you say goodbye, i say hello.

another year is here. 2010. i am not usually one to wax on endlessly about the wonders and delights of new years, and that won't change this year, because for some reason i am not at all sad to see the end of 2009. it was an odd year. felt less like a journey and more like a float.

so goodbye to 2009.
goodbye to...
george w. bush. 42¢ stamps. my yucky boss who finally retired. michael jackson. life before my iphone. john & kate plus 8. our houseplants. our magazine subscriptions. my favorite slippers. my master's classes.

hello to 2010.
happy new year!!!

the hairy truth.

i dye my hair.

there i said it. maybe you've never noticed, but i've been doing it for years.
i am not exactly sure when it started, but i am not counting the time when i was sixteen and had two skinny braids dyed green by kool-aid (who knew kool-aid was so powerful?) nor am i counting the times i did crazy colors for halloween. nope, for our purposes i gonna say that it all started when i was visiting a lovely lass, who at the time was stationed in germany. after a day spent wandering her quaint snow-covered town, what better idea than to dye hair? being employed by the u.s. army, she opted out of the adventure, as they tend to frown upon rebellious hair colors, but i having become recently unemployed and headed for a stint in the u.s. peace corps, felt no such inhibitions. we went with red. kind of a bright red.

these days i dont do anything quite so drastic, but the color is definitely not the natural hue of my tresses. at this point i am not exactly sure that i could tell you the official color of my hair in its natural state, but it is something along the lines of mousy brown. now, i ask you...would you rather have hair the dull shade of mousy brown or the luscious shade of dark mahogany brown? right. hence, i dye my hair.
my bottle of choice? revlon colorsilk #32. it's lovely and costs less than $3. super! although the do-it-yourself part can sometimes get a bit scary. i typically end up with spots on my ears, neck and shoulders, but those rub off...most of the time. generally the process is uneventful, but i do occasionally miss a bit of hair, which leaves the locks looking a bit strange. luckily my sense of beauty does not seem perturbed by my helter-skelter hairdos. so yes, as we countdown the end of 2009, the mister is snoring away the eve and i am ridding myself of an unseemly line of mousy-brown roots.


identification, if you please.

every time i travel i am in the same quandary. how to announce to the world that the glorious hot pink suitcase belongs to me? thanks to the airlines insistence on charging hefty fees to take care of my luggage for me, i have joined the masses who carry all of my possessions on board the aircraft to be stowed in the overhead compartments. it seems that since my luggage never leaves my person, it is slightly unnecessary to affix luggage tags. however, being the neurotic lass that i am, i of course require a method to identify my bags as belonging to me me me.

simple, right? uh huh. sure. put on a luggage tag. but where do i get said luggage tag? when i was a wee human my parents took care of this for me. as i grew older i borrowed their luggage tags of unknown origins, because mi casa era su casa. but now that i am grown i dont seem to have any tags. you know the fancy ones that look pretty and are durable so you can use them for years and years? how do people acquire these tags? do people actually BUY luggage tags? if that isnt a silly thing on which to waste money, i dont know what is. since i was unwilling to buy a tag, i needed some organization to give one to me just because. apparently i hobnob with the wrong crowd, because none of the freebies hoisted in my direction are luggage tags. why why why? in the absence of real luggage tags, for the last fourteen years i have been using the cheesy paper ones provided by the airlines. ridiculous isn't it?

but last night i had a revelation. why on earth haven't i MADE luggage tags? i make everything else, i cant believe i didnt think of this sooner!! thats right kids. i sewed some tags. it was easy as pie - well actually i dont find pie-making to be particularly easy, but you get the picture. i thought about embroidering my contact information onto the tags, but that seemed a little overkill, so i wrote it on with a permanent marker. i am almost certain that i am now in possession of the cutest luggage tags EVER. i cant wait to see the looks of jealousy from the other passengers who are stuck with the little paper doohickeys from the airlines.


the silver screen.

the movie mania on television during the holiday season is dazzling. i find myself trying to decide between three, sometimes even four, fabulous movies. i want to watch them all!! for some reason that i cannot understand, it is thrilling to find a favorite movie on television. even when i own the movie, i still catch myself watching it on the boob tube. perhaps i am a glutton for commercials. top 10 list of movies shown during the holidays...

the most important movie of the holiday season???
  • it's a wonderful life - donna reed and jimmy stewart TOGETHER. thats all that needs to be said. christmas aint christmas without this movie.
and rounding out the rest of the holiday season...
  • national lampoon's christmas vacation - this movie induces fits of hysterical laughter and helps you realize that your "crazy" family maybe aint so bad.
  • a christmas story - i triple dog dare you.
  • the holiday - admittedly a total chick flick, but it's a keeper.
  • love actually - adorable. even dudes like this one!
  • the last holiday - sort of a random addition, but queen latifah is kinda awesome and this movie is surprisingly uplifting.
  • miracle on 34th street - hard not to believe in santa claus after this one.
  • the polar express - for children yes, but the animation is astounding and it is a lovely story.
  • elf - a wacky movie, but funny.
  • the santa clause - i know i know. but it IS a cute movie.



during the course of my life i have gone through phases of shunning everything feminine to embracing all the frills and fabulousness of being girly. interestingly, living in a small village in africa for two years, i discovered the joys of girldom. in my little hut i had ample time to play dress up, paint my nails crazy colors, and experiment with the meager supply of makeup i had brought. go figure that i left the states repulsed by skirts and frills and returned two years later with a new found love of my inner barbie. skirts, pink, and sparkles captured my imagination like never before.

naturally, having spent the majority of my formative years disregarding things like brushing my hair and wearing makeup, i was ill-prepared for my new self. i ambled through the drugstores seeking sparkles and pretties, but in reality i came home with a ramshackle assortment of nonsense that in no way resembled an adequate stash of beautifying accoutrements. lets be honest..wearing purple eyeshadow with green eyeliner and red lipstick only served to make me look like a clown. so i sought out the advice of my darling friend, who not only possessed superior cosmetics, but actually knew how to use them. unfortunately i was apparently untameable, because i still didnt see the harm in purchasing the 99cent specials from the wet & wild rack. yes, the makeup of middle school still held me in its grip. fast forward two years. the aforementioned lass puts me out of my misery, by applying my makeup for a stint as a bridesmaid. she made me look amazing. i was HOOKED. so then she drops the bombshell that was set to takeover my life. she tells me to wait until the department stores stock their holiday supplies, at which time she assures me i will be able to find some lovely eyeshadow pallets at prices that will be slightly less painful than other times of the year. and so begins my obsession.

my first holiday purchase was last year. after wandering through macys and nordstroms with my ever-patient pal, i discovered the dior counter where i bought the most darling little compact housing four perfectly classy and shimmery eyeshadows. i was in heaven. i have spent the last twelve months wearing nothing else. who needs a cupboard full of eyeshadow when you have this little delight?

still buoyed by my first foray into dreamy makeup, i decided to go back again this year. but this time i had a specific quest...shimmery pink. i went alone, which was my first mistake. after doing a bit of of online research i had two different products in mind. unfortunately, seeing these in person i was not satisfied. thus began the wander. unencumbered by the feeling that i was imposing on another person's time, i moseyed through two different cosmetic departments, circling the counters like a hawk. twice. to no avail. i remained empty-handed. and then the name "sephora" drifted into my head. i shuffled my little feet as fast as they would carry me to the mall directory. yes! sephora! straight ahead on the left.

entering sephora was mistake number two. that store left me speechless. a mass of makeup that i could try on without being hindered by beauticians wanting to make me look like them. fancy. so i happily wandered the aisles looking at shimmers and sparkles wondering which one was coming home with me. i tried on eye shadows like it was my job. one color would get wiped off just to be replaced by another. two hours. that's right. two hours. two hours i spent with eye shadows putting on, taking off, and putting on again until my eyelids were inflamed. i came home looking like a lopsided tramp with different colored shimmery shadows on each eye. super.
after all that i found myself at the dior counter once again buying their annual holiday compact. i bought it at macys because although i had discovered the delights of sephora, i didnt comprehend how truly amazing it is. they give you free samples! and birthday presents! whaaat? so i did what any self-respecting girl would do. i returned the compact to macys and bought it again on sephora.com to qualify for samples samples and more samples. according to the website my order is already packed and shipped. i can barely contain my excitement!


gobble gobble.

in an attempt to focus on my masters paper i am supposed to be on a blogging hiatus, but i am loathe to do my work and i simply cant resist telling the tale of our thanksgiving. ahh, thanksgiving. the wonderful american holiday dedicated to gorging on delicious food. as the mister and i both have ridiculous amounts of studying to occupy our time and he also had to work everyday, we decided to forgo the usual thanksgiving feast. check. and then the mister left for work. as he stepped out the front door he sniffed the air and declared that the neighbors' cooking smelled delicious. he looked at me. i looked at him. we realized that we wanted to partake in the scrumdidlyumptious delights that come with turkey day. thats right. 1245pm on thanksgiving day and i had to scrounge up a feast. sure. no problem. the first instinct was to buy a pecan pie and declare ourselves satisified. but being in possession of a recipe for the world's most scrumptious pecan pie it seems sacrilegious to purchase a store-made pie. then i pondered the possibilities. if i am planning to make a pie, i might as well make some biscuits and buy a can of jellied cranberry sauce (yum!). at that point i might as well throw together a couple of other treats, so i added green bean casserole and mashed potatoes to the list. and if mashed potatoes will be on the table then we certainly needed gravy. and heck, might as well have some meat.

the shopping. lovely winn dixie just waiting for my arrival. my regular jaunts to the grocery store typically find me spending inordinate amounts of time in the produce and dairy sections. i like to cook from scratch, so i dont typically have a lot of use for pre-cooked and prepared foods. but trying to throw together a feast on the fly, i decided to eliminate my usual snobbish attitude. shopping list: pecans, frozen pie crust, canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, dried onion rings, canned gravy, rotisserie chicken, jellied cranberry sauce, and flour. thats right - cans cans cans and a few prepared items and i was out the door.

the cooking. i started with the pecan pie. no problem. or so i thought. sometime during its baking, part of it leaped over the edge of the pie crust and laminated itself to the bottom of the oven. nice. nothing like the aroma of burning sugar permeating the house. after that i breezed through the green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and biscuits. heated up the gravy and chicken in the microwave. high class. i cleared off our teeny table and dressed it up with place mats, purty napkins, and candles. voila! instant feast.

total success. the mister and i dined on the delicious treats as if i had planned and cooked for days. now either i have turned into such a skilled chef that i can whip out feasts without a care in the world or, more likely, when you lower your expectations, you simultaneously lower the stress levels to the point that they are imperceptible.



it has become obvious in the last thirty days that i am simply unable to continue my blog-writing while i am in the midst of writing my master's thesis. so until the middle of december the pickel juices will cease to flow into the stream of brine.

happy november to the lot of yous.


shattered innocence.

this evening found me sitting on my balcony desperately trying to ignore the myriad of activities that were attempting to lure me from the drudgery of studying. the mister arrived home with kisses for his darling wife and then he retreated to the inner sanctum to watch television and leave me in the swamp of scholarly essays.

suddenly i hear repeated popping noises coming from the other side of a neighboring building. my head is spinning...fireworks? ummm...gunshots? the mister immediately appeared at my side and confirmed my fears that i was indeed hearing gunshots (why was he so certain? dunno. that is to be determined another day). this claim was substantiated when we heard sirens, and then saw a black car careen down the road only to be rammed by a chasing police car. to make matters more frightening another police car came screaming the WRONG way, effectively sandwiching the suspect between their bumpers.

at this point the mister and i are gaping in dumbfounded shock at the events unfolding on the streets below, when POP POP POP POP POP the gunfire starts again! YEESH! i hightailed it into the house with the mister close on my heels. call us dweebs, but we went to peek out the window, only to hear more pops, which sent us scurrying back to the kitchen. after what seemed like an inordinately long stretch, the shooting stopped and we reemerged on the balcony, only to discover that five stories down one of the suspects was sprawled across the trunk of a police car. the yelling, shouting, and wailing, that ensued shortly after, emanated from what we presume was another suspect, this one not so "lucky," because he was apparently hit by one of the many flying bullets.

it only took a few minutes for a bevy of police cars, detectives, and ambulances, to descend on the scene. three hours later only a few police cars remain, but the mobile crime lab, detectives, the suspect's cars and the crime scene tape have not yet disappeared. i am holding out hope that when i wake up, the flashing lights, crime scene tape and suspect's cars will have been removed and all the events will linger only in my memory.

who knew that the 200 yard stretch of road visible from our balcony would provide us our own constant stream of police action. we regularly watch traffic stops, but this was a first (and hopefully last) experience with a shootout. i, for one, prefer the traffic stops.


fountains of frustration.

i woke up on saturday morning positively determined to set forth in my pursuits of academic excellence. i started off in the kitchen where i brewed up a tasty mug of coffee and then promptly sat down on the couch to watch television. problemo numero uno. should never ever have turned on the boob tube. at this point my brain does an about face and insists that it is imperative that i write a letter to my pal, before i start my studies. sure thing. why not? it will get the noggin juices flowing. right. problemo numero two. i snagged some paper and started my communication. now, it needs to be said that i am a pen snob (and yes, freakishly picky), although my tastes change depending on my mood. some days i want the basics, namely a papermate medium point blue ballpoint pen. other days i gleefully swirl ink across the paper with my pilot g-2 gel pens. then there are days when i am satisfied with the pure genius of the sharpie pen (yes, it is as delectable as its commercials imply). but, on saturday i wanted the crème de la crème. a fountain pen gracefully spewing my higgins black india ink.

easy right? ummm..not in my world. i located my stash of fountain pens only to discover that none were willing to provide a free-flowing ink experience. i gathered up some supplies - water, and paper towels - and sat on the floor prepared to do battle with the innards of the first pen. i dismantled the pen, washed it out, reassembled it, and added ink. after some wheedling, i caught a glimpse of ink emerging from the nib. i hastily started drawing loops across the paper, intent on encouraging the ink to appear. it did. and then it promptly disappeared. argh! after about twenty torturous minutes, i moved on to the next pen. same story. this time, the ink was a little more forthcoming, except the remnants of blue residing in the ink well refused to give way to the black. grrrrr. this brought me to my third (and final) fountain pen. the superlative tombow fountain pen, which i received many moons ago, as a christmas present from my brother. long story short, this pen did NOT appreciate the third disassembling of its guts, choosing instead a fate much worse - a snapped in half ink well. gasp! the horror the horror! yes. my desire to finagle this pen into demonstrating its prowess as a writing implement, resulted in its demise.

at this point i have not only reached my wits end, i have expended THREE hours cleaning pens, staining my fingers black with ink, and making a general mess. i still have nothing to show for my efforts. but wait! a glimpse into my memory reveals that perhaps there are more fountain pens to be found. ahhh..yes. i found two more. rather than bore you with the details, i shall simply say that these two pens did not revive any better than the first three. so FIVE hours after the ordeal began, i had to resort to my trusty standby, the koh-i-noor technical pen. i filled the ink well with my black india ink and began the letter anew. the pen worked as expected, but the writing experience with a technical pen is incomparable to a fountain pen. this prompted TWO hours of scouring the internet for reasonably priced fountain pens. this experience might qualify me to steal my best friend's title "queen of procrastination," but i am left wondering if i can justify to the mister why i find it imperative to spend $25 on a pen. me thinks he will not understand.


heads up.

recently i have been pondering the shape of my head. not in the i want to shave my head, so i am worried about lumps and bumps kind of way, but in the why on earth do headbands and headwraps not fit properly way. i mean, i can put them on and all is well, but then i bat an eyelash and the damn things go sliding around and i end up looking disheveled or lopsided or both.

i have tried skinny headbands and fat headbands. the skinny ones get shoved around by my wily hair. the fat ones are demonic torture devices. i mean seriously..the teeth in those things are painful. don't even get me started on the pounding headaches that ensue if i try to wear the things for more than an hour. since headbands were not successfully taming the mop i tried the scarf avenue. if i position the wrap so that it goes over the center of my head, it invariably slides right off. so i tried moving it forward a bit. that just makes me look like a wanna-be eighties rocker. or like jane fonda in her aerobics heydey. using a wider scarf, moved forward to the forehead region was the perfect solution until i looked in the mirror and realized that it just looked like i was trying to cover up a bad hair day. while the headwrap might indeed be covering up some shenanigans, i do not want it to look like i have anything to hide. so then i moved on to the elasticized headwraps. you know those hair rubber bands that appear to be five miles long. uh huh. they are not nearly as long as they appear. they squeeze my head to within an inch of its life as they slide right off the back of the noggin. i even tried the elasticized bands with a rubber coating, which squeezed my skull and then ripped out all of my hair as they too descended to the nape of my neck.

i have tried countless experiments trying to attire my head with some sort of wrap. all to no avail.
naturally i started thinking that there was something wrong with my head. perhaps my skull is misshapen. okay that makes me sound grotesque. there is nothing disturbing about my head shape, at least not in my opinion. however, why is it that the rest of the head-decorating world can attire themselves in an array of head gear without experiencing obvious pain or the topsy-turvy effect my head so quickly attains?

alas, i thought today was one of triumph. i discovered a head wrap that stays put. or so i thought. it is an elasticized band, but is a wee bit longer than the ones that i had previously tried. this means that it does not put my head in a vice grip and so is less inclined to rocket off the back of the noggin. it also features some rubber "thread" woven through it which helps to keep it in place without yanking my hair from the roots. thank you very much to the folks at the goody hair accessories company. unfortunately, i discovered that my hair has to be a bit disheveled for it to stay put, so while it effectively holds my hair out of my face, the majority of my hair, which resides behind the wrap looks a bit like it was caught in a massive windstorm. i am not sure that this is the effect that i was aiming for. this headband is a dream for a housebound hermit. unfortunately when i venture out into the world i am hoping to look a little less like a hedgehog and more like a proper lass. conclusion? i need a new head.


nothing. nada. zilch.

on the third day of a long weekend i cannot help but pondering what i have done the last couple of days. the answer on the surface appears to be: absolutely nothing. then again since i have not just laid prone like a lump of flesh, i must have been doing something. i suppose the great question is what. possessing a tendency to be a hermit, i have discovered that there are a number of people who are patently curious as to what on earth i find so entertaining within the confines of the eight hundred and fifty square feet the mister and i call home.

this weekend i made a point of trying to avoid anything bearing even an iota of stress. some folks consider partaking in stressless activity akin to doing nothing. so be it. however, if we choose to analyze the four thousand twenty minutes since i arrived home on friday evening, i feel as though i have accomplished a great many tasks. i watched gads of tennis from the united states open. i spent an inordinate amount of time creating the perfect schedule for the reading portion of my teaching. i cooked potato pancakes. i read the news. i baked cookies. i read a book. i snuggled with the husband. i sewed. and i wrote letters.

yes letters. you know, you pick up a pen and write a message on a piece of paper. you fold up said paper and carefully slide it into an envelope. write the recipient's address on the envelope, write your own address on the envelope, and secure some stamps on the top right corner. put in mailbox. this is becoming a lost art. i am one of those wonky folks who believe that email, while amusing, is not the end-all-be-all of communication. i am still passionate about writing letters, although the time i have for such a delicious activity seems to dwindle more with each passing day. that doesn't stop me from collecting paper to create envelopes and cards. oh no, that supply grows almost daily. the mister views this paper collection as if i am collecting and storing trash. naturally, i do not see garbage, i see possibilities. lucky for me, my husband loves me so much that he puts up with my paper-hoarding habits, with hardly a complaint.


one sandwich short of a picnic.

i am no longer in love with julia child. what's to love? she is divine. amazing. brilliant. a genius. nope, i am no longer in love. i have simply decided that i am her. i came to this conclusion yesterday evening when i trekked to the grocery store in search of a boneless round rump roast. perhaps you are curious why i am procuring rumps...because i am julia child and i decided my husband would enjoy eating boeuf bourguignon. our oven is on its annual fritz. yes, annual. every summer it starts acting funny and then in august and/or september it ceases to work, merely uttering an occasional pathetic beep. but, since i am julia child, do i let this bother me? no ma'am. i simply slide over to the dark side and whip up the betty crocker version of boeuf bourguignon, which only requires the use of the stove top.

now of course, since i am a famous chef, i am sure you are trying to determine why you do not see me on television. as we all know, any person who can cook worth a darn has a television show. it seems that since i share a personality with a deceased person, the networks are finding it difficult to stomach my entrée into their lineup. until i find an enlightened executive, i fear that i am sidelined from presenting my cooking prowess on the telly. do not despair. as a preparation for the day when my presence is desired on the small screen, each time i enter the kitchen i hone my presentation and imaginary audience skills, so as to maintain a constant state of readiness.


bon appétit.

i saw the movie julie & julia last night. i am now in love with julia child (well actually, i am in love with meryl streep channeling the late julia child). her counsel is genius, "always remember: if you're alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. who's going to know?" obviously i never try to drop food on the floor, but unconditional permission from a le cordon bleu chef completely emancipates the home cook from potential fear of failure. okay, let's be realistic. i've never met the famous lady chef and unless the marbles start falling out of my head, i am not meeting her anytime soon, since she cooks in the tall-countered kitchen in the sky. the result is that i am bent on finding any other means to haul her spirit into my kitchen, which leaves me inclined to run out and buy her magnum opus mastering the art of french cooking. actually, i have already instructed the mister to procure this jewel for my christmas present.

i doubt that i will be as zealous as julie powell, who cooked all 524 recipes in 365 days, but perhaps one day i will find myself in the kitchen stabbing a lobster between the eyes. there is no doubt that if this comes to pass you will read about it here. of course, that leads me to wonder if there are any living beings perusing these ruminations of my brain. considering that the mister reads this page only with persistent reminders (read: nagging), it seems unlikely that any other souls are stopping by. interestingly, this does not seem to bother me. there is some cathartic release in conversing with an imaginary audience.


felines & canines.

i just saw a commercial for chef michael's canine creations, which prompted me to ponder a unique species...pets. now don't get me wrong, i have had pets. my parents indulged my brother and i with our desperate need to raise fish, cockatoos, a dog, cats, and even ducks. these creatures thrived in our care (okay fine, it was most frequently my mom's care), but they were never mistaken for homo sapiens. no no. truly, i never fully understood the phenomenon of pets being pseudo-human. i saw a lady taking her dog for a walk....but....was the dog walking? oh no. that might be too stressful. the dog was riding in a doggy stroller. i am serious.

back to my original point. what is going on with modern pet food? i think that some cats and dogs are eating more gourmet than myself and the mister. i consider myself to be a rather wonderful cook, but let's be honest..i am not a trained chef and i cannot make rotisserie chicken or porterhouse steak. actually if we are unloading the nitty gritty, i probably cannot even afford to create, let alone eat, these bits of delicacy. perhaps the mister and i should join the ultra-gourmet crowd and start eating dog food. after all, the pooches have nightly victuals that are far superior to what we send down our gullets. anyone for a visit? we are serving filet mignon flavor.


stitch me silly.

sewing. sewing. sewing. four skirts in two days. yes, i am aware that this might be a bit excessive, but i have determined that a self-imposed uniform is the wave of the future. that's right kids. a uniform for work. i do not want my employer to dictate what i wear, but i loathe the daily routine of selecting attire. it would seem that a voluntary uniform solves the problem. i get to wear what i want, but i don't have to think about it. a skirt and polo shirt. every day. is it possible? of course. considering the abbreviated "year" of my industry, if i maintain my current skirt output, it will only take me 90 days of stitchery madness to facilitate a daily wardrobe change. 180 skirts. hmmm...that is a plethora of skirts. currently sharing a closet with the mister. call me crazy, i do not think the mister will appreciate being squeezed out of our shared closet by 180 skirts. perhaps i could reduce the number. keep it within two digits? okay, 99 skirts. each one will be represented twice during the educational grind, with nine extra skirts to spice up my life. i can work with that.


beach bum.

sand. seaweed. shells. salt water. breasts. WHAAAAAT?!?!?! people. we are NOT at a nude beach. there are rules. you cant just flounce around without your top. yeeeeesssshhhhh! you might think that since we live a mere 1.4 miles from the beach, we spend massive amounts of free time frolicking in the waves. not so. we seem to only visit with our visitors. today we have visitors. today we went to the beach. all was going well until we discovered that in setting camp in the only shady spot, we had unwittingly situated ourselves directly between two bare-breasted dames. as adults, we are all cognizant of the existence of these globes, but needless to say, visiting a REGULAR public beach, this was not the spectacle we had signed on for. undaunted we dumped our towels, water bottles, and shoes, and headed for the water where we pretended to be fish. except that fish are not perturbed by the endless supply of seaweed. ugh. and salt water. yechk. and sand. argh. after almost two hours being trounced by the waves, we surrendered to hunger and exhaustion and left the beach behind. or so we thought. unknowingly we brought the beach with us, but this was not discovered until AFTER we tarnished the spic and the span of our recently (yesterday) scrubbed clean abode. as we shed our suits, torrents of sand and seaweed spilled across the floor, seeking shelter in every nook and cranny. the mister provided accommodation to an extra pocketful of sand, which he presumably acquired when he buried himself. i suspect we will be finding sand for months to come.


over the moon.

the storage bins are complete! i finished up my twelve boxes. decorated, decopaged, and already filled to the gills with all my doos and dads for sewing. and yes, they are numbered. i might be occasionally disorganized, but that does not make me any less neurotic. there is an entire box just to hold all the little bits of fabric that i can't bear to part with, but are too small to do anything, or are they? crumbs, we quilters call them. i've never made a crumb quilt, but now that i have my crumbs in such a gloriously accessible box, perhaps it is the time.

i spent twenty minutes explaining to the mister why these new creations should be admired. i am not sure that he fully appreciates their usefulnes, but he said they look 'nice'. mmmhhmm. i was going for 'stunning', 'out of this world', 'awe-inspiring', etc. but, i'll try not to be a whiner, and i will be satisfied with 'nice'. it's better than 'fine'.
since i know you are dying to see them, here are the before and after pictures. you be the judge. are they nice? or are they stupendous?




wonka wonka.

did someone say candy? yes. sugar is the word of the day. you have previously discovered my passion for candy, so imagine the sheer agony i experienced when i opened a good & plenty package and the pink and white nuggets did not slide into my outstretched hand. lacking anything resembling patience, i hastily clawed open the package and found a solidified mass of plenty. no good. i hung my head in despair.

chin up lassie! there is more candy in the cupboard. no self-respecting candy junkie buys a single box of candy. run run, go grab the sweetarts. yeeeeeeee! almost to the sugar rush. but wait. what's this? speckled and mushy discs? these are not sweetarts. i pour out more candy. same spots. same mush. have the candy gods forsaken me? am i no longer deserving?

at this point, my gloom has turned to indignation. immediately i accessed the websites listed on the candy boxes and hurled my complaints into cyberspace. within 24 hours hershey replied with an apology for my negative good & plenty experience and a promise to send a reimbursement. no word from nestle. but good things come to those who wait. 48 hours after i began my squawking, i received the following message from willy wonka (all names have been changed to protect the innocent):

Dear Pickel,

Thank you for contacting Wonka® SweeTARTS® Candy.

From what you are describing it appears to be malic acid spots. Malic acid is an ingredient which provides the tart flavor in the candy. Light or dark spots can occur when the color on the outside of the candy migrates toward or away from a granule of malic acid on the surface. You may also see a tiny cavity or indentation. This can be caused by storage in humid conditions. Although this appears unappetizing, it does not pose a health risk.

I would like to assure you that your experience has been reported to our Quality Assurance Personnel and I will be mailing full value coupons to the address that you provided. Please allow 7 to 10 business days for delivery.

It is also helpful to our Quality Assurance Personnel if you are able to provide the net weight in oz. of the package that you purchased and the name of the store where you purchased the product. Please email this information back to me at your convenience along with the reference number at the end of this email.

We appreciate the opportunity to explain this to you and hope you will visit our website often for the latest information on our products and promotions.

Wonka Lady

Consumer Response Representative

holy cow! i can't decide if this is overkill or good-ole-fashioned incredible customer care. probably both. regardless, apparently our kitchen is not overly humid, because the little discs of packed sugar, while still speckled, have resumed their proper hardness. how do i know? i am eating them. i dont know what malic acid is, and while it sounds lethal, the wonka lady said it poses no health risk, so i figured that flinging the little sweets into the garbage would be a waste.



i have a ridiculous fascination with cake and all television shows related to cake. i watch all the shows. i watch the reruns. i watch the competitions. i am hooked. i have yet to figure out the nature of my obsession. it could be the visual extravaganza (although some things should never be made into cakes). it could be the sheer impossibility of some of the creations. most likely it is probably due to the fact that i love to eat cake, and let's face it, these cakes include a whole lot of cake. however, the excitement of some of these cakes is waning in the face of all of these television shows. too much information. i mean, since when do rice krispie treats count as cake? don't get me wrong, i love rice krispie treats, but if i want cake, i don't reach for rice krispie treats. i think this is cheating. let's not even get started on the wood, plastic pipes, cardboard, and other odds and ends that are in the middle to provide structural integrity. really. you cant serve cake with wood in it. that's pure insanity! that could take a tooth out. i shouldn't know so much about this, but its the only decent television between 2am and 5am. since you probably sleep during these hours (i claim to be studying during these wee hours of the morning), i find it necessary to enlighten you. do you feel illuminated? i don't. i feel hungry. for cake.


ding ding ding.

ding ding ding ding ding. sharpie pens are on sale at target. what a joyous day. i am a bit obsessive over my pen selection and sharpie pens are my current writing utensil of choice. considering the number of pens already present in our house, it might be best if we don't tell the mister about the newest additions to our writing implement collection. i only got six. two black, two blue, and two red. they leave such juicy streaks across the paper, i am in heaaaaaaaven. i used them to brainstorm the stripes patterns for my storage bins, which, if i may say so, turned out swimmingly.

now in and of itself, the journey to target was not as blissful as typically are my target escapades. while i was waiting in line, some brainiac dropped a mondo bottle of lime green dish soap. apparently the employees have not been trained in cleaning up this type of goop, because they fervently wasted paper towels to no avail. seventeen pounds of sodden paper towels later, one of the managers had a moment of inspiration and remembered that they have a liquid absorber at their disposal. sprinkle, wait two seconds, sweep and voila, no more mess. i guess that's why the managers are paid the big bucks.

after watching this display of human intelligence i was ready to be home. not so fast tiger. first you have to meet up with one of the octogenarians who pop up everywhere in this neck of the woods. rather than worry so much about medicare, i think there should be federal funding for senior styling. someone needs to tell these people that when their clothing has faded in the sun, while FOLDED, it is time to get a new pair of pants. yeeeeshh!! this type of nonsense turns your backside into a visual magnet to which my eyes do not care to be drawn.


the agony of projects.

i am in pain. physical pain. my fingers hurt. my hands hurt. my arms hurt. my legs hurt. my bum hurts. my back hurts. my neck hurts. and my brain hurts. i feel like i have been run over by a mack truck. i am in agony in the name of painting boxes. twelve boxes. painstakingly (literally) painted inside and out. a luxurious display of torment. adding to my anguish is the nature of the paint. it is everywhere. it has obliterated the deliciously turquoise manicure i gave myself last week. it is in my hair. it is all over me. it is all over my painting clothes. it is all over the floor. and yikes!! i just remembered, the painting implements are all soaking in the bathtub. must finish cleaning up. must eat. must sleep. for two months my husband has tried to figure out how to restrain me from staying up all night. little did we know that painting a boatload of boxes would do the trick.

coffee and cardboard.

i arose to the scent of a coffee-free house. what a nightmare. it all started yesterday when my motivation to visit home depot erased all of my survival needs, including drinking coffee and eating breakfast. you see, every morning my husband makes himself coffee and leaves a half a pot for me. when i decide to rouse my sleepy self there is a half pot of cold coffee waiting to be transformed into an icy coffee delight. however yesterday, in my haste to visit home depot, i neglected to drink the cold coffee. now in my coffee-snob world, when the coffee doesn't make it down the gullet, it goes down the drain. drinking day-old coffee is a sign of sheer desperation.

this morning i was left in a coffee-free zone, when rather than make a fresh pot of coffee, my husband drank the day-old coffee. aaaaaack!

knowing that my husband isn't desperate, i can only conclude that he's apparently not a coffee connoisseur. i guess i should have figured this out when his recent visit to starbucks was a shambles. he doesn't generally visit this froofery coffee house without me, and i always perform the tongue-twister orders. poor guy couldn't remember the name of his favorite drink, so he went with what sounded properly confusing, and ordered a cappuccino. he wanted a frappuccino. umm...so close in name, but sooooo different in reality. needless to say he whined about it later.

speaking of whining...my fingers hurt. i spent the day doing a little bit of classwork and a whole lot of storage bin construction. six hours of slicing, scoring, folding, and gluing boxes. one blister and three cardboard cuts later, we have twelve boxes ready for decoration. my brain is happy, but my fingers hurt. but you know what they say...no pain, no gain.


here pretty pretty.

i love home depot. this love is not of the same caliber as the love i feel for my husband, but it is a deep love. why? they have paint chips. for free. lots and lots of paint chips. and the paint chips are pretty colors. lots and lots of pretty colors. and they can turn a gallon of paint into any color i want. i bought a gallon of "water mark" colored paint. it is a lovely shade of pale aqua blue. cynical folks would probably call it blah white, but i won't let them see it. i am going to slather this delectable hue all over the yet-to-be-constructed storage bins.

yes, the storage bin project. i am thrilled with how things are progressing. i came up with the official template today. i am starting to think the outcome might be even more splendid than i originally imagined. i have my fingers crossed that if i keep him well fed, the hubby won't go crazy when i make a big mess.


cardboard conundrum.

this is the last week of my summer courses for graduate school, so what better time to dilly dally? the fun factor of procrastination significantly increases as time runs out. since i have to read charlotte's web in its entirety tonight, i thought i might as well put down the book for two hours to ensure that i will have to stay up all night. i know what you're thinking...charlotte's web is for kids. yes, that's right. it is. i am working on a masters in children's literature, so i spend my time reading kids books. the difference between myself and the kids (yes there is occasionally a difference) is that after i finish reading the book i have to analyze it, research critiques of it, and then write a two-thousand word paper detailing the represented theories.

as i am sure is totally obvious by now, tonight it was important for me to endlessly d
awdle to maximize the sheer terror i will experience in six days when the paper is due. i figured i might as well drag my husband around some stores looking for the perfect cardboard boxes for my storage bin project. i have to say, the mister is a total trooper. he traipsed through four different stores looking at cardboard boxes. he even stepped out of character and encouraged me to buy some lovely canvas covered metal baskets, which are about as close to exactly what i want as possible, because he figured it would save me time. i had to explain to him that the thrill is in making a giant mess of the house while eliminating the cluttered chaos on the shelves. not sure that he fully appreciates my need to be constantly submerged in a thousand craft projects, but we've only been married for two years. maybe in another few years this part of my existence will start to make more sense to him. probably not, but one can always hope.

our search ended in home depot where we finally found what i declared the perfect boxes, for the perfect price. sadly, the forklifts took over the paint aisle, so i will have to go back to buy the paint, but i did bring home some samples of "off-white." it's always a bit surprising to see how many different versions of "white" you can find in a paint store. i am leaning towards a creamy pale pale pale yellow. i think it will look lovely with the fabric i already purchased. tomorrow i will start putting together the boxes. after all, doing research for my paper is on tomorrow's schedule, so what better idea than to start a major project.


don't burst my bubble.

today marks two years of marriage to my husband. happy anniversary to us!! it's strange how time flies. it seems like just yesterday that we said our i dos. everyday i thank my lucky stars that such a darling man picked me. i must have been born under a lucky star.

speaking of luck...while running an errand this afternoon i found myself smack dab in the middle of the miami fabric district. luck be a lady who finds beeeee-U-tiful fabric. oh how i love fabric. the idea that i have somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred yards of unused fabric might lead you to believe that i have no business buying more. i beg to differ. i was only in the market for skirt lining material, but since i drove all the way to the fabric district, i might as well have a looksee. holy bananas!! i found genuine african wax print cloth, imported from various locations around the united kingdom (that's right..genuine african cloth is conveniently made in the UK). it's not like i need the cloth, but oh how gorgeous it is. when i showed it to the mister, he actually said "that's nice." i think that's a better reaction than the typical grunt that results when i show him my "necessary" fabric purchases.

continuing my lucky streak, i also found the perfect fabric for my next house project. the neat freak lurking inside my noodle can no longer stomach the clutter zone that exists amongst the shelves in my sewing area. considering the freakishly large stash of fabric that i have, which continues growing, and growing, and growing, i have decided that storage bins must become a part of our life. i found some darling bins at tjmaxx (my personal heaven on earth), but i need ten bins and these are $13 a pop. i refuse to shell out $130 for storage bins. project time!!! yeehaw! the perfect excuse to buy fabric and make a projecty mess of the house. fun times ahead for all (well probably only me, but lets not focus on that). there is not much likelihood that this project will get off the ground this week, but when my summer graduate courses finish in eight days (hallelujah!!), watch out!



i seem to spend a dizzying amount of time dealing with disturbing details.

it all started when my darling husband decided to bake. scary? possibly. but not upsetting. when he isn't roasting chicken gizzards, his cooking is delectable. the disturbing incident was when the oven decided to go on the fritz for the umpteenth time. our oven has an infuriating habit of incapacitating itself for a few weeks a year. typically it starts the fritzing in the middle of a baking project and a few weeks later, when i am at my wits end and about to drop $600 in the sears appliance department, it suddenly reverts to "normal" behavior. why why why? perhaps i have bad appliance karma. hmmm...that could explain why last year our air conditioner went into an extravagant leak mode, dumping massive quantities of water onto the water heater below it. not surprisingly the electric water heater was averse to be doused in water and at two in the morning, showed us its displeasure by catching fire. needless to say, two days later both the air conditioner and water heater were replaced, but not without a serious output of cash. end result is that our air is deliciously cold, our water is sumptuously hot, and our appliance closet is exponentially more energy efficient. back to my point of displeasure..the oven. at the moment it is not displaying an error message, but it is also not in use. we'll see what happens when i cook dinner.

the disturbances continued when i spent a moment yesterday starting to think i should be concerned about my candy consumption. some might say that it is excessive. however, i quickly reconsidered determining it to be necessary sustenance in the face of daily fourteen hour study sessions. or perhaps i am just thrilled with the chance to relive my childhood days, when my mums allowed me to select one item from the refreshment shack to reward me for sitting through my brother's little league games. either way, the disturbance was relieved. fun dip. need i say more?

unfortunately, my candy habit is probably not strengthening my teeth, which should terrify me considering my next disturbance. my candy epiphany was quickly followed by a television commercial featuring denture glue. having not had to resort to dentures i am not fully appreciative of their existence and i am apparently not psyched enough about dental glue, because it doesn't send me into fits of song. aside from the obvious awkwardness of the product, i was a bit horrified that the commercial featured an altered version of bye bye love. the actors were actually singing "bye bye ooze, bye bye messiness" and simultaneously making grotesque faces. awful. i have no further comments, but if you're a glutton for punishment, click here.

speaking of punishment. yesterday afternoon i was sitting in the living room diligently working on my schoolwork, while my husband watched a movie. i am rather adept at tuning out television, music, people, etc., making me capable of studying amidst a lot of craziness. however, when the characters in the movie started shrieking i glanced up. what did i see? a man strapped to a chair screaming his head off, because another man was about to remove his eyeball with pliers. umm. what the @%#@$#@?!?!?!? my husband assured me that the villain was not removing eyeballs, merely yanking out the victim's eyebrow ring. oh. right. as if that makes the scene so much better. AAAACK!! needless to say the movie, aptly named the punisher, is not headed for my list of favorites.

i seem to have a never ending supply of disturbing experiences, but i will save the rest of them for another post.


fresh in the water.

greetings one and all and welcome to the inner workings of my brain.

this is it. the official blog of pickel. lately i have been spending inordinate amounts of time by myself, which has prompted me to spend perverse periods of time contemplating the meaning of life. what better thing to do than share my lunacy with the world? okay fine. my reclusive behavior is 100% attributable to my desire to earn 1/8 of my masters degree in a six week period. seeing that i am second to only one in the world of procrastination, i spent the last six weeks engrossed in a plethora of activities purely designed to postpone the nightmare of daily coursework. one of my courses indoctrinated me into this strangle little world of blogging and then i met a lovely lady, who writes a fabulous blog (http://mymomsanerd.blogspot.com/), so i decided that i wanted to join this merry little band of bloggers.

since this is my first blog, who knows what direction it might take. for now i am thinking that it will just be a glimpse into the weird little world that i inhabit. i am sure my darling husband will be thrilled that i have decided to post our life on the internet. luckily for him, this post is about MY world, not his, so other than the fact that we cohabit the same world, he'll be immune. mhmm, sure. i predict he will be mentioned in every single post. so much for immunity.

current status: procrastinating. yes that's right. i have four papers to write today, totaling about seven thousand words. rather than even pretend to work on those papers, i decided to start a blog. this might be the most perfect tool i have ever discovered for delaying the inevitable. only my first post and i am already hooked.

unfortunately, i think that i should stop being so obvious about my dallying tactics. me thinks i shall go and peruse my favorite cookbooks. if i can write a shopping list before the mister gets home i might be able to prey on his hunger and convince him to go grocery shopping with me. since both grocery shopping and cooking qualify as official domestic business, they have every right to postpone studies. yesssss!! are you starting to get a picture of my capacity for lagging?