Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm Positive the Calories Don't Count If the Voices In Your Head Tell You To Eat Something

I'm not the world's best bargain shopper. I cruise the sale racks, and I pay attention to the prices on the shelf tags, but I don't clip coupons and I don't read the circulars. Mostly, this is because we don't subscribe to our local newspaper, since its main purpose seems to be to accelerate global deforestation. When I realized I was only using it to cover the dining room during art projects, I cancelled our subscription.

(This is where you refrain from telling me in the comment section that there are websites where you can print out coupons. I know. I have Inappropriate Purchasing Disorder. If I come across a coupon for Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies, I'm buying the damn cookies. Ditto Cheetos. Ditto "snack cakes", Cocoa Puffs, and any number of other things that I wouldn't normally buy, but will now because I have a coupon. Theory #1: coupons are a tool of Satan. Theory #2: it's possible that I'm not too bright).

At the grocery store last week, I found myself in the potato chip aisle. Not intentionally, of course. I must have blacked out somewhere around organic produce because one moment I was selecting an eggplant and the next thing I knew I was in the chip aisle, and two bags of Cadbury Mini-Eggs had found their way into my cart in the interim. As I beat a speedy and virtuous retreat out of The Aisle of Sin, my eye was caught by a brilliant orange shelf tag posted by my very favorite, highly addictive Parmesan 'n Garlic potato chips. SALE! 2 for $5!

Voice in Head: You can't pass that up! What a deal! You can put them in the cupboard and save them for summer BBQs!

My hand reached out involuntarily and popped two of those suckers in my cart. At that price, it's just irresponsible not to buy them. Then I grabbed two more bags. I hesitated, put one back and got a Jalepeno 'n Cheddar instead. We had friends coming over that night, and I knew that my friend's husband loves anything spicy. I was buying them for him. Because I'm a giver.

I left the aisle feeling quite virtuous. Because three bags of chips is totally reasonable, but four is not.

[Sidenote: Turns out I like the Jalepeno n' Cheddar version just as much as the others. The one or two chips I sampled "to be polite" while our friends were over turned into twenty, plus two handfuls. Delightful slow burn of spiciness with a rich, mellow undertone of cheddar.]

Yesterday I was sitting by the front window unsuccessfully trying to sketch a new garden plan on graph paper (Dear Fussy Little Squares: Piss Off. Yours, Jenn) when the Voice in My Head piped up and suggested that a handful of Parmesan n' Garlic chips would be just the thing to cure my late-afternoon munchies. I opened one of the bags and ate a modest handful. Ohhh, the superb zing of garlic! The sharp bite of parmesan! Heaven. I dumped a few more into a small bowl and savored them.

They were gone way too quickly, and sure, I felt a pang of guilt as I unfolded the bag for the third time. This may be overdoing it, I thought. I briefly considered just licking the intoxicating flavor off of a few more chips, thereby saving myself most of the calories and fat grams, while maximizing flavor, but I didn't really relish explaining to Tom why there was a whole pile of soggy potato chips in the trash can. Besides, I wasn't even planning on copping to eating most of a bag of chips anyway. I was counting on blaming the kids for eating the chips and counting on his man-brain not to remember that the kids hate that flavor.

I spent the rest of the evening with the winning triple combination of unquenchable thirst from eating the equivalent of a half a cup of salt, ferocious parmesan-garlic breath, and shame.

Until I remembered that this is officially PMS week.

Voice in Head: Oh, PMS, you poor thing. Perhaps a few more chips would settle your stomach...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Finding Your People

Bear had a rough start to junior high last year. In elementary school, her circle of friends had mostly been her Girl Scout troop and whoever was in her class that year. When sixth grade began, most of her friends went out for school sports and friendship groups began to form along the lines of who played on what team.

Bear had given sports a fair whirl for a few years and emerged with nothing more than two black eyes and a terror of balls. She declared herself "not a sporty girl" and decided not to go out for any of the junior high sports. Since she was already taking four dance classes a week and music lessons, that suited me just fine, too.

But at school, she began to feel left out of lunchroom conversation, a lot of which centered around the sports teams. She began to notice that she wasn't being included in group invitations to the movies or to hang out at someone's house.

"Mom, I'm not good at anything," she told me in a quiet, heartbroken voice.

"Of course you are!" I replied, "You're smart, you're creative, you're musical and a dancer, and you have an amazing sense of humor!"

"But, Mom," she said patiently, "None of those things count in junior high."

And my heart broke into tiny little pieces. Because I remembered that feeling, the feeling of suddenly finding yourself cast out of a group and wanting desperately just to belong again, even if you have to completely reinvent yourself to do it.

"Bear," I told her firmly, "Your only problem is that you haven't found your people yet. You are going to find friends who share your interests. And when you find them, you'll discover that you don't have to try to be something you're not for these friends. They're going to like you just the way you are, and you will feel more at ease and alive than when you're trying to fake interest in something just to belong."

We talked about how friend groups splinter and re-form many times throughout junior and senior high. When I told her that she might have two, three, or more different best friends between now and 12th grade, she gawped at me in disbelief. And I remembered how at twelve, there is only now, and it feels like things will be this way forever.

But, miraculously, within the first few weeks of school, I began to hear new names: S. from Band, A. from her accelerated science class, and L. from ballet. And within a month, I had my happy, self-confident Bear back. And miracle of miracles, she found that even though she didn't share as much in common as she once did with her old friends, they were still lots of fun to talk to at lunch or in the halls between classes.

Yesterday, a year after her self-confidence meltdown, I got to sit and listen to Bear play four classical pieces at her recital. She looked cool and composed as she mounted the stage and sat gracefully in her chair as she played her oboe. I was so proud of her.

This summer she's going to a one-week sleep-a-way music camp at one of the state universities. She is , and when her father and I gave the permission and wrote the deposit check, she told us excitedly,

"I can't wait to meet the other kids at camp. I just know that to want to go to a camp like this, they will be my kind of people."

Friday, March 26, 2010

I Am Only a Moron About Cars. Swear.

After posting about my harrowing experience with a stuck accelerator pedal yesterday, several of you left kindly worded comments inquiring why I didn't shift the van into neutral?

Heh.

Funny story, that.

A couple of weeks ago, when all of the uproar about random acceleration in Toyotas was splashed throughout the news, Tom and I had the following conversation:

Tom (judgy and irritated tone of voice): I don't know why these morons whose cars accelerated out of control didn't just shift them into neutral.

Me (making list of pretty, pretty flowers I plan to put in my garden this spring): Hmm?

Tom: Well, instead of crashing, they could have just shifted into neutral and braked to stop the car.

Me (ooh, don't want to forget snapdragons!): Uhh, I dunno. Maybe they were panicking?

Tom: Still. Everyone knows that taking the car out of gear will stop the acceleration.

Me: (what's the name of those spiky purple flowers I had last year?): Right.


To my (very slight) credit, I did remember this conversation while I was trying to unstick the accelerator pedal. Problem was, I couldn't remember if he had said "shift into neutral" or "shift into park." I was leaning toward "park." Which I think we can all agree, probably wouldn't have ended well.

Once I made it to the stores that day and finally reached Tom on the phone, he first made sure I was safe. Then he launched into an endless lecture about what to do next time, why to do it, and oh, I don't know, how an internal combustion engine works? I admit to partially tuning him out once he'd moved on to sentences using words like "spark plugs", "combustion", and "rpms."

My brain reacts to car talk in much the same way it reacts to football. It shuts off. Then it makes its way to a happy place. In this particular case, that happy place was the candy aisle in Target.


Unrelated: Finally! A new look for my blog! What do you think?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Just Wanted To Go Shopping

So yesterday the accelerator pedal on my Toyota minivan got stuck while I was flying down the highway. I know what you're thinking ... how clich├ęd, right? My minivan isn't even one of the model years listed in the Toyota recalls.

They're never going to believe me, ran on a loop in my head as I tried to unstick the pedal, closely followed by I'm going to die a horrible, fiery death. And by "they" I was mostly thinking of Toyota and my husband, not you my blog readers. I mean, I love writing this blog, but it didn't exactly make the cut for "Things To Think About in Your Last Ten Seconds On This Earth." Sorry.

Here's how it all went down:

I merge onto the highway, heading to a store in search of a non-jeans-and-hoodie outfit for Bear to wear to her oboe recital this weekend. The pick-up truck in the right-hand lane moves to the left-hand lane to allow me to merge. All is good. I ponder exactly how girly of a dress I can buy for Bear without her refusing to wear it. Not very, I'm guessing.

As I come up to another on-ramp I see a semi on it preparing to merge. Unable to move over, since Mr. Pick-Up is still driving in the left-hand lane beside me, I decide to speed up to get out of the semi's way. Speed up I do - to about 75 mph.

Once clear, I brake lightly to slow down. Something feels weird. Glancing at the speedometer, I see that despite my foot on the brake (visual check here, yup, that's the brake), the needle is still inching up - 80 mph now. Okaaaay... that's not normal.

I brake harder. 85 mph. Huh.

Freaking out slightly, I move to check the accelerator. It's depressed, despite my foot not being on it. 90 mph. Not. Liking. This.

I tap the accelerator to try to make it release. Um, no. Apparently not going to happen. 92 mph.

I stomp the brake with renewed vigor, and steer onto the shoulder. Some hard-wired circuit in my brain flips on the hazard lights Miraculously, the van is slowing down. Slowly. 85 mph. Even more miraculously, the highway is virtually clear this morning, so I don't have to make any of those tough Crash Into Someone? or Roll Van Into Ditch? decisions. (For the record, I like to think that I would not have opted to crash into someone. Unless, say, Osama bin Laden turned out to be inexplicably driving the pick-up next to me).

65 mph. Hey, I might not die today!

50 mph. Something smells burny and horrible. I'm guessing that the car manufacturer did not intend for one to accelerate and brake at the same time. Noted.

In some order which is not clear in my head, I wrestle the van to a stop, turn of the ignition, and reach down for the pedal. When I duck my head down, I see that my rubber floor mat is wedged way up under the accelerator, so much so that it folds over the side of the pedal. Ah. I think I see the problem.

I sit for a couple of moments on the shoulder of I-95 and breathe. I call my husband, who is in a meeting. I consider my options. Damn it, I still want to go shopping. Bear is NOT wearing jeans to her oboe recital.

I restart the van and test the pedal. Seems fine.

I call my BF and make her stay on the phone with me while I cautiously drive a few feet down the median. I'm not sure exactly what the reasoning here was, but something along the lines of "if I'm going to die in a runaway van, someone's going to witness it, damnit." The logic kind of falls apart if you think about it too hard. I merge back on to the highway. The van seems fine.

I proceed down the highway at a cautious 65 mph, braking at random intervals, much to the delight of the vehicles around me. Just checking! Carry on.

An hour later, I stood in Target debating the merits of the Lindt Dark Chocolate & Orange Essence versus the Ghiradelli Bittersweet with Caramel.

Because cheating death on the highway absolutely equals giant candy bar in my book.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bug Solves the Economic Crisis

Our school district is facing a major budget crunch for the upcoming school year. Rumors have been flying thick and fast amongst the school kids ( and parents, if I'm being perfectly truthful) as to what programs and teachers will be cut due to lack of money.

Scene: last Friday, after school.

Bear: Mom! There's going to be a budget meeting at the school on Monday, and you have to go because they might cut band. Will you go?

Me: Of course. I was planning on going anyway.

Bug: I heard that there won't be any more sports or Stretch (gifted) classes and they're going to fire a bunch of teachers.

Bear: My art teacher said that they're going to start by cutting all the fine arts programs. He said that artists are always the first to get fired when the economy tanks.

Bug: Student X told me that there will be 30 kids in every class next year.

Me: Let's not get crazy. There are a lot of rumors flying around right now, and we don't know if any of this is true, which is why Dad and I are going to the meeting. We don't have any facts yet.

Bug (frustrated): I just wish I could tell everyone about my idea, and then we wouldn't be having this problem.

Me: Which idea is that?

Bug: You know, where the whole world agrees to get rid of money and just help each other out to be nice.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Adventures in Laziness (with a moral)

I wore prescription glasses from the time I was two until I was thirteen, when my eyes were declared cured. This run of good eyesight lasted about fifteen years (and dovetailed nicely with The Vain Years: Dating and Early Marriage). By the time my opthamologist told me my run of luck had run out, I really didn't care so much about having to wear glasses.

I did have half-hearted fling with contacts, but my astigmatism made them feel exactly like wearing little slivers of glass in each eye.

My eyes, one of which is staunchly nearsighted while the other is perversely farsighted, have now deteriorated to the point where I have to shell out for prescription sunglasses, too.

Prescription sunglasses which I wear every day when I pick up Bug from school. You see, Bug's school has a policy where parents picking up children have to come into the school lobby to get their kids. It's a good policy, and I support it, but it does get a little tiresome having to find a parking spot and go into the lobby to retrieve her every day. And rather than carry my glasses case with me and switch out glasses for the thirty seconds I'm inside the school, I just shove my sunglasses to the top of my head when I walk in, scan quickly for the familiar outline of my kid, take her and leave.

Last Wednesday, I walked into the school lobby to pick up Bug and a friend. I saw Bug standing with her back to me looking up the main staircase, likely waiting for the friend to come down. I patted her head and tugged her ponytail lightly and said, "Hi, honey!" Then I stood with my hand on her shoulder and waited for the friend to come down the stairs.

Out of my peripheral vision, I could tell Bug was continuing to look up at me and not the stairs. Looking down at her, I saw that ... OH CRAP. This kid was not Bug at all. I removed my hand from the shoulder of the kid who was not Bug, but who was (in my defense) dressed in exactly the same bright green hoodie and navy capri sweatpants as Bug was wearing that day, not to mention being brown of hair and the same basic height.

"Heh, heh," I said, "I thought you were my kid." She gave me the weak smile you give the mentally unstable when you don't want to upset them. I took two non-threatening steps away to show that I was not the person they warn you about in the Stranger Danger talk.

Luckily for me, Bug came down the stairs right then, and I was able to show the Kid Who Was Not Bug that they were dressed exactly the same. And, wow, WASN'T THAT FUNNY! NOT WEIRD-FUNNY, BUT FUNNY-HA-HA?? Then I dragged Bug and her friend very quickly out of the building.

Moral: There's a reason why you wear prescription glasses, you dumbass.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sick

Fever.

No Appetite.

Cough.

Croaky voice.

Joint paint.

Exhaustion.

BUT! I've lost three pounds. It's Jenn's Viral Weight Loss Plan. Works every time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Because Why Would I Give You Interesting, When There Is So Much Weird?

As a nice counterbalance to the wide variety of craptastic events last week, Rose sent me this award. It made my day.

According to the rules of this award, I'm supposed to list 7 interesting things about myself. But since when I'm getting to know people, I most enjoy ferreting out out their bizarre little quirks and weird chapters from their pasts... that's what I'm going to share instead.

Consider it a random act of kindness. This list should make you feel much better about yourself.

1. I don't like metal utensils. My long, painful history with dental work has left me with a horror of anything metal in my mouth. If it weren't for trying to pretend I'm all normal and well-adjusted, and also the fact that it's damn hard to cut meat with a plastic knife, I'd use plastic utensils all the time. I absolutely have to use a plastic spoon for certain foods (yogurt, ice-cream, pudding); everything else I use metal for but am scrupulously careful never to let it touch my teeth. If somebody around me scrapes their fork on their teeth, I wince and have a minor breakdown back in a dark corner of my brain. Also, somewhere a fairy dies.

2. I seem to be incapable of putting on my clothes right-side-out. There have been way too many (more than four - that's all I'm admitting to) instances of people telling me gently in public that my shirt's on inside out. This may have its roots in a body image meltdown I had awhile back that culminated in my cutting out the tags in all of my clothes so that the sizes on the tags would stop taunting me. Add that to my general blindness without my glasses on, and you get an inability to discern which side of the shirt goes against my skin.

3. I'm kind of a freak about pronunciation. If Tom ever leaves me, it will because I've corrected his pronunciation one time too many. I know it's rude. I try really hard not to do it, and I never do it with friends or acquaintances. But here's the thing... if Tom mispronounces a word consistently, then the kids will start pronouncing it that way. So, really, my correcting him is simply good parenting. I'm doing it for the children.

4. I can take absolutely any medical symptom and diagnose myself with either cancer or appendicitis.

5. One of my favorite smells is dirt.

6. I worked as a butcher for two summers during college. One of my duties was to hose all the blood off the walls after the head meat-cutters went home for the day. (Note: not as glamorous as it sounds).

7. I quite enjoy bugs. This will no doubt amuse my parents, who lived through many years of my shrill screams and histrionics when I encountered a stray Daddy Long-legs in the shower or an errant earwig who traveled inside in our rolled-up newspaper. Now suddenly I've turned into the weirdo who transports bugs outside on an index card rather than kill them. Except mosquitoes. Mosquitoes I squish with malicious zeal.


I'm tagging Meg, Dawn, Lora, smalltownmom, and Cindy. Post the award on your blog and list seven interesting (or weird! I encourage weird!) things about yourself, and link back to me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Friends, Romans, and Assorted Short People in Ponchos and Turbans

Easily one of the highlights of Bug's academic year is Country Night, put on by her Stretch Reading class. The students spend weeks researching the country of their choice, writing an in-depth report, and constructing a display board. On Country Night, they wear a costume that represents their country, and bring a native food.

Bug's country was Italy this year, and she's been bombarding us with Italian factoids for about six weeks now. I now know that Italians spend a larger percentage of their income on clothes than Americans "because they're into fashion", that back in Etruscan days Italians lived in caves, and that Venice is slowly sinking into the sea. I actually already knew that last one because I used it in one of my more inspired attempts to guilt Tom into taking me to Italy sooner rather than later. If we wait too long, Venice will SINK INTO THE SEA. His response (eye-rolling) seemed to indicate that he thinks I'm making this up.

Coming up with an Italian-ish costume was tricky. Left to my sewing (i.e. stapling and hot gluing) skills, Bug would likely have shown up garbed as either Chef Boyardee (what? Pasta is Italian.) or perhaps an olive (because they make olive oil in Italy?). I briefly envisioned crafting a black olive costume out of a Hefty bag stuffed with newspapers. Bug rejected this idea with undisguised horror and suggested something more along the lines of haute couture because she had read "that lots of famous designers are Italian." I flatly declined to rustle up an Armani for her. As you can imagine, we were both greatly relieved when Grandma took over the costuming duties.

Which reminds me... a word of advice to any unmarried readers? Forget about marrying a guy who's sweet, funny, and picks up his dirty socks. I mean, that's nice and all. But in the category of Absolutely Essential is FINDING A MOTHER-IN-LAW WHO SEWS. Thanks to Grandma, my kids have always had the Halloween costumes of their dreams. And when completely stymied as to how to jury-rig a costume to represent Italy, a quick email to Grandma resulted in a gorgeous Roman noblewoman's dress.
All of the kids were completely adorable in their costumes. This year's crop included a Mountie, a German boy in lederhosen, a ninja, a gaucho, Fidel Castro, Golda Meir, an Afghan tribesman, a Statue of Liberty, and the tiniest little Mexican señor you've ever seen (with a lush, black, but not-quite-sticky-enough fake mustache that he spent much of the evening carefully pressing back on).
I'd like to give a shout-out to my kid for picking a country that I could actually supply food for. Unlike Bear, who during her elementary school years, selected countries like Sweden (newsflash: no lingonberries available in Maine supermarkets) and Tanzania (Google helpfully turned up a scant handful of recipes, all of which called for "bush meat"), Bug obligingly chose Italy. Piece o'cake. Well, piece o' tiramisu. That and two cheese pizzas from the local pizzeria, and my contribution to Country Night was done.

Again proving that she is her mother's daughter, Bug loved sampling all of the different foods:
I'm assuming that this look Bug gave me while she was standing on the stage means, "Exactly how many pictures are you planning on taking, Mom?" That or she was spontaneously channeling Mussolini. She's always had a soft spot for fascist dictators, as was demonstrated by her behavior from ages one until three.













Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Post of Many Excuses


It's been a week of little blogging. I just wanted you to know that I've been busy with Very Important and Essential Things. Such as:

Sick Kid. Bear spent Saturday through Wednesday looking like a very pale little lump under a blanket on the couch. I did much pouring of ginger ale and fetching of Jell-O. She nibbled, sipped, dozed, and watched TV.

Massive School Project. Bug is doing a project on Italy for her Stretch Reading class. She did the lion's share of the work, although I did assist in typing her report for her. I also volunteered to do some of the gathering-of-photos-for-the-display-board work because I suspected (correctly, as it turns out) that when you do a Google Image Search for "Italian women" and "Italian men" that what you get is porn.

TWO teacher in-service days this week, meaning four-day weekend for the kiddos.

PMS and a bowl of Cadbury mini eggs that were not just going to eat themselves.

Gorgeous spring-like weather that has had me doing things like exultantly dragging out the patio furniture, sweeping the porch, gathering rocks for my pond project, and sketching this year's garden plans.

Also there was this tree that's been gradually encroaching on my front window for the last nine years. By Monday I'd decided that it's time had come. I wrangled Bug into helping, grabbed the nippers and the tree saw, and we took that sucker down. (Except for the stump, which is large and unwieldy and going to require a chainsaw. WHICH, I might add, my husband continues to refuse to buy for me. Something about hadn't I learned my lesson from the whole Frankenfinger debacle...?)

What about you? What have you been up to?

Monday, March 8, 2010

In Which I Elevate Laziness to Performance Art

After refusing to cook dinner until Tom allowed me to drag him around the yard and show him exactly where I wanted our future pond to go, and also pointing out specific rocks that would require transport to the pond site, I made mention of the fact that I thought I'd rake out the flower gardens this weekend. This usually results in ten or more wheelbarrows full of brush and dead leaves to be hauled out back and dumped in the ravine. (And, yeah, I know that you're technically supposed to tidy and "winterize" your gardens BEFORE winter, but I once read this article that vaguely suggested that leaving the dead plants and leaves in situ actually insulated the perennial roots during the cold months. That's all it took for me to totally ignore the gardens once they die in the first frost until spring when I actually feel like gardening again).

Anyhoo.

So I was talking about raking the flowerbeds, when Tom said thoughtfully, "I don't know why you don't just rake all the brush into a pile in the center of each bed and burn it."

I rattled off a long list of reasons why this was the most ridiculous idea I'd ever heard of and would likely kill all the dormant perennials, but mostly I was making it all up because I hadn't thought of it myself. I tend to prefer innovative, labor-saving ideas when I come up with them.

So midway through raking all the dead stems and leaves, it occurred to me that I was next going to have to haul this all out back in a wheelbarrow, which makes my back hurt. And just burning it seemed like a great idea.

I hollered to Bug (Slightly Overzealous Assistant Fire-Watcher and Hose Holder), raked the brush into a pile in the center island bed, and torched it. It was highly satisfying, and the wheelbarrow stayed untouched in the back shed.

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere once that ashes are good for garden soil.

Friday, March 5, 2010

And He Say's I'm Irrational...


ACTUAL CONVERSATION

Time: 2:37 a.m., last night
Place: my bed

I awaken to the sound of Tom snoring. I try to ignore it and get back to sleep, but after five minutes or so of listening to his buzzing vibrato, it becomes clear that this is not going to happen. And I'm not so much a lay there and suffer in silence kind of person.

Me: Tom.

Tom: ...

Me: TOM.

Tom: mmm....

Me: Are you fricking kidding me? (not wanting to lose my comfy position, I try whacking the mattress with my arm) TOM!

Tom: mmmrraakkpfft... huh?

Me: Roll over, hon. You're snoring.

Tom: ...

Me: Oh, no you didn't. (gently kick in his direction; mostly accidentally land a pretty solid one on his thigh).

Tom (suddenly awake and pissed): What the hell?!

Me: Roll over. You're snoring.

Tom (not rolling over): Yeah, I know.

Me: Then roll over.

Tom: I am.

(He's not).

Me: TOM, ROLL OVER ONTO YOUR SIDE.

Tom (in suddenly pissy and officious tone): LOOK, I can't do anything about it, OK? It's all linked through my Facebook page.

Me: ...

(Fabulous. He's not actually awake).

Me: TOM, ROLL OVER ONTO YOUR SIDE OR SO HELP ME GOD...

Tom: I'm on my side.

Me (gritting teeth): Roll to your OTHER side.

(Through what I can only attribute to divine intervention, he finally does. I, however, am now widethefuck awake and remain so for the next hour and a half).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

GIVEAWAY WINNER!

Bug felt strongly that she should head up the Giveaway Quality Control. She carefully wrote each entry on a slip of paper and folded them into squinchy little pieces.

"It's important that no writing show through," she told me gravely, a tip picked up no doubt from her obviously extensive giveaway experience.
Entry slips folded and in a bowl. (Picture taken from across the room, where Bug had instructed me to sit. You know, lest I taint the process or something).
Followed by thirty-nine (I counted) seconds of eyes-closed bowl stirring. It's a science, you know.
And the winner is...
Congratulations Country Girl!
You've won an item of up to $75 value (including shipping) from csnstores.com.
I'll be emailing you with the details!
:)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Have a Dream. Well, Obsession. But Let's Say "Dream" Because It Makes Me Sound More Sane.

Last Day to Enter the $75 Shopping Credit GIVEAWAY!

For months now, all I can think about are ponds. I've been driving around town secretly coveting other people's ponds for years, and now I'm determined to have one of my own. I think I've even got Tom on board. At least, he's made a few resigned remarks about dusting off his shovel and beefing up his digging muscles, so I'm taking that as agreement.

You might remember my first foray into water gardening last year:
Yup, that's a pond in a flowerpot, complete with water plants and goldfish. By the end of the summer, the water hyacinths had grown to take over more than half the surface area of the pot, and the fish would swim up to the surface and poke their little mouths out when you came near. (They'd figured out the whole "people + proximity = food" equation).

When I picture my future pond, I tend to envision something along the lines of this:
Did you hear that? That was the sound of my husband fainting, followed by the rustle of divorce papers.

No, I know that I'm not going to get that pond. But isn't it beautiful and serene?

A little closer to being within the realm of reality (but still not quite there - you can stop breathing into a paper bag now, Tom) is this one:
The landscaping around it is gorgeous. I'm a sucker for river rock and fieldstone, and I am in complete love with the little waterfall at the far end.

I'm thinking that my pond is probably going to be more along these lines (please picture without the large burgundy elephant ear plant on the left; it makes me inexplicably tense):
I actually have quite a few rocks that we've hauled out of the creekbed and, um, (*cough*) kind of stolen from construction sites. The only real expenses will be a liner and a pump, which we'll use to create the waterfall.

I'm not sure what to do about fish because (get this) putting koi into a pond/stream/whatever in Maine is ILLEGAL. And while part of me thinks it would be secretly badass to go to jail for "illegal harboring of pretty fish", I realize that this would seriously cut into my pond-enjoyment and gardening hours. So, not sure yet what to do about that. Minnows? Non-claustrophobic trout? This is going to require much Googling.

Bug is hoping that frogs find our pond, and Bear is rooting for turtles.

I'll keep you posted. This is going to be fun. No matter what Tom says.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Paying It Forward (GIVEAWAY!!)

In the past several months, I've been the recipient of more generosity and kindness than I can begin to acknowledge.

-My parents & in-laws who were quick with the financial help while we were immersed in the 2009 Construction-n-Major-Life-Upheaval Rodeo ... my mother, who flew 1000 miles to help me paint my house ... my BF, who rolled up her sleeves and helped me move furniture, paint, put away laundry, and anything else that needed doing during the months of renovation ... a friend who took the time to make sure the treats she was sending in to school for her son's birthday were safe for Bear's nut allergies ... the bloggers and blog readers, whose writing/comments and friendship has come to be an important part of my life. The list goes on and on.

So when I was contacted by an internet company this week and asked to host either a giveaway or choose a free item do a review on this blog, it was a no-brainer for two reasons:
1. I can't repay most of what I've been given in kind,
so why not pay it forward?
2. Review blogs bore me.

(Just to be clear, though, if this company had offered me shoes or a trip to Italy? You'd totally be reading a review blog right now).

The company that's hosting the giveaway has a ton of sites, carrying everything from kids beds, to bar stools, to cookware. I've spent quite a bit of time poking around on their websites, and frankly, they carry some version of just about anything I could think to type into the "search" box. And believe me, I can think of some pretty random things.

The winner gets to pick an item up to $75 (must include shipping) from any of their websites. Here's a sampling of some of the things I'd be likely to pick:


1. The Eurostyle Maybelle Aluminum Coat Rack, $67.95 + free shipping.

I can't say that I really need a coat rack, but I think this one is really cool and sculptural looking. I also think that I would need to buy a fabulous new coat to hang on it to make it look complete.












2.The Le Creuset Zen Teakettle in "Caribbean", $59.95 with free shipping.

It speaks to me. It says, "Put me on your stove where I will look pretty and make you tea."















3. WHOA. This company has a SHOE WEBSITE? This is seriously testing my whole kindly pay-it-forward philosophy. Here's what I would have picked (IF I were a selfish bitch, which I'm not. Usually.)









To Enter: Leave a comment in the comment section telling me what you would buy with a $75 credit!

I'll be choosing a winner at random. Check back Friday morning to see if it's you!