Random toughts on fancy spoons, tater tots and dish towels

Random toughts on fancy spoons, tater tots and dish towels

Eating dinner tonight, my 8-year-old looked at one of the serving spoons and said, “That’s my favorite spoon. I pretend it’s a queen because the bottom of it looks like a fancy dress.”

And, you know what? She was right. The spoon did look like it was wearing a dress.

The rest of the meal, my 12-year-old kept apologizing to it every time she stuck it’s “face” in the salsa jar. “Pardon me, madam. Please forgive me for being so terribly rude.”


My kids were excited that I fed them tater tots the other night. They were acting as if they had never had tater tots before. When I said, “Why are you acting like you’ve never had tater tots before?” they said, “Because we haven’t.”

How has this happened? It is certainly not because I am the type of mother who bans processed foods from the house. I forced my 12-year-old to eat a chocolate orange for breakfast the other morning. (In my defense she had been hoarding it since Christmas. It’s almost Easter. She needs to make way for Cadbury Creme Eggs.)

I have no explanation. But, it turns out I don’t need to worry about it. They ended up hating them. I actually felt a little bad about it – like because I had denied them tater tots for so long, they never developed a taste for them. Maybe I’ll feed them Twinkies for dinner tomorrow night to make up for it.


I found out my husband has a favorite dish towel. We were doing dishes the other night and instead of grabbing the towel that was already out, he opened the drawer, rooted around and pulled out the ugliest dish towel in the house. I had no idea he had a favorite dish towel, let alone that atrocity. It is faded and stained. It is literally my least favorite dish towel. He says its “funky.” It’s unclear if our marriage will survive this.

When Loving The Backstreet Boys Hurts

When Loving The Backstreet Boys Hurts

Before I say anything else, I need to establish that I know its 2015 and not 1999. I am 39 years old.  I know Barrack Obama is our president and Zayn whats-his-face just left One Direction.

That being said, I had a really hard time containing myself yesterday while listening to a Backstreet Boys song.

I was trying to kill a little downtime at work, and I came across an article on The A.V. Club called “Can You Take Me High Enough?: 24 Songs with a Pivotal Key Change.”

I’m a sucker for songs with key changes. Maybe because I love karaoke and these songs make the best karaoke songs. Songs like “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Livin’ On a Prayer,” “I Will Always Love You,” ….or…I don’t know…maybe a little song called “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. Instant karaoke gold.

Now, I’ve always been more solidly in the N’Sync camp than the Backstreet Boys camp. I don’t have a good argument for this. They were virtually the same band. They both wore flowing white shirts in the rain, they both had the one member with the weird hair and goggles who looked too old to be in the band.  I don’t know why I liked N’Sync better. Maybe it was Joey Fatone. That’s just how I roll.

But, there’s no denying that “I Want It That Way” is a good song. My husband will try to deny it, but he’s wrong.

So, I read the little write up they had on the song, and clicked on the accompanying video. Before too long, I was overcome with the urge to burst into song. It was my fire…my one desire. I wanted to throw my arms out wide and twirl around the cubicles like Maria through the Alps.


But that’s the kind of behavior that gets you sent to Dottie in HR. So, I had to sit there and fight every boy-band-loving fiber of my being. It was painful.

When I got home, I was agitated and restless. I needed my fix. Like a junkie looking for some smack, I pulled up every irresistible pop song I could think of. I left no awesome 90s playlist on Spotify untouched. I sang “Whatta Man” while unloading the dishwasher. I sang “Always Be My Baby” while eating spaghetti. And, yes, I sang my ass off to “I Want It That Way.”

So, here is my Friday gift to you. I dare you not to sing along.

Wilder Child

Wilder Child

Laura Ingalls Wilder really messed with my head.

Growing up, her stories were endlessly fascinating to me. Descriptions of things like headcheese would send my mind racing. What was it? Cheese that was aged in a pig’s skull? Cheese that contained actual head tissue? Or, could it be…gasp…both? I didn’t care. If Laura liked it, then spread it on a piece of brown bread and call me “Half Pint.”

I was envious of the Christmas when Mary and Laura gave Carrie a bracelet out of buttons and then made candy by pouring syrup into pans of snow. Even the simplest domestic details, like how Mary and Laura would wash the dishes, make the beds and run out to toss the old pig bladder around on the prairie grasses, would make me wistful for a covered wagon and dirt floors.

It didn’t matter that I hated these things in real life. I despised being dirty. Doing the dishes with my own sister was like being in the third layer of hell and running around outside without shoes on was a good way to get glass stuck in your tender foot flesh. If someone had tried to give me a button bracelet for Christmas I would have chucked it at their head.

But I liked sitting on my comfy couch in my air conditioned living room and reading how much Laura liked those things. It sounded like a good life to me – if you could overlook the plagues of crows and scarlet fever blindness.

I wanted a life of self-sufficiency. I wanted to use it up, wear it out, make it do.

So, when a friend introduced me to Pinterest a few years ago, I took to it like a grasshopper to Pa’s wheat field.

I had dabbled in the domestic arts before. My mom taught me how to embroider tea towels. I made cookies from scratch more than once. I read cookbooks for fun. But Pinterest offered me endless tips on how to make my own cleaning supplies out of vinegar and 1,001 uses for castille soap. I had a pioneer manual right in front of me. All I had to do was click “Pin It.”

I started to embroider tea towels again. I learned how to bake my own bread, make gifts out of scrap fabric and bottle my own ketchup. I stopped buying boxed cereal and made my own granola.

And it was good. Until it wasn’t. I couldn’t keep up. The kids ate the ketchup too fast and wouldn’t eat the granola at all. And the bread, my god the bread! Do you know how long it takes to make a loaf of bread?

Then there’s laundry. We didn’t throw out our washing machine or anything, but we did stop using the dryer. I’m mostly ok with this. I like lined-dried clothes. But now it takes two days to do a load of laundry instead of two hours and our jeans feel like cardboard when we first put them on.

And then our wagon wheels turned down a bumpier path. Reading about all this clean living stuff had me worrying about things like armpit cancer. So I started to make my own deodorant. That worked fine until we actually started to sweat. Then I had to look up how to get sweat stains and body odor out of our shirts. That gave way to a couple of good recipes for homemade laundry detergent. It sounded feasible and was going to save us a billion dollars year, so I whipped up a batch. Now my husband is getting ring around the collar. I thought this phenomenon had been eradicated decades ago, like polio or Communism.

All of this has left me feeling like a bit of a failure. And like I might be becoming the butt of a joke. It’s like I’m two bottles of mead and a petticoat away from being a “Portlandia” sketch.

But Laura had promised me that the simple life was good and rewarding. Why was I sucking at it? Was my reward a pile of smelly clothes and a house that reeked like vinegar?

Things came to a bit of a head this weekend when I tried to make aprons with my daughters. “What a fun way to end spring break!” I thought. “What great memories we’ll make!”

Only it wasn’t fun and I’m pretty sure the only memory they will have is me muttering things like, “What the frick is basting?” and “I’ll rip you a seam.”

Caroline Ingalls I am not.

So we put away the aprons. And I decided to cut myself a break.

I might still make the odd bottle of ketchup or batch of granola, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I break down and buy a bottle of Heinz. The ghost of Laura Ingalls Wilder will not haunt me if I don’t put shiny tin cups and peppermint sticks in my children’s Christmas stockings.

We will still hang out clothes out to dry. I like to see our underpants waving at me from the backyard. I just imagine they are out there blowing in the prairie winds.

8-year-old’s Review of Disney’s “Cinderella”

8-year-old’s Review of Disney’s “Cinderella”

I lied to my daughter. She had a bag of chocolate eggs that were just sitting there on the kitchen counter, so I popped a few in my mouth when she wasn’t looking. I forgot 8-year-olds do things like count how many pieces of candy they have. A little while later, she said, “Hey, who’s been eating my candy?” My reply? “I don’t know. Are you sure there are some missing? Maybe it was your sister.”

I feel really bad, so to make it up to her, I’m letting her take over my blog for the day. Here’s what’s on her mind:


Review of Cinderella: Real Life-ish Version

I liked it. The thing I didn’t like was the Prince’s hair. It was just ugh. The stepsisters and stepmother were actually pretty (but the stepmother was very mean). The beginning was sad. The first part was kinda depressing. I mean the mother dies, then the father dies. Who doesn’t think that’s sad? I liked cinderella’s dress. I would watch it again. I think the actor of cinderella did a good job. I think it’s a kinda good movie for kids.

I’m the DJ, He’s the Rapper

I’m the DJ, He’s the Rapper

I went for a walk today. Not because it was 80 degrees outside or because I love the rush of endorphines I get from exercise. It was more of a medical-emergency-type situation.

You see, we’re on spring break this week, and the unusually warm weather combined with the boredom that inevitably sets in half-way through day one had us itching for something to do. My mind immediately landed on ice cream, so my daughters and I took a trip to the neighborhood pharmacy/soda fountain we always forget is there until it’s November and ice cream doesn’t sound good anymore. My 8-year-old became concerned when she read the word “drugs” on the sign, but calmed down when I assured her we would not be forced to snort cocaine off the counter.

We ordered ourselves cocaine-free peppermint ice cream sandwiches the size of Rubik’s cubes and just grunted at the soda jerk when he offered us forks. We wanted to use our hands so we could jam them into our cake-holes faster.

This was all really fun until we got home and my eyes started to tingle and lose focus, a sure sign a sugar coma was setting in.

I pulled on a pair of cutoffs and my sunglasses, which were now necessary to protect my eyes from the glare my legs were creating. (I know that sounds like a lazy joke, but I’m not exaggerating. They are a color which can only be described as fish-belly white. Not to mix animal metaphors, but from the knees down I look like a plucked turkey wearing flip-flops.)

My kids half-heartedly said they would go with me, but I turned them down. I love my kids. But being around them all the time can be exhausting. I just had to stop my 8-year-old from smushing her face on the window screen in the exact spot where a bird had shit on it. The window is seriously 40 inches wide and she picks that spot? And why is she smushing her face on the screen anyway? She has books, dolls, crafts, video games, Legos, and this is how she chooses to spend her free time?

I definitely needed a walk. Alone.

Once I was on the sidewalk, the sugar started to evenly distrubute itself throughout my body, and my mind started to clear. I began to daydream a little – mostly about jobs I would like to have. This habit was a lot more fun when I was young and certain facts escaped me, like how money is needed in exchange for goods and services.

Back then, I used to imagine myself sitting at a desk pounding out the world’s greatest Harlequin romance novels on an Apple computer that I bought with my piles and piles of money – money which was kept in a secret room with a diving board so I could dive into it like Scrooge McDuck.

Now I try to think of more practical business endeavors, like selling vegan tacos out of a food truck. Or opening a carnival-and-Thanksgiving-themed restaurant with my co-worker Hillory. It would be the only place in town where you could get both funnel cakes and green bean casserole year-round.

Today was the job fantasy where I’m a wedding DJ.

Have you ever noticed there are not a lot of female DJs at weddings? Why is this? Is there something inherently male about being able to set up speakers and play “Footloose”? Do the intricacies of “The Hokey Pokey” require an exclusively masculine touch?

To make things worse, I didn’t hire a woman DJ when I got married, making me part of the rampant sexism plaguing the wedding entertainment industry.

That means that a) it’s up to me to right these wrongs, like a superhero in headphones; and b) people will hire me because they want to seem like forward-thinking individuals and I will soon be diving into my Scrooge McDuck piles of money.

I even went so far as to research how to pursue this lucrative career (meaning I looked it up on WikiHow).

According to their website, there are nine easy steps to achieving this goal. “A wedding DJ isn’t just someone who spins records, plays music from CDs or puts on a light show. Instead, a skilled wedding DJ knows how to draw the guests out onto the dance floor, help encourage them to interact with each other, be playful and actually entertain the crowd, making the wedding reception as memorable an event as possible.”

I can do all those things. What’s next?

They say the first step is to build an ecclectic music selection to make yourself more marketable. I’ve got this part in the bag. I listen to music all the time. All. The. Time. And I’m not terribly picky. My husband cannot comprehend that I like both Taylor Swift and The Velvet Underground. He says its like saying you like both Ralph Nader and Rush Limbaugh. I call him a stuck-up music snob nobody wants to hang around with at parties and then drown out his voice by turning up Maroon 5.

I also have a knack for discovering good pop songs. I was a DJ in college for one semester, and my claim to fame is that I broke Hootie and the Blowfish … to the five people who lived on campus and were in close enough proximity to the station to pick up the signal. But millions of people subsequently bought the shit out of that album, so… coincidence? I think not.

I’ve decided that my calling card would be Jermaine Stewart’s “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off ,” for no other reason than I really like that song. I requested it once at a gay bar, and the crowd went wild. Wild may be too strong of a word, but the people on the dance floor didn’t throw their drinks at me, so I took that as a good sign.

Emboldened by my brilliance on that occasion, I hounded the DJ at my niece’s wedding to play it. He claimed he didn’t have it, so I went out to my car and brought in my own copy. Seriously. I wanted to hear the song so badly, I forced the man to put in my “Awesome Car Jams” mix. Everyone left the floor. Refusing to admit defeat, I made my sister dance with me.

Now that I think about it, maybe my ability to “draw the audience out on the dance floor” might be lacking.

For instance, I also have a thing for the NSYNC song “Bye, Bye, Bye.” I’m pretty sure I’ve requested it at every dance club I’ve been to since 2001. For my niece’s bachelorette party, I became so desperate to hear the song that I picked a club purely because they were playing “MMMBop” when we passed by. I dragged everyone in, convinced the DJ would play “Bye, Bye, Bye.” When I asked him to play it, he just said, “We don’t play that kind of crap here.” Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize a club that played Hanson in 2012 had such high standards.

There’s also the time when one of my best friends got married, and I wanted to hear some Prince. The DJ asked me which song, and I immediately said, “Pussy Control.” He nodded, as if to say, “You are brilliant! Why don’t I just let you step behind the booth the rest of the night. You clearly know what you are doing!”

A few minutes later, he motioned for me to come over to his booth. “Sorry. I can’t play ‘P. Control.'” He literally said, “P.” He was too nice to say the actual word.

“Aww, come on. Why not?” I moaned. He gestured to all the senior citizens and kids on the dance floor, demonstrating that I clearly was an idiot, and stepped back behind his table.

So, based on the evidence, I might not have a strong case for making my fantasy a reality after all.

Funny side story: My husband has a co-worker with a naughty cat. On their coffee table they have a bottle of water labeled “Pussy Control” to spray her with when she gets too frisky. So, maybe if this whole DJ thing doesn’t work out, and it’s looking like it won’t, maybe I can steal their idea and make piles of money marketing feline care products. Or, I can just sell vegan tacos from the back of a truck.

When Radiohead squirts lemon juice in your eyes, cry lemonade

When Radiohead squirts lemon juice in your eyes, cry lemonade

Let’s say we’re at a party. It’s a nice night. Everything is going well. And, then, somehow, one of the following topics gets brought up: Radiohead, theater majors or little brothers who are in love with pretentious theater majors. I will get all excited. I will barely let the person finish their thought.

“Oh, no, no, no, wait,” I will say, waving my hands to make sure everyone is paying attention to me. “Have I got a story for you.”

My husband will roll his eyes because, surprisingly, one of these topics has come up frequently enough at parties that he could recite the story word for word. But I will tell it anyway because I don’t have that many good stories to tell at parties.

Here’s how it goes.

My youngest brother was a theater major in college, and he had this massive crush on this other theater major…let’s call her Pammi Sue Blumfeld. Although I changed her name here, she really did have three names. The three name thing is very important because we had to refer to her by all three names. Never Pammi or Pammi Sue. Pammi. Sue. Blumfeld.

So, Pammi Sue Blumfeld had been leading my brother on for his whole freshman year. She would do things invite him out for ice cream cones and sit real close to him and then babble on about some other guy she liked. You know, real nice girl.

But he was in love with her because she was some magical, glittering butterly of a girl who put all other magical, glittering butterly girls to shame.

So, one night I went over to hang out with my brother and he announced that Pammi Sue Blumfeld was coming over. I had yet to lay eyes on this elusive creature, so instead of hightailing it out of there so he could make his move, I was like, “Great! Let’s meet this human unicorn!”

When she gets there she just looks like a normal girl. It was a little disappointing.

But my brother is all excited because she’s there! In his apartment! And he didn’t even have to lure her in with the promise of an ice cream cone! This had to be his night!

Without the aid of frozen treats, though, he needed something to seduce her with. He knew she was a Radiohead fan and it just so happened that Radiohead had recently released a new video. So he pulls out the videocassette like a bottle of fine wine and suggests we watch it.

The whole thing takes place underwater. It’s lovely and haunting, just like a good Radiohead video should be. After it’s over, my brother turns it off, turns to Pammi Sue Blumfeld and says, “So, what did you think?”

She sat there a minute, clearly thinking of the best way to wrangle her deep thoughts into simple human syntax. Finally, she sighed and said, “It’s so apropos that the video takes place underwater, because when I listen to Radiohead, it’s like I’m drowning.”

How’s that again?

I was trying not to laugh but it was hard because that didn’t sound like something a real person would say. I looked over at my brother wondering if this girl was like this all the time or if it was just Radiohead making her sound like a Sylvia Plath poem. But he was just sitting there listening and nodding at her like she’s Buddah on the mountaintop. So, yeah, clearly, Pammi Sue Blumfeld was like that all the time.

Encouraged, she continued, “Its like when you get lemon juice in your eyes, and you don’t want to open them because it hurts, but you have to open them because it’s so beautiful.”


I left not too long after that. I didn’t want to interfere any further with the seduction scene. I was also afraid I would start openly laughing at her.

And, in case you’re wondering, no, he didn’t get anywhere with poor, fragile Pammi Sue Blumfeld. She must have been too overcome with emotion. I can’t say I’m too sad, though. I’ve gotten lots of miles out of that story and I wouldn’t be able to tell it if she had ended up my sister-in-law.

Books By My Bed

Books By My Bed

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Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham

I’m anxious to read this one. I haven’t seen “Girls” but I read an essay she wrote for The New Yorker on being friends with Norah Ephron. I was jealous of that fact, so I decided I would set out to become more like Lena Dunham in the hopes of one day befriending the next Norah Ephron.

Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs – Chuck Klosterman

Speaking of Norah Ephron, the first essay in this book – “This is Emo” – is all about how romantic comedies like “When Harry Met Sally” and “Say Anything” screwed up any chances Chuck Klosterman had of being happy with a woman.

I read the essay couple of years ago and I couldn’t get over this passage:

“It appears countless women born between the years of 1965 and 1978 are in love with John Cusack. I cannot fathom how he isn’t the number-one box-office star in America, because every straight girl I know would sell her soul to share a milkshake with that motherfucker…. But here’s what none of these upwardly mobile women seem to realize. They don’t love John Cusack. They love Lloyd Dobler.”

This was essentially the theme of the novel I was going to write, until I realized Chuck Klosterman wrote it first, and better, and in 10 pages.

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

I requested this one from the library without knowing a lot about it other than it came highly recommended. The inside flap used words like “heartbreakingly romantic” and a review for it on the back of “One Plus One” said it was “achingly hard to read at moments” and that it was to be “devoured like candy, between tears.” This is all code for “these two characters are going to fall in love and then one of them will die.” So, I skipped to the last page of the book. I’ve been suckered into this type of thing too many times to count. I don’t need to stay up until 2 am, letting my arm go numb from holding up 369 pages, only to have someone die on me. Thanks, but no thanks, Ms. Moyes. I’m no dummy.

One Plus One – Jojo Moyes

I just started this one, so the verdict is still out. Nobody better die.

Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence – Paul Feig

Feig was the creator of the show “Freaks and Geeks.” This book of essays makes it abundantly clear that his life was major source material for that show.

When You are Engulfed In Flames – David Sedaris

This book, along with “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs,” is on my nightstand as a back-up book. I’ve read them before. They’re mostly there in case I hate all of the books I’ve checked out and the library won’t open again until the morning.

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories: The Secret of the Old Clock – Carolyn Keene

I read a shit-load of Nancy Drew books when I was a kid. I couldn’t get enough of them. I thought it might be fun to reread them, maybe try to recapture a bit of my youth. I couldn’t get past the first two paragraphs.

“Nancy Drew, an attractive girl of eighteen, was driving home along a country road in her new, dark blue convertible. She had just delivered some legal papers for her father.

‘It was sweet of Dad to give me this car for my birthday,’ she thought. ‘And it’s fun to help him with his work.'”

Cripes! Maybe the mysteries were really complicated or something?