Friday, December 25, 2009
On Monday night I decided to make festive, Christmas-ish, oh-so-delicious peppermint bark.
Out of a chocolate rabbit left over from Easter.
Wait, lemme 'splain.
Last week I came across a recipe for peppermint bark that sounded incredibly easy, even for someone like me. I hit the baking aisle at Meijer and gave it a try.
It was absolutely the most delicious stuff EVER, and every bit as easy as promised. I may or may not have licked the double boiler when I was done mixing it up. White chocolate and peppermint are two of my favorite things, so what could possibly be bad about combining them? Even Ellie, who is not much of a candy eater, scarfed it down like she'd never seen food before. It was so good I wrapped some in cute little bags and gave it to my trainer, Ellie's dance teacher, and my office mate. This from a woman who NEVER does homemade Christmas treats.
I was so proud of myself for getting in touch with my inner Martha Stewart.
Unfortunately I ran out of peppermint bark much sooner than anticipated. I wish I could say this had to do with the amount I gave to others. But no. It really had to do with the amount I stuffed in my pie-hole.
So on Monday night I hit the grocery again so I could restock.
That's when the trouble began.
Did you know there's a shortage of white baking chocolate in the greater Snooty Suburb area? I get to the Super Wal-Mart only to find that the baking chocolate shelf is completely bare. Not one square of white chocolate to be found. So I grab a bag of white chocolate chips instead. Little do I know that white chips are not, in fact, made from chocolate. They're made from some vanilla-flavored plastic-like white substance that does not remotely resemble chocolate. If you're making white chocolate macadamia nut cookies or something in which white chocolate is but a minor ingredient, it's probably not something you'd notice. But if you're making something that IS MADE of chocolate, it's a problem.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Next I head to the candy aisle. Where I proceed to NOT find any candy canes.
Yes, boys and girls, Wal-Mart is experiencing a candy cane shortage. No problem, I think, as I grab a bag of starlight mints. These will work just as well.
I get home with my purchases and start the peppermint bark assembly process.
Step one: crush up the peppermint.
The recipe calls for twelve large candy canes. Hmmm. How many starlight mints make up one candy cane? Who the hell knows? I dump a bunch of mints into a freezer bag and prepare to crush.
That's when I learn that starlight mints -- at least the cheap ones from Wal-Mart -- do not crush.
I beat those mints with everything in my kitchen. They WILL NOT BREAK. I hit them with a can of kidney beans. I hit them with the handle of my garlic press. I hit them with every utensil in every drawer. Nothin'.
After 15 minutes of Ellie yelling "TOO LOUD!!" I finally find a serving spoon with a sturdy enough handle to use as a hammer. Now that I think about it, why didn't I just go to the garage and get an actual hammer? Anyway. I finally succeed in beating the mints, as well as the freezer bag and the spoon, into submission. There may or may not be bits of countertop in the peppermint bark.
Then I set up the double boiler and proceed to step two: melt the chocolate.
Things only go downhill from there.
The recipe calls for two pounds of white chocolate. I get out my bag of white chips and realize I've bought only one pound. So now I have all this peppermint I've worked so hard to break up, and not nearly enough chocolate to contain it.
What to do?
I think maybe I have some leftover chocolate from my first attempt at peppermint bark, so I started rummaging around in the kitchen looking for it. No luck.
That's when inspiration strikes.
Back in April, the Easter Bunny brought Ellie a white chocolate rabbit. Which she never ate. Which is sitting on a shelf in the pantry. Still in the wrapper. How it has managed to survive for so long I have no idea, but there it is.
I grab that thing off the shelf, rip off the wrapper and toss it into the double boiler.
I wish I had taken a picture of that poor bunny, slowly melting on my stove. I'm standing there stirring his little bunny self around in the pan, feeling a little like Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction."
The bunny, which is solid chocolate, takes FOREVER to melt. And since it's real chocolate and not necessarily the kind you're supposed to bake with, it's sort of goopy and sticky. Never fear, I think. The white chocolate chips will balance it out.
Except by this time, the chips are completely melted and starting to scorch. I turn the heat down, grab a knife, and go to work on the bunny. In a few minutes I have managed to hack off its head, tail and feet.
The melting goes much faster after that, but I'm starting to think it's not my inner Martha Stewart I got in touch with. It's her evil twin -- she who melts innocent Easter bunnies, waves her wand, and turns them into Christmas treats.
So, bunny-melting complete, I pour in the peppermint. And it's WAY too much peppermint, even for the bunny-enhanced chocolate that I have. But I'm out of options, so I just spread the stuff as-is on the cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer.
I taste my concoction about thirty minutes later. It has way too much peppermint, some of which is in rather large chunks, and the chocolate is really not good -- plastic chips + stale rabbit = fairly high ick factor.
Don't you think for one minute I'm not gonna eat it anyway.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I understand from reading the news that she's a 32-year-old actress, and that she died over the weekend, apparently from natural causes (and by the way, what in God's name constitutes "natural causes" when you're thirty-freaking-two years old?).
But even after my CNN education, I still have not a clue who she is.
My first thought upon hearing the news was that she must be one of Tiger Woods' mistresses.
Turns out she's been in several movies, none of which I have seen. She also dated Ashton Kutcher, whose name is familiar to me primarily because he is married to someone my age.
I appealed to my Facebook friends to enlighten me. They tried -- they really did. But when none of their points of reference rang a bell with me, they gave up and promised me a subscription to People magazine in my Christmas stocking.
I googled Brittany, thinking a photo might jog my memory.
Nope. Never seen her before in my life.
So then I started thinking about just how incredibly unhip and uncool I have become.
I would not know a Dave Matthews song if it smacked me upside my head.
I don't know who Megan Fox is.
The only version of "Single Ladies" I am familiar with is the one by Alvin and the Chipmunks. It's featured in the trailer for their new movie.
I still think of Will Smith as a rapper and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, not an Academy-Award-nominated actor.
I have seen exactly one new movie in the past two years, and it starred Meryl Streep. You don't get much more old-school than that.
I know one Coldplay song, and that's because it was on an Apple commercial.
On the other hand, I can quote Handy Manny, Phineas & Ferb, and several other stars of the Disney Channel galaxy, and I know some of the lyrics to "Hoedown Throwdown," my favorite Hannah Montana song.
What has happened to me?
I think it's a sad combination of motherhood and turning 40.
I was never a shining example of hipdom -- I've always been in touch with my inner geek. But lately it seems that my inner geek has become my . . . well . . . outer geek. I never thought I'd see the day when I didn't recognize current movies, music or actors.
But I'm finding that I don't mind relinquishing my status as pop culture nerd. Given a choice between motherhood and Brittany Murphy, I'll take Ellie and her Disney Channel friends any day.
Monday, December 21, 2009
And the big finish, complete with curtsy, Ellie-style:
I'm pretty sure we'll be ready for our big performance in June.
Friday, December 18, 2009
These, my friends, are called Winkers. Yes, that's right, they wink as you walk.
Why? BECAUSE YOUR ASS IS SO HUGE.
Winkers start at $159. A top-of-the-line pair is $579. That is not a typo. And are you ready for this? THIS PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE THE PANTS.
Yes, you heard me. YOU send YOUR OWN pants to these people and they paint the design on. For this they charge you the aforementioned prices.
There's even a section of the website that tells you how to mark the pants before you ship them, so the fine folks at Winkers know EXACTLY where the crease in your fat is before they paint the design on.
They also caution you that loose pants won't work. Thank you for that bit of advice -- I never would have figured it out on my own.
I showed the video to one of my friends and she came up with two relevant questions/comments:
"Is this entire three and a half minute video of people's asses?" (yes, it is.)
"That pair with the lion on the butt doesn't really wink. It just sort of squints. Like the lion is saying 'hey, I've got somebody's ass in my eye.' "
The Winkers website includes a comments section. After reading it, I have concluded that Winkers fans share an aversion to grammar, spelling and punctuation. In fact, I'm guessing that the average Winkers wearer wouldn't know decent grammar if it smacked him in his fat ass.
"I think these pants are very cool your have a sence of humor."
"It's very cool this jean."
"There Bad Ass"
"i think their reel cool ! ! !"
"The duck are the best."
"I love them they are way cute, way to go I am sure your winker will take off"
"I love them grate work."
These are exactly the people I would expect to buy these jeans.
But then there was one commenter who pretty much summed up the whole Winkers experience for me:
"I thought I'd seen everything. Guess I was wrong."
Thanks for the tip, Bill. I'm just a few helpings of potato casserole away from gittin' me summa these!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
All you exercise addicts who told me it would get to be a habit? That I would come to enjoy it? That I would be so glad I did it?
You lied to me.
I’ve been working with my trainer for six months now, and I don’t enjoy it any more than I did that first day. I still hate to sweat, and I still hate to get myself out of bed for it. I thought I would develop a special relationship with my trainer. Instead I have developed a special relationship with my snooze button on the days he’s not there to force my ass out of bed.
My arms do not look like Michelle Obama’s, my abs are still nestled cozily under a layer of fat, and I’ve gained four pounds. How is this beneficial in any way?
And another thing: who CARES what kind of shape I’m in or how much I weigh or what size my pants are? No one gives a rat’s ass but me, and I have decided that I enjoy eating and sitting on the couch in my sweatpants -- sometimes at the same time -- more than I enjoy the so-called “feeling of accomplishment” I’m supposed to get from exercising.
My cellulite and I have come to terms with each other. Exercise was only coming between us. Now that we’ve decided to stop fighting our inevitable attraction, I’m free to go out and buy all the elastic-waist pants I want, as well as all the stretchy knit shirts I need to cover my ever-growing jugs.
Got a problem with that? Kiss my jiggly ass.
If you need me, I’ll be on the couch with a bag of chips. Formulating more award-winning resolutions for 2010. Let me know if I can assist you with yours -- I'd be glad to help.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Since I will soon be 40, this might be a good time to figure it out.
I’ve been in my current field for several years now. It’s not what I set out to do – I sort of fell into it through another field that WAS more closely related to what I set out to do. In spite of that, I’ve always been happy enough doing it. I often feel that I’m not very good at it, and it certainly has its other frustrations, but it’s always been okay.
Except that I didn’t think I’d still be doing it at 40.
And yet here I am, still doing it and still trying to figure out if it’s what I WANT to do or not.
Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I mean, for a long time I didn’t think I was going to have a career. I thought I was going to marry Dr. Wonderful and stay home and have babies. So by the time I figured out that wasn’t going to be an option, I was a little behind the curve in terms of planning for the future. Considering how many years I wasted on my little happily-ever-after fantasy, I guess I’m not doing too bad.
But still. Forty looms out there. I really thought I would have it more together by the time I hit that date on the calendar.
I’m happy being a mom, and blogging has filled a real void by giving me a writing outlet. (And BTW, I’m grateful to all of you who offered encouraging words when I was thinking that maybe blogging wasn’t for me.) Should I just be grateful that I have a fulfilling family life and a great hobby and leave it at that? Is that what most people do? Do I have to be like most people?
Several of you have suggested that I write a book (*giggle*). I’m flattered by the suggestion, and would love to oblige, but I have no idea how to go about something like that. What would I write about? Who would read it? How would I go about getting it published? Even if I succeeded, would it be the beginning of a new career or just another time-sucker I’d have to squeeze into my life somewhere?
I’d love to be Julie Powell from Julie & Julia and turn my blog into an overnight success that spawns two books and a movie starring Meryl Streep. I would love to be J.K. Rowling and suddenly be thunderstruck with the idea for not one but SEVEN books that outsell all the books in the history of books.
But that doesn’t happen. Not to real people.
So someone please tell me what DOES happen – do I wake up one day with a newfound realization of my life’s purpose? Do I suddenly gain a crapload of time and energy and go back to school? If so, to study what? Do I win the lottery and suddenly have money to do whatever I want, including publishing my own damn book?
I don’t know. I just know that this isn’t where I expected to be two months before my fortieth birthday.
If you find that map I dropped, let me know, will ya?
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I’m sleeping with Tiger Woods.
I know, I know – I don’t seem to fit in with the parade of tarts that has emerged from the woodwork in recent days. I don’t have legs up to here, and I don’t have double-D breast implants. I’m not a porn star or a Hooters girl or an aspiring model. I’m not serving pancakes on the night shift at Perkins. But don’t be fooled by my commonplace appearance or the fact that I have a brain. As I have learned to my sorrow, the only prerequisite for sleeping with Tiger is possession of a vagina, and I’m as qualified as the next girl.
Tiger has long been the only man for me. We first met at the Memorial Tournament, a PGA event held every spring right here in Ohio. I was standing in the gallery and he passed by on his way to the next hole.
Wait, let me rephrase that . . .
He passed by on his way to the 16th tee. Our eyes met. Our gazes locked. I reached across the rope and my arm was promptly seized by a security guard. I yelled out to Tiger that all I wanted was an autograph. He pretended not to hear, but I knew from that moment that we were meant to be together.
Later that afternoon, I saw Tiger getting into a limo with Elin, who was his fiancée at the time. I ran after the car, but once again he pretended not to see me. I knew he was just playing it cool so Elin wouldn’t catch on.
Our next encounter was at the 2005 U.S. Open in Pinehurst, N.C. That’s when I should have known that Tiger’s love for me did not equal my passion for him.
Did he fly me there so I could be near him?
Did he put me up in a cushy hotel suite?
No. He didn't ask me to remove my name from my voicemail either.
Is Pinehurst as romantic as Australia or as beautiful as the California coastline?
No. Actually, it’s more of a hicksville retirement community in the middle of effing nowhere.
And now that I think about it, Dr. Wonderful actually paid for the trip so that HE could be near Tiger.
Maybe it wasn’t Tiger’s passion I should have been questioning.
But I digress.
Even after that disillusioning trip to North Carolina, Tiger and I continued to spend many Sunday afternoons together. Ever since he was a skinny 19-year-old, I've foolishly believed all those golf announcers who whisper into their microphones about how special he is. My feelings for him have only grown stronger over the years as he has grown into his current brick-shithouse physique. I can’t tell you the depth of my disappointment at learning that I am not the love of his life, as I have long believed. Perhaps Elin and I should talk – we seem to have this in common.
Alas, my love affair with Tiger seems to be at an end. What a fool I've been. The only good that can come of it now is a nice fat check for Ellie’s college fund. With some racy text messages, a voice mail or two, and a photo of his genitalia, I can still mend my broken heart.
Tiger, if you’re reading this, I’ll always love you. And please make the check out to me. Huge. Quickly.
Monday, December 7, 2009
I don't have to answer to anyone about how I spend my time, my money or my Saturday evenings. I don't have to ask anyone if it's okay if I go out with the girls. I don't have to consult anyone about how I'm raising my daughter. To me, these are all good things.
The only time I wish I had a man around is when it's time to mow the grass.
Don't get me wrong -- I spent my late twenties and early thirties doing my best to convince Dr. Wonderful that we should get married, and was QUITE distressed that he did not agree. But somewhere around my mid-thirties I outgrew that attitude. This bit of personal growth was fast-tracked when I watched a federal marshal lead my dad from a courtroom to prison -- something that happened when I was 35 and left a clear impression about what's important in this life. At that moment, I suddenly ceased to care about marriage or any of the things that went with it.
Over time, that heartbreak softened, but the lesson learned was no less real. That led me to get comfortable with my single self in a way I never had before. I progressed from "it's okay that I'm not married" to "I'm glad I'm not married" sometime in the years that followed. At this point I wouldn't change my single status even if I had the chance. Which, of course, I don't. But still.
I try to pay attention to how I live the single life -- I figure my daughter is watching. I want her to see someone who leads a fulfilling and fulfilled life. I want her to see that it's not just okay to be alone, but even preferable sometimes. I want her to know that there are many ways to build a family, and that it isn't necessary to be part of a married couple in order to take advantage of them.
So with that in mind, I sometimes peruse books about being single in an effort to learn something new about this life I've chosen -- or that chose me. Not those singlehood books you find in Christian bookstores about how to muddle through until God blesses you with a man and your life can begin. I'm talking about books that illuminate the art of the single life, written by people who know that you can't hang around waiting for marriage to give you permission to begin your life.
So Friday I was on Amazon, looking at books about being a single woman of a certain age. I found one I liked and clicked the checkout button, already anticipating learning something new from the author.
Amazon took that opportunity to ask me a question that completely deflated all my idealistic musings about singleness:
"Would you like to add this book to your wedding registry?"
Before I became a heathen, I was the pastor's daughter in a very large church, and the old ladies there were quite concerned that I hadn't yet managed to rope Dr. Wonderful into marriage. They often patted me on the hand and said "Don't you worry, honey -- he'll come around." Or they'd poke me in the ribs at weddings and say "You're next!" with a giggle. I cannot tell you how crazy this sort of thing made me. I've often wondered if maybe I should have poked THEM in the ribs at funerals and said the same thing.
I think Amazon is run by those ladies.
Friday, December 4, 2009
I realize that my paycheck depends on you -- after all, if we did not have students, all of us employees would be unnecessary. I have met many of you personally, and I never cease to be impressed by you. Overall, you are polite, articulate, respectful, intelligent and fun.
But please learn to cross the street. If you do not, I will run over you with no remorse whatsoever.
Our campus has many crosswalks. Some of them are at intersections where stop signs and traffic lights dictate how you, the pedestrian, must behave, and how I, the driver, must respond. I have no problem with these crosswalks, and from what I've seen, you don't either. You seem to understand that crossing against the light is a bad idea, and we both comprehend that you as the pedestrian have the right-of-way. So far, so good.
The difficulty arises when you are using one of the many crosswalks that are in the middle of the block.
A mid-block crosswalk means that you may cross the street there if traffic permits. If I approach the crosswalk in my car and you are in it, I must not run over you. See? Simple enough.
Now let me tell you what a mid-block crosswalk does NOT mean.
- It does not mean you may walk out into traffic willy-nilly, without regard to your personal safety, the speed of the oncoming car, or its proximity to the crosswalk.
- It does not mean I must slam on my brakes to avoid hitting you, thereby throwing myself and everything else in my car through the windshield.
- It does not mean you may flip me off because I failed to stop on a dime, leaving you standing in the middle of the street until I passed.
I have no problem stopping for you when you show respect for drivers and use these crosswalks the way they were intended. But when you assume that a series of white lines on the street gives you the right to walk whenever, wherever, and at whatever speed you like, without even glancing up to see if you might be about to encounter the grill of my SUV, I am forced to conclude one thing: that you are asking for me to run your sorry ass down and leave you as nothing more than a greasy spot in the middle of the road.
If your behavior continues, I will be happy to oblige.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Where would you be if your friends at Doritos for Dinner had not imparted this information to you? Probably sleeping more soundly at night.
Comedian Chris Rock says that, if you are the parent of a girl, your only job is to keep her off the pole. If your daughter owns this toy, you've failed.
And in case you're wondering, I checked it out, and despite the grainy photo, it does appear that this is indeed a real product.
While we're on the subject of strippers, let me introduce to you this t-shirt, which comes in sizes 0-6 months, 6-12 months and 12-18 months, as well as larger toddler sizes.According to parenting blog Strollerderby.com, the designer, Suzi Warren, says she came up with the shirt "as a response to my own distaste at seeing mini versions of sexy clothes on young children. Five-year-olds wearing slashed mini skirts and boob tubes, little thumb-sucking Britneys.” Um, what? This is meant to PROTEST that type of clothing? Please tell me there's something here I'm not getting.
Perhaps the manufacturer would offer a discount if your kid can get the tassles going in opposite directions.
Staying with our theme of nipples, allow me to introduce to you Baby Glutton, which goes for around $100 on eBay.
As near as I can determine, the doll's name really does translate that way. If you look closely at photo #2 on the right of the box, you'll see Baby Glutton's claim to fame: she allows your little sweet potato to simulate breast-feeding.Yes, that's right, boys and girls. Just strap on the vest/halter thingy (photo #1 on the box), which includes what can only be described as pasties. Let the baby latch on to one of these, and the next thing you know you're getting slurping and sucking sounds. Which the box describes as "chup chup chup." I hope this is a language barrier thing and not the actual sound the doll makes.
As an adoptive parent, I naturally did not breast-feed my child. (Editor's note: Please do not leave a comment telling me how I COULD have breast-fed Ellie with the use of hormones and lactation medication. I read all about that before she came home and I can describe it with just one word. Creepy. And also weird.) So in trying to determine whether this toy is offensive in any way, I asked some friends who breast-fed what they thought. They all agreed this is not something they would purchase for their daughters for many reasons, not the least of which is that kids do not need a special doll to simulate breast-feeding. Any doll will do, and fake nipples aren't necessary either.
I know breast-feeding is a wonderful thing, and I would have done it if I had given birth to a biological child. But this? No freaking way. The tagline on the box says:
"Because you shouldn't have to wait until you have breasts before you start breast-feeding your baby."
I think perhaps you should.
Now, I know what you're thinking. "All these toys seem to be for girls. Where's the macho, manly stuff I want for my little guy?" Well, kids, here at Doritos for Dinner we aim to please.
Be sure to pick up one of these for your boy:
The manufacturer promises an "easy to use" tattoo kit with "dramatic effects" for just $14.99. Yup, going to jail for child neglect/endangerment is pretty dramatic.
Not that girls can't enjoy action figures, but I figure the Rad Repeatin' Tarzan action figure is primarily aimed at boys, too. Especially given Tarzan's, um . . . unique talent.
I really don't wanna explain to my two-year-old what it is that Tarzan is repeatin'.
Disney actually recalled this product once, but they didn't fix the problem. They just changed the packaging so that this little hand gesture couldn't happen while Tarzan was in demo mode in the box. Once you get him home and out of the box, though, there's nothing stopping him.
Nice job, Disney.
I can't find this product in any mainstream online toy stores -- I guess Disney finally wised up. But if you look hard enough, it's out there on auction sites. Get yours today!
Maybe you're looking for something a bit more cuddly. How 'bout a sexually transmitted disease?
Aren't these they cutest little snuggle, um . . . bugs? Just $29.95 for the set of four. Also available in Epstein-Barr, influenza, e-coli and Lyme disease. Really.
Here's my personal pick this year. Ellie and I have been talking a lot lately about how Mama got on a big airplane and flew to Vietnam to get her. So, in an effort to acquaint her with her adoption story as well as the global war on terror, Santa will be leaving the Playmobil Security Check Point under the tree. What better way to teach your child about living in a Big-Brother, high-surveillance society?
Reviewers on Amazon point out that the toy is incomplete without a line of approximately 350 Playmobil people waiting in line for two hours. Another of the toy's flaws is that the plastic people cannot remove their shoes, which is likely to make the plastic TSA officer angry. Plastic Passenger is likely to end up in the Body Cavity Search Room, which is sold separately. There is also no plastic passenger of Middle Eastern descent to be "randomly" detained for further screening, and no mother being forced to drink her own breast milk.
I hope you've found this gift guide helpful and informative. Please direct your complaints to the manufacturers of this stuff -- I just callz 'em like I seez 'em.