Friday, June 27, 2008

Heart of the Home

Thanks to Mrs. G. for another community blogging day.

Today's topic: Heart of the Home.

The heart of every home is the kitchen. Even though I am not the cook in the family, I fully recognize it is the room filled with sense memories that flow into the mind when a favorite meal is being cooked, when popcorn is popping, when people are drawn to it during a gathering, when I'm sharing counter space with hubby as his sous chef, or with my Mom trying to learn the domestic lessons I never learned as a teenager.

I also picked this room because it is the room I most agonized about (so far) in getting the decor just right, and finding the balance between comfort, function, and appearance. Our kitchen is two conjoined rooms - brought on by an extension that dates from the 1950s. The appliance area has all that a normal kitchen might have - and the adjacent area functions as both pass through to dining room, smaller eating area, and main entrance to the home.

No one but the pizza delivery guy ever uses our front door.

When rooms have such a challenging footprint and such multiple functions, they bring on a lot of discussion from friends and family as to what is best to do with it. This is what it looked like when we bought the house:

Notice the peach walls and teal painted wood floor. Notice the sponge painted peachy yellow walls. Have I mentiond that we bought our home from friends? And luckily....the friendship remains intact! And while we have many many many many things in common....our views on color and decor are very different. (Dellie - I love you, but wow...)

I can't believe I don't have a shot of the wall to the left of this view that was covered from head to toe in a mural of wisteria trees. And then coated with some kind of glaze that required FOUR coats of primer to cover! Here is the picture of the final primer coat - VICTORY!

Notice also the odd pipe and the odd wall pieces jutting into the room on the right side...this was the water waste pipe from our shower. I was at a loss what to do with we painted them the wall color hoping they would fade back into the background (the sound of running water in the pipe, however, was always an odd thing to hear in the kitchen as I munched on a bowl of cereal).

I decided that I needed to turn the color wheel from the peachy yellow, to the complete other side - and went with shades of purple....I agonized over shades and options...

...and finally made a decision....which met with limited success. I hated the lavender color. I had hoped for a natural lavender tone, which is actually more grey than purple. But I got Easter Egg.

The deep eggplant in the separate kitchen/appliance area, though - THAT I loved.

But then, a year or so later, we had an epiphany...and I sought and found the "natural" tone I was looking for. I found it in an unnatural source - laminated flooring that is made to look like a multi-colored slate. We matched the tone of that to a beautiful color called Nantucket Grey (a soft greyish green), added a custom built in book-case - because books are REALLY the heart of our home, and a custom made table from our friend and artist Rob Wilson, and I couldn't be happier with the results.

Notice how this also solved the pipe and wall shape issue? Our friend Justin Sprock did a fabulous job building the unit and walling in the pipe. Now, no strange water noises and a seamless wall unit.

This, then, is the part of my home I "heart" the most.
Welcome to my place.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

New & Improved Definitions

Skinny Pants
Old Definition. Small size pants that one shoves one's body into using crisco or baby powder once every 2-3 years. Must be dustladen and out of style but hung in location guaranteed to be stumbled upon at a moment that can induce copious amounts of tears, depression, and self-hatred. Also creates impression of FATNESS in 99% of cases. Negative nostalgia in textile form.

New Definition. Adequately sized pants that allow one to eat lunch without popping buttons. Typically induce a feeling of satisfaction and self-confidence AND SKINNINESS even when gazing into mirror. All buttons, zippers, seams intact. In best case scenario style of pants are equally appropriate for work, date night, or simply window shopping.

Fat Pants
Old Definition. Large pants that create sense of embarrassment and shame in wearer. Usually constructed of stretch fabrics and elastic waste band. Typically stored in a bottom drawer under old sweatsocks and unused workout gear. Frayed and shiny from extensive wear while seated for long periods on sagging couch.

New Definition. See Old Definition of Skinny Pants.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Taking a Break

Hubby and I are taking a break.

No...not from each other. From work.

We decided we needed to carve out some time to just be. At home. Together. We think of it as the weekend we never seem to get.

Right now, we've carved out one solid week. But I know it will get trimmed a bit around the edges by our work. And that's o.k. Our goal is just to have the majority of the week to ourselves.

Of course, I am already planning on what to do for that week and so far my list looks like this:
  1. Paint upstairs bathroom.
  2. Birthday lunch and "Sex and the City" with Terry!
  3. Shampoo bedroom rug.
  4. Shop for new bedroom rug!
  5. Weed garden.
  6. Swim and lounge in pool!
  7. Weed flagstone pathway.
  8. Nap on Hammock!
  9. Replace dying evergreen shrub.
  10. Romantic dinner with Hubby at Marcello's!
  11. Closet organizer for front hall closet.
  12. Ice Cream cone from Temptations and People Watching at River Park in Nyack!
  13. Filler sand for patio and walk.
  14. Long drive through Harriman Park for Sunset views!
  15. Paint mailbox.
  16. Antiquing in Rhinebeck!
  17. Journaling for Wedding Scrapbook before A's Mom kills me.
  18. Movie Night with Hubby, with buttered popcorn!
  19. Join Town Gym? Join Yoga Class? Take a god-damn walk at least.
  20. Read a book. Read another book. Read a third book!!
  21. Wash Cars inside and out.
  22. Test drive new cars!

What do you think....odds or evens more likely to happen?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Windmills on my Mind

When I was in junior high school, or maybe even elementary, my friend Kim's father began a quest. He began building a windmill in his backyard. It was an odd thing to see soaring into the air behind their small cape - and was painted in brilliant colors of gold and red, and every year it grew taller and taller. I don't remember it ever working - at least not while I still lived there - but he kept building it and he imagined that someday it would be a working turbine, providing power not only for his home and family, but for his neighborhood as well.

After college, the street changed, their house was sold and the windmill disappeared. Where woods had surrounded their house, new homes sprung up. And that's another kind of wind, the winds of change.

Hubby and I just returned from a visit to my hometown. Just a brief weekend to visit my Mom and to help my sister pack up her few remaining things before she and her husband move to Southern CA. On the way there, we saw the most amazing sight. Near Cohocton NY on Route 17, along the crest of the hills lit up by golden evening sunlight was a series of tall stately statues. Far above the conventional dairy and produce farms a new farm is growing. A wind farm - that will be 50 strong when complete - is being built.

I know that some of the residents oppose the windmills and I wouldn't presume to force my own opinion on them as it is their backyard, not mine. All I can tell you is that I felt such a strange mix of nostalgia for Kim's nerdy father and his technology dreams, along with a strange impression I was getting a glimpse of a distant future. One we imagined as kids in school. Hover crafts. Skyways. Robots. Windmills. Not the windmills of history, with fabric sails and stone bases, but sleek, modern, sculptures that gleam in the sunlight and represent a cleaner, brighter future.

So, I've returned to my own home and I can't get the windmills from my mind. Maybe someday my lovely nerdy husband and I will get the chance to build one in our backyard. Or perhaps we'll have the first solar power in our neighborhood. Or the first electric car. It just goes to show you that our future is here. The winds of change keep blowing.

And I'm finding the breeze quite refreshing.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Greatest Job

Up until this week, I thought this guy had the greatest job in the world.

Cuz he made this happen.

But he's been beaten out by this guy.

Because, he and others like him, are making this possible.

Two states down, 48 to go.

Come on and join the fight.

And let's end "separate but equal" forever.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Advice for Mrs. G.

Today, on my 200th post, I am honored and also extremely intimidated to be asked for advice by Mrs. G. As a fan of Derfwad Manor, I can't help but be awed by her ability to draw 100+ comments on a regular basis, and am always amazed at her capacity for equally deep and fun-loving content.

A week or so ago, I admitted to being a bit bored with my blog. I was feeling a little uninspired, so I decided to ask readers to give me a little help with a Q&A format.

Mrs. G asks, "If you have been home being a mom for a long ass time, what is the best way to re-enter the work force? You are my career woman role model."

Well, first let me say, aw shucks. A career woman role model? Then, let me say, what are you nuts? The idea that I am a role model for anything makes me laugh uproariously in disbelief. Have you not seen the title of my bog? Have you not read the "About me" bio? I'm treading water here...barely...and just trying to act sane enough to avoid a lengthy stay at a residential facility with periodic electro-shock treatments.

Then, let me also say...I've never been a mom. I have a mom. I have sisters who are moms. I have friends who are moms. I married a man who has a mom. All of these moms have or had careers while they were actively parenting and beyond. Damn, I admire that. Just as much as I admire moms without careers. No matter how many hours I may work at my career - and they are alot - they will never compare to the true 24x7 duties of a parent.

But your question was - "what is the best way to re-enter the work force?" so here goes.

#1: Know what you want and what you don't want. One of the advantages you have of re-entering the workforce now is that you have learned many life lessons and you've even taught a few. Knowing yourself puts you way ahead of most of your competitors.

Do you want to stick with the field of education? or try something totally new? Do you want a for profit or not-for-profit environment? Do you want a public or private company? Do you want to stay within a specific commuting distance? Do you know the highest rated employers in your preferred field in your area?

#2: In a similar vein, know what you want to gain, and what you're willing to give up. Employers are much more flexible than they used to be, but you often have to prove yourself to gain that flexibility. So, are you willing to work 40 hours in an office, classroom, or other work environment? Or do you want the option to work remotely - part or all the time? Do you need a certain amount of paid time off? or is time off without pay also ok? Do you need insurance? Do you have a bottom line dollar value for your salary, or do you not care about the money, it's the job satisfaction you're after? Either way, it's always a good idea to know the going rate for your field, level of experience, and geographic market. I wouldn't normally recommend as people who populate the data seem to inflate their rates, but if taken with a grain of salt, it can be somewhat useful.

#3: Once you've answered 1 and 2 you are halfway there. You know what you want, what you don't want, you know your bottom line for gains and for sacrifices. Now - how do you find the job? Assuming your answers have also led you to at least a general field of work, you NETWORK. Let me say that again, you N.E.T.W.O.R.K.

The job market today is tough and made even tougher by the ease at which resumes can zoom across the internet for any job with a matching keyword. Human Resources departments are SWAMPED with incoming resumes and with the unformatted "monster" model - you can't use the old tricks we all learned about nice stationary, good font, good organizational layout, etc. It all gets printed as one streaming text block in courier font (ugh). A good cover letter can help - and I sure know you can write! - but for the most part, if you don't know somebody who knows somebody, for sure there is someone else in the mix who does.

So join associations, groups, or go take a master's class in your field, even if you already have a master's or if you don't intend to get the full degree. Find some way in. Get recommended. Use an employment agency. If you are staying in education, register to sub in the school district you want to work in. Use your incredible blogging skills and research, find ways to link electronically, anything that takes you OUT of the general pile, and puts you IN to the "must interview" pile. In the corporate world, most employers hate the fact that it costs so much money to recruit good candidates and they make the most of their existing workforce as a referral source - offering enticing rewards for a good hire. You only have to know one of these people SLIGHTLY to get them to take in your resume. After all, you may be their ticket to a new flat-panel tv.

#4. Don't give up. It took my hubby six full months of searching and in the end, he got the job he interviewed with 1 month BEFORE he quit his job and started the search. Because they liked him and remembered him and he kept in touch with them until the right job was CREATED for him. You just never know how long it might take. Enjoy the process. Don't pressure yourself. You'll interview better because you won't feel every meeting is a must-win. Remember, you are interviewing them as well. You want what you want and they need to give it to you. If you love the company, but not the job...can you make them fall in love with you and convince them you have a better formula for success (if not now, in the near future).

#5. Don't settle. You may take a job as a learning experience knowing it's not your final stop - but only the first step on the career ladder - but never settle. If you do, it will undermine your confidence, sap your strength, and derail your plans. It will even make whatever old job you left look appealing to you after a while. AND, if you're like me, it's tough to make that leap again when it may have taken you a while to get to where you are. Better to take a few more weeks, or months, to find the right opportunity.

#6. Look for a cultural fit more so than a skill fit. I cannot stress this enough. This is absolutely the reason I have been with my company for 18 years. The people. The ethical practices. The service we provide. They all make it work, when you're screaming with frustration over the pile on your desk.

It is WAY more important to work somewhere where you enjoy the people, the style, the overall feel of the place rather than that you feel totally comfortable with the job at hand. Comfort of the soul is healthy. Discomfort of the mind can be stimulating. Discomfort of the soul can be devastating. Comfort of the mind can be numbing.

#7. Make the most of your life experience. Make a creative resume - one that reflects all you have learned through your ongoing work as an educator in a school system and a home schooler. I find that combination totally fascinating! You have knowledge in operating within a structured and bureacratic organization, and yet the freedom of thinking to seek alternative approaches. Your success in setting a goal and reaching it is evident in your daughter's successful acceptance to college. DO NOT LET ANYONE BELITTLE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. But seek the best way to describe them that speaks to the unique environment of your desired employer - a translation, if you will, to their language. And don't discount your communication skills. These skills are some of the most sought after in business today since the education system is churning out so many graduates who can no longer write (too much abbreviations in texting?) or present complete thoughts.


That's about it....although I'm sure other people can offer additional points of view. I hope you find it useful. And I'll just close with these two points.

1. I encourage others of my readers to add to this list your sage advice as I can't claim to know it all...or even most of particular - Manager Mom, Kiki, Chick, Amybow...what do you all think?

2. HIRE MRS. G! She'd be an asset, I'm sure, to any organization. But don't expect her to settle. You have to offer her a great opportunity.

Got any other questions for me? Post them here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Feeling Fortunate

Usually Hubby is the grocery shopper in the family . Whether it is the daily runs or the monthly stock-up...he's the one in charge. It fits, really, since he does 90% of the cooking.

But since he's been busy the last few weeks, I've done some of the runs. And what an eye opener. I'm truly horrible at knowing the regular prices of individual items, and I've never been good at coupons, but Holy Hell, I do recognize the major sticker shock of groceries right now when I check out and have 4 small bags of groceries and the total is $179.

Today I bought 4 pounds of ground beef, some drinks, snacks, rolls, milk, apples, pears, bananas, an eggplant, a pair of sunglasses, toilet paper, mouthwash, sunscreen, and some various other items, and it was nearly $200!!!

Gas, of course, is the other cost. Hubby and I figured out that at current gas prices (even in Jersey where prices run about $0.30 cheaper than NY), we will be spending approximately $1000/month just on gas for commuting and local driving. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. FOR GAS. Not long ago that was how much we paid in rent.

So why, you may ask, is the title of my post today, Feeling Fortunate? The truth is, I'm feeling fortunate because we can pay it. Our income right now is such that we one month away from being completely out of debt (if you don't count the 30-year mortgage), and we can afford to continue to put gas in our cars, food on our table, pay our doctor and dentist what is not covered by a good health insurance, keep some of our luxuries, and still take our annual vacation to Cape Cod. There are so many families out there who are not nearly as fortunate.

So this week, I looked up our local food pantry. You know, the one that we normally only pay attention to at Thanksgiving. I found out what items they need to stock and added it to our weekly grocery list. I also learned that they need volunteers, and I'm going to see if I can make that work too.

Our check-out total will increase, but we CAN pay it. And for those who have been caught with a budget that just can't stretch to meet these skyrocketing costs, maybe a box of rice, some milk, or can of soup, can make the difference.

Monday, June 16, 2008

When is Enough...well...Enough?

Have you ever had one of those relationships where you felt it had evolved...or perhaps devolved...into a one-sided (at best) or unhealthy (at worst) connection?

Part 1: The Dysfunctional Friendship
Boss Lady and I were comparing notes today on a couple of long-term friendships that seem to have gone sour. Initially she characterterized her friendship as one of a lot of ups and downs, but as we talked, it seemed her relationship was filled more with disappointments than fun. Her friend is crippled with Agoraphobia. BL's issue with her friend is not in lack of belief in the debilitating effects of this condition, but rather in the fact that in refusing to continually seek options for treatment, and by allowing her family to adjust all of their lives to her, BL feels that her friend has often acted selfishly.

That may seem hard-hearted, but when I dug further, I saw how many times BL has been hurt and disappointed by her friend. Her friend has missed numerous events in BL's life - including graduations, weddings, milestone birthdays, family funerals...essentially all those moment in our lives we mark in the company of our best friend. BL will be turning 50 soon and is planning on celebrating with some dear friends - taking in some Broadway shows, having some nice meals, maybe a night or two in a NYC hotel. She is torn between inviting her friend and trying once more to include her in a milestone event, or just leaving her friend out of it completely. BL says that one more major disappointment might end the friendship.

Regardless of whether you think BL is being unsympathetic to her friend's plight...can you relate to her complaints? Haven't we all had those relationships where you feel you are the only person giving? Where you are disappointed at every turn? Where only some sense of nostalgia, or perhaps obligation, keeps you involved?

When is it time to cut the ties? Can you convince yourself that YOU are not necessarily the selfish insensitive one to surgically remove a cancerous friendship?

In short, when is enough... well... enough?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Have You Heard?

I haven't. Not really. For a week now. Ever since swimming last weekend, both of my ears have been alternating being open and listening, or being closed tight and ringing. Luckily, at least one is open at any given time.

I don't know why.

I've been using drops to clear them and (not to be gross, but) they are excreting copious amounts of orange wax. I think if it could be put into a laboratory and carbon dated, it might date back to 1976.

The reason I'm mentioning this, is it has created a strange experience for me. Those of us born with all of our senses cannot imagine what it must be like to be without one - to not see a sunrise or sunset, to not hear music or your loved ones' voices. And while I haven't been completely without, it is amazing how even a reduced ability to hear changes your world.

I feel a little like an observer in my own life. I'm actually functioning, but other stuff seems to be happening to me, rather than with me. I don't know if I can even adequately explain. It's like being in a bubble. You almost feel because you can't quite hear right, that people can't see you. Odd. Very odd.

Hubby has often said to me, "Hang on, I need to put on my glasses. I can't hear you." I never quite understood how not having on his glasses equated to not being able to hear me, but I guess I'm getting an inkling this week.

I find myself talking lower (afraid that my lack of hearing might cause me to shout), and people need me to repeat myself. Except on the phone. Where I'm yelling. WTF?

Then, I find that I can't stand the sound of shower water on my head, my brush in my hair, scratching my scalp, and chewing...chewing is the worst. It's like a megaphone is hooked up to things I never usually even hear. The ear is turned inward and it's the most bizarre thing.

I guess I can also equate this week to a really long buzz. Not the ringing in my ear, but the buzz you get from alcohol. Things are slower, fuzzier, a little off balance. Which reminds me of why I liked getting drunk in college, but also why I avoid it now. My faculties are slipping enough without adding alcohol haze to it.

Anyway, if you see me in the next few days, while my ears continue to de-clog. If I seem a little more off kilter than usual, there IS a reason. So cut me a break, or maybe drink profusely and join me in my haze.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Miss Erma

Today, my handy-dandy Franklin-Covey organizer quoted the wise and beloved
Erma Bombeck:

"It seems rather incongruous that in a society of super-sophisticated communication, we often suffer from a shortage of listeners."

Erma - you said it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Noah's Shed?

This adorable little shed behind our house has a secret purpose. It is gathering all of the critters in the world to live in and under it and will at some point in time float away in the great flood, carrying them all to safety and leaving me and the hubby waving sadly good-bye.

Thus far, I have been witness to the following critter dwellers:
  1. A family of fat groundhogs. We used to call the big one George, when there was only one, but since there is a family, perhaps s/he is a Georgina.

  2. One fat pink and white possum. Seen running blindly along driveway and under the shed by the light of my headlights late one night.

  3. A family of brown bunnies. Many bunnies who are thrilled at our inability to rid our yard of the sweet clover that sprouts from edge to edge of our property.

  4. Umpteen million squirrels. They are everywhere. And they only endear themselves to me this time of year because they eat many of the thousands of mulberries that fall on my sidewalk and patio before I smoosh them between my bare toes.

  5. Umpteen million and one chipmunks. Those that survive the dangerous pool opening season have taken up shelter with their furry brethren.

  6. 127 carpenter bees. Okay, maybe it's only 7. But when I want to enter the shed these HUGE bees scare the bejesus out of me and seem like they are multitudes.

  7. Some spiders. I've never stood still long enough to count. I get the heebie-jeebies and run for the hose to clear them out before I enter.

  8. Two weeks ago Hubby awoke to a munching sound outside. He thought little of it until he heard the next day a bear had been spotted in our neighborhood. He was obviously looking for a room to rent in Noah's shed.

Once you get past being startled by unexpected appearances of various wildlife, it's all kind of sweet actually. It's a tiny space, but it seems there's always room in and under Noah's shed for one more.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pet Peeve Rants...Just for Fun

{with a nod to the Open Letter Format that Chick does so beautifully - thanks for the idea on how to rant effectively and hopefully with a little entertainment value}

Dear BMW Driver in front of me last night:
If you must smoke, please keep your smoke to yourself. I avoid smoke everywhere else, I don't see any reason to take it in on the highway. And stop flicking your butts out the window to bounce off my hood. I know your car is better and more expensive than mine, but my car is not your ashtray.

Dear Cubicle Neighbor:
Please install a volume control. I do not enjoy listening to your dysfunctional family screaming matches, your incompetent landscaper and budget issues, your credit card company and money management problems, and your very personal health challenges. Too much information.

Dear Hyundai Driver behind me this morning:
Chickie - you have a car with CLEAR windows. Please do not pick your nose for 10 minutes, especially when traffic is stopped. I assure you that we understand that you are bored, but we in the surrounding cars are bored too and we are all watching you. Do like the rest of us and wait until you are moving at 75 mph at night when it's harder to witness.

Dear Disgruntled Co-Worker:
Grow up. You are the problem. We are NOT the problem. And calling in sick the day after your review just further demonstrates your immaturity and justifies all of the criticism we have given.

Dear Company Executives:
Yes I am good at my job. Yes you love me. I'm happy you do. However, I am not 10 people. Please slow down your requests or I will have to stage a sick-out like Disgruntled Co-Worker.

Dear Municipal Garbagemen:
I feel for you. You have a sucky job. But, if you don't mind, I would personally prefer not to find bits and pieces of my recycling and garbage strewn across my garden after your pickup. Perhaps you could try to get ALL of the items into your truck and then leave the bins right side up. Oh, and if possible, could it not be blocking my entrance to the driveway?

Dear Conference Call Participants:
Please learn conference call etiquette. Please dial in at the appointed time, not 10 minutes in and ask for a recap. Please do not take calls on one of your other phones while still on the call. We can hear you and we think you are talking to us. Please refrain from putting the conference call on hold. While the musical interlude may be enjoyable, it has a minor disruptive quality to the business purpose of the call! And lastly, please locate your mute button. It is well-labeled in the center of your phone. Use it. A lot.

Dear Plumber:
I love you. You are very helpful. But I'm so out of money. Can you please not visit my house any time in the next 2 years so I can recover?

Dear Clock & Calendar:
STOP! Just STOP! I can't keep up anymore.

That is all.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

Ok. So. It's 100+ degrees today. It was yesterday and the day before. It will be tomorrow and the day after. What's up with that? I mean, this isn't Phoenix. This is New York. We don't do 100 until the dog days of summer in August...until now.

Yesterday, we beat the heat at a friend's house - their pool was a little more inviting than ours - given that ours had not yet reached 70 degrees. A 30 degree difference in temperature might seem like it is refreshing. But at our age, could actually induce a heart attack.

At the end of a long, hot, steamy day, we stopped for my favorite treat and number 1 vice. Ice cream. Ice cream is very personal for me. When all else fails, any ice cream will do, but when I have my ultimate choices, they are few and specific.

#1. Frozen Custard from Abbotts.

"A food critic once said a frozen custard stand
is 'where God gets his ice cream'. "

This is a flavor and sensory memory from my childhood and teenage years. Going down to the beachfront of Lake Ontario and standing in lines that stretched around the block from an old fashioned stand (the picture above is NOT my generation, but it is the actual stand I went to!) that served the ultimate frozen treat. We would get a large cone with a twist of chocolate and vanilla custard dipped in chocolate sprinkles (known as Jimmies to many) and walk the pier/beach. The scent of lake water, sand, and chocolate still fills my nose.

#2. Breyer's Black Raspberry Chocolate

A relatively new discovery, this is has moved up my list quickly. The tart raspberry and the rich dark chocolate are perfect blends for a summer treat. Sometimes hard to find, I recommend you grab a container when you see it! Pair it with chocolate sauce or better yet, yummy raspberry chocolate chip cookies (I have the secret recipe) and you'll be in heaven. Fat heaven, but heaven all the same.

#3. Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby

When friends and I first read the ingredients to this ice cream I thought it sounded disgusting. According to B&J, it began with two office jokesters' pulling a prank on a colleague whose endless tales of his love for Ben & Jerry's made them nuts. They hatched an imaginary batch packed with pretzels, peanut butter, & fudge in vanilla malt ice cream & spread a rumor of a brand new Ben & Jerry's hit called "Chubby Hubby". After searching obsessively he was crushed when the hoax was revealed, so the jokesters home-made a pint. He proclaimed it too good to be a joke & after one taste, so did B&J. The rest is history. Chubby Hubby -- it's no joke!But it is delicious. This is a very rich recipe that can be enjoyed a couple of times a year for a special treat, but could never become a regular snack. Both because of calories and because the flavor would be too much to enjoy on a weekly basis.

This slow churned craze reminds me of when frozen yogurt first arrived on the scene. People think they can eat ice cream guilt free. As a woman who has always struggled to balance a strong sweet tooth with a desire to stay of reasonably healthy weight (never thin, mind you) - this is a slippery slope. Suffice it to say that I dish up the same amount regardless of the "fat free" or "low fat" labels and don't try to fool myself. Regardless of fat content, these slow churned ice creams actually taste better to me - creamier - than most standard ice creams.
#5. For a classic treat...most any brand - Neapolitan flavor.

How can you pass up strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate in one helping?
And when you've finished with these indulgences, sit back and enjoy the creamy goodness without guilt. After all, Scarlett, tomorrow IS another day, and the diet begins again.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Changing Ugly to Beautiful

The last few days I've been noticing the jungle-like quality of the springtime greens of New York. This is that brief period in time in our climate where everything is optimally warmed by a springtime sun, watered by springtime rains, cooled by springtime evenings, and just growing like mad.

I also noticed that a house that has been undergoing renovation in the neighborhood has finally finished and the construction equipment, lumber, siding, and other materials have been removed from their property. The lot next door, with no house in place, has been growing in the springtime abundance and is an overgrown weed field. As I've passed this section of the neighborhood every day, I've watched the progress of the house and the weeds next door with equal parts pleasure and pain. What an ugly thing to happen next door to this beautiful house. The picture of neglect and renovation side by side.

Last night, as I drove past and took my usual glance, I wished yet again that I had a camera implanted in my brain to capture the moment. The sunset colors were cast across the properties. Near the home a man was standing and looking into the field with an expression of love and indulgence, and in the field was a beautiful little girl with jet-black hair, a bright pink dress glowing in the sunset. She was slowing spinning in circles with a handful of wildflowers and a chain of dandelions in her hair. That ugly empty lot of weeds was immediately transformed into a magical meadow suited for sprites and fairies to celebrate the wonder of nature.

Ugly to beautiful in one brief moment.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Alaska Experiment

Two people from my firm just participated in the Alaska Experiment on the Discovery Channel. For several months they lived in a tent, on Icy Bay, and with only a few staples provided, braved the wilds and wildlife of the Alaska frontier.

While watching the series I kept asking myself, "What the Hell were these people thinking?" and "What would make a person want to do this?". These are not your typical reality-tv glory hounds; and there damn sure wasn't any million dollar prize money for the survivors. So what was the motivation?


Pure and simple. These people were actually in it for the experience. Now, like any documentary or reality tv event, the minute you add a camera you change the circumstances...and the minute you edit that footage, you can throw truth out the window - instead it becomes a point of view. But still, it was a true experience that they shared to gather food, hunt for protein, survive the extreme weather conditions, and manage to live side by side with wolves, bears, and other dangerous wildlife.

My colleagues were called back from their trip early due to the illness and subsequent death of a parent. Real life intruded on reality tv. And I wondered how they have been adjusting back into our corporate existence in the NY metro area after the expansive wilderness of Alaska.

I got my answer yesterday.

Apparently, they left the company permanently.

They are returning to Alaska and taking up an opportunity to work in a wilderness lodge there doing hiking and kayaking tours.

So, while I huddled under my blanket and watched these episodes thinking what a miserable and crazy circumstance...they were falling in love with Alaska.

So their adventure continues.

I'd say the Alaska Experiment was a success.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

There Will Be Blood...

I tried. Really, I did. But I couldn't make it to the end.

I fully expected Hubby to tell me it ended with him dropping a paperweight and sighing "Rosebud!" at the end. Did it remind anyone else of "Citizen Kane"?

I guess I'm doomed to never fall in love with the critics' choices.

Poor Me.