Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye to 2010!

Years ago, in a time known as the early 1990's I was an assistant to a woman who was Buddhist.  I asked her so many questions about her altar, her rituals, how often you changed the fruit in front of the Buddha, I'm sure she got tired of it pretty quickly, but she always gave the information I wanted to know about.

The ritual I liked a great deal, was the big cleaning binge at the beginning of the new year.  Everything was given a good scrubbing to make a new, clean, welcoming place for what was to come.

As much as I'd like to dedicate a week to only cleaning my house, it's not something I can make happen, especially with two kids under the age of 10.

But I do the best I can.  I clean the bathrooms, do a vinegar/baking soda/boiling water treatment in all drains, open the windows to change the air and make things smell as nice as I can.

It's the one time a year I find cleaning house to be a spiritual exercise, which appeals to my groovy, new-age, hippie part of myself.  Getting everything sparkling and fresh to greet the new year with optimism is an idea that I like.

Since I'm not into New Year's Resolutions, which I find to be a list of how a person will fail in the next twelve months, I make an effort to be happy and excited about what will be coming my way.

That will be my big, exciting time this last day of 2010 and the first day of 2011, cleaning!  I'm going to start off the new decade feeling like I have control of my life and that I'm good at taking care of my household.

Now, once more into the mop bucket!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Don't drink and drive!  Banging one's head into the steering wheel will cause scarring on the face.   Hitting another car and killing someone will cause severe scarring to the soul.

Happy new year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I remember and give thanks.

Geraldine Doyle died yesterday.  Who was Geraldine Doyle?

She was the inspiration for the We Can Do It! poster that has become known as Rosie the Riveter, a cultural icon and symbol of strength for many people, including me.

Geraldine was seventeen during World War II and working in a factory in Michigan as a metal presser when a wire photographer took her photograph.  That photo inspired the Westinghouse graphic artist, J. Howard Miller, to create the We Can Do It! poster.

After it was completed and printed, the poster was hung in factories around the country for two weeks, before it was replaced with another Westinghouse poster, meant as encouragement.  They were the equivalent of the posters corporate offices are fond of featuring the words Service, Excellence, Make It Happen, but the Westinghouse posters were changed out twice a month.

Geraldine was a cello player, the job made her concerned that she would hurt her hand so she quit her metal pressing job.

She went on to marry and did not know she was on the poster until she saw it in an old magazine in 1984.  Her image was put on a stamp in the 1990's and she appears on everything from bags and t-shirts to my left arm.

Geraldine's poster, her flexing her arm and staring right out at us, makes me think of a cheeky young woman who liked to laugh and dismissed the thought that there was anything she couldn't do.  Was she really like this?  I have no idea, I never met her, read an interview with her or seen anything about her personality.

But that's what I think of when I see her, that's why I put her picture not only with the other Goddesses on my dresser, but on my body permanently.

I thank her for being there that day and flexing her biceps for the camera.

Rest well Geraldine and know you are remembered.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Put your hair up in a bandana, put on some lipstick and flex your biceps!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Has anyone else noticed?

We've had a lot of down time here at Casa de 'burbs for the last ten days.  We don't usually have a lot of down time.  I tend to make sure we're all busy.

But these last two weeks of the year?  We've been doing a lot of relaxing and sitting around.

Does anyone else have the experience that the more you relax and sit around, the harder it is to actually get up and do anything?  And when you do get up, you get tired really quickly?  But you get frustrated because you're tired and then sit back down?

Am I the only one this happens to?  Or is this normal?

I wonder because I've regularly assumed that I'm just lazy and get very unmotivated to do anything.  Housework? Laundry? Prepare food?  Nah, I'd rather play Farmville.   Besides, the other three people who live here will undo all my handiwork inside of fifteen minutes so why should I bother?

But my friend Amanda told me that she's had that same thing happen to her.  It must be the whole 'a body in motion stays in motion' thing.  Since my body has been at rest, it wants to stay at rest.  I must say it's a very good thing we don't have a couch with the recliners built in and the little fold down tables or I'd only move to pee.

Did you know there are big sectionals with a mini-fridge in them?  For the person who has decided that they are going to supervise the world via television.  What is it Drew Carey says?  "Have you lost all hope?  Try this!"  

I honestly wonder how it's going to work when school/work kicks back in, we've been sleeping in until outrageous hours, like, seven.  Zoe has to be up at 6, at the latest, to get ready for school.

Is there enough coffee in the world?  Welp, Monday, we're gonna see!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  As good at pale looks, be sure to get at least a little sun to avoid vitamin D deficiency.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My after Christmas ritual

I love shopping.  I do, I love it.  It's one of the reasons I miss my friend Stephanie so much, she loves to shop too.

We're both super-girly women who love to wander around cosmetics departments and try on shoes.  We're very honest with each other about how something looks or if it's an over-priced mistake.

Even if I'm looking for a six dollar lipstick, Steph is happy to come along to help me select the shade that will suit me best.  She's a whiz at picking out foundation and has a passion for shoes that makes mine look like a casual interest.

This shared enjoyment and an appreciation for valet parking are just two of the many things we have in common.

When the 27th of December comes and I'm getting ready to go out with my check from my grandfather and my gift cards from my parents and in-laws I miss her terribly.

I also love gift cards.  If it's for somewhere like Bath and Body Works, I have no choice but to get myself something horrifically impractical, body lotion, shower gel, bubble bath, a wonderful rose scented lip conditioner Stephanie swears by all go into my mesh bag.

This year, I went out with plastic permission fritter away some funds at JCPenny and Bath and Body Works.  I haven't been to JCPenny for myself in years although I like them for Zoe's school clothes.

Committing to a purchase via gift card is serious business, I like to really scour the clearance and sale sections so I can get more bang for my buck.  In this case, I spent a long time in the costume jewelry section looking at imitation pearls, black bracelets, pink bracelets and ugly rhinestone pins before I stumbled across a gorgeous ring featuring purple and green stones which looked vintage and fit me!  Sold!  I then lucked into a bath set with a rose scent.  Finding anything that smells like roses isn't easy, at least not for me.

I'll spare you the hour I spent in Bath and Body Works sniffing lotions, asking for clarification about the sales, picking things up, putting them back and finally skipping out with a bag full of smelly stuff.

I like how many products they carry featuring citrus, goes with my whole I'm from Orange, California and proud of it!, I even like to smell like oranges.   

I've been shopping the last week of December since I was fifteen and I start to look forward to it every year around Thanksgiving.

This year I enjoyed it just as much as I always have.  And I'll get to do it again in 7 months for my birthday!

Call me shallow, I'll accept it gladly with my smooth, orange scented hands.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If perfume is a luxury, apply a very thin layer of petroleum jelly to your wrist before applying a small spritz, it will make your scent last longer.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Hip Housewife crawls out from under the Christmas exhaustion

Christmas!  Wow!

It was just the four, well, six of us this year.  Scott, Zoe, Will, Zoe, Gibson, Peavey and me.

In the wee hours of Christmas morning, two of them threw up.  Will, about four and either Peavey or Gibson sometime between four and six.

Will came down into our bed about midnight, coughing and snuffling despite the Vick's I'd rubbed on his feet and covered with socks, the vaporizer chuffing out steam in his room and the dose of Benadryl he'd gotten before getting into bed.

I'd only gotten to bed 30 minutes earlier and sleep hadn't really overtaken me yet.

His coughing, Scott's snoring and the dogs edging me out of bed drove me upstairs to Will's bed, where I fell asleep and slept hard until two-thirty when Will came upstairs to show me one of the four Nerf shooters, aw hell he got four guns, from Santa.  I said he needed to take those back downstairs and come back up to lay down with me.

He completed the first task but not the second, I headed downstairs to see what he was doing.  He was looking at all the gifts Santa had left out for him and Zoe.  Nerf guns, Monster High dolls, a basket of cake mixes and patty-pans were on the tow big chairs in our living room.

I tried unsuccessfully to get him into bed, any bed, before I gave up 45 minutes later and dozed off on the couch.  I had the thought that if something Really Bad happened he'd scream, waking me up.  (Please don't report me to CPS, okay?)

He woke me up  to tell me he wanted to go lay down with his dad.  I took him into our room, where he went to sleep for an hour and fifteen minutes.  (Are you keeping track of how much sleep I got?  We're at four hours right now.)

He woke up at four a.m. saying his tummy was upset, he decided to go into the quarter bath off the living room and didn't make it.  Upon spilling the mess out of his tummy he went back into the master bathroom, expect his dad was peeing and while Will was waiting he whoopsed again.  Luckily, both time he hit the tile.  I'm not sure I've ever been so thankful for our lack of wall-to-wall carpeting as when a child tossed their cookies on my tile floor.

On the way out to clean up, I met up with dog barf on the rug  in the living room.

Merry Christmas!  *grump*

After cleaning up Will wasn't about to go back to bed, I let him stay up.  I got coffee made and let him play on the computer, dozing in our recliner until Zoe got up at six, at which point the kids were sent in to wake up their dad.

And the present ripping began!  The kids also received stuffed animals, clothes, books, DVDs, a toy tattoo kit, a box of card games and a bunch of jars of spices for Will.

Allow me to explain, Will likes to do "  'speriments".  He takes a glass of water and pours in various spices and mixes them up.  Usually, he offers me to drink it and I answer "Um, no thanks.".  He got really excited about his bottles of experiment supplies.

I made french toast and bacon.  (check out my new page I made to show off my cooking adventures  After we feasted, Scott went back to bed for a while.

I was swaying on my feet so I strong armed the kids into a nap and went back to bed myself.

And I slept for four hours.

After I woke up, we took the doggies to the dog park, came home to watch The Santa Clause and I made Potatoes Au Gratin with ham, being creative with the supplies we had.

The kids were put to bed early.  Scott and I indulged in our Christmas tradition of watching A Christmas Carol starring Patrick Stewart, our favorite version, while having stilton cheese and port.  This year, we had a bottle of port one of Scott's co-workers brought us from Portugal.  Oh, it was good!  Sweet, rich, smooth, just like it should be.

The night of the 25th, I got six hours uninterrupted sleep!  Possibly the best Christmas gift ever!

And now, we clean, well, *I* clean.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  When you clip your toenails, be sure to clip them straight across or you'll get an ingrown toenail, something you really don't want.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I added a new page called Life and What I Ate, which will have photos and recipes and such. Blatantly stolen from 830,000 other pages doing the same thing? Yes. But I don't care.

I'll be updating more about our holiday week later today or tomorrow, but right now I'm operating on four hours sleep and coherent thoughts are becoming fewer and farther between.

Time to find a soft, horizontal surface, wish me luck.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The most wonderful time of the year got the best of me!

Despite our low-dey approach to the holidays I managed to hyper myself into a frenzy on Tuesday, hence, my lack of updates.

It started with me trying to print photos on my photo printer. I have a nice one that produced decent quality prints, not quite wedding album quality, but certainly good enough for photos for the family and to hang on the walls.

But, when it spat out the test print I did, it was crap. The colors were all off, my printer is out of four colors. At $20 a cartridge it'd be a lot less expensive to order the prints through a store like Wolf's Camera or Walgreens.

I have a bunch of pictures uploaded to Walgreens already, I started there. To have enough photos for grandparents, great-grandparents and the lone uncle I need a lot of prints. Walgreens told me I couldn't place my order and wouldn't give me an option to pick up on a different day. To get prints at Wolf's, I'd need to burn the photos onto a disc and take it to the storefront with me to get them the same day.

I could easily place order through Shutterfly or Walgreens and have the prints shipped right to the recipients, but I was trying to save some money by printing and then putting the photo books together myself.

The fact that I couldn't get the pictures done drove me nuts and that I had chosen to start this project 20 minutes before I had an appointment didn't help.

I was able to let it go and I'll be letting the relatives know that photo gifts are on the way but it will be after the first of the year before they arrive.

Then I started thinking about all the stuff I have to do, the kids rooms to clean out, the gifts to wrap, the cookies to bake for Santa and I had myself a little panic attack in the car after I left the house.

After many, many deep breaths I decided to do everything one task at a time. I mailed holiday cards, meaning I had to go to the post office, but it wasn't bad. I had a book and everyone was in pretty good spirits. I'm averaging that because the man walking in behind me was cussing under his breath that I'd gotten in the door before he did, then when I held the door for him he pulled it open so hard he banged it against the way. Upon spotting the line, he cursed again and left the building. Merry fucking Christmas!

I wouldn't have had to wait in line at all if the PO hadn't taken out the stamp vending machines that took cash.

Yesterday, I took each of the kids out separately to pick out a gift for their sibling. Zoe got Will a Spiderman shave kit complete with foam and a plastic razor. Will got Zoe a set of two ponies with brushes and stickers.

It was nice spending time with the Zeester. She and I don't get very much one on one time since she's started school full time, so we went to McDonald's afterwards and had a good chat about not much of anything.

Today, I'll get presents wrapped and dessert for tomorrow night created. Let's hope I can find everything I've stashed in the garage!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: Even though it's winter, keep up with your sunscreen!

Monday, December 20, 2010

So much for that experiment

Scott and I reached our breaking point about 3 p.m. this afternoon. Actually, the kids reached THEIR breaking point and Scott and I had to deal with it.

To begin with, Zoe missed her medication. I know that sounds weird to say about a nine-year-old girl, but she did, which transformed her into a female ADHD creature that runs around the house screaming. That's not an exaggeration, she runs around the house and screams. Her brother runs after her and screams too.

Among the things that happened before 3 p.m., they played in the mud, had a bath and when told to go get dressed, went upstairs to draw clothes on with markers before having a parade in the living room. They got along fine until 1:30, when we insisted on naps. Zoe is too old for the nap thing, but when she is being the ADHD creature we insist that she have some horizontal time.

Yeah, that failed. Neither of them would snooze. Scott and I were going to nap while the kids did, none of that either. No, I take that back, I napped.

When I got up the kids were still screaming but at each other, complete with flinging of objects. Scott made the suggestion we load up the whole family, including the two with fur all over them and head off to the dog park.

I agreed this was a great idea. We got everyone loaded up and headed out.

There's a great fenced, dog park not too far from our house, big with trees and a little hill and other dogs to play with.

We found out exactly how fast Peavey can run. There was a Basenji there that was running like the wind when we got there. Peavey dashed after him and caught up really, really quickly. Scott laughed and said that was the hound in him, the long legs and the full chest let him sprint. Poor Gibson couldn't even keep up, his short legs wouldn't let him, he had to settle for pestering the big Rottweiler.

While this was going on, Zoe and Will had found some other kids to play with. There's a hill with a big, plastic pipe going through it for the doggies to run through, expect the other kids had taken it over and were happy to have other young people to play with. They climbed over and through and ran around, trying to get one or the other of the pups to chase a ball or a frisbee.

It was really very enjoyable and the dogs loved it. We've decided if the weather stays nice we'll go hiking at the dog friendly trail tomorrow. Both the pets are sleeping now, as they have been since we got home.

And more cardio is always a good thing.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: Stand up straight, it makes you look taller and it's better for your back.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day two of the laziness challenge

Zoe and Scott are both off until the first of the year. Will won't have preschool until January, so we're all home all day for the next two weeks.

Yesterday and today, we've all been slopping around in our pajamas playing video games, watching movies and taking naps.

This is easy for the kids, who always want to be entertained electronically all day without having to get dressed. Scott lives for these days too.

I do pretty well for a few hours, then I become wracked with guilt and get up to do something. If I groggily open my eyes during my nap, I'll look at the clock and think whether I could go back to sleep. Usually I bully myself into getting up, but yesterday? Yesterday? I went back to sleep! I took a four hour nap for the first time in years.

The sitting around is weird for me, I'm not used to it and I'm always telling myself it's not okay to veg out. It's been a struggle to go along with the slow flow and not rouse the family up to clean rooms or do dishes.

Before we had children, these kinds of days were easy for me, I worked, I got tired, sometimes I suffered from insomnia. The days I could rest were ones I needed to take advantage of, lying down and not being on my feet fetching books for customers.

Now, with kids and a household I should be taking care of it's become harder for me to admit that I'm tired and need a snooze or a few hours to sit around playing games on Pogo or Popcap.

Today I have given it the old college try! I made microwave grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids' lunch. I've been watching Netflix instant movies and goofing around on my laptop.

Eventually, the inactivity will get to me and I'll start to wander around picking things up or folding laundry. This week we'll need to get the kids' rooms cleaned out to make room for the Santa-produced haul they'll be getting on Saturday. Cookies need to be made for the man in red, photos need to be printed for the grandparents and then mailed and the kids can't stay in the same pajamas forever.

But, for the next forty-five minutes, I'm going to watch Law and Order and harvest my Frontierville crops. Pass the chips.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: I've decided naps are good for your skin. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

I apologize in advance if Rush is your guy

I accidentally got the radio on Rush Limbaugh yesterday while I was out running errands. Why I didn't just change the station I don't know, but I sat there listening for a while before screaming the word "bullshit" to the nobody in the car with me.

Everyone who knows me knows I'm a bleeding heart liberal, pretty much exactly who Rush thinks is an idiot and one of the individuals sending our country into the abyss of a nazi welfare state.

On paper, I look good to Rush and Sarah Palin and other Tea Party/uber-conservatives, I'm a stay-at-home mom, I've been married to the same person for a long time, I hold my family dear and wish for a better place for my children.

Then there are the pesky details, like my opinion that a little socialism can be a good thing or my support of a flat tax rate and the right for same-sex couples to marry. My point is that I'm not a big fan of Rush Limbaugh.

I don't think for one second that he or Ann Coulter really believe everything they say, but it makes for good ratings so they go way over the top.

Yesterday afternoon, Rush was complaining that one person was allowed to disrupt the crib industry by making it illegal to manufacture drop-side cribs. There have been scores of recalls on drop-side cribs over the years. When Scott and I were expecting, the women who lead the pre-natal classes we attended actively discouraged their use, citing the recalls and stories they'd heard from people in their classes.

But, Rush thought it was outrageous that one person was allowed this much power to send an entire industry back to the drawing board, costing them money and future sales because cribs with solid sides will be so much more expensive.

He then went on to do the math and stated it was based on only then deaths a year. He hammered that point several times, only ten deaths a year.

Only ten babies died so what's the big deal? Why should this woman get to say that these can't be used anymore and open the companies to lawsuits? It's just ten babies.

He went on to make some point about abortion and how many of those are performed but I was so pissed at him I didn't hear what he said.

Then, after I got done screaming obscenities about how I find him to be insensitive I got my senses back and tuned into some holiday music.

After singing along with Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton about how chilly it is outdoors, I felt better.

Why do I feel the need to make myself mad by listening to someone I know will say something that makes me mad? I say it's because I like to hear the opinion of someone who differs from me, but there is a difference between an exchange of ideas and opinions in a conversational/non-debate type of thing and listening to a person trying to keep a career as a highly visible political commentator in the mass-media.

If I want to ask a conservative person about their thoughts on a particular subject, I have several friends online I can go to. I would say "I'm not looking to debate, I just want to know what you think and why you think that would be good."

I will say that some people have surprised me by making a sane, rational, logical statement that I was frothing at the mouth opposed to before they showed me the positive side of things. And we've agreed to disagree and gone on with life.

I'm now going to avoid making myself crazy during this fine week of holiday celebration and will keep my radio dial away from that end of the spectrum.

Tonight, Scott and I are going to go out and finish up shopping for the kids. Pray for us!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: If you apply a teeny bit of Vaseline in a very thin layer to the inside of your wrist before spritzing on perfume, the scent will last longer. And remember! if you can smell yourself after you leave your bathroom, you've applied too much.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How do people do these things!

I was getting ready to write about how I've been bummed out for the last few days, maybe it's seasonal or holiday blues or not enough sleep, but then I watched the news.

We watch the news every morning, starting with our local news at 6 a.m. before catching Good Morning America at 7.  While I'm watching I play Farmville, check my email and bust up the early morning fights between my kids.

This morning, I learned a couple in Cypress Texas stole two inflated Christmas decorations last night.  Why am I even mentioning this, you may be asking, these things happen all the time.  Yeah, it's a bummer but what's up?

They were stolen from in front of a VFW Hall.  A man and a woman pulled up in front of Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, made sure no one was around and took their Christmas decorations.

What the fuck?

This story sent me into a fit of frustrated rage.  I can't go get their decor back and the VFW Hall is too far away for me to go visit with cookies and sympathy.  I can't find the chubby, bald man and the woman with it and shout that they're odious creatures, stealing from our vets and they probably don't even know what odious means!

The news is referring to them as a couple of Grinches instead of assholes, probably because they can't use the word 'asshole' on the morning news.

When I was working retail, it was right about now, the week before the 25th when we started to say "Merry Fucking Christmas!" in the break room.  Joy, fellowship and goodwill towards man were all lost due to long lines and the fact that we didn't have a book scheduled to be published in 60 days in stock already.

This is definitely an MFC moment.

So, if you are going to be addressing holiday cards and have a couple extra go to: to request an address so you can send a card to the troops overseas.

Now, I must go try and restore my Christmas spirit, The Santa Clause anyone?

Amanda's beauty tip of the day: The hair care section for black hair has some of the best deep conditioners available at very reasonable prices.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What didn't happen in the last ten years?

Let's see.

2000-2010.  We started in San Jose and ended up in Austin, just in relocations the decade was incredible.

We moved from San Jose to Seattle, then Seattle to Los Angeles, then within the Los Angeles area, then Los Angeles to Vancouver BC, then Vancouver to L.A. and L.A. to Austin.

Our life in Austin has stretched to almost double the amount of time we've spent in any other city.  We were in the L.A. area for three years when Zoe was a baby, but that was split between two different homes.  We were in the same apartment in San Jose for the entire 2 1/2 years we were there.

Here, we've been in the same spot for four years.  A record!  We've been able to get not only one dog but two!

I became a mother not once but twice.  I got a sensible car and joined the mother's club in my area, where ever that might be.  No one was more surprised than me when it turned out I liked the stay at home mom gig.

I started blogging and made friends all over the world.

I went crazy for a little while but I got better.

I turned 30, my belly filled with a baby girl we'd already named Zoe.

I got the courage to start taking photographs just for the joy of it and was pleased when I took good ones.

I started painting, again pleased when I was good at it.

I made history in the last Presidential election.  I never felt so empowered as a citizen of the United States as when I cast my ballot!

I did have to give up some dreams, something that comes with the territory of parenthood and realizing that the rules actually apply to me, that I will get older and these kids will grow up.

But, I got some new ones.  I'm not ready to share those yet, but the day may come.

I was paid for my writing for the first time.

I got the courage to give life some lipstick and told it to kiss my ass.

I did a lot of things that convinced me I can be fearless and strong, compassionate and generous, vulnerable and sad.

I'm still the Amazing Amanda, the one who produced cold beers from her purse like magic.

I may actually qualify as the crazy/cool mom of Zoe and Will who lets them paint the house and the fence and serves lemonade in Halloween cups in the middle of summer.

I became a girl scout leader and was surprised that I liked it.

I re-learned how to take care of myself without making the people I love feel like I was neglecting them.

I got a bottle of rum and taught myself to make Bananas Foster.

Come over for New Year's, I'll show you.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you are working retail this time of year and your feet are killing you, sit on the edge of the bathtub and stick them under running hot water, then cold, then hot again.  It will surprise you how much of a difference this makes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The end of the decade

The magazines I subscribe to are sending out their year end retrospective on not just the year 2010 but the end of the decade.

And it was a pretty incredible decade.  The Clinton terms ended with the dramatic Bush/Gore showdown, quickly followed by 9/11.

That was the day we locked ourselves inside to watch people die on television.  It was the day that made us feel unsafe to this day.  It was the day that was executed by a wealthy, religious zealot or our own government depending on who you talk to.

We saw the fall of Saddam Hussein while a decadence and luxury chasing consumerism rose to levels never seen before.

Katrina flooded New Orleans while the rest of the world watched in confusion as aid did not arrive and the body count rose.

Celebrity sex tapes ceased to be scandalous and bubble-gum pop made a comeback.

Paris Hilton called herself the blond icon of the decade and, sadly, she was right.

American Idol told us what to like.  "Reality" television made stars out of badly behaved rich people.  Oprah explained how to do everything exactly the way she did.

Sitcoms  went away in favor of crime dramas, then came back and Tony Soprano lived and died.

We shocked the world by electing a black man President, causing people to run through the streets yelling "Yes we did!  Yes we did!"  But everyone made history either voting for President Obama or voting for the first woman Republican VP candidate.

The Tea Party rose up in the face of the huge changes trying to happen with righteous indignation and Sarah Palin as their lipsticked leader.

British Petroleum poisoned the Gulf of Mexico and blamed it on the U.S. government for not calling them on their unsafe practices.

Soldiers went overseas and came back broken heroes for eight months before being sent back into the danger zone.

Meth replaced crack as the evil drug, but is the first to shift around the floorplan of your brain.

Harry Potter held us spellbound and vampires sparkled.

A mother demanded and explanation, Michael Moore staged his documentaries and Morgan Spurlock went on a McDonald's binge.

Everyone got on Facebook and Twitter making narcissism a national pastime.

The banks failed, needing to be bailed out like a college student that spent the last of their grant money and calls their parents for a ride home.

People were defaulted by their lenders and lost their homes anyway, while the executives that tricked them got richer than ever.

The fallout from this decade will most likely still be alive and well when my children graduate from high school.

My grandchildren will ask me where I was when the Twin Towers came down or if I voted for Obama or how people bought marijuana before it was legal.

An historical decade to be sure.  Tomorrow, I'll tell you about how the last ten years changed my life for good or better.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Red lipstick looks good on EVERYONE.  That's not just my opinion, it's shared by a multitude of make-up artists and beauty pros.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Whew! I can finally take a little breath!

The Hip Housewife has been busy the last couple of days!  I apologise for not updating for the last two days, but, I've been running around getting ready for the fine winter holiday to come.

Thursday, I went to the holiday Senior's Day Out tossed by the organization I volunteer with. I like going to Senior's Day Out.  I sit with a group of ladies and play cards and ask them about their grandkids.  Miss Roxie has told me she'll teach me how to play dominos one of these days. There's a style called "Chicken Foot" she says is fun.

For the party, I picked up Miss Sadie, a wonderful 74 year old woman who worked assembling bombs at the armory in Kansas for 35 years.  She's awesome.  It was too cold for her to stand outside, so I let her smoke in my car.  She can smoke a cigarette without actually touching it with her hands.  She can keep it dangling on her lip, talk, inhale and exhale all without touching it. 

She also tosses stuff out the car window without a second thought about it, butts, tissues, gum wrappers, it all goes out the window.  When the 'Don't Litter' campaign began, they may have been targeting Miss Sadie specifically. 

There's another woman I usually take to the Senior's Day Out but she's in the hospital right now.  Miss Dorothy had bronchitis not long ago and I'm worried it's turned into pneumonia or something like that.  I miss seeing her.  Miss Dorothy also smokes but ashes into her hand and puts the ashes into a tissue to throw away later. 

Both of them hide their smoking from the sons they live with, which cracks me up. 

When we arrived, all the other volunteers at the party were wearing Christmas sweaters and jingle bell necklaces and they handed us bingo cards as we came in, vintage ones with the little plastic slidie things to mark the squares.

I like to play bingo.  I liked it as a kid in school and I like it now.  I'm lucky at it too.  Scott and I went on a cruise in 1999 where I won $500 at bingo, cash in my hot little hand.  It was no different at the party.

While the numbers were being called you could have heard a pin drop, it was so quiet.  Every other time I've been to the Day Out parties there's a lot of hub-bub.  There are two tables that call themselves "The Talk Tables" because they don't play cards or cribbage or listen to a volunteer read, they just talk.  And because the ladies are all older, they talk pretty loud. 

When I was helping clear away coffee cups and plates during the break, I told them I was surprised they were being so quiet.  They told me they were too.

We were told right up front that the volunteers couldn't win anything, just the clients!  Well, fine!  I decided that if I got bingo, I'd give it to Miss Sadie. 

I hit bingo on the third game!  Then I hit again soon after and gave it to the lady on my other side.  By the time bingo was over and we were going to serve lunch, I'd gotten bingo five times, sharing them all out with the ladies around me.  They all went home with nutcrackers or other holiday decorations.  Then I'd swap cards with them so I'd have different numbers to work with. 

The other volunteers said when they saw me start moving around, talking to clients, they knew I'd won again.  This made me laugh heartily.  I really should start going to the real bingo games where I can win money or at least a turkey.

I wished all the ladies a happy holiday and took Miss Sadie to get some more smokes before I took her home. 

Then I went home myself to clean a couple bathrooms before I fetched Will from preschool.

And now, I will be dashing throught the house in my one pocket apron over the floors and stairs, sweating all the way.   Ha ha ha!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you're short on time getting ready for a party to which you'll be wearing open toed shoes, just paint the nails that show. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Where do these things GO?

We're having our annual tree trimming party on Sunday afternoon.  I'm going to make a couple of chocolate mousse pies to serve our guests.  I make a really good chocolate mousse.  Ask anyone who has had the joy of tasting my chocolate mousse how good it is, they'll tell you it's great.

I use the recipe from the 1997 edition of The Joy of Cooking.  I have multiple editions of The Joy of Cooking because each one is a little different. The 1961 editions I have include instructions on how to skin a squirrel and a recipe for headcheese, which looks damned disgusting especially when it's suggested to serve with creamed brains.  The 1997 edition is the only one that includes the mince pie Scott likes so much and this chocolate mousse recipe.

I got down my tattered cookbook so I could start my shopping list.  It's splattered with various drops of stuff I've cooked, pages are dog-eared and written on and sections have come separated from the spine.  As a matter of fact, the mince pie recipe fell out somewhere along the way.  But,  a friend of mine typed it out from her cookbook and sent it to me in an email.  I've printed it and I now have it in my personal recipe cookbook. 

Well, if you didn't see this coming, the chocolate mousse recipe is gone as well.  I don't know what happens to these pages.  I know if a page fell out and I found it, I wouldn't have tossed it.  I don't think Scott would either. Where do they go?

Do they go the same place bobby pins go?  Or washcloths?  Or screwdrivers?  Are all these items together at a safe house?  Did they all witness some terrible crime between household furnishings and have been taken into witness protection?  Did they get transported to a house in another neighborhood where they wouldn't be recognized and set up in a new utensil drawer? 

Maybe that's what's up with the shoes I see in the street, they were caught ratting out the hangers in the coat closet. 

Seriously, where do the shoes in the street come from?  There aren't any skid marks or signs of an accident, why are there shoes in the middle of the street?  I'm assuming they are flung from the window of a moving automobile as a joke or a punishment.  I mean, I can see that happening.

I tossed a few things out car windows as a teenager.  A couple of friends threw a couple of my things out of car windows but never my shoes.  Then again, I would have yanked that glass ashtray out of my purse and smashed the person trying to take my shoes in the mouth, so I'm probably a bad example.

And why do my children's expensive toys vanish while the Happy Meal playthings hang around for years?  The freebie carnival prizes will still be in this house when my grandchildren are coming to visit, but the fire engine that makes noises?  That'll be long gone or will surface in one of the neighbor's yards when they dig a pool.

But I digress, I still need my chocolate mousse recipe.  Lucky for me I know how to use the world wide net.  I not only found the recipe, I found a number of message boards where people like me discuss the pros and cons of the different editions of The Joy of Cooking.  There are a couple of sites I found dedicated to hard core collectors of not only the various editions but the first editions of each one. 

I prefer the broken in and messed up cookbooks from the sixties and seventies I find at the thrift store that feature photos of hideous dishes.  And yes, I most certainly have heard about the Gallery of Regrettable Food.    My friend Deb has a lovely collection of these she got from her family, she lets me leaf through them when we get together at her place. 

Sadly, none of them have a chocolate mousse recipe although they do include things like Sweet and Sour Tuna and cabbage in gelatin.

Now that I have my recipe in my hot little hand, I'm going to hit the store and I'll cook it up on Friday so that it will be appropriately set on Sunday. 

See ya!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Be sure to wash the insides of your ears, a pimple in there really hurts.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pay it forward!

Scott's car broke down on Saturday and had to be towed to our neighborhood mechanic.  He's a cool guy, honest, friendly.  He reminds us of our mechanic in California only organized and cleaner. 

One thing I stress about when we move is finding a mechanic.  If I don't know anyone how do I find a person who maintain our cars?  Even when you get recoommendations it's a toss-up.  In San Jose we went to the mechanic a couple of my co-workers told me about and the guys sucked.  They lied, they didn't fix stuff, they took a really long time, a bad scene all the way around.

But here, we have a great place only half a mile away, so we can drop off for inspections or oil changes and walk home. And the owner really likes being our neighborhood mechanic, it's what he wants.  He understands that if you treat your customers honestly and well, they'll tell their friends he's an honest mechanic. 

Anyway, Scott's car is in the shop.  We have one car for a couple of days and since Will has preschool today, I drove Scott to work.  We were out of coffee filters this morning, making the creation of coffee challenging.  We tried the paper towel method, which didn't go so well.  My excellent friends Greg and Jenn gave us a french press at Halloween, which slipped out of my hands when I was cleaning it last month and broke.  No way to make coffee this morning.

Let's say that we were feeling the lack of caffiene.  We opted to drive through Starbucks on our way to drop Will off at school.  Besides, there are Peppermint Mochas right now. 

We pulled up to the window and were told our total was only six dollars since the person in front of us paid for one of our drinks.

Can I tell you that made my morning?  How cool is that?  I thought random acts of kindness went out with the 1990s. 

The first thing I said to Scott was that I'd have to do that for someone else some day soon.  It keeps the good karma going around and around and around. 

I really like little things like that.  They make me happy. I now will go on to do a little thing like that for someone else in hopes of making them happy.

And it was yum yum yummy!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Very, very few women look good in a turtleneck.  Go with the odds and don't wear one.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sit down kids, time to watch Christmas movies

One thing I look forward to about the holiday season is watching Christmas movies.  I don't count "It's a Wonderful Life" because I watch that all year long.  I like the scene in the bar when the angel asks for some weird flaming drink and they get tossed out.

Among my favorites are Scrooged with Bill Murray, The Santa Clause, Elf, and Christmas Vacation.  I finally noticed last year that during scene where Randy Quaid and Chevy Chase are walking through Wal-Mart, Randy Quaid has a really big dildo down his pants.  Of course, now, that's all I look at.

Scott and I have the tradition of watching the Patrick Stewart A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve after the kids have gone to bed.  We have stilton cheese and port with the fire going, it's a very relaxing but festive event.

A Muppet Christmas Carol gave Scott one of his life philosophies "If you want to know the measure of a man, you simply count his friends."  And Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat are friggin' hilarious.  We watch this multiple times in the month of December.

I've got to include The Twilight Zone episode Night of the Meek when the drunk department store Santa find the magical bag that he can reach into and give people the gift they want or need.  He goes into the poor neighborhoods and gives the kids the toys they ask for and passes out sweaters, canes and coats at the Salvation Army.  Then the manager of the department store and the police chief accuse him of stealing, take his bag and pull out a bunch of garbage.  A few seconds later our Santa gives them a bottle of cherry brandy complete with personalized gift tag.  At the end of the show, he says he'd like to do this every year, make people happy.  Then he comes across the sleigh and reindeer and flies off into the sky. I'm a sucker for this episode and I cry at the end.

The kids also have their faves, they like Elf too even though they find the part with the sleigh a little scary.  The All Dogs Christmas Carol, A Charlie Brown Christmas and some other character driven holiday movies.  I can't remember all of them.  I'm sure there's one involving Hello Kitty.  There are a couple My Little Pony holiday movies, why not Hello Kitty?  How funny would a Monster High Christmas special be?

The classic claymation shows have been airing on TV, on those nights the kids get to stay up to watch.  Zoe especially enjoys these as well as any other claymation shows.  Well, except Davey and Goliath, she doesn't dig that duo so much.

And, I will now confess, that Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, is my #1 favorite holiday movie.  A local station in L.A. used to show it every year when I was a kid.  And the Christmas Scott and I both had the stomach flu, the only holiday programming we could find on after 9 p.m. was Santa Claus Conquers the Martians on channel 56.  It's got this wonderful campy vibe.  All the aliens speak English and look just like humans but with green skin and mask-less football helmets with flexible, metal pipes attached.

The first time I shared this film with my children, Zoe looked at Santa puffing on his pipe and screamed "He's SMOKING! Santa is smoking!"  and I laughed like a loon.

Tonight, we have Elf on the schedule.  Maybe I'll make spaghetti for dinner.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Buy a pair of inexpensive cotton gloves, they can be found at Target, The Body Shop and the dollar store sometimes, put a rich lotion on your hands then put on the gloves when you go to bed.  This will keep your hands soft during the winter months.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wonder how THIS one is going to play out

Zoe blindsided me with a question last night.  I should preface this story with the fact that my daughter is nine, but she's a young nine.  She prefers younger kids to play with or kids who are still into toys, stuffed animals and playing pretend.  There are some girls in her class who are heavy into Hannah Montana, Lady Gaga, the Pussycat Dolls and are reading teen magazines already.  Not my Z, she's still very much a child.

Way back when she started kindergarten in California, her teacher told me we'd obviously protected her, which she referred to as good parenting.  She was still very much a little girl who was only exposed to age appropriate stuff.  We didn't let her watch PG-13 movies, adult dramas and she spent a lot of time with other kids.

This theme has continued into her current age.  As you know, she and I had the tooth fairy discussion but she still likes the tradition.

Her question last night was "Hey mom, who really gave me my bike for Christmas?" I got her to come into my room so her brother wouldn't hear us.

She climbed up on my bed and hung on one of the posts.  "Who do you think gave it to you?"  I asked her while she acted like a monkey.

She paused and exclaimed "Grammy!"

I nodded.

"I knew it! But we want everyone to have fun so I won't tell anybody. But who eats the cookies?"

"Who do you think?"  I raised my eyebrows and grinned at her.

"You do!  And daddy!"

"Do you remember who spent Christmas with us last year?"

"Grammy and Papa! They ate the cookies too!"  (This made me think of the phrase 'They drank the Kool-aid' probably the most inappropriate phrase to think of while having the Santa talk with my daughter.)

I nodded again.

"You should save me some this year!"

"Tell you what.  We'll make lots and lots of cookies this year and we can all have some."  Zoe liked this idea and I decided I'd leave a note saying Santa left cookies for the kids.

Then she went off on a tangent about leaving carrots and corn for the reindeer and stockings that I couldn't quite follow.

"Besides, it's still a fun surprise on Christmas morning isn't it?  Coming downstairs, but not knowing what you'll find?"

She nodded, then ran off to take her bath. 

Considering how the tooth fairy thing worked out, I'm wondering how Christmas morning is going to be this year.

But I will keep that promise about the cookies. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  If you have break-out prone skin but you get dry in the wintertime, try switching to Cetaphil for all skin types.  Use a baby washcloth to gently exfoliate every second or third day.  GENTLY!  Don't rub.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wait up guys! Wait up!

Life has completely gotten away from me this week.  And the fact that today is Friday took me totally by surprise, I didn't realize the week was going so fast until yesterday when I realized there was a Girl Scout meeting that evening and I panicked, running around getting everything together I needed.

I'm going to claim that I'm not getting enough sleep to explain why I'm dragging.  First, it's been cold and I haven't been able to locate our extra blankets.

The dogs chewed up my comforter, a pattern I loved and is hard to find anymore.  I'm pissed and hate everything else I look at, bitter that celestial isn't as popular as it was in the mid-1990's.  I going to paint you dumb mutts!  Anyway, this is a layer of bedding we don't have anymore and haven't replaced yet.

The quilts and throws I can find are too short.  I'm trying various positioning, putting it on the bed like a diamond instead of a square so it will go over my feet.  But it doesn't work and I end up contorting myself to keep myself under the covers.

Toss into the mix the two 30 pound dogs who sleep with us.  If it's a good night, Peavey will curl up on Scott's feet and Gibson will burrow under the covers, curling up against my stomach and putting his head on my hip.  This helps hugely when I'm trying to stay warm, I can hug my puppy and feel toasty.

But, if it's a bad night, the animals will plop right on top of the blankets, leaving me only a sliver.  Then I have to kick the dogs around until I can get fully under the covers.  Or, they'll decide they want to sleep on the pillows with us. Sometimes I have to give up and move out to the couch where only one of them can get up with me, which is easier to deal with.

And my four year old son climbs in bed with us every night.  Why do we still allow this?  Because he operates via stealth.  He gets in bed with us without waking anyone up, then when I feel uncomfortable I wake up to discover that my son has come into my room and practically pushed me out of bed.

I'll move up to his bed, which is the most comfortable one in the house anyway.  I'm not kidding, we call his bed "The Bed of Doom" because if you lay down  on it, you go to sleep.  My mom, who suffers from horrid insomnia, even in her own bed, sleeps like a rock in Will's bed.  I have to close the door or the dogs will come get in bed with me.

I'll sleep in Will's bed until he wakes up, finds that I've moved elsewhere and comes to find me.  Then the process starts all over again.  He opens the door, the dogs rush in, he gets in bed with me and I end up with a teeny corner of the blanket.

If it's close to five a.m. I'll give up and just get up, hoping that Will will stay conked out and not follow me to the living room.

With all these nighttime dramas I drag through my day, trying to get stuff done.  I drink too much coffee to try and compensate, then I can't focus on any one task long enough to finish it so I end up trying to multitask but that doesn't work either, the end result being I make messes and feel frustrated.

I stay up late to try and achieve my simple goals, the process repeats and I start the next day more tired and scattered than ever.  I'm thinking I should let it all go today and only do my bare minimum of tasks before making the other residents of this house assist me this weekend.

That sounds good.  Where's the coffee?  Oh! Ellen's on!

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  There is no cream or lotion that will lift anything anywhere on your body.  Rubbing egg whites on your skin and letting it dry will give the same result.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Hip Housewife talks holiday shopping

I did go out shopping the day after Thanksgiving, but not early and not to really buy anything.  I went to see what Santa might think about spending for my kids.  Lots and lots of possibilities for the fat man in the red suit to ponder.

Did you know there's a Nerf dart gun that comes with a bandoleer foam dart holder for quick reloading?  The Monster High dolls were gone at eleven in the morning.  There were a bunch of clothing racks pushed back to make room for piles of inexpensive goods. 

I stopped in front of a big cube made from EZ Bake Ovens.  Those suckers were only twenty bucks!  That'd be a good one for Zoe. She likes to bake and this would give her an over of her own. 

Then I thought, wait, I have an oven.  I have a real, working oven, why would we need a light bulb in a box?  Shoot we could make a box oven, we have a box, we have aluminum foil, we can get the stuff to make a light bulb on a cord and we have a utility knife to cut a hole in the box for the light bulb on a cord.  As a matter of fact, that's something Scott could do with the kids over the winter break. 

I decided that Santa would be delivering Zoe a basket of small cake pans, cake mixes and kitchen gear that would be just hers.  Then we could make a cake together and share the sweets.  That would make her very happy. 

Once that plan was made, I wandered around and ended up giggling at the intensity of the people in the store with me.  Almost everyone was on a cell phone. 

It was too early to call my sister and now her line is going to voice mail, can you walk over and ask her if she wants me to get these for her?  I'm going to put them in my cart and wait for you to call me back.

Yeah, they have pajamas but no nightgowns, what do you want me to do?

What do you think about getting a vacuum for mom?  No, I'm not kidding. 

Toy section, jammed.  Electronics, jammed.  Aisles around the inexpensive piles on the aisles, jammed.  Endcaps with little gifty sets had a bunch of people crowded around them. 

I've always liked shopping at the busiest times.  I like wading through the crowds, humming Christmas music and dragging my bags around.  It's why I like to go out on Black Friday, even if I don't buy anything.

And funny things happen, I was once in Barnes and Noble, waiting in a huge line to buy a book for my dad.  One of the managers came over the loudspeaker "Barnes and Noble customers, we are aware that the lines are very long, but it is Christmas time." 

The guy in front of me and I looked at each other and burst out laughing.  It was so ridiculous for anyone to even complain about how long the line was on the 22nd of December at 6:30 p.m., then the silly announcement, it was all hilarious. 

One year when I was working at B&N, a woman in her eighties with a walker came around the wrong way towards the registers.  One of the employees looked towards the other people waiting with her eyebrows up, the majority of whom nodded that it was okay for her to help this elderly woman out of turn. 

As she hobbled up, the man who was next shouted "Hey!  There is a line here!" And every customer at the counter turned and looked at him before turning back to the register to ask to see books behind the counter, make chit-chat, buy gift certificates, ask for change and make this jerk wait longer.  Everyone who was witnessing this spectacle was stifling giggles and laughed out loud when he got pissed and stormed out. 

Working in the housewares department at a department store, I sold three breadmakers in 2 hours to men wandering in between 6 and 8 a.m. on the 24th looking for something for their wives.  I pointed to pre-gift wrapped breadmakers, on sale for $95.  Sold! 

I have witnessed people meandering around stores saying "uh.... uh..... uh.....Oh!  Oh, no.  Uh.... uhh.."

We're going to go out this weekend to get a new artificial tree, a small one.  We'll get a big one on clearance after the 25th. But, it's going to be fun walking around watching people be confused and make phone calls. 

I should find instructions on how to make an oven in a box to make sure I have all the supplies for later this month.

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Those at-home peels?  Just say no!