Sunday, September 30, 2007

I've been "Niced"

What an honor and surprise.

Ms Wendy over at Wisdom of the Moon recently chose me to receive the 'Nice Matters Award'. The person who awarded it to her has this to say...

"This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you've been awarded please pass it on to 7 others who you feel are deserving of this award."

What a very lovely compliment to received after only a few months of blogging. It's something I started doing as another creative outlet and because I have enjoyed finding so many other crazy women out there who share many of my interests and even some of my neuroses... always good for a knowing nod and chuckle. I had no idea anyone but my mom would actually read mine. Hi, Mom!

So. Without further ado, I humbly submit my selections in no particular order:

Dustpan Alley: Though a word like "nice" seems insultingly bland to describe Angelina, (don't dare say "everybody liked her" at her funeral or she'll haunt you mercilessly) I truly enjoy having her for a friend and look forward to her blog updates... with all their twists and turns from deep ponderings to recipes, to rants, to random thoughts. She has an amazing way with words and a vocabulary I envy.

The Tardy Homemaker: Lisa is a sweet, homeschooling mom whom I have vowed to get over to my house because we have so dang much in common... except for the homeschooling part. Her posts always leave me with a smile.

No Time For Blogging: This is the blog of my friend, Cheryle's, life and travels. I have known her literally my whole life and it's fun to read her upbeat writings to keep in touch when our very different lives keep us from getting together as often as we would like... plus, I get to live vicariously through them! At the moment, she and her husband just happen to be in Barcelona... bitch. Just kidding!!! :)

Shuriken and Chevre: Though not often updated, much to my dismay, Beth is one of my dearest friends. Ninja, Chef, Children's Pastor and UberMom, this woman makes me tired just thinking about what she packs into a day... hence the oft-dormant blog. When she finally gets around to it, though, hers is lots of fun and inspiring to read.

No Appropriate Behavior: Okay, so, spicy language doesn't bother me in the slightest so Laura's propensity for cursing isn't, to me, off-putting. Her tales of life with her two boys, a husband who regularly travels for work and facing the challenges of a family with multiple food intolerances often leaves me weeping from laughter. Another great thing is her gluten-free recipe site. But perhaps one of the most entertaining facts about her main blog is that her posts are always named for song lyrics or titles which she explains once a month (much to my age-addled brain's relief.) "Of course! Split Enz! I knew that..."

Richie Design: Richele is a fun gal with amazing taste who lives in Long Beach, CA. I knew her before blog land, but if I didn't I'd still read her. She has many talents, not the least of which is photography. She shares some of her gorgeous work and fun/insightful thoughts on being a girl in this big ol' world. Always good for a chuckle or three... especially when she's talking about drinking beer in bed. ;)

Wisdom of the Moon: I don't know if tag-backs are legal here but I'm throwing caution to the wind and doing it! Wendy, YOU'RE SO NICE! :) She's also very talented and extremely creative! Go check out the cupcakes she made for Halloween (Richie!). I look at her stuff and realize how totally I suck. No. Really. She's very inspiring and makes me wish I had a fraction of the energy required to crank out the projects she makes look so effortless.

So there you have it. I'm sure there are a zillion other cool, creative, chatty chicks out there with blogs I need to read/get addicted to, much to my great downfall. For now, though, these are the ladies whose words occupy my idle moments. Do go visit them and enjoy... but like I said, for a couple, you'll want to leave your fragile sensibilities at the door. It's okay. You'll have fun.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Everybody, McFly, Zgottcho Invitation!"*

*For full effect, sing this while simultaneously grabbing your pant leg with one hand and Wii Bowling with the other. It totally works as demonstrated above.

This is Max.
(Yes, Angelina, my Max is as red-headed as your Max is blond.)

Max's mom is my cousin, Rebecca. Actually, she's more like my sister. Strike that. She is my sister in every way except the strictest sense of the word "literally."

Our dads are brothers and, though our moms couldn't be much more different had they come from separate planets, we've got some seriously similar genetic material.

It is a rare and glorious occasion indeed when we get to be in the same room together and the worst kind of torture when it's time for her to go again. Rebecca has been very gracious about flying up from AZ a couple of times a year, most often with at least one of her two darling boys and sometimes even her hubby.

It's beyond time for us to head in their direction as soon as I can figure out how to do that logistically and financially.

Max must have eaten SIX tomatoes within the first hour or so of their arrival. Not surprisingly, they don't have a garden at home so this was actually a big treat for him. He squeezed every succulent drop of life out of his visit here... which at times could be seen running down his chin and staining his shirt.

And, great glory, did he LOVE the fresh, raw milk! Though, I must say I was sad to disappoint him by not being in a position to offer him an actual cow milking experience. Our cows aren't for milking and those that are weren't available to indulge his craving.

He did get to help me do my cow chores though and he seemed pretty pleased about that.

I am never more grateful for our life here than when I witness such honest and pure expressions of enjoyment and appreciation by those who live differently. Surely, country life is not for everyone, but I have yet to invite anyone here and have them run screaming back to the city. Most tend to drag their feet a bit, even when they're ready to get back to life as usual.

I love that.

While it seemed like Rebecca and I scarcely left the kitchen, what with keeping these three little mouths satisfied, not to mention stuffing our own, the time together was better than ever.

It was in preparing for this event that I broke my mixer making Kraut Brook for the whole gang: her dad, my dad, my older brother and his wife... and of course the inevitable, and very welcome, "drop-ins:" my mom and step-dad and naturally, my in-laws.

We had a house full... which is always kind of exhausting. At the same time, few things make me happier than feeding all my people and listening to the hum of happy chatting as family and friends catch up on each other's lives.

It was all over far too quickly. Arizona is a world away when we both wish they lived right next door. We never got to spend much time together as kids but somehow the older we get, the more important we become to each other and time together is like a much needed fix for a couple of "connection junkies."

It's truly a Divine gift to have someone in your life with whom you can have such a strong bond, even over time and distance... and a wicked torment when you can't be together very, very frequently.

Parting isn't sweet sorrow, it's just plain raw, gut-wrenching sorrow. What's sweet, is knowing that when we finally are together, the time in between melts away and we greedily drink each other in acting like "good bye" will never come.

I'm really learning to despise the airport.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

THIS is What!*

*See previous post.

Gotta LOVE the refurb thing.

Hopefully stepping up to professional-grade will prevent future unpleasant surprises!

That's 575 watts of raw power, Baby! This one can take a good spankin' which is a very good thing when I'M at the controls!

And it's so preeeeeeetty... mmmmmmmm... Brushed *Nickel Pearl body... yummy... and *gasp!* look at all the stainless steel attachments...!

um... *ahem*


Kitchen porn.

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

*EDIT: When I originally posted this, I had remembered the color wrong. It's nickel pearl, not "pearlized nickel." So, Risa, you might want to edit your new mantra.

Now What?


Monday, September 24, 2007

Dubious Distinction

Here's a quick Monday morning poll for you:

How many people can say they have made bread dough so tough...


Well, I can.

Shocked and amazed I was. Didn't know it was even *possible*. Stripped its poor little gears clear to oblivion.

I'm not sure it's something to be proud of, per se, but it is something.

What I *am* proud of though, is when this stunning event occurred, I was half way through making two batches of bread dough (trying to remedy my under-liquifying, actually) for a big family gathering (more to come on this shortly). I made the second batch entirely by hand. It turned out perfect and wasn't nearly as difficult as I had imagined... having never made an un-Aided loaf of bread in my life.

Now, where the blue blazes am I gonna get this beast fixed? Is there even such thing as KitchenAid repair? Given their reputation for being indestructible I'm forced to wonder.

Yes, I will get it fixed, perfect bread dough or not. I mean, the handmade stuff was great, but when it comes to bread, I'd rather spend my time eating it than kneading it. Though, it is very good therapy, I don't think my life is frustrating enough to toss out the mixer just yet.

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "DOH!"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

No Matter the Color, All Toothpaste is "Blue"

Another Soapbox Moment: brought to you by baking soda.

This particular rant is on the topic of the "Bluing*" of toothpaste.

Reviling as I do all things artificial and overly marketed, I was recently on a quest for unadulterated toothpaste at my local Fred Meyer "Nutrition" Center.

• I don't want fluoride. (I prefer my dentifrice without extra chemicals, thanks.)

• I don't want fancy colors. (I happen to be allergic to food dye.)

• I don't want artificial flavors. (I don't expect the word "delicious" to enter my mind while I'm cleaning my chompers.)

• I don't need artificial sweeteners (I'm well enough endowed with insanity, I'll skip the neurotoxins, if you don't mind.)

I just want to clean my teeth without exposing myself to a bunch of crap I don't need.

You know what? Not even the supposed "healthy" toothpastes could offer me truly *clean* dental hygiene! Every one of them had carageenan, a thickener that just also happens to contain MSG. Oh, it's natural because it comes from seaweed, but it's still MSG!

Also, the new "wonder sweetener" is Xylitol. Don't be conned into believing this is the wholesome answer to Aspertame, folks. It may come from the bark of birch trees and be "natural" but it is still a sugar alcohol just like Sorbitol, its more recognizable, synthetic Evil cousin. If you react to Sorbitol, you will react to Xylitol. I know because I did.

All I want to know is: since when did cleaning your teeth require so much chemistry?

I recently gave this some serious thought and remembered a childhood overnight visit to my grandparents' house. At bedtime, I shuffled into the bathroom looking for the tube of Crest and Grannee** handed me a little, former cold cream jar full of white powder.

I looked at her sideways, of course. Where's the tube of goo? "What's this?" I asked with an undoubtedly puzzled look on my face.

"That's salt and soda. Just get your toothbrush a little wet, dip it in there good and brush your teeth like you do with toothpaste." she smiled down at me, pretty amused at watching the gears churning in my little noggin.

I complied, of course, and it was wretched to my unsuspecting juvenile taste buds, but, man, my teeth were clean!

It wasn't what I was used to, and the taste had come as a huge shock to me, but once my expectations were sufficiently adjusted, it wasn't horrible and actually felt more satisfying than the sicky-sweet saccharine aftertaste of the usual stuff.

Longing to recapture that healthy, fresh feeling, I looked online for some salt-and-soda-recipes. There are quite a few, but EDIT: this is the one I like.

I use sea salt in stead of table salt, which has its own inherent issues, and baking soda. I also add a little twist that has proven quite interesting... I wet my toothbrush with hydrogen peroxide. Each ingredient has properties that kill the bad bacteria, but leave the good stuff to happily flourish and do its job.

Beyond just cleaning my teeth, though, I've noticed the added bonus of whiteness. Makes perfect sense since I use baking soda to clean the stains out of my sink. Hydrogen peroxide, as any "suicide blond" can tell you, is great for safe bleaching while killing bad bacterial beasties.

No, my breath isn't minty fresh when I'm done brushing. It doesn't smell like anything. Just clean.

No, I don't get a sweet, minty hit while I brush, it's more mildly salty and fizzy, but it doesn't remotely resemble anything unpleasant, though I might put a drop or two of peppermint oil in the mix, just to add a little sass.

What I do have is an insanely inexpensive, good for my body, way to clean my teeth with absolutely no, stupid, non-recyclable packaging to discard.

Doesn't get much simpler or better than that, People!

Brush 'em if ya got em.

Peas, out.

*"Blue", you'll remember from my last Soapbox Moment is the term I have coined for food or products that have mutated into flashy, fake, brightly-colored floozified mockeries of their formerly wholesome selves.

**It is very much worth noting that my Grandmother had ALL her teeth until she was about 93, at which point, ONE decided it was time to retire from service and painlessly broke off. She could still chew meat with the best of 'em until her passing at 94.

Photo borrwed from Corbis.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's OK To Hate Me If It Makes You Feel Better

Sometimes even I can't believe what a freakin' RIDICULOUS *job* I have.

I get paid to do this stuff...

Stuart does mortgages. Pretty damned good at it, too. Knowing he's a serious numbers guy, you'd probably expect 'im to be a total stuffed shirt.

I think his asking me to do this to his likeness for a PowerPoint presentation has pretty effectively blown that stereotype to oblivion.

I also got to deface some artificially-chocolate-flavored Frankencandy which always puts a smile on my face. He's going to wrap these labels around a bunch of the bars to leave behind as a kind of *edible* business card.
Though I don't condone actually *eating* said Frankencandy, (I endorse Dagoba and Vosges,) I think it's a really cool idea and, of course, lots of fun for me and that is what matters most, after all.

Yes. I said I get Paid to do this.

I KNOW!! It's just crazy!

Man. Not finishing college is really paying off!

Thanks to Stuart and all my other clients who let me play on their behalf and give me money for it.

Now, to reassure you I don't waste a single penny of my clients' precious payments, I must be off to order that case of Dagoba Milagros Single Origin chocolate bars I've had my eye on...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Soapbox Moment

If you have spent more than about 30 seconds reading my blog, you know that procuring *clean* food is one of my top priorities. Moreover, I also endeavor to be eternally vigilant in rooting out the secrets of fake "food" products Evildoers (no, Evil is not too strong a word to use here) sell to an unsuspecting public.

I call it "Blue Food."

Blue Food is the stuff that exists solely for the purpose of making the commercial "food" industry more money and resembles NOTHING found in nature.

I call it that because BLUE has become the universally recognized color for artificially flavored RASPBERRY anything. Need I remind you... Raspberries are RED.

There is even green ketchup... also purple if you prefer... and a whole synthetically produced rainbow of colors of "food" marketed to us, but especially our kids. They don't care what it might do to your body, or that of your growing child, only that they can produce something so *fun* and different that your kiddo will BEG you to buy it.

The newest abomination that falls into this category I noticed in a commercial on Nickelodeon and is, in my estimation, the most unnatural combination of unhealthy substances I have seen marketed to children since strawberry flavored methamphetamine...

Fizzix - Fizzy Yogurt Snack by Yoplait.

We have now entered the age of CARBONATED YOGURT, PEOPLE!!!

Is there a shortage of fizzy, tooth-rotting, gut-inflating swill on the market in the form of soda?

Have we become so bored, overstimulated and irrational we now expect our FOOD to entertain us?

I implore you. It is long past time to say "HELL, NO!" to modern chemistry being sneaked into our food supply simply because we have been lulled into a false sense of security that "well, if they sell it to us, it must be safe, right?" Wake up, folks. As long as somebody gets to make mind-bogglingly HUGE amounts of money on the American Public's addiction to convenient, cheap, "pretty" food AND, as a result, someone else gets to make even MORE money on prescriptions and procedures in the "fight" against the new epidemics of obesity, cancer, anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD, heart disease... just a second... I'm getting winded here...

Seriously. The list goes on and on of preventable diseases caused or contributed to by Blue Food.

The real capper, though, is Genetically Modified ingredients. You know what your genes do, right? They tell your body what's supposed to go where. How things work. How stuff needs to behave as it applies to making your body function properly... right?

Okay. Now, what do you suppose happens when you introduce a tomato that was given a certain gene of a FISH to make it stay fresh longer in the store?

Don't know?

Neither do the people shoving GMO food into everything from your Doritos, to your ketchup, to your microwaveable TV dinner.

They're everywhere, People, and they matter.

Here's a link to a list showing where some of them are hiding. It's kind of an old list, but don't think its age means a new one would be shorter.

Life is chemistry. You are a whole swirling cocktail of chemicals that make your body work. What do you think happens when you start throwing in a whole mess of substances that your system, and the Earth, were never EVER designed to deal with?

Problems. Big problems. Like health epidemics. Like chemical-resistant strains of pests. Like real foods becoming so expensive and scarce that many people who care about that sort of thing have to make actual choices between spending four dollars for an organically grown tomato or two whole cans of Chef Boyardee.

That's just wrong.

Take control of your health out of the hands of people who don't care about you, or your family, or the planet. Don't eat it if you can't pronounce every single ingredient or read a label and think to yourself, "hmmmm... I wonder what that is?" KNOW WHAT YOU'RE EATING!

OH! And as if more nutrition, better health and supporting more responsible farming practices isn't good enough... REAL FOOD TASTES BETTER! That alone is a great reason to abandon Blue Food for good!

Okay. I'm stepping off my soapbox now.

If you'll excuse me, I feel strangely compelled to go hug my cows.

Peas, out.

Friday, September 14, 2007

At Last! Gangsta Rap for Design Geeks

Warning: The contents of this video are graphic in nature.
Sorry, Angelina. I know that was almost a pun.

This goes out to my Pantone Posse.


I mean, PhotoShop.

Click here...
Original Design Gangsta Video
...'cause I'm just not cool enough to figure out how to embed it.

You're right. I DON'T deserve my MacPro.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fresh From Heaven

Alternate title: "Got MILK?!"

Please join me in welcoming Princess's newest baby, Miss Peach, to our humble little herd.

Peach was born yesterday (the 12th) at 4:30 pm and was on her feet (sort of), vigorously slurping down her first meal by 5:00. So far, she seems to be thriving and the lot of us couldn't be happier.

This tribal custom, rarely seen by outsiders, is known as the "Getting a Clean Bed Ready For the New Calf Dance." One of the tribe members performing this sacred ritual is required to wear a bathing suit and pink rubber boots with cats on them while carefully executing the Hokey Pokey. The others simply flail around strewing about fresh hay while inhaling massive amounts of dust.

Just about sixteen hours old, here's a better view of Miss Peach in all her wobbly-legged, wooly, creamy-rich glory. Sooooo sweet.

OH MY GOSH! As I'm typing this, I can see from my office window that Princess has taken Peach to the corner of the fence where our pastures meet so she can meet her sister, Sparky, through the fence. (We've had to keep them separated for the last six weeks or so.)

They were touching noses through the fence, all three of them... I just love living with animal families.

It's so unusual to have all, or nearly all, the members in a family of pets that one rarely has the opportunity to see how very much like us they are. Four of our cats are mom, dad and two kittens. The way they interact with each other is very different from their relationships with the other cats. They even have sounds that they only use with their family and no one else. It's quite amazing and I feel privileged to get to witness it all.

Back to the cows:

When Miss Peach was just born, all the cows in the neighborhood started to bellow. Sparky, Bossy and even the neighbor's cow and her calf were calling at the top of their lungs over the fences. No one bellowed as long or frequently as Sparky, though. She ran up the fence line until she got as close as she could and stood there watching her mom and new baby sister. Sparky then spent most of the night and into this morning up in the trees at the top of my sister-in-laws property yelling some more. I finally had to go up and retrieve her and make sure she wasn't in some kind of trouble.

Was she upset? Happy and announcing to the world about the new addition to her family? Could be that she's just, um, lookin' for some lovin' of her own... you know how teenagers are... but her behavior is definitely not typical.

Life on the Ranch has been loaded with animal issues lately. Ashley had two, count 'em TWO abscesses on her face, undoubtedly caused by a very unwilling victim of her startlingly prolific predatory tendencies. This meant I got to whip out my latent veterinary skills administering antibiotics, cleaning the wound twice a day and feeding her raw milk yogurt to keep her tummy healthy.

We also have a very old cat that we were sure was dying after a couple of bouts with bladder infections and, yes, more antibiotics. He even disappeared for quite a while. We were sure he had wandered off to die... the next morning we found him in a very soft and cushy, though different from his usual, place feeling much better and apparently securely fastened to his mortal coil. More yogurt administered.

On Sunday, we had a stray LARGE, old white dog show up on the Ranch. She was very sweet and wasn't any kind of threat, but we were worried for her safety. And rightly so. In the process of trying to contact animal control and/or find out who her owner was she had wandered over to my in-laws and fell in the pool. It was nearly an hour before Anna found her when she ran up to borrow a movie, but thankfully, being a HUGE dog, she was able to stand on her hind legs in the shallow end with her front paws on the pool deck. She was pretty tired, but unharmed for the most part. James and I lugged her out and she just flopped in our yard and dried out in the sun while she caught her breath.

Eventually, we found out where she lived and my dad-in-law and I took her up and tied her to the front porch after hearing her owner had been asking around about her, but wasn't home when we got there. Turns out contractors going in and out of the house kept letting the dogs out and didn't care, um, I mean, weren't at all worried that they might wander off.

Thoughtless, idiot bastards...


But wait! There's more!

The kittens just turned six months old so that means it's time to make Bob Barker proud and do the responsible pet owner thing... get the girls spayed.

There is NOTHING I hate worse than forcing sweet little animals to wear those STUPID cones on their heads. I know, it's for their own safety, but DAMN! If I couldn't lick my tummy... Oh, wait... I can't, can I... well, if I couldn't scratch where it itches, I'd be pretty ticked off, too.

And THEN, there's the whole my-own-family-doesn't-recognize-me-because-I-don't-smell-right thing... oh, and did I mention I have a freakin' CONE ON MY HEAD?!

Poor babies. Must be so traumatic. It almost makes me want to wear an upside-down lampshade around my neck in a show of solidarity.

Thank goodness for Boo. He is so totally secure in his own hugeness, he fears nothing and loves everybody. Good ol' Boo.

Well, as I've been writing I've gotten an email begging for a quote and one screaming for an emergency PhotoShop intervention... as with all things in graphic design... it's a life-or-death scenario. Better go warm up the defibrilator.


For now, this is Dr. Doolittle, signing off.