Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow....

I think this says it all...

video


I can't believe I told her she needs to play those every day. I'm either the most forgiving and loving mother in the world, or the craziest. Maybe a bit of both.



I did not get the Red Ryder BB gun (dang it all, I really liked Diana's suggestion). But I did get something better.






No, you may not see them, because I'm never taking them out of my ears, ever again. By the way, "LJ" stand for Levy Jewelers, one of the oldest jewelry stores in Savannah. Don't worry, you'll get the story. My husband is a very clever and surprising man.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday Five...a little late

Yeah, yeah. You heard me. Late. Tough.



Five Wishes for Christmas









1. Stability in my life.

I've moved around a lot in my life. I've lived in five different cities since 2000. But I have reason to believe things are going to change in 2008. For the first time, I finally really feel settled somewhere, and I have no intention of leaving. Ray is happy in his work, we're comfortable in our little house, and I don't see us going anywhere. So, here's wishing for a stable, uneventful year to come.


2. A healthy baby.

I have no indications that she will be anything but a healthy baby, but I am the worrying type, and we still have a few more months to go. Anything could happen. And it probably won't. But here's wishing for a healthy baby girl, anyway.


3. World Peace

Yeah, it's a cliche. Doesn't mean I can't wish for it.


4. That Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons would stop coming to my door on Saturday mornings.

I know y'all are doing what you think is best, really, but you're not going to change my views on religion. I can stand at my door and argue theology all day with you, but neither of us will be happy. So, this holiday season, how about a little Peace on My Doorstep?



Not really. I've just always wanted to say that. Of course, if you've never seen a Christmas Story, you won't get that. "You'll shoot your eye out!"



And here's also wishing all of you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ooooo, baby, baby...

With thanks to the eloquent Salt-n-Pepa for the lyric.

So, we had a lovely visit to the OBGYN on Tuesday. Got some lovely ultrasound pics, including this one where she's trying to stick her foot in her mouth.


Oh, yes. I did say "her" foot. TFYO was right all those months ago. We are having a girl, and we've already decided her name. She will, for now, be known as Baby J.

Baby J is very healthy, as well as apparently very limber. She was very active during the ultrasound, grabbing her feet, and smacking my tummy every time the ultrasound wand got close to her little fist. I think I may have been right a few days ago when I said "I may be giving birth to a Cirque du Soleil troupe".

Not a troupe, just one really flexible baby.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Missing in Action


I am really sorry, you guys. I had no intention of disappearing. I apologize to those I read regularly. And to those of you who e-mailed and left comments worrying about my welfare(Susan and Peter)...thank you.

I just haven't been able to pull my brain together this past week. I know a fair bit of it is pregnancy brain. Some of it is holiday stress (shopping, cooking, did I mention I just made a couple of pounds of fudge this week?). Every time I sat down to write, I couldn't put a coherent sentence together. The phone would ring, or I'd get distracted by something else I had to do, and I just couldn't get the words to flow.

I was trying to explain this to Ray on Thursday, when I mentioned that I hadn't blogged all week, and that I was barely capable of checking e-mail. He suggested I just write an entry as it would be coming out of my brain. It would look a lot like this:


So, a little while back, My Two Cents left a comment about wanting to know the truth behind the myth of the Southern Man. Well, let me tell you...uh. Wait. Where was I? Oh, shit, there goes the phone again. (walks off to answer, comes back) Right, where was I again? Oh, yeah...The Southern Man. Aw, crap, I think I forgot to water the tree. What time do I have to be at work today? Why is the cat climbing the door frame again? I wish those damn construction workers would knock off the hammering this early. Wait, it's not early. It's late. Crap, I don't have time to write. I haven't even had a shower yet. Where did the morning go? What day is it? Thursday? Friday? Ugh, I haven't written a Friday Five. I got nuthin. Aw, hell, there goes the phone again.

At that point, I wander off, completely forget I even had a post open, and somehow manage to shower and make it to work on time. Where I promptly forget to clock in, and also forget which studio I left my headphones in, and where I laid my pen down.

So, it's not you guys. Honest. It's me.

I'm usually not this scatterbrained. It's a sad day when my husband (who can remember anything to do with baseball, but not his mother's birthday) has to remind me (who could tell you every detail of a conversation she had with someone three years ago) to take the shopping list with me as I head out the door. I suppose I could blame this on "pregnancy brain", or my recent lack of sleep ( a pregnant belly is a killer for stomach sleepers), or the suddenly compelling re-runs of The Waltons on the Hallmark Channel.

I don't know.

But I did want you to know, I'm alive in body, if not entirely in brain.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pause for Pondering


Yesterday, I went to make a cup of pseudo-coffee. I bought a tin of one of those frou-frou flavoured instant coffees, because the caffeine content is pretty low, and I'm supposed to be watching my caffeine intake (woe is me!).


The directions read thusly:


Create your own flavour destination by measuring 4 teaspoons of (said coffee mix) into your favourite mug. Slowly stir in 6 to 8 fl. oz. of boiling water.


Now, maybe I'm just over-thinking this a bit, but is my enjoyment of the product really going to be enhanced that much by what kind of mug I drink it from?

I mean, suppose, just suppose that instead of using my favourite mug, I use the mug that Ray got in his divorce (which, by the way, was the only item besides a small saucepan that he actually got in his divorce).

Am I going to be saying to myself, "Gee, self. This coffee sure could have been a hell of a lot tastier had I only decided to use my favourite mug instead of this crappy thing with flowers on it." And conversely, will my enjoyment of the product be heightened if I drink it from my new favourite mug (which was a gift from My Two Cents, see below)?


Will I suddenly break out into orgasmic glory over my chocolate coffee drink? Will my hair become shinier, will my debt magically disappear, will my thighs suddenly be jiggle free?


It's almost like directions for condoms saying, "Make sure to use with your favourite person."


This Pause for Pondering not really sponsored by International Foods Coffee, and those stupid commercials about the waiter, Jean Luc, who would never have served anyone this crap in the first place.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday Five

I wish I could figure out how to hang some tinsel and holly on my title bit up there...but, alas, I'm just not that tech savvy.

Since I've been all holiday-ish this week, I thought I might continue the trend. This is a video heavy post, kids, so give it some time to load.


Five Favourite Non-Traditional Christmas Songs



1. Brian Setzer Orchestra-Z'at You Santa Claus?

Louis Armstrong did the original, and I like the original, but I love this updated version. I've liked Brian Setzer since his days back with The Stray Cats, and it made me happy that the resurgence in swing music a few years back boosted his career. This video is a live version, and he botches the last verse, but who cares? He's fun to watch, and the song is fun, too.








2. Eartha Kitt-Santa Baby

She did this waaay before Madonna. I love this song because it brings out my inner sex kitten (which is deeply buried at the moment). Eartha Kitt has the most unique voice, and she practically purrs her way through the song. She has a ton of sex appeal. In this video from 1962, she flies through it a little faster that in the original recording, but you get the idea. If you've got iTunes, you can get the original there. That's where I got mine.






3. Barenaked Ladies - The Elf's Lament

I love this song to pieces. Who else could give you a Christmas song about illegal doping and unionization amongst elves? The song is witty, wry, and has a great retro sound. Michael Buble sang on the original recording. This video is a live performance of the song by the band alone.






4. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy - Mr. Heatmiser

I can honestly say that most Rankin-Bass Christmas specials leave me a bit...well, for lack of a better term (and no pun intended) cold. They're silly, with bad dialogue, but they're also a tradition of sorts and therefore should not be shunned. I was happy to find that one of my favourite bands had done a cover of this song from "The Year Without a Santa Claus". I'm a bit disappointed in this video, because they've sped up the Snow Miser bit to fit with the animation, but you'll get the general idea. Again, if you've got iTunes, you can hear the original recording by the band. This song is also TFYO's favourite right now, so it's a good thing I like it, because I get to hear it over and OVER again on the way to school.






5. The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping

I had no idea this song from 1981 existed until the program director at my last station put it into the Christmas rotation. It's very 80's sounding, but I love it. For me it captures the decade and the season perfectly. If you don't know The Waitresses, you might remember they're only Top 40 hit "I Know What Boys Like". It was little sing-songy, and got annoying after a bit. This song isn't like that. The video isn't so much a video as a series of visual wipes of the 45, but that's okay, because they've got the song in it's entirety.






Okay, that's my five. What are your favourite Christmas songs? Or Hanukkah songs? Or maybe you've got a big "Bah Humbug!" up your butt and you don't like anything. Feel free to share, but leave the humbug where it is, okay?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...

Which is all I'm gonna be doing, because there's never been a white Christmas in Savannah, as far as I know. They've had snow here, just not at Christmas.

The bad thing about being a northerner living in the south is that sometimes I pine for snow. Usually, though, it's in August when the temp is in the 90's (that's Fahrenheit, y'all) with the heat index up into the 100's.

I know some of my northern friends (and family!) laugh at me when I talk about missing snow, but there's something about a fresh snowfall that makes me happy. Especially when I get to look at it from inside a warm and cozy house, made even cozier by a fire in the fireplace. In Savannah, you don't really need a fireplace. The coldest lows are generally just below freezing, and the coldest highs are usually in the upper 40's. Not cold at all by Michigan standards. Without snow, Christmas lights tend to look a little cheesy, to say nothing of those giant inflatable snow men sitting in yards that almost never see snow. And yet, everyone here dutifully puts up their lights, and sings Jingle Bells and Let it Snow! It's a mite...incongruous.

To that end, I am posting a video that my best friend, Jillian, sent me. She felt bad that a couple of days ago I was on my back patio grilling steak while it was 70 degrees out, and thought I might appreciate the fact that in the Greater Toronto Area, they'd gotten about a foot of fresh snow. With her permission, here is her video. And thanks Jill for making me a bit homesick.


video

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

City sidewalks, Busy sidewalks...

From the lovely song Silver Bells. I currently have the Mahalia Jackson version on my iPod.

Oh, and this post is NSFDU (not safe for dial-up). It's mostly pictures, and it would take you dial up people most of the day to load I fear.

So, pictures from the 3rd Annual Lighted Christmas Parade in Savannah. I got as many as I could before the camera battery died on me, and many of them are a bit blurry because, well, duh, it was dark out and everyone was moving. My only consolation is that the photographer from the Savannah Morning News didn't have much more luck than I did! His pics in the paper were a little fuzzy, too.





This is TFYO, waiting for the parade to start, bagel with cream cheese in hand. We stopped at this great little cafe, Cafe Express and Bakery on Barnard St, for a little supper. I had clam chowder. What did she want? A bagel with cream cheese. And she took it with her.






This is the view up Broughton Street, from our viewing post at the corner of Broughton and Barnard. Broughton is really starting to come alive again as a commercial area of town. There's tons of cool boutiques, plus a few chain stores like the Gap that have moved into these buildings. It gives me warm fuzzy feelings to see this in city centers.



The first float in the parade. It was for a cellular phone dealer, and the had lighted mini cell towers in the back of the truck. Pity you can't actually see it.




I believe this is the lead car for the Marilyn Youman Dance School, but who the hell can tell?


This is the only picture of the Marilyn Youman Dance School Baton Twirlers that turned out. As you can see, they were twirling glow-stick batons. They were great, but also holding up the parade. Cute kids, though.



Ray was very early in the parade, which is fortunate since my camera crapped out half way through. Here he is, with holly in his hat, after giving his child a candy cane. As you can see, now that she has the candy, she has little use for him. And that kid cleaned up on the candy, too. It's a good thing my new coat had so many pockets. I was toting two bottles of water, a bag of pretzels, plus her newly acquired stash of Christmas candy.


This is the lead car for the Abeni Cultural Arts group. Their dancers follow.

These guys perform at festivals in town throughout the year. The great thing about Savannah, and the surrounding area, is that there is always some kind of event or festival every weekend.


This is one of our radio station vans, all decked out. My coworker, Stretch, is driving.



And it's impossible to see, but this is the Deen Bros. Well, a shot of them from behind, anyhow. They also kept stopping the parade, because people kept running up to their car to hug them, kiss them and give them things. I could be wrong, but I think one old lady gave them some knitted mittens. They were really good sports about the whole thing.

And just to prove that my husband did, in fact, interview Jamie and Bobby Deen...

...photographic proof. Aren't they cute?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Five

Another Friday...

Which of course means tomorrow is Saturday, the first day of December. Why is that special? Well, it means Christmas on the River, and the Annual Lighted Christmas Parade in downtown Savannah.


So...


Five Things to Look Forward to Tomorrow



1. Watching my daughter watch the parade
We took TFYO to Raleigh's Christmas Parade last year, it was pretty good. We stood outside the radio station where I worked, we had access to bathrooms and hot cocoa, and we were right at the beginning of the parade route. TFYO liked watching the bands. But this year, she gets to see all of the floats covered in Christmas lights. Plus, the parade runs down Broughton Street, which is already decorated for Christmas. It looks lovely, and she's already excited about it. I like seeing her excited by things, and she will surely be excited by this. The best part, watching her wave madly to Santa as he goes by in his lighted sleigh.




2. Watching my husband walk in the parade.

Ray gets to walk in the parade this year. He has a very recognizable hat (not the one to the left, that's a summer hat. The winter hat is black), it's kind of a running gag on the show actually. So, now I'm trying to figure out how to light up his fedora so he'll be more noticeable and in keeping with the "lighted" parade theme. I'm so proud of him, I could burst.




3. Bobby and Jamie Deen are the Grand Marshals

Ray actually got to interview them this morning on his show. It's the first time I've been a bit giddy over a show guest. Silly, isn't it? But it was a great interview (if I do say so), and they were a lot of fun. It's nice to see local celebrities who are also pleasant people be honoured this way. And it really is a big deal, apparently. The only bigger deal would to be Grand Marshal of our St. Patrick's Day parade, which is huge.


4. Getting to eat lots of bad-for-me food and not feeling guilty.

Being pregnant, I don't have to watch my calorie counts quite so much. So I can eat some decadent foods (fudge from Kilwins, anyone?) and not worry. And since it will be chilly, I'll need LOTS of calories to keep me sustained through that parade. Lots.



And the best for last...


5. Not having to work.

I somehow managed to get two Saturdays off in a row. Which is awesome, because we get to enjoy the festival down on River Street, and I can actually enjoy things without worrying about when I need to be at work, or who is watching TFYO. I get to spend the whole day with my family. Woo-hoo!


I don't know what y'all are doing tomorrow, but I bet it's fun. So, what do you have to look forward to tomorrow?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Love to eat turkey, pt. 2

I know I should be posting every day, but life is busy, and sometimes, something just has to give. Sorry.


Also, this is a blog post about eating meat, and loving it. For those who are vegetarian/vegan/foodophobes, you may want to pass.



I had never eaten deep fried turkey before coming to the south. Oh, I'd heard rumours about it, and scoffed with the rest of my northern friends and family about what crazy people there were living in the south. A whole turkey? Plunked into a deep fryer? Only in the south.


Of course, the trend has spread far and wide, now, but when I first came to the south about ten years ago, it was still a fairly regional thing.


I have come to love fried turkey with a passion. When it's prepared right, the meat is succulent, and the skin is deliciously crispy. Really, the skin is the best part. I could live off of fried turkey skin. And I don't know anyone who fries a turkey better than my father-in-law. He brines the bird with spices and wine the day before he fries it, so the skin takes on a lovely reddish hue, and the meat just oozes juice when you cut into it. But, I admit, he's made me nervous on more than one occasion with the fryer.


You see, frying a turkey is not for the faint of heart. It requires gallons of peanut oil, a very large pot to cook in, and a free standing propane burner. Looking at the set-up itself is kind of scary. You've got an open flame underneath a pot filled with bubbling oil. It's a disaster waiting to happen. And disasters do happen. Every year there's always a story about some idiot who fried a turkey on their deck and set it and the house on fire because the turkey was too big for the pot, the oil boiled over and set everything aflame.


And I honestly thought that was going to happen one Christmas when I was pregnant with TFYO.


I was already a little paranoid, being pregnant and whatnot. I avoided everything I thought would be bad for me (including Ray's Aunt Faye's marvelous oyster dressing, what an idiot I was!). So I almost had a heart attack when I asked where Ray's dad was with the turkey fryer, and the answer was:


"Oh, he's got it set up in the garage."


I freaked out a little, but I freaked out a lot when I actually looked in Aunt Faye's garage. The place was filled with cut lumber, tins of paint thinner, and enough sawdust to throw a square dance. And there was Ray's Dad, with the turkey fryer happily bubbling away, in the midst of it.


I stared at my husband, and whispered "Is he insane? He's gonna blow us all up!"


My husband didn't seem disturbed, because apparently this happened pretty frequently, but he dutifully asked his dad if he didn't think it would be better to do that outside on the driveway.


"Naw, it's too cold and too windy, couldn't keep the burner lit. It's much better in here."


I know I looked horrified, because he asked Ray what my problem was, and seemed mightily offended that I seemed to think he couldn't handle a little turkey fryer in the garage.


"It's not like I don't have the doors and windows cracked open!"


I spent most of that Christmas before the turkey was done as far on the other side of the house from the garage as I could. Unfortunately for me, that meant spending a lot of time in the bathroom, which led to everyone wondering if I was okay, and if I was having a rough pregnancy. I just had to keep telling them the baby was weighing a little heavy on my bladder. After all, I was due in less than a month, how could they fault me for that?


Obviously, my FIL didn't blow the house up. But I have noticed that when I'm around, he fries the turkey just a little bit farther from the house than he used to. I think it's better for both of us this way.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Love to eat turkey, pt. 1

You won't often hear me quote Adam Sandler here, so don't get used to it.


Thanksgiving was great. Even the drive through Atlanta was uneventful (both ways!), and that's really saying something. I'm guessing everyone who chose to drive left well before we did on Wednesday, and no one else was apparently driving on Saturday, so it was fairly smooth.

As to your some of your questions...

Turducken:

Dear, God, yes it's real. It's a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey. It's believed to be Cajun in origin. Some folks say it's from the Texas side of the state line, but having been to Louisiana, I'm betting it was created there. I've only tasted it once, and that was a sample at a food show. It was moist, and had good flavour, but for my money, it's just a bit excessive. My family can barely get through a turkey, why the hell would I want to subject them to that? I also think you lose some of the flavour of the duck meat this way. One day they're going to take a turducken and stuff it in an ostrich. It's never been confirmed, but Chef Paul Prudomme is often credited with making the dish a commercial success. Here's his recipe.

Grits/Greens/Okra

I've done a post about how much I love grits. A few, in fact. You can find them here, here, and here. I love them, when they're cooked properly. When they're not cooked properly, they're awful. Now, my MIL likes her grits "sweet", that is with sugar or jam or jelly. I like mine savory, with a huge pat of butter and a good sprinkling of salt. They're best when made with milk, because then they come out creamy. And for all you snobs out there who turn your nose up at grits, it's the same damn thing as polenta. It's just not ground as fine, and it's white instead of yellow.

Greens are also delicious, but only when cooked right. For me, that means with some kind of smoked meat, a little spice and a little sugar. Greens, including mustard, kale, collard and turnip, can be bitter. They're better after the first frost, in my opinion. And you don't want to cook them too long, either. There's a tradition amongst some Southern cooks to boil their veggies until they are mush. It's so unnecessary.

I don't eat okra unless it's in gumbo, so I don't get what the fuss is. I had a bad okra experience, once, ages ago. It was poorly fried and very soggy. My husband though, loves fried okra, especially his Momma's. Okra is often used in gumbo, where its mucousy innards thicken the stew.

What do grits, greens and okra have in common? They're all cheap and easy to come by. That made them very popular in the rural South. Greens and okra are both incredibly easy to grow. Ray's Nana D. almost always had a bumper crop of the stuff every fall. And grits are really just cornmeal. Cheap foods often become traditional foods, and you can find that in almost every culture.


We didn't do a really traditional Southern Thanksgiving this year, just because there wasn't a lot of time, and we've had several deaths in the family this year, too. Most people didn't feel like doing a big thing. We did have a deep fried turkey (more about fried turkey to come), a deep fried pork loin, my sweet potato bake, the ever-present green bean casserole, hen n'dressing, jello salad, cole slaw, potato salad, cranberry sauce, and yeast rolls. No one did greens this year, but that's okay. Quick note about dressing...we don't generally stuff turkeys down here. Firstly, you can't fry a stuffed turkey. Secondly, I think hygiene worries in the old South prompted folks to put the stuffing in a pan and bake it with the hen or turkey. We call it dressing, and I like it better than stuffing. I make a pretty good dressing with apples and a mixture of white, rye and pumpernickel. But for it to be truly southern, you need to use cornbread and put in big chunks of chicken. Hence the term "hen n'dressing".

Baby update: All is well, but I was told I could stand to gain a bit more weight! Who'd a thunk it? I gained two pounds last month, but as I was already fifteen pounds overweight, I wasn't thinking that I should have gained more. I was told not to worry, as long as I ate well. I should add, I did put on another pound over the weekend. Baby X is also very active, and did not want to sit still to have his/her heartbeat checked. Every time Nurse C cornered the kid, he/she scooted away.

More turkey talk tomorrow, we're off on another field trip with TFYO's class today.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just a half a mile away from the railroad track...


Lyric courtesy of Arlo Guthrie and one of the best story songs ever. It's not truly Thanksgiving for me until I hear someone play it on the radio.

Quick post to wish all the American readers a Happy Thanksgiving. For those who don't celebrate the holiday, grab some turkey (or tofurkey, if that's what you're into), some cranberry and have a fine weekend.

I've got an OB appointment this morning, so I'll give y'all a baby update when I get back. I'm already feeling this little one bounce around in there. So, it's quite possible I may be birthing a Cirque du Soleil performer. Of course, I may also just be rolling over on my stomach too much in my sleep for Baby X's comfort.

Things to look forward to when I get back:


  • The aforementioned baby update


  • Why it's a bad idea to fry turkey in a garage


  • The Confederate Flag


  • My recent run-in with an anti-milk campaigner

Talk to y'all on Monday.

Oh, and if there's any thing you guys would like to know about the South, something maybe you've always wondered, leave it in the comments. I've been looking for new things to write about lately. I think I'm going a bit stale.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Five


Friday again. I won't be here for Thanksgiving next week, we are actually going away for the weekend! How novel. So, I will instead give you next week's Friday Five, this week.


Five Things I am Thankful For this Thanksgiving

Okay, yeah, I know it's trite, but I still have to make sweet potatoes for the Thanksgiving office party yet.




1. My House.

I suppose this is a no-brainer. After all, everyone needs shelter, but this house is special, because it's the first one Ray and I have ever bought. I know we won't stay in it forever (because it's going to be too small!), but it's special because it's our first. And maybe it's not so small, as cozy. Yeah, cozy sounds much better.




2. Cake Mix

Because sometimes, you just need cake.









3. Zoe and Chloe

For those of you who have been following along for a while, you know what a trial it was to adopt these cats from the shelter. They did everything but ask us for our blood types. But in the end, we got two sister cats, complete with parasites, dandruff, and fear issues. Now, I have two plump, sleek felines who sleep on anything soft, leap into any available lap, and snuggle with my daughter. It was totally worth it. They look content, don't they?







4. The people I work with.

Not everyone I work with is stellar, but the people I work closely with on a regular basis are fun. I learn something new from them every day. They know who they are. You're great.


5. That everyone in my family is safe and sheltered this holiday.

It hasn't always been the case. There have been rough times for people in my family, and for me. But everyone now has a place to be, even if we're not all together.



Okay, that's it. I'll post as I can next week, but since I'll be trying to cram five days work into two and a half next week, I may be a little...absent. Have a good weekend, y'all!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

All we hear is radio ga-ga...

Courtesy of Queen.


For anyone who wonders what I do at work, here is TFYO's interpretation:


She drew this Sunday while she was at work with me. As she was drawing I asked her where my face was, and she said "Moooo-om! That's the back of your head! And I'm not finished yet, leave me alone."


Please note, she did remember the clock. The giant L-shaped thing is my chair. The loops on my head are not ears, but headphones. And the name of the station is displayed prominently. I am apparently talking to my boss. That is a microphone in my hand. If you look carefully, the squiggles to my left are the board, and the computer, again, with the station name prominently displayed. And just in case you were unsure of what you were looking at, she also wrote "Mommy at Work" on the bottom.

A masterpiece if there ever was one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This is the way we sit in bed...

This is how we spend our days...she gets a little camera shy, I think, but she plays for a few seconds anyway. TFYO does not like being cooped up. She's staying home again today, because she is still hacking up a lung, and she is unhappy. I know she wants to go to school (actually, she wants to go anywhere that doesn't involve me giving her medicine, or her having to sit in bed), but she needs to rest.

I'm trying not to let her watch too much TV, but we've run through most of the pages of her workbooks, and she's already done her homework for the week. I may have to break out the checkers.

Oh, yeah, and Blogger's got this great thingy where I can upload my videos directly, I don't have to post it on YouTube. How handy.

video

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blarrrrgh!


And the question is: what sound does TFYO make when sick?


Sorry. TFYO has a chest cold which is why there was no post yesterday, and no post of any merit today. I'm stealing a few minutes while she watches Diego, wrapped in blankets, and sipping at juice that I have oh-so-carefully-spiked with medicine from the doctor. She knows it's in there, but this way we can carry on the charade that she won't take medicine in any form.


I took a short movie of TFYO playing piano to pass the time, I'll see if I can figure out how to get it on here.


I'll try to be back tomorrow!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday Five

At least I haven't forgotten what Fridays are for around here. It's also much easier to remember a title, too.

The weather has finally turned chilly here this week. We've had lows around freezing and frost on the grass and the cars each morning, and I absolutely love it. There are people who say you don't really get much of a change of seasons this far south, but it's really not true. Our maples are scarlet, and the oaks are turning a lovely golden colour. Maybe I just notice them more since they're mixed in with the pine trees. Either way, it's finally starting to feel like fall, even if it is almost winter in most of the rest of the country. So, today's Friday Five is...


Five Reasons I Love Colder Weather


1. My down blanket

We bought this when we lived in Raleigh, in a very drafty house, with a very weak and wheezy gas furnace. Our bedroom was always ten degrees colder than the rest of the house. But that was okay, because we had flannel sheets, and this marvelous down blanket. It's a bit lighter than a comforter, which makes it perfect for living in the south, but it also really traps the warmth without you having to pile on the blankets. And I like being cozy when I sleep in the wintertime. Just ask my father who once accused me of having every blanket in the house on my bed. Of course, at the time, I could see my breath when I stood near my bedroom windows, so I suppose it's open to interpretation.


2. Hearty Food

Braised short ribs in barbecue sauce with buttermilk mashed potatoes. Baked acorn squash with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Roasted root vegetables. Thick and rich chicken and dumplings. Fresh collard greens. Grillades and grits. Clam chowder. Pumpernickel bread. I could go on, but I need to go find something to eat.


3. Not having to shave my legs every day

Okay, guys, you may be grossed out, but it's a pain in the ass to shave legs. It's awkward, and sometimes down right dangerous. I'm too chicken to wax. I tried to do it myself once, and ended up with a lovely scar. But I'm hirsute enough that I could grow enough barbed wire in a day to surround a prison. So, I look forward to when I can wear woolly tights, and tall boots with my dresses, instead of bare legs and sandals. I don't think my husband is as crazy about it as I am, but he'll deal with it. I don't carp at him when he doesn't shave on the weekends.


4. Cold weather means the holidays are coming

I admit it. I love Christmas and all the trimmings. I love seeing people put up lights, I love the smell of fresh pine and cedar wreaths, and I just love the colours that go along with the holidays. Even when I lived alone in squalor, I always had a tree of some kind, even if it was just a plastic table top one. Yeah, I know it's sentimental, but Christmas has always held warm memories for me, even if some were lousy. It's especially wonderful now that I have a child of my own.


5. We get to watch my sport on TV.

I've grown to really like baseball because of Ray, but after a whole summer of it, I'm ready to watch what I want to watch, and that's hockey. I hate football. Maybe it's because I'm Canadian, I don't know, but I just don't get football (and that's American football, y'all). So, I've been getting my husband to watch hockey for the last five years. Last year, we actually lived in the same town as a Stanley Cup winning team. And I only had to move eight hundred miles south of my hometown to do it. I still love the Leafs, but it's going to be a long time before the Cup ends up in Toronto.


Okay, that's it. For those of you who hate winter/cold weather, tough. Or, you can write about the weather you do like. Or not. No posts this weekend, back on Monday, if you can drag me off the beach.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I' m into my second trimester of pregnancy, and it's finally happened.


For those not familiar with this delightful side effect of being pregnant, it involves forgetting almost everything you really need to remember and being able to drop things on the floor that you thought you had a firm grip on. And yes, that includes reality.


I locked myself out of the house last Wednesday as I was trying to get to TFYO's Halloween party. I had my hands full of camera, water bottle, purse, etc. The only thing I didn't have was my keys. That did not, however, stop me from locking the handle lock as I walked out the door. I realized my mistake just as it swung shut behind me.


I did have my cell phone so I could call my husband. The only trouble is, we live about forty-five minutes from where we work, so I knew I'd be waiting a while. It's a good thing it was warm


Our neighbour graciously made fun of me for not leaving an extra house key under the mat like he does. I graciously informed him that half the neighbourhood now knew how to break into his house while he was gone.


I also discovered during my forty-five minute wait that I would be a lousy burglar, myself. I could not get a window open no matter how hard I tried. And the credit card in the door thingy? Does. Not. Work. At. All. I couldn't even force the garage lock open.


Of course, pregnancy brain has affected me in other ways. I've cracked open the mic at work a few times, only to forget what the hell I'm going to say.


"Hey, that was...um. Who was that? Oh, yeah. The latest from Ozzy Osbourne." Fortunately for me, Ozzy's memory is about on par with mine right now, so it made for a good joke, anyway.


I also managed to juggle a cheesecake down the front of the kitchen cabinet. It was saved by the heroic efforts of my husband, who, in a move worthy of the Six Million Dollar Man, made a flying leap to catch the thing before it hit the floor. I could almost hear the "dadadadadadada" sound, as he shouted "N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!" in slow motion.


I drop my keys. I drop papers. I drop CD's at work. I can't hand anything to anyone to save my soul. I drop food constantly, but thankfully my ever-expanding chest seems to catch most of it.


My only excuse, and thankfully everyone buys it, is that I have pregnancy brain.


Right. I'm sorry, what was this post about again?




Update: I posted this, and then realized I forgot to find a title for it. Crap. It's invading my blogging time, as well.



Update, Number Two:

I've just been given another award by the fabulous Jo Beaufoix, who is so fabulous she designed this award herself. She is also fabulous, because she gave all the recipients three different versions to choose from. I chose this one:



I'm not sure how Jo managed to get her head stuck back on, but I'm grateful to have made anyone laugh that hard. I'm also grateful she didn't sue me for damages or clean-up.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

He's a well respected man about town


I love The Kinks.


Today is election day here in the Coastal Empire (that's what they call this region, by the way).


Have you ever tried to explain politics and government to a four-year-old?


Yesterday, on the way to school, I heard her laughing in the back seat.


"What's so funny?"


"Them. They're funny. They're standing on the street holding signs!" She cackled with glee, and pointed to some supporters for one of Guyton's mayoral candidates standing at the crossroads with political signs.


"Why are they doing that, Mommy?"


"Well, tomorrow is election day, and they want people to vote for the guy on the signs to be mayor."


"What's an election?"


"An election is where people get together and pick who they want to be in charge of government."


"What's government?"


"The government is made up of a group of people who we pick to make the laws and make sure everyone follows those laws."


"What's a law?"


"A law is a rule. You know how you have rules in school so that everyone gets along? That's what laws are like. They help everyone get along. And if you don't follow the rules, just like school, you get punished."


"Oh."


I breathed a sigh of relief, hoping we could make it to school without anymore questions about anything. It was almost 8 a.m., I still hadn't showered yet, and I'd overslept the alarm. I really didn't want to talk anymore. No such luck.


"Hey, mommy."


"Yes."


"Is a government like a mommy and daddy?"


"Well, no not exactly. You see, I'll always be your mommy, but a mayor only gets to be mayor for four years, unless everyone votes to have him stay longer."


"Can I vote for a new mommy?"


"Sorry, kiddo, it doesn't work that way. You're stuck with me."


"That's not fair."


Trying to be funny, I say "Yes, well, that's why a family is a benevolent dictatorship, not a democracy or a republic."


"Mom, what's a democracy?"


Thankfully at that moment, we pulled into the school parking lot, and I didn't have to try and discuss civic theory anymore. I would hate to try and explain some of the mayoral candidates for the City of Savannah.


Admittedly, it's been a pretty quiet campaign. All except for Jerry Sammons, who is running on a platform of legalizing marijuana, and who also promises to lead marches in the streets protesting gas prices if elected. He also is apparently a convicted felon who claims that he fought with the Contras in Nicaragua. When asked by a reporter about that claim, and why he would be fighting in the jungle with the Contras, Mr. Sammons' response was:


"Because I'm a patriot."


If I could vote, and lived in Savannah, I might vote for him. Just because it would make the next four years of city politics a hoot. Of course, TFYO might end up asking:


"Mom, what's Nicaragua?"

Monday, November 5, 2007

I got no time for livin' yeah, I'm workin all the time


Lyric courtesy of the great Canadian band Rush.

I sent myself into self-imposed blog exile over the weekend. Partly because I was in the aforementioned snarky mood, but also because I had a fight with TFYO the weekend previous which gave me pause.


My husband works Monday through Friday, 4:30 a.m. to around noon every day. He's usually home on the weekends, unless he has a live appearance to put in, and then half the time he takes TFYO with him, because she's such a hit at remotes. I work Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 2 until 5 p.m., and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. See where the problem is here?


A couple of weeks ago, Ray had a remote to go to late Saturday evening, so it was going to be just me and TFYO at home. She was not happy. I tried to explain that Daddy would be home around her bedtime, but she argued with me.


"No he won't. He won't be home at all. And then you'll be going to work tomorrow morning, and I'll be all alone!"


I tried to calmly explain that no one would leave her alone, but she was inconsolable and burst out with this:


"You're always at work. You work seven days a week!"


Ouch.


It's not really true, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw what she meant. I'm not usually home when she is. The days I have off, she's in school most of the day. We almost never get to spend a weekend together as a family. And that realization hurt. Ray and I have always set up our work schedules so one of us would be home with TFYO. Now, I'm not needed to watch her in the morning, and I'm not home when she is, so she's spending most of her time with Ray.


So, I'm giving up working on Saturdays, and blogging on the weekend. My boss (one of three, actually!) was not really happy. About the work thing, I don't think he cares about the blogging. But I 've made up my mind that the money I'd make from four hours work on a Saturday is not worth having my child resent me being gone. It also means I get one day a week to sleep in (a little anyway), and I get to see my husband from sunup to sundown occasionally, too.


This coming Saturday is my first one off of work. I think we'll go to the beach.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday Five


For some reason, I'm grumpy this morning, which is probably why this is late. I don't know if I didn't get enough sleep, enough food, or enough whatever. Maybe I've had too much whatever. Either way, it's a snarky post. Snarkalicious, even.


Deal with it.


Five Halloween Treats I Hope We Don't See Next Year



1. Taffy

You know the ones I'm talking about. They're rock hard and taste vaguely of peanut butter, and are always wrapped in black or orange waxed paper. They're hideous, and I've yet to meet a child or an adult who likes them. I don't even see them in the stores anymore, so where the hell are you people getting them? I have a suspicion that they're a little like the fruitcake of Halloween. Someone out there hoards these hideous taffys for years, and then just passes them on to other unsuspecting trick or treaters.


2. Petrified Raisins

I know you're trying to protect my children's health and my children's teeth by giving them a "healthy" snack. However, when the raisins are rock hard, and taste like the little box they come in, you aren't helping anyone. If my child breaks a tooth on one, I may have to come back to your house to help cover the dental costs.


3. McDonald's Gift Certificates

Most of these are worth about what, a buck? Which means I have to take my child to Mickey D's and shell out money in order for her to use this. Seriously, why did you spend money on the coupon book? Would you like someone to toss some Chicken McNuggets in your treat bag?


4. Religious Tracts

Some guy tried to make my kid promise to read his tract or he wouldn't give her candy. I'm cool if you don't like Halloween. I'm cool with your right to practice your religion. But don't gussy up your house for Halloween, and then hand out tracts to kids telling them they're all going to hell because they're out trick or treating. It's false advertising. How would you like it if a group of Hindus put up a bunch of signs advertising a tent revival and started giving your kids tracts trying to convert them to worship Shiva? Honestly, just give it up already.


5. Pennies

I know you grannies mean well, but pennies don't do much for kids anymore. TFYO is still excited about any form of money, but only because she likes to count it and add it, not spend it. Not yet, anyway. But I know those older kids are thinking, "Swell, Grandma. What the hell am I supposed to buy with this?" Well, the answer is, "Nothing, kid." Not a thing. Unless you want to save them all up for the next ten years. Then you might be able to afford a gumball.


Okay, that's it in all it's snarky, grumpy glory. I'm going to give in and get myself a cup of coffee now before I do harm to someone. Have a good weekend. No really, I mean that.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It was a graveyard smash...

Thank you Bobby Boris Picket.

Halloween is here, and I'm going to be off to TFYO's "Fall Fling Party" at school today. You can't say Halloween at school anymore, because it could be offensive. Which is fine. But everyone is dressing up in costumes, and the room will be decorated with jack o'lanterns and cartoony monsters. Nope. Not Halloween at all.

Here are the cupcakes, with before and after decoration shots. TFYO helped with the sprinkles, can you tell?





I still need to carve our pumpkins. That is my job every year, and I love it. I love to toast the pumpkin seeds, too. Last year, I did half with just salt and olive oil, and half with Chinese Five Spice. This year, I might do some brown sugar-cayenne seeds.


I will post pictures through the day as we go. I'll have pictures of the jack o'lanterns, TFYO etc. She's going as a cat this year, which (witch?) made me happy because it's the easiest costume I've had to make thus far.

Happy Halloween!


I found this video while searching for "Monster Mash" on YouTube. It's very clever and has good editing, too, filled with bits of old campy movies. It also includes clips from one of my fave Mel Brooks films, too. See if you can catch it. And of course, it's got the song. Props to someone named soulrocket for their work.





Picture update!!

Here are some pictures from this afternoon and this evening. Obviously I'm not going to post pictures of TFYO's classmates, since I don't have their parents permission. But I saw everything from a dragon, to Batman, to three Spidermans, and a couple of princesses for good measure. My daughter was the only non-gender specific character, and that made me very happy.




And some pictures from tonight, yes I did her make-up:





And yes, I carved these pumpkins. I'm the only person in my family with no artistic talent. At least, not visual arts.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How's about cooking somethin' up with me?

Good heavens, if I'd known death would have driven you all away...

With thanks to Hank Williams, Sr., who is also dead.


My poor husband doesn't know what to do with me.

I have a problem.

I can't stop baking.

That's right. The last few weeks, I've been very busy in the kitchen. Ray says I'm nesting, and I'm inclined to agree. During my last pregnancy, I stuck mostly to cookies. This time, I seem to be branching out.

It started with cake. The one to the left. I suddenly got the urge to bake one. It turned out to be a chocolate fudge layer cake, with raspberry filling, covered with cream cheese frosting. And I only ate one piece. Once I got done baking it, I didn't want to eat it anymore. Ray was okay with that, he ate most of it.

From there, I moved on to cookies. Chocolate chip, although I think I may do some oatmeal raisin next week.

We've also made banana bread (just to use up the bananas, I swear!), and brownies. Today, I'm baking cupcakes for the TFYO's Halloween party tomorrow. They'll be white cake swirled with black and orange, topped with little black and orange sprinkles, and non-pareil pumpkins.

I even went and got the stuff to bake a pumpkin pie, and we're still weeks away from Thanksgiving.

I'm out of control.

I think I may have an ulterior motive. I think my subconscious is trying to get my husband to gain weight with me. You see, I don't really eat much of what I make. I had only the tiniest piece of that cake, only one slice of the banana bread, and so far, only one brownie out of that whole pan. Maybe I secretly want Ray to get as big as I'm going to be.


Hmmm. Perhaps I should start working on a fudge recipe.

Monday, October 29, 2007

They'll all come to see me in the shade of that old oak tree


In honour of Porter Wagoner (1927-2007). He will be missed.

While I was at work yesterday, surfing the web of course, I came across an interesting article about the new trend in "green" funerals. You can read it here.

Now, after reading through it, what struck me is that there's nothing really new about it at all. People were burying their dead this way for a long time before the funeral industry came about. Most Amish communities still lay their dead out in the parlor and bury them in plain pine boxes without embalming. And I like the idea. I mean, you'd need some dry ice for me if I kicked off in the summer, of course. And you couldn't leave me out for more than a couple of days. But then, I don't really want a bunch of people looking at me after I'm dead, anyhow.

Of course, laying me out in my own house would never work. The way things are here, if you laid me out horizontally on a couple of saw horses, I'd be covered with junk mail, a briefcase, a couple jackets and a cat or two within a day or so. You wouldn't be able to find me under all the clutter.

Ray's Paw-Paw (that's a Grandpa to all you northern folks, his maternal grandfather) actually worked as a mortician. But Ray's mom also notes that right up until Ray was a boy, there were still families who laid their dead out in their homes. She told me about going to viewings when she was a girl, and that it was the norm back then to keep your family members at home until a graveside service. Ray's Paw-Paw would often just help deliver the bodies home rather than to a funeral chapel.

I think I might like best to be cremated. Partly it's because it's cheap. The average funeral now runs something like ten thousand dollars. I figure if someone's going to spend that much on my death, it better be for a kick-ass party. Why spend all that money on a silk pillow and a vacuum-sealed casket that I'm not going to appreciate anyway? Nah, cremate me, scatter my ashes in a few different places that people might want to visit, and throw a huge party. The other reason I'd like to be cremated, is that I don't want anyone digging me up. Having been trained in archaeology, and walked down rows and rows of bones stored up in boxes for study, I've decided I really don't want to be on someone's shelf or used in a demonstration three hundred years from now in a classroom. That's just me.

Of course, there's a new method of body disposal that the Swedes have come up with. Apparently cremating people with certain kinds of dental fillings causes mercury emissions (who knew?). So, what they do here, is dip you in liquid nitrogen, and then shake the body until it crumbles into dust. Then they just sift out anything non-organic, like fillings or other prosthetics, using a magnetic field. Kind of ingenious really. But I don't have any fillings, so I'm not that worried about it.

I suppose I've never been really comfortable at traditional funerals, especially viewings. I know sometimes you need to say goodbye, but I think I'd rather remember someone as they were alive, rather than drained, painted and waxed in a box. I'd never even been to an open casket funeral until we moved to the US. My boyfriend at the time asked me to go with him to the viewing of his grandmother. It was an odd affair. A lot of time was spent discussing how nice it was that she was laid out in her favourite wig, but one of his aunts was not happy with how it was styled. So she got out a comb and a little bottle of hair spray and fixed it. Someone else had taken issue with her lipstick. It was the wrong shade. So, they got out a tube of their own and fixed it, right there. Then they all started talking about how this lovely woman wanted to be buried wearing pants. But how would we know? The bottom half of the casket was closed. Well, there was only one way to fix that. They popped open the casket to make sure she was wearing her favourite pair of black pants. Thankfully she was. I'm not sure what they would have done if she'd been there in her bloomers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Five

In-laws are coming through town today, (which always is a reason for smiles), have a cold, have to work a full shift and all weekend (which is a reason to be pissy). What better time than now to think about food that makes me happy?


Five Favourite Desserts

If I found out (some sort of deity forbid) that I was going to die in a couple of days, these are the desserts I would fill up on.



1. Red Velvet Cake

Ray and I had red velvet cake for our wedding cake, and yes that is a picture of it. It's best with cream cheese frosting (we had cream cheese filling in ours, since the cake was covered in fondant). We had a lovely reception in the restaurant. Did anyone talk about the marvelous crab cakes? Or the saffron rice? Nope. Everybody raved about the cake. Now some folks go a little crazy with the red food colouring. Originally, the red colour came from dutch process cocoa. I like a little food colouring, and a lot of cocoa in my cake.




2. Pie

There's just something wrong with you if you don't like pie. I'm specifically referring to fruit pies here, not cream pies, which are completely different. I personally favour apple, peach and pumpkin. Awesome with a good strong cup of coffee. I confess to sometimes eating leftover pie for breakfast. I love mine with whipped cream, not ice cream. I save the ice cream for...




3. Crisps

The easiest and cheapest of all desserts to make. It's a marvelous comfort food. I like mine with either apples or pears. Just take your fruit, peel, core and slice and toss it with some flour sugar and your choice of spices. I like cinnamon and a little allspice for apples, a little ginger and nutmeg for pears. Then the topping. All it is, is flour, brown sugar, butter and rolled oats cut together until it's crumbly. Sprinkle over the fruit and bake it. How easy is that? We ate this dessert a lot when I was a kid.



4. Tiramisu

I could easily live on tiramisu. I'd be hugely fat, but I would be so content in my marscarpone cheese, I probably wouldn't care. I like tiramisu when it's done right. Not with cake, but with ladyfingers. Not with mostly whipped cream, but marscarpone cheese. Not with instant coffee crystals, but espresso. Not deconstructed, and in a heap, but beautifully layered, and light, and just for me.


5. Brownies

I prefer mine a little cakey to fudgy, and I like mine with nuts. There's just something about the smell of a pan of brownies baking in the over that makes me swoon. Which is probably why my husband likes to make them often. Chocolate is an aphrodisiac, right? Obviously they are best still warm from the oven. Heaven.





Okay, that's my five, can't wait to see yours. Have a great weekend, y'all!