Monday, September 01, 2008

I'm Too Cheap to Buy Tools!

Always have been.



I'm thinking about sewing some purses. (probably only one - maybe two)












But the two patterns I like best, require grommets - which in turn requires a grommet tool (pliers).




Considering my financial situation, it doesn't seem smart to spend money ($20) on 'tools' that I don't really need.

I tried looking on Craigslist. No luck.

I'd probably find a tool like this at a Garage Sale, but that will be hit or miss... and it's probably dangerous as I would find all sorts of other stuff to buy!


Anyone have a grommet tool they want to sell me cheap - or maybe just give me?



Otherwise... maybe I'll just sew button holes... or maybe welted holes. Ohhh that'd be nice if it wasn't so labor intensive.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Such Beauty

I took my pictures of my expecting friends to my photography mentor, Mel - and she worked a little Photoshop Magic on them.

Before:
After:
Before:
After:
What a gorgeous difference! I still need to learn the art of Photoshop. Sadly, I've had Elements for 2.5 years now... and still haven't installed it on my computer for fear of not having enough memory space. What a waste.

By the way... this beautiful couple isn't expecting anymore! They are now parents to a sweet little girl! Yeah... there will be pictures. Count on it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Click at a Time

One of the resolutions toward My Life Improvement when I started this was to become a better photographer. I recently found a professional photographer to take me under her wing, and I'm excited about learning more.

I've always been good at composing pictures. It's the technical side that needs work for me. So my Mentor is teaching me to use my manual settings... the ISO, shutter speed and cranking that f stop down as low as it can go.

For me, that meant buying a new lens. The two lenses I already had limited my f stop range to 4.
My new 50mm lens came via UPS today so I tested it out on my friends, the expecting parents.

I'm mostly pleased with the results. Can't wait to hear what they think!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

How About Something A Little Different?

I'm starting to think of tomatoes as a crutch.

They're every where. In every dish. I'm thinking a few cooks oughta try challenging themselves and make something without tomatoes for a change. And chicken.

Can you say 'Blah'?

See, I am allergic to tomatoes and chicken, among other things.
So every time I go out to eat I have to skim past anything on the menu with these ingredients. And let me tell you, the food out there that doesn't consist of tomatoes and chicken... is really freaking delicious!

Friends with whom I dine often look at my plate with envy. If I give them a taste, they swoon. But they always order something with tomatoes and chicken.

BORING!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Favorite Things: Step Stool

Time for another one of my favorite things.

As an adult who is 5 feet 5 inches tall (no matter what my doc's asst. says - so rude!) I need a bit of assistance to get items from the top shelves of my cupboards and other places in my house.
I had put off buying the much needed step tool for many years.
Most things in the stores are plastic and ugly. In fact I had one of those. Meh.

Until one day, puttering around a favorite antique store I found this:

Glory!

How cute. It screams 70s to me and I love the lifetime of wear on the front edge of the step!
Only on one side though! Which tells me that this step tool lived with one owner and one house and probably stayed in one place it's entire life.

Now it has come to my home to help me and look fabulous in the process.


By the way, I also love my kitchy all metal kitchen cabinets! Aren't they fab?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Laundry Rudeness

I live in a 22 unit condo building run by an HOA (home owners association).

We are all rather neighborly and kind to one another, but we have a few folks who treat the laundry room as if it is not a shared space.
I won't get into the drippy messes and loads of dog hair some people leave behind. What really bothers the rest of us is the laundry they leave sit for days, weeks, even months.

??? I don't understand.

See, we purchased brand new machines about two years ago, and painted and tiled the laundry room which also serves as the back entrance of the building.
We even bought and installed lockers for everyone to store their detergent and laundry money without hauling it up and down the stairs.



Nice huh?

We figured the cheerful paint job and aesthetically pleasing decor would encourage people to take pride in the space - as well as make it an attractive entry area.

But someone keeps piling up their crap - which gets in the way of our cleaning service for one thing! And is really annoying to the rest of us for another.

No pics of the mess available to share with you.

Am I wrong? Isn't this rude?

I mean, I can understand if you started a load of towels and forgot about them overnight. But how do you forget your sheets for a month? A cute outfit for three weeks? Bizarre.

I'm on the board so I'm asserting my power.

We have posted warning signs like this:

sorry, the text got cut off in the conversion process.











And I just pinned this on two different piles today.











Be honest, would this bother you? Am I out of line? Or is the laundry dumper?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

SHOES!

Some friends complimented me on my comfy summer sandals.
Um... are you sure? These are my old lady sandals!

They're Naturalizers - the brand my mom wears.

(wow! I never noticed how flat and big and ugly my feet look in these shoes until I took this picture. Uhh.)



I only bought them (and two other pair of Naturalizers) last summer. I was having a problem with my hip and my doc told me to ditch the heels for a while.

As I explained this to my friends - with vivid details of whining about having to shelve all my three inch heels - one girl interjected,

"You're the only person I know who would complain about NOT wearing heels."

1) Uh. How many women do you know?
&
2) Clearly, I live in Colorado now!

I looked at the feet around me. All six tootsies were bedecked with flip flops. (er - aren't those for the shower? Or maybe getting the mail?) Oh. and excuse me. Not flip flops. Chacos.
$80 flip flops with arch support. Are you kidding me?

I would never spend $60 - $80 on shoes that I feel I couldn't wear out of the house!
Okay, I could wear 'em with yoga pants. All my other pants would drag on the ground. 3 inch heels required for all of them!

My attitude toward athletic shoes is similar. $60 - $120 for shoes limited to one category of clothing?!!! Workout clothes.

Please. With my shopping habits (TJMaxx, Department Store clearance racks) that's like 5 pairs of heels that would go with everything!

Everything:
Jeans
Slacks
Skirts
Dresses &
Shorts



Yeah... everything. Work, church, parties, shopping. All very practical.

Now that I live in Colorado, I actually need athletic shoes. And as I'm learning... not just one pair. One pair for the gym - cross trainers I guess, so that I can suck at my attempts at tennis.
And another pair for trail hiking. It is the mountains after all.

I hate shopping for athletic shoes. I'd rather have a root canal than shop for athletic shoes. I've had a root canal. Not so bad. I don't see the big deal.

Athletic shoes? Ugh. No.

They're so uncomfortable. It seems I lost my arch after years of wearing cute shoes. Now shoes with arch support feel as if though there's a boiled egg in my shoe. If the arch feels okay then something else feels terribly wrong, tight or bumpy. Ugh.

But, a hot pair of heels - they're always just right.
It is a fact that I can run just as fast and probably more gracefully in three inch heels than I can in a pair of sneakers.

But I will acquiesce - that the gym, the tennis court and mountain trails are really no place for high heels. And to be honest, my heels wouldn't go with those outfits anyway.


An Aside: Colorado is so much more casual than other places/cities. It's all Columbia trail pants and t-shirts and fleece all the time.
When I first moved here, and went to the mountains with my girlfriends... I took normal 'going out clothes' along for evenings. Everyone told me I was too dressed up for those rugged, rustic bars. And it's true. Guys here dig on girls who can rock the jeans - t-shirt - tennis shoe look.
Well... skinny, flat-chested girls like me can't really work it in that outfit! My friend who moved away from Denver before I moved here warned me it would be like this! She couldn't take it either!
And... after viewing Sex and the City last night with my other girlfriends... all dressed to kill... one of them noted that NO ONE in Satc EVER wore jeans (or sneakers I might add).
I rest my case.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Return of Great Style?

Once upon a time there was a catalogue filled with the most beautiful clothes made of soft sweet fabrics and colors in flattering comfortable cuts - that both my mom and I adored!

That was quite a feat circa 1989-1991 - to find clothing that mom and I agreed on! But Tweeds Inc managed it! They had cute, sassy - yet classic looks for me - and tall sizing for mom - a priority for she with long legs and arms - always tricky to fit.

Mom and I would pour over the pages, and pick out a few items so we could share shipping. I was in college by then - the first time we didn't share an address.

Recently, my mom - she who is not Internet savvy - asked me to search for some clothing catalogues featuring 'Tall' sizing and sign her up on their mailing lists. That's my task for today - since reminded me of the request in our last phone conversation.

The Tweeds catalogue mysteriously disappeared. I still have a few issues tucked away. Sometimes I take them out and fantasize about clothing so rich and creamy and soft.
I remember those pages were the first where I saw clothing colors described as 'Eggplant', 'Grass' and 'Wheat'. Their take on a t-shirt was so original and classic and flattering that added shipping costs were justifiable! I loved everything Tweeds. Comparable to many of the items found at today's Anthropology - but not as heavily priced - eek!

Again today... I searched the Internet for possible links to Tweeds. All I find are past articles of the company's demise. Not a lot of information there either.

Yet - I am encouraged. On trips to TJMaxx in the past 8 months... I've found a few items with the Tweeds label. Be still my heart. It's the same tell-tale classic styling and great fabrics. These can't be clothes from some warehouse that closed 15 years ago - can they? I take it as an indication that Tweeds is nurturing a comeback - and these items on the rack at TJMaxx are harbingers of great styling - about to be reintroduced to the masses.

May we bow our heads in prayer - of hope and thanksgiving...

Does anyone have insider skinny of a come-back? Anyone?

Meanwhile... any recommendations for catalogues for Tall women like my mom - that might even feature large shoe sizes? I hooked Mom up with Eddi* Bau*r - J J!ll- Ch!cos and Co!dwater Cr**k. Every other tall size provider seemed to cater to 20-something clubbers! How strange - manufactures seem to think that tall women shrink down to 5'7" once they reach age 65. No wonder my mom and her sisters have such a rough time with pants!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Faith. Life.

I'm a Cradle Catholic. Immersed in the faith from the day of my baptism. Twelve years of Catholic School reinforced the beliefs my parents worked so hard to instill in me. Until I went to college, I truly believed that everyone wanted to be Catholic. That they envied us. Don't ask me why then, that I didn't question that they didn't all just convert.

My Western Civilization classes knocked some wind out of my faith filled sails. The classes exposed bits of history that were glossed over in 12 years of Catholic School. History that reflected very poorly on the institution of the Church. On top of that, going to Mass every Sunday was decidedly not fun and indeed boring. So like many young people, I floundered with my faith a bit in my college years.

Oddly enough, my brother got me back on track before graduation. He asked me to be his oldest daughter's Godmother - but only if I started going to church again. That was all it took.

Years of work and dating - miserable dating followed. Relationships don't last long when you're abstinent. I often had to defend my beliefs. More often than not - others dismissed my faith and following of commandments to be silly and pointless.

I never understood the perspective of people without faith until I heard one of them refer to faith and religion as 'a fairy tale'.
Whoa.
Seriously?!
Well, now I knew just how far fetched they found it. I felt so sad for them.
They see it all as a waste of time. We're oppressing and denying our physical needs and urges for a fairy tale. Hmm. Now I see why they are so confused.

One of the only ways I have been able to describe the importance of faith, and that it is indeed a choice... not brain washing is to compare it to health.

Most of us know that to take the best care of our bodies, we should eat healthy food. We should get off the couch and exercise. Those who are really dedicated to their bodies cut out carbs and lift weights or run 10 miles a day. They do what it takes to be fit and stay healthy. They don't even see it as a sacrifice.

It's the same for your soul.

Bad out. Good in.

It's not some regimented denial of pleasure... it is instead... doing what is best for - not your body - but your soul.

I go to Mass because it nourishes my soul. I abstain from sex because it keeps me pure. I follow the commandments - because - following my analogy - it keeps me from getting fat, ruining my cholesterol, or clogging my arteries.

I know many people who go to great lengths to follow their healthy diet, train for a marathon, chisel their abs - yet mock me for maintaining my soul.
Meanwhile, I wonder how they can put so much effort into their earthly shell while ignoring the one part of their earthly presence that will actually make it to an after-life.

And I'm the one who is silly?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Up in Flames

Wow. My neighbor is causing trouble again. This time- it was very dangerous!

The woman who lives below me is not mentally stable. She's very hard to live with... but we're a condo - she's a homeowner like the rest of us, so it's not like we can evict her.

Last night I came home around 10:00 and all my neighbors were standing outside. What's going on? Miss M. They said. I started looking around at the building for noticable damage - the last big incident involved a broken entryway mirror and landscaping bricks through two car windshields.

No. They said. There was a gas leak coming from her unit. They called E*xcel Energy - and the guy with a meter detected 15% gas in the hallway. He said 10% was combustable. In her kitchen, at the source of the leak from her stove, the meter read 40%.

Okay. That's not her fault. Except she was sitting on her couch - drunk off her gourd - smoking a cigarette! How do you not notice that your apartment is full of gas while you have a fire stick in your mouth?!?!? Thanks for blowing up the building Miss M!

Not only that. The guy from E*xcel told her she had to put out the cigarette and she asked Why? After he finally got her to extinguish the bugger, he turned around and she was lighting up another! He took the cigarette right from her mouth!

At least now we can prove that she is a danger to herself AND others. Maybe we can make some progress.

Our laws are very protective of the mentally ill. And that's a good thing. The only problem is - those same laws sometimes make it very difficult to get them help. And to protect the innocent.

What if she'd have blown the place up?!? Holy cow.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Uh... I don't think you can help me.

I'm still adjusting to the constant varying temperatures in Denver. I just can't get a handle on the 'dress in layers' theory. Even in the summer. If you're wearing a sundress or shorts and a tank top - you have to bring a jacket if you are staying out past 5:30 - I just can't buy enough light sweaters to go with every outfit.

I think most women in Colorado manage with clothes from REI. This doesn't work for me. I was raised in the Midwest. Everything has to be an outfit. I need to look cute and I don't feel cute in t-shirts and fleece. (in the Midwest, I could wear one outfit all day long. if it was 95 degrees when you left the house, it won't be any cooler than 90 after dark! Plus the humidity held the heat around me like a shawl. I must be the only person who really appreciates humidity for that reason!)

So in lieu of matching sweaters and hoards of fashionable jackets I carry a wrap or pashmina with me nearly all times. It's just enough to wrap around my shoulders to ward off the chill when the sun dips behind the mountains (or if a place happens to be air conditioned).

Still, in the quest for having the right jacket or cover for all occasions, I decided I needed a cute trench coat for spring. It would be perfect for church or anything bordering on slightly formal.

I looked all over town. It had to be affordable since my job situation is tight. Both TJMaxx and Ross had moved on from jacket season so no luck there. I saw a really cute trench in the window of Ann Taylor Loft, but it was about $190 and it wasn't very flattering for my figure.

So I went to the outlet mall and poked into a few stores.

In one of them, a young sales girl came up to help and asked what I was looking for. "I'm looking for a light weight spring trench." said I.

When she replied with, "What do you mean?" I was stymied.

Light. Spring. Trench.
I'm plum out of descriptors there sweetie. If you don't know what I'm talking about - you probably shouldn't be working in clothing.

I just stood there for a while trying to think of another way to say it, then I repeated, "A light weight spring trench coat."

"Oh. Like a trench coat?"


Oh boy.

this picture is just a diagram. I ended up finding something really cute at Kohl's - and ended up spending under $25! Whoo hoo. Maybe I'll take a photo of it... I can't find it online.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Favorite Thing(s)

I don't cook or bake much so finding some favorite things in the kitchen is kind of a surprise!


When I lived in Omaha, my parents visited one weekend and we trolled around some estate sales.
This is a great activity with my parents because mom and I get to shop and dad gets to be around old stuff and talk to strangers (also old).
The best part of this activity is getting the stories from dad. He'll see some old tools or something like a wet stone and then regale me with stories of his childhood, sharpening knives, almost cutting someone's finger off.
I love taking him to antique stores because he can tell me the origination of anything and has a story about it - and then a sidebar story in addition. I love that (if you wondered about my tendancy to wander in storytelling, that's where I got it)!


Anyway, we're at an estate sale. 60 years of one woman's kitchen goods are spread out on card tables. Pyrex bowls, glass refrigerator dishes, untouched dish towels... everything.

Mom called me over to a table and said, "Don't you want a set of measuring cups just like mine?"


I didn't know it until then, but I did!


I love these measuring cups because you know they are precise for all those old recipies. They're stainless steel so they're indestructable. The simple styling puts function above form... but the form is cool too.



And mostly, I love them because every time I need a measuring a cup I'm reminded of my mom. It's like having her cups - but they're mine.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Pots O Peppers

Time for an update on my plot to plant peppers.



Here they are today. I transplanted them into pots yesterday.

I wonder if I'm wasting my time transplanting them into gradually larger pots. By the time they're ready for Mr. Burns patio they'll have to be in BIG pots. Don't you think?


After the first transplant... I planted another batch of tomato seeds to start.

Then guess what? Just as I was about to discard the previous tomato attempt... look what I found.



Two tiny little tomato plants trying to make a name for themselves!
Tres exciting.
Maybe they don't hate me after all.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Borrow a Cup of Sugar?

I live in a small condo building. It's actually a converted apartment building so it's small and cozy.
There are six units on my floor and we're very neighborly. We share internet service. Throw BBQs together in the courtyard. Last year during the blizzard we combined our resources and shared a meal together - sort of a picnic in the hallway. So neighborly requests are often honored.

The other night I was on the phone with Mr. Burns when I heard a knock at the door. I opened the door and saw my neighbor - and motioned silently that I was on the phone and I'd check in with her later.
She motioned silently back - and I once I understood her message I burst out laughing.

She was waving a dollar bill, asking to buy a roll of toilet tissue from me!

With a request like that... you can't take payment. If someone is down to their last square glued to a near empty roll - you can't be stingy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Veggie Surprise

Last summer Mr. Burns and I would walk down the bike path along the creek outside his condo to get to the farmers market. Seriously the location is amazing - and what a great way to shop for food!

We could pick up a weeks worth of bell peppers, fresh corn and tomatoes (for him- I'm allergic to tomatoes.) and other salad and sandwich fixings for a crazy low price + a nice walk in the sun.

On the way back, he would wax poetic about how great it would be to grow tomatoes on his patio. I looked up some container gardening plans on the Internet and showed them to him. But like most things, he left it at an idea.

Well, shortly after Easter I got the idea to start some plants for him. Rather than buy a starter kit I just planted seeds from my most recently consumed peppers in a shallow take-out dish from Tokoyo Joe's. The lid served as a terrarium. I had to buy tomato seeds - and planted them in another container.

Here's what I have so far:
Mr. Burns likes Green peppers the best - so of course the Orange and Red ones came in first and fast and frenzied! I just opened the lid again today and was thrilled to find a couple little plants in the Green section!
The tomatoes on the other hand:
refuse to grow. Is this their way of saying they don't like me either? My body doesn't like them, so they won't grow for me!
I'm going to move the pepper plants to some small pots - then I'll use that container to try tomatoes again. I am just worried that I'll kill them by putting them in pots. The terrarium effect is so low maintenance... if I have to be responsible for watering them I'm likely to kill them.
I'm going to wait to Mr. Burns what I've done. He's been working out of town a lot lately so I'll wait til things calm down and he can be expected to be home to water them.
Aww. Look at my cute little veggie friends!
In this shot you can just make out the two little green pepper plants in the upper right corner!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another Favorite

To go along with my resolutions to entertain more - I discovered the need to have more plates available at my house. (I've never been married so I never acquired a full set of dishes - I've been using the same set of 4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates since college!!)

I usually keep things simple - serving kabobs and various appetizers, cut fruit and veggies. What is important to me is the people. My people don't care if everything looks perfect - just keep their glasses and their tummies full!

But, what I can't bear is the thought of 1) serving my guests off of paper plates - tacky!!! and 2) the guilt of tossing paper plates in a landfill just 'cuz I hate doing dishes!

So, leading up to my housewarming party I browsed some antique stores and found these old glass party plates.
Over time, I've added to my collection. All glass party plates and dessert bowls! The bowls are curvy and heavy and lovely. Not heavy, just solid with a nice heft.
Anytime I'm in an antique store I keep an eye out for more. At an estate sale last fall, I found a set complete with the corny little zippered case! How kitschy is that!
And, I pick them for about the same price as a package of new paper plates - but these are reusable.
You should see the adorable 50s finger sandwich plates complete with punch cups I picked up last summer. Maybe I'll share if I dig that box out sometime soon.
Last summer I hosted a Sunday Brunch in my building's courtyard. Many people gasped when they realized I wasn't using paper plates! Not what they expected I guess - especially since it's enough trouble carrying the food and such down three flights to get outside! But, I think it's wrong to eat from paper and plastic. Won't happen at my house!

I only wish I had enough to serve the crowd at dad's birthday BBQ.
It's gonna kill me to use paper plates, no matter how apropos for a BBQ.

Good Times at the Ranch

My brother tends to plan things without thinking them through.

When he brought his family out to visit and ski last month, it took him another week after he returned home to tell me that he's planning a big surprise party for Dad's 75th Birthday.

Gee man, I'm glad you told me - so that I can arrange to be home for it!!!

Well, this is an occassion.
My family tends to keep things simple - so my suggestion to make appropriate invitations was way out there!

Until I came up with this:I love, love, love them!
I think my brother really likes them too. I made them up to be mailed as postcards. The detailed information is on the business side. I mailed the majority to relatives, but my brother will just hand out the rest to folks at home... neighbors, parishoners etc.

I really like how they turned out - except the printer surprised me with the white border. I didn't want - or ask for - the white border. I think that's what he thought of when I said "postcard" though I wish he hadn't.

When he sent me jpgs of the mock ups - I was opening them on a white background so I didn't notice! Boo hiss!

Oh well. No sense wasting more paper and resources just to eliminate the weird little border.

Favorite Things

I'm swiping an idea from another blogger. KC Masterpiece started blogging about some of her favorite things. Things she already has, in an effort to appreciate what she has, and as I took it... to help curb the want for new things.

I think it's a great idea. And so I'll start with a few of mine:

When I look around my home, I notice that my favorite things are mostly antiques. Oddly enough, recently acquired antiques!

I picked up this lovely little number at an antique store last year.
I can't imagine my love for this little vase ever waning!

Seriously.
What's not to love?
The color - beautiful. The texture - amazing!
And if you look closely you'll notice that while the base of the vase is square, the mouth is a triangle. Now that's sneaky!
I really think it is one of the most beautiful things in my home and I can't imagine ever growing tired of it!

The same can be said for my beautiful credenza. I picked it up about 1 1/2 years ago. I searched for YEARS after I moved into my condo for the right piece of furniture for my living room. Oh baby, is this it! I tucked my little tv, vcr and dvd player in the center door. No ugly tv as a focal point in my living room.

For your true appreciation of this beauty... I must point out the very cool Atomic knobs!

How cute!

Oh... actually these are the best photos I have of the credenza - but I must share that I finally moved that old rug to the bedroom and replaced it with a beautiful shag that I found for a steal - so my living room looks more like this now:
Improvement eh?

Now I'm working on the right placement for accessories to display on the credenza. A new sofa is next.

I'm getting there. That will be another Favorite things feature in the future.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Better Campaign Strategy

I was discussing the current presidential campaign with my dad today. Somewhere in the conversation I was reminded of this man who was in my social circle for a while a few years ago. He was involved in local politics and considering a run for governor.

I got to know him through a guy I was dating at the time.

So over a period of several months I got to know this guy since we were invited to the same dinners and parties. Actually, he was usually the one hosting the party. Nonetheless, I learned that he’s a very smart guy, with great plans, and a big heart. I believed this guy would do really good things if he had the chance to hold office.

He did throw his hat in the ring. He would have had a pretty good shot at getting elected too. But a few months later, he explained over dinner that he just couldn’t bear spending all that money on a campaign. Don’t get me wrong. He could afford it. He’s a self made millionaire a few times over. But he told us that he’d rather contribute his money to the programs he believed needed investment – than blow it on a campaign which he saw as a waste.

If only more civic minded people thought like him.

So today it occurred to me: Wouldn’t it be great if we could change the way campaigns are conducted? What if a candidate was allowed to raise money, but instead of spending it on campaign ads and travel - an enormous campaign budget … they were charged to put that money into programs they believed in. Do you really think universal health care is possible? Show us a program. Throw your money at it. Make it work. Make us believe.

Then we (the voters) could see what they really stand for – where their mouth and money really go! Then we decide who gets the job!

It would certainly be better than the political machine we endure right now. We don’t really know what anyone stands for - or what sort of leader they would be.

Coupled with the fact that most of the donations to a candidates' campaigns are really just lobbying efforts. They're funding the candidate, buying the candidates support for their issue.

With my theory, we might actually get a decent glimpse at their heart before we blindly put someone in office just because they are less offensive than the other guy or gal.

Man… what I would give to see that work!!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Life Checklist

I got the itch about a month ago to purge more stuff from my closets. I decided to weed through some boxes of paperwork and clippings.

In one of the boxes I found a list in my own handwriting.
It has no title but after a brief review it's plain to see it was a list of things to accomplish, to do more, or to try something new. I'm not sure when I composed the list, but judging from it's contents it must have been prior to the year 2000.
  • Study Spanish
  • Travel
  • Gym
  • Biking
  • Roller blading
  • Sewing
  • Teaching a CCD class
  • Throw parties
  • Study a Martial Art
  • Gymnastics
  • Ice Skating
  • Have a kid anyway
  • Become a consultant
  • Buy & Use a real camera
  • Play Tennis
  • Freelance Writing
I can check five entries on the list. Should I be pleased or bummed?

It really blew my mind to find this list and realize what is still important to me, what I've accomplished, what doesn't matter any more.

I hope you find a list. Barring that, make one now!
When you find it a few years from now you'll present yourself with a great perspective to view your life!

Read on for progress details if you're interested:

I studied Spanish in College but never really took to it. This is a reminder to give it another try.

Travel. Success in this department. In fact, I get partial credit for Freelancing as well. A couple years ago I started a job contracting with a production company as a Field Producer. They sent me all over the country and I wrote for about 1/3 of them. I think I knocked out visiting 16 different states (that I'd never traveled to before) in that job. Still haven't left the country though - unless Jamaica counts.

Next, I have joined a gym, three in fact since then. I'm off the wagon at the moment.

I also started to bike more, though not much. When I first started dating Mr. Burns, he took me on my first lengthy bike ride in about 3 years. I must have been a little chicken since the spectacular bike crash in 2003. I managed to land on my chin, split it open AND break a tooth requiring my first crown and periodontal surgery! My chin needed 11 stiches!
(to the left >>- self portrait of my banged up body after the crash. Not that bad really. Since the major damage was to my teeth!!)

Mr. Burns took me on a pretty easy, paved trail, and at one point I said, "This is probably a good place to turn around." He said, "aw, let's keep going." Oh crap! But when you're trying to impress a guy you like - injuries to delicate areas of your body be damned!!

I bought Roller Blades when I first moved to Denver, and very much enjoy it if I can drag myself to Wash Park!

Sewing. I've sewn since childhood so this was obviously an encouragement to do more of it. That comes in spurts because I'd really like to have an extra room dedicated to sewing projects.

I did teach a CCD class. I remember the church organizers thought I was crazy when I said I wanted the 16-year-olds!

I did start to throw more parties. I love entertaining! That's been put on hold in this period of unemployment. Wah!

Martial Arts and ice skating are on hold. I looked into a gymnastics class at a local college, since I did it for PE credit in my college years. Considering my age, they offered to have me come try out a class before I signed up. I'm pretty sure that's what led to the big hip blow out of 2007!! I didn't sign up.

Don't you love "Have a kid anyway"? Clearly I was frustrated by the lack of male prospects! I showed this to Mr. Burns and like a guy he asked, "What do you mean by 'anyway'?" That means without a man. I was nearly age 30 and there were no boyfriend/ husband prospects. If no one is going to show up, it doesn't mean the desire to be a mom goes away!

I think becoming a consultant is probably out the window. Darn. I hear it pays well and involves travel!

Buy and use a real camera.

I was refering to an SLR. I did finally save up and buy a digital SLR in 2006. I love my baby!! And since then some friends have asked me to photograph their weddings.


I'd like to eventually make a living with my photography. It is one thing that makes me very very happy and gives me feelings of accomplishment.

Play Tennis. Well, I took lessons when I was in college but never played a game. Last summer Mr. Burns tried to teach me, but my bad hip (see gymnastics) made it really tough. I feel better this year, we'll try again in the summer.

Freelance writing, see above.

Monday, March 31, 2008

My (very long) Diatribe on Rotten People

There are days that really shake my faith in humanity.

Working at a chain portrait studio, I see many families and parents interactions with their kids. To be honest, most people are great with their kids, but those who are not really make me question what is going on in the world - and more specifically - why God even allows some people to reproduce.

Sigh.

Easter was a great example. Three women came in with the intention of getting a picture of all their nieces and nephews together for the first time. There were twelve kids ranging from 17 years old to one year old. One of the boys I’m guessing was around six or seven years old and appeared to have Down Syndrome. He was adorable and very sweet, but easily distracted.

Once I had all the kids arranged for a photo, this little guy noticed his cousin's pig tails with those big round bauble bands. He reached out to touch the baubles and the gathered hair, and instantly all the grownups shouted, “Stop touching her! Leave her alone!” That seemed harsh to me but I minded my own business.

We got him settled and posed again, and he went for an older girls’ earrings. She spun her head around and screamed, “Don’t touch me! Stop touching me!” and the adult women joined in chastising the boy for being naturally curious.

Everyone settled again so I could finally snap the first picture. “Okay everyone, big smiles.” At that point the three year old boy in the front scrunched up his face and became nothing but teeth! Hilarious! I was about to approach him and show him how to turn down his smile but his mom got to him first. She stuck her finger in his face, gritted her teeth and yelled, “DON’T you make your face like that. YOU TRY TO LOOK NORMAL! Or I'm gonna.... ”

Holy cow lady! The kid is three. That’s not going to make him smile.

Sure enough, big fat tears roll down his now, bright red face. His face is really scrunched up now. Thanks for making my job easier. That’s not my real concern. I’m more concerned about how these kids are treated at home.

But now that I have a bawling kid, I turn to the magic trick I discovered for three year olds with over-anxious parents. I grab a tissue, get down on the kid’s level and hand it to him. “That’s okay buddy. I’ll wait for you to dry your face. You let me know when you’re ready okay?”

I’ve found that this allows the kid to regain some of his/her personal power. They dry up much faster and screw up their courage to find their inner big kid. While I wait, I contemplate strangling their parents. Argh!

Next I sat down at the computer to work on the photos while the family waited. The little boy with Downs came over to watch and ask questions. I pointed to him in the pictures and said things like, “There’s a picture of you. Don’t you look handsome?”
His mom came over and said, very curtly, “Leave the lady alone!!”
I didn’t even look at her. If I made eye contact I might rip her head off. I said, “Oh he’s fine right here. We’re having a good time.”

Now I can understand that a kid with a disability can be frustrating. I sympathize with anyone faced with the challenge. But this kid wasn’t being difficult. He wasn’t even being challenging. He was acting like a four-year-old in a seven-year-old body.

What I can’t understand is the boy’s own family treating him so badly. I don’t condone it but I understand someone who has never encountered a kid with a disability treating them less than humanely – but the kid’s own family? I can’t wrap my head around it.

Forget the disabilities. There are plenty of parents out there who are just plain idiots.

Case in point - a couple who came into the portrait studio with their two-year old daughter a while back. Things went about as well as you can expect a photo session with a 24 month old kid to go.

Ever since I started taking kid’s pictures I have declared that photographing two-year-olds is ‘ambush photography’. They don’t stay still for more than a millisecond; their attention span is only twice as long as that. Just shoot and hope you get something!

As you can imagine, they didn’t get many pictures. My co-worker shot the session and the girl kept running into my camera room to see the cute baby boy.

Anyway, as the parents waited for my co-worker to edit and enhance the pictures the dad kept saying to the little girl. “You disappointed mommy.” “We wanted to buy a lot of pictures for your grandparents, but you didn’t do a good job. Now we can only buy one picture.”

WTH?!?!? You’re laying a guilt trip on a TWO-YEAR-OLD??! For what… acting like a two year old? She didn’t do anything bad. She’s two!

He didn’t just say it once. He nagged and nagged about it. To a 2-year old!!!

They had about a 20 minute wait, so dad had to wrangle her for a little while. Because, like a typical two-year old, she was exploring everything. She went over to another little boy – just curious – that’s what kids do – and dad starts in with. “Leave that boy alone. He doesn’t want you to bother him.”

At this point I spoke up. Without looking at him I said. “Wow, you’re really getting her ready for therapy in fifteen years aren’t you?” He found it funny and agreed.

Ugh.

Then she wandered across the hall where there was another kid. Dad went after her and in a few minutes called to his wife, “Come get her. She won’t go.” The wife called back. “Yes she will.” “No she won’t. You have to come get her.”

Seriously. First you micromanage every move she makes. Then you can’t function like an adult and have power over your child? Why do people like this even get to reproduce?

Poor kid.

Later that night I stopped into a video store after 10:00pm. There was a little girl following her mom around as she looked for movies. Check that. The kid was bossing her mom around. At all of 2.5 feet tall she couldn’t be more than four years old.

First of all: What is she doing up and out at 10pm? I’m not a parent so maybe this is reasonable to someone else. Please enlighten me.

Suddenly she was behind the checkout counter clacking away on a keyboard. I caught her eye and said kindly, “Should you be touching that? Do you think it might mess something up?” “No.” she said.

There was a worker behind the counter and he didn’t seemed bothered by her behavior. I figured maybe he knew her mom.

Then she went over to the next computer and started clacking. The man said, “Don’t touch that one sweetheart. It’s a special computer.”
“Yeah” she said, “special for kids.”

This is not precocious. This is a child that doesn’t know boundaries. I know that my brother and sister and I and all of our cousins would never have DREAMED about going behind the counter in a store! Not even in my uncle’s grocery store. Not in a million years!! We wouldn’t even open our aunt’s refrigerator for a soda. It’s just not done.

At the portrait studio, we have a stash of DVDs in a file drawer to entertain the kiddos. One day while a family was waiting their turn, the kids (like age five or under) walked right up to the file drawer, opened it and took out a movie.

I was astonished! Who does that?

I know kids today are being raised with a sense of entitlement… but jeepers… no boundaries.

I know. It’s easy for me to say. I don’t have children so I can’t know what it’s like. But come on. They’re little people. Plus, I was a kid once. It’s not that hard to remember what it’s like in their little shoes.

But here I sit - 37, single and childless – and these morons get to breed. I need to start praying for them every night.

It's all downhill

Oh am I sore!

I finally got to go skiing for the first time in THREE YEARS! Even better – I got to go with my 17 year old niece, L.

It all started when I told my family that I wasn’t coming home for Christmas. The proverbial shh hit the fan. I reminded them that the interstate runs both East AND West and they are welcome to come out here any time. I mentioned to my niece in particular that I have mountains here, and that most people actually consider them quite appealing and worth a 10 hour drive.

I also reminded my brother that since I left home in 1988 he has never come to any town that I have lived in to visit me or see my home. Isn’t that all kinds of wrong?

About a week later my brother called saying that he thought about what I said. He realized on top of that, that he has never taken his kids on a family vacation either. It’s about time to teach them to ski before the oldest leaves home.

Yee haw.

ey drove out on Thursday, got everyone lessons on Friday, then Mr. Burns and I joined them on Saturday to ski at Breckenridge.

Niece L is a most promising skier. Mr. Burns is a great teacher and unbelievably patient. Quite frankly I feel he could coach anyone in anything! So Mr. Burns and I took Niece L up some Green/Blues (yeah on the second day she ever wore skis!) and Mr. Burns guided her out of the ridiculous snow plow position that the instructors teach beginners.

Pretty soon, she was turning naturally, gaining control and displaying great instincts. I was so proud! The kid is rock star!

Poor thing though, she worked so hard that she is terribly sore – sporting bruises and believes she threw her back out. But she’s thinking about coming to Colorado for college so I couldn’t be happier!

Also, this was the first time anyone in my family got to meet Mr. Burns. They were appropriately impressed by his kindness and good nature. My mom reports that my brother told her in a phone conversation that Mr. Burns is a really nice guy – undoubtedly a man of great quality. Since Mom hasn’t met him yet, she was so thrilled to hear this!

Since we spent the most time with Niece L, she really seems to like him too! (Niece T and Nephew C were under their parents’ wings on the mountain.) She was so grateful for his patience as a teacher and she managed to gang up with him to pick on me… so that’s a great sign.

Yay!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter Joy

I missed the joy and the glory of Easter this year.
Normally I look forward to the pure joy of the resurrection of Christ. Particularly after a long and arduous Lent. I expect to feel renewed.

This year – I got nothing. I was scheduled to work all day Sunday and it really messed with my joy. You’re not supposed to work on Easter. You’re not supposed to put other people in a position to work on Easter. Remember the days when everything was closed on Sundays? No one DREAMED of being open on Sunday, much less a significant religious holiday!

Anyway, I woke up annoyed that I had to work as soon as Easter Mass was over and it was all downhill from there!

I stayed at Mr. Burns house Saturday night since we were going to Mass at his church. When he heard me go into the bathroom and saw the light under the door, he greeted me through the door… “Good Morning!” I couldn’t muster much and only managed “Hi.” But if you’d heard it, you would have cracked up as Mr. Burns did. It was a short, whiney ‘hi’, like that from the mouth of a four year old who had been waken from deep slumber and had his favorite teddy bear taken away! As soon as it came out my mouth, we both cracked up. It was so pathetic!

Then we drove separate cars to church so I could go straight to work from Mass. I got there ahead of time so we could be assured seats. When I arrived there seemed to be plenty of room but appearances were deceiving as the one person in each pew was trying to save the entire row! ( don't get me started on how wrong this practice is!)

I went to the pew where we usually sit. There was a little old lady on the opposite end and a man with a baby in a car seat on the end where Mr. Burns and I normally sit. He looked at me and spread his jacket out further indicating that he needed the space. I looked in the rows ahead, seeing people I recognized, knowing how many people they were expecting. I turned back to the man with the baby and said, “My boyfriend is the lector. We need to be close.” He moved over, it seemed to me he rationalized that we were just two people.

A few minutes later, his sister found him. The two of them and the baby got up to leave, his sister excusing herself passed me saying, “Our family is too big.” Well then I felt bad, but they were already off. The pews around us had filled in further and I don’t know where they went to.

I felt really bad. But then I reasoned… a person can only be expected to save one, maybe two seats. If you need 15 seats, bring 5 people to save them!

Then Mr. Burns arrived, knelt next to me to pray then got back up to arrange the scripture book and consult with the priest and deacons. So there I was, trying to save a seat as the church got packed. People moved into my pew and filled it… and I still had my space and one for Mr. Burns. Then I had to start turning people away. I hate doing that. Suddenly I was really irritated with Mr. Burns for leaving me alone in our seats.

By the time he finally came and sat down I was super irritated. So Easter was off to a lousy start.
Throughout Mass my mind jumped from the strain in my relationship with Mr. Burns to the job interview I had the next day to all myriad of things. Ugh. I realized that I was unhappy.

Unhappy on Easter.

Mr. Burns walked me to my car after Mass and asked if I was okay. I burst into tears. I told him I just didn’t feel happy. On top of that my stomach was growling and I realized that since I was the only one scheduled to work that I wouldn’t be able to take a break and get food. Super ugh. So off to work I went, unhappy and hungry.

I got to work and opened the store. The server was down so immediately I was on the phone with Tech Support. What a great Easter.

Suddenly I looked up and there was Mr. Burns with a lunch cooler full of snacks for me. He brought me a sausage sandwich… his breakfast specialty… a sausage patty between an English muffin. ( It would be remiss not to mention that it's the special way that he butters the muffin that makes it so great.) He also made Shells and Cheese for lunch. And packed a bag of corn chips for a snack and some Dove chocolates for dessert. He prepared all this neglecting to make breakfast for himself!

And did I mention he had to drive 12 miles just to bring it me before turning around and driving another 12 back to make breakfast for himself? What a guy!

Suddenly the day was better and some of my joy had returned.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Horton Hears a Who

I just read it for the first time. Seriously.
I keep seeing Jim Carey promoting the animated movie and it looks so terribly cute. Those interviewing him keep referencing the story and I just felt a little in the dark.

Then this morning I remembered that the last time I went home to visit family, Mom and I went through some old books and school papers from childhood. I remember grabbing an old Dr. Seuss book or two. Knowing that they were my older sisters’ and probably pretty close to first edition, I wanted to be the one to preserve them even if I wasn’t really a big fan of Dr. Seuss when I was a kid.

So this morning, I looked on the shelf where I stacked these old books. Any chance one of them was Horton?

Imagine my surprise to find only one Dr. Seuss edition. And in fact, Horton Hears a Who!

I read it. Aloud. I got totally worked up and excited. I was wholeheartedly behind Horton’s noble mission. I was a little bit terrified when the eagle dropped the Whoville clover in the giant field of clovers. I noticed the illustrated Horton watching from the cliff, his face full of shock and dismay. I felt as dejected as he. How would he ever find that speck in the field of fuzzy pink clovers?

My world was transformed as it should have been when I was seven. Somehow Seuss didn’t speak to me a kid. But I sure got the message this morning!!

Wow! What a book! The illustrations that I found lackluster in my childhood are so full of emotion and vivid expression. The language that as a child I found a bit annoying – is so rhythmic and fluid and fun to read aloud! Amazing!

Looking back, I don't remember anyone reading it to me. I was a good reader, and as the third and youngest child (who, as my mom would say, was really good at keeping herself entertained) I was often left to read and explore on my own. So without adult interpretation, Seuss was lost on me. I have just discovered Dr. Seuss. And it is good!

Now I really can’t wait for the movie!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Four Things

My cuz tagged me on a Four Things questionaire.
Here goes:

Four jobs I have had in my life: Waitress, Wedding Videographer (ugh!), News Reporter/Anchor, DJ at Campus Radio Station in College.

Four movies I would watch over and over: A Little Princess, Bridget Jones Diary, Cindrella Man, Say Anything (heck anything with John Cusack).

Four places I have lived: Lincoln, NE; Rapid City South Dakota; Omaha, NE; Denver, CO

Four TV Shows that I watch: Medium (if you haven't watched it - start! It's awesome!), LOST, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives

Four places I have been: Jamaica; San Francisco, CA; Cape Cod, MA, Ozarks, Arkansas (yeah really!)

Four people who e-mail me (regularly):Christine, Kimberly, Mr. Burns Michelle

My favorite foods- Eggplant Parmesean Sandwich, Veal Saltimboca I know, I know but I'm allergic to chicken!! , any Dead Pig, anything with Aritchoke as a featured ingredient

Four places I would rather be right now: With Mr. Burns, Seattle, A beach - anywhere, visting my family.

Things I am looking forward to this year: Summer - all three very short months of it, My birthday (summer), Getting a job, three little words.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oh My


What's this?


I finally finished the baby gift for Kate and Momma Kelly. I think it's my favorite so far.


Finally - amounts to finally getting my house in order to the degree that I could pull out the sewing machine without creating an even bigger mess!!

Ugh!

I saw stirrup pants on the racks in Target today.

God help us!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Day Spa Retreat

Ummm. Oh that was so good!

For Christmas, Mr. Burns gave me a gift card for a Warm Stone Massage at a brand new day spa just a block from his condo. On Wednesday, I cashed that puppy in!!

Now I admit I have not wandered into many spas. This would be the 3rd. But this had to the be the best Spa EVER!

When I arrived, I was escorted to a small but beautifully appointed locker room where I changed into a luxurious robe and (sanitized) spa flip flops. Then I was directed to a room with big comfy chairs where I could unwind, down some more water (very important pre-massage) and enjoy some fresh, hot Raspberry tea.

And this (besides the massage) was the best part. They gave me a clipboard with a short questionaire. Normally that's a bit annoying but this page was full of the most useful questions! Of course it asked about which muscle groups might be giving me trouble... but another question asked if there were any scents or aromas that I didn't care for.

Praise God!

That's something I tend to forget about so I thought it was brilliant that they asked!! I quickly jotted down; lavender and coconut. Nothing irritates me more than the scent of lavender. That scent goes right to the center of my forehead and produces an instant headache. Since many massage therapists rely on lavender for relaxation - I now knew I wouldn't be confronted with it. Crisis averted!

The next question; even more brilliant!! What level of conversation do I prefer?

That's another thing that is easy to overlook. I don't like constant chit chat during massage. I'm trying to relax after all. Problem is that I'm actually really chatty - so I was very pleased that this MT showed restraint.
It doesn't have to be totally silent, but please don't pepper me with questions - I can't resist - then in the end I'm a little disappointed.

So the massage. Amazing. She had a heated blanket on the massage table so I crawled in all toasty. Then she used stone after stone... each almost hot enough to be uncomfortable ... but not quite... applying pressure with a special zing only stones can provide. Because who would have thought that rocks could feel so good?
Oh Mercy!

Then, when she was done she told me to take my time and come out when I'm ready. ( they all do that) Well, usually I lay there for about a minute and then stretch and get up. This massage was so good... I lay there for quite a while... dozing off a few times... before finally getting up to leave.
Then I sat in the relaxation room for a while, downing some more water and snacking on almonds, dried cranberries and boscotti.

Once I was dressed, I strolled the single block back to Mr. Burn's condo.
Wonderful!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Name a food - any food!

Last Friday Mr. Burn's church had a fundraising dinner. For some reason we hadn't decided yet if could make it and had not yet purchased tickets to the dinner before one of the organizers cornered us and asked if we could help out in the kitchen. Sure.
Great!
We need dishwashers.
Oh brother!
Anyone who knows me - knows that doing dishes is my least favorite activity EVER. There is not much I like less.

So that's how we found ourselves doing dishes for 200 people. That's 200 x salad plates. 200 x dinner plates. 200 x dessert plates. Water goblets, wine glasses, coffee mugs. Silverware!!! Ugh.

We took a break to make a plate for ourselves. The menu was spaghetti - so since I'm allergic to tomatoes, I scooped up some plain noodles and scoured the cupboards for something with which to dress it. I ended up with Malt Vinegar. Not bad.

The young volunteer bartenders saw what I was eating and lo and behold the topic of my allergies became conversation. Oh boy!

I had to laugh when Mr. Burns, in answer to their subsequent question said, "Name a food."

The first blurted out, "Eggs?" "Bingo!" I said, "I'm allergic!"
The second guy said, ""Chicken." Two for two! Nice work - but that game is like shooting fish in a barrel!

Speaking of fish. Lent will start soon and so begin the Lenten Fish Fries. I don't mind volunteering... but even for charity it's hard to pay admission to a meal you can't eat. Mass produced Mac 'n Cheese is not so yummy. And subjecting myself to seeing all that yummy looking fish and knowing I can't have any - Well - I'd rather stay home.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Huge Life Improvement Accomplishment!

See that pile in my hallway?













It's all stuff I pulled out of the closets and decided to get rid of months ago! All this plus an antique rocking chair.

It's actually my sofa fund.

It's been sitting there a while waiting for me to post it on Craigs*list.

Well, I finally took dozens of pictures and got it all on Craigs*list today. If it all sells as planned, I should make $300.

Yeah. $300 worth of stuff that I bought and didn't use. (or was given to me and never opened) Sigh. If you see something that you gave me... Good heavens I'm sorry... but I live in 750 square feet. Every foot is precious and if I'm not using it... well, it has to go.

So far.. one lady wants my red loveseat sofa slip cover. She'll pay be $30!! Yeehaw! While on the phone with her I asked if she needed decorative shelves or iPod cases.... she might. Whoo hoo!

Can you imagine how happy I'll be if all this stuff sells?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Allergy Etiquette

Recently, Mr. Burns and I have received a number of dinner invitations from friends. We are so blessed to have such wonderful and social people in our lives!

We gladly and I hope, graciously accept each invitation. But I wonder - what is the most gracious way to deal with my many and various food allergies? For me, the allergies aren't that hard to deal with - the worst part for me is putting my host or hostess in a position to have to accommodate me. I hate that.

Do I accept the invitation and then email a list of my allergies? That seems awful.
Do I offer to bring a dish, so that I have at least one thing that I know I can eat?

The best case scenario is a gracious hostess. I received this email from one of them tonight:

Are you allergic to chicken, cranberries, and/or goat cheese? I make a wonderful salad with hot chicken. Are you allergic to avocado?

Oh. How thoughtful! She remembers that I have some restrictions. But how to respond?
I composed the following response:

Oh... that salad sounds fabulous!! I am allergic to chicken - but if you add it last maybe you could just leave the chicken out of my salad... that would be easy, then everyone else can still enjoy it.

I really appreciate your concern for my allergies, though I hate to restrict my hostess! I'd be happy to contribute a dish that is TRS-safe so that your culinary skills can be free to shine for everyone else!

Below are my restrictions... but don't concern yourself too much with category two... I can generally eat around those and be fine.







Any thoughts? Is that proper? Is it in any way offensive?

Any ideas for how to approach a hostess who doesn't inquire about my food restrictions? If you were having me to dinner - how would you prefer it were handled?

While I'm at it... I just want to remind people to ask their guests about food restrictions. I know many people with Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) or who are vegetarians who would appreciate the gesture.

My vegetarian friend recalls a dinner party when she was staying in a hotel in DC for a work trip. Her friend generously invited her to dinner knowing she was in town for a few nights. Then at dinner she served her a juicy steak. Predictably, my friend didn't touch it. (she's vegetarian mostly for dietary reasons, not ethical) Her hostess didn't even ask why the only thing she touched was her wine!!!

My friend went back to her hotel on the Metro - starving - a little drunk- and wondering where she was going to find something to eat at 10:00PM!!

Do remember that it is the mark of a good hostess to ask if her guests enjoyed the meal. If the plate is untouched, do ask if something is the matter. Don't be insulted, but give her a granola bar for the trip home!!!

Meanwhile, let me stress that my hostess is beyond gracious and accommodating! I quickly received this reply:

We’ll do something different- there’s a bunch of food you're NOT allergic too. Thanks for the info.

So kind, but I hate that I caused her to change the menu!! Argh!

Friday, January 11, 2008

2007 Retrospective

Here's a fun way to evaluate the past year...

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
Fell in love.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I kept some. More like goals… or ‘do it already – what are you waiting for’ type things. I finally tackled one of the two spendy dental issues. And my main resolution – finding a boyfriend worked really well. I met him in February!!
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes. My friend Kelly had her second, a girl. And my friend Mo – the same. (they each had a boy already)
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. But my boyfriend’s dad died, I had never met him. I wish I could have met him.
5. What countries did you visit?
I didn’t leave the country at all. In fact, I’ve only left the country once and that was for Jamaica!
6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
A fiancé.
7. What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
February 17th. Our first date. And I don’t know the specific date… but the week before my birthday/Father’s day – that’s when Mr. Burns’ dad died. It really changed him. Also December 17th, my dear friend’s wedding day!
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Wow. I don’t feel like I accomplished any one significant thing. Does discovering that I can curl my own hair and make it look cute with relative ease count?
9. What was your biggest failure?
Work. My contract ended, and they’re not offering any more contracts. Now I’m trying to figure out what do with my life.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Well, I had one nasty sinus infection for Easter. Man, that feels like death! And I had a significant problem with my hip. It has really limited my mobility. But the more exercise I get, the better it is.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new living room rug. I found the perfect cream colored, 8x10 shag carpet for just $200. I rock! The other great purchase was a darling jersey knit cocktail dress for $40! I bought it the weekend after my contract ended so it felt a little splurgy. It looks fabulous. I wore it New Years Eve.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Mine and Mr. Burns’ for maintaining our celibacy/ abstinence while being so crazy about each other!
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Yeah, I have to agree with Glossy Veneer – celebrities who don’t know how to behave, and the media for paying too much attention to them.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Safeway – grocery store. To my dentist, my chiropractor, and my mechanic. And to Safelite Auto Glass. When I finally replaced the cracked windshield that I had put off for more than a year – I got nailed with rocks a few weeks later and paid them more money to fill the chips.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The engagements and ensuing weddings of two very dear friends. I spent more time on wedding sites and blog than the two of them combined!!
16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
"Suddenly I See” by KT Tunstall
“This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” by Fall Out Boy
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:? a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Happier, thinner, poorer
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Exercise. And I haven't skied in two years now... gotta get up the hill.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Not working.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
Alone with Mr. Burns. We went to Midnight Mass – after listening to my parents and my brother’s family (including my fabulous nieces and adorable nephew) singing Silent Night over the phone! Then Christmas morning, he gave me a gift and we spent the day eating honey baked ham and garlic mashed potatoes, watching movies and watching the snow fall.
21. Did you fall in love in 2007?
You bet I did!! See #1
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Hmm. I was big on LOST, I really like Medium even if I miss it more often than I see it. Grey’s Anatomy and Biggest Loser!
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No.
24. What was the best book you read?
I didn’t do a lot of reading. But Mr. Burns gave me Captivating to read and I like it.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Sara Bareilles – she has a great sound, similar to Aslyn, my musical discovery of 2006!!
And also, that I don’t listen to enough classic rock. Everything Mr. Burns plays, I remember and love, but I haven’t heard in years!!
26. What did you want and get?
A boyfriend.
27. What did you want and not get?
A fiancé.
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
The only thing I saw in the theatre this year was “The Simpson’s Movie”. But we rented “Amistad” and I absolutely LOVE it! Great movie. Must see.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 37 on Father’s day. I had planned to have a simple day with Mr. Burns. But his dad died a few days earlier and he was away. I ended up having my birthday alone – which was good. One friend was going to come over and celebrate with me… but the prospect sounded less and less relaxing (she suggested that I make a meal and she’d bring the cake and the wine. But if you know me at all… you’d know that cooking is the VERY LAST thing I would do on my birthday!!!) I ended up telling her that I’d rather spend the day alone. And I did.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Finding a job that I love and loves me back!!!
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
I decided to buy fewer clothes… but to spend more on the things that I do buy – in terms of quality and little bit of couture.
32. What kept you sane?
My faith in God.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Still John Cusack.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Illegal immigration. It’s so hard to know the right answers. I’m reminded of my immigrant Grandmother and her family who came here in early 1900s. They spoke German at home and sometimes at school she would slip into German and would be teased mercilessly by the other children, and chastised heartily by her teacher. But now everyone expects America to learn Spanish so that the immigrants don’t have to adapt! That really bothers me. Not to mention the idea that illegal immigrants could end up with more dollars toward college than my nieces and nephew would have.
I also know that trying to immigrate LEGALLY is dang near impossible to accomplish, even with the best of intentions.
35. Who did you miss?
My family. I went home for a week in September so that was good. But I had Christmas without them. I wish they were closer.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
Besides Mr. Burns – Sophia at my part-time job. She’s one of those people that you just know God placed in your life for a reason! That an Iranian woman and girl from Nebraska could meet in Denver and have so much in common is remarkable – a miracle!
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007.
My part-time job at the photography studio taught me that my real passion and talent is photography. Apparently, I should have listened to my 13 year old self who wanted to be a photographer. I could have avoided my television career all together!
The same job also taught me that I AM good with kids!
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
From Suddenly I See – KT Tunstall”Everything around her is a silver pool of light. The people who surround her feel the benefit of it, it makes you calm. She holds you captivated in her palm.”
This line always reminds me of my friend Kimberly. She is grace, and elegance and love in one fabulous red-headed package. On her wedding day, after her hair and makeup were done, we were walking to the car so she could get to the church. I looked at beautiful her and started singing that lyric. She turned to me and sternly said, “Don’t make us cry! There will be no crying.”