Sunday, August 30, 2009
~ Carly at 1:15 PM
Friday, August 28, 2009
We found cake mix and made carrot cake cupcakes.... then I made frosting with confectioner's sugar, one stick of UNSALTED butter, two dunkin donuts plain cream cheese packages from the other day, and some lemon and vanilla. Yummy. And plenty of frosting left over.
~ Carly at 12:25 PM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Cookies have become my comfort. No, not real cookies.
For as long as I can remember, at christmastime my mother has made cookies. Spritz and butter-walnut balls dipped in sugar, then meringue kisses and Finnish breads, each tiny "bread" carefully flattened with one finger, brushed with milk, and sprinkled with nonpareils. (Not too much milk, or the tiny nonpareil balls will dissolve into a sad tiny circle of color. ) There are chocolate chip cookies and her cornucopias --something like a pizzelle, with anise, and rolled to an ice cream shape...made one at a time in a 60 second dance...you can't even go in the kitchen. Pour batter, wrap the previous one on a wood cone, flip the iron, slide off the cone, .....repeat.
Triple-double batches of cutout shapes, decorated with various flavors of jimmies/ sprinkles. But not too many red hot balls on the christmas trees. Those are for the reindeer nose, and you know there is only one Rudolph so don't go crazy with that either. And don't use so many silver balls that you break someone's teeth. Just one as a star on top of a tree.
A good number of her recipes, like the cinnamon nut bars and the shortbreads, come from her Danish grandmother, so our family's recipes start with a pound of butter. I use unsalted butter and my friend once had a heated debate with me that I was WRONG to do that. But I gave a recipe for cutouts to another good friend and her husband made her call me because they just weren't the same. It was the butter.
The first year I was married Mr C. knew I was taking a day off in Christmas to make some cookies. He didn't expect 14 kinds stacked on the counter when he got home.
I have calmed down somewhat but still make at least 8 kinds, including Scotchies, with butterscotch and white chips, pecans, and a touch of scotch whiskey.
And did I mention, christmas is less than 4 months away?
At any rate, it's the cookies that get me through the night. I am NOT sitting in a dark family room, nibbling. I promise.
When I wake at four-something in the morning, I make cookies. I do this to stop myself from "thinking".... about jobsites and bills and the upcoming school year and....
Silently, on the movie screen of my mind, I start with butter. I unwrap the sticks, one at a time, and see them going into the bowl. I see her old wooden spoon stirring, incorporating the white sugar into a pale, fluffy yellow. We did NOT use a mixer. She still doesn't. Then the eggs. One, or maybe two. I watch them breaking, sliding into the bowl...and more stirring.
I usually don't get past the eggs. One of these days I may have to decide what kind of cookies I'm making, but that hasn't happened yet. I fade back into sleep.
Sweet, sweet dreams.
~ Carly at 8:03 AM
Monday, August 24, 2009
#1.... my dentist determined today that two of my teeth hit imperfectly and as a result, one is rocking every time I bite anything. I felt very equine as he was inspecting my teeth and gums. Awesome. So I can let him file them down, or I can look forward to that top front tooth maybe falling out. We all have to make choices.
#2.... the search helicopters are circling the river near me again. This is never good. Since Rain is The New Normal around here I am guessing some boater got more than they bargained for. It's very sad.
The last time I heard choppers like this it was a search for an immigrant and his family was leaving things for him on the riverside hoping he'd find his way back. It broke my heart.
#3... I had an odd dream. My daughter had found my blog. She was not pleased. I am blaming JustPlainBeth for that dream since her son is reading her blog now. Darn kids.
#4... My son has grown 2.5" in the past year. We cannot keep the boy fed. My friend called him a tween the other day and I died. I realized he's not my little boy anymore.
Oddly, for the past month or so he has told me compulsively that he loves me, over and over, each night before going to bed. I walk out of his room after giving a hug, kiss, and saying 'I love you' and I am hearing "I love you mom, goodnight, I love you... Goodnight". He will keep going as long as we do, and so I just walk out, hoping he can't see me roll my eyes after the 4th or 5th replay. I am blessed. I am also tired.
#5.... The helicopter is now very low and circling a wooded area just up the hill from me. It's freaky. I'm going to go hide under my bed now....
~ Carly at 3:24 PM
Saturday, August 22, 2009
A few days ago I went in to go to sleep. I opened up the windows because it wasn't RAINING and put a small fan near one, to pull in the cool air. I do have central a/c but it was one of those evenings that feels like autumn, and makes you want to hold on to summer as long as possible.
I conked out, but then I woke from a sound sleep when I heard a thwack against the screen. I don't think burglars flick the screen with their big meaty hands before they climb in and kill you. But in that moment I wasn't sure.
I decided it was probably a moth or something and that I should get a grip and go back to sleep.
Then I heard it again -- from the other bedroom window, five feet down the same wall. Hmmm. Two big meaty-handed burglars?
I got out of bed and tried to look out. By the dim light of the streetlight just past my house, I eventually figured out that a bat was swooping around outside my window, probably for dinner. Great. Was he trying to get IN my window, or just bumping it by mistake now and then?
I quickly looked into my crystal ball and saw ME, not Mr C, as the one who would be more coordinated and have to try to sweep that bat somewhere, somehow, if he got in my room at midnight. Maybe the problem is that I'm a control freak and would feel like I could do it better, and not want to stand by. I digress.
At any rate I shut the windows, and settled back in and was almost asleep when I thought of my daughter, with windows a few more feet down the same wall. Windows which she likes to open before bed, since they have a safety latch that won't let them open more than 2".
Sweeping a bat out of a screaming, and possibly PMS-y daughter's room sounded lile even LESS fun. So I went in and closed her windows, although frankly since she never heard me do that, I almost think a bat could curl up on her pillow and munch bugs and she might not notice under that eye mask.
This long rambling and fairly anticlimactic story has been brought to you because I woke up about 5 am and knew I was done sleeping peacefully. I crept out into the dark family room, where I have a recliner near one window. I opened the window and settled in to check a few things on my crackberry.
And then I heard the bat hit the screen.
~ Carly at 6:22 AM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
- went to sleep before 11, woke at 2 am for only about 15 minutes, then slept until 6:30. I call that a BIG victory. I don't feel like my head is encased in cement today
- dinner is already made, in my brand new "it's only $16 at Target so I will buy it to make sauce like the Boyfriend does" crock pot. (Slow cooker, if you don't like the phrase "crock pot", which my daughter has some peculiar aversion to....). For the record, I am trying "chicken pot pie" today. I was cutting and browning chicken at 9 am and wondering how exactly a crockpot will save me time, since I was still spending 1/2 an hour prepping ingredients and cleaning up.
- I have fixed my thermostat.
I have been fighting with said thermostat since the heat wave started. (detour here: IT"S SUMMER. IT'S FINALLY HOT AND SUNNY AND IT'S summer!!!!!) When we put the addition on our house last summer and switched to gas heat, we got a programmable thermostat. Which would be swell, I suppose, if (a) I actually worked out of the house 9 - 5 like "typical" people, and (b) didn't take aspirin every day and consequently bruise and somehow freeeeeeze all the time.
The thermostat is designed to save energy, by making the house less comfortable when you're not there and awake to "enjoy it". So the day is divided into random periods of morning(6-8), day(8-6), evening(6-10), and night, with a temperature set point for each.
The wizards that programmed Thermy decided that it's really ok to let the house get to 78* at night. Um, no... it's not THAT easy being green. Everyone in my family has a peculiar affectation for having a blanket on their bodies in the dead of summer, so 78 really doesn't work. Thermy is also convinced that I wouldn't mind having the house be 83* all day long. Again, not so much true since I am here at home.
There is also no way to bypass Thermy's evil intentions. Oh sure, I can temporarily move the set temp up or down.... until the next setpoint time starts. Then he goes right back to what he was doing before I asked him nicely to do something different. Just like a man. So that's annoying. The extended Hold doesn't seem to work either, even though I made SURE it's not set to "24 hours" but to indefinite. I am a computer geek. I have the manual. I read the manual. This thing doesn't do what they say it will do.
So today I went through and set EACH period to 74*. Dammit. Yes, for every day of the week. Buttons, buttons, buttons. So much fun.
I'm off to eat lunch and apply for a job I may or may not be qualified for, that sounds really fun.
~ Carly at 11:58 AM
Monday, August 17, 2009
This is ANOTHER person's blog post about that Kelly Clarkson cover that was retouched.
Scott Kelby, an industry expert on photoshop, wrote about all of the aspects of professipnal portrait photography (lighting, makeup, etc) on his Photoshop Insider blog. His point was that retouching is one step of many.
I was right with him until he dropped in the phrase "her battle with weight". Which is the real point .... She has said MANY times that she DOESN'T battle, and she likes herself no matter what number pops up on the scale.
Yet in this cover-model crazy country, that can't REALLY be true... Of COURSE we all want to look skimpy and perfect, right?
I am a size 14 now, and believe me when I tell you that it is not my # 1 priority to get back down to the 12 I have worn most of my adult life. It's not even priority #2, or 3 or 4.
(If you're keeping score, they are "get a job so I can sleep through the night, take care of my kids day in and day out, have fun with them, and get them ready for the upcoming transitional school year. ")
Do I want to be healthy? Yes. Is there at least one person who knows me IRL who will privately think that I SHOULD "want to" lose weight? Absolutely, and I could name names. Eff them.
Do I want to be skinny? Not really.
The reality for my frame is that I will NEVER be a size itty-bitty.
Do I want to be healthier so my doctor will stop kvetching at me? Yes.
Do I get hit on regularly by men who seem to really like the curves I have ? Hell yes. My last boyfriend absolutely made me feel beautiful no matter what numbers I was charting. He just wanted me to enjoy life, be healthy, and fool around with him as much as possible.
(Can we not mention that previous paragraph to Mr C? Okaythanks. )
Every day there are people in my life who tell me I'm beautiful right NOW, just as I am, crazy and funny and sentimental and everything else that makes me ME. And some of the people I love most in the universe are beautiful RIGHT NOW because they are funny and empathetic and supportive and sometimes deliciously snarky, and I don't give a shit what they weigh, just that they're still alive to be a part of my life.
The tossaway remark that Kelby makes, assuming all curvy women "battle" day in and day out, to be beautiful according to ONE, ironically "narrow" definition, well... It makes me crazy enough to post a long rant at almost 5 am.
~ Carly at 5:10 AM
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Grocery stores make her snarly
She watched this cute guy
With a gleam in her eye
then saw that his feet were gnarly
The sight of his feet
made our Carly so sick
She put down her list
so she could leave real quick
"Forget the milk and the bread
I'll just go home instead
-I hope he won't hear
my phone camera click"
~ Carly at 7:32 PM
Today I sang at the funeral for the Mother of one of my oldest friends.
I actually slept fairly well last night. I have become accustomed to waking about 4 am, to lie for at least an hour in the quiet darkness of the house and worry. My weight/health, the state of the various relationships and people in my life, my kid who is anxious about starting high school... oh, and that job thing. Money and bills and where will I work and when might that be and will I be a manager or not and will they like me and what I will I wear...good old fashioned fretting of all sorts, large and small.
My friend called the other day, to tell me herself so that I wouldn't see it in the paper, and said that she was going to put me to work. I realized that she meant, to sing at the funeral. So last night I called Stanley, and asked him what the family had arranged for him to sing.
And then I slept. Someone close to me wished a restful night for me, and I received it.
While we waited for the family to arrive at the church this morning, Stanley and I spoke softly. He estimated that he has, in the last 19 years, played for 2200 funerals.
He told me that as he grows older, he wonders what will happen when he dies. I told him about the curtain call scene at the end of the movie, Titanic. The entire cast is in the grand staircase, which is fully restored under the glass dome, and everyone is joyful as Leonardo and Kate enter, reunited. I said that I thought that would be what it was like, for him. They will all be there to greet him.
Of course, then I told him it had better not be any time soon.
Stanley knows my voice, and knows when to nudge me forward, and when to drop the organ down so that it transposes to fit my range. With him, I can sing. There are times when I sing and what I hear isn't how I want it to sound, and I was so happy that today was NOT one of those days. It sounded nice. I sang entire solos whenever he nodded his head at me, and my voice didn't crack, or vanish on the high notes. It was clear. It was everything I wanted it to be, to comfort L. and her sisters.
L. hugged me outside of the church, and told me how much it had meant to her. "It was my gift to you" I replied. I forgot to buy a mass card, but I could sing for her.
Rest in peace, Dorothy...
~ Carly at 2:04 PM
Thursday, August 06, 2009
So about 15 of my other zoo pictures are on my flickr feed ... please go and take a look... and OKAY INTERNET, I WILL GO OUTSIDE AND WALK IN THE SUNSHINE NOW..... if I must...
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
We went to the Pittsburgh Zoo. The funny thing is, S and the Boyfriend have each wandered past there, for reasons somewhere between "lost" and "in search of an easier commute home". But she waited for us to roll on into town before going and paying admission ... in other words, this time we went ON PURPOSE.
We barely got out of the car, and I noticed this little darling next to the brake light on her Jeep. Oy vey. I have never SEEN a bug like this before, and I did not get as close as it might seem from this photo, for fear that he might lift off, with those impossibly thin wings, and somehow carry me away and drop me over the tiger cage.
I have easily 200 photos of zoo animals, and some of them are actually good, but for now I need to go rewrite my resume (I want to make a second version and change it from chronological order to skills, then work history, then volunteering..... just for some of the jobs that I plan to apply for, that are a little bit of a stretch from the formal job duties I've had in the past.)
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
We introduced my daughter to the world of Sephora. Cha ching! We also took the kids to Fat Head's and they both loved it.
This photo was taken later that evening, high on a hillside overlooking the southern edge of the city. We were right near a beautiful church, and you can see two shots of that in my Flickr feed.
I love using a digital camera, because you can take a few shots and change the settings around to try to get what you're after. I didn't have my tripod, but I used a manual mode to set the shutter to be open for a few seconds - I also used the self timer feature so that I could avoid capturing any shaking of the camera that might come from hitting the shutter button. So even though I was holding the camera, I braced myself on a railing post and held it as still as possible while the shutter was actually open.
I had some success... I ended up using a film speed of 800 to capture this shot, which has the least blur. The shutter speed was 4/10 of a second, which is fairly long to hold a camera still without a tripod. I did try one at 200 ISO and 2.5 seconds, and it's just a bit too blurry for my liking, but would have been acceptable if it were my only shot.
:::saving my coins for a "real" camera and a nice tripod..... :::::::
~ Carly at 11:26 AM
The day I threw the kids in the car and left for our road trip started out bumpy. We went straight to Dunkin' Donuts so I could begin to apply my strategy of keeping them happy via regular adminstration of junk food, and two things happened. Keep in mind I hadn't even hit the highway yet.
One child began quietly crying because we weren't going to see Mr. Carly for a week. The other child, when casually asked "Do you have any money?" admitted to bringing ALL of the recently received graduation gift money along. Um... time to go to the ATM to deposit most of THAT.
Sirius has a spy camera aimed at me, because "Turn the Car Around" started playing. Oy. It was already 8 am when I was at the ATM, an hour past my threat of "I'm throwing you in the car, ready or not, and we're leaving."
For the next seven hours it went something like this:
- Potty break.
- Put a new movie in the portable DVD player. (thank you, Express, for loaning it to me).
We managed not to tour EVERY rest stop on the NYS thruway. But we didn't get to Erie and Quaker Steak & whatever until almost 3 pm, and that had been my target place for LUNCH, SO WE WERE GNAWING ON THE MENUS.
At Erie you turn "south" and keep going for a couple of hours, to Pittsburgh. Drive. Potty... you get the idea.
We got to Pittsburgh somewhere around 6pm, not bad all things considering. The Boyfriend had cooked BBQ pulled chicken for us. Delicious. We walked around the neighborhood near their apartment and enjoyed not sitting in a car.
Then we went to Oh Yeah for icecream...
Amazing. I had peaches and grahamcrackers since the peach cobbler (that day's ice cream special) was all gone. The Boyfriend had something with Baklava, and maybe orange zest? I can't remember. Everyone loved their stuff. No one had bacon.
We could hear the concert starting - the Gin Blossoms were performing a few blocks away, on Walnut Street. We walked over to check it out. I got fairly close, but not close enough to take a photo, because my kids were not enjoying being the shortest people in a dense crowd. But I heard a couple of my favorite songs and then we headed back to the apartment for some SLEEEEEEP.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
I have driven 1400 miles in the past 10 days. I found my way. I rocked it. I knew where I was at all times (I heart blackberry gps plus google maps ). I adapted as needed, changed plans when required and enjoyed myself immensely.
I am drinking cheap white wine...out on my porch. Not even BOX wine, it's sold in INDIVIDUAL bottled servings. Sad. But I am happy to be back on my porch... at home. Even in the rain. Well, maybe LESS RAIN would be awesome.
I saw tigers and submarines and waterfalls... ate cupcakes and steaks, and there were wines... I need to do laundry and pull the best photos so as to not bore you, internet...
I promise...more soon... I am so tired.
Your road trip girl,
~ Carly at 10:28 PM