Monday, January 31, 2011

Checking In

I have been very absent, both from this blog and real life, for the past week. Fortunately, it has been because I have been having a great deal of fun, and not because zombies ate my computer or my hand or because Charlie Sheen, in a mad coke-fueled binge, wrote me a check for $30,000 and then let me help him manage his porno-mansion fantasies. No, nothing as exciting as that. I have just been enjoying life with the ones I love and reading and shopping and being smug and happy on the interwebz.

Last weekend with Matt was amazing, even if I was a bit apprehensive going into it. We spent a lot of time together, cooking, reading in bookstores, and reacquainting ourselves with each other as spouses rather than just parents. It was great fun and reminded me why I am so lucky to have such a funny and awesome partner in crime. Seriously, I laughed more at him over the weekend than I had in the complete month prior to that. I also watched the entire first season of Californication, which is my new favorite show. Showtime, where have you been all my life? And why must I love you to the point where now it is hard to get work done because part of my heart is always on my couch, watching more and more?

This past weekend, the kids and I met my mom in Gatlinburg, TN, for what has become a birthday tradition for me. We meet down there and stay in a hotel and the kids take part in all that Gatlinburg has to offer. And if you have never been to Gatlinburg, let me break it down for you:

Gatlinburg. Is. Awesome.

Now, I'll just come right out and say this: you can't take yourself too seriously if you want to enjoy a weekend in Gatlinburg, TN. It is the hometown of DollyWood (which is actually in Pigeon Forge but is the same general recreational area) which is Dolly Parton's theme park. Mull that around for a second. Gatlinburg is what you would get if you took Las Vegas, subtracted the hookers and casinos, upped the cheese factor by about 10% and then plopped it in the southern Appalachians. There are lots of restaurants, lots of outlet shopping, lots of go-karts, and lots of family fun. There are huge attractions, lots of lighted signs, and lots of hotels. And it is in a beautiful location, with lots of gorgeous natural scenery. You couldn't ask for a better time, if you ask me. Mom and I took the kids to MagiQuest and to the Titanic museum/attraction, and then spent the rest of the time shopping and taking in the sights. The weather was gorgeous, and really none of us could have asked for a better time.

Sadly, Sam and I both woke up sick with a cold this morning. BOO-URNS. I'm afraid that I got it from a co-worker, though, so it is not necessarily because of the wanton fun-having that I have been participating in. I am sitting at work right now, hyped up on Dayquil, not even wearing some of my new togs because I didn't want to waste them on a sick day. It is very quiet in my office, which has led me to believe that I *might* be able to get away with making myself a Costanza bed. Hmmm....

I will be posting more regularly this week about the spoils of my shopping trip and all of the spring stuff I have been coveting and why my hair has gone from zero to AWESOME in the course of the weekend. I know. You can hardly wait. Calm down, dear. I'm back, and it is time to party.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Parenting Conundrum

Next Tuesday is mine and Matt's 13 year dating anniversary. Since we were together for so long before finally getting married, we still celebrate it, mostly out of habit for having celebrated it as our only anniversary for so long. It is a nice milestone too, and comes right at that point in the winter when you need a bit of whimsy to get you through. It really warms my saddened, winter heart to think of Matt's hushed teenage voice that night, asking me if I wanted to "go with" him (Question--do kids still call it that? "Going with" someone? As in "We are going together"? I should ask my daughter. Part of me, however, doesn't want the answer.).

We had, orginally, in a feat of great hubris and excitement, decided that we would go to the same cabin where we celebrated our wedding anniversary in June. It is a lovely place--magical and remote and wonderful. However, as time slipped by, we kept putting off making the reservations. And then we started waffling--maybe we would like to go somewhere else, maybe we would prefer just staying at home, in the house, kid-free, where we could go out and do the things that childless people do. Maybe we wouldn't do anything at all. But then we realized that during our more hubristic moments, we had both requested Monday and Tuesday of next week off for our trip. Neither of us wanted to take those days off if we didn't have a good reason to. So we finalized plans with my mother in law to watch the kids during those days.

Matt is unabashedly excited about all of this. He has brought it up constantly over the last couple of days--"Let's make wonderful filets with blue cheese while the kids are gone!" "Do you want to drive to Asheville on Saturday?" "Let's drive to Ikea and buy furniture!". And every time he does it, I stand there, tight lipped, not knowing what to say. Is it horrible that I am no where near as excited as him? Is it even more horrible that it has nothing to do with him, but everything to do with missing the kids, especially Alice, who is still so dependant on me in so many ways?

And the truth is, I am like this over everything. If my mother in law takes the kids for the day while Matt and I do something, I dread seeing them off. I know they will have a spectacular time, but I dread it. What if this happens? What if that? I always end up having a great time, but leading up to the event, I'm a nervous wreck. And the thing is, if I were Matt, this would bother me. He has brought it up a few times, that he wishes I could just "turn it off", but I can't. And I end up feeling guilty on two fronts--the one that is leaving her kids, and the one who can't stop thinking about those kids while she is doing it.

Alice still nurses, although mostly at night. I really dread having to pump again, as I stopped that all together when she turned one and stopped using a bottle. My mother in law can get her to sleep without eating or drinking anything, and assures me that this not an issue. However, last night, I was nursing her before bed and I looked down at her pretty little profile and thought, "What if she forgets to do this after this weekend? What if I ruin this for both of us?" A veritable wave of guilt washed over me, and I wanted to stay right there, in that bed, with her and no one else forever. I wised up, got Al to sleep and walked into the living room. There Matt sat, looking up restaurants online, and writing them down *with reviews* and menu recommendations for WW-me. He is so amazing, I thought.

And I am stuck in the middle of wanting to be that happy guilt-free mom who needs the time off and gladly takes it, and that other mom, the one who helicopters over her kids and cries as if her heart would break when she sees them leave.

Parenthood, it bears repeating, is hard, ya'll. There is this constant tug of war that occurs, one that you think you get the hang of and then, all of a sudden, you find yourself in the mud, clutching to the rope and trying to regain your footing. I don't know. That is the thing. I just don't know.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This is what a $10 dress looks like.

*When I take these pictures, I usually do you the solid of going around and closing all the bathroom doors so that you don't have to look at a toilet. This time, I was in a hurry because a) I was in a different bathroom and b) my camera is almost out of batteries and I don't have the charger with me. So, sorry. It's my birthday. Cut me some slack.
Anyway, remember that time that I told you about my awesome $10 dress finding at Target? (If you don't, SHAME ON YOU. What kind of blog reader are you? For crying out loud. Kidding.) This is that dress. I thought about wearing it all last week but it has been painfully snowy, and well, yes today is my birthday so I wanted something nice to wear. So I pulled out my $10 dress and honey, I couldn't be more pleased with my choice to wear it today.
For starters, this dress is comfy. But let's get beyond that. I really, really like it. I took this style quiz thingie on one day before Christmas when I was bored at work and it basically told me that I should wear black dresses all the time because evidently that is what I liked the most. It gave me no other options. Like I should wear little black dresses when I clean my toilet. The sad thing is, I have only one other black dress. And neither of them are really LBD's in the strict meaning of the term. I am thinking of buying myself a new day-to-night LBD for my birthday. I have a couple picked out... so we'll see. But for the time being, I really like this dress--the silhouette is modern with a bit of retro fun, the dress is LINED (for reals, ya'll), and it accomodates my larger chest. I am happy.
And it was $10, ya'll. $10!!! Which means I can totally be that smug girl that you totally hate now.
You: I like your dress, Morgan.
Me: Thanks. I got it for $10. You see, I don't spend my money on frivolities like clothes. I prefer to invest it in my 401k. I have a goal of being a millionaire before I turn 35. Would you like to see my portfolio? Or the rental property I just acquired? I have never made an unsound financial decision, and I have never spent over $40 on cheese. I also do not have shopping sites bookmarked under the term "Happy Places" on my work computer. Oh, and this lipstick? I don't own three tubes of it so that I always have one with me if I lose it. Yup, TOTALLY financially awesome, I am. My husband is in complete and total awe of my saving awesomeness.

On Growing Up

When I was 8, my mom bought me a whoopie cushion for my birthday. She bought me other things too, but the whoopie cushion was the definite draw. My best friend, Melissa, and I spent my entire party taking turns blowing it up and then sitting on it. We would then explode into uproarious laughter. Every.Time. There is actual video of this. I flit around the video screen, wearing a purple flowered dress with a lace collar, my hair in a French braid, my face obscured by gold rimmed glasses and buck teeth. I am sublimely happy.

When I was 11, it snowed on my birthday. Buckets actually. My birthday fell on a Friday that year, and my mom has promised me a slumber party. I was determined to have the party. My mom tried to tell me that none of my friends would be able to come because the roads were bad and they could not make it up the hill to our house. I sulked. Within an hour, my mom had negotiated her way out of our driveway, and we were driving down the road in a four wheel drive, picking up my friends. We had to drive up the huge mountain where my husband's parents live now, a huge mountain that is known far and wide for the amount of its snowfall, to get a friend. My mom did it. She secured us all in the back of her Four Runner and headed back down the mountain. We stayed up all night, at one point having a screaming contest, and at another utilizing every blanket/comforter/sleeping bag in the house to make a tent that encompassed my entire bedroom. My mother just may be a saint.

When I was 19, I celebrated my first birthday away from home. I was a freshman in college. Matt did every thing he could to make it awesome--we went out for lunch and dinner, he bought me books and a new journal, every thing was amazing. However, that night, we realized that he had forgotten the "cake" aspect of the day. I told him it didn't matter--I had had a dessert at dinner--but I could tell he felt bad about it, and to be honest, the whole thing made me miss home a bit. We were sitting in my dorm room, studying and talking about this when someone knocked on the door. I got up to answer it, and there stood three girls from my hall, holding an entire pecan pie with a candle in it. I laughed and thanked them. It turns out they had stolen the pie from the UC dining hall, as well as a fork which they then gave to me to eat the pie with. It was amazing. I felt blessed and amazed, and I didn't miss home a bit after that.

Last night, on the eve of my birthday, I made my own birthday cake. I was going to forego the cake this year, given that I am on Weight Watchers, but the kids were not about to let that happen, and I was not about to have shortening spackled monstrosity from the grocery store sitting on my table. So I found a recipe from Cooking Light (that is still like 9 points, natch) and last night I made it. I have to say before I go any further, the frosting is RIDICULOUSLY good. And this is from a girl who has made a ton of frosting in her day. Anyway, after making the cake batter, I looked around. Alice was sitting in the living room, watching Ni Hao Kai-Lan and not destroying something for the first time of the night, Sam was in my bedroom because he likes my sheets (never mind the fact that he has his own flannel sheets), watching something on Cartoon Network and doing a word find he brought home from school, and Gabby was in her room, doing God knows what, but probably something that has to do with using her Kindle to blind a rival girl in her class. It was quiet for the first time all night. So I pulled down the mixer bowl and sat in the floor and licked it up. I had paid special attention to making sure everything got in the pan to bake because I am bad about licking the bowl, and I didn't have the points to spare after a supper of yummy bean burritos and guacamole. But as I was licking, I thought, "It is a good thing I didn't leave much in here, because I could make myself sick doing this." And as soon as I thought it, literally the second it hit my mind, I thought, "Oh my God. That is something my mother would say." Or my grandmother. At least someone well over 40. And, yes, it sounds like something that if I said it to Gabby, she would roll her eyes at my oldness.

And then I looked up from my glinting silver prize, and I gazed around the kitchen, and I thought, "I really need to wash down these cabinets because there is a lot of stuff on them that I never see. The dishwasher, especially, could stand a scrub down."

And at that moment, I realized that I am old. That I am a grown up now. I sat there and stared at the cabinets and resisted the urge to grab my new sponges that Matt had bought the day before and go at them. The old me would have thought, "God, these things are dirty! Good thing nobody sits in the floor of the kitchen to see them!" But me, the responsible grown up, literally sat on her hands to keep from doing something so that I could enjoy the quietness of the house and not start a big project right before the kids' bedtime.

(And I have to admit, that typing this, birthday or not, makes me want to scrub them the second I get home).

I am one of those people who clings hard to her adolescence, who despite the three kids and the job and the closet full of high heels and business casual still sees herself as a young'n of sorts. And that's not going to change. Just the other night, my husband and I sat on our couch and talked dreamily about our "next adventure," what we might want to get into in five years, where we could go and see next. Our voices were hushed, so as not to wake the sleeping 16 month old in the next room, but had all the dreamy quality that we had when we were in high school and discussed the great expanse of life before us. But sitting there, in that kitchen floor, clutching my bowl of reduced-fat cake batter, I felt grown up. And it wasn't all together a bad feeling.

I am 28 now--have been officially for 4 minutes, as I was born at 12:40 on January 18, 1983. I don't know what my 28th year holds for me, nor do I know what the rest of this life holds for me. I don't know where I will live, what I will end up doing, how many degrees I will have. All I know is that I am starting to feel comfortable in my own skin, and if that is what being grown-up means, I welcome it. I see myself today and I am happy with what I have accomplished and what is still out there. And if there is a better birthday wish than that, I don't know it.

*Although, I should note that it is super nice that my coworkers just took me out for a lovely lunch at my favorite lunch spot (strawberry poppy seed salad FTW!) and I came back to a very spring-y bouquet of flowers from my mom. That was pretty rad.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year, New Look

Today it is snowing BUCKETS. I left my house this morning (and I had to have Matt get me out of the driveway, it should be noted) and my town was covered in a fresh layer of snow, but there was nothing coming out of the sky. By the time I got to my job, however, it was coming down like CRAZY. I slid around when I started up the hill to the office, and then when I was coming back down the hill, I fishtailed and almost hit our sign. Lovely. Thankfully, I was able to stop screaming "HOLY SHIT CRACKERS BALLS TURKEY NECKS!!!!" long enough to calmly back the car up and get back on to the main road with little to no drama. And I made it into my office safe and sound. Suck on that, Winter.

But then I ventured out AGAIN to get my hair cut, because I had an appointment and because it needed it and because I wanted to be brave and tell the snow, once again, to get out the straw and suck it down.

It is not a big change at all--really more of just a trim. But it got the dry stuff off and made me feel so much better. It feels so healthy, ya'll. So silky. It might change again because I have this huge urge to stop by the drugstore and pick up some hair color on my way back home. But then again, part of me says no to that idea. I keep having images of dying in a snow covered ditch and having the rescue worker say, "Oh, look she was going to dye her hair. At home. By herself. We should go inform her cats of her demise."

I also have bought some new make-up recently that I will share reviews of. I'll just tell you why I bought this particular make-up. You see, I ended up with a Wal-Mart gift card in our Chinese Christmas at a work Christmas party. I was angling to get an Olive Garden gift card, because you know I'm klassy like that, but it was not to be. Anyway, this was fitting, karmically, I guess, because I hate Wal-Mart with a hate that eclipses everything. Just to illustrate I've created a list of my hate from greatest to smallest:

  1. Wal-Mart
  2. Winter
  3. Beets
  4. Amateur photography
  5. political discourse that yells rather than informs

I can only explain this by saying that it is ingrained in me. My father also hates Wal-Mart more than anything. We have been known to have conversations like the following: "Been to Wal-Mart lately?" "Yeah, I had to go last week to get some laundry detergent." "Did you shower afterwards? Because don't be sitting on my couch if you didn't. Seriously. I don't want that shit in here." My dad is so hardcore, he will not go to Wal-Mart unless it is 4am and empty. 4 am! Given that he normally wakes up at about 2:30, I guess this seems normal to him. To the rest of the world, it is decidedly not.

Anyway, I had this Wal-Mart gift card so I decided to turn lemons into lemonade and use it invigorate my make-up drawer. I have a few prestige picks that I am wanting (and will probably buy around my birthday for a little Welcome to 28 gift for myself), but I thought it would be nice to round it out with some cheapie gifts. I used this month's Real Simple magazine for inspiration; there is a great thing in there about basics for everyday and what you add to glam it up a little and then a lot. I feel like a tutorial like this is just what I need for 2011--I sometimes feel I screw the pooch make-up wise by going a bit dark for daytime and a little light for night. KWIM?

I bought this blush (Cover Girl Simply Ageless in Rich Cinnamon if you are too lazy/infirm to clicky-doo). It is a cream formula which is something I normally associate with my grandmother. And Baby Jane. And despite this, this is what led me to it. I am married (in a polyandrous relationship, obvs) to Nars Orgasm blush and will have it dusted across my dead cheeks when I'm 500 and die of robot-scurvy or whatever is killing people in 2483. Every powder blush I've used PALES in comparison to Nars (Get it? Pales? HAR HAR), and I've made a promise to myself to not spend any more money trying them out when I know the end result. But cream...that's a different ballgame on a different channel. And I do like this stuff. In fact, I like it a lot. It gives me a sheer wash of color--more like what I imagine I look like after I run a mile or so. Nicely exerted. The formula is easy to apply--in fact, the sponge applicator (or what I assume was a sponge applicator) was stolen out of my package (BECAUSE I BOUGHT IT AT WAL-MART. Where the law fears to tread.), but I have been using my fingers, and it works fine. I should also note that it is silky feeling. I like it. A lot. You could do much, much worse on drugstore blush. As far as comparing it to Orgasm, that is like comparing apples and oranges because the formulas are so different, so I'll just say that this is a difference that I embrace because I've been using Nars everyday for almost 5 years now (holy crap, I'm old).

I also bought this mascara . I have never used L'Oreal Voluminous mascara ever (I KNOW!). I was very pleasantly surprised by it. I am one of those people that thinks that DiorShow might be able to cure cancer if only they'd just try it, but I am out right now (have been using little sample bottles that come with Sephora packages or that my mom picks up...yes, yes I know). This stuff is pretty amazing. The only problem that I can see with it is that it will give you some pretty gnarley raccoon eyes if you, say, drink 3/4 of a bottle of champagne while watching the Black Keys on SNL and then wake up laying, yes, on a block of smoked gouda. And if I rub my eyes with any ferocity (which happens more than I care to mention because of allergies), it comes off pretty easily. So, it won't cure any diseases, but it is pretty to look at.

I also got some L'Oreal True Match foundation. Why? Because it is the only drugstore foundation that works and I go back to it time and time again. Bought Bare Minerals and now I'm sick of the mess on my black countertops? True Match. Discovered that my Almay Smart Shade is becoming the shade of Snooki by mid-afternoon (note: I am decidedly un-Snooki colored)? True Match. Out of Laura Mercier and husband threatened me with an Iron Maiden if another Sephora box shows up on my doorstep? Back to the True Match. I do like this stuff. I always think that I don't like it as much and that I'd like to get away from it, but then I put it back on, and I think, " is puh-retty." Maybe it is just my skin. There is nothing special about this formula--doesn't feel luxurious, isn't particularly pretty in package. But it matches amazingly well. Which is why it is called True Match, I guess, and not True Luxury or True Ohmygawd.

And last but not least...can I talk about Revlon Just Bitten lipstain again? Pretty please. Good God, ya'll. If it has snowed at your house for the past 7 years (or it feels like that), go out and buy this. Pretty berry lips (and the nice balm that ensures their moisture) are what you need to feel human again. It makes you look like it is a wonderful summer day and you have been out picking blackberries off of the vine and gorging yourself on them while the sun shines down on your sunkissed shoulders. You are wearing a halter dress and a pair of flip flops and later on you will get in the pool. But only after you finish those succulent berries...oh, look they are on your lips. How pretty. Oh, and there is Liev Shrieber. And he just decided that you are the most gorgeous woman in the world and he wants to feed you chocolate truffles which have now been deemed to have 0 Weight Watchers PointsPlus and brush your hair. Hi Liev.

Wait...where am I? It's still snowing? Awesome. Great. Well, at least my make-up is pretty.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Weight Watchers Update and Boozy Banana Bread

Today I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting since college. I really wanted to rededicate myself to the program and decided that after the holidays, I would move my online membership to the full Monthly Pass membership where I would have more accountability and a chance to get support on the weight loss journey. I knew that I had gained a bit of weight during the holidays, and I had gotten away from making healthy habits--instead I was creating unhealthy ones to replace the healthy ones that I had made. That, my litttle croquembouches, is not good.

I did not, however, think that I had gained 15 pounds. Yes, folks I have. I tried to tell myself that this is a combination of wearing my shoes and a bulky sweater (I had forgotten to take those things off until I saw a lady stripping beside of me at weigh-in), and the fact that it is almost that time of the month and I woke up this morning feeling bulky. But that is still a lot of weight gain. That is a lot of butter, ya'll. And a lot of sugar. And a lot of cheese. And a tad bit of champagne. The other part of it is that this is after a week of being *relatively* good food-wise (bringing my lunch, preparing recipes from Cooking Light at night). So lord only knows how bad it was before last week.

At first I was very discouraged. I wanted to cry and maybe run out of the building and into the McDonald's across the road where I would down a very large hot chocolate. Those 15 pounds were 15 pounds that I had worked off before, ran off, and was so proud to have removed. And I put them back on because a lack of control. And if there is a trait that I ABHOR in others, it is a lack of self-control and self-awareness. So, in essence, standing there in the cold church gymnasium, I felt like I was becoming someone I hated.

But there was the voice of the meeting helper person, and she was smiling a lot and telling me that it was great that I was there in the first place, and would I like a magazine? and that I should talk to this other girl who was new last week and about my age. And I thought, "Fuck it." It is in the past. I ate too much over the holidays. I made too many treats, and I licked too many spoons and now I'm paying for it. I know this--I know that I have a predisposition to be heavy because of family history and a love for the more creamy, satiny things in life. So I gained some weight? I knew it would happen. I just got what was coming to me. And now I am fixing it. I can't do any thing more than what I am doing right now. So I'm not going to worry. I will lose 5 pounds, and then I will lose 15, and then at some point, I'll hit my goal weight when I lose 25. And it will have been all the better for the slip-ups and the mistakes and the times when I learned just how much is too much.

At any rate, I went to Weight Watchers. I am now toying around with the online stuff, actually tracking my meals for once (yeah, I had been paying the online fee, but only sporadically checking stuff and tracking it), and feeling slightly proud of myself. I would add a picture because I look cute today in my new sparkly cardigan and ruffly shirt, but the building is literally FILLED with oldsters because the College for Older Adults restarted today in the building. The whole place smells like meat loaf, ya'll. I went down to take a picture this morning, and there were about 20 old ladies in the bathroom, talking about what medicines they take and the side effects. One lady goes, "Sometimes I just can't....go." And she said "go" the way you or I might say "genital warts" or "pubic lice." Le sigh.

It has been a while since I shared a recipe, and longer since I shared a healthy one, so I'll show you what I made last night. I swore I would never use a different banana bread recipe after I made this peanut butter one because it was so, so good. Well, rules (and swears) are made to be broken. I made this bananas foster bread last night. Why? Because it has booze in it. And booze is freakin' amazing. I will cop to a couple of changes--1) I used bourbon instead of rum or cognac because I just like bourbon in ANYTHING and because I didn't have any rum handy (not a big rum fan, actually), and 2) I did not make the glaze, which would make it more delightfully boozy because I have kids that I thought might like a slice and I didn't want to liquor them up. The booze in the recipe is cooked on the stovetop first before baking, so you get a lot of the alcohol burned out before you even bake it. So I think it is pretty kid friendly, with changes. If Matt and I let them have ANY. It was truly very good. And for 5 Points Plus and 194 calories, it makes a nice breakfast with yogurt and fruit. Plus it has flax in it. Have you ever known something to have flax in it and be bad for you? Flax makes you smart, ya'll!

I hope you are having a healthy day. Feel free to post healthy recipes or lunch ideas!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crazy Day Randomness

When you day starts with someone sitting in your office and saying, "Well, I'm a convicted felon..." then you know that day is gonna rock.

And by "rock", I mean "suck more than a Motley Crue groupie during a post-show hotel room rendition of Girls, Girls, Girls."

Well, actually, my day hasn't sucked that much, if you disregard the felon, and the *ahem* white powdery substance falling from the sky.

Things That Do Not Suck in Morgan's Life Right Now (in list form because I'm in a rush)
1. I had a wonderful light lunch today--veggie burger in a pita with lots of spinach (ARRR!! I'm Popeye the sailor man!), cukes, scallions, Greek yogurt and feta. So, so good that I'm cursing myself for ever buying lunch in the first place and not just packing my lunch since forever.
2. I'm wearing one of my favorite shirts today (you can see the pretty detailing at the top). I love the color, even though Matt told me it was the color of the refrigerator in his house when he was a kid. It is from Loft, I got it this Fall, and it is the only full price plus shipping Loft purchase I believe I've ever made! I am wearing it with a Loft boyfriend cardi and my Gap perfect trousers, which I didn't have to do a crazy dance to get into this morning. So there's that.
3. I went shopping at lunch today and got some workout gear at Old Navy and a couple of shirts that I'm going to take home to see if they work since I didn't want to try on in store (my hair is staticky enough, thank you very much!). I wanted something sparkly to wear when I go out of town for my birthday that would still be warm. If everything works, I'll document it and publish it on this blog. Why? It would be horrible not to. I owe you so much, gentle reader. I also got another tube of Revlon Just Bitten lipstain (full review of new make-up to come when I have a less crazy day) in the color "beloved." Yes, this stuff is my new obsession.
4. I also got a venti skinny latte extra hot, and it was amazingly good. Almost as good as saying "venti skinny latte extra hot."
5. I put dinner in the slow cooker this morning (pulled pork bbq), so I don't have to do anything when I get home, except for maybe whip up some granola because I've been obsessed with it lately, and since I bought a new yogurt maker want to try my hand at some parfaits.

So, you know, aside from doing my job, this day has been a-o.k.!

Hope everyone is staying warm today. And if you live in the southern states and want to send me a profanity laced comment about the weather, know that I totally understand.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What to Wear When You Need to Be Rescued

This morning I awoke to a faint dusting of snow on our deck. This is nothing new. In fact, I can't remember the last time I woke up and didn't see snow/ice/freezing precipitation out there. I got ready and went to work. My car started slipping a bit when I turned to go up the hill where my office is. And then, well, I almost turned a donut in the parking lot here at the office.

Excuse my language ya'll: I fucking hate snow.

This should come as no surprise, because I may have mentioned this once or twice, or you know, 800 times. But my hate grows and festers. And it may be becoming completely unhealthy.

Let's just say that if the Snow family moved to my neighborhood, I would put a flaming bag of poop on the doorstep. And I would TP all their trees and use acid to write the word "BITCH" in their grass.

And while we're on the subject of violent, vitriolic hate, I HATE when people post on Facebook constantly with this kind of crap: "I pink puffy heart the snow! SOOOOO glad my kiddos are home from school! Gonna drink some hot chocolate and snuggle!" "The snow is gorgeous...gonna go take a picture with my Rebel. I LOVE photography...and SNOW!!!" "Yea for snow! Cause we never get snow! It is like Saudi Arabia around here usually, but today we get snow! YEA!" HATE. Put down your instant hot cocoa, Snowbunny, while I beat you with THE SHOVEL I had to use to get my car out this morning.

(Deep breaths. Deep cleansing breaths.)

Anyway, thankfully, I dressed for rescue today:

Riding pants (you know you love them): Merona from Target

Black turtleneck: Merona for Target

Puffy vest: Old Navy

Boots: FRYE Harness 12 Rs

Necklace: American Eagle knockoff fireball (which one of my cousins in law, who used to work at the Crew, thought was totally J.Crew. Score one for cheap little me.)

I wore this outfit for a couple of reasons. A) It is freaking cold, and I like the warmth of the puffy vest because it is socially acceptable to wear at the desk, whereas a coat would just be too much and B) If I am to careen off of the road and die in a ditch somewhere, at least I will be wearing my Frye boots. The rescuers will surely note, "Yes, she was ill-equipped to handle the treacherous road conditions of today, and she should have stayed at home to drink hot chocolate and write smug Facebook status messages. But those are some damn fine boots." And then, they too, will decide that they hate snow and avenge my death by using a lot of aerosol hairspray and driving Hummers to bring about global warming that much faster.

I bought some new make-up last night (and a $10 dress!!!!), and you can see that I am wearing the lipstain today. It is by Revlon--the Just Bitten stain with balm in the color Frenzy. I usually am not a huge fan of the bright lip, but I'm kind of loving this today. I caught a glimpse of my self in the mirror and really, really liked it, which made me feel good on this icky day. The stain itself is a very nice formula--your traditional stain, which can be a bit drying as many of you know, but with a creamy balm attached. Now, I know I could just buy some lipstain (and in fact, I own some forgotten tubes somewhere....) and just layer my Yes To Carrots over the top like a sane person, but I really like that they are attached because it takes up much less room in the ole bag/puffy vest pocket.

I will blog at more length about the make-up and dress purchases of last night later--for the moment, I am going to finish up my work because it seems my employer is sending us home. Yea for short Fridays! Boo for impending death!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Oh, Hoarders....

My mother in law is sick, which means that I am at home with the kiddos today. I found out that I would be unable to go to work last night, so I made the appropriate phone calls and emails, and then decided to sleep in this morning. I figured, if I have to take a day off (which I didn't really want to do), I might as well make the best of it and relax a bit. Which is a good thing, given that I think I may be coming down with a cold too (although nothing compared to what my mother in law has--ick).

So I slept until the ripe old hour of 8, and then got up, checked my work email and made myself some breakfast. I settled into the couch with a beautiful bowl of raspberries that I had picked myself and then had frozen during the summer months, topped with two dollops of snowy, creamy homemade yogurt and a drizzle of local honey. I pulled a blanket around myself and felt so cozy wonderful and happy. Time for tv, I thought. Relaxation, happiness and me-time before the kids get up.

And then I turned on Hoarders and had my stomach pulled out through my ear, stomped on and then shoved up my nose.

(Not exactly, but that's what it felt like.)

Now, every week, Hoarders has some mildly nasty moments. There will be a dead cat up under a year's worth of garbage, or some animal feces, or some puffy yogurt (and, well, there was that time that there was a staircase full of human feces packed in plastic bags, but we'll not go there). I mean, it is nasty, but it is passive. You get past the moment and you may tell your husband about it later in a, "Dude, that's some nasty shit!" kind of amazement, but you aren't left with a feeling of discomfort that lasts, I don't know, DAYS. OR FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Because I'm pretty sure that images from last night's Hoarder's episode will play in my end of life montage right before I die. Oh, look, there I'm a baby...graduating from college...birth of Alice....HOLY SHIT IT'S HOARDERS. AAAAGH.

But this Just the level of mental illness and depravity and total lack of empathy or any real human emotion on this week's episode was startling. And right here is where I should say something intelligent about the lengths that these reality shows will go to to exploit these illnesses, but to be honest, I'm still too shocked to even talk about it.

I am going to give you a little taste of what this episode was about, because I feel I would be remiss if I did not, but please note that if you have a weak constitution, or you know, you value the respect you feel for your fellow man, I would advise you not to read further. In fact, just go happily on your way and don't look back. Perhaps you should get one of those Men In Black style memory erasers and just forget you ever found this blog in the first place.

The episode centers on the stories of Hanna and of Gary and Kathy, a married couple. We'll start with Hanna. Hanna looks absolutely grotesque. You know when you were a kid and you saw those plump little mushrooms in the woods that you could stomp? And you'd stomp a few and they would smoke and you'd be left with a kind of lumpy, flattened fungus? Hanna is the living embodiment of that. She's fat, yes, but she is also misshapen. She has a wattle, ya'll. Which, you know, makes sense if you've lived the life that she has. She has had 16 kids, 10 of which have survived to adulthood. The other 6? Probably lost in the chicken shit. Yeah, mull that around for a second. Chicken shit. Anyway, Hanna lost all those kids when social services came and take them away in 1983 (which was a totally bitchin' year, if you ask me). However, for some godawful reason, those kids are still very much around, and want to assist with the clean up. Now, I love my mom, but she were an abusive animal hoarder who lived in absolute squalor and had turned my life into complete and utter shit, I might pass on helping out on a clean-up weekend. So these people are probably much better people than I am. But they are also the most reprehensible rednecks you've ever seen. And I live in Southern Appalachia, ya'll. I know a redneck when I see one. These people THROW DOWN, and actually start fighting in front of the Hoarders crew. This ain't Jerry Springer, ya'll. RESPECT THE PAXTON.

Anyway, Hanna hoards stuff, yes. In fact, there's a whole house full of it. But she also hoards chickens. And goats. The goats live outside in misery, and the chickens are forced into living inside storage tubs with chicken wire and bricks on top. Oh, and the chickens also live in one-two feet of their own feces. Yup. Matt Paxton, who may be my future husband if my (current)Matt drinks this milkshake I'm making (KIDDING!), finds a dead chicken who had been crushed to death by FECES, and is now as flat as a pancake. It is deplorable. I won't go into just what is accomplished by the whole Hoarder's experience for this woman, but let's just say the whole thing is incredibly depressing.

Two funny things though: one, when Hanna's kids came, they start getting in the fight. And they are screaming and shouting about really nothing at all, and I'm kind of tuning it out because you can see this shit at Wal-Mart on the regular if you are that interested, but then the camera just cuts to this shot of this dude just sitting there smoking a cigarette. He's so used to the whole thing--the squalor, the shouting, hell, the television crew. That he's just sitting there, in an orange t-shirt with an eagle on it, smoking away. Good for him. And second, the show chooses to show us Hanna at some point, sitting on a bucket in her "kitchen" drinking a mason jar full of some brown liquid. At one point, I was like "thin chocolate milk." But you know that's not what it was. What could it be? The mind blows, ya'll.

The other person featured on the show is just as despicable. His name is Gary, and he's an asshole. He says something at the beginning like, "My name is Gary and I'm unemployed. Yeah, I've got too many bunnies." That's pretty much what you need to know about him. He talks about how he didn't have enough money to buy a hutch, and he had this dude bunny who just knocked up all the chick bunnies and he just decided to let them run free, and you know, EAT THE WALLS OF HIS RENTED HOUSE. Because that's what you and I would totally do! He even says something like, "I'd like to see your house!" Sure, Gary, come on over. No, I don't live in a perfectly straight mansion with gold toilet seats. But, um, there's not an six inch layer of shit anywhere in my house. Score one for me. Anyway, Gary didn't have enough scratch for a hutch, but he has a pretty bitching computer it looks like. Which I'm sure he uses to chat on IRC and look up "breasts" in the Grollier's encyclopedia. 1994 called, Gary. It wants its technology back. And while we're at it, since Gary is unemployed and his wife is on "disability," then the American people would like you to scoot over Gary, so we can play a game of Freecell on the computer WE PAID FOR.

Gary sucks, but his wife doesn't get a pass in my book. She is pretty grotesque too, as far as looks go, and she is disabled. But, folks, being disabled doesn't mean you can't throw out the bag after you finish the Cheetoes. And yes, I am oversimplifying a LOT and yes, someone somewhere is going to get pissed over this, but I'm pretty sure Kathy's disability would be cured if she ate a green vegetable once a year and maybe, you know, walked around a bit. Just a note: she and Gary use their cell phones to talk to each other so that they won't have to get up and move about the house. Mull that one over, folks. Anyway, I understand that she is probably mentally abused by this guy every day, but shit, ya'll. Personal responsibility. Look into it.

Anyway, the part of this story that was interesting/not incredibly horribly awful was when the landlords came. Because this is their house, ya'll. What kind of an incredibly horrible SHIT do you have to be to poop-up someone else's house? These people are saints. They were shocked, yes, but managed not to explode in a fit of rage and rub Gary and Kathy's faces in the mound of rabbit poop. They are from Oklahoma--maybe that is how people from Oklahoma just are. If that's so, Oklahomans are amazing. They didn't even evict these people! My god! When I was in college, the management of our apartment complex would threaten eviction if you left a bag of garbage on your stoop for an HOUR.

And you know, I was going to make a New Year's Resolution post anyway, but this episode of Hoarders has inspired me to do much, much more in the way of life change. Some examples:

1. I am becoming a vegan.
2. I actually may never eat again.
3. I am moving to New Zealand to become a sheep farmer.

The end.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Good to be back and a product review...

Today is my first day back after a nice long staycation. And Lord, is it good to be back. Not just back to work--back to some semblance of a routine, some feeling of normalcy. I spent my vacation hanging out with my kids (Matt still had to work) and cleaning. Although I didn't get as much done as I wanted to, it was nice to wake up to an uncluttered side of the bed (I am the world's worst for stowing old magazines and books right beside the bed, making for a sometimes treacherous morning trek to the shower), a sparkling clear shower door, and an organized kitchen this morning.

The holidays were very, very kind to my family and myself. The kids got what they wanted and were generally awesome--full of joy and gratitude and holiday warmth. They have yet to get back to the normalcy of life, as they are still in vacation mode--school doesn't start for another week. Sam is spending the time with his new pet fish, and Gabby is at an aunt's house, spending time with her cousins. Alice is enjoying the fact that without the tree in the living room, she has much more space to play. And she is enjoying the fact that she's insane. So there's that.

I had evidently been a very, very good girl last year because I was bestowed with a lovely pair of Frye Harness boots and a Kitchen Aid Artisan Mixer. My dad bought me the mixer after hearing the story of me nearly burning up two hand mixers making Martha Stewart's marshmallows for Alice's birthday party. You have no idea just how happy this made me. I literally teared up when I pulled it out of the box and screwed the dough hook in. So far, I have made whole wheat bread in it, and although I meant to make some marshmallows, I have yet to do so. I think I am going to make some when we (finally) have Christmas with my husband's extended family this weekend. My kids bought me some gorgeous jewelry (including the necklace I am wearing now that has an M on it--Sam said that it was for Mommy, and I said, "Well, my name is Morgan too, so it can be for that too" and he goes, "Yeah, I hadn't thought of that!"), and Matt surprised me with a huge compartmentalized picture frame for my office that he put pictures of himself and the kids in. And over each picture, he put a gift card. So I have nine new giftcards to spend, ranging from small to large. Cutely, he made a note about each card and why he thought I would like it. For instance, on the itunes card, he put a note that said, "Because running to the Beastie Boys should be getting a bit old by now." I have already used the itunes card and an Amazon card--hello new yogurt maker! I would love to make it up to Starbucks today to use some of that one for a nice big skinny latte, but with the way this day is shaping up, I don't see that happening!

But, alas, all that holiday merriment has come to a close, and I'm back to being naughty rather than nice. I managed to wear the Frye boots today, although they are definitely more casual than my typical work attire. I have paired them with my holy denim trousers from Talbots, and a striped navy bateau neck shirt from Gap. And my pretty initial necklace from Sam. I feel like I look really cute today, so it is a shame that I left my camera sitting on the kitchen counter.

It is especially a shame because I just discovered the world's most perfect eyeliner, and I was going to take a (creepy) picture of my eyes so that you could see it. Ladies, run (don't walk) and buy this shit:

It is Clinique Quickliner, and Clinique's website tells me that it is an Allure award winner, so evidently it is not just me that thinks it is AMAZING. Up until this point, I hated any eyeliner that wasn't liquid. It all seemed...painful. Like you had to press hard to get the desired line and there were stops and starts and you became painfully aware of the skin on your eyelid. And how it would suck to puncture it and be left with Swiss cheese for a lid. So I used liquid, that I could kind of paint on with a little silky brush.

But then I bought this because I wanted some brown eyeliner, and I was bored and I do odd things when I'm bored. And this morning, when I went to put it on, I realized that it is amazing. It just flows on, in a way that I didn't think a pencil even could. It reminds me of drawing on a little line of chocolate mousse, a little smooth, happy line of decadence. And although chocolate mousse on your eyelid sounds DISGUSTING, imagine the smoothness. Or imagine a nice chocolate pot de creme. That is this stuff. As you can see in the picture, it has a little smudger on the other end, so you can even smudge, although I don't know how comfortable I am with smudging, just in general. We'll see.

And I should point out that it goes great with this stuff, in the cocoa shimmer shade. It is a bit shimmery, a bit "Baby New Year" without being all Ke$ha up in your grill.

(Do people even say that anymore? Up in your grill? Hmmm.)

Well, I'm off to eat my Weight Watchers approved lunch that I meticulously brought from home. Spinach salad, ya'll. The fact that I am excited about that makes me feel old/like Popeye/weight conscious in a good way.