Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh shut up

To the person who made the post on Craigslist that it was lame for people to be selling Monster High dolls at an inflated price when they are NOT sold out and are indeed available online and in stores I say this:

I was able to pick up a few Monster High dolls at the grocery store that has a significant toy department at the holidays.  I've listed them on Ebay for more than I paid for them.  There are some of us who could use a little extra cash this month. If there are people in the world who are willing to pay more than the retail price for these toys and I have a chance to sell them what they want, I'm going to do that.

As a matter of fact, I'm going to buy a few more this week, if I can, and hang onto them until the 15th when I will put them up on a three day auction. 

If the word gets out that these silly dollies are THE thing to have, parents are going to run around trying to find one.  The fact that they are sold out the day they're at the store will send them into a panic.  OH my god!  My child won't have the toy everyone else has!  I'll have to admit I couldn't get one!  Shit!  Ebay!  I'll look on Ebay! Sixty dollars?  I'll pay that!  Over night that sucker! 

Who decides what toys are hot?  I understand there is a group of wealthy teenagers in Manhattan that most trends can be traced back to and they usually picked those things up in other countries, generally Japan. 

But American made and marketed toys, who makes the call?  Is there a group of moms that put their heads together and then all blog about the new version of the Bratz dolls? 

That's what these are, Bratz redesigned.  And, I freely admit that I love them along with my daughter.  I'm getting her a couple because I want to play with them. If these had been around when I was in high school I'd have every one and take them places with me. 

Is it just the fact that someone saw the shelf where these live empty and, not realizing they'd been moved to a different part of the store, decided these toys must be in big demand and they needed one too? 

Do kids just like the way these look because of the heavy marketing and the combination of the nag factor and the fact that these things are pretty damn cool is making them sell? 

Whatever the reason, I'm willing to be one of the persons that makes a little money on these.  New in the box, mint in the box, never been opened, hot, must-have, sold-out in stores, expidited shipping available are all phrases being used for the scary teens. 

I know exactly what I'm getting for my children this holiday, gifts they'll love and will fit easily within our budget.  If I hadn't been able to find a Monster High doll, I would have sighed, been disappointed and found something else for the kids. 

But, for the first time I'm in a position to make a little money selling the hot toy this season.  It'll lower our stress level and make this month a little easier should I sell them.  If not, no biggie, I'll give them to Zoe or give them as birthday gifts.

And I would like to point out to the poster who finds it offensive, I notice you don't say where the Monster teens are available, you just say it's lame to inflate the price. 

Then give me a crutch because I'm limping.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Be sure to curl your lashes before you apply mascara. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The only one who is well

I didn't blog yesterday because I was taking care of sick people. Will had strep as of Monday, was feeling better but coughing. Zoe had cold symptoms, probably picked up from her dad, who has a horrible cold.

Since Will can't make tea, cocoa or trips to the store this left me to do the things my ailing family needed.

I made tea and cocoa, got them soup, crackers and peeled oranges. I went to the store for boxes of tissues as our supply of toilet paper was rapidly on the decline. I'd made everyone cinnamon toast that morning and that's all Zoe wanted to eat for the rest of the day.

It was a good thing I opted for the three box pack because Will got jealous of his sister's stash of Puffs and demanded his own box. As the afternoon went on Zoe felt better and did some playing. Well, she would feel better until I told her to do something then she'd tell me "But I have the cold!"

Scott sat miserably at his computer, sniffing, sneezing, coughing, aching with a fever and a stuffy head but not able to rest because it was too early for Nyquil.

He was able to get his own tea but needed to rest a lot, leaving me with both kids bouncing off the walls.

As Zoe and Will felt better, the house got messier and messier. I had to wash bowls, spoons and cups continually. Scott and I had been in the middle of trying to get an epic amount of laundry done when he got sick. The clean pile was in the living room waiting to be folded. Dishes taunted me from the sink, dog hair on the rug sneered at me and the tissues Zoe had tossed on the floor dared me to pick them up with my bare hand, which were dry from all the hand washing.

As the day wore on and I got tired and then more tired my thoughts went into a nasty place. A place where I had the positive and clear thought that when I got sick, no one would be taking care of me, I'd just be dealing with it. And dealing with it while I picked up children from school and created meals.

I'm not the only stay-at-home mom who thinks this way. I know because we moms have discussed it, the knowing when it's our turn to host germs we'll have to drag ourselves around, loaded up on Dayquil and coffee trying not to cry in frustration.

This isn't necessarily true, but all of us, the women who keep hearth and home, have had to just deal with it at least once. And giving in to the germs, deciding to just be sick, means the household grinds to a halt and odd smells appear.

So, it's now time for me to load up on vitamin C and wash my hands more with the hope that I won't catch a bug. Because for moms, bugs are very, very bad.

Where's the hand sanitizer?

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: When you get sick, don't even try to make yourself look anything but sick, you'll just make yourself feel worse.

Friday, November 26, 2010

What would I do? Uh, nothing

I like to watch clips of the show "What Would You Do?" on ABC.  It's a show where they stage scenarios and then watch what people do via hidden camera.

Recently, they showed a young woman posing as a nanny with four children, all of them on wrist leashes, all of them yanking on the leashes and misbehaving.  What would you do? 

A teenager walked by and stated she was treating them like dogs, which is the reaction the show was hoping for. 

They also showed a controversial clip from Youtube where a woman drags her child out of store by his leash while the child is lying on the floor. 

My reaction? Well, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

My grandmother put my dad on an acutal dog leash attached to his pants in the early fifties. One woman confronted her in the bank saying she was treating her son like a dog.

My grandmother said 'Well, YOU chase him then!" and let my dad go. And go he did!

My maternal grandfather used to take my cousin on collection calls with him. "That's okay. I'll wait while you cut a check. Hey, what's in those drawers over there?" and my cousin would run off to get his hands on staplers, papers, pens. My grandpa got his money most of the time.

I would bet money that the mom in the clip that ended up on Youtube had told the boy to get up and walk a number of times before telling him she'd drag him if he didn't get up. And drag him she did.

Enough carpet burns and the boy'll start getting up. Some children stick close, walk with their parents and aren't in need of a tether. Others need a way to be held within appropriate boundaries and a thick string may be the answer.

It's also important to keep in mind that a person outside of the family doesn't have all the information. What if the boy is autistic? Is he deaf, easily distracted and can't hear his mom call him?

The kids with the actress on the news show were all straining to get loose in four different directions, hitting each other, screaming and generally being little shits.

From the outside? As a mom? Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Four children all yanking a person in four different directions at once is more than one person with only two hands can handle. I'd put them on leashes too.

Unless a person is a parent, it's impossible to know what the day to day, minute to minute experience is like. Parents come to the end of their patience, the end of their experience, the end of their sanity and it's good to have something to hang onto to keep from slipping into a place you don't want to go. Clutching the end of a leash that tells your child is with you can give a little comfort, lets you know that at least you haven't lost him.

Until I see a parent smack a kid, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt when I see children on a leash.

There but for the grace and all that.

Hey? Have you had your sandwich today?

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: You know those, um, 'intimate sprays' they sell for us ladies? Don't use them! They're horrible for your natural flora and fauna. And they sting.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My best part of today

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, a day of being grateful for all we have by stuffing ourselves silly with carbohydrates and fats before having pie.  It's great!  It's a great day.

Especially for us, as we've been able to enjoy a low-key, not labor intensive holiday for the last couple of years.  Last year, we had to cancel our trip to visit family at the last minute due to finances not cooperating so we packed up our feast and took it to the park.  I thought we'd be quite alone, but we were one among many families having their meal outdoors.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect and we had a great time.

This year, the weather isn't cooperating with picnic plans, so we'll be spending the day with friends and their children.  We're all preparing part of the meal, the way it's done in my family.  It'll be a casual, fun gathering, I'm sure we'll laugh a lot.

The men involved aren't big sports guys, so there won't be any of them sitting on the couch with their hands in the top of their pants discussing the game while the women do dishes, but I'm sure there will be certain amount of groaning about eating too much.

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is the Sandwich.  That's not a typo, I don't mean sandwich, I mean Sandwich.

The Sandwich is the best part.  I say that I eat Thanksgiving dinner in order to get to the Sandwich.

Everyone has their own Sandwich formula that has been developed over years of trial and error.  Mine is as follows:

-On a large slice of multigrain bread spread a nice layer of mayonnaise, top with a slice of sharp cheddar.

-On top of the cheddar, lay a not-too-thick slice of white turkey, followed by a little dressing/stuffing.

-On another large slice of multigrain bread spread a generous layer of cranberry sauce.  Scott prefers the canned cranberry sauce is great because it can be sliced, making for a neater Sandwich.

-Now squish the Sandwich together.  I find that the squish is one of the most important aspects.  If the squish isn't just right, your Sandwich falls apart or the bread gets smooshed and everything you've so carefully arranged shoots out.

-Eat and repeat!  Follow with pie, if you have any.

And now, I will go about my day of whipping cream, casserolling green beans and looking forward to my Sandwich.

Happy Thanksgiving! Eat pie!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you put a product on your face and it burns or even tingles a little?  Don't use it anymore!  What it's doing is causing irritation.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hmmmmmm, interesting

Yesterday, I went to talk with the admissions representative at another culinary school in the area.  And it's a very different school from Le Cordon Bleu.

First, it's a much smaller school, easily a third the size of the LCB campus although there are two new kitchen classrooms being added.

The tour was also very different, I got to go into the kitchens to watch a practical class in action and taste the soups they were working on.   It also gave me the opportunity to ask the chef instructor what she liked about the school.

When she was telling me how she preferred the smaller class sizes she referred to LCB as "the other school".  She compared their classes to learning via Food Network since the students at LCB watch the chef's demonstration on a TV screen and then try it on their own, only getting feedback at tasting.  She pointed out that with a maximum class size of 16, she can directly supervise the students as they make their dishes, a good amount of one-on-one instruction.

I asked a couple students, when they had a second to answer my questions, they were cooking after all, and their replies were the same.  They like being able to work closely with the chefs.  In the second kitchen, the chef instructor was going in between the students giving feedback on techniques, asking questions of them, making corrections.

There also seemed to be a nice amount of good natured back-and-forth between the chef and the students.  The students were all focused on their tasks but didn't seemed stressed or on the verge of a freak out.

Lastly, I was allowed to watch the tail end of a student presentation about her restaurant concept.  One of the last projects is this presentation where the student outlines what kind of business they would open, where, what they would call it, bring a sample from their menu and discuss the costs and challenges.

There were only five students making presentations, they all told me what the names of their dream place would be and the instructor asked me which program I was interested in and what I was hoping to learn.

Being able to watch the classes and speak briefly with the students and instructor was great.

When the admissions representative asked me what it was that had made me come down to tour their school after visiting LCB I answered that I had some concerns about their parent company.

My new friend nodded his head and said "Oh. Yeah."  He went on to tell me that he used to work there but didn't like how it seemed that he pushed the student loans financed by the school, so he sought other employment.  He also explained that offering an Associates program didn't make any sense, because students wouldn't be able to transfer the credits,  rendering the class credits worthless.

As a matter of fact, I was able to sit down with their tuition coordinator that day.  I paid a $25 admissions fee that is refundable if it turns out we just won't be able to make this work.  The $25 puts me on the waiting list for January and locks in the tuition, which makes me wonder if LCB will change the costs to me when I go back to meet with them.

Why am I still considering LCB?  Because they offer a couple of classes not offered at CAA.  Because the certification program at LCB is less expensive, but I need to compare the class lists and program outlines, there may be fewer classes.

And, I'm somewhat ashamed to say, because it's Le Cordon Bleu.  However, I'm mostly going to see the tuition planner there to verify my suspicions about their financing/costs.

Scott and I are going to need to crunch some numbers and talk to some friends about watching my children the mornings that I am in classes.

But, I need to make sure that my priorities are in order.  First on the list:  make pie.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you want to learn to do any specific hairstyle, search for it on Youtube.  The video site is a treasure trove of hair and make-up tutorials.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I thought we weren't doing that anymore, but I guess we are

Zoe lost a tooth the other day.  It's good, because the adult teeth above are really started to descend and it just looks painful. 

The last time she lost a tooth the tooth fairy brought her a dollar, as usual.  But then, something not so usual happened.  She came to me and asked if I was the one who was the tooth fairy. 

I sat down and asked her what she thought.  She told me she wanted me to tell her the truth about it.

I took a deep breath and told her the truth, that yes, I did it.  Then I asked her if it had been fun, it had been fun for me and her dad, I hoped she'd had fun too.

Then I told her now she could help Willie have fun when he started to lose his teeth. She could tell him all about it, show him how to put the tooth under his pillow and remind him to check in the morning.  She thought this sounded like a good deal, then wanted me to give her her teeth.

I fetched them from the antique cookie jar on top of the kitchen sideboard and gave her a little bag to put them in.  She played with them for a long time and now they live in her 'treasures box' that she has stashed somewhere in her room. 

When she lost her tooth last week, I thought she'd put it in her treasure box right away.  But, she told me she was going to put it under her pillow.

"I thought we weren't doing that anymore?"  I asked her.

"No, I want to do it."  she told me.

"Oh, okay." 

And then, I forgot!  I forgot all about it.  Zoe got up, found her tooth under her pillow and was irritated.  We agreed to give the tooth fairy another chance, since Zoe had lost the tooth so late in the day it probably hadn't made it onto the schedule. 

Now, remember, this child knows that this is me but we're still having the conversation about how the tooth fairy missed her room. 

Then, I'm sure you see this coming, I forgot again! 

Morning number two, Zoe yells from her room "My tooth is still here!".  Oh shit.

I went upstairs and said "What?"

"My tooth is still here.  I even reminded you!"  she tilted her pillow up and showed me.

I pointed to her window, explained it was still dark and the tooth fairy wasn't done with rounds yet.  Then I ran downstairs to see if we had any cash, which was going to be the big challenge.  We had no paper money, none. 

So, my daughter got a handful of change under her pillow in exchange for her tooth.  Three quarters and enough nickels and pennies to make a dollar. 

Hoo boy, that was a special feeling!  Right up there with forgetting that my child was going to be getting out of school early and not picking her up.  Or when another parent tells you that their child, who is a year younger than your own child, cooked dinner all by themselves two nights ago. 

The feeling of not doing so good at this parenting gig.  Thankfully, there is McDonald's, with which I bribe my children back into thinking I'm the best mom in the world!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  To remove dead skin without using an abrasive, spread a thin layer of Miracle Whip on your skin.  (Miracle Whip, not mayo)  Let it dry and then rub off with your fingers.  It sounds weird, but it works.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Hip Housewife is annoyed and spouts her opinion, you've been warned

The adult film actress who was allegedly assaulted by Charlie Sheen, Christina Walsh, was on Good Morning America this morning with her attorney to talk with George Stephanopoulos.

One of the questions she was asked, was if there was an agreement between her and Mr. Sheen that she was to be paid for sex.   She said there was not.  Her attorney then pointed out that if that was true, it turned Mr. Sheen into just another john.  George countered that that said something about his client.

And I got pissed.

IF there was an agreement between the two of them regarding pay for sex, that has really nothing to do with the fact that he assaulted her.  If was she says is true, that he threw a lamp and other objects at her, that he put his hands on her throat, that he shoved her around and took her stuff out of her purse and threw them around the room, that's assault and her reason for being in his hotel room are irrelevant.

In my opinion, which isn't the end all be all, but I'm still entitled to it.

This woman, has been called a hooker who exaggerated the event in order to boost her website traffic and get money from Mr. Sheen.  

The fact that she said on her website that she was fine, is being held up as evidence that there was no assault.  

So, Mr. Sheen, who has been arrested on domestic violence charges, accidentally shot his fiancee in 1990, has been in rehab a number of times for alcohol and cocaine, is being given the benefit of the doubt that this whore is just after his money.

When Mr.  Sheen testified against Heidi Fleiss, he said he paid for sex, but was given immunity.  And, as I recall, the names in her little black book were not going to be released because it would be embarrassing for the men in the book.  But, the working girls were all arrested, as was Ms. Fleiss.

I call bullshit.  It takes two to create a contract for sex for money and both of them are criminals in the eyes of the law, but only the women are called names and reviled.

And, once again, a prostitute (if that is indeed the case) gets beat up by her john and nobody gives a shit because she was asking for it by being a dirty slut.

Prostitutes are murdered all the time, beat up all the time, robbed all the time, raped all the time and nobody cares.  Because they're whores, women who have sex.

Women who have sex are frowned on, called sluts, called other nasty things but men who have sex?  Well, that's something very different.

Mr. Sheen is wandering around saying that he had a 'bad night'.  Assaulting a woman is a 'bad night'?  And he's had a number of 'bad nights' involving women and substances.  But, oh no, Mr. Sheen is being taken advantage of by a women who (voice lowers to hissy whisper) has sex.

Ya know what?  Women have sex.  Women are encouraged in the magazines written for them to have sex.  There are professionals who help women have sex, but it's only okay in a monogamous relationship.  A woman having sex with several partners?  Ohhhhhh no, that's not okay.  

The double standard is tiresome and sexist.  And women are dying because of the stupid double standard.  

Yes, I'm being a drama queen, but it makes me mad!

Done rant.  

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you want to try a trick to remove blackheads from your nose, wash with warm water to open your pores and spread a layer of white glue over your nose.  When it dries, peel it off.  

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Hip Housewife discusses her body issues, have a seat, this is a long one.

I have a weird relationship with my body, as if it's not weird enough to have a relationship with one's body it's even weirder to have a weird one, see what I mean?

Anyway, I've been dealing with it since I was fourteen, although I had a good run between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three, feeling like I looked my best at eighteen.  However, I drank a LOT of coffee,  ate one meal a day and smoked a pack a day, plus, I was eighteen.

Since I've had children things on my vehicle have changed greatly.  I've got the baby apron showing I've carried babies, I've got some deflation that indicates I nursed babies.  I still have my waist and my curviness, but it's all bigger than it used to be.  I intellectually understand that genetics really dictates what my bod is going to do and plastic surgery is the only thing to re-inflate things, but I still waffle on how I feel about things.

Some days, I'm good with it all.  I think my curves are just the most, I see that my legs still have a good shape, my lips are the size and shape that other women pay big bucks to achieve.  I'm able to write the essay that was the very first thing I posted on this blog, about how bigger women are great.

But, then I see a photo of myself. Suddenly, I'm Jabba-the-Hut in a dress.  Ridiculous, pathetic, fat, should just give up all this rockabilly, retro, sad attempt at trying to be younger and put on cropped khakis and act my age.

I very specifically thought this when I saw the photographs from Las Vegas of me in my purple dress.  I actually had a little private cry the first time I saw them.

Generally, I put on some lipstick and fake feeling good until I feel good, or at least better.

But, I've been really contemplating this lately, the way I'm feeling about it, if I want to do something about it, if I'm just beating myself up, trying to get it all sorted out in my brain.

Every woman I know has body issues.  I know there are women out there who are good with it, but I don't know any of them personally.  There are a bunch of beautiful celebrity women who openly discuss their feeling of fatness and Oprah, of course, has her cycle of lose it, gain it back, tell the world she's REALLY going to keep it off this time.

I was a teenager in the 80's when all the women were ZZ Top girls and the scantily clad girls in Motley Crue videos.  My mom called it the prostitute look, which I now realize was very correct, we did look like little hookers.  And to look like a hot little hooker you had to have a specific body type to go with it.

Once I turned 13 and my hormones kicked in hot and heavy, I put on some weight, like I was supposed to.  But I was bigger than I thought I was supposed to be and that was when I started to dislike my body.

Around that time, Helen Gurley Brown published her book "Having It All".  In it, she has a long chapter on diet and another long one about exercise.  I remember very specifically a sentence that said (these aren't the exact words, but it's close) "What about men who like fat women?  These men are not looking for lovers or companions, they are looking for a soft, sofa-cushiony girl they can sink into and hide out in.  They're looking for mothers!"  and her saying that 5 foot 5 and 140 pounds did not allow you to be sexy and self-confident, it allowed you to be pudgy.

Those words STUCK with me.  Fat = bad.  Not even fat, but anything over stick skinny was kinda gross.

I was dieting for a lot of my teen years, exactly the time I shouldn't have been dieting since my body wasn't done growing.  And I dieted for a long time.

When I tried on my size ten wedding dress, the one that was too big in the hips and had to be taken in, I asked the seamstress if I looked fat.  That's my question to everything I try on, does this make me look fat?  I'm incapable of looking in a mirror and having a positive thought on my own, without any outside validation.

And I'm going to tell y'all a dirty little secret here, I have great envy of women who are anorexic.  Not bulimic, which I see as being out of control, but anorexic.  Women who can restrict themselves to 200 calories a day and exercise for 3-6 hours, I am in awe of them.

I've cruised the pro-ana websites that explain all kinds of little tricks to keep yourself down to one apple cut into eight pieces a day.  Tricks like, look up photographs of fat people to keep yourself motivated, learn to recognize hunger as the reward for your extraordinary willpower, suck on a sugar-free hard candy for five seconds and take it out of your mouth for a while, chew gum chew gum chew gum, smoke and drink water.

I will also tell y'all that I've chewed and spit.  I've done that since I've become a mother.  It's really gross, but it makes one feel like they've had a feast but not actually digested any calories.

I told you it was weird.   In my contemplation of this issue, it's become apparent that I'm not going to be able to sort this out on my own.  And when I say I wonder if I want to do something about it, I don't mean go on Jenny Craig and take up running, I mean going back into therapy to get some more clarity.

Again, intellectually, I understand that it boils down to my self-esteem in general and it's not my body that makes me feel that way, I'm using my body to make myself feel bad.

MUST things be so complicated?  MUST I live in a marketing driven time where all women are made to feel inferior based on their appearance?

Oh well, back to the couch, probably after Thanksgiving.  Well, that's poetic ain't it?  New things to realize!  New things to cry about!  Oh joy!  It's scary and I'm trying to talk myself out of it, so I'm guessing it something I should do.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  To make it look like you've had a manicure, clean under your nails and push back your cuticles (you can use a washcloth wrapped around your finger to do this) and rub a little lotion into your hands.  Voila!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Yet another interesting day!

Years ago I was watching a talk show about people who had piercings and tattoos, one of the women on stage said "There's a Chinese proverb 'May you live in interesting times'."

I yelled at the telly "That's a curse! It's a curse!"

Let me give an example as I had an interesting day yesterday.

Every year at Zoe's school parents are invited to have turkey lunch with their children the Thursday before Thanksgiving.  Parents can have lunch with their kids at school any day they like, but the week before the holiday a lot of parents attend.  It's a good way to meet the parents of Zoe's friends and exchange contact info for playdates and sleepovers and such.

Even though Zoe's school is only half a mile from my home, I drove because I was late.  This proved to be a good thing.

As I was approaching the street where the school is, getting ready to make my left hand turn and then make the immediate right turn into the parking lot, I saw a man walking in the street.  No big deal, people do that all the time.

As I get closer, I see he doesn't have on a shirt.  Okay, it is in the high seventies and if he's been running I can understand that.

Um.  Wait.   Does he have on a speedo?  Is he in his underwear?

No.  That man is naked.  A big, naked guy is walking around in the street within sight of my daughter's school.

What the fuck?

I like to think that I'm a good hearted person who will help out a person who needs assistance, but I felt the line needed to be drawn in front of  this guy.  It would probably be not the best idea for me to roll down my window to ask a man who is much bigger than me and happened to have no clothes on if he needed me to call someone.

And!  Excuse me!  Things like this are not supposed to happen in The Hip Housewife's neighborhood!  You! Naked guy!  Get away from my kids!

I got out my phone while an SUV stopped to talk to the nudist, who pointed down the street.  I got the 911 dispatcher right away who told me they'd gotten that call and multiple units were on the way.

I drove around the block so I could get to school from the opposite direction, not wanting to have to look at crazy naked guy again.  As I did I saw at least two other people on their cell phones, looking down the block where the man was still meandering in the street.

I went inside really quickly, wanting to get close to my daughter.  Her school has a drill called 'Lock-down', where the main building is locked, the classroom doors are closed and locked with the shade pulled over the window in the door, blinds are closed, lights are turned off and everyone is quiet until an all clear is given.

I had the mom-thought that if that was going to happen, I wanted to be inside with Zoe.  Until this naked guy issue was taken care of, I wanted my girl-child close to me.  Will was safe at his pre-school five miles away, but I needed to be sure my little girl was fine and looking forward to mashed potatoes.

I went inside to let the staff know about the slow-motion streaker and that the men in uniform were on their way to deal with him.  

The only action that really needed to be taken by the school was that a staff member was posted at each entrance/exit to the school in case naked man got to the building and approached a door.  With the glass in the doors, the staff member would be able to lock the door before he got anywhere near the handle.

The principal went outside to watch for the police and make sure everything was under control while we all ate our turkey with gravy and pumpkin cake.

When I left after a nice lunch with my daughter the intersection was empty, my neighborhood was back to the quiet and boring state it's supposed to be in.

I would very much like it to stay that way.  Notice to all naked people!  Stay out of my neighborhood!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  During the days when you're going to over indulge, up your water intake to cut down on bloat.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Big drama at my place

We had quite the near tragedy at Casa de 'burbs yesterday.  I had made a plan to meet a friend at the park after I picked Zoe up from school.

I'd told the kids we'd stop at Sonic for a slush before we went to the park and I wanted to get on the road so I could spend time chatting with my friend as I was needing some adult interaction.

Zoe's pants were too big, making her uncomfortable all day and she wanted to change them before we went to play. I needed to get some shoes for Will as well so I parked in the driveway and ran inside to get his sneakers while Zoe put on play clothes.  Since Will was in the car I turned the button on the back of the doorknob and told Zoe to shut the door on her way out.

She ran out to the car and we were off!  We had a great time at the park, the kids found some new friends to run around with, my friend and I had a good conversation and I ate the last of Will's snack so he yelled at me.

I got cold and took the kids home to start dinner.  When we pulled up to the house, our front door was open and Peavey, our black lab/something mutt was in the front yard.

Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit.  The front door hadn't gotten closed all the way and as the day was breezy, the door opened.

I got Peavey into the house and yelled for Gibson, our dalmatian/something mutt.  He didn't come running.  I had Zoe open up the back door and yell for him, in case he'd gotten left in the yard by mistake.  He didn't come running.

Gibson was gone.  And nowhere in sight.  Zoe went into hysterics and because Zoe was crying Will starting crying, both of them yelling "Gibson!  Gibson!  I want Gibson!"  Zoe was also wailing, saying she was sorry, she should have been more careful.  I soothed her, saying it was just an accident, not anybody's fault.

I called him and whistled for a couple minutes with no doggie response.  I bundled the kids back in the car, Zoe insisting we bring Peavey along to make sure he didn't run away again.

I took them around the neighborhood, both of them yelling "Gibson! Gibson!  Gibson!" out the windows, which embarrassed me for some reason, isn't that weird?

My big fear, was that he'd gotten into the very busy street behind our house and been hit\ and that I'd find the dog along the side of the road for the kids to see first.  What a great childhood memory!

When we didn't spot him in the immediate area, I said we were going to go home and check my phone to see if any of the neighbors found him. 

And I had a message!  Someone had found our dog and called the vet listed on his rabies tag.  Our vet identified our doggie via his rabies tag number and got in touch to tell me who had Gibson.

I called the nice couple and, after thanking them profusely, we drove over to pick him up.  We had to drive because he was two miles away.  That's right, two miles.  I don't know if they were driving and got him into the car to take him home or if he appeared in their yard. 

When I got to their house, they apologized because they hadn't been able to capture Peavey.  I said he was at home when we got there.  So, Peavey had the sense to come home!  Well, he's not as dumb as I've been assuming. 

I'm sure that when I ask Zoe to close the door, she'll slam it hard and then make sure it's closed.  Oh, great, she'll be on the road to being obsessive-compulsive. 

But, it ended well and our dummie dog is back in our home!  Oh, the emotional investment we make in our pets. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you are looking pale, either stand on your head or lay on your bed with your head hanging over the edge to increase blood flow, it will revive the color to your skin.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Hip Housewife further explores culinary education

Have you ever had a day where your emotions went up, down and all around before settling in a way you never would have predicted?

As you know, I went to speak with an admissions representative at Le Cordon Bleu yesterday.  It's a spacious, sparkling clean facility that has many students and classes that I'd be excited to take, but the costs are very high for the Associate's program, which is the one I'm most interested in.

My excellent friend Mrs. K sent me a heartfelt email telling me that Le Cordon Bleu is owned by a company called "Career Education Corporation", very similar to the companies that own University of Phoenix and other colleges that offer college degrees via online but deliver a substandard program, leaving the students with a worthless degree and a massive amount in student loans.  She gave me a link to a New York Times article specifically about culinary schools and how for-profit education is a big player in food schools now.

I think that I would receive good instruction at LCB, but, as I said, the cost is huge and I would need to pay the admission fee before I could sit down with a tuition planner.

"Wow!  I could go to Le Cordon Bleu!"  "Wah! the Cordon Bleu is too expensive. Boo hoo!"  "Hey!  Those fuckers!"  Up, down, all around go my feelings about it.  

I'm not a big fan of what Scott calls "Dollars for Diplomas" schools.  There is one in California where you attend classes one weekend a month and walk away with a Master's or Doctorate in psychology, which really frightens me.  I don't want a counsellor who went to graduate school on the National Guard plan!  There are stories starting to trickle out where people are completing nursing programs and successfully becoming RNs but can't find jobs because they lack the hands-on, practical experience that would make them employable.  They talk of pediatric rounds being done at a day-care center and psychology rounds consisting of visiting a Museum of Scientology.

I don't think that I'm NOT going to learn how to cook at LCB, but I don't want to get taken advantage of by their parent company.  And if I'm going to have a metric assload of student loans it might as well be for credits I can at least transfer.

After sleeping on it, I'm going to research the other programs in the area.

I got in touch with another culinary school in the area, where the tuition is half of what LCB is asking, they've invited me to meet with the admissions representative, take a tour and I can spend an hour in one of the kitchens observing a class.  They did include the applications for federal grants with the package they emailed me, but that's not a student loan through the school and I can meet with their financial advisors for free.

I'll be visiting them tomorrow and wee what they have to say.  The admissions requirements are somewhat different at this school than at LCB, where they only require tuition and paperwork. The Culinary Academy of Austin needs potential students to meet with the director, two letters of recommendation and an application essay, maybe these are just window dressing to make it look more like a 'real' school.

I'm also going through the steps to enroll with the Austin Community College culinary program, which is about 20% of what LCB is asking for their Associate's program, and I can transfer the core credits should I decide to pursue another field.

I'm also going to get back in touch with LCB about their next most intensive program, the culinary arts certificate, to get the breakdown of classes and costs.

There's a line in the movie "Waitress" where she says "I just want to make pies.".

I'm finding myself saying "I just want to learn to cook! I just want to do knife drills and learn to make radish roses and be able to point to a cow and say which cut comes from the shoulder!"

Meanwhile, my children beg for macaroni and cheese from the box and tomato soup from the can while I wade through the possibilities and try to not get scammed all in the midst of the this big pile of laundry that's not going to do itself.

Where's the coffee?

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When Revlon says 'Colorstay', they mean color STAY.  If you are going to use any of these great products be sure you get it exactly where you want it, or you'll be stuck looking like Joker for the day.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The future is expensive

I met with an admissions representative at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts today.  The facility is amazing, as one would expect.  Big kitchens, everything gleaming and shining, students in full uniforms and skullcaps with the instructors in their taller chef's hats and wonderful smells coming from the classes. 

I can attend this school if I want, I just need to apply and pay tuition.  If I maintain an appropriate grade point average I graduate and trade in the skullcap for a tall hat.  The school offers instruction in wines, ice carving, basic cookery and has a program to specialize in pastries. 

Everything anyone could want to learn.  It's a very disciplined program with a focus on technique, students are expected to have their uniforms pressed and clean every day, the instructors have an inspection before each class to check that each student is looking professional.  There are knife drills regularly, presentation is practiced in every class every day and the instructors are encouraging and constructive in their feedback.  At least, I'm told they don't go Gordon Ramsey in class. 

The program I am interested in, the Associate's Degree in Culinary Arts is only going to be offered for one more term starting in January of 2011, then it will be eliminated from the courses they offer. 

I could take classes from 6:30 in the morning to 11:30 and be done by noon or I can start classes at 5:30 in the evening, finishing up at 10:30.  Either of these slots, I could make it work.  I'd have to lean on some friends to watch Will for 2-3 hours a day and both kids during the summer.  I have to wonder if I offered to trade my homework assignments for chlid care if I'd get volunteers. 

The kicker, is how much money this 15 month of school costs.  It's a big chunk of change, almost as much as Scott made his first year in the video game industry.  There is financial aid, scholarships, grants and other assistance available, but I'd have to fill out and application before I could meet with a tuition planner.

And I have to wonder if Scott's income would put me out of the running for any of the above.  Do student lenders want to check my credit?  If so, that option goes away.

What do I do?  Do I stand on the corner with a chef hat and a sign "Trying to go to the Cordon Bleu, please help!"  Set up a creme brulee stand?  Strap a mattress to my back and stand on the street with sign that say 'curb service'?  Ask everyone in the city of Claremont California to each donate a dollar?  Start virtually panhandling on my blog? 

The first step to take is to apply and then meet with the tuition planner.  But there is a defininte possibility that this won't happen for me for a while.  I know I shouldn't be pessimistic, but the costs is prohibitive.  I don't live at home with my parents, we have a household and children and medications we need to buy. 

As positive as the visit was and as much as I'd love to go to the Cordon Bleu, I mean, my god, just to say "I'm a graduate of the Cordon Bleu"!  I need to be a grown up and prepare myself for disappointment. 

My daughter has been asking me if it's fun being a grown up.  I tell her is most of the time, but sometimes it's not so good.

Today is a not so good day.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Caress makes a great body scrub that's not too harsh and leaves your skin silky soft. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why I'm not an atheist

I have a number of friends who are atheists.  I'm fine with that, they're all intelligent, educated and well-read people who came to the conclusion after a great deal of thought.  And, it's not any of my business any more than my beliefs are any of theirs. 

One of them, my friend John, was asked by my children to read them a book titled "The Story of Easter", which he read as a zombie tale. 

"See?  All the people have their arms in the air because they're running from the zombie.  He wants to eat their brains."  he told them.

"He does not!"  they protested.

"He's a zombie.  People who come back from the dead are zombies. So Jesus is a zombie.  They're not smiling, they're screaming." 

I admit that the more I learn about religious and Biblical history the more I understand why atheists are atheists.  Because, well, the Bible was written by men who then re-wrote it to suit their own means.  However, I do have a favorite book of the Bible, Song of Soloman, bow-chicka-wow-wow!  I like to quote from it on May Day. 

But, the Word of God?  Well, I can write on a piece of paper "Amanda has a million dollars in the bank.", but it doesn't make it true.

Still, I do have an invisible friend.  Sometimes I need someone to talk to who will just listen and won't charge me, someone I can rant to when I'm alone in the car and then feel better.

I like the exercise of 'Giving it over to God'.  Afterwards, I can take a breath, restart blood flow to my brain after being in a tizzy and get some rational thought going again.

And there are times I feel really helpless, like, when I was really hoping all the Chilean miners would make it out alive or when my mom was having her melanoma removed.  Lighting a candle and offering a prayer makes me feel like I'm actually contributing to the situation. 

Lately, I've been really digging on Mary.  She's a woman and a mom who'd understand my day-to-day worries.  She'd also point out that she potty trained her kids with a hole in the ground so perhaps I should quit my whining. 

Anyway, I have my invisible friend to make me feel like I'm not alone in this.  And I find it comforting. 

That's right for me.  Is it right for anyone else?  A Buddhist monk would say "That's not my problem." 

End deep thoughts. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you like a pencil eyeliner, Wet & Wild makes a great one that only costs a buck and can be found at the grocery store.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Amanda, the cake and the mean eleven year olds

Remember that cake I was telling you about?  Well, drumroll please!

They did a great job.  Hell, *I* did a great job.  I made fondant, colored fondant, rolled fondant and successfully covered the cake with the sheet of sugary stuff on my first try.  Was it neat?  Nope, but I did it!  I was a little worried about the fact that the fondant on the sides of the cake were lumpy, but as you can see, that all got covered up.

I also survived eleven children working with with stuff, wanting more colors, competing for cake space and the aftermath of the consumption of some of the decorating medium.

I hadn't colored most of the fondant when the girls arrived, I wanted to ask them what colors they wanted.  I'd take votes and go into the kitchen to create red or green or purple or whatever it was they wanted.

When I came back to the table and said 'Green!' eleven girly hands would go up "memememememmeme!"

Really, they were really very well behaved, did a good job sharing and had a lot of fun, which was our goal.

What I was not prepared for, was how heavy this sucker was going to be.  I made it three layers tall, so there would be a lot of space for the girls to decorate.  Then, a 1/4 inch layer of buttercream frosting is needed underneath the fondant layer, I needed a double batch of buttercream to achieve this.  I made three batch of fondant to be sure I had enough on hand to give the girls all the colors they hoped for.

The icing and fondant required eight pounds of powdered sugar to make, eight pounds in sugar alone.  When I tried to pick this cake up, my biceps said 'oooohhhhh I dunno'.  I didn't trust myself to not drop it or I would have taken it into the bathroom to weigh it, I'm sure it topped 12 pounds.

Our wonderful cake fetched $25 at the silent auction, which excited the girls to no end.  The family who had the high bid took home three or four cakes in addition to ours.

When I went up to take one last picture of our leviathan of a baked good, the girl scout of the family said "Look, it's like, four layers of frosting!  And it weighs a ton!"  I laughed and told her I knew oh so well.


Before the end of the evening, I had to use the Girls' Room.  Grade school bathrooms give me the heebie-jeebies do this day.  I don't recall anything good ever happening in the school bathroom and there were certain unspoken rules in high school about what bathroom could be used to actually pee and which ones were reserved for smoking by this or that group.

I finished quickly and when I left the stall there were three eleven (I'm guessing) year old girls standing there in their Junior Girl Scout vests.  I walked by them and as I got out the propped open door I heard them all laugh.  I turned around and saw one of them peeking around the corner at me with just one eye showing.

And I got pissed.  I held my hand up like I was holding a tray and said "What?"  she just kept peeking.

I repeated myself "Whaaat?".  One of her friends walked out to look at me.

"WHAT!"  and they ducked back around the corner.

I went back into the school cafeteria and sat down to have some cake with my daughter and her fellow scouts.

As I was sitting there, I saw two of the girls look into the cafeteria with a very scared looks on their faces, they took a good look around before they went to their respective parents.

I made a decision.  I got up and walked over to one of the girls.

"Hi. Um are you the girl from the bathroom?"

She had a small Sonic cup with her and she was chewing on the straw, her eyes wide.  She made a noise I couldn't understand so I asked her again.

She nodded.  "Can I talk to you for just,  one sec?"

She answered in a way I didn't hear so I just charged on.

"Okay, if you're going to laugh at someone.  Wait until they can't hear you."  At this point, her mom interjected.

"You know what?  We just talked about that and how that's not acceptable behavior.  Didn't we?"  She turned to her daughter and made her take her straw out of her mouth.

"Look, I'm forty so I can hang with it but...... when I was nine and in the school bathroom, girls your age would kick in the stall door while I was using the toilet."

Her face got very concerned "Oh, they did?"  she said in a very little voice.

"And when I walked out they would stand so I had to walk through them and laugh at me when I left.  So when you and your friends were laughing at me, it almost made me cry because it made me remember all that. "

"I'm sorry"  she whispered to me.

Her mom talked to me again, "Oh, I really do apologize, I am so sorry."

I said "Oh, it's okay."

"No, it's really not.  Thank you for coming up to talk to her and again I am so sorry."

I left and had to run outside because I thought I was going to cry, I was shaking.  Where the hell had that come from?  I never do things like that unless it's directed at my child and my mama bear comes out.

Maybe I'm changing in my old age.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When you apply lipliner, fill in your lips with the pencil so when you need to reapply lipstick, you won't have the hard outline.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Yesterday, the volunteer driving I had scheduled was cancelled.  Will was going to be in preschool from 9-2, leaving me at loose ends from 8:45 to 1:45.

Oh, the endless possibilities!  I could get all the laundry put away!  I could drive downtown and take photos!  I could get started on the dress I cut out but haven't stitched!

What did I opt for?  Nothing.  I opted to do nothing.  Well, that's not totally true, I spent an hour doing my morning routine as per Fly Lady (

Then I got settled in, Just Wright in the DVD player, laptop, coffee, food, pajamas, feet up and ready to do nothing.

Nothing but watch Queen Latifa be funny and sexy, nothing but play Farmville and Frontierville, nothing but drink my coffee and tell the dogs to get off the couch.

Nothing is an amazing luxury for me, since my life is so filled with somethings like Girls Scouts, lunches, laundry and errands.

But not yesterday morning, yesterday morning I got to have some nothing.  I sometimes forget what it's like to have nothing to do.  It reminds me of when I was hugely pregnant and could barely walk to to the fridge, let alone pick up a laundry basket, besides, I wasn't allowed to carry the laundry downstairs because Scott told me I couldn't do that anymore.

I spent a lot of time reading, slowly getting baby things ready and updating my online journal.

I once saw the Barbara Walters interview with Walter Matthau  and his wife Carol Marcus, where Carol said she liked to do nothing.  She gardened and did crossword puzzles, but it was all part of doing, just, nothing.  I was astounded at that statement, to have a lifestyle where doing nothing was a possibility.  Of course, on one of her crossword puzzles, there was a three letter word meaning "beverage" where she wrote "7-Up", but still, she did nothing all day.

And that's what I did for a while yesterday.  Of course, I got bored after a while and got another batch of stuff done, but the break was outrageously pleasant.

I hope I get another nothing day soon.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  The colder weather requires more moisture to your skin, especially your lips, switch to a somewhat more emollient lip treatment, petroleum jelly can fill this role.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taking a moment today

Today is Veteran's Day in the US, when we lived in Canada we called it Rememberance Day and wore red poppies on our lapels.  Whatever it's called, it's the day set aside to remember those in the military who have done their duty to their country.

My opinion of war/conflict/limited police action has nothing to do with the fact that enlisted men and women have put themselves into the line of fire because they are soldiers.  Or sailors. Or marines.

It goes beyond it being their job, it's who they ARE.  I've been trying to follow stories about the troops coming home, specifically from Iraq, who are feeling like they don't belong here when there are still troops there.  Unless all the troops are coming home, they don't want to be in their yard or with their family, they think they should be with their unit.

You can hear the feeling of identity underneath the statements:  I am a soldier.

It's a state of mind I can't understand, because I'm not a solider.  I do know to say "Thank you for your service" but not to ask about their time in combat unless I'm invited to.  I was watching Paranormal State one night when Ryan asked a Vietnam vet to tell him about his time in Vietnam.  I gasped at 23 year old Ryan being so disrespectful.

The general attitude of gratitude to our enlisted is one I approve of.  I've seen people walk up to those in uniform to shake their hand and say "Thank you for your service.".  Seeing the President saluting as the coffins come home is something I find heartbreaking, but important.  I'm grateful that he, at least seems, to have the same respect for the troops that I do.  (It could be a whole sham and doesn't care a lick, but I'm not going to get into that right now.)

I learned that there is a group of vets in Maine who go to the airport where the troops coming home and going overseas get on and off the trans-atlantic planes.  Someone stands and shakes the hand of every returning enlisted person saying "Welcome home hero!".

Some of these old guys are hilarious, one will tell the men that there are phones available for them to make calls free of charge, "and if you get your sister at the phone sex line I'll talk to her."  This statement is met with that great, silent pause before a big burst of laughter at something kind of shocking but funny.

Women bring cookies and give anyone hugs who wants hugs, while wearing their sweatshirts with the photo of their child or grandchild in the military.  Or they wear their baseball cap showing they are veterans too.

For the troops that are deploying, they have a poster for the enlisted people to sign and write messages and give them a care package for the plane ride.

They tell them "We'll be here to welcome you when you come home".

The level of shell shock/combat psychosis in our returning troops is disturbing.  (I hate the term 'post traumatic stress disorder', don't lump it in with a woman who's having nightmares after a car accident, it's not the same thing goddammit!)  I get worried that they're not getting the help they need to get the flashbacks down to a minimum or help them be able to not freak out during the fireworks on the 4th of July.  Because they deserve to not be afraid.

I'm going to take a minute today at 11:11 to be thankful for their service.  As we all should.


To send care packages or letters to overseas troops:

is a site where you can get the address and wish lists of military who would like to hear from those of us at home.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you've had a really big cry and your eyes are swollen, massage ice cubes around your eyes gently, repeating every ten minutes until you feel better.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Tuesday, November tenth was quite the day, lemme tell ya!  I thought I was going to get my volunteer work done early and then be able to get all my prep work done for the great Girl Scout cake decorating extravaganza today, but not to be.

I do volunteer work giving seniors rides places they need to go, doctor's appointments mostly, but sometimes to the gym or church.

One couple I drive to the gym give directions on where to go at the same time, just talking louder to make themselves heard over their spouse.  The fact that I've driven them multiple times and know exactly how to get there has nothing to do with their actions.

I'll admit I always ask where I'm supposed to turn because it makes me laugh to listen to them "Here, turn here.  No no!  where the blue car is, turn down there!  Oh, no you turned too soon!  Here is right!" 

Yesterday, I signed up to give a woman a ride to the airport.  I was given her flight time, 1:30 in the afternoon, and strongly advised to pick her up *early* since she's slow moving.  I called the client in the morning to tell her when I'd be picking her up but she wanted me to come pick her up at 11 o'clock.  I said I could do that and went about my business of doing dishes and icing the cake.

When I got to her home at 11 o'clock on the dot, she wasn't ready.  As a matter of fact, she was still packing.  After 45 minutes of helping her get organized, I realized that when they said slow moving they didn't mean she walked with a walker, they meant she just wasn't ready when you came to pick her up and you needed the extra cushion of time.

I would ask her what else she needed to do and she would tell me, after which, I would ask what about after that.  That's all, she assured me, that task and then we'll hit the road.  Um, not so much.  Then she'd think of something else.  And something else.  And something else.

Finally, finally, I got her, her overweight suitcase and three carry-on bags (all stuffed to the gills) into the car.

I started up The Bluebell, started to roll and she said  "Can we go to the post office?"

Sure. Let's go to the post office, I'd help her pick up her mail and then we'd dash down to the airport.  No, she needed to complete her vacation hold order.  I circled the parking lot with one eye on the clock waiting for her to come out.

I got the car on the highway at five minutes after noon and drove like a bat out of hell and got to the airport in 20 minutes.  Then I had to drop her off, get her wheelchair service there, make sure her bag wasn't overweight, but it was, by eight pounds.

I flashed the curbside check-in guys when I knelt down to open up her suitcase to yank stuff out and re-pack in it her already really full carry-on bags.  I'm sure this is why the curb-side guy let the extra three pounds go so maybe it was a good think I wore a short dress and not pants, or maybe it's that I did the cross-my-arms-under-my-boobs-lean-forward trick when I talked to them.  Either way, her bag got checked in, her wheelchair arrived, her carry-on bags were piled into her lap and she was taken into the airport with a full 40 minutes before her flight left!

All I could think about was a friend of mine from high school who now works as an airline representative at the boarding gate at LAX and wonder what he'd say about this situation.

The rest of my day/evening was filled with picking up children, dropping children off at a neighbor's house, cleaning Zoe's room, baking another layer for the cake, frosting, coloring fondant and doing laundry.

But all that was nothing compared to getting my new friend to the airport.  And, I know I'm officially insane because I scheduled myself to pick her up next week.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Clenching your teeth can cause tension headaches and an ugly look on your face.  Consciously, open your mouth and relax your jaw to help the rest of your face relax, bringing back the pretty softness.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Making sweet

Every year there is a Girl Scout event where the scouts rededicate to scouting or make their first commitment to participate.  Along with this ceremony, there's a cake auction with the proceeds going to Friends of Girl Scouts.

Every year since Zoe has been in scouts, her troop has participated in the cake auction and I've always taken on the responsibility of helping the girls create their baked donation.

The first year, I made a double layer chocolate cake and cut a stencil of the dancing brownie on the brownie pin the girls wear on their vests/sash.  Really, if a girl is wearing a brownie pin, she is in full uniform, nothing else required.  I gave the girls each a small bag of coconut with yellow food coloring so they could shake it up to turn the flakes yellow.  We sprinkled the coconut on top of the cake, removed the stencil and wrote the girls names on the sides of the cake. 

The way the auction worked that year was that the cakes that won awards would be auctioned, all other cakes could be bought for five dollars.  That first year, the first place cake was a 3-D teapot, covered in fondant and elaborately decorated, donated by a ten year old. 

I was pissed.  My ass that ten year old decorated that cake, I felt the projects should be done by troops and girl scouts, not whatever adult would make something to impress everyone for them.  But,  according to the guidelines, if the girl/girls assisted in any way, like stirring the cake batter, that counted as the girl making the cake. 

I took five bucks and bought our sad little cake, fetching a bunch of forks afterward.  As the auction was going on for this teapot cake, finally fetching over $100, my troop was eating our cake.  We didn't even use plates, we just gorged ourselves like animals with eating utensils.

The next year, there were several different themes to choose from and each theme would have a winner.  We put it to a troop vote and the girls said they liked "Thankful".  One of the brownies created a design with a pumpkin and vines and leaves, I made the suggestion to add all the troop members names to the leaves.  Then we would write "I am thankful for my Girl Scout friends" on the cake plate.  I bought a pumpkin shaped cake pan and we all made the vines out of sugar cookie dough.  Our end result was on a 2 foot square board covered in various colors of green paper and plastic wrap, we wrote the line about being grateful for friends on the plastic wrap.  There were only two entries in that particular category and we won.  I had never seen those girls so excited than when they got to run up to get their certificate and have their photo taken. 

This year, I've once again volunteered to help the girls with their cake donation.  There's only one theme this year "Animals" and the cake must fit onto a 15 inch square board.  (I think our cake may have had something to do with that change.  Ooops.)  Again, the girlies voted and they all liked the idea of 'Dolphins'. 

Once of the co-leaders had the great idea to make and ice a cake, then let the girls sculpt the decorations out of fondant. 

I've spent the last two days trying to make fondant.  The Wilton recipe, the baking duke recipe, the marshmallow recipe, I've tried them all and I think I've succeeded.  I *think* being the key phrase here.  I've molded some figures and they've all stood up to the drying time without melting.  Today, I need to knead in the colors and get a couple more supplies, wire and more powdered sugar.

I'm also going to get some pre-made fondant, you know, just in case.  I know if I don't get any we'll need it and if I do get some we won't so I'm erring on the side of Murphy's law working in my favor.

And tomorrow is the big day!  Seven little girls, a bunch of stuff made of sugar that they'll be using as modeling clay and some parents to assist.  All in my house.  At my dining room table.

Those of you who a religious, I'd appreciate a prayer, eh?

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you make your own fondant and are using shortening to keep it from sticking to your hands, this is an amazing moisturizing treatment for your hands. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Do I gotta?

I am not a big fan of the whole daylight savings time thing, I don't see a huge benefit in it.  I don't care if it was presented by Ben Franklin or the part-time bug collector or whoever to make sure people had more leisure time daylight, we have electric lights now, it doesn't really matter anymore!

I've yet to hear a good reason for moving the clocks around twice a year.  Okay, okay, yes, it does help save electricity, you got me there.  And it's fun to sing "Time Warp" while you change the clocks.

But I find the whole process obnoxious and stressful.  I know it's only an hour, but that can be a big deal in my house.  An hour is the difference between a smooth bedtime routine and a big meltdown in the middle of everything.  Or, meds kicking in in time to get the boy-child dressed for preschool in an adult fashion or behaving like another preschooler. 

Why can't it happen on a Friday so we can have a weekend to get used to the new times so that work arrival doesn't get messed up?  One Sunday isn't enough, two days is really needed to settle into the new hours via sleep and meal adjustment.

I don't know why, but I feel like I have jetlag every time the clocks change.  I haven't flown from a far off time zone, I've changed the clocks.  I don't feel this wonky flying to or from the west coast and that's a TWO hour difference.

I'm exhausted by 9 o'clock at night, I wake up at 3 in the morning, I fall asleep in the middle of the afternoon, it's craziness.  Why do we have to do this?

Like I said, we have electric lights now, and television and cars and such things, we don't need to be fiddling around with the hands on the clock.

That would be my platform if I were to run for President, I will toss out daylight savings time!  No more springing forward or falling back!  Set your clock and then don't even think about it again!  *huge roar from the crowd*

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you color your hair yourself, put a little Vaseline on your face around your hairline to keep the color off your skin.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I didn't update on Saturday because I was entirely too full of food to even think, let alone type and think at the same time.

Allow me to explain, the city in which we live has a large number of gypsy trailers that serve wonderful food.  Cupcakes, chicken and waffles, tacos, coffee, thai, bbq, sushi, crepes, sno-cones, pizza, po'boys, kettle corn, you can get anything you want from a shiny Airstream equipped with a kitchen.  If you're looking to get the most out of the city of Austin, go down to South Congress and get a Mighty Cone crunchy chicken wrap (a nice strip of fried chicken in a sweet/hot thai peanut sauce with a cole slaw like salad inside a tortilla, served in a paper cone) before heading over to Hey Cupcake!  for a red velvet cupcake while keeping an eye out for Leslie.

Who is Leslie?  This is Leslie:

Our cross-dressing, claims to be homeless, unofficial mayor.  Scott's been living here so long he doesn't even notice when Leslie walks by anymore, even when he doesn't have a cupcake he misses Leslie.  I like to hang out on SoCo during high tourist season and say hello to Leslie, making the out-of-town visitors cringe.

Saturday, we got many of things we love about our town at the Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival, put on by Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School of Austin.

We had trailer food, great weather and live music all with the Austin skyline looking over us.

There were thirty trailers, all with their various decorations selling smaller servings of their wares.  Moroccan burgers at The Flying Carpet, sausage sandwiches at Man Bites Dog, cake on a stick at Holy Cacao and doughnuts from Gourdough's-- Big, Fat Doughnuts.

That last place?  They offer something called The Flying Pig, a doughnut topped with maple syrup and bacon.  Yes, bacon, because bacon makes everything better.

When Scott walked up with it, I was first repulsed and then I wanted nothing more than a bite of the thing.  And it was really, really delicious, like, nearly sexual delicious, totally unable to describe delicious, I'll remember that for years delicious.  Like pancakes with bacon, but much lighter.  I can't describe it exactly, you'll have to have one for yourself.

As we were wandering around sampling all this great stuff and listening to the live music that is ubiquitous in Austin, we ran into a bunch of people we knew including a teacher from Zoe's school.    It was nice to see people and exchange notes on what was good, what we'd liked, how loud the current band was and other niceties.

But, it was all about the food.  All of it was good, really, really good, much better than what you'd expect from a mobile kitchen.  My favorite was the frozen hot chocolate, drinking chocolate blended with ice cream and ice with whipped cream on the top.  I did share it out with the family, but I guzzled most of it myself.  The best part was when it got melty and I could slurp up the wonderfully rich and sweet chocolate mixed with the melted ice cream, velvety and smooth, the kind of taste that makes you close your eyes.

My friend Kevin said that the full you experience after eating high quality food is very different from the full you experience after eating at Denny's.  Well, I was the former kind of full, sated and happy, a little drowsy but not feeling like a bloated tick.

The kind of full where you think to yourself "You know, I have a bunch of stuff to do.  But, I think the most important thing right now is to take a nap."

And just so you can have a different picture than the one above, here is the Flying Pig in all it's glory:

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you've eaten a lot of salt, be sure to up your water intake to prevent your face from getting too bloated.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Before there was me

Facebook is an interesting animal.  Did you know there are enough people getting divorced over affairs and actions that started with Facebook that a percentage can be applied to that reason?  Since the Facebook explosion there's a term I've heard 'retrosex' in the US and 'retroshag' in the UK, both meaning: A hookup or other episode of sex (such as the start of a new involvement) between people who dated or hooked up way back when, lost contact with each other for years, and became reacquainted according to Urban Dictionary. 

I find that fascinating.  Online social networking is changing the way marriages end!  How stupid is that?  Anyway,  I was thinking about that because of a reaction I had to something on said social site the other day.

I found an old friend of mine from my community college theatre days who is also a friend of Scott's, obviously, because we were all in the first show I did there.  I think I'm the one who located her on FB and was happy to catch up and hear about her husband and son.  I liked her enormously then and I like her enormously now.  If she and her family came to Austin they would be welcome at my home and at my dinner table.  Hell, I'd cook a crown of lamb I'd be so glad to see them! 

But, I forget that she and Scott dated before he met me,  they'd already gone on to see other people by the time I came on the scene.  And they stayed friends, she came to our wedding and was truly happy that we'd gotten married.  She and another mutual friend went together on a really nice gift for us that I actually used. 

There's no weirdness or competition or anything like that.  I don't think there's anything unrequited between them, that would have reared it's ugly head in my household a while back.  Nobody's unhappy, nobody's leaving anybody, nothing like that. 

Our friend made a comment that indicated she was having a day that was not the exactly the bee's knees, it was probably more like the bee's butt.  I told her to give life some lipstick and tell it to kiss her ass.  She responded she was trying.

Scott commented "Quack".  That's all, just 'quack'. She responded with 'Scott. :) :) :)'.  It was really a very sweet little exchange between them. And, an obvious private joke that I was not privy to, which was odd for me. 

I've been with Scott my entire adult life, which is admirable or sad depending on how you look at it.  This also means he's the only one I've had an adult relationship with, again admirable or sad based on your perspective.  And I forget that he had a number of relationships before marrying me.  He's been married before, he was seeing a woman when he met me that he was considering moving in with and a bunch in between. 

Seeing the memory between the two of them, well, it didn't make me jealous, that's not the word.  It was like a little *ting*, that reminded me they'd been together at one time. A little hurtful?  Yeah, but I don't begrudge anyone any nice memories. 

I'm sure Scott would feel the same way if I found my old boyfriend Kevin and said "Well, I don't know, is there going to have to be legal action taken?". 

I've been thinking about it because it's a feeling I've never had before.  I'm not finding it distressing or troubling, I'm finding myself unable to identify it.  Excluded, is the closest I can get to putting my finger on it, but even that isn't right.  And, honestly?  It doesn't really matter because I love them both. 

And life goes on, dishes get dirty and my children have strewn crap to the horizon and back so I need to let this go and move my laundry around. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  It can be very beneficial to sleep with a humidifier in your room in the drier months, both for your skin and your sinuses. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Puttin' my feet up

When I was a kid, this was the week my mom took a deep breath before starting to sprint through the holiday season.

In addition to working in retail, my mom did extensive decoration of our home.  She spent weeks thinking, planning and shopping before we finally put the decor up.  Everything coordinated and matched right down to the wrapping paper on the gifts, which all had to be acquired.

When I got older, there were holiday parties to attend and the shopping for the dresses I would need for said events.  I'm not going to go into the, um, let's say conversations, my mom and I had in fitting rooms during my teen years, I'll just say I don't think either of us have fond memories of those exchanges.

There was the family holiday portrait to schedule, plan what we were going to wear pose for, look at proofs, decide if we needed to re-take it and do all this according to a schedule to be sure the prints would arrive in time to be given to the grandparents.

And that's just Christmas, if we were hosting Thanksgiving there was the inviting, menu planning, assigning of dishes to be brought by family members and all the rest that goes with it.

If we were hosting the family Christmas Eve party, take all of the above stress and cube it.  The cleaning alone was enough to knock anyone down, but my mom had to worry that if she told Cousin Stanley to bring wine for forty  people he'd show up with one bottle of red and one bottle of white.  Trust me when I say this was simply not enough vino for my German aunties and uncles.

After all of this was over there was the long term project of getting the smell of cigarettes out of the living room.

My mom used to smoke from just after Halloween until New Year's and I don't blame her.

However, at my house, things slow down after Halloween.  We live equidistant from both sets of grandparents, we've mapped and the distance from our house to each grandparent's home is almost exactly the same.  This year, none of us are traveling.  We're staying home with the kids and the grandparents are all staying in their own states for various reasons.  This leaves us on our own to have a low-key holiday season.

On Thanksgiving, I'll cook up a turkey breast, probably in my slow-cooker.  My favorite part of Thanksgiving food tradition is the sandwiches,  when family isn't coming in I make sandwiches for the turkey day meal.  I'll pack them up with a pie and hot chocolate in a thermos, take everything down to the park and picnic.   The first time we did this I was surprised at how many other families were taking their fall feast outside, I don't know why, it's outrageously pleasant why wouldn't more people do it?

Christmas Eve, we usually spend the evening with some friends who are also not having family in town and enjoy the lack of dashing through the streets.  Scott and I will have port and stilton while we watch A Christmas Carol  starring Patrick Stewart after the kids have put out cookies, milk and carrots.  Our hope is that will have gone to sleep by midnight so we can all get six hours of shut-eye.

Christmas Day it's the present orgy followed by brunch with other friends and their children.  We have something of a tradition going with some excellent friends who live close by.  They come over with their children for french toast, bacon and mimosas.  The kids play with their new toys, the grown-ups have coffee and discuss what happened that morning, it's all very lovely and we enjoy ourselves very much.

The down-side to all this, is that I have no excuse to not have all the laundry done.  I should go start on that.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you usually use a cleanser for break-out prone skin but find it too drying during the winter, switch to Cetaphil for the colder months.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ah, okay then........

The advertising service I was using has cancelled my account, I'm no longer allowed to have ads on my page.

The reason given is that the click activity is invalid, meaning they feel live instructed followers to click on the ads or because I have followers who are reading from other countries, they think I've signed up with a service that signs on to my site and clicks for me.

Apparently, I'm getting too many clicks from the same locations for the traffic I have here.  My big 25-30 visitors a day are viewing the ads too much, so I'm not going to be able to have ads on  my site.  The huge amount of $45 that I'd earned over the last 50 days has gone back to the advertisers and Google and since I've already appealed there's no way I can be reinstated as a client.

This has pissed me off.  So, I have a little site where the people who read think they'll help me out by looking at the ads.  But, that's not okay, so the ads have been pulled.

Please let me apologize for the fact that the ads have actually been looked at and I have a bit of traffic from non-friends.  (And thank you non-friends!  It makes me feel like the cat's meow when I see I'm getting views and *repeated* views from dollies who found me by accident.  Whoo!  That's a kick in the head!  No sarcasm is meant here, I really get all warm and fuzzy to see I have readers.  :)  )

And to everyone out there, all 30 of you, does that make any sense to you?  Or am I just being indignant for no reason?

The other crazy thing is that I really got my feelings hurt, by Google!  It's as ridiculous as crying over a declined friend request on Facebook.

I'm almost forty years old, I need to get over all the adolescent crap that I know some people never get over but I don't want to be eternally trapped in 10th grade because 10th grade was really NOT the cat's meow.  It was more like the cat's yowl because it's been taken to the vet and has to deal with the indignity of wearing the cone of shame.

I am eternally grateful to the deity of your choice that social networking didn't exist when I was in high school.

On a more pleasant subject, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year, a challenge to writers to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  I'm going to be posting my word count to date every few days.  I have to count the words with my eyeballs and my finger because Mac Textedit doesn't have a word count tool.

The idea is to just get words on paper, not striving for a finished product. Editing will come later, once I'm done futzing with what I've written this month I'll be posting them to my sister page The Jane Chronicles.  The real challenge is to write some every day, getting into that habit of making yourself get something down, even if it's awful.    I'm lucky enough that I had a woman who gave me some great techniques for getting started when you can't think of anything.

One, is to assign a word to each side of a die, then roll the die and start with that word.  Or, choose a word and write it over and over and see where it goes.

For example:  Beach ball.  Beach ball beach ball beach ball the kids batted the beach ball over their heads, bouncing it off their graduation hats, enjoying the last of their high school moments.  The ones who were already drunk tried to hit the ball as it flew by but only succeeded in a big whiff or whacking the person next to them.  Greg Markson got knocked down and bit Craig Lawon on the ankle in response.

Craig screamed "God DAMMIT!" just as there was a lull in all the cheering as new graduates stepped up to have their names called, making his fellow graduates and many of the spectators roar with laughter in response.   Craig got through the ceremony and then threw up under the bleachers before going to hug his grandparents.

Like that.

So, NaNoWriMo word count:  875

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If your skin has started to break out without a change in your skin care routine or diet, first, change your pillow case, then go to the doctor.  It could be a symptom of something else.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2 a.m. A play in one act


Scott: Suburban husband and father
Peavey: Black labrador mix dog, all black in color
Zoe:  9 year old girl
Amanda:  Suburban wife and mother
Will: 4 year old boy
Gibson:  Dalmatian mix dog, white with black spots

Setting:  Suburban home
1st scene:  Average main bedroom in an average home.  1 bed w/ end tables on either side.
Lights, very low, but not at full dark

All six family members are sprawled in the large bed.  Amanda is huddled on the edge, both dogs and Will are in the center, Zoe and her dad are sitting up and talking.

Scott: Okay, the storm's over, it's time to go back to your own bed.

Zoe:  All right, are you sure it's gone?

Scott: Yes, it's gone, come one.

Scott leads Zoe into the next scene, a standard living room.  A couch centered with a coffee table before it.  A door to the backyard at stage right, stairs stage left.  Lights higher here, but still low, the sound of rain is heard.

Peavey the dog follows Scott and Zoe into the living room and stands at the door to the backyard.

Scott opens the door and looks at Peavey.  Peavey looks at Scott, with raised doggie eyebrows.

Scott:  Okay fine, don't go out.

Scott leads Zoe upstairs, sounds of saying good night, assurances that there is no more thunder and covers being pulled up are heard as Peavey wanders around the living room sniffing the floor.

Scott reappears at the bottom of the stairs as Peavey squats and pees on the living room rug.

Scott: Peavey!  You stupid dog.

Scott stomps to the backdoor and yanks it open.

Scott: Get out there!

Peavey slinks through the open door.  Scott bangs the door closed behind the dog.

Scott exits stage left and reappears holding a towel.  He folds the towel in fourths and places it on the doggie puddle, then stands on the towel.

Canine whining is heard from the back door.

Scott bounces up and down on the towel a few times before walking to the back door.

Scott: Come on you pea-brain.

Peavey scrambles into the house and rolls on the rug to dry himself.

Scott opens the bedroom door and enters quietly.  Lights go darker, but not to full dark.  Peavey follows.

Scott sits down on the empty side of the bed and sighs heavily, then lays down and pulls the blankets up.

Amanda rolls over.  Gibson raises his head to see who it is and curls back into a ball.  Peavey creeps onto the bed and lays next to Amanda.  Will flops two or three times before becoming still.

Lights drop to full dark.


Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  to shrink your pores, dunk your face in a sink full of very cold water.  Hold your face under as long as you can hold your breath.  Pat dry and apply make-up.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Don't expect much today

Whoo!  I prepared for Halloween, I created Halloween, I enjoyed Halloween, now I collapse.

We had a joyous dark holiday this year.  I tend to get a little crazy in planning parties, I sweat insignificant details and always have too much food.  My philosophy is too much food is better than not enough, know what I mean?

I got so concerned about having adequate supplies for Halloween, I called Scott from the parking lot of a store to ask "Do you think 500 pieces of candy is enough?".

While I was saying it I realized what a ridiculous statement that was, of course it was enough candy!  We'd have to have 250 trick or treaters who would receive 2 pieces per kid to run out.  What was I thinking?  I dunno, I was probably thinking to make sure we had enough candy left over for my personal consumption.  I told you before I sort through my children's treats for the good candy, but you see, if I BUY the good candy then I don't have to steal from my children.  So, I'm actually being a better mom by getting all this candy.

I also overdid just a little, just a little mind you, on the cranberry wine punch and pumpkin ale last night so it's lots of water for me and I'm going to be taking a little nap today.

The good thing about the day after a party where I've made entirely too large a batch of beef stew, is the fact that I don't have to worry about dinner tonight, that's already made.  I have some to freeze, always a good thing and one of my favorite things to eat is bread dipped in thick beef broth, so I'm a happy girl as far as sustenance is concerned.

One of the not great things about today is that I'll be parking my son in front of the electronic babysitters while I sit around, resting.

Which I'm going to go do right now.  You should go put on some lipstick and eat some candy, because every day is a good day for both of those things.  

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  In the winter time when the air is drier, drink more water to keep your skin looking good.