Introduction by our very own Kristy Nuttall:
Our guest blogger today is my friend Lori Culwell. She’s someone I met years ago at one of the charity events that I put on – Spa Boutique for a Cure. She was writing a story on the event for Splash Magazine. Little did I know when we met that we’d become friends and do something that most angeleno’s never do … STAY IN TOUCH – haha. Lori is an awesome writer and I read both of her blogs daily (FunnyStrange and SofaCoins will help you save money today). If you aren’t already a fan … you will be after you read her guest post today. Oh … and did I mention she’s the author of the book we’re giving away this week? She is … . You don’t have much time to enter before the drawing … when you stop laughing at her … uh … I meant to say, at her POST … you should jump over to the entry for the drawing and leave a comment so you will have a chance to win … and YES … you can leave multiple comments. With all that being said … I now proudly introduce you to my personal friend … :: drum roll please :: Lori Culwell!!
So….hi! I’m Lori Culwell, and I’ll be your guest blogger for today. I am the author of two books (this novel and this non-fiction book), I work on websites, and I also do the blog Funny Strange, where I can often be found writing about things that I find, well, funny and strange. This has included (but has by no means been limited to) my seeing the late Dom Deluise at a yard sale (before his passing of course), a series of photos of people dressed as clowns, Monday morning Saturday Night Live analyses, “Top Ten” lists of all variety, and references to the fact that I went to high school with the ex-husband of “The Cougar,” with some book promotion thrown in for flavor.
On Cooking, Novels, and Cheerios….
The other day I took a photo of a Cheerios box and sent it to myself for the purposes of writing about it on my blog. Everyone does stuff like that, right? I like to tell myself that everyone takes pictures of things like weird street signs and cereal boxes for the purposes of writing about them, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.
Thank goodness the internet has made it so I can shed light on my weirdness, like how I find cetain things amusing, and (of course) my crazy food phobia which has necessitated an in-depth study of the “Restaurant Ratings” section of the Los Angeles Department of Health website, to determine where I might actually be willing to eat sushi.
I decided that the Cheerios discussion would most certainly transfer to this blog, since food is a topic of discussion here, right? RIGHT? It really isn’t about Cheerios, though I do love eating cereal, especially for dinner. You know how they say that after awhile, one person in the couple takes over a task, and then the other person loses this skill altogether? This has happened with my husband and I — he no longer pays bills, and I have forgotten how to cook (that is, if I ever knew it the first place). Which brings me back to cereal. Because a ) I have lost the ability to cook food and b) I am almost always afraid to eat something I have cooked, when my husband has to go somewhere, I can most likely be found at one of the “A” rated food places in my neighborhood, or in my kitchen, eating cereal, which is what I was doing the other night when I noticed the side of the Cheerios box.
Ah– here’s the topic. Here it is! Like an elusive groundhog. While eating cereal for dinner the other night, I noticed (by reading the Cheerios box) that Cheerios is doing this campaign that I think is supposed to rival the “lower your cholesterol” campaign that Quaker Oats did a year or so ago. Turns out Cheerios (which, in case you didn’t know, is also made of oats) can ALSO lower your cholesterol if you eat it instead of, say, bacon and eggs every day for breakfast. Go figure! As part of this campaign, Cheerios is encouraging you to take the “six week challenge,” wherein you would presumably have your cholesterol checked, then eat Cheerios every morning for breakfast for six weeks, then have your cholesterol checked again. Frankly, this sounds like alot of doctor visits and blood draws for a breakfast cereal-inspired health challenge, but that is not even the most amusing part about this to me. The “funny strange” in this, ladies and gentlemen, is the list of OTHER things the Cheerios people have suggested I could also do in six weeks– a list that, I think you’ll agree, is so arbitrary as to be absurd. Did they go with something standard that people would agree takes about six weeks, like taking a class or finishing up a big project at work?
No, they did not. Here is what the Cheerios people have chosen to put under the heading “Things That Take Six Weeks.” These are the things that came up during the big brainstorm at Cheerios headquarters.
Actual Cheerios copy: In the time it takes for your new couch to arrive, you’d be sitting at a more comfortable cholesterol level.
My notes: Huh? The last new couch I got was from Pottery Barn. Of course, it did take them two days to deliver it, but that was because I didn’t want to pay for weekend delivery. So– six weeks for a couch, really? Is this how long it takes if you custom order a couch? Also, I am disturbed by the sound of “sitting on a more comfortable cholesterol level.” This doesn’t seem medically sound OR very sanitary, frankly.
Actual Cheerios copy: “By the time you’d read that novel cover to cover, you could start a new chapter in heart health.”
My notes: Again, huh? Isn’t a novel by its very nature supposed to be a fast read? Is this a BAD novel we’re talking about? I’d say a self-help book with exercises or a cookbook would be a better candidate for six weeks cover to cover. Speaking of novels, I wrote one that definitely won’t take you six weeks to read.
Actual Cheerios copy: “Or in the time it takes your child to finish her Shakespeare report, you could report a lower cholesterol level.”
My notes: A third time, huh? Doesn’t this student have access to Wikipedia? Who is in charge of making sure this child does her homework? I’m just saying, it never took me six weeks to write a Shakespeare report, and I grew up before the internet, people. Also– I think if they were going to mention Shakespeare, they should’ve made the copy itself sound Shakespearan, like “Nay, in the passing of three fortnights’ hence, thou shalt clear thy blood humors and vent thy spleen!” Really, don’t you think this sounds better? I say if you’re going to go Shakespeare, go FULL ON SHAKESPEARE.
And that, my friends, is a typical blog post in Funny Strange land. Also, I think you should totally sign up to win a copy of my novel, or maybe follow me on Twitter. Who knows what I will photograph next?
Introduction by our very own Jodycakes –
Hello there, folks…I’m SO excited to have the dynamic duo of Lil Sis/Big Sis up this week as our guest bloggers! I have to say, I don’t exactly know how “we” came about…well, I do, but as I always say, ‘that’s a whole other Oprah” (basically my sad wobegotten post about losing my Dad brought in the most beautiful people and L.S. & B.S. were two of ‘em). I am doubly thrilled by them and in moving forward of getting to “know” these ladies, I find them HI-LAR-EEEEEE-OUS that their forum is similar to our own, in the fact that they each post on different days about totally different topics as we do…for instance, recently Big Sis did a post warning LilSis (obviously not a cat person) to take heed in the hairball pictures (the coolest bit is that Ashy Poo – kitty has blue toenails) but on the VERY NEXT DAY, I could totally relate to LilSis and how she won’t be wearing the ‘six pack’ abs due to the fact that she’s rocking the Walking Boot…Been there too. I love these ladies – they talk about food, friends, and life in general and for that…I am blessed to know that I can bond with such DAMN kick ass women…One final note – they are total POTATO HO’s like us…check out this whimsical dish – The Pink Potatino…Allow me to introduce to you (in no particular order) Lil Sis & Big Sis ::claps::
Who are BigSis and LilSis?
First of all, we are really sisters.
BigSis works in a beautiful high rise office in Dallas and she lives in Dallas with her two little furkids, Ashy Poo and Gaby Baby. When she’s not working or cleaning up after the furkids, BigSis is always occupied with working out, baking, working on a craft project, creating for a cooking contest, or estate saling.
LilSis works from home for SirHoney’s business. She and SirHoney have a blended, yours, mine, and ours family with five children and three grandchildren. LilSis resides in southern CA, with her hubby, SirHoney, son, HayHay and kitty, TomTom. Just in the past week, LilSis’ older son, BryBry moved into his own place and sadly, SarahGirl – the best Great Dane ever – left us to go to heaven.
On a lighter note, we’re just two sisters who love to talk. And we talk about everything on our BigSisLilSis blog. You can read more about us HERE. We talk about food, makeup, health, fitness, skin care, and much more…anything that women talk about, we talk about!
So the gals from WMDA asked us to write a guest post on anything we wanted, and suggested that we write about something that shows who we are. That made us think. Who are we? Where did we come from? What made us the people we are? We started reminiscing about all of the things that we used do with our spare time as kids, and just thinking about it brings back some great childhood memories. It also made us realize what a stark contrast our childhood was to the experience that kids have “these days”.
There were lots of things we didn’t have as kids, but we didn’t realize it and we certainly didn’t miss any of these things:
- Television in our bedroom. We had one TV in the family living room and it got 5 channels…the 3 networks, public TV and 1 local channel! There was no cable TV, VCR, DVD player, DVR, Blu-Ray, Netflix, Blockbuster or Pay per View. 5 channels…period.
- Telephone in our bedroom. We had one phone in the living room, and it seemed sufficient. Of course, there were no cell phones and no texting. If you wanted to tell a friend something, you walked over to their house.
- Computers. No computer games, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Google, internet, chat rooms or blogs.
- Portable music beyond an AM transistor radio. No iPod or CD player. We had record players that played 33 LPs and 45 singles.
- No spring break. It was so simple. We had 2 weeks off at Christmas, and 3 months off in summer. No winter break, fall break, or any of those other breaks.
If you asked kids today to give up all those things that they have never had to do without, they literally wouldn’t know what to do with themselves! They’d freak out.
We’re not whining though. We aren’t whiners! Maybe we’re even bragging that we grew up the way we did? Maybe. We had a blast as kids and have some great childhood memories. If we didn’t have all the electronics and high tech “stuff”, just what did we DO??? OMG, what did we DO? Well, we did a lot!
- We played outside. In the summer, it would be common for us to hop on our bikes and not even come back home until dark.
- We went swimming at the public pool and got a giant pickle for a nickel.
- We built forts, tree houses and had clubs with other kids.
- We built dirt roads and cities for our Hot Wheels.
- We bought big bags of sunflower seeds and walked all over the city with our friends, spitting a trail of shells as we walked.
- We made things with our Incredible Edibles and Thingmaker machines. Those machines would literally burn your fingers off, so they’d never be allowed on the market now. We always wanted an easy bake oven but never had one.
- We took old pots and pans from the kitchen and made mud pies. Gasp! We got *dirty* and had no hand sanitizers!
- We played games, but not X-Box, Gameboy, Playstation, or Wii games. We played Sorry, Monopoly, Twister, Clue, Mystery Date, and jacks. If the weather was good, we played Dodge Ball, Red Rover, Hide-n-Seek, or It.
- We played with our Barbies and with Crissy and Velvet. Crissy belonged to LilSis and Velvet belonged to BigSis. We could entertain ourselves for hours playing with their hair, and we still have them!
- We roller skated all over the neighborhood in those ‘old timey’ metal skates that you attached over your gym shoes…without a helmet! And our knees were never without big scabs from trying repeatedly to go down the neighbors’ steep driveway without falling. (You’d think we would have figured out that it was not possible.)
- We suffered our share of bumps, bruises, and scrapes, but thankfully never had a broken bone.
- We thought we were rich if we got a dollar to walk to the corner 7-11 to buy candy. It’s a wonder we have any teeth left in our heads! We bought Lemon Heads, Laffy Taffy, Now Laters, Neccos, Sugar Daddies and Sugar Babies, Maple Nut Goodies, Chick-O-Sticks, Three Musketeers, Boston Baked Beans, French Burnt Peanuts, and gum full of sugar with little cartoons in the wrappers. (We would bring SisMama home a Cherry Mash or a Mounds, just to be sweet little kids.)
- We had fun at our grandparents’ house when we sisters would go for visits in the summer. Our Grandmama occupied us with scraps of fabric and a pair of pinking shears. We played in her jewelry box and tried on her earrings that would pinch your ears so hard they would go numb and have a red indentation for hours. We made fried pies together with peaches picked straight off her tree. We had a snack of cheese and a partly frozen Dr. Pepper in a bottle while General Hospital was on. We went to Piggly Wiggly and had a box of animal crackers while we shopped. We went to the local “five and dime” store called Wackers and loved the talking parrot they kept in the store that would repeat over and over “Shop at Wackers, Shop at Wackers, Shop at Wackers”. We had Spaghetti Os and sweet rolls for dinner. We smelled the petunias and always think of our Grandmama when we do now.
We sometimes wonder if growing up in Texas was different than maybe growing up somewhere else. Hmmm?
Did other kids play with Horned Toads? We’d chase them and collect a whole shoe box full. We would get our brothers together and all have a little friendly horny toad competition to see whose was the meanest. When you get them mad, they puff up their bodies to try to make themselves look even more “horny” And, did you know if you get a horny toad really, really mad, they are able to squirt an aimed stream of “blood” from the corners of their eyes? How many kids today have had that experience?
Did other kids grab bologna and string and drive to the creek on their bikes for a day of crawdad fishin?
Did other kids capture and torture June bugs and grasshoppers? Did you know June bugs have brown stuff squirt from their bodies when thrown into a bowl of hot water? (Sorry, we were kids; sometimes ornery kids.)
Did other kids go out into the yard in the summer and pick spear grass and viciously throw it at their siblings? Did you know that the spear grass with the red tips is the sharpest and could literally stab someone through their clothes?? Tee hee. We know from experience; ask our brothers!
We love our brothers dearly and we sisters are great friends now. Were we always this way? Um, no! We did fight! And we fought a lot! We don’t know how our parents survived all the bickering. Poor BDot had to sit in between BigSis and LilSis on our four and a half hour drives to our grandparents’ house. We always left at 4:30 in the morning because Daddy thought we had a more likely chance to sleep most of the way there. It was all four kids in the back seat with pillows and tons of stuff to do. Not a lot of room. AND no seatbelts!
We had great childhoods. As kids, we always had plenty to do, and were tired at the end of the day. We went right to sleep instead of staying up all night texting our friends. We ate whatever we wanted, but we were tanned and skinny kids since we were so active outdoors. And, most importantly, we used our imaginations.
Thanks to the great ladies here at WMDA for letting us share. We hope that maybe we’ve stirred up some of your childhood memories. Is there anything you remember fondly that kids will never know the joy of now?
Introduction by our very own Cathy Craig
I am so excited to present to you not only a KICK ASS blogger, but an incredible woman! Meleah is one of a kind. She’s funny, witty, inspiring and .. well after you read her post below … DAMN Human! Meleah Rebeccah Hawthorne is a New Jersey native. She lives with her 12 yr old son and loves her MacBook, writing, watching TV, reading, sleeping, cheese, bacon, SNL and driving too fast. She has a great blog that chronicles her daily life and her search for Mr. Right – all while battling Crohn’s Disease. She is an amazing writer who will some day soon (I hope) publish her amazing story that she has been teasing us with just a few chapters at a time!! Here is the link to preview what will no doubt be a best seller – Meleah Rebeccah’s Story
So without further delay …. Ta Da … Presenting Meleah…
Hello readers of WMDA. My name is Meleah Rebeccah, and I am the author of the blog Momma Mia Mea Culpa. I feel absolutely honored to have been asked by the talented and lovely ladies of WMDA, to write a guest post here on this blog. My only concern was figuring out a topic to write about. I hope this will do!
I once wrote a story about how I accidentally got into someone else’s car. Because, you know, Hyundai’s and Nissan’s look so much alike. Right? I was utterly distracted after seeing what could have easily been Sanjaya (an American Idol contestant from season six) strolling into my local CVS. As I wondered aimlessly into the parking lot, I was lost in deep thought, thinking about how funny that post would have been. I was disappointed for missing the perfect opportunity to hold a spontaneous Sanjaya look-a-like contest because I had left my digital camera at home. Preoccupied, and contemplating the words I would have used in my ‘almost post’- I began unloading the bags from my shopping cart into THE WRONG CAR. The only clue to the situation I had gotten myself into was how clean the back seat of the wrong car was. The back seat of my car is filled with empty coffee cups, cigarette packs, 15 pairs of shoes. All of which I did not see, while I was neatly placing bags into…The Wrong Car. Thankfully the rightful owner of the vehicle did not see me and I walked away unscathed. But, I was absolutely mortified.
The reason I am bringing that up is because, embarrassing moments happen to all of us. All of the time. For me, the best way to deal with such moments is the ability to laugh at myself. I learned just how to laugh at myself by one of my oldest and dearest friends Brian. He has graciously agreed to allow me to tell you his most embarrassing moment since I’ve already posted all of mine!
In order to fully appreciate this story you must understand that my friend Brian is not what you can consider a ‘social’ person by any stretch of the imagination. He is the definition of an introvert. He is very reserved. He keeps to himself. He is extremely shy. Brian is super quiet and rather uncomfortable even around people he knows. He won’t move a muscle or bat an eyelash around a stranger. Oh, one more thing, there is nothing threatening about his appearance whatsoever. Brian is tall and lanky, with coke-bottle glasses. Let’s be honest, he is the quintessential nerd. He is a total geek, and a complete dork, and I love him for it.
One winter morning, Brian was walking from the train station to work as he does most days. It’s a good fifteen- minute hike. All of a sudden, Brian thought he spotted a co-worker from his office pulling out of the local Wawa parking lot.
The driver, a rather robust woman, paused at the exit, and was waiving to him. Brian merely assumed that she was offering to give him a lift the rest of the way to the office. Offers of transportation are frequently afforded to him on a weekly basis, and they are both welcomed and un-welcomed, depending on who his companion might be.
As he was late for work, not an uncommon event, carrying a heavy bag, and freezing cold, he cheered at the prospect of getting to work – all warm and rested.
Without even looking at the driver, he ran around the passenger side of the vehicle, opened the door, threw his bag in the car, and jumped in the passenger seat.
The driver looked at him with total fear. Instinctively, she started to honk her horn, and began yelling out the window that she was being carjacked.
Brian must have had a deer in the headlights look on his face.
He completely panicked. He started apologizing profusely and tried explaining to a screaming woman that he thought she was a co-worker. When that didn’t help to calm her down, he grabbed his bag, jumped out of the car at the speed of light, and jogged at a lively pace up the street.
For the next five blocks, Brian kept looking behind him for an approaching police car. When he arrived at work, he told his boss about the whole incident, who proceeded to laugh, and tell the rest of office Brian’s latest misadventure (His boss is the proverbial 13th Apostle… Always spreading the word).
For one whole month, Brian altered his travel route for fear of seeing that lady.
Now tell me, Ladies and Gentlemen, what is YOUR most embarrassing moment?
Introduction done by our very own Lindaloohoo:
I must start this introduction with the warning that there are serious vagina chakras involved with this guest. Jenny is powerful in the way of the sun. You, and your vagina, shouldn’t look directly at her for too long or without the proper protection, lest you find yourself uncomfortable and trust me, aloe won’t help the burning.
The Bloggess is cleverness with a microphone and if you don’t read her every day, just what are you doing with your life?? I once sent her an email and told her that reading her was like my little secret . . . that she made me feel warm inside, like the feeling of finding a crisp, forgotten hunddie in my just washed jeans. She never responded.
But she did respond when Miss Kristy sent her an email asking if she would like to be a guest in the DAMN house. This is her reply:
Jenny: Normally I say no to all of these because I suck as a guest poster but I adore you so I cannot say no. But I can say that I don’t have anything to write about. Because I don’t. The well is dry. Can you give me a topic or a question or something? Then I’ll write something so terrible that you’ll never publish it and will pretend you never got it and the next time we see each other it will be all awkward. Except I’ll probably be drunk and will think you’re someone else and you’ll be all “You know…from Where’s-My-Damn-Answer?” and I’ll be all “FROM NPR?! I LOVE YOU GUYS!” and you’ll be like “No. That’s Wait-Wait-Don’t-Tell-Me. This something completely different. Why are you wearing a dolphin costume?” And you know what? I have no idea why I’m wearing a dolphin costume.
Okay, never mind. Just publish this whole response. It’s like some sort of horrible, living warning as to why no one should ever ask me to guest post. At least I didn’t say “cunt” though, right? TA DA!
So she loves Kristy, but didn’t respond to me. Of course my email to her also included a link to an article about gin soaked raisins being the new cure for arthritis. I even told her she could think of them as Cindy Brady Poprocks. Let me repeat, she never responded.
Still, I came up with a list of possible topics for her to guest post about.
My humble email (which I obviously didn’t realize was going to be forwarded in it’s entirety to the Goddess/Bloggess, thank you very much Kristy, but since it was, I feel it’s appropriate to share it, in all it’s glory, with you):
hard to beat a topic like a cunt in a dolphin costume, but here goes:
- what she does when the end of the toilet paper roll is staring at her and there isn’t any more within reach.
- how she met her husband, victor.
- worst job interview she’s ever had. said another way: did she ever work that cunt word into a job interview? (my old boss could use the word vagina in almost any conversation at any time, truly a talent)
- greg brady or keith partridge?
- how she feels about dirt. (oddly, some people have a strong opinion about dirt. who knew?)
- thong or bikini briefs?
- carrying around the inner feeling of being a merkin in a brazillian waxed world. (uh. wait. maybe that’s just me.)
So … without any further explanations needed – here’s our Who’s in da DAMN House Wednesday? guest post from The Bloggess!!
The Bloggess: Shortest guest post in the history of the world: Greg Brady or Keith Partridge? - Keith Partridge
Intro from our very own jodycakes: So I’ve been sitting at my computer keyboard trying to come up with my intro for Melissa…but I just can’t seem to come up with all the wittiness that I wanted, so let me start like this. I don’t know Melissa…we’ve never met, yet somehow, some way, I feel as if I’ve known her my whole life. She’s made me laugh and she’s made me cry. It’s funny how you “connect” with someone you don’t know…kinda like a soulmate (hope that doesn’t freak ya out!!!). I can tell by her posts that she has the BIGGEST heart and probably the most kick ass laugh you’d ever know. How do I know this? I don’t – it’s just a feeling….so…I really, really, really wanted her to come over to play with us. What I like about Melissa is that it seems to me that she is UBER tenacious. I mean, she admits freely that she never knew how to cook, and that she subjected her loving hubby Steve to all types of ‘bland packaged dish(es) that tasted pretty “ehhh”‘ That makes me giggle – because I too was that way…so yet another connection. Her blog, Alosha’s Kitchen, is an amazing journey of her just diving in, feet first and learning how to cook. And if you pay real close attention, there seems to be this underlying zen quietness, underneath it all…HERE FOLKS, I GIVE YOU MELISSA!
Hi everyone! I appreciate everyone coming over to read my post and I want to extend a special warm welcome to those who are already long-time fans of Where’s My Damn Answer? Our love for these ladies means we already have something in common.
It may seem odd since I have a food blog that I am posting about, well, not food. But WMDA seemed like a perfect spot for me to let it all hang out in a more personal way. So here goes. The big topic of the day is…
Fulfilling your dreams
I think most people have some idea when they’re young of certain things they want in life. I know I did. I knew that a career didn’t matter to me much. There was never anything I so desperately wanted to do that I felt compelled to pursue it. I was more the type that liked a lot of things to some degree, but not one thing to a large degree. I also never really wanted to get married or have children… though I’ve been happily married nearly 13 years now, so life sure surprised me with that one.
So what did I dream of?
1. Having a house. I grew up solely in apartments, so I always fantasized about having a nice house for myself.
2. Travel. This was the big one. From the time I was about 10 years old, with my head in books every free minute I had, I knew I wanted to travel. Sometimes I became enamored with a specific place, like the English countryside or the Egyptian pyramids, but it really was more a sense of just wanting to explore, to experience, to immerse myself in every culture I could.
So here I am in my early 30s, and so far, nada. I’ve been to the majority of the U.S. , but really only driving through. The only travel Steve and I have done, not including seeing family in Dallas for the holidays, has been to Monterey and Big Sur two years in a row for our anniversary. No house yet either. We’re still renters.
So like many people, I was starting to let my dreams fade. I float along day after day, I go to my job, I see friends, I blog, I cook, I survive. I’m not unhappy per se, but little by little, I could see my life just being this and only this until Steve or I die. And I would be left wondering what could have been. I don’t want to end up like that. I don’t want to come to the end, like my dad, and wish I would have done so much more, that I had followed my heart. But I was stuck and didn’t seem to know how to move forward… or if I did know, I didn’t want to face the sacrifices I would have to make. What I needed was a gigantic kick in the ass.
And it came. And you’ll never believe how. From WMDA’s very own jodycakes. Yes, you! The funny thing is I had forgotten the source until I started writing this guest post. See how the universe works? Heh. See here:
That post motivated me to sign up for Notes from the Universe. And you wouldn’t believe what it’s done for me. See, when you sign up, you enter your name and email of course, but you also enter in the two things you want the most in life. I typed “dream kitchen” (my dream of having a house has morphed more into the kitchen thing because of discovering my love for cooking) and, of course, “travel.”
So every weekday I get these emails, sometimes silly, sometimes serious. And always talking right to me, about my dreams. Here’s a good example:
Always, Melissa, when you just don’t know what you want, want happiness, and when you just don’t know what to do, do anything.
You can start today -
Someone’s getting a dream kitchen, Melissa, someone’s getting a dream kitchen!!
Or this one:
2009, Melissa, will not be just another year.
It’s the absolute richest I’ve ever imagined, with the most possibilities I’ve ever created, for the coolest people I’ve ever known, to do the greatest things that have ever been done.
Don’t feel any pressure.
Let’s do this,
Melissa, 2009 is yours, baby, dream kitchen and all…
Now how could I not feel motivated by that??
Seriously, some days, I would read these and, though smiling, I would feel tears spring to my eyes. And little by little, I started to think that yes, I can and SHOULD live the life I want to live. Because this sure as hell isn’t it. And I need to get started. Now. Today. I’m about to be 34. And though it’s never too late, I think it’s pretty great to realize this now rather than at 54.
It seems kind of funny that my catalyst was something so simple. Obviously, I was ready to hear what these messages had to say. There were also other factors, like being unhappy in my job, that helped give me a push. But the end result is I’ve begun planning and taking the small actions I can. It’s going to take about a year, but I know how to make it happen. And though it will still take certain sacrifices, some more painful than others, it will be worth it to have my dreams come true. They WILL become a reality!
So, as WMDA’s Cathy always says, here’s the DAMN question:
Are you living the life you want to be living? Have you fulfilled any or all of your dreams? If so, how did you make it happen? If not, what’s holding you back?
Intro from our very own jodycakes: Hello there…we all have the blogs that we read EVERY.SINGLE.DAY and our guest blogger today is one of my absolute faves, as well as being mon petite hero;-) Why do I say this? Well, I have a few love affairs going on…yes, Mr. G. knows about it…one is with baking (obviously) and the other is with France. So you put two of my fave things together and Voilà, you have the perfect combination! A blogger that is a baker IN PARIS! Croque Camille, affectionately named after the sandwich Croque Monsieur, is smart as a whip and has a sharp, witty sense of humor . Her posts about livng in France, have me cheering her on from afar, when she talks of her trials and tribulations of an American in Paris. However, most of the time she has me literally DROOLING on my keyboard with her recipes and tips, along with awesome posts from around France, as she and her hubby eat & drink their way through. Yum. Without further adieu, let me present to you Croque Camille:
Bonjour WMDA readers! Camille here, from Croque-Camille: Food Adventures in Paris, and I’m thrilled to be here. As an American woman working as a pâtissière in France, I’ve had the opportunity to see the inner workings of a Parisian pastry shop, as well as experience the frustration of being a foreigner and not being taken seriously despite my experience, knowledge, and passion for the art of pastry. But I didn’t come here to bitch. Instead, I’m going to share one of the most bizarre, surprising things I’ve learned about cooking at home in France, and how I’ve turned a hurdle into an asset.
One of the things that confounded me the most upon moving to France was the discovery that boxed or canned stock/broth is not sold in grocery stores. Or anywhere for that matter. They sell bouillon cubes, which apparently people here use. And these people are supposed to be food lovers! As far as I’m concerned, bouillon cube = salt. Not the same as stock. What is equally puzzling is that asking butchers for chicken or veal bones with which to make stock almost always returns a questioning look and a “sorry, we don’t have that.” But that’s another post.
This one is about making that stock the right way, be it chicken, rabbit, duck, veal, fish, or vegetable. (Yes, there is a way to make good vegetable stock!) “Stock,” you say, “isn’t that kind of boring?” To which I reply, “Absolutely not.”
There has been some hubbub on the internet lately about some remarks made by Michael Ruhlman and Mark Bittman (at least in food blog circles, there has) regarding the use of canned or boxed stock. They are both pretty firmly against it. I understand why – it’s not the same as homemade, like, at all. Homemade stock allows the cook to control the salt levels completely, as well as giving that incomparable, rich mouthfeel so lacking in prepackaged stocks. Both Ruhlman and Bittman also suggest using water in place of stock if your only option is the canned stuff. I say, if you’re doing something like braising chicken or making some other long-simmered dish, go for it. (Or better, use a little wine or beer for your liquid component.) If you’re making a brothy soup or risotto, however, you need the flavor of a stock. Obviously, it will be better if you use homemade, but I’ve eaten plenty of soups made with boxed chicken stock, and you know what? They tasted fine to me.
Still, it’s pretty easy to make a big batch of stock and freeze it for later use. This is what I’ve been doing since I moved to France. I was never in the habit before, since it was so easy and cheap to buy crates of Pacific Organic chicken stock at Costco. Now, I almost always have real, homemade stock in the house, and I’m sure my food tastes better because of it.
Now, making meat and bone-based stock certainly takes time. We’re talking at least 4 hours of simmering to get all the flavor and collagen out of those scraps. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be nearly as fussy as some books or culinary school teachers would have you think. They’ll teach you that in order to make perfect stock, you need to NEVER let it boil, skim constantly, and then strain it through increasingly fine-meshed sieves until you have a beautiful, clear, fat free, liquid. That’s nice and all, but if you’re not planning on making consommé or aspic with your stock (as I imagine you’re probably not) you don’t have to worry about that stuff nearly as much. If it boils a little, so what? Yes, it will come out a little cloudy, but if it’s just going into a creamy soup or pot pie filling , that is nothing to worry about. It will still taste good, I promise.
Vegetable stock poses some problems, though. How do you get that luscious texture without collagen from bones? Here’s an idea: pectin. The last time I made vegetable stock, I added a couple apples and an orange to the rest of the cut vegetables to see if I could give the stock body. And it worked! Of course, it’s not as thick as the rabbit stock I made earlier in the week (incidentally, simmering rabbit smells a lot more like turkey than chicken), but it’s better than the vegetable tea that I usually end up with.
So here, in a nutshell, is how to make stock: Cover your ingredients with cold water in a large, tall pot. Bring to a simmer, skim as necessary during the first 30 minutes or so, then leave it until it tastes good. If the water level in the pot starts getting very low, add some more cold water, but it’s ok to let the stock cook down a bit to concentrate the flavors. Pour the finished stock through a colander to remove the solids, then divide into Tupperware containers or plastic bags and freeze. Easy, right?
What are the ingredients, though? Here goes:
For vegetable stock
2 onions, 2 leeks, 4 stalks of celery (with leaves if possible), 2 cloves garlic, 3 carrots, 2 apples, 1 orange, 1 bay leaf, 5 whole peppercorns, 1 sprig thyme, 5 stems of parsley, ½ cup white wine, water to cover.
Cut all the vegetables and fruits into about 2 inch pieces. This amount filled my 5-liter stockpot almost to the top, but the resulting stock was some of the most flavorful vegetable stock I’ve ever had. Follow the nutshell directions above – there won’t be too much skimming involved – simmering for about an hour and a half.
For meat/bone based stock
From the recipe above, omit the apples, oranges, and wine. The leeks are optional. Start the nutshell directions with the bones only. There will be quite a bit of skimming. After 3-4 hours of simmering, add the vegetables and herbs and simmer another 1-2 hours. (Veal stock is best after at least six hours, but chicken can do with four.)
So let’s hear it for France, for forcing me to hone my stock-making (not to mention chicken butchering) skills! And for the lovely ladies of Where’s My Damn Answer, for inviting me to join in the party!
Introduction by our very own Kristy Nuttall:
Today’s guest blogger is Kevin Grossman. Some of you may have heard his name mentioned here before. He was also our guest on Today’s Woman last month when our topic was on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to check out that segment it’s in the “Radio Show” tab :: points up: : I think it was a great show … well DUH … they all when you get Karena and the ladies from WMDA together *wink*.
Anyway, Kevin and I are definitely Facebook users. In fact, it’s Facebook that brought our paths together again. He and I went to high school together in Visalia, CA. I am so glad that I ran into him again in the virtual world. I think that he’s a GREAT guy (always has been) and I’m jazzed that we’re able to work on things together now to help each other grow and learn even MORE. He’s got a cool Daddy blog that I’ve recently started reading, he knows his marketing and PR AND he’s teaching himself to play the drums. I love that he’s found such a great balance of personal and business life online. Someday, when I grow up … I want to have a similar balance. WHAT? A girl can dream!!
I guess I should stop blabbing already and let him have the floor … sorry Kevin :: passes the mic ::
:: Kevin takes the stage ::
I was honored when Kristy from Where’s My Damn Answer asked me to be a guest blogger. I’ve known Kristy since high school and when we recently reconnected I was introduced to WMDA, which is high up on Google Reader list.
I launched my blog Get Off The Ground almost a year ago primarily with the mindset of promoting personal responsibility and to motivate other fathers to do something, anything, to make a difference in their own life and the lives of others – and to have a little fun along the way talking about becoming Daddy K.
Fixing a Hero Sandwich: Caring for Both Children and Parents
Two weeks ago one of my firm’s new marketing/PR verticals, SeniorCareMarketer.com, exhibited at the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging 2009 Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Besides being in Vegas – the most fun I’ll ever have losing $20 in less than three minutes while staying up way past my bedtime of 9:00 p.m. to watch others blow thousands – the conference was very informative for me personally as well as professionally.
Taking one of many strolls up and down the expo floor to talk with the vendors, I stopped to talk with one company that converted two-car garages into housing for mom and/or dad. Pretty sweet, even though we don’t have a two-car garage – we only have a long one-car garage.
I proceeded to talk to the owner of the company about my own personal situation (after she told me nicely one of my colleagues had already pitched her our marketing services) and the fact that at some point in the near future I’d be much more involved in the care of my parents – and the fact that my wife and I now have a six-month-old baby girl named Beatrice.
I’ve written previously about what’s it like (and going to be like) being an older parent:
When Bea turns sweet 16, I’ll be 58 years old. When Bea graduates from college (on time of course), I’ll be 64. You can see where I’m going with this…
All things considered we’re fine being older parents and are even planning kid number two, but we weren’t counting on big kids three and four.
No offense to my dear parents of course. They are still fairly independent even though we’ve been helping them off and on for a long time because of various health-related issues. My father had a major stroke 15 years ago and has been on death’s door twice since with a severely infected lung abscess and a gall bladder gone really, really bad. My mother suffers acute episodic pain from a combination of Porphyria, Parkinson’s and Fibromyalgia; her body has taken quite a viral beating over the years.
Back to the conference: the owner of the garage-conversation company then told me my wife and I are what’s called the “sandwich generation” – when you’re taking care of your own children and your parents.
I had some vague memory of that term but never really took the time to put it in context (because we were never planning on having children for most of our 12 years together).
The closest I had come prior to this was when my dad was sick with the lung abscess in the summer of 2002 and I actually moved home for a few months to help my mom manage life (I was freelancing at the time and was thankful for the flexibility). My sister helped but she had two children of her own and plus my grandmother lived with my mom and dad at the time, adding another layer of daily disruption. But even then I wasn’t truly the “sandwich” son because I had no children of my own.
According to a New York Times blog post I found titled How to Make a Better Sandwich (from The New Old Age, Caring and Coping blog)
Among women caring for their parents, none face the rock-and-a-hard-place choices of those in the so-called sandwich generation. Now, a new analysis estimates that there are 20 million Americans – the vast majority of them mothers – who are juggling responsibilities for their own children and their aging parents at the same time.
The analysis, commissioned by two companies, Christian Companion Senior Care and Presto Services Inc., both selling services to this group, found that 53 percent of those in the sandwich generation feel forced to choose – at least once a week – between being there for their children or being there for their ailing parents. One in five say they make that painful choice every single day.
Well, I’m a daddy with these choices on the horizon, and when I play it forward, I’m not looking forward to those painful choices. Our firm’s founder and my friend recently helped care for his mother who suffered from, and subsequently passed away from, Alzheimer’s. He had launched a site called ShirleyBOARD a few years ago (in his mom’s name), an online community for people caring for aging loved ones.
The good news is that out of all the moments of clarity I experienced while at the show, the three that shone the most light on the subject of caring for both our children and parents are that:
- There are a whole lotta senior care services available today, and the space is only going to get bigger.
- Sandwich folk should seek out friends, family and volunteers (church members, social workers, etc.) to help them with the burden work/life balance and keeping one’s sanity while caring for family.
- We should always take care of ourselves first and foremost – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually (in case the cabin loses pressure, put the oxygen mask on first before assisting others).
We’ve had only had recent short-term stress of caring for both baby and parents under the same roof, but the big gig hasn’t happened yet. I have nothing but the utmost empathy and respect for the 20 million heroes dealing with it daily.
Introduction by our very own Lindaloohoo:
OK. Let’s see if I can manage to introduce the sweetest woman on the face of the planet, without pissing her off. Because it’s meandmom in da house this week and mostly, nice people don’t like me very much. But because she is so sweet, for some reason The Mom manages to put up with me on a limited basis. I mean, it’s not like she loves me the way she loves Jenny On The Spot (that alchoholic, bra wielding, foshizzle temptress we featured last week), but I have low expectations, so I’m pleased with whatever love I can get. But wait, this isn’t about me. It’s about a mom who describes her twelve year old daughter as ‘the kind of gorgeous you can’t even hate.’ Damn, that’s powerful. If you don’t already read her blog, please check it out. It’s the kind of stuff that makes me hate my crazy mom even more. And I mean that in a good way.
:: turning the floor over to MeAndMom ::
Hey there WMDA group! Thanks for inviting me to play over here today!
I’m glad you called, because, actually I have a bit of a dilemma that I could use your help with. Here’s my deal-io…..
I’m a 40 year old single mom of 2 great girls. For the past 4 years I’ve been dating a wonderful guy….we’ve been calling him S.O. – Significant Other – but I HATE that name. So, what are my options….
1). Boyfriend….I know but I always feel like I am totally like in High School and like it like sounds like totally disgusting hearing my kids say it. I mean, gag me.
2.) Partner…..Hmmmm……So amgibuous there I mean….are we operating a business together? We don’t even live together. Is my partner a man? a woman? Not that there is anything wrong with that *ahem*. I just don’t want my girls feeling like we should be shaking hands instead of hugging.
3) Companion……meh. Didn’t Jackie O have a companion before she passed on? I mean, I love being in the same club as the ever-glam Jackie but she had a companion toward the END of her life. I don’t think I’m old enough to have a companion. Right? I mean just cuz my knees make crunching noises coming down the stairs and I’m beginning to have to hold print farther away from my eyes in order to read it, doesn’t make me old enough to have a companion. I mean, 40 is the new 30 right? RIGHT?
4) My Man – not working for me either. I always feel like he should reach over and start dragging me around the cave by my hair after saying that. Me man – you woman – Let’s do it animal style in the cave! OK….well, maybe that last part….uhhh never mind…I mean we don’t know each other that well…I just met you!
5) Guypanion….This suggestion came from S.O. himself. It’s cute….a twist on words. Kinda funny. A little close to Companion though….see above.
So….to the wonderful folks at WMDA…. What is the DAMN answer?
Can you help a girl out? What is the most appropriate moniker for a 40 year old to term her lover/friend? (that one would really sound weird coming out of the mouth of my 8 year old and would completely mortify my 12 year old)
Introduction by our very own Kristy
Where the heck do I even start with Jenny on The Spot? I don’t remember how I found her, but OMG she makes me laugh. Sometimes it’s because her alter ego J-Bling is up to her crazy antics, or it’s the Twitters that she’s sending trying to get noticed by @TheEllenShow for her mad dancing skillz … or sometimes, it’s because of things that are posted in her “Make Me Laugh Monday” section. My point is … Jenny on The Spot makes me laugh so hard that I pee a little cry. I don’t care if you read her blog, her alter ego’s blog or her info on Facebook or Twitter because really … she keeps me in stitches and THAT is what really matters. Personally, I think that when there isn’t anything good to report on the news, they should just call Jenny … I’m sure she’s got something to share that will make our hearts a little lighter
So now … I’m turning our Guest Floor over to Jenny on The Spot … Be sure to give her a round of applause and don’t forget we DO have a two drink minimum today.
Reply Hazy. Please Ask Again
Hi friends, and friends of my friends… of all friends.
When I was asked if I might be willing to guest post here I gave my computer screen a fist bump and started chanting, “Can I get a whutwhut?”. Not really. But really.
After the excitement wore off and reality broke in, my little “whutwhut” turned in to “Whut the *%#@??? What am I gonna write about???” After much soul train searching, the ANSWER became obvious. These are the esteemed ladies of Where’s My Damn Answer!!! Their Public is looking for answers, and by golly — I am going to give them answers!
Hmmm… answers to what? Therein is my first question and accompanying answer — dear Public Of WMDA!!! I took this dilemma to My Own Public — over there on the Facebook and the Twitter.
I asked, “Questions. I need questions. Anybody have any questions?” I adore My adoring Public, for they delivered. Heh… I said “delivered”… Without further digression — the questions… the answers and no guarantee of their scientific, social, emotional, nor interpersonal accuracy. I might call this a “free-association” approach to problem solving and whatnot.
The Questions. The Answers.
*Are you being a Magic 8 Ball for us? Signs point to yes…
*Which is the proper way to hang toilet paper on the roll: Flap front or flap back? I love it that a man asked this question. Ladies, this should give us hope. The proper way is flap forward… bonus points for folding the end like the hotel toilet paper folding people do. Towel animals are also a nice touch and… *bedroom eyes*
*What has been your biggest sanity saver or best kept secret for handling life with kids? Perhaps tips by age level? Wine. Vodka. Chocolate. Denial. And a firm belief that this is all a dream. Ages: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9… Just kidding. But not kidding.
*What came first, the chicken or the egg? I, ummm… well… Let’s see. If you take the vertices… and the hypotenuse… I think I need a bottle of wine ibuprofen. NEXT!
*What would you prefer, a really good massage or the perfect dessert? YES!
*What is black and white and red all over? My brain after thinking about that “chicken/egg” question! Who does that to a friend?
*What is the color of air? My personal “air” is the color of glitter. Really.
*If you could spend an evening with someone, who would it be? The ladies of Where’s My Damn Answer! Shaaa!
*Why are kids so much more ticklish than adults? Callouses… callousiii??? Um. The wrinkles. Wrinkles act as a tickle barrier… a “cushion” of sorts. So I hear. I have no wrinkles. I am very ticklish, but I promised I wouldn’t disclose my bedroom habits on this forum.
*Does every 5-year-old move at a snail’s pace, or just mine? … *looking at birdies* … *picking at dried chocolate milk flakes*… What? Oh… I’m 36.
*Why aren’t cherries called redberries? There are blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, then cherries. What is that? Or even roundberries, purpleberries – my point is, why is there no cherryberry? The fruit-namers struggled with this. They gave the “cherry” it’s name in an effort to not appear “fruitist”.
*Why is it that some of us shave and a few hours later you’d never know? That is because some of you us descended from the line of the Sasquatch.
*Why do you never see baby pidgeons? Is this like that chicken/egg question? Cuz it feels like the chicken/egg question… *grips head*
*Grape Nuts?? Really?? They are neither grapes nor nuts. Why??? Heh, “nuts”… Um… I’m sorry… she wrote “nuts”…
And the Grand Poo-bah:
*Where does one go when the wonderful ladies of WMDA don’t have the damn answer? Ask the Magic 8 Ball.
I would like to give a special “Thank you” to my thoughtful question givers: @BaronessHeather; @Jimthomsen; @amberminty; Michele of Noggin Toppers; Violet of The Home Daily News; Jessica of My Thoughts Exactly; Scott; Kristina; aaand My Own Bad Self — feat. the Grand Poo-bah.
For a few more *ahem* insightful answers… you can visit today’s jennyonthespot post — where I answer some of my searchers questions… like, “Do manatees hurt you?” I should open a clinic. You have no idea. And apparently, neither do I. *takes a bow and proceeds to hit head on desk on way back up*
Jenny – Never take life seriously. Nobody ever gets out alive anyway…
Introduction by our very own Kristy Nuttall
Gosh – where do I even start with Karena Lineback?
She’s seriously awesome in every sense of the word. Cathy and I first met Karena when Jeri scheduled us to be a guest on her radio show, Today’s Woman. We had no clue then that we’d become regular guest hosts with her on the show … nor did we know that she’d start kicking our butts on a regular basis at Pilates Teck. She may come across as all “kind” and “funny” (with a killer body) but let me tell you … she can also be WICKED. Karena has recently launched her own blog that will be filled with all kinds of great tips and information on the upcoming public television special she’s doing. After you read her guest entry blog, you should go check it out. In fact – she’s got this AWESOME tv special that’s in production and she just put up information about how people can get involved with sponsorships, etc.
Also … don’t miss our show with Karena today (March 11th) at 12 pm PST on KHTS AM 1220 – we’ll be discussing Facebook and Twitter with a couple of know it all guys . So now, I’m turning the floor over to Karena …
Core Strength: it’s not for your stomach
I substituted for one of my kick-ass Pilates teachers yesterday. If you want a toned tush, sexy arms and mini-skirt legs (by next week…) then you take a kick-ass class from ‘Kick-Ass Teacher’. But you do not take class with me: The Rehab Queen. In fact so much the queen, that I am hosting a Pilates for pain special on national public television.
So I called all of ‘Kick-Ass Teacher’s’ clients ahead of time to tell them she wouldn’t be there: ‘If you show up, you take my class and compared to what you are used to, you could sleep through my class. Bring a pillow.’ Instead of turning everyone away, everyone showed up. Hmmm…… They love Kick-Ass Teacher but they also need a nap?
One by one the stories came out. The ‘Rehab Queen’ began holding court even before class started … ‘My neck hurts.’ ‘My lower back aches.’ ‘My right shoulder is killing me.’ I heard: ‘tendonitis, bursitis, arthritis, disc, osteoporosis…’ What I found out was they are all addicts: To Pilates and exercise in general. They will keep moving and keep challenging themselves until their eyeballs dry up and their teeth totally rust … all for the way exercise makes them feel totally on top of their game.
I taught class and we talked about everyone’s issues … Yes, you can still take class with ‘Kick-Ass Teacher’ but this is what you are going to do so you can have your cake, great abs AND a pain free body, too. Here’s the deal:
#1: Strengthen the core of whatever hurts: spine, shoulder, knee, etc…
#2: Sit-ups do NOT strengthen the core. (see #3)
#3: Your Stomach is NOT your core!!!(see #2)
I hear you… All the way in Minne-SO-ta… What the @#%$??!!
You’ve done a quadrillion sit-ups in just the last week alone! Okay, grab a bottle of wine (or 1 tequila) and join me on the Pilates Soul Train for a little ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting as my mother used to always call all bad news … The core is not strengthened by doing sit-ups because the core is the small muscles of any joint, and in the case of the stomach we are talking about the small muscles of the spine. Have you been doing sit-ups to look great in a bathing suit? Great. Just do them right or your stomach will get bigger. Doing sit-ups to help out your poor aching back? Stop! NOW. And do this instead:
- Kneel on all fours.
- Take your right hand and your left knee off the mat – When you do that NO SINKING ALLOWED.
- Look down at your knees and when you lift your left knee off the mat, your right leg should not move.
- Not move at all – Not one millimeter.
THAT, my friend, is your DAMN core coming to work for you.
Just a quick question about your ab work … If you are doing sit-ups for the bikini contest this summer, do you know how to do them right so your waist does not get thicker???