Saturday, July 29, 2006

Party time


This is a card I made ( I didn't make it crooked, I scanned it that way, and then I tried to smudge out the rather unique name after I scanned it but I can practically read it again because I compressed the ... oh nevermind)

I'm going to a graduation party today... my two neighbors are having a combined party for their daughters... two bands AND a DJ. Oh, and there will be beer, I am sure. I will not get any sleep tonight.

Also, I'm running away for a few days... y'all be good now while I am off partying! Um, working hard, attending training that will help me in my job. Yeah. That's it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Life's little mysteries

Somewhere on this about-to-be-eliminated planet is a beach bag, belonging to me, containing swimsuits and towels last used last Thursday by my children. Key word: somewhere.

Perhaps it's at the sitter's house, quietly turning into a mildew farm while she is away on a well-deserved vacation!

...for two weeks.


Why would people pay money to have their photo taken with a wax museum likeness of Brangelina spawn? Just give the damn dollar to Unicef already.


Why would someone do this when we've already got the playboy channel on Sirius? I only listen to Tiffany Granath's show, mind you, because the rest is shit. If you missed Tiffany today, you missed a hilarious show. Her 2nd hour guest, Dr. Joel Kaplan, sounded like Marty McFly's dad. Given what he was talking about, it was horrifyingly bizzarre. You just don't want to know what he sells. Who would really buy that? No, really, you don't want to know.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

And I feel fine

If you've noticed, the Armageddon is at hand and we are living in the very Last Days. The signs are all there, they say. I guess I don't have to worry about paying off my credit cards after all.

Some people really do believe this, especially given the Tsunami, the hurricanes, the forest fires, the renewed mideast conflicts, and the color of nail polish I'm wearing today. Everything is a Sign.

If you're one of those people, I'm sure you stopped reading before this paragraph, but I'll still say I'm sorry... this includes my father... he pointed his "evidence" out to me last year. His bible has a chart, that shows the first, second and gospel readings for every Sunday. It went up to Easter Sunday 2006. This bothered my father QUITE a lot when he noticed it. To his mind, that meant "that's it. The end."

Me being me, I said "Uh, Dad? they only have just so much room for the chart. You know?"


This site is titled "The End of the World as We Know It... Again." Fun stuff.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What about you?

I'd rather float.... in a canoe, than on a luxury cruise ship. (What about you? speedboat? bathtub??)

I'd rather sing... up in my choir loft, than in front of a stadium full of fans. (What about you? In the car? In the shower?)

I'd rather eat...a sandwich with a friend, than a formal black tie dinner with a group of people making polite conversation (What about you? Alone, or in a crowd?)

I'd rather walk...on a bumpy trail in the woods, than down 5th avenue(What about you? On a beach, perhaps?)

I'd rather watch a baseball game, than football. Relax, enjoy the summer weather and a nice cold beer, chat with a friend, and every now and then something exciting happens. What about you?

The preceeding questions were brought to you by a pile of paperwork on my desk that I just don't QUITE feel like doing yet. Sunday nights are all-too-often "catch up" night for me. Finish this, finish that, before the rush of the week begins again. I'm tired.

Things that amuse me


#37:
creative ads from British magazines

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Don't Miss

The webisodes of the Office. A new one comes out every Thursday on the official The_Office webpage. No Jim, Pam, or Michael so far, given the cliff hanger, but still some funny moments with Jan and the accountants.

("...he took the good one" cracks me up.)


PS: it's pouring BUCKETS... I was going to weed my garden today. Arrrgh. We abandoned the dog puzzle. Too hard.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Ooops I did it again


So, it's Friday which means I don't have to work in the office - I have to amuse my kids (not the nephew this Friday, just mine) and so I bought this.

...because I am insane, and think that two kids age 8 and 11 can do any 500-piece puzzle without my constantparticipation, much less one that is not square, is basically monochromatic, and has those funky "secret shapes" (which mean that there are MORE edges, than just the actual outer edges, which are not straight to begin with.)

As you can see, it's shaping up to be a typical day around here. This puzzle is awesome, but I think I miiiiight be the only one who likes it. Shhhhhhh.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Awesome

The 2nd season DVD of The Office ships September 12 and you can preorder it here .

This almost makes up for the past 24 hours. (Rushing, mayhem, and frustration. Certain members of the PTA have already decided I'm The Problem. I may just wear a badge to the first meeting that reads "Bad Cop". I don't even really want to talk about the orthodontist dropping the figure $4500 on me. For ONE KID. The other is waiting in the wings. GAH!!!)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Gears

I am forever changing gears.

Monday mornings I stumble into work (overtired) and trying to remember where I left off Thursday. It's exciting stuff because I don't get to DO the projects, I only arrange billing for them. Because I support four people who each have five or six projects at any time, I end up "changing channels" pretty often. I also have a side list of administrivia that just keeps plodding forward, but must be attended to on a regular basis or it bubbles over and makes a mess.

I try to keep my mind on work. Some days that's easier than others. In the summer, it's a crap shoot depending on who I leave my children with. This year, I have a great babysitter. I can be assured that the kids are safe, happy, and even doing some reading and math practice now and then. (She's studying elementary ed in college - JACKPOT!!! And she has a POOL at her house!!! This helps to fulfill the chlorine quota for the summer.)

So the gears turn, I push electronic paper, and wait for the time to come when I can pack up and go home. Try to shift up into Mommy mode on the way home from work, to cook dinner, take it out to the deck, play in the yard, and then catch up on the laundry magically somehow. Sometimes I feel like people are deliberately throwing wrenches in my gears. My husband left the house yesterday at 1:30. His brother had called minutes before to say "let's bring all of the kids to swim at Nana & Papa's." This was sort of a surprise to me as I'd had other things planned. PTA duties, paying our bills, ....exciting Sunday afternoon chores.

So I was planning on making a big pasta dish for dinner so that I could have leftovers each night this week... this is "soccer camp" week. Every night, 6 -8 pm. (I'll have just enough time to put my sneakers on, when I get home from work, before it's time to head to the field.) Mom sits in a lawn chair on the sidelines thinking of the 3,000 things she should be doing at home, while the kids run around and get sweaty, dirty, and exhausted (with a side of cranky) for two hours. Drag the little darlings home, clean them up, and THEN start laundry.


Yes, fun. So, back to Mr. C. Also known as "P.O.W." We are at that oh-so-delightful stage where the kids are basically making me half insane and so I get frustrated with HIM a lot because he can't read my mind. My hairdresser calls it "the Ice Age"; I prefer to think of it as the Cold War Era. If we don't nuke each other by the time both of the kids are 21, a few walls will come down and maybe we'll be ok. Maybe. (We're half way there. Only 12 more years to go. Can I please spend a week, um, month totally alone at Camp David? then I'll be nice for a while)

Of course the Mr. has his own agenda which I am often unable to decipher. Because, of course, being different from mine, it MUST be wrong.

Uh, he decided that we needed one of those "fire pits", and hey, I did want one. Sure. It was more or less a bribery attempt on his part but it was good on paper. He headed on up to a big box store and in the back of my mind, I figured he'd be returning in 45 minutes, maybe an hour, and that would put us reasonably close to Other Brother's arrival at the family pool.



So I worked on my PTA stuff. Then I did a few other things. Then I did a few MORE other things like cleaning out a bird feeder. The "someone has to do this" things that drive me crazy. The things you do when you think someone is going to be interrupting you at any moment to go off and do something else.

Ha.

After two and a half hours had gone by since he'd left I called him... with a "where ARE you?" Yes, I knew where he was, but that was supposed to be done by now. These calls never go well because I wait to call until I am convinced that the car has either been repossessed or totalled, and I'm annoyed to find out that he's "fine" and just didn't get around to giving me an update on what the EFF is going on.

Meanwhile at this point I was trying to recalculate the agenda for the rest of the afternoon to figure out if it was worth it to still go swimming. A little voice in my head was saying "but I want to swim toooo, all I have been doing all day is work". The other voice was starting to shift into dinner/ evening mode. "We have to cook this stuff tonight or we'll eat sandwiches every night this week. There isn't time to swim AND cook"

Ultimately, I gave in. I swam. Much longer than I wanted to. (Well it was not ME swimming... them.... which meant country drive in for dinner....) So I did not cook - now I have no dinner for tonight. Anyone want to run by the soccer field and bring me some dinner?

Seriously.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The latest way

to make Carly happy....

Now listen, my friends. I know that I frequently mention alcohol in my blog.

Here's the thing. When you're literally a soccer mom trapped in the mind numbing repetition of homework, laundry, groceries (rinse, repeat) you can take prozac, or you can tip a little every day, um, ...every now and then. Usually after the kids are in bed, of course.

OK, I am exaggerating. But let's see YOU listen to "Mom...Mom...Mom..." about 3,000 times a day and see if you don't look forward to happy hour.

SO today I went to my uncle C's house for a party for his daughter's high school graduation. Uncle C has worked hard all of his life and now has a BEAUTIFUL home that Carly would die happy in. He and Aunt R are wonderful people and it's so nice to see them really living the American dream.

Uncle C actually is about the only person who got me to drink at my wedding. I didn't want to be a drunk bride, yakking on my wedding night. Uncle C came over to me, and said "Please do a shot with me" .... it was Sambuca. Not a problem, he is old school Italian, and all he was asking was one shot, and it was an honor that he wanted to buy a shot for me to celebrate my joining the family. Until I drank that shot, of course... eeeeeyah. Holy snowflake. But it was still sweet of him.

(side story: there were people crashing my wedding for the free hors d's and open bar... I confronted the chick right after drinking said shot and scared her right out of the room.... must have been the sambuca on my breath and the way I raised my hands in exasperation after having a fruitless conversation with her... my mother overreacted and said "Carly, don't hit her!!" and chick ran out of the room....)

Anyway. Back to today.

Pama, or pomegranate liquor, is a mix of tequila, vodka, and California pomegranates.

Mix it half and half with Champagne, and see if you don't love me after having one (or two, or even three...)

I know, you already love me. Even though I tip a little bit too often. I love you too. No, really. ( I think I had four. Maybe five.... but the flutes were VERY skinny.)

Friday, July 14, 2006

To make a long blog short

My friend Steven is including me on his emails home while he is in Japan for a short stay.

Here's his take on something I wrote about recently:

How to make sushi 101:
You cook the rice and then add a mixture of vinegar and sugar to make it more sticky. Mix it up really well and then all you do is spread the rice unto a sheet of seaweed, add your favorite toppings and then roll it up using a bamboo mat. That's all.



Funny, I used about 500 more words. I can't wait to hear his reaction when he reads my version!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I am bored

I started this list last night, and forgot to post it. These are things that amused me yesterday and today. (Just a little. I'm still bored, which is funny because I have a list of about 20 things to do today, my day off, and I did perhaps 3 of them. )

Someone from Greece has been visiting my Chico / Donkey blog. (See "Where is my PACE hat" link at right). Chico and Donkey are on their way to Eurodisney (thanks P).

Tom Cruise's baby apparently DOESN'T exist. No loss. Actually, I'm kind of grateful because she was pretty much destined to be a really messed up teenager.

The All-Star Game.... what is the point? zzzzzzzz (this is why I forgot to come back and finish)
I stumped my coworkers by asking them "What are the only two days of the year that no professional sports are played in the US?" (A: the day before & the after the All-Star Game.) I heard this on the radio yesterday, so don't flame me if it's not true, but my coworkers couldn't think of any evidence to the contrary.

This contest on Worth1000.com

The last amusing thing I have is the fact that my nephew is willing to let me take him to someplace similar to this in spite of our recent hiking adventure. (Raise your hand if you think I'll lose him in there.)

Monday, July 10, 2006

He IS a double XL

SO, just a little bit more about Countryfest.

We have a friend who was extremely wonderful, and that wonderful person gave us backstage passes. Not to gloat, but it is the most wonderful feeling to be on the other side of that fence, and not crammed into a crowd of hot, sweaty, sunburned drunk people. We had considered leaving after Keith Anderson's set, until we managed to locate said friend. Did I mention it was wonderful? Let's talk about NOT having to use the public bathrooms being visited by 30,000 drunk people on a hot day. Won-der-ful.

One other tiny advantage of having the pass was that we could stand on the side of the stage platform, and watch the performers. So here we have one of my favorite shots of the day. It's a monument to the very worst of bad snapshots, but I love it anyway. Blake Shelton was performing, and I am standing RIGHT behind Mr. XXL himself, Keith.


Several things amazed me. The sheer logistics of getting "stuff" for six different performers on and off the stage in one day. The guys working all day long in the miserable heat (like that guy in the middle of the photo, I assume that's who he was, hats off to you, buddy...) moving all of that equipment around. The size of Keith's sneakers. How much more reasonable the sound level is BEHIND the banks of speakers. The fact that Blake walked by me earlier and I had no idea who he was, and then during his set I realized I knew almost all of his songs, and liked them too. Those sneakers. The fact that the drummer and guitarist can carry on an animated conversation effortlessly while playing, and notice friends in the wings, and toss a joke in their direction, which is multitasking that would make my tiny brain explode. The multiple drumsets all set up and ready to go (not amazing but just cool and Shamus and his son would probably have liked it.) Hmm, there was something else I was going to include in this list. Now what the heck was it?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Double XL


Darn blogger... couldn't get this photo in my previous post -- this is Keith Anderson.

Excuuuuse Me Mister?


'round these parts we have a little hickfest formally known as Countryfest. It brings out the finest, arriving in pickup trucks like the snappy little number above.


Suzy and I got up bright and early to truck on out to the show. Someone had given her two tickets in a thank-you card a month or two ago so we've been looking forward to it for a while.

We wandered around in rediculous traffic but got to the gates just around 10 am. We stood in line for a few mintues, and then we realized we were in a line to BUY tickets. Since we already hand them we walked to then next line over, waited a few minutes, and then handed our tickets to one of the people at the gate.

Then the real weirdness set in. Ticket lady glanced at our tickets. Instead of ripping them in half like tickets presented by the people ahead of us, she pointed at a tall guy (damn good looking, I might add) off to the side. Very briskly she said "Go over there to him."

Huh? We took a few steps sideways, and he looked at us and plucked the tickets out of our hands and dropped them into a giant ziplock baggie. "These are counterfeit tickets. You need to go back outside the gates. You can either buy legitimate tickets or leave the premises."

In unison our jaws dropped and we turned to one another and sort of blinked. If there hadn't been 30,000 other people around, one might have heard crickets chirping for a VERY long moment.

Then we sort of did a "whaaaaaaaat?" protest, but quickly snapped out of it and worked out a deal where she would wait outside of the gates, and one of the security people would take me through the fairgrounds to the ATM. (We did NOT have enough cash to buy the tickets, and no credit cards were accepted thank you very much.)

The gallon-sized ziplock baggie was full of OTHER tickets that looked just like ours. (DGL guy was probably a state police investigator, collecting them for evidence.) The bogus tickets had "serial numbers" with not enough digits. They also didn't have a watermark of the radio station sponsoring the concert. WTF? We heard that there were 4,000 fakes from one security person. Think on that. $80 grand in baaaaaaaad paper.

So, in the end we made it in, just barely. The line we got into was full of some VERY pissed off people who had actually PAID for their counterfeit tickets; we asked around a bit and everyone "bought them from a friend for $20".... gate price was $33. Since we'd been given ours as a gift we felt lucky that we weren't out the money. People who came to the festival with, say $40 or $50 in cash would be lucky and able to get a ticket, but not be able to really eat or drink much during the 8 1/2 hour show.

It was a blazing hot day but I got to see Keith Anderson fairly up close. He smiled at me! (I am such a dork.) I just happened to be standing in the right place when he went by to go sign autographs and do photos, and he saw me with the camera. If you don't know "XXL" it's a funny song, and "Everytime I hear your name" is completely different mood, but another great song.

Friday, July 07, 2006

How to NOT be the Favorite Auntie

My nephew is 11 1/2 . My son is almost 9. They're very different kids. My son is the blissfully ignorant boy's boy, baseball and mud and stuff like that. My nephew has had more to deal with in his young life. Divorced parents, a chronic medical issue or two, and a Mom with a parenting style completely different from mine.

I don't like to coddle him. I'm strict with him, as strict as I am with my own kids. So my nephew doesn't run to me with big hugs- let's put it that way.

I'm watching him a few Fridays this summer. Today we trekked to G. -- a state park that isn't too far away.

We swam a little, we ate lunch. Then for some inexplicable reason they sat in beach chairs and stared into space. WTF? Why are these three kids sitting like zombies??

I vaguely knew about a trail alongside the lake. So I said to the kids "get on your sneakers and let's go!"

I miscalculated a little bit.

We had water. We'd eaten and been to the restrooms.

But I took three kids on a 5 mile hike. AROUND the lake.

Kids who had NEVER hiked, and one who through not much fault of his own, really wasn't in the right shape to be dragged around the lake.

You know it's bad when a guy passing on a mountain bike says "what's wrong with HIM?".

Him, who at various times said "why are there so many rocks on this trail?" (...through the woods...) and muttered under his breath at me that he was never walking around this stupid lake again and the tree roots hurt his ankles and aren't we there yet and what was that hissing noise and where is the beach, anyway? In general, a million complaints.

I tried.

Supportive, encouraging. "Come on, you're doing great. This is an intermediate trail" (oooops) "You're a new hiker. You're doing fantastic!! You can do it!" Not that he was buying it, of course. My daughter saw him cry, once, when he fell. I swear, I didn't, or I would have hugged and consoled him. He was miserable. I was surreptitiously saying to my kids "stay back... don't let him be last" whenever he fell way behind.

Meanwhile my kids were having a great time shouting "Marker!" and "Poler" every time we saw a trail marker. It was a really cool trail, and a gorgeous day. It would have been fantastic if it was just me and my kids and a backpack loaded with the right stuff. (My son kind of "lost" our bug spray 1/3 of the way around. D'oh. At least we'd already put some on.)

I want him to be more like them. More like a carefree happy kid. I want him to believe that he CAN do something like walk around a lake. Not start out the task thinking "I can't do this. How much farther is it?"

I'm frustrated and want to just shake him and say "I love you! Why can't you quit complaining and have fun with us now and then???'

I want to take him as he is, but I just don't know how to do that.

What I worry about most (in regards to him, that is; because I've got a bucket of other worries) is that he'll spend his whole life being over-cautious and extra safe and resenting that pain in the ass Aunt Carly who did things like drag him around a stupid lake. And he'll never hike around another lake as long as he lives.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sushi 101


Ok, making sushi rolls is fun, and there is NO raw fish requirement. (Bleahhh. )

These are the rolls Suzy and I made last week. As you can see we have just about enough for 3 people since the normal serving size for lunch is about 6 or 8 little slices.

Here's a brief overview(brief being taken in the context of everything I write, of course...) :

1. Buy tons of ingredients. (Say to your sister "I have the rice and the paper, some water chestnuts, and some baby carrotts, so just get a couple of things for us to finish them" and if your sister is ME, she will go to the market hungry and buy mango, snow peas, canned baby corn, cooked crabmeat & shrimp, sesame seeds, and a cucumber. Fortune cookies* are a nice way to round this all out if you're not worried about a Chinese vs. Japanese food fight in your shopping cart. Also buy Mike's Hard Lemonade or even better, a Mike's sampler which includes hard berry, hard lime, and a cranberry variety I didn't get around to trying at our family picnic)

2. The nori paper is seaweed but it doesn't taste nasty so don't whine about it. You don't need to soak it, just open up the bag and use the sheets as they are. You need sushi rice, which is sticky and globs together. Start the rice cooking before you slice up your ingredients and DON'T OPEN THE POT WHILE IT'S COOKING. It's shy. We made two cups of rice and used it all to make the rolls above. We could have cooled it a little bit longer but... not a big deal.

3. Slice up a good handful of everything that you want to use as fillers. Make little matchstick size pieces of any of the veggies that are crunchy, and just chop the seafood into small strips or tiny chunks. I did this while the rice was cooking and sort of arranged it all on the cutting board. (Wanna-be TV-chef....)

4. You don't need a bamboo mat to roll up the nori rolls. Wet the counter a little bit and smooth out an 8x10 piece of saran wrap (or if it's still sticky from slushing 3 Mike's Hard Lemonades all at once, all the better...)

5. Put a piece of nori on the saran wrap, then wet your hands frequently and pat some rice into a very thin layer covering all but about 1" of the paper (the "top" edge... so that when you close the roll it sticks to itself)

6. At the "bottom edge" (closest to you) just put a band of whatever filling you want, about 1" wide. Be creative but don't try to put everything in all at once. Maybe one seafood and two veggies.

7. Then just roll... squeeze the ingredients and rice together, roll a little bit at a time, and don't be an ass and get the saran wrap all tangled up in the roll. Don't let the ingredients smush out the ends.

When it's completely rolled, you can sort of twist the saran wrap ends to hold it together, and store the sushi in the fridge for a while while you have more hard lemonade. Or you could make these in the morning for a party later that evening and spoil all of your friends. We did everything here in about an hour. Maybe a little longer. (Not sure, see frequent Mike's lemonade references.)

8. Slice and serve with soy sauce (or duck sauce, but soy is more traditional). You can be creative and arrange the slices into little flowers and stuff, like on the nori package.

Another variation is to put rice down on the saran wrap first, then the seaweed paper, then the ingredients. Before you slice this one, roll it in sesame seeds. Don't cake them completely, but put enough on so that each slice will have some.

There were two things I didn't bother buying that night: Wasabi is green mush, and it's Japanese horseradish (be afraid... or make some, if you like VERY spicy stuff ) and pickled ginger slices, which make a nice garnish.

You can also put caviar on top - I didn't really see that in the supermarket :::cough::: but I recommend it. Caviar doesn't taste fishy. It sort of pops in your mouth and highlights the other flavors somehow.

This is SO easy, and it's fun to do. You'll be amazed at how good these are. Except for the lemonade, everything is good for you!!


*always read your fortune out loud, and then say "...in bed." It's amazing how much more optimistic the fortune becomes.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mike's mess

After watching 3 kids all day Friday I was ready to make my escape. (My nephew will be spending some time at Camp Carly this summer. Poor kid. I'm going to rock his world.... he's not going to sit in front of the TV at all.)

So anyway around dinnertime I made my escape to Suzy's. We made some sushi rolls with various combos of crabmeat, shrimp, snow peas, carrots, cucumber, etc. They were awesome. Of course there were 3 of us and about 8 rolls, so we made waaaaaay too much. But who cares?

We also slushed up some Mike's hard lemonade. Don't believe that effing commercial. Mike's is very fizzy so if you so much as tap the blender with your pinky the entire thing overflows. Suzy was NOT amused. But in the end we still had enough in the blender and it was fan-freaking-tastic.

"Mike" also sells a sampler with 3 bottles each of lemon, lime, strawberry, and cranberry malt beverages. Just the thing for a lonnnnnnnng family picnic. Yummy!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

No Red or Blue


Only white. No, not my kids. Suzy and I agree that we would rinse off the kids, leave them with a grandparent, and say to the husband, "Fix. It. I will be home after you do." This of course presumes that it was the husband who was(n't) watching them in the first place...because we would never let our kids get away with this sh.... stuff.

I'm off to a cookout. Have a safe and happy 4th, and keep our soldiers in mind(wether you agree with Dubya or not, we all want our soldiers home safely - and soon - right?)

Too funny

My 14,000 th visitor was someone in Florida whose basil is also dying. Google search strikes again!

PS: lots of sun, don't overwater.