Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Daughter's One of My Favorite Bloggers--AND We Collaborate

Here's a link to my oldest daughter's blog--she draws comic stories that make me laugh out loud.  Like today's post about her and her sister at her blog called Running With Cookies:

There is also a post over there where she drew the illustrations and inserted them in a silly highschool report that I actually wrote at age 17 in 1987, then posted it as an illustrated story, which is like...collaborating with your own daughter, at the same age.  If that makes sense.  

I feel like Nat King Cole and his daughter on that song from way back when.  Except that we're both alive, and it's not a song.

Not quite this, but close enough

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spring Cleaning and Leftover Cake. How Do I Recycle THESE?

THIS is still sitting in our spare room, on top of the sewing cabinet and some really important puzzle pieces.   What the heck?
Spring cleaning is upon us.  Or, rather, the idea of spring cleaning, for me.  Which means that I read the current Martha Stewart Living and am inspired to take q-tips to my windowsills and pull out the refrigerator and see what's actually back there in the deepest cracks of doom where toast crumbs and milk lids go to languish.  I might even dust the chandeliers.  I know...pretty crazy.

Not that I will do those things, but I did sweep today, and I considered putting the screens back on our windows, but...they never got pulled off last fall, because we like to open our windows all winter due to the fact that we have a wood stove, which means it can easily be 80-82 degrees in the living room, but if you open the windows without the screens on them, the cats will totally get out and be eaten by coyotes.

Louis is super worried about coyotes...

So is Sam...Relax, little buddies.  I left the screens ON.
So, it's like I paid it forward by skipping that chore last fall.   Win.

I'm also totally procrastinating getting outSIDE right now, where I have more work in the garden than a whole team of men named Renato could accomplish, waiting for me.  It's not like one less day will matter...and I'll be happy with anything I accomplish out there this year, because at this point anything will be an improvement.  Our front yard effortlessly gives off the casual appearance of:    "Someone Might Live Here..."
Yes.  This USED to be a nice perennial bed.  With edging. 
What I MEANT to show you, though, was the cake dummies I keep running into when I clean or wander the house thinking about the things that I should be cleaning:  There are four leftover display cakes that we brought home from the cake bakery when we closed it.  They are my last finished displays from the shop.  Two were actually created after we closed the shop, because I got an A+ in Denial.

The grey one was custom-designed for a vignette I put together with some awesome wedding vendors at a bridal event.  The blue one went in a national cake magazine edition that was published the month after I closed the doors, which was surreal. The poppies were my first attempt at hand-painting a cake.  And, the white and gold one at the beginning of this post, which I created for a Valentine's photo shoot at a local venue...I can't BEAR to throw away those flowers that I made!!
The last three survivors, sitting in the middle of our living room upstairs on an air hockey table while I painted the whole room around them.  Now...where to PUT them???

I threw out the rest of the cakes on display when we closed the shop, and Lord help me, that was HARD, you guys.  You can't believe the cake art that went in the dumpster.  But these.  I can't seem to toss them.
Five of these went in the trash, including the one I made for Gordon Ramsey...

What do you think?  Bite my lip and put them in the dumpster?  Disassemble them and use them for dummies later--in case I ever get inspired to want to decorate again or need something to do?  Give them to a wedding planner to rent out?  Keep dusting AROUND them?

I know I should toss them, but *sigh*.  All that work...
See what I mean?  I can't throw these away.

Maybe I could pull them out and put them in a vase...
Or start an Etsy shop! Yeah... no.
I seriously did consider making these flowers for custom orders, but they take so long to make and are so delicate that I wouldn't want to ship them anywhere, and plus, then I'd be back, dealing with more vendor/customer service stuff, which I already have enough of.

I'm leaning toward putting the flowers in a vase and tossing the rest in the trash, but why is it so HARD?

Ever find yourself hanging onto stuff that has no place in your life (or your house), but is too awesome to throw away?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Plant-Based, Whole Foods, Blah, Blah--Yeahright. An Update-

In a nutshell, here's my life.  Every day:

NOT THIS.  NOT THIS!!! DO YOU HEAR ME!?  NOT THIS!  See the grapes? Eat those.
OR THIS EITHER, YOU IDIOT.  Just stop it.  Leave the kitchen.

I need to superglue these to my refrigerator door and possibly the cabinets, the sink, and the bathroom mirror.

You may know that we are trying to merge over to a healthier way of eating, because I KNOW it's the better choice.  Not strictly vegan or vegetarian but a definite shift away from processed foods, sugar, meat, and dairy.  And everything else we love.  (I'm an almost-famous ex-pastry chef, for crying out loud!)  But God BLESS IT, it's been a total pain to have the willpower (and the constant supply of vegetables on hand) to make it happen.  

For example.  I wake up every day thinking, yeah, today I will ROCK THIS NEW DIET.  I will work out for like an HOUR, minimum, with cardio and weights and core training.  I got this.  I will be SO buff by my birthday (Easter/Mother's Day/beach weather/back to school/Christmas/New Year's, definitely by the end of the year. Seriously) this year.  I mean it.  Totally I will become a work-out and fitness fanATic.  Pretty much, starting today.  Or possibly tomorrow, because today's half over...

Then my eat-what-sounds-good habit/life kicks in, and so far today I've had:

--A cup of hot chocolate.  (okaaaay.  I do that every day, so that's a given)

--Half a banana.  (OMG girl, you are such a diet freak)

--A hot turkey and provalone panini (What? OK, OK!! But it WAS on homemade 100% wholewheat bread...with Best Foods slathered all over it...Grade: C- for lunch choice)

--Coffee with nondairy creamer (I don't even DRINK coffee any more.  What the heck??)

*frowns angrily out the window*

Add more veggies to grocery list.  Check.
Yeah.  So far I'm FREAKING AWESOME at this.  I have lost (and gained and lost and gained) the same 5 pounds like 3 times since we started.  The word "plateau" sounds more like a curse, right now.  I have been "at a plateau" FOR ABOUT 10 YEARS.  I don't need more advice about THAT, and I sure can't reduce my calories any further.  I could work out more, but the idea of seriously working out for an hour, every day, makes me super cranky and frowny and mad at the 28-year-old me who thought she was fat 25 pounds ago.  I want to go back and slap her.

There's hope, though.  I could still have a smoothie for a snack and curried cauliflower with spinach salad for dinner.  Because, yes, that sounds so yummy (that's sarcasm, guys).  But, we're out of yogurt. And spinach.  Aaaand, there's a whole pork roast with cheesy mashed potato leftovers in the fridge from last night, so tonight is probably shot.  (It was SUNday.  Come ON).

Well, at least I'm totally wearing a sports bra right now.  Just in case I actually go upstairs and get on our exercise bike...because I'm prepared like that.

Gahhh.  Wish me luck.  It's going to be a bumpy ride.

I keep trying to leave our cabinets and fridge devoid of any other choices, but it's sure not an overnight transition, let me tell you!  Because when you're craving carbs and dairy...carrots and tofu just do not do it.  

No. They. Don't.

Anyone else having trouble making a switch to a healthier diet, I'd love to hear from you. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hurrah for Anesthesia...So, How Was YOUR Week?

              Great.  Except for THIS:
Yes.  OUCH

Pretty much nothing's been funny here this week:  Our youngest suffered a bad break of her ankle and leg last week and spent a week, SEVEN WHOLE DAYS, with her leg elevated and splinted, but still totally broken (like that picture right there, except just propped up on pillows), in tons of pain.  

On Wednesday she underwent surgery and now has 2 pins holding her ankle bone together.  She's recovering, and the pain is getting better slowly, but it's been the most frustrating and stressful week you can imagine.  She took a hit during sports in P.E. at school, and broke her fibula in half like a stick of kindling, and also the lower tibia, which is that piece at the mid-left in the picture (the one that isn't attached to anything).  I'm not a doctor, but judging from the displacement on the x-rays, apparently she broke her ankle bone right off.  

She straightened her leg back from its abnormal angle, by herself, in the van on the way to the ER, and then bravely told the nurses and doctor on arrival to back the heck off, when they wanted to move her leg around in all directions to see if it was actually broken...since the major swelling and awkward angle didn't seem to be dead giveaways.  
Yeah.  It's BROKEN.

We did manage to have a couple of laughs afterwards, about when she was getting ready for surgery.  Laughter helps everything...even pain.

She had to have a nerve block done to numb her entire lower leg before surgery (two, actually). If you don't know what a nerve block's where they take a needle the size of a drinking straw and stick it all the way through your leg without the benefit of anything local like novocaine.  Then they sort of poke around (guided by ultrasound, so you can watch it jabbing around inside your daughter's leg on the screen), until they find the nerve they want, the "popliteal something something", and then they continue to move the needle around awhile to make sure they've hit everything inside her thigh with this needle; then they inject whatever it is that deadens that nerve, and thus the whole lower leg.  Meanwhile, she is totally not really asleep, so this wasn't one of her favorite things.  Fortunately, the anesthesia they gave her before this procedure did make her amnesic, so she doesn't remember it.  Much. 

I wish they'd given ME an amnesic...

She kept drifting off to sleep, which was a blessing, because she'd been miserably in pain for a week, so I sat very quietly with a book and was glad to see her resting, except for every time anyone came in the room and shouted in her ear, "HOW WE DOING IN HERE? ARE YOU SLEEPING?" I guess they didn't get my hand gestures, because apparently I only speak an ancient dialect of sign language that can't be translated:

I will have to kill you if you come in here and ask my child that again.

While she was coming in and out of unconsciousness, they gave her oxygen.  At one point when she'd been jolted awake for like the third time by a technician asking "HOW WE DOING? ARE YOU ASLEEP YET?", we had this conversation:

Her:  Oh...I'm awake.  I was dreaming about chocolate.

Me:  It's OK.  Go back to sleep.  

Her:  It was a really big bar.  But when I ate it, it didn't taste right.

Me:  That's sad.  Go back to sleep.

She nodded off.  Then she felt the oxygen tubes on her face...

Her:  Why are they putting air in my nose?

Me:  That's oxygen.  I think it helps your brain or something.

Her:  Oh.   (pause)   When I wake up, will I be smarter?

Me:  Yeah.  I think so.          (because, moms know everything)

Her:  But, how do they separate the oxygen from the air?  

Me:  Ummm...that's a good question.  Go back to sleep...  

We got her home with lots of meds for the first night and day, because the pain was enough to make her faint when she tried to sit up, which made us feel like this, every six hours:

Pills!!  Pills are goooooood!

She also managed to send heavily medicated texts to a lot of her friends at like 2 a.m. a couple of nights with texts like..."hehehehe !%#^&% depene",  but she totally doesn't remember sending any of them.  Yeah.  That should go over well with the other parents... (sorry, guys!)

In all seriousness, everyone was really great, and her surgeon was a kind and gentle young wizard, who we will be grateful to forever.  Absolutely the best.
Photo: She's out of surgery. Thankfully all she had to get was a screw. Pretty gnar, sis.
Nice, huh?  Doesn't that look like it totally feels better?

And, to keep you occupied until next time, (though I feel some awkward encounter stories coming on) is a link to one of my favorite bloggers.  

If you are a wife and mother, you need this blog today:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

No, You CAN'T Share My Swim Lane--More Awkward Encounters

You might know I love to swim, and that I bucked up for a gym membership around Thanksgiving, so I *could* swim, which was awesome.  I went a lot at first, unsurprisingly.  Of course, the usual stuff started happening, which made me not get to the gym, not unlike most everyone who gets a membership, I imagine.  Because:

Then it was Christmas.

Then it snowed a lot.

Then the kids drove the car to school a lot and I had no way to GET to the gym.

Then we all got the flu.

Then the whole county apparently had the flu, and went to the gym.

Then it was January and hello--one million new members signed up for their New Year's Resolution and ALL WENT TO THE GYM.

I went over there all determined to swim one morning at 8 a.m. and, I kid you NOT, I couldn't even find an open parking spot.  And we're talking about a really really huge parking lot, including a covered garage area.  Plus, on the way in, I passed someone literally hacking and coughing in their car, coming out, which grossed me out.

Two other times I've driven over there and gone to the door of the pool room and stared morosely at the 10 lanes full of this:
Don't even bother.  I'm going to be here for AT LEAST ANOTHER HOUR.

I glared at them through the glass door long enough to be sure they totally knew they were messing up my day.  I sent guilt waves rippling their way, while I stood there in my coat, wondering why I was there.  Then, out of spite, I went into one of the private rooms and took a hot shower.  For about 45 minutes.  I figured, if I'm paying for this, I'm going to USE it.  This has happened twice.

Two days ago I went to the gym in the afternoon, thinking maybe there's a window of time when it isn't full of men training for the Polar Plunge or the Iron Man or the Indy 500 or whatever.  At first glance, again, I saw pretty much this: 
What the-- REALLY???

*sound of a balloon deflating*

I angrily frowned at the pool for a minute, standing there in my coat, then went into a changing room and stared angrily at the wall tiles for a minute, wondering if all I would ever get to do is shower here.  No.  I deserve to be here.  I pay to be here.  I am using that pool.  I glanced at my phone.  1:26 p.m.  I angrily sat down on the little bench in the changing room and waited four minutes, sent Shane a grumpy text, something about how I'm SO GLAD I HAVE THIS membership, then nonchalantly walked back out to gaze through the pool room doors.  Carefully...ah HAH!!  A lane was open.

I literally leapt into the women's locker room and flung myself into a bathing suit, dodged back out and stuffed my bag, coat, scarf, purse (turn off the phone, grab the water bottle), and boots into a locker, made a mental note to NOT carry so much stuff, snapped a padlock on it, and did my best to walk/run to the one open lane.  It was still open.  I think I heard angels singing.  I got in without even putting on my swim cap.  I did remember my goggles (foggy buggers), though, and oh, my gosh, you guys.  It was LOVELY.  For about 30 minutes.

I was approaching the wall at the shallow end on one lap, and I noticed, through the total fog of my super cheap goggles, that there was a person, squatting down at the end of my lane.  Great.  The lifeguards are going to ask me to leave.  I'm not wearing a swim cap. In case he was trying to steal my water bottle or something, I stopped and pulled off my goggles and peered at him.  It was (basically) this guy:   
Can I share your lane?
Seriously.  A total stranger.  "Can I share your lane?"

What?!?  No.  

I looked around.  OK, yes, there were some people sharing lanes, but the difference was that they actually were together.  I'm usually a wuss about this kind of situation, and I ALways say "yes" and then spend the rest of the time regretting it.  But I thought about all the times I haven't been able to get IN this pool.  I thought about the 25-minute drive each way to get here and the times I have arrived, only to shower and then leave.  I thought about the membership fee I pay each month to have a lane to myself, for an hour, once in awhile.  And I thought about the actual dreams I've had, twice, in the last week, where I am actually sharing a lane in a pool with a lot of people, and in that dream I constantly am bumping into them and trying to swim around them.  I hate that dream.  I wake up frustrated.  My eyes narrowed briefly, but--I am the soul of diplomacy, if not actual smooth replies.

So I looked at him, and I said:  "Um.  I'm going to be getting out shortly."  That didn't seem like enough of an explanation, (though he seemed to take it as one).  I needed to say more, so I said, "I'd share with you.  But--I can't see out of these goggles.  And I'd just spend the whole time running into you. Sorry."  He looked at me like I hadn't needed to say that.  I proved it by showing him.  "See? Fogged up."  He made a gesture like, "It's OK (lane hog), I'll wait," and sat down.

I was at the 32-minute mark of what I'd hoped would be an hour swim.  It felt so good.  But now I have this guy, sitting on the bench 8 feet from my lane, staring at me, waiting for me to get out.  
So, how long is "shortly"?
I rebelliously thought that if I want to swim another 25 minutes, I'm paying for it; I should be able to.  But every time I came to the end of the lane and glanced at the clock, there he was.
How bout now?

I swam another 5 minutes and glanced at the clock.  I mentally adjusted my idea of a great swim to OK, 40 minutes.  Forty minutes is good.  Because every time I finish a lap, I see this:
Are you seriously going to just swim all day?
I shouldn't feel bad, but I do.  I made him wait a whole eight minutes so I could clock 40 for my workout, and I got out.

On the way out, I got to thinking.  Maybe if I'd had my SWIM CAP on, I'd have looked more like someone who he shouldn't have asked.  He didn't ask any of those Iron Man guys to share their lanes...

Next time I go, I'm going to be better prepared.  I'm driving over there in my bathing suit AND swim cap.  Possibly barefoot too.  

Even still.  It felt great, and I'm inspired to go there more often, even if I do have to work on being more assertive, if I want to use anything more than the showers...

Ever cause yourself annoyance, or actually cut a work-out short, because you can't simply say "no" to someone?  Ever feel like you don't belong somewhere, even if you DO?