5) to the Levitt Shell.  It had rained after work, which thankfully cooled things way down (since Memphis has been in an awful "heat advisory" all week).  We had a great time hanging out - and were glad we could go somewhere that was kid friendly and didn't require a babysitter.  (Although, insert another one of those moments where I sort of questioned how ready I am to have kids - it was fine, and the place really is full of kids - but when you actually have to keep track of two who are running around crazy, it was a little less on the quaint side and more like borderline panic-inducing.)

Saturday morning we got up and went to the farmer's market, which is finally starting to have all the awesome summer vegetables we've been waiting for.  We followed that with lunch at a lovely new-ish place Au Fond.  Then out of necessity after lunch, spent some time working out at the Rhodes gym.

On Saturday night, we had a bit of an adventure with Anna & Kevin: we went to the roller derby.  Jonathan & I have been wanting to go for awhile, so we were super excited when Anna suggested it.  It lived up to most of my expectations, although I have to say, I expected the whole thing to get a bit more rowdy.  I was expecting fights between the derby girls and super loud/crazy spectators - but it was a little more calm than that.  The girls have strict rules about where they can/can't touch other skaters, so there was no chance of a fight, really.  And the spectators were sort of like us - just interested in what was going on, but not jumping around like banshees; there were actually quite a few families there.  It was still really fun, though, and I'd definitely be interested in attending another "bout."  (We followed derby with a delicious dinner at Bhan Thai - mmm.)

Sunday was Fathers' Day, so after church we took Jonathan's parents for a sloooooooow brunch at Umai.  So delish (and again, a workout was necessitated afterwards).

We're sort of proud to say, though, that we stayed on the Midtown side of Highland the whole weekend (except for the teeny, tiny moment when I had to go to the nice grocery store in East Memphis to get lobster for my mother in law's birthday dinner tomorrow - but our store doesn't have it!  I had no choice!).  Go Midtown!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Upper/Lower Classmen

When I was a freshman in high school, my perception of the senior class was that they were group of adults who happened to spend their day in the same place I did. They seemed so old. And mature; as if the problems they encountered in their lives were entirely different than the ones I encountered in my own.

I didn't feel the same way when I was a freshman in college - which is funny, since seniors in college are (basically) adults. I guess college is a little less segregated than high school, such that seniors & freshman could be in the same classes, and would generally occupy all areas of campus, regardless of age. And I think the sorority added a different element to the whole thing, since the seniors wanted to be really welcoming & friendly to the freshmen.

But high school - man! Those kids were ancient compared to me. And it wasn't that I ever encountered any hostility when I was a freshman, or that I ever felt the seniors were flaunting their age to the freshmen. But they just seemed older, and they looked so much older than we did. And here's the really funny part of all of this:

When I look through my yearbook from freshman year of high school (as in, look through it today, the year 2010), I still think the seniors look older than me - like, they look older than me now (the year 2010, when I am ten years older than the kids pictured in the photos).

I can't really explain why. And I can't explain why the logic of it (the fact that I am ten years older than the kids in the photos) doesn't outweigh the strange phenomenon. But it doesn't.

I can also say for fact that when I was a senior in high school, I didn't see myself as being that much older than the freshman class. We didn't really have problems or life situations that were all that far removed from those of a freshman. In fact, I remember thinking the freshman were growing up a little too fast - like, they were doing things that should be reserved for upper-classmen.

But anyway - just a funny little thought. Did you guys also view the upper-classmen as much, much more, well, upper than you?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Day!


Happy 100th Entry On My Blog!

Even though it's sort of lame, I feel really happy to have reached this first little milestone. The original goal was to get myself back into daily (5-day a week, that is) writing.

At first it was tough to think of stuff to write about. Now I feel so much more comfortable with creating topics. I also feel much more comfortable in where I've set my personal writing boundaries. Are there some things I'm just dying to write about, but don't feel they're blog-appropo? YES! But does it annoy me anymore that I can't/shouldn't write about them? No.

It's funny, because when I first started the blog, I would meticulously edit & re-read what I was publishing; I would set stuff to publish later so I could go back and read it again after stepping away for a second; but most strangely, I was sooooo self conscious of my writing! I couldn't go back and read old posts because I felt embarrassed by them! And this I guess is what I'm most proud of now; this was the real purpose of starting it: to not only write every day, but to feel comfortable with my writing.

So hopefully the next 100 posts will only get better! I think my new goals for the blog might be: to tell more people about it; and to figure out some more formatting stuff - maybe spruce it up a little!

*As a side note about the 100 picture at the top: 1) What in the world is that?? It appears to be in trees - it looks like a balloon? Is that a man at the bottom? And 2) Don't google image search "100th birthday cake" without expecting to see some heartbreaking/heartwarming pictures of people turning 100. Just saying.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hey Little Missy!

I'm not sure if it's a new thing, or if I've just noticed it more recently, but I'd say in the past 3 weeks, I've been called "young lady" about 10+ times. Not exaggerating.

I'm sort of curious if this is the norm. I asked a friend on Saturday night and she couldn't think of a time she'd ever been called that. Do you guys get called "young lady?"

I think it's perhaps the young southern equivalent of "ma'am." Like, you accidentally collide with a person in a store, instead of "sorry ma'am" it's "sorry young lady." Or, someone in a service-position (a checkout clerk, for example) is saying "yes young lady" instead of "yes ma'am." Or a couple of the older men I work with (my boss, for example), would see me in the hall and in a joking way would say "well hey there young lady" (and I imagine had they run into an older woman, it would be the same joking tone "hello there, ma'am").

And it's fine - I mean, I'll take being called "young" as long as I can. But I'm now starting to wonder where the invisible cutoff line is? Like, if I was with my sister-in-law (who's 12 years my senior - but doesn't really look all that much older than me, I don't think), would she be "ma'am" and I'd be "young lady?" Would I automatically be bumped up to "ma'am" by association? Or if I was walking around alone with her daughter (who's two), would I be "young lady?" Like, when there's a child involved, are you automatically "ma'am?" Or if I was walking around with my husband (who is older and looks a little older), would I get a "ma'am" or still a "yl?"

It's just sort of funny. And I guess I need to remember that (as far as I can tell) it's not a term being used in a pejorative way - I really do think it's meant to be respectful. The most absurd one to date was at Walgreens on Saturday when I almost ran smack into a police officer. He quickly stepped out of the way, "sorry young lady." He couldn't have been older than 30. Seriously. He was maybe even my age. Or younger!

I wonder if the appropriate response would've been "no, I'm sorry young man."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Soaps

Oh my gosh - I just have to say, if you're in need of a good laugh, you need to turn on a soap opera and watch for a few minutes. I've found myself sort of drawn to Days of our Lives when it comes on after the news at 1. Not to pay attention to the storylines, but to just observe the whole thing and laugh!

1) Everyone is attractive - like, even the girls who are supposed to be "ugly" are really pretty.

2) The sets are hysterical! They just are - you have to see it. Nothing looks real. No room has a fourth wall, and all camera shots are taken from where the fourth wall would be. And all scenes that take place "outside" are priceless - like, I think I could use a video camera in my living room with the window shades open and achieve an equally good "outside" as the show.

3) The acting - again, priceless. And just so funny - like the way the show has so many little snippets here and there, there will be a monologue:

Bad Actor 1: "I know what you did! You tried to steal my boyfriend!
Bad Actor 2: "You don't know what you're talking about, you don't know anything."
BA 1: "I know what Stefano told me."

And then there are 5-10 seconds of the camera panning between the two actors, each looking surly, before it cuts to another scene. Seriously, I imagine if you timed the amount of silence & the camera looking at each actor before it cuts to another scene, I bet it would equal about 15-20 minutes of the show's time.

4) The writing. If you just listen to the dialogue, every single word has been chosen with precision to give the most wow-factor to the scene, I think. Or maybe not to add to the wow-factor as much as to make every scene as dramatic as possible.

5) If you've ever watched soaps before (I think I watched Days in the summer of 1996), all the characters are still the same! And when people were babies (like, toddlers) in 1996, they're now full-grown adults.

It's just so funny. When I was a kid and spent my summers in Ohio, my stepmom and I watched Young and the Restless (this would have been circa 1993-1995). And honestly, if I think hard back to that time, that theme song (the piano chords) reminds me of a ham & american cheese sandwich with mayonnaise on toasted white bread. Y&L came on at 11:30, so we'd make our lunches, watch it, and then go on with our afternoon.

Those were the easy days - so far gone now - like sands through the hourglass....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sweet Benny Cat

We had to put our sweet little Ben Cat to sleep yesterday. I'll probably do another post later remembering our little guy.

In the meantime, I'm very sad about the whole thing. And I feel a pretty great sense of loss - it somehow feels different than it does when people die, although I can't quite pinpoint why. (Perhaps because there's a slight feeling of guilt? As in, had we spent more money at the vet trying to get him healthy, we wouldn't have had to do it.) But I guess that's neither here nor there at this point - when discussing the financials, we did what we felt was appropriate. And when discussing whether or not to put him down, we did what we felt was necessary. He was getting so tiny; he straight up stopped eating (prob. about 2-3 weeks ago); and if he did eat, he threw up bile and blood. The past couple days were especially bad; he was getting weak and was hiding in weird places in the house.

But all those things aside, it didn't make it less weird when I was cooking/baking all day yesterday (preparing for book club that I hosted last night) and the little kitty wasn't laying down in the middle of the kitchen, such that I'd have to step over him to do anything. Or when I got out of bed this morning and he wasn't laying in the doorway to our room. Or when I blowdryed my hair this morning and he wasn't laying on the floor behind me. Or when Jonathan got out of the shower and he wasn't standing there ready to lick the water.

And the finality of it is making me sad. He's not just at the vet for a day or two, he's gone. We left the house yesterday with a cat, and came home without one. And even though I know he was suffering, it still sucks. I just want my (healthy) cat to be waiting for me at the door when I get home.

The euthanasia itself, as well, was tough. I'm not sure if it's the norm for people to want to be in the room when they do it. But I did. I felt like I would be abandoning him if I didn't stick around until the end. It was just so sad, though. And it didn't seem fair - like, Ben should have been able to live a long life and just die peacefully in his sleep, not die in the fluorescent light-filled doctor's office - the one place he absolutely hated to be.

So yeah - sad days at Queen Ketchup. RIP Ben. We loved you & miss you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Decoration Station

I'm sort of feeling the itch, of late, to do some redecorating in our house. I sort of doubt this will happen (for a variety of reasons, mainly: lack of funding), but it's still fun to envision.

One thing I'm pretty sure we can do (again, in terms of funds) is get new shades for our main "family room" (or "den" for southerners). We currently have the most atrocious ugly dated cheap plastic shades left from the previous owner (actually - Jonathan, is that right? Please tell me you didn't buy those for the house when you moved in!?). I think the room would look really cool with some of those shades that are bamboo-looking - the kind that sort of roll up. And we would get them to fit each window (instead of having one big one over the whole back window). Light brown would look nice against the white moldings, I think.

But there are so many other things I'd like to do that I know we just can't right now (or ever, for some).

1) Get new couches for the family room.
I'd say we need new couches - but that's using "need" somewhat loosely (as in, we have couches now that are decent). The sort of hard part about committing to new couches is thinking about the old couches. We certainly wouldn't have room to store them in our house elsewhere. But if we move to a bigger house at some point in the next couple years, what if we have a playroom or a finished attic/basement - it would probably be nice to put these old couches up there. Also, if/when we move to a bigger house, who knows what we'll "need" in terms of our new family room.

2) Remodel the kitchen.
Ha - this won't happen ever. But I have this great vision for our little house that would make it so so cool! It involves tearing down walls & moving appliances & new counters/cabinets. I think it would make the house a lot more livable for a family who wanted it to be their "forever house." We just think our "forever house" will be a bit bigger than where we are now.

3) Do some painting.
I guess this isn't really inhibited by lack of funds, but maybe more by lack of inspiration. In theory, I think it'd be cool to have an "accent wall" in our family room - but again, I don't have a ton of inspiration because of the whole couch issue. And sort of strangely, I really like white walls; I think they look clean & give the rooms the illusion of space. I guess I'd maybe like to lighten up the office (which is a manly, hunter green) because I think the room would look huge if it were painted lighter, but I think that green is going to be a monster of priming & painting to cover up.

4) Do the dining room. Sort of.
So currently in our dining room we have a baby grand piano, a book shelf, and all the nice serving pieces/platters/pottery/vases/pitchers we got for our wedding sitting on the floor & on the book shelf. My grandmother's dining room set is in St. Louis & we are welcome to bring it down to Memphis whenever we want. It won't be a problem, really, to do that - but the issue is then one of space. We have a ton of furniture in our formal living room (which is an open space into the dining room). If there was a table & buffet in the dining room, the piano would need to be in the living room. Then some piece(s) of furniture in there now would need to go to storage - as they're all really nice pieces of furniture. It sounds like a little bit of a logistical nightmare. But on the other hand, if we plan to be in the house a few more years, it doesn't seem ok to just leave that room in limbo. And there's a really ugly chandelier in there - I want a new one.

5) Get a new tv for the family room.
Our current tv is enormous (both the screen & the unit itself). It probably takes up a 5'x4' space. It would be really nice to have one mounted on the wall. The room would feel a lot bigger. But then there would also be the issue of all the tv accoutrements (wii, blu ray player, cable box, speakers) and we'd probably need to get some kind of chest-type thing to store them in.

Whatever. It seems like I can't really do any of these things. But sometimes I look at design blogs and get hungry to redecorate my own house. In due time...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who? What? When? Where? Why?

When talking to someone who is married, do you automatically assume that any info you give them will/could be relayed to their spouse?

A few weeks ago, following the breakup of one of our dearest couple friends, Jonathan and I were talking. He said something along the lines of, "well, now that they're broken up, I can tell you this...." I honestly don't even remember what it was (as in, the info was not groundbreaking or crazy), but it was a piece of information that either: 1) Jonathan didn't think he could tell me when they were together (I'm assuming for fear that I would tell the girl?), or 2) it was a piece of information that the guy in the couple told Jonathan but prefaced with "Don't tell Jackie, but....."

I was somewhat upset with either scenario.

1) If Jonathan didn't think he could tell me for fear that I'd tell the girl - that just sucks. And actually, I don't think I really deserve that designation - a chatty Cathy who wouldn't be able to keep the information to myself. It's not fair. Especially for information given to me by my husband. The man to whom I have committed my entire life. There are things about Jonathan and about our relationship that none of my girlfriends know. Because I keep it private. Because, again, we have taken vows to honor/love/respect each other for our whole lives. As much as I love some of my girlfriends, we haven't declared that love to each other in a church in front of all our family & friends.

2) If the guy specifically asked Jonathan "Don't tell Jackie...." that annoys me as well. I guess one, because it makes the same assumption (that any info I'd be given wouldn't be able to stay with me), but two, because it's asking Jonathan, in effect, to choose keeping his secret over keeping a secret-free relationship with his wife. It doesn't really seem appropriate to do that (see the aforementioned text on taking vows).

Fast forward to Sunday after church. I was talking with the girl from this relationship, and she said "Don't tell Jonathan, but...." And I know why she wouldn't want me to tell Jonathan this information (it's basically assuming the same thing I feared was being assumed about me [that Jonathan couldn't keep the secret away from his friend]). But I didn't know what to do with the information.

It would have been completely l-a-m-e for me to say "well, actually, I don't really feel comfortable with you asking me to keep a secret from my husband, so don't tell me anything you wouldn't want him to know, but he's a great secret keeper, just so you know." Lame. And I see how Jonathan would've felt equally (if not more) dumb asking his friends not to tell him things they wouldn't want his wife to know.

But I guess this is where my question lies. Should one assume that something they tell a married person is going to get back to the spouse? And if not, assuming you think the spouse doesn't need to know everything, where do you draw that line in a marriage, ie, what secrets are ok to keep from your spouse?

I think keeping secrets from your spouse, in general, is a very bad slippery slope. 1) Because once you start doing it, it will become easier & easier (and maybe even "necessitate" a lie - and in that case, is it ok to lie to your spouse if you're doing it to keep a friend's secret?) see - slippery slope. 2) Because it creates a sort of unequal balance of knowledge - as in, when she told me the secret after church, I sort of felt that in keeping her secret, Jonathan & I would be on equal ground in terms of keeping things from each other - total slippery slope. And 3), and this might be a woman insecurity thing, but it makes you wonder what else your spouse is keeping secret - unfortunate slippery slope of being a woman with an over-analytical brain.

So to answer my own question, I guess I always assume information I give to someone who's married is fair game to be reported back to their spouse. It seems that if your marriage/spouse can't be number one in terms of your alliance, you probably weren't quite read to be married. Like, no one gets married but knows they will always take a backburner to the person's best friend; it just doesn't work like that. And also, at least from a woman's perspective, secrets lead to questions & possibly unfair assumptions - I would think a husband would want to continue nurturing the relationship with his wife and not choose his friend's secret over that.

But I don't know. I think in a world where not every single one of your friends is married yet, that assumption kind of sucks. Like, I think once you're married, you might understand it. But I could see if I was single & told a married friend a juicy piece of info, I'd maybe be annoyed that they told their spouse (since I myself hadn't yet been through the marriage experience [which, for the record, is not all rainbows & sunshine and in fact takes a bit of work - work that is not aided in secrets or "lies of necessity"]).

And also, some things are inconsequential to anything. And I recognize that. Like, I don't tell Jonathan every. single. minute. detail of my life. So if I forget to tell him something, or don't tell him something because it doesn't matter, that's that. I think though, I'm referencing more conscious decisions: "I'm not going to tell my husband X because...." "I'm going to intentionally leave out X detail because...." "So & so told me not to tell my husband, so I'm not going to..."

So what do you guys think? What are your assumptions about information you give a married friend, if any? Do you ever withhold information because you don't want the spouse to know?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beating the Clock: My Hair Edition

On Sunday mornings, we have this sort of dance at our house, and it's called, in layman's terms: are we going to get to church on time?

I'm generally the one who missteps, thus throwing the whole thing out of motion (ie, we end up taking two cars, I race around the house alone trying to get ready, I arrive at the last second, etc.). And it's not that I don't try to be on time, I just get held up a lot. And additionally, we often have to take two cars (because Jonathan will have to usher/have a diaconate meeting/have a recreation committee meeting), so taking two on mornings when I'm running late isn't that weird for us.

I've been trying to be better about it, though.

So yesterday morning we were on the couch drinking coffee before "getting ready time." I was quite aware of the number on the clock. And I assessed my shower situation (which was: I had showered around 2pm on Saturday, stayed home/inside for the whole day, and only left the house at night for an hour or so) - I therefore made the call that I didn't need to shower before church.

I went into the bathroom around 10:20. I put on my full face of makeup, but then when I went to start fluffing around my hair, I realized it was waaaay too greasy to be salvageable (which, can we just stop for a second to say how annoying that is??) Anyway, with my makeup totally done, I had to completely wash my hair in the sink & blowdry & style. Dance failed - two cars.

So I was at Target later in the afternoon and decided to buy some of the dry shampoo every one's been talking about. That would have totally helped with my morning sitch before church. They didn't have Pssst, which I guess is the most popular one, so I went with "SG - Salon Grafix."

I actually used it this morning (ie, I haven't washed my hair since yesterday's impromptu sink run - I did rinse in the shower last night though, no, seriously). But I'm not sure how I feel about the "shampoo." I might need to watch a YouTube video on how to properly apply it, and/or I might need to fully assess how greasy my hair is before I spray, so I can really tell with the final product (because now, I still think it looks a little greasy, but it could've been much worse before and I just don't remember).

One thing I do know, though, is that I need to avoid all open flames today because I'm sure my head is highly flammable at the moment. Does anyone else feel underwhelmed with dry shampoo (because I know some of you love it)?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Against the Grain....


What's the deal with chocolate cake?

Ha - I know this is totally opposed to the general majority of people: but...I don't like chocolate cake.

Seriously, though, what's the draw to it? I love chocolate (all kinds) and I love cake. I even love chocolate icing. But chocolate cake, not so much.

It never, truly tastes chocolaty to me. In fact, I think all chocolate cakes taste alike - they all have the slightest hint of chocolate that sort of comes out tasting bitter. And the texture - again, I hate to generalize, but I think they all feel dry when they're in your mouth; even really moist chocolate cakes - there's something about that bitterness that makes them feel chalky.

I've even had chocolate cupcakes, which you'd think would solve the dryness issue. But no. Still dry, still bitter. And I should say, I love brownies. Yum. One of my favorite treats. And brownies & chocolate cake seem pretty darn similar. But still, never found a cake I like.

And I guess I'm not entirely complaining about it, because I think in actuality, my aversion has saved me thousands of calories over the course of my life. And it's not like I'm disgusted by the cake. If a gun were to my head, I'd absolutely eat (which, if the case were pickles, I'm not so sure I could find the will); I just don't choose to willingly eat it.

Also, though, I don't get why someone would choose chocolate cake over some other awesome flavor of cake. Mmm - lemon cake? Coconut cake? Caramel cake? Spice cake? Banana nut cake? Carrot cake? Raspberry buckle cake? Strawberry cake? They are all so good! Isn't chocolate in cake form just a little old? I mean, you can have chocolate a million different ways - but when else can you have, say, carrot cake?

Do you guys have the *best* recipe for chocolate cake that will change my mind? Or have you had one from a restaurant that would make me a believer?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Week O' Music


Jonathan and I have had a pretty concert-heavy week, which has been fun & out of the ordinary. Not fun: getting home at 1am Wednesday morning; and leaving the house at 7:30 to face what would probably be the busiest/most stressful work day of the year.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Friday night we went to the Levitt Shell to see Hayes Carll. The concert wasn't memorable (dare I say, even sort of bad?), but you don't necessarily go to the Shell for the specific concert. This is a newly renovated feature of Overton Park in Memphis (a park in the residential part of the city - right by our house); all concerts are totally free and open to the public. It's basically an outdoor amphitheatre with a big grassy hill for people to sit. Most people bring picnic baskets/wine/beer/their children and it's this awesome, totally family-friendly night of live music (see pic for a better idea). It's so so cool and I love to go!

Saturday night we accompanied some friends who had extra tickets to see John Prine. It was overall a really fun night. We went to dinner at yummy Umai before the concert, and then headed down to the Cannon Center. John Prine put on a good show - even though his cancer from a few years ago has definitely taken a toll on him. It was great, though, to hang out with our friends who have two little kids - since it's often hard to find a time to see them.

And then Tuesday night, we saw Surfer Blood and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart at the Hi-Tone. I guess TPOBPAT got a lot of coverage last year as a great up & coming band, and Surfer Blood has had the same accolades this year. The show was really good. Very surprisingly for the Hi-Tone, it actually started on time(ish), it just happened to be that "on time" meant the opening band came on at 10:30. And somewhat unfortunately, there was a situation with the air conditioning (if they even have it?) that made the place sticky hot. But I digress.

So fast forward to a little before 1am, a strong buzz has been caught, and we had to leave the show early because of my busy work day. Waah waaaaaaaah. Lame on multiple accounts (especially waking up on Wednesday & hitting the ground running once I arrived at work).

But this has been such a fun week! I love live music! I wish Memphis would get more cool bands (and when it does actually get the shows, I wish they would be on nights other than the middle of the week).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mold Schmold...?


Lovely Picture, right?

Well, the other day after work, Jonathan and I were going to split a snack: a chocolate Vitatop muffin. Even though I knew these guys needed to be kept in the freezer, I foolishly set it on the counter for a few days. When we opened it, there were a couple spots of mold. A couple.

So I picked those parts off and ate it. Jonathan was horrified/disgusted - how could I possibly eat something that was moldy? I'd get sick! When I informed him that I've sometimes served him bread products that had mold I'd picked off, he left the room very displeased (and asked me later to never serve him something that had once had mold on it, even if I had picked it off).

Fair enough - I won't serve my husband slightly moldy bread. But myself? I have to say, I'll probably continue to do it. 1) I've done this for awhile now - and I mean, I'm not talking like the whole thing is covered in mold (gross), I'm just saying that if there's one spot of mold, you can safely pick it off (and the surrounding areas) and be fine; 2) this self-imposed rule generally just applies to bread-like products (coughandmaybecheesecough) - not stuff like meat (I mean, I don't eat meat - but if I did and it was moldy, I wouldn't eat it) or fish; 3) and this might throw some people for a loop, but - it's never made me sick before, so why stop doing it?

Sarah and I were discussing one of her roommates once. She said the girl was a freak about expired food/food that had fallen on the ground/moldy food, etc. She wouldn't even go near it. If a food was one of those things, it was garbage as far as she was concerned. And Sarah, on the other hand, has a view similar to my own.

So what's the funny thing? Sarah said her roommate was constantly sick. All the time - colds, flus, stomach bugs, you name it. And Sarah: rarely sick. I hate to correlate the two - but I also have to say, Jonathan gets sick somewhat often. And me? Hardly ever. I don't think I've had a cold/flu in years.

I'm no doctor or scientist - but could there be an immunity connection to exposing oneself to germs vs. avoiding them at all costs? Don't know.

What about you guys? Jonathan's school of thought or mine?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tube on the Job


One sort of funny, unexpected aspect of my office atmosphere is that we all have tvs in our offices. The idea is that we can have news running in the background and thus be 100% up to date with what's going on.

There's a little bit of hierarchy to the actual disbursement of tvs, too - like, there's only a set amount of tvs in the department, so the new guy doesn't move into an office on day one and get one. (And additionally, since it's sort of a weird thing, I wouldn't think the new guy would want to watch it on day one - it would feel like slacking on your new job, I think.)

When the time finally came around that I got my first tv, I was really excited. I figured that any moment I'd been bored in the past would be eliminated moving forward because I could just watch tv to thwart boredom. Only, it didn't really happen. And in fact, even though it's super cool to have background noise, I don't even turn mine on all that much anymore.

Part of the problem was that the first tv I had was awful & had really bad sound (it's since been replaced - again, the hierarchy thing). But because the sound was so wonky, I didn't want to turn it on that often because people could hear it from the hallway. And now, I have a nice tv with good sound, but the door to my new office is literally 6 inches away from the door to another office and 2 feet away from someone's cubicle - it just seems too close to have the tv blaring loud. (Which, I should say, the guy 6 inches away has no problem turning his on loud - just saying - but still.)

When I do turn it on, though - I definitely prefer the "soft news" from 8am-11am (the Today Show), followed by the almost-newsworthy Rachel Ray talkshow. WHAT? There are no rules to what we can/can't watch! It's sort of funny though, if I happen to watch all soft news, and then keep it on for the local news at noon, if I forget to turn it off after that, it goes into soap operas. So, if I've gone to lunch or something, and someone happens to walk into my office while I'm gone, they'll think I'm watching soaps.

But it is a cool thing, I guess. And had I not watched soft news this morning, I would have no idea that if you have a white-colored pet who goes outside, you should be putting kids sunscreen on him! Who knew? And had I not watched this morning, I would have no idea how Bobbi Brown does smoky eyes, or how concerned we should all be with the amount of germs on our purses. This is real news, people.

Do you guys think you would enjoy having a tv in your office? Or do you think it'd be a distraction?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Unexpected Read

I'm still a little confused how it happened. Because really, all these books were supposed to be light & fluffy summer reads.

But it happened. After reading this book.



Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Kristin Hannah who has written about 20 books (a la Danielle Steele/Nicholas Sparks/Trashy McTrashikins) - the type of author I just choose not to read; not in a snobby way, per se, I just usually choose to avoid that kind of stuff.

But avoid this one I didn't. And actually, I read the 500 or so pages in about 3 days. And then it happened...

I sobbed throughout the last 30 pages.

Sobbed. Like, in certain parts my eyes were too cloudy to see the page. Sobbed like I needed to gain control before I came into the family room where Jonathan was. Cried again when he asked me what happened at the end of the book - able to choke out "I don't want to [sniffle] talk about [sniffle] it."

This book is not going to win a Pulitzer/Booker/National Book Award. It's not going to get any critical acclaim. I'm not sure, actually, if in the breadth of Kristin Hannah's collection this will stand above any of the others. There were lines in it that were so dumb I would read them aloud to Jonathan and we'd laugh.

But underneath all that - this was a beautiful story about friends and family and love. I'm probably overanalyzing after my years of college English classes, but I think Kristin Hannah did an awesome job with the characterization of the two leading women - she was able to capture so many distinctly female emotions. And in that, she created this beautiful friendship of two best friends that spanned decades.

The ending had an obvious climactic event (as all books like this do). And it was pretty friggin sad. But also, if you were willing to dig a little deeper, and if you'd focused on the character development throughout the whole novel, there was a totally unstated tragedy, I thought. I don't want to give anything away.

But yeah, I think this book will stick with me for awhile. I timed it all pretty well, too: I was reading Saturday night before we were meeting another couple for dinner & a concert - I came to a reasonable stopping place (although I could have powered through to the end, probably) leaving about 45 pages. We went on to have a lovely night & I picked up the book Sunday morning, alone, in our bedroom. Thank goodness I didn't power through on Saturday night! I think I would've had a tough time going out. Sunday morning was the perfect atmosphere for a good read & cry.

So, even though I didn't think I'd say this when I first bought it - I recommend this book. Know that there are some cliches and some badly written lines. But look past those (...and give yourself some alone time for the last 50 - phew!).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Clothes of the Times

I've been trying to remember, of late, what kind of clothing I used to wear in high school. And, I've actually not gone to any great length to obtain this info, since some old pictures would solve the mystery. But without the aid of photos, it's sort of hard to think back to a minute detail like that from a decade ago.

I remember a pair of khaki pants (actually, 2 of the same pair) from Abercrombie that I wore pretty consistently. And I know I used to wear them with tshirts (like, the kind from school events/clubs) a lot. I also can think of a few plain-colored tshirts (just cotton ones from, say, The Gap) that I used to wear a lot. And Polo shirts - I had quite a few of those (which, hello boxy, no shape clothing - good choice). And I had a Polo dress (black & sleeveless). In winter, I think I had a few tweed jumpers (which I'd love to have now - I think they were pretty cute, if I recall correctly), and in summer, I had a few awful plaid, shapeless, sleeveless dresses. And some twin sets. And quite a few pairs of capri pants (blaaaaah).

But I don't really remember what we used to wear. Like, did we wear tshirts & jeans/khakis to school everyday? Did we wear dresses to school? I vaguely feel like I used to dress up a bit for school (as in, I had some nice black pants I wore a lot - and dresses - and skirts), but seriously, the only outfit that distinctly stand out in my mind was one of my favorites: the aforementioned khaki pants, running shoes, my long-sleeved, navy blue STUCO tshirt (with lime green writing), with a shortsleeved "Lancers Helping Society" lime green tshirt underneath. Oh yeah. Color coordination, man!

And something I distinctly remember about dressing during this time was: arriving at college, on day one, planning to go out that night with all my new quadmates, and realizing I had nothing to wear out. Like, I owned zero "going out clothes." (I actually distinctly remember going to JCrew after that first night & buying a black cotton halter top, and a grey & white striped knit halter top - ha!)

So two questions:
1) For high school friends specifically - did you guys own any "going out clothes?" Like, what was our night-wear in high school? I remember, especially my junior year, going to lots of parties - what would we have worn to one of those?
2) For all other friends - did you guys own stuff to go out in when you first arrived at college? And if so, how did you have it? Like, did it function in high school as something you would wear out on the weekends? What was the dresscode like at your high schools?

Man - the more I think about it, the more stuff I can remember wearing when I was younger - and I think I might like to have some of it now! Not that it would necessarily fit...but how cool would it be now to go "shopping" in your closet from 10+ years ago!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Want...

(In no particular order)

1) The stupid oil leak to be stopped! It pains me to read the news about it. What an awful disaster that's going to affect the region for at least a decade.

2) To know if I used "affect" correctly in #1 - or is it "effect?"

3) To eat jalapenos on everything! I can't get enough right now.

4) A really happy marriage.

5) My cat to be healthy.

6) A Trader Joe's near my house so I can buy this product - the most delicious almond butter with roasted flaxseed you can possibly imagine. Go buy this now if you have one near your house!

7) My hair to be longer. Not too long (because it's too thin to look pretty once it's below my shoulders), but long enough for a ponytail. I. Want. A. Ponytail. Badly. I want to wake up, throw on a little makeup, put my hair in a ponytail & look appropriate for the day. Not: wake up, put on a little makeup, use my round brush to add volume to the roots of my hair after sleeping, use the round brush to curl under the ends, wet the bangs and re-blowdry them, then use a straightener on the whole head to tame ends. Too much time!

8) My body to be cool and 100% functioning with one less hour of sleep per night.

6) At&T to not friggin screw iPhone users with the new data plans.

7) Men at the pool outside my office window to not wear white speedos.

8) A better zoom feature on my camera phone for moments like #7.

What about you guys - what do you want?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What I've Been Reading

I realized the other day that I haven't done a "what I've been reading" book post in a long time. Granted, I've not been reading as voraciously as I usually do, so maybe that's why? But anyway - without much ado or introduction, here's what's been in my hands (I hope I'm remembering everything!).

The Poisonwood Bible
I liked this overall (didn't love), and I feel 100% convinced that it could've been 200 pages shorter. I liked the story (a missionary family moves to middle-of-the-jungle Africa in the early 60s - and it documents their lives after the experience), but I didn't like the story telling. All the voices started to annoy me because I felt that two of them (Rachel & Leah) were sooooo friggin contrived that I could almost predict what they would say. And when I say it could've been 200 pages shorter, I mean that if the whole book only took place in their village in Africa (and didn't go on with the follow-ups) it would've been more interesting & would've let the reader draw personal conclusions about Africa/colonialism/mission work/a nation gaining independence/etc. instead of having the author's thoughts fed on a baby spoon.

The Infinities
This was a birthday present from Jonathan. It's written by John Banville, who also wrote The Sea (which played a strong role in the early, courting stages of our relationship). It's awesome writing, as would be predicted in a Banville novel. The plot itself is an interesting concept - it's told from the point of view of the "infinity" Hermes; he reflects on an Earthly family who is going through the death of the father. While the plot wasn't so riveting that I would stay up late wanting to finish a couple more pages, quality writing isn't always like that, I guess. So yeah - go for it (....or go for The Sea - such a beautiful novel).

Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker
This is a memoir written by Gesine Bullock-Prado (cough, Sandra Bullock's sister, cough), and I have to say, the only reason I even knew about this book was because I was reading gossip on Sandy/Jesse James and her sister's blog was referenced. Wow - yes, I just admitted that. Anyway, this book has mixed reviews on Amazon (a lot of people found Gesine's personality annoying), and here's my take: go into it knowing that she is a self-proclaimed introvert who has social anxiety - she flat out says this - and you won't find her personality annoying. She's just awkward, and if she's rude to people, I think it's because she doesn't know how to be any other way. So I actually kind of enjoyed it. She had the big Hollywood lifestyle as an exec, and needed a life change - so she moved to Vermont and opened a bakery. The book goes through one "day in the life" as a bakeshop owner. And she puts recipes at the end of each chapter! Score.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility
Ha - this book has an obvious target audience. It's basically a long-a textbook (perhaps why my reading list is a little short this time?) on charting your cycle. The charting can be used to achieve pregnancy, or (in my case) as natural birth control. I found reading this somewhat similar to when we did p90x - in that you basically drink the Kool-Aid and become absorbed by the process. Like, spending hours doing online research about it, looking at message boards written by other people doing it, and thinking about it every. single. day. I imagine most of you reading this blog aren't anywhere near pregnancy-achievement mode yet, but if you ever waiver or have issues with contraceptives, I totally recommend giving the natural route a try (although, it does involve some barrier methods used during fertile times). If anything, I feel 1000% more in-tune with my body than I've ever been - and I actually understand what's going on and what different things mean throughout the month. I'm a big fan. (Can you see my bright, purple-stained lips?)

The Friday Night Knitting Club
I know. I know. You don't have to say it.
But yeah, I got the itch to read some "summer books" - and so this begins my journey into trashy, poorly written, speed reads with ridiculous/contrived/stereotypical/outrageous captivating storylines and characters. This was all of those things. (And I liked it.)

On deck are some more "summer books," a book for book club, and one that I think is going to be awesome, Cutting For Stone. What have you guys been reading?