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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February Lunch Challenge

I am taking my lunch to work every day for the entire month of February. Here's how it's going so far...

February 1st: Oh, crap, forgot I was doing this. What do I have? What do I have? A single tortilla, some leftover Mexican rice, some cheese? Okay. It's a cheese and rice-a-rrito, I also have an avocado and some salsa to throw in my lunch box. At lunchtime, I nuke the rice-a-rrito, top with salsa and cut up and cube half an avocado.

Feburary 2nd: WHY DIDN'T I GO TO THE STORE LAST NIGHT?! Tiny single serving hummus tub, sandwich baggie of tortilla chips, the rest of that avocado, salt from my tears.

February 3rd: Publix is on my way home. WHY do I just drive by? Leftover veggie stir fry rice from dinner, but if I don't hit the grocery store on the way home our next dinner will be saltines and cheese with ketchup.

The stir fry last night was made of limp celery from the back of the hilariously named "crisper" drawer, a semi-soft yellow bell pepper, a handful of drying out baby carrots and an onion that was beginning to sprout. When I opened the pantry to get out the rice a freaking MOTH flew out at me in an accusatory fashion.

Bonus Lunch News: The children's lunches went like this today, 12 year old gets full size PB&J and 7 year old got a single slice of bread sandwich made cut into 2 pieces and made into a half sandwich. Rationing is IN EFFECT. Both of them got some rice crackers I found in the back of a shelf and 2 slices of muenster cheese (I'm out of cheese sticks). 2 loose apple sauce cups (one green apple, one with cinnamon) were tossed in along with "Fruit by the Foot" (AKA lunch candy) to round it out. I told them to eat their emergency graham crackers in their book bags if they got too hungry.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Blue Christmas

I am basically a happy person. I don't go *looking* for things to be unhappy about. I partake in the news as sparingly as I can while still staying informed. My natural inclination is to look for "bright sides" and "silver linings". But there is something about all of the sort of compulsory good cheer around the holidays that sets my teeth on edge, like too sweet frosting. It ignores a lot of the very real aspects of the nativity story for one thing, a pregnant woman traveling over rough terrain, seeking only shelter to have her baby in peace. I think about Mary being far away from her mother and her cousin at a time when women were routinely attended to by family in their time of childbirth. I think about her flight to Egypt shortly after giving birth, running away from a genocidal king who is randomly killing newborns.

I also think about more modern concerns. People who are lonely, and depressed, away from their families or friends, separated by death or distance or disease. I worry about colder weather being brutal for the homeless and the poor. And then of course there is the existential dread that seems to come in December as well. Is it something atavistic in us that fears the longer nights and dead and dying plants? Is it the ending of the year but before the fresh and shiny and fleeting hopefulness of New Year's? I'm not sure.

I just know that even as a child I felt like I could feel my life slipping away at Christmas. At age six, surrounded by toys and grandparents and aunts and uncles, I turned to my five year old sister and solemnly told her, "Christmas will never be this good again."

So while most of the time I am baking cookies and visiting friends and even throwing god-damn compulsory caroling parties and trimming the tree, in the quiet times of the night, the long hours between midnight and morn, I think of T.S. Eliot's poem about a similar feeling of both joy and dread.

The Journey Of The Magi
'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

All this to say... a blue Christmas, a sad Christmas is Christmas still.

And now a weepy, blue, tear-stained playlist to get you through the worst of it.

Hard Candy Christmas
River
If We Make it Through December
Please Come Home for Christmas
What Are You Doing New Year's Eve
Someday at Christmas
I'll Be Home for Christmas
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Merry Christmas Darling
That Was the Worst Christmas Ever
Christmas Lights
Christmas Time is Here
In the Bleak Midwinter
Stille Nacht
Walking in the Air

PS Why this stopped letting me embed links I do not know. Merry Christmas.

PS UPDATE: I think they are all embedded now. It's a Christmas miracle.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

On a bicycle built...for 5?


Remember that feeling, leading up to Christmas, where there was one physical object that you wanted with all of your heart? My mother stood in line at midnight once to get me and my two sisters those coveted circa 1985 Cabbage Patch dolls. Then one pre-teen year I REALLY really wanted a stereo for my room with double cassette decks, perfect for recording your favorite songs off the radio. I haven't really wanted anything like that in a long time.

I mean, I want a house. Okay. I bought a car a few years ago, but I didn't WAAAAAAANT it. I mean, it's a Hyundai. I bought it because it has a KILLER warranty and great gas mileage. It's a very grown-up version of wanting.

But this ridiculous bicycle, that is LITERALLY a "surrey with a fringe on top", I want it like 6 year old me wants a Barbie.

Am I foolish? This thing looks awesome RIGHT? I mean HOW CUTE WOULD THIS BE, all of us biking to the store or what not. Tooling around bike trails and having fun? I mean, the only thing keeping me from bicycling more often is the *crippling* loneliness and having to be the only one pedaling. I mean, that sucks, right?

I know, I know. There's a zillion reasons why I shouldn't get this, and it doesn't matter that I want one so bad. I know my parents won't get me one (nor should they). Husband said NO because he hates fun and loves to CRUSH MY DREAMS. I'm not going to buy one because I am an adult who has yet to make her yearly contribution to (or even start a) 401K.

The way I see it, my only choice is this...

Dear Santa,

I have been exceptionally good this year. I have cut way back on the swearing, I brush my teeth, I never, ever hit people with my car. So I was wondering, if you and the elves could whip me up one of these things, preferrably with the gold accessories package that includes LED headlamps and a wire basket trunk for some groceries. THANK YOU SANTA!

I'll always believe (especially if you get me one of these)

XOXOX-- Suzanne

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nailing It

I'm a nail biter. Always have been. Didn't suck my thumb, I bit my nails. I guess deep down I must be a worry-wart. Okay. Maybe right here on the surface I am a worry-wart. Anyhow the only way I have ever found to keep from biting my nails is to get regular manicures.

Manicures around here can run anywhere from $12 to $35 depending on where you get them. The basic service is the same, your nails are cut and shaped, your cuticles pushed back, a clear undercoat, nail polish in a color you choose and a top coat. You may or may not get a moisturizing hand massage depending on your preference.

I chose a $12 place last time because, let's face it, I'm broke. The place was clean and pretty but not fancy. The nail tech tried to immediately upsell me to the gel manicure. I don't like them. First of all they claim to last for 2 weeks without chipping. Well, mine didn't chip, but they peeled off in big sheets after a few days. I also don't like putting my hands under UV light. I haven't spent most of my life cloistered in libraries and living rooms to go around getting age spots and wrinkly hands NOW. And it looks like I'm not the only person who thinks it's a bad idea.
According to Dr. Chris Adigun, in a recent interview with Teen Vogue,
UV lamps are not regulated, so each one might affect you differently. "The strength of the bulb varies from one manufacturer to the next, which makes it very difficult to assess the risk level at different salons," she says. You might be telling yourself that the amount of exposure is so short and infrequent, but your visits to the manicurist add up.

I declined the gel manicure and settled in for the the regular manicure, making sure to remove my credit card before we began. Nothing worse than trying to dig out your charge card and chipping your fresh polish!

My manicurist wasn't very chatty, which I always find odd since you are basically sitting across a small table together holding hands, but to each her own. I sort of zoned out until I looked down in sudden pain because she had decided to cut my cuticles without asking me! Her cuticle trimmer was so dull it felt more like she was just ripping them off with a grapefruit spoon. So, moral of the story, when you sit down always state your cuticle preference. I never like to have mine cut!

The rest of the manicure went eh, okay.

It got me to thinking, maybe I need to just learn to do manicures at home? I mean, $12 isn't a ton of money, but my nails weren't shaped all that well, I was forcibly de-cuticled, she tried to bully me into a gel manicure and seemed put out when I refused. Maybe the nail tech at a $25 salon might be nicer, but that's a LOT of money to shell out. Plus I'm always concerned I'm going to get a horrific infection at nail places. I mean, it can happen to anyone, even Paula Abdul!

If there's one thing Pinterest loooooves to do, it's to tell you your nail game isn't even *on point* much less on fleek, bae.

(I'm not sure what any of that means.)

Pinterest also loves to give you nails for any occasion:

Disney Trip
Wedding Day
Graduation Day
Rainy Days
Mother's Day
First day on the job as an astrophysicist

My current nail color is Vixen Pump.
Vixen pumps are for when your vixen backs up and needs to be pumped out. And we all know this is especially dangerous in the winter with freezing temperatures.

Honestly, how do they come up with these names? My favorite shade of red is OPI's, "I'm not really a waitress." That's it. That's the name of the color.

Imagine that rainbow for a minute, "I'm Not Really A Waitress" "I just can't cope-acabana", "Call Me Gwen-Ever", "Thanks A Wind Million", "SwimSuit...Nailed It", "Wharf, Wharf, Wharf" and "Suzi and the 7 Dusseldorfs"

I can only imagine these color design meetings happen under the influence of a lot nail polish fumes and the marketing team is sitting on individual bean bags saying things like, "What if the color blue to me is totally different than the color blue TO YOU?" and then they order Taco Bell for lunch and we end up with a shade of cerise nail lacqer called "Bob Carp Rama Lama WHEE!"**

**Copyright 2015 All Rights Reserved OPI people!











Monday, January 26, 2015

The House That Jack Built

You ever feel like you can't get on top of one chore because 17 other things have to be done right NOW? Like I really need to set the table, but that means I have to move these school papers, but don't lose them because there is a permission slip in there for the horse farm field trip, plus an invitation to a birthday party at that jumping inflatable place, plus somebody's homework on the Peloponnesian War. Now I have to get the last of the breakfast dishes off the table, because somehow I missed this teacup saucer someone decided to eat an egg off of and now the yolk has super glued this spoon to it and these juice glasses are possibly never going to come clean at this point. Okay, now the mail, is this a bill? Is this a statement? Is this a real piece of mail from a friend or one of those typefaces that look like handwriting? How did we get signed up for Highlights magazine? Who ordered Highlights? Why are we subscribing to a magazine we read for free at the Doctor's office? Why are there American Girl doll shoes on the table? WHY IS THERE AN ACTUAL PAIR OF SHOES ON THE TABLE?! OMG, will the owner of these smelly lime green sneakers PLEASE come and get your shoes before I lose MY ACTUAL MIND. Okay, now I need to wipe the table down, potentially with bleach, why can I NOT FIND ANY PAPER TOWELS?! OMG!!!!!!

And then later, staring blankly at the straight bourbon you're sipping, over the stainless steel sink you keep wanting to replace, you realize it's not the table. It's the everything.

Dear Reader, I have a bad case of the Everything.

It all started when I decided to do something "Pinteresting" and try and use Pinterest boards to update my wardrobe. Actually, a little background might be in order; about a year and a half ago my husband and I moved with our two kids into my in-laws house. We were relocating to the city they live in, we needed seed money to start a new business and it was either start the business or get a house. So we took a leap of faith and it's been great. My in-laws are wonderful babysitters and roommates. My kids are getting lots of up close and personal time with their grandparents. There is almost always someone home to lend a hand, all in all it's a lovely thing.

BUT now my worldly possessions and I all live together in a guest room. So when I try and get to my closet to pick out an outfit, I find myself tripping over the box of extra school supplies I've been meaning to drive out to my storage unit, but haven't. Or I am temporarily housing the big sewing project I am working on but I don't want to leave on the dining room table. There's an unfinished quilt on top of the box where I store all of my sweaters/jackets/scarves because there isn't room in the closet. The "reading" chair in the corner is always covered with a box that contains at least 499 pieces of a 500 piece puzzle, a bare minimum of two kids clothing items that need mending, the extra blanket that we may or may not need tonight due to temperature variations, the shirts my husband is sorting for Goodwill and last week a literal partridge in a pear tree that had escaped being placed in a Christmas storage box. All of this flotsam and jetsam invariably slides off onto the floor blocking my access to at least 1/3 of my dresser drawers and rather than try and deal with the mess I decide I can dress myself just FINE from the remaining 2/3 of the dressers, plus whatever I hang on the back of the door as a "clean enough" item.

DON'T act like you don't have any "clean enough" clothes. You know those pants you wore for 2 hours to Mass on Sunday? Unless you spill communion wine on those suckers you are wearing them to work on Monday. That clean blouse you temporarily changed into so you didn't wear your Tori Amos Under the Pink 1994 Concert t-shirt with the hole in it to the Piggly Wiggly? That gets hung on the back of the door until the the door hanging organizer-thing becomes so loaded with clean enough clothes, bathrobes and tote bags that it tips precariously and prevents you from successfully closing the door.

Now I realize, to my horror, that due to unrelenting bouts of the flu, a batch of headlice and one documented case of dysentary I haven't washed anything but sheets and towels for three months. Plus there was that 6 weeks without a washing machine AT ALL because the dang thing broke under warranty which meant using the Service Provider from Sears who proceeded to break the washer in a new way, order new parts, get the wrong parts and then only truly fix the washer once Husband successfully located the leak that he was originally contacted to fix.

Plus, I haven't bought anything new in over a year because I knew we would be moving soon and the less I have to put in a box the better. Which means I have been wearing clothes that range from "retired ballerina working in artistic non-profit" to "inmate work release program" often in the same week.

So, it's a little bit like the House That Jack Built, I have to be able to fix the Everything by breaking it down into doable somethings. For instance, getting caught up on the laundry so I can see exactly what clothes I have to work with might be a logical Step one. Then getting rid of clothes that don't fit, I don't like, or aren't wearable for some reason is Step two. Getting all of the stuff out of my room that really belongs in my storage unit, that sounds like a Step "Husband, please get this stuff out of here" to me. Then I can address things like clearing off the hanging organizer on the back of the door and making sure the reading chair stays clear enough to actually read in.

I decided to do some due diligence on room organization techniques by researching on Pinterest. My main problem is that my living situation is temporary (in fact we should be moving this Spring) so I need a system in place that is both temporary and portable. Then I can get down to the serious business of being a ridiculous Pinterest fashion model for you all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Inevitable

Eventually you hit a patch where you have to blog about not blogging. This is that post. But fear not! I will be back on to daily posts again soon and I will keep you in the loop for my biggest Pinterest project to date. In the mean time I am making so preparations for the most challenging of my Pinterest experiments yet.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fashion Forward Fitness

Sometimes I forget that I'm a middle aged, middle-class white lady. I mean, I'm not, not really (that's a whole other post) but that's how I move through the world. All the tell-tale signs are there, I drive a miniature SUV, I have two kids, I work in an office and God help me, I have a Fitbit.

You guys know about this thing, right? A rubber bracelet with a fancy wi-fi connected pedometer in it. I can't help myself, I love the damn thing. Last night I walk/jog/hopped in place while watching Agent Carter on TV till I got in my 10,000 steps. I had only had it since 6 p.m. that same night. BOOYEAH. The same small shameless part of me that loves tweeting my opinions on television shows, loves the connectivity of the Fitbit. Like my pal Erica in London is kicking arse on walking down presumably cobblestone streets; Sheba has walked the entire length of India in her neighborhood; Cindy is powering through snowdrifts as tall as my head in Minnesota somehow.

Let's face it I am far too social and far too competitive not to love a Fitbit.

So I decided to see if anyone had any magical pins about how to use the Fitbit, especially with a sedentary desk job. Instead I find this:


Because a rubber bracelet that costs more than a week's groceries is simply not enough, one must get it a golden bangle bracelet cover up.

Or perhaps you'd like to peruse an entire Etsy store (because Etsy, because why NOT?!) that is made up of fashion accessories for your little rubber bracelet. Because that thing with the fake pearls and the lobster claw clasp doesn't look crazy at all.

I did also get tired of the expected but annoying to me "weight loss Fitbit miracle" pins. It's very hard to find information on health for women that isn't directly tied to weight loss. But there is so much more to health than the scale, like aerobic fitness, muscle tones, endurance, flexibility, and strength, right? But no, I definitely need 68,000 reminders that not only am I not pretty enough, that my exercise monitor must also adhere to a purely aesthetic measure as well.

So anyhow, we can consider this a sub-genre of Pin that I will not be re-pinning, because having a working pedometer, a smart phone to use with it and safe streets to walk down? That is an overwhelming amount of privilege and maybe I need to stay aware of that.


Also, if I was going to do anything with it, I'd just Bedazzle the motherfucker.

Fitbit shown here with author's genuine rhinestone studded hair clip from the late 1990's.