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Archive for the ‘Frivolous Things’ Category

One of the things I’ve begun becoming more aware of in the past few years is how so many of my belief systems and behaviors come directly from my parents. This is not groundbreaking information by any means. And, in fact, I knew this, all along. But – maybe since Carla was born, and I’ve had to confront my own goals and priorities as a parent – I’ve really understood it on a deeper, more personal level. And I’ve had to really grapple with the fact that maybe just because my beloved parents felt a certain way about something doesn’t mean that it’s the only way, nor does it mean that I have to feel that way. It’s also complicated and confusing and eye-opening to wonder if you think a thing because YOU think that thing, or because it was so deeply ingrained in how you were raised.

It’s hard enough to deal with this stuff on your own. But then you add in a spouse, who likely has his/her/their own deeply ingrained beliefs… and things can get rather sticky.

Now, we could talk for days about the troubling and insidious examples of this phenomenon – abuse or racism or other really dark inheritances that parents pass down to their children. And we should give these topics proper weight and attention and thought. But this isn’t really the space to do so, and I’m not at all qualified to address any of those topics. Plus, I have a good relationship with my parents and, in fact, I feel like they were/are really EXCELLENT parents, so I don’t want to harp on the handful of low-risk things that I might be questioning as an adult, especially in a public space. Plus, there’s enough CLEAR EVIDENCE of the dark stuff swirling all around us on a daily basis, so we could all skip on over to twitter or whatever if we wanted a nice bracing slug of doom and dread.

No, I’m not trying to broach the big stuff, or the heavy stuff, or even the lower-but-not-low-stakes stuff, like ingrained beliefs about finances and education and religion (which I find fascinating, but can nonetheless Be Fraught). Instead, I want to talk about inherited beliefs regarding ridiculous and unimportant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things things. Specifically, salads.

My mother made dinner for us almost every night. And – unless we were eating taco salad, which has salad right there in the name – we almost always had a salad with dinner. Fried chicken on the menu? Side salad. Pot roast for Sunday family meal? Side salad. Mulligatawny soup? Fresh bread… and side salad. I wouldn’t be surprised if my mom served a side salad on nights when we picked up a pie from Pizza Hut. (I felt absolutely ridiculous, there, referring to a pizza as a “pie.” My belief system does not allow for the terms to be interchangeable. But lyrically I did not like the repetition of “pizza from Pizza Hut” and would have felt more ridiculous still had I gone with my only other thought, “pizza from ‘The Hut.'” So you get what you get.) Salad was a ubiquitous part of our meals. As an adult, I choose to think that this was my mom’s interpretation of “meat and a vegetable,” but even when vegetables were part of the meal, the side salad was there.

My husband and I do not do this. And to this day, it feels off to me, like something is missing. Could I add a side salad to our meals? Sure! But that’s where the problem lies. No. My husband and I have differing ingrained beliefs about salads.

My mom’s side salads were very simple: Iceberg lettuce, diced carrots, and diced red onion. With Italian or bleu cheese dressing from a bottle. Once in a while, if she had them on hand, she’d slice some green peppers or cucumbers or radishes and throw those on as well. YUM. I still eat these salads, to this day, for lunch. They are so easy to make – you can wash the lettuce and dice everything in under ten minutes. And BAM, you have a delicious crunchy salad, all ready to eat.

(This was my idea of an after-school snack, when I was in, oh, late elementary school through middle school or so. Maybe even after that. I’d trudge up the mile-long hill that counted as our driveway, turn on some quality after-school TV like Square One or The Sally Jessy Raphael Show, and make myself a salad.) (Lest you question my programming choices, keep in mind that we had five channels to choose from: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and PBS. Sometimes, if the weather was clear, we could get CBC, which was a Canadian channel.) (Do not pity me my meager television choices nor my salad snacks. Mine was an idyllic childhood and I think back on both fondly.)

It would be so easy to add this kind of simple salad to my meal plan! My ingrained belief about what constitutes A Wholesome Dinner practically SCREAMS that I add one to each meal! But here’s where my husband’s beliefs and my own butt heads.

I don’t know how he was raised, salad-wise. I just know that somewhere along the way my husband came to believe that my mom’s four-ingredient option does not count as a salad. Firstly, he does not particularly like iceberg lettuce – which, for me, is far easier to clean and prepare than a head of red leaf lettuce or romaine, and far less expensive than the pre-washed/pre-cut lettuces our grocery store sells in abundance. (Plus, I LOVE iceberg lettuce. It’s crunchy and flavorless and wonderful.)

But our marital salad division goes deeper than lettuce choice. My salads are too plain. For my husband, a salad requires substance. It contains veggies, sure, but it also has meat. And cheese. And nuts. Maybe some sort of fruit. Maybe something crunchy – like wontons or croutons or chips. I am more than happy to make this kind of elaborate salad as the entire meal, but less inclined to put one together as a side when I am also responsible for a main course.

And so, as with any inconsequential marital schism, where neither of us will give (he won’t eat my four-ingredient salads; I won’t make elaborate multi-ingredient meal salads as dinner sides), we pretend it doesn’t exist. We do not mention it. We simply work around it. We instead have salads as the whole meal, or we have veggies with our main course. If we are suffering, we do so in silence.

And I eat my little iceberg lettuce salads for lunch.

 

Salad.JPG

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I am skipping today’s Dinners This Week post. I mean, there’s no need to plan dinners when you’ll be eating dinner on an airplane, right? Let’s have some randomosity. Join me, won’t you?

First, let’s have some medicinal nachos:

Nachos 1

Chips. Top with cheese. Melt for 30 seconds in the microwave. Top with black beans and frozen corn. Microwave for another 20 seconds. Top with copious amounts of my favorite hot sauce. Add avocado, diced onion, and sour cream. Cilantro if you have it/don’t hate it. Tomatoes if you swing that way. Squeeze a wedge of lime over everything. Add copious amounts of sriracha for good measure. DEVOUR.

  • A lot of my fretting about Leaving My Bayyyyyybeeeeee has been channeled into Shoe Panic. As in, how am I going to walk around Europe for ten days without reducing my delicate feet to bloody shreds? So I have purchased and returned approximately 90,000 pairs of shoes in the past week. Nothing like leaving an important aspect of your planning to the very last minute!

 

  • These are the shoes I have ended up with: Skechers Go Walk Evolution Ultra sneakers (why do all athletic shoes have such ridiculous names?) and Vionic Minna ballet flats (in color “sand”) because I wanted to have walk-friendly shoes that were dressy enough for a nice-ish dinner.

 

  • Building on some of your great ideas for making the trip easier on Carla, I have bought her some books and other little fun surprises to open while we’re gone. There is a real dearth of fun, story-based children’s books about the very specific locations we are traveling to, which is DISAPPOINTING, but I did find this book about one of the cities on our itinerary:

Munich

  • You know that one of my big panics is Death By Airplane, right? So I have been desperately trying to get our life insurance upgraded just in case. Of course, the process takes waaaaayyyyy longer than I thought it would, so we just squeaked our medical exams in at the last minute and there is no way the underwriting will be complete before we leave. (I use these terms like I have any idea whatsoever how any of this works, which I do NOT.) HOWEVER. Did you know that you can get provisional coverage, based on the assumption that you will get approved? So that’s what we’re doing. We can pay a premium as though we’ve been approved, and then, when we come back home, ALIVE, we can pay any additional amount as needed. And if we perish while overseas, we’re covered. (I mean, as long as we are approved and have paid the correct amount; I’m assuming my parents could pay any difference after the fact.) Cool, right!?! Okay, maybe my calibration of “cool” has shifted in odd ways.

 

  • In other morbid planning, I tried to record myself singing to Carla. There are two songs I have been singing to her at bedtime all her life – one I made up while pregnant with her and the other is “Moon River” – and I have this desperate feeling that I MUST record myself singing them so she can listen to the songs (but will she?) to comfort her (but will they?) after my fiery death. But I can’t record myself! It’s so ridiculous! In every recording, I keep SWALLOWING in the middle of sentences. Like, “Mooooooon river, wider than a mile, I’m crossing [gulp] you in style someday…. [gulp] Dream maker, you heart [gulp] breaker….” It’s really distracting and annoying and I cannot NOT do it. I mean, have you ever tried to NOT SWALLOW when your body is telling you to swallow? And then try to SING while not swallowing? It’s absurd and obviously some sort of weird self-conscious reaction to recording myself. Do not suggest that I ask my husband to record me actually singing to Carla, because then I would die of embarrassment and also we are out of time. I am going to choose the least gulpy of the options and THAT’S JUST HOW CARLA WILL HAVE TO REMEMBER ME.

 

  • Abrupt subject change: Our Amazon Echo (Alexa) has begun telling me to enjoy my day. “Have a nice day,” she’ll say after I ask for the weather in the morning. “Have a good afternoon,” she’ll say sometimes after I’ve asked for the news briefing. It’s creepy but nice? And she only says it to me. She has never once used any sort of pleasantry with my husband. Also creepy? But it makes me feel vindicated in using “please” and “thank you” when making requests of her. My husband may not be on the good side of the AI after the uprising, but hopefully Alexa will put in a good word for me.

 

  • While I’m worrying about wholly unimportant things (recap: dying on my totally voluntary trip overseas; the state of my footwear for said trip; singing lullabies without swallowing; the inevitable AI uprising; will I have enough nachos to last until we leave for Europe?), let’s add in some panic about Carla’s birthday party. I think we have the venue down. And Carla has shifted from Tiger Theme to Seahorse Theme to Mommy, You Choose A Theme From These Five Cat-Related Categories Plus Foxes. So I am leaning toward Rainbow Leopard Theme, mainly because I have found the perfect party favor:

Rainbow Leopard

  • And the perfect cake to torture myself with making. (My husband heaved a great world-weary sigh when I told him about it and asked if I might consider just BUYING a cake.) (No.) (Does he know me?)

 

  • But I can’t find any great theme-appropriate invitations; some decent ones, but nothing I LOVE. And, WORSE, because I will panic about LITERALLY ANYTHING meaningless in the grand scheme of things, I cannot find any theme-appropriate paper plates and napkins. I can order them via Zazzle for around $60 for 40 to 50 plates-or-napkins, but can we all agree that spending $60 on 40 paper plates for a single party is excessive? I’m not saying it can’t be DONE; I wouldn’t judge anyone for spending $60 on 40 plates if that’s how they chose to spend their hard-earned money. But I think $1.70 cheetah-print paper plate — PAPER, not even hard plastic — is excessive and I really want to avoid it if at all possible.

 

  • So maybe foxes? I haven’t looked it up, but foxes could be a good alternative, right? It’s just that they are so Off Brand for my particular child, who wears leopard print probably three days a week (today she is wearing a faux fur cheetah print vest over a green dress and black leggings with faux leather patches; she has a very particular sense of style, this kid) and has leopard print boots and pretends to be a rotating cast of leopards/cheetahs/panthers on a daily basis. I am already exhausted by planning this party and I haven’t really even begun.

 

  • Please keep in mind that I KNOW that none of this is important, it’s a birthday party, not the Oscars or some other party that actually matters/has wide visibility, and really ALL parties pale in comparison to, like, climate change and gun control and matters of REAL IMPORT. I am not overlooking the absolute absurdity of wasting brainpower on this frivolity.

 

  • Frivolity continues: And what are we going to get Carla for her actual gift? She is fresh out of ideas, unless you count “more Barbies!” as an idea which I do not. The only things I can come up with are a) a new bike (although she has a perfectly good hand-me-down bike that will probably last her at least another year, in terms of being the right height, not to mention she staunchly refuses to let us remove the training wheels) and b) a doll, because she seems to finally be more interested in dolls than in stuffed animals. She has repeatedly asked for a basket for her bike, so she can collect things (acorns, pinecones, rocks) when she goes for bike rides… but I don’t think “needs a basket” is enough of a reason to buy a whole new bike… I don’t know. I am on the fence. What is the six-year-old set into these days?

 

  • I LOVED dolls as a child, and my mom got me a couple of Corelle (?) dolls that I cherished and played with for many years. (Oh wait, it turns out they are COROLLE dolls – Corelle is a type of dishware, it seems. My bad.) Is Corolle still a good way to go, doll-wise? American Girl dolls seem to be popular around here… although they are SO expensive I don’t think I am ready to travel down that road. I also used to love Cabbage Patch Dolls, are those still A Thing? (Ugh, I am cringing thinking about how the “preemie” Cabbage Patch Dolls were so coveted when I was a little girl. I guess March of Dimes used them to raise awareness about premature birth, but that went right over my head at the time. I can imagine it being a hurtful thing for lots of parents.) What is the current Doll Trend, is what I want to know? I thought, being a parent, this knowledge would sort of magically manifest in my brain but I WAS WRONG.

 

  • Speaking of brains: does your brain do that thing where, when overtired, it fixates on one word or phrase or song lyric to the exclusion of all other thoughts? Mine has been choosing “It’s raining tacos,” itself an agonizingly repetitive song, to replay ad nauseum in my head, at 2:30 am and beyond. Fun.  (No.)

 

  • My Inevitable Death Panic (which is both panic about my inevitable death and an inevitable panic about death) is manifesting in lots of cleaning, which is good, I suppose. But I have failed to take any Before photos, which makes it poor blog fodder. I just want you to know that I have done a LOT of work and gotten rid of a LOT of crap. I am kind of hoping my mom will open some drawers and marvel at how spare and tidy they are. “Maybe she died in a plane crash taking a totally unnecessary trip abroad, but, man, are her drawers neat and clean!” they’ll say at my funeral.

 

  • Let’s have one more photograph of medicinal nachos. These were yesterday’s, so I need to see if I have enough ingredients for another heaping dose before I make my way to The Land of Sausages and Schnitzel. DOCTOR’S ORDERS.

Nachos 2

Okay. Enough. What’s up with you, Internet? Lord knows we have enough Big Serious Issues at hand to ensure we never sleep again. But what utterly frivolous things are keeping you up at night?

By the way, my husband and I decided to limit ourselves to one phone while overseas, and it is his phone, so blog posting/reading is likely to be light/nonexistent while we’re gone. I promise photos of castles if when we return.

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Wallet 3

Buying birthday gifts for children is… trying. Even though I am in possession of an honest-to-goodness child myself, I have no real idea what kids like or what they want. Usually I end up buying some combination of whatever it is Carla is currently into and whatever falls into my price range (somewhere around $15-$20 for classmates and $30-$50 for close friends/relatives). But it’s HARD to choose gifts for kids you don’t really know, even if you feel like you’re getting a Good Gift, and even if it’s something that your own child loves.  It’s even HARDER when the child in question isn’t the same age as your own child. When confronted with a three-year-old’s birthday, my mind goes completely blank. What did Carla like when she was three? Was she ever three? Do three-year-olds like LEGO or are they still in that put-everything-in-your-mouth stage? Or is three that magical age when toy packaging finally says it’s okay for your kid to play with pretty much anything? What toys did I hate the most? Which ones did I kind of enjoy? Which ones did Carla play with for five seconds and then forget forever? The answers elude me.

But! Thanks to my brilliant mother-in-law, I have found a new gift option that I think works well for kids of MANY ages. I’d say starting with age three (if you know the three-year-old pretty well, and think this would be appropriate) and going up at LEAST to age seven or eight – maybe older.

Now, I will preface this by saying I don’t think this is groundbreaking gift news, or anything. And because it may take a little extra poking around, it might be far less desirable than clicking “buy” on a “top gift for X age kid” on Amazon and getting something in the mail two days later. But I am newly enamored of this idea and, even though it seems quite obvious when I think about it, it was successful enough that I was startled into wanting to buy it for all children forevermore. There. Preface over.

This is the gift my mother-in-law gave to Carla and to my three-almost-four-year-old niece this year for Christmas, and it is henceforth my Gift of Choice:

A purse or wallet inside which you stow a gift card or two.

It’s super simple right? And yet a very satisfying gift to buy and give. (And get, based on the reactions of Carla and her cousin to this very gift.) The only problem is that you can really go overboard on the spending for this one, so you have to be crafty to keep it in budget.

Target gift cardBN gift card

The way I see it, you use the biggest chunk of your budget on the gift card/s. The critical thing (to me, and probably this is age dependent) is to make sure the gift card is for a bricks-and-mortar store. Ordering things online is not as exciting an experience for a kid as is walking through the aisles of a Target and saying, “I want that!” It doesn’t take much. A $10 gift card is delightful to a child of 5 (and I suspect to a child of seven or eight or ten, too), and will easily buy something fun.

For close friends or family, I might do $10 each to Target and Barnes & Noble. (Although, since B&N has really upped its toy game since Toys R Us closed, and because, as my husband is quick to point out, you can’t insist a child buy a book with a B&N gift card, $10 or $15 to B&N might accomplish the same thing as two separate gift cards.)  My mother-in-law got Carla a Barnes & Noble gift card and a gift card to Starbucks because she (Carla) loves begging for cake pops whenever we go there, and, with a gift card, she could buy one herself. I never though I would say this about a $5 gift card to Starbucks, but it was very empowering for my child. And there are plenty of other places where $5-$10 goes a long way. The LEGO store. Claire’s. Justice. A local ice creamery or candy shop.

Then, you use whatever you have left on the wallet/purse. Even if your budget is $15, you can totally make this happen. Target is a great place to find these things on clearance. I got a cute pink cross body purse for a friend’s daughter on clearance for $8.00, and then also found a little card holder/wallet for $3.00. Totally worth getting both, so I did! But lots of places have good options, either all the time or on clearance. Here are a few I dug up online right now — although it is probably best to see them in person, to make sure they will fit a gift card or two and aren’t TOO hideous.

Claire’s

Claires glitter 500

Glitter wristlet, $5.00 (photo from claires.com)

Claries cat 699

Cat Zipper Purse, $6.99 (photo from claires.com)

Amazon

Amazon clutch 1099

Clutch, $10.99 (photo from amazon.com)

 

Amazon dino 890

Dinosaur wallet, $8.90 (photo from amazon.com)

Amazon cat crossbody 999

Cat crossbody, $10.99 (photo from amazon.com)

Amazon shark fanny 998

Shark belt bag, $9.98 (photo from amazon.com)

H&M

HM card case 799

Card case, $7.99 (photo from hm.com)

HM shoulder bag 999

Unicorn crossbody, $9.99 (photo from hm.com)

Target

Target Nintendo 799

Nintendo wallet, $7.99 (photo from target.com)

Target clutch 399

Mesh clutch, $3.99 (photo from target.com)

Forever21

F21 yellow 553

Yellow wallet, $5.53 (forever21.com)

F21 gold crossbody 995

Gold crossbody, $9.95 (photo from forever21.com)

Walmart

Walmart Mickey 285

Mickey wallet, $2.85 (photo from Walmart.com)

Walmart Fox 659

Fox coin purse, $6.59 (photo from walmart.com)

Walmart Mickey 1041

Mickey crossbody, $10.41 (photo from walmart.com)

Walmart owl 930

Owl crossbody, $9.30 (photo from walmart.com)

Michael’s, Joann Fabric, Five Below, Tuesday Morning, and the dollar store would be other places that could have good low-cost options.

If I have any money left in my budget, I might stick some other fun item into the purse/wallet. Stick-on earrings or a matching slap bracelet or a pair of sunglasses.

Target slap bracelet 599

Donut slap bracelet, $5.99 (photo from target.com)

Amazon slap bracelet 799

Superhero slap bracelets, $7.99 (photo from amazon.com)

Target shades 599

Paw Patrol shades, $5.99 (photo from target.com)

Charlie shades 600

Heart sunglasses, $6.00 (photo from charming charlie.com)

Amazon shades 846

LEGO shades, $8.46 (photo from amazon.com)

Amazon earrings 399

Stick-on earrings, $3.99 (photo from amazon.com)

Listen, I will fully admit that part of the joy in this gift is the SEARCH. And if the search is not your idea of fun, or if you just want to grab a board game off the shelf next time you are in Target and be DONE with the whole thing, then this is obviously not the gift idea for you. But I know from experience how much fun it is for a kiddo to receive this present. Carla was so excited to have her own money to spend, and has loved picking out what she wanted to buy with her gift cards. And it’s nice for me to be able to say, “Get whatever you want as long as it’s within your budget!”

Wallet 4

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Let us try to drag ourselves out of this funk, shall we?

(My husband’s theory is that I am down in the dumps because I am procrastinating a task and that once I complete the task the scowling clouds will suddenly lift from around my ears and the sun will shine. He’s probably right. But let’s write a blog post instead, shall we?)

  1. Daffodils. On Swistle’s recommendation, I bought some daffodils. $1.49 for ten stems from Trader Joe’s. (Versus the $3.99 my local grocery store was asking for theirs. Seriously? $3.99? That seems… egregious.) My pink Valentine’s Day carnations were starting to look a little peaked (and no wonder – when I threw them out, there was not a SINGLE DROP of water in the vase… whoops!) so it was nice to swap them out for some fresh flowers. And the bright yellow injects some much needed cheer into my dreary grey kitchen.

Daffodils

  1. Cat mug. My husband got me this mug for Christmas and I love it. It is a replacement for my old favorite mug (which was, if you’ll remember, my husband’s, and had grown so faded from near-daily use that my husband had to gently reclaim it as college memorabilia) and it’s HUGE and has cats on it. I smile every time I use it.

 

Cat mug

I can’t find the exact cat mug he bought, so we can’t be mug twinsies, but Amazon has a lot of good options, if you too are in the market for a cat-related beverage receptacle.

1. Meow Cat Lover Mug 2. Smiley Cats Ceramic Coffee Mug
3. Grammar Correcting Cat Mug 4. Preferring Cats to People Mug

 

Ooooh Etsy has some cute cat mugs, too.

1. Cats in Boxes Mug 2. You’re Stressing Meowt Mug 3. Cat Silhouette Mug 4. Yoga Cat Mug

Somehow I have gotten off track. What can I say? I drink tea every day and having a mug that I love is critically important to my happiness.

  1. Cat Slippers.I got these as a birthday gift from my daughter. Carla came up with this idea all by herself and my husband helped her order them. They are cozy and soft.
Cat slippers

Egads you’d think after nine years of blogging I’d be a better photographer.

 

  1. Dreyer’s English. My dear friend and mentor sent me this book as a surprise. I love books about grammar and usage and I have only just cracked the cover on this one but am already enjoying it.

    Dreyers English

    The cover of this book is made out of a material that makes my skin crawl. I can’t stand touching it. Normally the cover is on my floor. But I braved the awful texture just to recover it for you, Internet. Otherwise, the book is just… black. Much clearer which book it IS, with the cover on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Artichokes. I don’t really know when “artichoke season” is, but it seems to be happening right now. My local grocery store has piles of beautiful, enormous artichokes for $3 apiece, and they make for a delicious lunch. Plus, it seems to me that someone (the grocer?) has gone through and snipped off the sharp part of each leaf, which makes preparing them (and eating them) much more pleasant. I’ve been going through one or two of these bad babies a week.

 

 

There now. Let’s sit back and bask in our newfound good mood. (And do share what’s bringing a smile to your face today, too, won’t you?)

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My ten-day challenge is over and I am in a very gleeful mood, fueled by Reese’s peanut butter hearts and pasta. I feel a little high, honestly. I don’t think I rebound-sugared this way after my No Sugar Month last year. Perhaps I need more than ten days to feel settled in the No Sugar Lifestyle.

Some randomosity for you this afternoon:

  1. Do you remember a while ago when I mentioned I wanted to buy a half sheet pan? And they were super expensive? And then Allison mentioned very tactfully that perhaps I was looking for a quarter  sheet pan instead? Yes. Well, I finally bought one from Amazon – this one, which came with its own little quarter sized Silpat (except it’s not a Silpat, it’s the same brand as the cookie sheet) (and it’s not the size of a quarter, it’s a quarter of… whatever unit of measurement a full sheet pan is) – and I LOVE IT. First of all, it is shiny and clean and the Silpat is not sticky at all (my other two – one a Silpat-Silpat and the other a Crate & Barrel version – persist in stickiness despite rigorous cleaning). But most important, it is exactly the right size for baking three chicken dinosaurs and some butternut squash cubes for Carla to refuse to eat, or for a personal size pizza for me, or for four slices of garlic bread, or for many other magical things I have yet to discover.
Sheet pan with mini-tortilla pizza, and sheet pan next to regular sheet pan. So shiny!
  1. Buying the new sheet pan got me to clean out my sheet-pan drawer. I threw away (!!!!) (the !!!s are because I have a very hard time getting rid of things) my old beloved regular sized cookie sheet which was warped and rusty and which could no longer be washed properly because it left rust streaks on towels and rusty drips on the floor. It is now gone. Well, it is now in the garbage can behind my garage, waiting for garbage day. I can feel its presence still. I hope eventually it releases its hold on me, but we have after all been together many years so we cannot expect to avoid the mourning period entirely, new shiny pans notwithstanding. I also moved a less rusty but not particularly attractive sheet pan and two cupcake/muffin tins into the pantry, where they are now accompanying other infrequently used items, like the madeleine tray and my springform pans which I have used twice?? and another cupcake/muffin tin. Why do I have so many cupcake/muffin tins? We shall never know. I replaced these items with my new-since-December (and still never used) shiny regular size sheet pans. I guess I think of them as more the guestsheet pans, you know, like the guest hand towels in the powder room that your mother scolded you for using because you were not a guest. No? Only me? I like to think I will pull them out for use when we have company, and our guests will admire how shiny they are. I just have to keep them distant enough so that they won’t be tempted to feel my Silpats, which, inevitably, will be sticky.

 

  1. I finally got to eat one of my failed stained-glass sugar cookies. It was good. No, it was adequate. I ate it grudgingly. But I am still super irritated by how poorly they turned out from an aesthetic perspective.

SG cookies 4

  1. Also (I am still on the cookies here) I am really annoyed that the giant bag of Jolly Ranchers we used for the “glass” had only three cherry ranchers. THREE. Listen, even if I hadn’t used them for finicky failure cookies, I would be annoyed. There were something like 16 to 20 of the other three jolly flavors (strawberry, watermelon, and fruit punch); that is a DRASTIC imbalance. In fact, I would have been MORE annoyed if my plan were to eat them all. Who’s in charge of QA at the JR factory is what I want to know.

 

  1. My husband isn’t a big Valentine’s Day fan. Usually, we exchange cards and that’s it. I do all the candy buying. This year, inspired by Swistle, I wanted to buy myself a big heart shaped box of chocolates. I enjoy the variety and surprise of those assortments, and I don’t need The Best Chocolate like my chocolate snob spouse does. So I planned an excursion to the mall to go to the fancy candy store with Carla so she could pick out candy for her father and to also visit See’s, which Swistle recommends so highly, and which I have only ever been to once maybe, so I could get a box of chocolates to surprise myself with on Valentine’s Day. To my despair, there is no longer a See’s at our mall! I swear it was there the last time I visited, which has been… at some point in 2019, even if I’m not recalling the exact date. Boo! Thwarted! Then, on a separate occasion, Carla and I went to Walgreen’s to pick out a card for her father (we need to spread out the excitement around here) and I looked carefully at all the Russell Stover and Lindt and Godiva heart assortments. The one that sounded best was $12.99 (some sort of “special” Russell Stover candies, but the three options featured on the front sounded yummy) which is a bit rich for my blood when it comes to drugstore candy, so we left without it. (Also without all the stuffed animals Carla picked up from the shelves and hugged tightly and told me she MUST own or she would certainly die.) Thwarted again. Oh well. I figured I could go back in a few days and buy it on sale. My husband is on call this week and has been getting home around eight. The night before Valentine’s Day, he arrived a little later. And he had bought me a heart-shaped box of chocolates! Most romantic $3.99 ever!

 

  1. This is more of a side note to the above, but our Walgreen’s no longer has trash cans. It used to have one of those large pebbled trash receptacles out front, but it has disappeared. The reason I noticed is because I had something – receipt, tissue, some piece of trash Carla lovingly plucked from the floor – to throw away, and I couldn’t. So I went back in, stood in line, and waited patiently to ask the checker if I could toss it in her trash can. And she said NO, they no longer have trash cans! I wanted to ask her more questions, but there were actual customers lined up behind me and Carla was trying to scan her jacket pockets with the handheld scanner, and plus I was in shock, so I left without any more information. Seriously though: WHAT?!?!?!

 

  1. While we are speaking of Walgreens – this is how exciting my life is, recounting separate items of “interest” about Walgreens for Pete’s sake – I will tell you that I finally, after five years, did something I have been meaning to do for, well, five years, as I just said. I picked up a prescription and the pharmacist handed it to me, rather than the assistant/tech who normally rings people out. And it was the very same pharmacist who had been so very kind to me five years ago when I was SUPER sick from being pregnant, and still hiding my pregnancy from my BRAND NEW JOB that I had just started a couple of months prior, and the only thing that helped at ALL was Zofran. Seriously – I had the exact hours that I had to take Zofran so I could appear semi-normal at my job – and let me tell you, it wasn’t MAGIC; I didn’t feel WELL; I just felt less like I was in imminent danger of dying or barfing – and I took them religiously every single day. The prescription said I was supposed to take three a day (I think; I could definitely be misremembering) and I had to grit my teeth and clench my fists through the last two hours before I could take the next pill. But – despite that the bottle very clearly said “three a day” (or whatever), my insurance would only pay for, say, 45 Zofran a month (I am forgetting the exact numbers here). The prescription did not give you enough Zofran to take the prescribed daily amount, is what I am trying to tell you, which makes NO SENSE. I was forcing myself to survive on only two a day, but I was about to run out and I was freaking out about it. So I went back to the pharmacy and this lovely pharmacist told me that the cost for the amount of Zofran I needed out of pocket amounted to, say, $23 a pill, and even though I was miserable, I couldn’t justify paying $300+ to not throw up all over my office. At the time, I was nauseated all the time, even with the Zofran, I was working my ass off at work to make sure they wouldn’t be super pissed about hiring me when they found out I was knocked up, I was forcing my husband to subsist on things that didn’t require being cooked. And Zofran was the ONLY THING that was helping me get through it. So I learned all this information at the pharmacy when I was down to my last couple of Zofran and I burst into tears and the pharmacist was SO NICE. Not only did she say soothing things of the, “this is a terrible feeling, but you are going to be okay, and at the end you will have a wonderful baby” variety, she called my doctor and worked some sort of magic to get me a three-month prescription for the same drug that my insurance would actually cover. Don’t ask me to understand what happened or how she did it. All I know is that I ended up with more Zofran than I ended up needing (after my nausea finally cleared up around the 25 week mark). Whatever she did was MAGIC. Anyway, I have always held her in my heart with love and admiration and this most recent time, I told her that I knew she wouldn’t remember, but she had been so kind to me when I was pregnant and I always remembered that and I wanted to thank her. And then I ran out of the Walgreens because I felt super embarrassed.

 

  1. I am pleased to announce that I have achieved one of my 2019 goals. No, I have not finished my manuscript; one of the world’s great unfairnesses is that writing a 1,532-word so far blog post does not move me an inch closer toward finishing my novel. Instead, I have procured a new ottoman for our living room. The old one is very fancy and in a horrid state of disrepair. The new one is from Target, so I won’t feel horrible  if it doesn’t last more than a couple of years (BUT IT BETTER LAST A COUPLE OF YEARS), and it has the bonus of interior storage. It’s a little taller than the old ottoman, which is taking some getting-used-to, but other than that, it’s a fine replacement. Carla believes in her heart that the storage space inside it is for her toys (fine, gets them off the floor/side table) and uses it in her imaginative play. Her dolly has a lot of timeouts in it, despite my gentle urging to not put her child inside a lidded ottoman.
Old ottoman. You can see how the leather is peeling off of it everywhere. YUCK.
New ottoman closed and opened. I can’t take a straight-on photo to save my life.
  1. The old ottoman has become a bone of contention for me and my husband. First, you should know that neither of us is good at throwing things out (see above re: rusty cookie pan). Second, my husband hasn’t even HEARD of Marie Kondo, so he furls his brow at me when I say, “does it bring you joy?” and will not acknowledge how useful a barometer that question is. Third, we both feel guilty because it was (presumably) VERY expensive (not for us; for his parents) and we don’t know what to DO with it. It’s too beat up to give to Goodwill. Neither of us knows how to re-upholster, or we would have chosen that route rather than the Target replacement route. Which is all to say that my husband wants to keep it, and use it downstairs in the basement in place of the IKEA coffee table we’ve had since 2003, and I disagree because it is twice the size of the IKEA coffee table and a) won’t fit as well and b) will be a pain for me to move when I want to exercise. So for now we’ve compromised and it is leaning up against the wall in our living room. NONE OF THIS BRINGS ME JOY.
Ottoman 6

NO JOY.

  1. I have changed my mind. The stained glass cookies are not even adequate. The cookie part is fine, but the stained glass part sticks to my teeth and the strawberry flavor is off-putting against the flavor of the cookie. Even cream cheese frosting couldn’t help. WORST COOKIE EVER.

SG cookies 5

That’s all I’ve got, Internet! Have a lovely weekend.

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Do you have one of these things?

Trunk organizer

Photo from amazon.com

It’s a little fold-out container for your grocery bags. It helps keep them from falling over.

Okay, I see that the product description lists it as a “trunk organizer.” But I use it solely for grocery bags. Well, and one time I used it for seedlings that I was taking home to plant.

It falls under the category of “totally unnecessary but nice to have.” I have lived successfully without one for many decades. But my husband got one sometime last year, probably because his trunk is completely 100% empty, so things tend to slide around in there. (I do NOT have that problem.) But over time, I started getting envious of his little container, and – since I am the Primary Grocery Shopper of our household anyway – I asked him to buy me one, too.

(I could have bought it myself, you understand. But he likes to do Detailed Research on all things, which I do not care to do. Plus, he purchased the one for his car through his Amazon account, so I figured he could just re-order it. To make a boring and unnecessary aside more boring and unnecessary, the one he has was no longer offered, so he got me this one instead.)

I love it!

This is how it looks, all full:

Trunk organizer 1

There are four bags inside the trunk organizer, and then one (the big red zipped-up bag) that has to sit outside the organizer with all the other junk I have piled in my car.

Trunk organizer 2

Top view, which I see now looks like nothing but a jumble. You can also get a peek at my groceries, which included ALL THE PRODUCE.

My trunk is a mess. Someday I should clean it. To be fair, I cleaned it pretty recently. It’s just really hard to know what to do with some of the supplies I have back there. The jumper cables should stay, even though they are unwieldy and take up a lot of space. The bags have a variety of blankets and winter gear and emergency snacks and coloring books. I think there’s an old diaper bag in there, too; now that my child is FIVE perhaps I can finally get rid of that. (SOB!)

This is how it looks, without the groceries but unfolded:

Trunk organizer 3

The blue thing on the bottom right is the wing of a parrot paper bag puppet Carla made for me and insisted I keep in my car at all times. Like a talisman. That’s molting.

The trunk organizer has Velcro on the bottom, so it sticks nicely to my fuzzy trunk floor. And you can unfold only half of it, if you only need half. And there is a divider inside, if you need one large rectangle and two smaller squares, or just one or two smaller squares.

Here is how it looks, all folded up:

Trunk organizer 4

So small and compact! To allow room in the trunk for MORE JUNK!

Man, my trunk could sure use a good vacuuming. Let’s all ponder when that will happen, taking into consideration that it is fifteen years old and I cannot remember every having vacuumed it. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmm.

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We are at the glorious age where Carla wakes up on weekend mornings and trots herself down to the living room and turns on the TV all by herself. My husband and I have been sleeping in until the grand old hour of EIGHT AM. It is lovely. (IT GETS BETTER!) But then she just wants to watch TV alllllll day long. Sometimes I want to give in to this, because TV is such a good babysitter. I can cook or clean or read books or look at my phone. It’s wonderful.

But. No amount of TV is ever enough. My child is addicted to TV. She looooooves it. I love it too, so I completely empathize. But I also want her to enjoy non-TV activities, like riding her bike and playing on our backyard playset and exploring nature and building LEGO creations etc. etc. etc. And… she gets a teeny bit mean after she’s been watching shows for a while. And… TV consumption makes her want to consume MORE TV.

Listen, I am no TV detractor! There is some great programming on TV, for kids and adults alike. You can learn things from TV, from concepts about friendship and self-control, to new vocabulary words, to famous operatic scores (I’m looking at you, Bugs Bunny).

But, because she truly seems addicted, and because she gets a little mean, and because she needs to occasionally do other things – like move her body and flex her brain – we limit her TV consumption. During the school year, there is no TV on school days. There are exceptions, of course. If we go out to dinner, we bring an ipad and she can watch TV after we order food. If we go on a car trip that’s longer than an hour, we bring the ipad. If it’s a vacation day or a weekend day, we limit TV to an hour or two, depending on various factors. This works for us. Other people have found other PERFECTLY REASONABLE media-consumption strategies. I do not care if your kids watch hours of TV a day if it works for your family.

Anyway, I have gotten off track from my original point. Which is that my kid and I both like TV. Yet I cannot stand most of the TV shows she likes. My Little Pony, yuck.Daniel Tiger, yawn. Puppy Dog Pals, eye glaze. Barbie, more like barf-y. And I am not going to settle in to watch Real Housewives of New York Cityor Stranger Things or even old episodes of Friends with Carla.

But I have found something that we can watch together! MasterChef Junior.

We picked a season at random on YouTube (season 6, I think), and watched the whole thing together, episode by episode, over a number of weeks. We had such a good time!

It’s about kids, so it’s geared toward kids. Which means there’s none of the yelling and cursing I associate with other Gordon Ramsey programs (he’s the host and one of the judges of MasterChef Junior). The premise, like all other competition reality shows on TV, is that you get a big group of contestants and then give them challenges, whittling the group down until you have one winner.

But all the contestants are age 8 to 13! Which makes them relatable to Carla. And they are all SO TALENTED. And, even better, they are all super articulate and kind and gracious. So even when they lose and get booted off the show, they have these really sweet, grateful things to say. Like, “I’m super sad to be going home, but I really learned so much while I was here! And I made so many friends! And I am just so lucky that I had this wonderful opportunity!” Seriously, they are more gracious losers than I’ve seen on ANY OTHER competition reality program.

The other thing I love about this show is that it has Life Lessons that Carla and I can talk about while and after watching. In one episode, a little girl gets overwhelmed and starts crying. The judges step in and help her recover her equilibrium, and she calms down and gets back to cooking. So Carla and I can discuss how awful it is to feel overwhelmed, and how it happens to everyone, and then we can talk through some strategies for recovering from that feeling and doing what you have to do.

And we can talk about losing, and how upsetting it is, but how there are really good things that come from trying your best at something, even if you don’t win. And how to behave in a gracious and sportspersonlike way, rather than allowing our hurt feelings to bubble over into anger and pouting and kicking things on the way out the door.

And we can talk about hard work, and putting in your very best effort. And how it takes really focused energy and a LOT of practice to become really good at something.

I like to think that these conversations have a decent chance of sticking, when she can apply them to what we’re watching.

Anyway, watching Season 6 together was a lot of fun. I think Carla got a little bit bored by the end (I think there were 14 episodes), so we haven’t started a new season. But maybe we’ll do so in the future. And I’m trying to think of other similar shows that we might try instead. I think she’d like So You Think You Can Dance or maybe evenProject Runway, but neither of those shows is geared toward kids, so I’d worry about adult topics or nasty language. (I loved the Christian Siriano season of Project Runway, but some of the very sassy trash talk that made him so charming is not really what I want to model for my five-year-old.) I’d also like a show where the contestants are as gracious about losing as the kids are on MasterChef Junior. But that may be a fool’s errand.

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