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Top 10 Kitchen Must Haves

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Every cook can think of a few items that are absolutely essential in their kitchen. There is nothing worse than being in the midst of a culinary masterpiece only to discover you're missing a crucial tool. Most of the items on my list are things I started out with or grew up using, a few I acquired as I learned more about cooking and what I preferred (my kitchen scale and shears, for example). Honestly, there are countless items I would not enjoy cooking without, like parchment paper, or the pepper grinder I foraged from a thrift shop in high school after seeing one on a cooking show. But this list is my top ten- not my top 20:

1. Good, solid knives- There is nothing more disappointing than cooking with dull, bending knives. I once cooked in a kitchen where the knives were so thin and weak that the blade curved sideways as I cut through a tomato. Trying to cut carrots was terrible. Needless to say the girl hated to cook. So much time and frustration can be saved by having a great knife set in the kitchen. You don't need an expensive 12 piece set- an 8 inch chef's knife, paring knife and a serrated bread knife should suffice. Add extra pieces as needed.

2. Pots and Pans- This one is a little tricky because everyone has their own preference on what kind are the best. I bought a non-stick set nearly 7 years ago that are still going strong. In my opinion spending a little bit extra to get a sturdy set is what matters. Choose a set that has good handles, heavy bottoms for more even cooking, and tightly fitting lids. Then you can start buying more specialty pans as needed.

3. Scale (one that measures both grams and ounces)- This is one of my most used gadgets in the kitchen. Not only does it save clean up (I pour some ingredients straight from the bag or bottle), but I also know its an accurate measurement. Sticky ingredients like honey or peanut butter are so much easier to deal with! I write down measurements on the recipe as I cook, so that many of my recipes allow me to pour the ingredients right into a bowl and have little, if no extra clean up. Talk about a time saver.

4. Measuring spoons and cups- If you have a good scale you won't need these as often, but it's important to make sure you buy a set that has an accurate measurement. Novelty spoons and cups are not always spot on, which in cooking might not be a big deal, but in baking is crucial.

5. Thermometer- A good thermometer is handy for just about everything. Use it to test if your bread is baked in the middle, your meat is ready to eat, or whether your carmel needs a few more minutes.

6. Glass mixing bowls- Mixing bowls are great, and it's nice to have a few different kinds, but in my opinion glass mixing bowls take the cake. Since glass is non-reactive you don't need to worry about it effecting the flavor of whatever you're preparing or absorbing oils that will destroy your egg whites. I love bowls that have a rubber bottom so they grip the counter while you stir. This is especially handy when you need both your hands free.

7. Vegetable peeler- A good vegetable peeler is a mult-tasker. You can use it to grate decorative peels of chocolate, thin wide shavings of parmesan cheese, or remove thick peels off carrots and apples. Make sure you buy one with a comfortable handle and sharp blade as there is nothing more annoying than a vegetable peeler that skips over an apple peel or can't cut through a tough vegetable skin.

8. Flat wooden bamboo spatula/spoon- In high school I found one of these in a thrift store's kitchen section. I'd never seen a flat wooden spatula before and it quickly became my favorite kitchen utensil. It broke up hamburger like a champ, flipped pancakes, mixed cookie dough, and didn't warp like other wooden spoons. I carried it with me through every college move, leaving behind mixing bowls and can openers, but never forgetting my bamboo spatula. Needless to say I was excited when they started showing up everywhere. This is an absolute MUST.

9. Blender- From purees to pie fillings, a great blender can save serious time in the kitchen. I use my Vita-mix for just about everything- homemade peanut butter, making powdered sugar, salad dressings, pureeing soups, and everything in between.

10. Kitchen Shears- Last but definitely NOT least. I absolutely couldn't live without my kitchen shears. They make cleaning meat, opening thick packaging, and cutting up candy manageable. I can't imagine preparing my chicken without them.

Recipe Box- This one isn't totally essential, but super handy. I am guilty of stashing recipes folded away in cook books or tucked inside drawers, but it's nice to have a set place to hold your recipes. It saves searching like mad for that lost recipe Aunt Agnes gave you for her famous lemon icebox pie.

Did I miss something? What are some of your kitchen must haves?

Compliments of Costco, or something.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tonight Jarom and I made a much needed run to Costco. Our fridge and freezer were getting low on the staples and we decided the best place to fill the bill was the 100 dollar store.

I love Costco. Mainly because you can pick up pretty much anything there. Bagels, roast 3 packs, bright heads of romaine lettuce, tubs of cottage cheese, ripe red strawberries, and unsolicited marital advice. Did you know that they were offering it there? They are, free of charge, by floral patterned pants wearing old ladies casually standing behind you.

"I love your necklace!" I heard loudly behind me.
I turned around to see an older asian lady smiling at me. She was dressed to the nines with a very busy outfit and perfect hair and makeup "I love your necklace." She repeated again.
"Oh thank you!" I said smiling and went back to loading my groceries on the conveyer belt. I get comments on this necklace all the time, usually people ask where I got it, or just want to tell me they like it. This lady had another agenda.

"Is it a sea horse?" She asked.
"Yeah." I said, turning to chat with her, leaving the loading to Jarom. "I love sea horses."
"That would look great with white. Turquoise looks great with white." She said, repeating herself.
"It does." I agreed. "It looks good with black too." She looked at me, and shook her head. Apparently turquoise does not look good with black. I really wish someone had told me. I am so embarrassed.

"You know," she said, "when I was your age I used to dress up a lot. You should dress up and wear that necklace."
"I should." I acknowledge, thinking that statement was odd. "But I'm kind of a jeans and tee-shirt girl. I don't get dressed up too often."
"Well you should." she said worriedly. "You should get dressed up for..." and she points at Jarom secretly. "You don't want him to leave you. Lots of girls let themselves go and wonder what happened when their husbands lose interest."

Now I realize that I was not looking my best. I had been working on taxes, and one of my eyes had gone lazy from focusing on the computer all day while the other was twitching erratically. My hair which had looked great curled the day before was haphazardly pulled in a messy bun that had grown messier from my Chiropractors visit and frequent pulling from the stress of working out deductions. Most of my mascara was on my chin and my boobs have shrunk to the size of raisens from losing 15 pounds recently. But still, no one wants to hear that a stranger who doesn't know you considers you to be in some varying stage of letting yourself go, or that you just might have reached the climax. I was completely taken off guard.

"I do get dressed up!" I exclaimed, feeling slightly defensive but starting to laugh out of shock. "Today is just not my best day." I'm sure I sound desperate.

She looks disbelieving, of course I would say that. To her I look like the girl who is having an affair with a box of Krispy Kremes. I am on the downhill slope.

"Well you should." She confirms. "You don't want to let yourself go. It gets worse after you have a baby. Some women completely let go and wonder why their husbands leave them. You don't want to be one of them." she warns. Is this lady for real?

"You're a pretty girl," she says eying me. "You're tall and thin, you should really dress up for your husband." Really?

Finally I just start laughing, "Well, I'll do that." I say and turn to help Jarom at the register instead of going in circles with a lady who thinks I need some tough love before I let myself turn into Quasimodo.

I might have backhanded her but she said I was thin.

So I'll let it go, but that is the last time I get dragged into conversation with an old lady in flowered pants.

When I told Jarom who was paying for the groceries and missed the whole exchange, he started to laugh and said, "Obviously she doesn't know me. I don't care if you dress up... besides it gives me an excuse for when I leave you." Nice. Love my man. The old lady not so much.

My Secret Crush

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shush, don't tell...

J.Crew+Holly Forever

Dieting and Dining

Thursday, March 11, 2010

For the last 6 weeks I've been following Weight Watchers in hopes of shedding nearly 30 pounds of "marital bliss." Impressive right? 30 pounds in 6 years is not a good thing! Usually I fall off the wagon at week 4, but this time is different. I think the trick has been finding new recipes (or modifying old ones) that keep me excited and still allow me to eat. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to eat.

When I start getting that why me attitude, or I start looking to graze all day on easy treats, I know I'm approaching a battle with sticking to the plan. One little bag of skittles turns into four pieces of pizza and suddenly I've consumed a whole tray of brownies to boot. At that point I start making excuses for myself and 3 weeks later I've gained back all that hard won weight loss.

This time I've branched out of my "safe diet foods" (i.e.- the boring but easy staples) and started to have fun reinventing recipes and finding healthy new dinner options. I think I'm going to start posting them because I know I'm not the only one who wants to eat healthy, if not lose a little weight.

Tonight we had:
Butternut Squash Soup and a Chopped Salad with apples, red onions, cinnamon almonds, feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette. I topped the soup and salad with homemade garlic croutons.

The whole meal had about 8 points (I get 23 a day) which leaves me with some points for fudge cookies and milk! Yippie! Ok, and some fruit... If I'd left out the croutons- which were super yummy but unnecessary- I could have saved 3 points, making the whole meal a total of 5-ish points. Not too shabby.

Butternut Squash Soup:
(I halved this recipe, and counted the soup for about 2 points, but it might have been 3...) (=

2 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped medium
3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2" chunks.
6 cups chicken broth
1/2-1 tsp. dried thyme
generous pinch nutmeg
1/2 c. cream or half and half (I used land-o-lakes fat free half and half)

Add olive oil and onion to large pot. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in squash, broth, thyme and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, 20-25 minutes.
Puree soup (in batches if necessary) in a blender until smooth.
Return soup to the pot. Stir in cream/ half and half. Bring to a brief simmer then remove from heat. If the soup seems too thick, thin with some chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper and additional nutmeg if desired.

*serves 4.

Cutting up a butternut squash:

Step 1: chop top and bottom off of squash.

Step 2: peel thick skin off with a vegetable peeler.

Step 3: scoop out seeds and feel grateful you don't have to do a pumpkin.

Step 4: Chop into smaller chunks.

Chopped Salad:

1 head of romaine lettuce, washed and chopped into bite sized pieces.
1 apple diced into small chunks
Red onions, sliced very thinly
Feta cheese (preferably very old and from the back of your fridge like mine) (=
Cinnamon almond slivers (place almond slices or slivers into a nonstick pan, sprinkle with sugar (2 tsp per 1/4 c. nuts) and a shake of cinnamon and stir continually on the stove until the sugar melts and the almonds become slightly toasted. Careful not to burn almonds or yourself- those suckers get hot. Spread on a plate until cooled.)
raspberry vinaigrette (I made mine from scratch but wasn't all that impressed with the recipe I followed.)

Lay out salad, add toppings as desired.


3 cups bread slices (I used homemade rustic bread from another night that I sliced into 1" by 1/2" thick chunks.) Stale old bread would probably be awesome.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced fine
1/4 tsp. salt

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes on a cookie sheet until browned and crispy. Breath deeply into husbands face to maximize garlic breath. Enjoy a night of uninterrupted sleep. (=

Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I've recently discovered that indulgent eating doesn't have to kill your good intentions. These super rich, chewy chocolate cookies are no exception.

For the last 2 weeks Jarom and I have been on quite the baking kick. After discovering King Arthur Flour's website, which has an amazing assortment of recipes on it, I found this awesome little recipe for Flourless Fudge Cookies. It's like the little black dress of chocolate cookies. Guiltless, delicious, never out of style.

Since last week I have made them twice, I like them so much. (disclaimer: I'm on Weight Watchers and your taste buds change when you don't eat as many treats, but I think these cookies are winners anytime.)

I followed the recipe minus the expresso powder, which I didn't have, and replaced it with ground Roma (like Pero or Postum, it's a coffee substitute). The first time I made them I didn't add it, but I think it rounds out the chocolate flavor to have it in there. I also cooked the cookies for 9-10 minutes instead of the 8 it called for since 8 minutes was a little undercooked. Make sure to bake on parchment paper. If you don't have any you can grease a cookie sheet, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Flourless Fudge Cookies

2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
1 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-process (European-style) preferred
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract*
*For gluten-free cookies, be sure to use gluten-free extract.

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2) Stir together all of the ingredients till smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir again till smooth.

3) Drop the “dough” onto the prepared baking sheets in balls of about 1-1 ½ tablespoons.

It should look like this. Not really balls but sturdy puddles of chocolate heaven. (=

4) Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes; they should spread, become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops.

5) Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool right on the pan.

6) Yield: 24 medium (2") cookies.

For all you weight watchers fans- 1 cookie= 1 point! Or about 55 calories, no fat and 1 gram of fiber. Yeay!

Adult Jack in the Box

Monday, February 8, 2010

By principle I have tried not to buy biscuits from a can, instead opting to make them from scratch. There is something vaguely metallic about canned biscuits. Maybe it's the shreds of aluminum foil that ALWAYS get stuck in the dough. Maybe it's left over bitterness that the flour felt at being turned into a plain ol' biscuit instead of a fancy triangular scrap that would become a croissant. I'm not a biscuit snob (if there is such a thing), I eat Bisquick more than willingly, but I'm not a huge fan of pillsbury or any other canned biscuits.

This Christmas though I wanted to make a traditional family Christmas breakfast, and of course that included pillsbury biscuits. Homemade ones would not do.

At the store I browsed the rolls of biscuits, shiny blue labels, glistening bronze wrappers, bold red casings. And then I saw the simple store brand variety. The no nonsense school marms that blandly advertised themselves as biscuits, no frills, just biscuits. I looked at the price and noticed they were 1/4 the price of the fancy brands and joyously grabbed 2 rolls and thought no more of my sensible purchase.

Two days later however, I realized that the store brand was not in fact a school marm, but a well camoflaged child's play toy. A jack-in-the-box to be exact.

Have you opened a can of biscuits lately? It can be quite terrifying.

I'll be honest, I feel apprehension when tearing the little triangle that unleashes the biscuits into the world. It's a little nerve wracking waiting for the pop and release of the dough. But store brand biscuits are the worst. They have a mind of their own. They do not pop when appropriate, they pop when they feel like it.

I slowly peeled back the strip of paper. Half way down the canister the biscuits were still firmly secured and I started to get a little nervous. I tugged a little more, held my breath, and nothing. I tugged yet more, shielded my eyes with my shoulder, nothing. With a nervous laugh I yanked the wrapping off, expecting a burst of dough.


Then I panicked. What if this is not a can of biscuits after all... What if this is a covertly smuggled nuclear bomb and I'm going to kill everyone by opening it? On Christmas. Or, what if the dough comes out so forcefully that it pops me in the eye and I have to explain that I lost a fist fight with a yeasty bit of bread, to my ever lasting shame? Or, what if I have a heart attack from the anticipation? A more likely possibility.

"Do it!" I shout at the trapped dough as I poke the seam of the unsplit paper. "Do it now!" (At this point Jarom poked his head in the kitchen and asked who I was talking to. I denied saying anything of course. )

Still nothing. It was like a jack-in-the-box that plays its whole song and then plays half of another one before randomly popping out.

And then, when I finally gave up, it burst, scaring the dickens out of me. I swear I heard it chuckle a deep demonic laugh as it's devious purpose was carried out.

Of course I had the pleasure of sending it back to it's own hell at 350 degrees for 20 minutes with a delicious orange glaze, but that is a different blog.

So, I discovered that store bought biscuits are the adult jack-in-the-box. And I vow to make someone else open them for me next time. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let's just start by saying that 2009 was not my year. 2009 was not my year.

And in the attempt to right the major set backs that occurred I am starting my blog again, since I figure it all started around the time I stopped. And I'm superstitious. (=

I think the first step to changing my year is changing myself. There are a few things I have noticed that need some attention:

1) My health. I have gained some crazy weight over the last 6 years because I let myself get back into old eating habits. Namely stuffing my face at any and every opportunity. Not recommended. This led me back to the place I was in 1995 and as much as I love Charlie Brown, I don't really want to look like his twin sister.

So last week I started Weight Watchers again and I am determined to get down to around my pre-marriage weight. I'm really trying to be realistic about it and accept the fact that if I want to change my eating habits and do it healthily it will take a few months. I'll keep you updated on any healthy recipe finds, or rants.

2) I've been a major procrastinator. This year I will try to be more in the moment and get stuff done when it occurs to me instead of writing a list of all the things I need to do and then overwhelming myself. I can still write lists, but they need to be small enough that I can actually accomplish the items on it in a reasonable amount of time.

3) I've been a super complainer and very pessimistic. So I will try to be positive and not complain. I am also trying to enjoy the moment and not worry about the future or long for the past. I think this one goal has really affected my last couple of years and I'm looking forward to changing.

4) My creative side. This year I will accomplish my creative goals, be more diligent on writing this blog and learn many new skills. This one really disappeared last year and I've missed creating.

I'm really excited about changing this year. Old dogs can learn new tricks and I'll keep you updated with this blog.

And now I will get back to the less serious, more random blogging I usually write.

Hanky Panky

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In sixth grade I found myself on a bus traveling toward the most awful week of my life. The bus was, of course, disguised for the parents as a yellow school bus that was en-route to a winter outdoor education camp in the snow covered mountains. The enlightened kids saw it for what it really was, a week of bullying, bad food, strange excursions and a painful square dance where 3/4 the boys would balk at asking one of us girls to dance. Especially the fat tall girls. Which was basically me.

For whatever reason, however, I was optimistic. It wasn't because I was going up there with hoards of friends, or that my new snow jacket made me look like I had bosoms, or even the fact that I particularly loved the outdoors. In fact I was going up there friendless, in a blindingly bright shapeless 80's snow parka hand-me-down, and hiking wasn't really my thing.

BUT- my bag was full of Bonnebell chapstick, candy and various other miniature toiletries that were uncommon in the Tanner household- bribing me into undergoing one of the most awkward weeks of my life.

Fast forward to the first morning we woke up at the camp. We are interrupted from frigid icy sleep by the drill sergeant bark of a woman telling us we must take a shower before breakfast. Dutifully I searched through my duffle bag only to find that with all the items in my bag, I was missing a key staple. A towel.




"Excuse me" I told Ms. Granola as my turn was nearing, "Um, somehow I forgot my towel. Is there one here that I can use?"
"You were told to bring one on the list." She barked amid a shower of oatmeal spewing from her mouth. Obviously we were having oatmeal for breakfast this morning.
"I know." I tried to explain, "But somehow it didn't make it into my bag. Is there one I can borrow?"
"I don't know anything about that." She curtly answered, blowing the 2 minute whistle on the poor girl who had just gotten warm in the shower. "Next!"
"Well can I skip the shower today until I find a towel?" I asked hopefully. Searching her face for any sign of kindness.
Her eyes narrowed as she looked me over, distaste washing over her face. A chunky kid was disgusting enough, but one with imagined bad hygiene and a penchant for skipping showers was too much for her. "Everyone has to take a shower everyday. You are no exception." Her finger wagged and pointed into my face. "Let me find one for you. Next!"

In two minutes she was back and holding out the item that was to be used as a "towel."

I wanted to ask her if her nose was running, because what she was holding up was not possibly a towel. In her hand hung a hanky, a terry cloth hanky, something that would not have wrapped around a normal 80 pound sixth grader, let alone one that was 3 times the thickness of your typical 11 year old.

The towel was not as big as a hand towel, slightly larger than a face clothe and amusingly was supposed to cover me as I walked to my duffle bag and changed community locker room style in the cabin. If it hadn't been for the strict 2 minute time limit I could have changed into some clothes before I left the shower, but there was no time to change behind the curtain.

I looked at her in horror. Could she possibly be suggesting that the girl with the premature junk her her trunk wrap that tiny morsel of cloth around her body in a manner that would condemn her for merciless teasing the remaining 3 years of middle school? If it was now, I would have said, "I don't think so. Not today you crazy nudist." But at that point I took the towel and considered just how I would make my shuffle back to my bunk in anonymity.

I considered the option of using the towel to cover my face so no one would know it was me streaking across the floor. Maybe they would think it was the ghost of an insane former counselor who went crazy from the undercooked eggs and soggy toast we were to be inflicted with over the coming week. I finally settled on wrapping the towel around my waist, so only one large strip on the side of my leg was showing, my free arm covering whatever else I could.

Have you ever tried to cover yourself up with your arm and a hanky? It's difficult. Very difficult. I felt like Eve with the fig leaf. "I'm pretty sure he meant Banana leaves" I could imagine her saying. "Banana leaves make more sense. Who would cover themselves with a fig leaf (besides of course a dozen hopefuls on America's Next Top Model)? Yeah, lets go with the banana leaves. What do you mean they are all the way in South America?"

I proceeded to shuffle, the towel grasped in an iron grip as though I was holding on to the last bit of decency I had left. I dared anyone to look at me, to make eye contact in which I would fix them with an icy stare as cold as the room I was now parting the crowd like Moses through. "Make way," I wanted to shout, "Haven't you seen a fat kid in a tea cozy before?"

Thankfully the counselor had a little mercy, or an angel came down and told her she would be smitten with the pox if she didn't scavenger up a towel for the porky girl who just passed through the rings of hell and back because the next morning I had a towel of respectable size.

You can guarantee yourself that I have never forgotten a towel since. One indecent amount of exposure was enough for me to learn my lesson and garner a great embarrassing story as well. Seems like these things seem to happy to me waaay too often...

Language Barriers

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There is a little Carl's Jr. right across the street from where I work in LA, surrounded by the city, bums and various characters that give me plenty to write about. Today I made my way across the street, ordered a diet coke and a side salad and proceeded to commence my lunch. As I was sitting there I happened to make eye contact with a small Mexican man who standing strait as an arrow might (and I say might) have come up to my belly button. He had to have been as round as he was tall, and he had the biggest lips I have ever seen. Honestly. I couldn't help my mind from conjuring the image of the frog on Thumbelina.

My first mistake was making eye contact, as soon as our eyes connected he stopped mid stride turned around and gave me a full once over, his eyes becoming very swishy. I wanted to laugh at his "suaveness" and in an attempt to hide it I made my second mistake-a half smile out of politeness. Working in the city I should know not to look at people and especially not to smile, but it's against my nature and something that I'm working on. Because of it I have had some awesome conversations and the result of this mistake today made a priceless conversation that I wouldn't have traded for anything.

After grinding to a halt on his way to the soda machine and turning completely around he began to work his magic on me. In a thick spanish accent he began with.

Him: "Hey beautiful lady... I like jor es-smile." He said as his eyebrows wiggling wildly.
Me: laughing, "Um... thanks."
Him: Whas shur name preety lady?"
Me: Now this is where I draw the line, no personal information that could link me to anything. "I'm sorry, I'm married." I say, pointing to my ring. Usually this statement works well enough to shy away any unwanted "suiters."
Him: "Oh, ok, hey Mary." He says with a triumphant smile from gleaning some information.
Me: Well this is awkward. I now have to explain that I didn't in fact give him my name, but that I'm spoken for. "No, my name isn't Mary, I'm married." I say, pointing at my ring again.
Him: Densely, "Oh. Is jor husband coming to mee(t) you?" He asks as though maybe I'll come sit with him if Jarom isn't.
Me: "Um... yeah." I say lying.
Him: "Ok, well, I eh-like jor beautiful es-smile." He tries one more time.
Me: "Thanks." I say as I try to ignore the further conversation he's trying to carry on. Finally, after standing their awkwardly staring at me he walks to the machine and fills his drink. As he walks past me I look at my iPod and try to ignore the smoldering look he is trying to pass over on me.

Sorry Don Juan, no thanks. I am Mary.

Going postcard-al

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

For the past few months I have worked for the coolest kids clothing company on the planet. My boss is awesome, my stores are cool, and I work in an exciting area of LA in the fashion district. You would think that the chic people and places I surround myself with would rub off on me, that I would pick up the art of dressing current, speaking in a offhand manor, and bypassing social flubs. But I confess I am as awkward and myself as ever. And for the most part I like it, it humors me, and most of the people I've met don't seem to mind either.

Over the past few days I have been driving around visiting stores. Most of the time I have strolled into a store with a gift bag for them, chatted with the shop girls, left a message for the owner and gone on my merry way. However, the second day into the driving, I found myself in an awkward position. You see, the address we shipped to was not a store, it was someone's home, someone who ran a web based company, someone who I wasn't sure how to approach.

Did I walk up to their door and knock? Introduce myself? Just leave the gift bag on the patio and not interrupt them at their home? I decided to call, but no one answered. Growing bold I knocked on their door, still no answer. I knew it was the right house, a package on the patio said the name of the lady I was trying to meet. And then the thought hit me, "Why not write a little note on the postcard inside the gift bag?" Perfect. Or was it?

Once back in my car with the pen glistening with ink and poised in my hand I wasn't sure what to say. How should I start?

"Hi. I came to your house but you weren't here. I'll just sit outside until you come home..?" Nope.

"Hey there, I peeked in all your windows, but you weren't there. I'll come back tonight...? Um... no.

So what I actually wrote was: (something like this)
"Hey so and so,
I came by thinking this was your store, but instead it was your house (which is adorable by the way). => I just wanted to introduce myself and bring you a little gift. I'm sorry I missed you but hopefully we'll have a chance to meet soon. I hope you are doing well. Let me know if I can do anything for you!


I intended to make a winning little note that suggested I was a normal person and not someone who just showed up at people's houses unannounced. After commenting on her adorable house (it really was adorable though), I sealed the creepiness by drawing a little smiley face.

Except my smiley face was not of the sweet variety. Mine came out in a shaking, slightly downward "v" and evilly smirking variety. Mine didn't say "hope to catch up with you soon!" mine said, "I WILL catch up with you soon- most likely when you are sleeping and won't see me coming..."

It was unintentional, the ink was wet on the glossy surface and I didn't want to smear it with my hand so I drew it freeform. There was no denying the end result was disturbing. Even the correction I attempted couldn't fully erase the evil smirking smiley face. It was creepy and kind of gave me the giggles. If she had seen me in my car it would have looked like I was laughing in a villainous manner at the evil note I was about to leave. Nice.

I'm sure she didn't even think about the note, but I did. And it made me laugh and wonder if I would ever not be awkward or if this was something I will be for the rest of my life. For the most part these moments make for good stories. Sometimes I'm very conscious of the fact that I'm a nerd and I feel like an well intentioned impostor. Has anyone else had something like this happen? I am so very uncool.

Email Mishaps Rant

Monday, February 23, 2009

(What I wished I could have done to my computer earlier)

Quick, answer:

What could be one of the worst thing that happens when you are emailing?

Delete a really long and involved email that you'd spent an hour working on? Eh, wrong.

Accidentally sent a personal email to the wrong person? Keep guessing.

Lost an important contact? Not even close.

Give up? Ok, how about send 50 of the same email to 160 potential clients within 1 1/2 hours? In case you'd like the math that's 8,000 emails. Yes, 8,000 emails sent accidentally by yours truly to what I had hoped would be some awesome new clients. Exit to story.

For the last few weeks (well months really) I have honing down an email list of boutiques that I'd love to carry Knuckleheads. I've called an insane amount of stores (literally over 400), ruled out which are no longer in business, which sell more traditional items, who I would be more likely to order from our awesome company. I called and asked for email address, begged assistants to let me get an email, pretended to be really cool and savvy when I talked to a shop owner and was truly grateful when each store gave me a chance to send our catalogs through an email for them to view.

Ironically, I had been waiting for the list to be complete so that I wouldn't accidentally send a repeat email, little did I know that I would accidentally spam every single contact in my gmail group, um, like 50 times. I'm still scratching my head over what happened.

Last night I put together an email, wrote a short note so that they wouldn't have to spend much time reading it and they could just get to the meat of the email which was the amazing catalogs I attached for their viewing pleasure. I waited to send it until today because I was trying to figure out a way to attach a picture of this season's clothes in the body of the gmail. Big mistake.

After trying a few times and sending myself a few emails with the picture unsuccessfully, I gave up the idea and settled on introducing myself and the line in a brief, non-obnoxious email. The catalogs would speak for themselves.

However, instead of just sending the email once, for whatever reason, my gmail account looped the sending action and repeated to send the email over and over and over and over. And over. In a panic I tried to delete the email. No avail. Next I tried to call google. Besides the fact that it was now 5:04 and they stop answering the phone at 5, did you know that it is completely impossible to speak with someone there? Or send them an email for that matter? Yeah. Seriously.

So I called my brother who was at a loss, and asked a girl in the showroom next to mine whose boyfriend is computer handy what to do. His reply? "Uh oh." Crap.

By this point I am receiving phone calls and emails asking to be removed from the email list, as well as truly concerned people who just want to let me know what's going on. I call and email each person who has not blocked me by now, but has actually taken a moment to let me know what's going on. Mind you these people don't know me but they are super cool about this drama. Bless them, they deserve a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Jarom says a basket of fruit. (=

Anyhow, at this point it was 6 and the LA marketplace was closing. Jarom says to pack everything up and get going since there is no help on the internet (apparently I am the only one who has had this happen) and we'll figure it out at home. I am so stressed out that I can barely eat anything. Really, I skipped dinner I was so sick to my stomach thinking I had blown the time and effort to make these contacts. In fact it is 12:10 and I still haven't eaten.

When I get home there are 207 emails in my spam box, but most of them are from a little while ago. In the last few hours I haven't received one. Hallelujah I think it's over. I think I lost a few people from this experience, but I also got to talk to quite a few who were really nice about everything and who were actually intrigued by our company. Go figure. The worse part was that the repeated email's attachments didn't even work. Honestly? So I will have to send the attachments again. Ick. Worse PR moment ever.

Bless the lady's heart who said to me, "Thank you for the emails! I couldn't open my attachment, can you send it again?" Not a comment about the insane number, just a kind note of thanks for thinking about her and sincere interest. She won major brownie points for her kindness.

I am hoping the repeated emails makes them think I am a determined individual instead of a crazy spammer sales representative. We'll see. But I learned something and I am going to save you the drama of what happened to me today:

1. Don't create an email and wait until later (or the next day) to send it. It won't send like normal and will freak out and go "War Games" on you. Forget about man controlling technology, that's what John Conner was trying to tell everyone.

2. If for some reason you don't like learning from other people's mistakes or you are a rebel and bypass #1, send out an immediate apology and personal email or call to each person who writes you or calls you. This is called recognizing you are an idiot- whether accidental or not.

3. If for some reason you do not follow # 1 and 2, leave the country immediately. People will be pissed. And they have a right to be. People have been tarred and feathered for less.

99 Things- idea stolen from Jill

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kinda' fun
The lines that are bolded are things that I have about you?
(thanks Sheri)

1. Started your own blog
2.Slept under the stars
3.Played in a band
4.Visited Hawaii
5.Watched a meteor shower
6.Given more than you can afford to charity
7.Been to Disneyland
8.Climbed a Mountain
9.Held a praying mantis
10.Sang a solo
11.Bungee jumping
12.Visited Paris
13.Watched a lightning storm at sea
14.Taught yourself an art from scratch
15.Adopted a child
16.Had food poisoning
17.Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (I've been, but it was right after 9/11 and we couldn't go up)
18.Grown your own vegetables
19.Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20.Slept on an overnight train
21.Had a pillow fight
22.Hitch hiked
23.Taken a sick day when you were not ill (Hasn't everyone??)
24.Built a snow fort (At BYU, that was soo fun!)
25.Held a lamb
26.Gone skinny dipping
27.Run a Marathon
28.Ridden in a gondola in Venice- The guy even wore a stripped shirt, it was awesome!
29.Seen a total eclipse
30.Watched a sunrise or sunset
31.Hit a home run
32.Been on a cruise
33.Seen Niagara Falls in person (No but I've been to Igazu Falls)
34.Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35.Seen an Amish community
36.Taught yourself a new language- not enough to count.
37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38.Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39.Gone rock climbing
40.Seen Michelangelo's David- Aren't there tons of them? I think I saw one in Italy. (=
41.Sung Karaoke
42.Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt Smells like rotten eggs. Funny, I think we had old faithful at home with us growing up too...
43.Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44.Visited Africa
45.Walked on a beach by moonlight
46.Been transported in an ambulance (when I was 3 and hit by a car)
47.Had your portrait painted (I've been drawn before, does that count?)
48.Gone deep sea fishing
49.Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50.Been to the top of the Eiffel tower in Paris
51.Gone scuba diving or snorkeling- both!
52.Kissed in the rain (My sister Julie in Barcelona, haha, "I've always wanted to be kissed in the rain in Barcelona!")
53.Played in the mud (As a kid, there was this park next to the Huntington Children's Library that they sprayed down until the ground was just sodden with water, and it cost a few bucks to play in the mud as long as you wanted. It was a whole town of mud. So fun!)
54.Gone to a drive-in theater (But never with a boy, only my friends family, so Jarom, when are we gonna do that??)
55.Been in a movie (Does an old back and white silent movie that I made for School count? Probably not).
56.Visited the Great Wall of China
57.Started a business ( I had tons of businesses as a child- one included selling my neighbors their beautiful leaves off their own lawns for a quarter. My neighbors were saints.)
58.Taken a martial arts class
59.Visited Russia
60.Served at a soup kitchen
61.Sold girl scout cookies
62.Gone whale watching
63.Got flowers for no reason (Once I jokingly asked this guy if my roomate's flowers he was delivering were for me, he asked me what kind I liked, and I told him Gerber daisies. The next day my roomate knocked on my door with a vase full of them, and when I ran downstairs to say thank you he had already left. Sweet huh?)
64.Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65.Gone sky diving
66.Visited a Nazi concentration camp
67.Bounced a check
68.Flown in a helicopter
69.Saved a favorite childhood toy
70.Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71.Eaten Caviar
72.Pieced a quilt
73.Stood in times square
74.Toured the Everglades
75.Been fired from a job
76.Seen the changing of the Guards in London
77.Broken a bone
78.Been on a speeding motorcycle
79.Seen the Grand Canyon in person (we did the 12 mile hike, camped a few days and hiked back up. One of the greatest vacations of my life.)
80.Published a book
81.Visited the Vatican
82.Bought a brand new car
83.Walked in Jerusalem
84.Had your picture in the newspaper
85.Read the entire Bible- I'm working on this right now actually.
86.Visited the White House
87.Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88.Had Chickenpox
89.Saved someones life- Well, one time I saved Whitney from falling down a hill at Central park, I told my teacher that I had saved her life, but I think she would have survived the short roll, so I guess no.
90.Sat on a jury
91.Met someone famous (Tasha Peterson and I ate at Harbor House with the kid who was on Charles in Charge. That was pretty awesome. He only ate half his sunday cause he was trying to maintain his weight. Pish.)
92.Joined a book club
93.Lost a loved one
94.Had a baby- I wish.
95.Seen the Alamo in person
96.Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97.Been involved in a law suit (with Abercrombie and Fitch and I won 2,512 bucks. Cha Ching!)
98.Owned a cell phone (How long ago was this written? Or is this the control question, to see if you are alive?)
99. Been stung by a bee (Twice, once on the butt which hurt immensely.

A Rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, except that's not your name, is it?

Monday, January 5, 2009

I have never been one who silently swallows stupid mistakes I've made, or ridiculous comments I've said for that matter. There is something about me that demands full disclosure, I enjoy laughing at myself. I don't mind admitting that a smart girl like me can spout out the kind of comments that make Rose Nylan look downright brainy. But every once in a while one comes out that I wish to goodness I'd stifled down, because they always happen around people who don't know me, whose first impression of me will forever be the girl "who said what??"

A few weeks ago before everything went to pot, before the rain really started to pour, the first event of many financial blunders directed this very frustrated girl to the Apple store to pick up a new power adapter cord for her Macbook. I had talked to 3 different people on the phone at Mac and finally I had found someone who pitied me and agreed to send me the insanely expensive 80 dollar cord that had sheered itself in two, in a mysterious manner, for free. The only problem was that I needed the cord that day, not in a few days like the man on the phone promised me.

In desperation I called the closest Mac store in Victoria Gardens explaining my predicament, and how my computer was dead and I needed to charge it and asking the girl if she would just give me one if I canceled the one in the mail. She said that would work and I could come in and pick it up. Elated I asked my mom-in-law Kim if she wanted to come with me. From there things went, well, a little south.

By the time we got to the Mac Store I was feeling that rush of freebie high. I would even go so far as to say I was hopped up on freeomones (the Pheromones coursing through your veins when you are about to get a rocking deal or you won something for free). Either way the conversation I had with the girl who was helping me was weird (like the conversations you got sucked into by the weird guy in the drama class who gave you the play by play of last nights episode of Star Trek, imitations and all kind of weird) but I couldn't seem to help myself, even as it was going on I was screaming "stop you look like a weirdo, stop talking" in my head. I was just too relieved/excited.

Me: "Oh my gosh, you are totally saving me!" (This said in a weird gushing sort of way) "I love Mac! Mac is the best! I tell everyone to buy Mac! Seriously, I've converted quit a few people now!"

Girl: (She's looking at me, trying to be hospitable and listen, but I can see written plainly across her face that a super hyper girl like me is probably not the publicity they are looking for. You see, macs are for cool people, artsy people, thinkers, not strung out speed addicts or at least people who act like them for no good reason) "I'm glad I can help." Is the standard answer she gave.

Me: "Seriously, PC is crap, it's Mac or bust man!" I say pumping my fist. (In my mind I am thinking, seriously? Who snuck the crack in my slimfast. Why am I talking this way, this is definitely not normal.)

Girl: "Yeah, we sure like our products here too." She said in the way someone talks to a homeless person who is getting riled up when you're afraid they're going to beat you up and steal your wallet. Nice and easy. "Ok," She said pointing to another associate, " Jill will help ring you up as soon as she's done with her customer." I can tell she is relieved to be getting away, which makes me feel awkward because I have no idea why I'm being so erratic myself. This is totally embarrassing.

"Me: "Thank you so much!" I practically shout. "Seriously, I am very grateful." Ok, yes! Finally a comment that doesn't induce an uncomfortable silence in which I speak more to fill the void- even if the thank you was a touch overly animated.

Her: (Obviously this has given her courage to give me her card in case I need further assistance. A bold move because I'm sure she thinks I'm nuts.) "No problem!" She says, handing me her card. "My name and number is on there in case you need anything else." In an effort to say something that would improve her opinion of me as a cool semi-intelligent person I proceed to give her a compliment on her beautiful name. Well it would have been a compliment. If I'd gotten the right name. In a flustered moment I proceeded to say hands down one of the dumbest comments of my life.

Me: "Victoria? What a beautiful name!" Gardens? Wow, seriously, that is so beautiful, Victoria Gardens..." As soon as it pops out of my mouth I know that I had made a blunder. Why can't I be like most people who say thank you and pocket the card, instead I have to read it out to her, as though she doesn't know her own name, or I might be overlooking a receipt for errors.
Her eyes narrow as she peers at me. I'm sure she is thinking, is this girl for real? And then, in the same breath if I'm not awkward enough, I finish lamely, "Oh, no, you're name isn't Victoria Gardens, haha, that's where we are huh? You're name is Mary Howard (or something). Wow, I swear I'm not stupid! (Yes, that gem also snuck out of my mouth).

Her: "Oh, no worries! Thanks for coming in." She said ushering me to the register, where I proceed to say more dumb things to yet another Mac employee before I grab Kim (who is still laughing at my ridiculous comments) and make a run for it.

Honestly? Who slipped the crack into my morning slimfast? Or has anyone else been hyper off freeomones?

It's still a mystery. But I don't plan on going back there for a while, as least until the "do not help this girl" poster has been removed from their break room.

New Hair Cut

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So I actually cut my hair a few weeks back, but I kept stalling to show pictures because I wanted to have a few more where they were more styled. Well, the days I actually style my hair I haven't gotten around to taking a picture, so I will at least post some old first-day-of-new-hair pictures. After I took these I figured out how to do my bangs and give my hair more body, but I don't have proof... What do you think?

Hey Job, I totally feel ya.

Friday, November 21, 2008

You remember Job? You know, the guy in the Bible. Yeah, the one who suffered everything in a matter of weeks. Today I totally got him. And it sucked. Big time.

It all started with my good intention to drive down to the LA fashion district to work at the sample sale that's going on every friday this month. I wanted to get down there, pick up a package, change the lights that are burnt out and sell some samples. I got up early after getting 4 1/2 hours of sleep, took a shower and went on my merry way.

As I was leaving I had this feeling that maybe, just maybe I should check the oil. Stupid, I thought, you just had your oil changed around 1500 miles ago. There's no need to check it. Still, the urge peaked up one more time. Check the oil, it prompted. No, I thought flatly, I'm already 20 minutes later than I wanted to be, there is no reason to check the oil.

About 35 miles from home, and 20 miles from the showroom I noticed that my car turned off and battery died. No, it didn't matter that I was driving 75 mph on a busy L.A. freeway, my wheel decided to lock up, the engine turn off, and the speed, you know, just dropped. If I had been anywhere else I would have been royally screwed but for some reason there was mad traffic in front of me and behind me, but not next to me. Thankfully, I was also approaching an off ramp. Talk about lucky. I pulled over (using tremendous force since my wheel was almost totally locked), turned off my car which was technically in the stalled position and then restarted it. It started and at first I thought, maybe the just battery died somehow.

And then I heard it, the wheezing, clunking, belt thudding sound of an engine that said, "Yeah, remember how I totally covered for you that summer when you let your water pump explode and rode around all summer with your windows down because you thought your air conditioning wasn't working? And remember how I overheated and you filled me with water and said that the radiator leaked but it was because I desperately needed to be fixed? Most cars would have just died, but I soldiered on. Well not this time chump, we're through." And then it turned off again.

And my heart broke. I love this car. I felt like a bad mother. What happened? What caused my car to die?

When the AAA guy came to tow me he looked at my car and the puddle of fluids under my car that I pointed out and knew it wasn't good. It was the man at the auto shop that called the time of death. "You're engine's shot." He said.
"What?" I asked, "How did that happen?"
"There's no oil in it." He responded, "When was your last oil check?"
"About 2 months ago, I haven't even driven it 2000 miles."
"Well, there is no oil in it and your engine burned out."

Come to find out, it costs 1500 dollars to fix a car with an oil-less engine. And my car is worth 550 bucks (in working condition- WHICH IT'S NOT) on the blue book.

So after thinking about it all day, and crying about it, and getting angry, and then crying some more, and the getting bitter because we can't afford to buy a new car, and then remembering all the fond moments of driving my car- all the road trips, the "you wanna race" engine reving at the leather bedecked handlebar mustached harley riding guys next to me to get them to smile, the frequent ice cream cone runs, and more frequent diet coke raids, the times Jarom leaned me against the cool metal frame of my car and kissed me good and hard before I drove home while we were dating, the singing along to my static-y radio and the many rides I shared with friends as we talked about what the future possibly held, and then crying even some more, I accepted the 200 dollars he paid me to scrap my car and all the wonderful memories I had with it, and this was after I cried and asked for more money because he offered me 100 bucks.

I don't know what it is about that car. It was bright green, and the paint was peeling, the windshield wipers worked sporadically at best, one of the locks didn't work, the windows purred and protested when I rolled them up and the radio got 5 channels (if I ever actually listened to it). But it got great gas mileage, the inside was clean, I took a certain pride in driving around a beat up car, it was zippy and I could always find it in a parking lot. But mostly I loved the memories.

So, not the greatest day. Not only did I not get to work, or get to do some things I really wanted to get done, but I'm also out one car, my independence and possibly a few thousand dollars we don't actually have.

There were a few other very crappy things that happened today that made it all the worse, but I don't feel like talking about it. Jarom has been surprisingly zen about what went down today, but that's not surprising. He's almost always able to deal with these kinds of things better.

Does anyone have 15,000 bucks for a new car?

If you are growing more Irate please say "yes."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Where have all the people gone? To India? Sucked into a vortex? Laid off by our scary economy to be replaced by recordings that are eerily real sounding?

Today I had the wonderful experience of completing a transaction almost completely with an electronic man. I needed to make an appointment through DHL to have them pick up a package. After dialing the number I was greeted by a voice that sounded like the high school quarterback. He sounded confident and a little bit irritated that he had to be talking to me in public.

First he asked me for my number, which I think I can safely say has never happened from any cute football player ever. An ugly and creepy one yes, but never a cute one. I gave it to him and he repeated it perfectly.
"Is this correct?" he asked disinterestedly.
"Yes." I replied knowing he would never call me.

He changed the subject and asked.
"Do you want to make an appointment for a pick up? Please say yes, or no."
"Yes." I said.
"I'm sorry," the quarterback said casually, repeating himself. "Do you want to make an appointment for a pick up? Please say yes, or no."
"Yes." I said more firmly.
Once again he began to apologize.
I cut him off before he could repeat the question. I admit I was a bit rude. "Yeesssssssss." I said loudly, my s's hissing like a snake.
"Okaaay." He said, his voice giving the impression that he had something better to do than talk to me.

"Can you please verify your address?" He asked, this time with attitude.
"432 Lark Meadow St." I said
"432 Marshmallow St." He repeated, "Is this correct? Please answer yes or no."
"432 Sharks and Minnows St.?" He tried again.
Was he messing with me? I repeated the address.
"432 Lark Meadow St." He guessed correctly. "Is this correct, please answer yes or no."
"Yes." I said exasperatedly.
"I'm sorry," he said, "was that a yes?"
"Yes!" I shouted into the phone.
"Whatever." He muttered.

Next he sent me to a an actual person to confirm our conversation.
"Hello, this is a real person." He distractedly greets me. I can tell he is playing mahjong on his computer. Of course he sounds like he is a million miles away. His tiny voice barely makes a radio wave over the distance it's traveling to my phone. "I'm sorry" I said, "I can't hear you."
"Hello," the man replies, " I'm in a different galaxy. India was getting too expensive to outsource to, so we are in a call center in a dwarf galaxy to your distant left. Can I get your number?"
Honestly? Didn't I just give it to Johnny Football Player? But of course I give it to him I mean, this call is probably costing a fortune.
Then he asks, "And do you want to schedule an appointment?"
Again, didn't I just go through this?
"And just to make sure," the real person asks, "Can you please tell me your address?"
This is just too much. I want to shout, "what was the last 10 minutes about? Is this just an elaborate way to make the customer hang out instead of putting them on hold and enraging them?" Because it's not working.

Where have all the real people gone? Apparently it's become too expensive to let a real person help you out in the first place. I'll let you know if tomorrow a real person comes to pick up the package... I'm not holding my breath.

Household Worm Holes

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Have you ever wondered where certain items in your house go? Have you ever put something down only to reach for it a few hours later and grasp a clean countertop? Have you ever lost so many things that you bought replacements and then quickly found a hidden cache in some random but obvious spot? And though occasionally an assortment of items go missing, it is usually one item that seems to pull the disappearing act most often. In my case, it's the bobby pins.

It starts like this:

I get sick of some hair style I'm wearing and take out my bobby pins. They get left on the kitchen table, the bathroom counter, the bowl that holds the keys or occasionally Jarom's change drawer in his car. A few hours later I go to reach for the said bobby pins only to discover they have been moved.

"Jarom," I say perplexed, "I can't find my bobby pins. Have you taken them?"
To which Jarom shoots me a look that says, "Yes. I decided to try a new updo on my shaved head but got so frustrated that I twisted them into random shapes which I then glued to a canvas, painted over in neon acrylics and sold to a posh art gallary in San Francisco... In other words, No, why would I move your bobby pins?"
Right. Of course.

For the next few months I search our apartment as the pins continue to go missing, eventually resorting to buying a set of 72 new ones. Those of course go missing as well.

So here is my theory:

The bobby pins are actually sucked into a worm hole that travels around the world a few times, briefly returning in groups of four under my couch, into the bottom of my purse and infrequently scattered amongst my cosmetics, although I know I didn't place them there myself. The problem is these bursts of paranormal exposure occur when I am looking for another item and do not need the pins, by the time I need them they are back in the worm hole and traveling across some far distant universes.

If they do return, all 72 suddenly reappear in near vicinity of the shiny new ones causing me to wonder how I missed them in the first place. Or, if I'm no longer living their the next owner of the apartment will discover to their dismay about 72 brown bobby pins scattered in their sock drawer which of course is where the worm hole ends...

I'm still waiting on the delivery.

Tagged... Thanks Mom!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

So this blogging thing has been going around and I thought, man if I get tagged I will really have to think about this one because everyone knows everything about me. I'm not very secretive about myself. But anyways, Mom Moore tagged me so here goes...

Six Unremarkable Things About Me:

1. I have a major phobia against band-aids and wiggling toes. I really can't handle seeing a band-aid rolled up on the ground. Even writing this I am having a hard time controlling my urge to heave. Also, if I have a server who has a band-aid on at a restaurant I want to ask for a new server, or not eat. The toes thing makes me crazy if I am sitting next to someone and they wiggle their toes on me. Not cool.

2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to cook. I could spend all day in the kitchen messing around. I love trying new things and tying different ethnic dishes. I think if I could pull it off, I would love to open up a dessert store. It would be like a page out of a pottery barn magazine, with cool table settings and then you can order some tasty desserts from creme brulee to a warm lemon tart with raspberry sauce.

3. I have an awesome imagination and can convince myself that their is a monster in a closet when I am walking down the hall after being blinded by the bathroom lights in the middle of the night. Seriously, I have ran down the hallway, my heart pounding many times. Lame, huh? That's why I am still a bit scared of the dark. (=

4. I once lived a whole summer off pretty much diet coke and fruit roll-ups. Don't ask. It was a crappy summer. But I lost 15 pounds...

5. I am a job gypsy and have had almost every type of job under the sun. I get restless easily and look for a change when things slow down and the new job honeymoon excitement is over. I'm working on this one. It's a fault of mine, that also translates into me quitting when things get difficult or I lose interest. Not cool.

6. My favorite movie is Breakfast at Tiffany's. There are a few reasons. 1) I identify with Holly Golightly. She is a free spirit who likes to have fun and doesn't like being bound to the rules of life. She also has a tendency to run from things which are difficult and is totally a nut case... whoops did I admit that out loud? 2) Audrey Hepburn reminds me of my mom and when I missed her at college I would watch that movie over and over. 3) I love the song "Moon River" sung by Audrey Hepburn. 4) The last line of the movie is in my opinion very deep and has inspired much internal thought. Here, read it yourself:

"You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken, you've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, "Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness." You call yourself a free spirit, a "wild thing," and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself."

Hope you enjoyed.

The very official terms & conditions:
Link the person who tagged you.
Mention the rules on your blog.
List 6 unspectacular things about you.
Tag 6 other bloggers by linking them.

I tag: Julie, Mom Tanner, Alicia, Megan, Angee, Kris

The Real Rite of Passage

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rite of passage has been a part of most civilizations since the beginning of time. American Indians used to leave their sons in the woods where there they would hunt and spend 3 days discovering themselves and becoming men. The Aborigines of Australia would go “walk about” at the age of 13 for six months following the paths of ancient ancestors, copying their heroic deeds. Japanese coming-of-age rites lead youth to shrines where they would be presented with adult clothing and new names. Generally American’s have associated leaving for college or taking a job in a different city as our own rite of passage. Occasionally youth have this experience when a parent finally kicks them out. And of course, those would all be correct, except we are pushing aside the other rite of passage, the one that nearly 75 percent of people have fallen prey to at least once (*statistics were formulated in my head to make me feel better so you can take it or leave it). Well, at least I did.

A few nights ago as Jarom and I lay in bed talking I remembered a story I never told him. It could have been shame that pushed it into the back of my head, but it was more likely that I never really thought about how funny and common the incident actually was. Either way I begin to tell him about the summer after my freshman year of college when was suckered into a pyramid scheme by a black man- named Leon.

I’m not sure where I met him exactly. I’m positive I didn’t answer a help wanted add. It was more likely my number was given to him by an employment agency. Shame on them. At any rate, somehow he called me and we set up an appointment to meet. He informed me that he worked with a reputable company which offered excellent pricing on phone and cable TV packages. And of course, the pay was lucrative. Sign me up, right?

When I met him I was taken back by who I had expected to meet and who was actually standing in front of me.

Leon wore an entirely white suit, white belt, white shoes and a light shirt, if I am correct it was silver. In a word he was a cross between a biblical character impersonation from Mad TV and a back up dancer on soul train. (“Oh my gosh,” Jarom said braking into my story, his voice feigning alarm, “It was totally the devil.”) I’m sure he was attempting to borrow the look from an old Boyz 2 Men CD, but the look was more Miami Vice then R&B. There was simply not enough gold.

Sirens should have been wailing in my head but I was young and the promise of money was luring. So I followed him down the hall in that building that looked like a converted campus/church/labrynth. It made sense really. First they would try to educate you on the company, if that didn’t work they would convert you, and if you were still stubborn they would bank on the hope you would become hopelessly lost and pay 25 dollars just to be released. One way or another they’d get you.

The afternoon began with me and 30 other poor suckers watching a “motivational” video. I was particularly impressed with the cancer patient who paid off his medical bills using their amazing company in only 1 year. The U.S. Marine with a missing leg, and the single mother with the flashy platinum grill (for the adults a grill is rap jargon for crazy dental work) who saved her family from the slums of east LA were equally impressive as well. The strange part was that the people who had made insane amounts of money in this company resembled the white trash couples on the billboards to Las Vegas who'd won millions of dollars on a dollar slot machine. "Well Bob" they'd tell the reporter, "first we're going to get some dental work done and then we will buy matching lazyboys and TV dinner stands." I wondered how they had been so successful when they looked more like people who'd found wealth through Larry H. Parker, people who didn't speak english, or at least not the english I grew up with.

It was also somewhat disturbing to see words like “motivation”, “opportunity”, and “income beyond your wildest dreams” flash onto the screen during their moving testimonials. More impressive was that they managed to do this while keeping their other jobs. Still I had doubts. Would this company work for me? I had no motivation, I just wanted to earn some spending money. What they were lacking in the video was the guy that said, “I just wanted to earn money, not change my life.” Him I could have identified with.

After the video we had a luncheon. They served decent sandwiches, chips, diet coke and fruit. Though they didn’t say it, this was a chance to mingle with the other recruits and profiting members in a second attempt to convince us. I started to get suspicious when one of the “recruits” kept saying, “Wow, this company seem’s great! I am definity going to join!” in a repetative robotic voice. Folks I’m afraid to say it but for whatever reason I drank the kool-aid, well the diet coke. After that everything was a blur. There was another session with a live evangelist pr-teacher while members like Leon shouted “Amen!” to his questions of “Who no longer wants to be a slave to their debt?!” “Who wants to take charge of their life?!” “Who wants to live like the other half?!” Well duh… who doesn't? But who wants to get suckered into a job where you will waste hours of your life only to either lose more money, or never make back on your initial investment? Of course these thoughts came a bit late.

When I woke up out of the stupor of future riches a few hours later I was 25 dollars shy and wondering what had happened. How had I allowed myself to pay 25 bucks to this ridiculous company? Not only had I forked over 25 dollars but Leon had gotten me to write down the number of every soul I ever knew (not to exclude my 1st grade teacher), which being a Mormon was a lot. I was a golden contact. This would be the list I would work off for the next few days as I made my fortune.

My first and only call was to a lady in my ward. I asked her if she’s like to save a bundle by switching her phone and internet plan to a totally comprehensive plan that would cover all her communication needs (this all said in a chipper exaggerated tone inflected voice). After a long silence in which I’m sure both of us were figuring out what to say (me to apologize for putting her through this moment and for the next few months where we would look awkwardly at each other and pretend the strange exchange never happened), her to let me down easy) she declined. Thank you I said, my eyes burning as I hung up the phone in shame.

To my left a zombie feverishly called random numbers out of the phone book, his red eyes dazed as he introduced himself over and over to the click on the other end. I wondered how long he’d be locked in this room or if he'd had any success. His look of frustration answered the question and my future of big bucks combusted. Moments later Leon entered in a fabulous mood with my new “executive” folder. The one I don’t remember buying, but feeling my wallet one check lighter for.

“Can I have my 25 dollars back?” I asked lamely.
“No.” he said, his tone changing from jovial to icy in .67ths of a second obviously he had been expecting this. “That twenty five dollars paid for your associates kit.”
I looked at the kit and wondered what had cost 25 dollars. Inside the pleather “executive” folder there was a cheap pad of legal paper, a pen with a nib that slid to the side if you pressed too hard, and Leon’s very own business card. What he didn’t say, but actually meant was that my 25 dollars was actually going towards another flashy ensemble, possibly a canary yellow or magenta with gold pinstripes suit he had on lay-away, and my return of money would greatly detriment his ability to pick it up sooner. Either way it was obvious I was not getting my 25 dollars back.

Of course it was pointless to argue the point. I wasn’t getting my 25 bucks back, he wasn’t getting any more time out of me. “Well, Leon,” I said warmly , “I wish you and your circus suits the best. I am off to mope around for the rest of the summer and bum off my parents.” Ok, I didn’t actually say that, instead I snuck out of the building after he left me to my calls and ran to my car, looking side to side to see if I was being followed. I wasn’t of course. I think.

Hearing other people’s experiences with those companies makes me feel a little better about myself. I am definitely not alone, many people go through this rite of passage. My only regret was that I wished I had eaten another sandwich. That was the most expensive lunch of my life.

*Honorable mention to Jarom who inspired a few of the references here and ideas for jokes. He cracks me up.

Glorious Spam

Monday, September 22, 2008

So I'm sure we have all gotten our fair share of unpleasant if not disturbing emails. I personally cannot tell you how many offers for "luxury watches", discounted medications, lottery winnings from Africa and other non-mentionable spam that somehow beats out the filter to land in my junk mail box. And if I wasn't so OCD those emails would remain there, wasting away, except I just can't leave my mailbox stuffed to the brim with junk. It's unclean. It's chaotic. And occasionally it gives me a chuckle.

Today while checking my gmail account I got one that was entitled. "Turn your bedroom into a volcano of passion." I quickly laughed, deleted it and then mused on what would happen if you actually did turn our bedroom into a volcano. I'm pretty sure that remaining unscathed would be top in the list, with passion remaining somewhere at the bottom.

Here are a few scenarios why a volcano would not make for a passionate bedroom:

Scenerio 1: John returns home from a long day on Wall Street to find Susan frantically vacuuming the bedroom. This is the 10th time today and she is quickly regretting installing that new lava and ash sputtering "passion machine." Besides the burnt holes in the walls and carpet, the ash is impossible to keep on top of. If you have ever read any essay on how to ruin the mood, a dirty bedroom/house is top on the list. And as the poor people of Pompeii could tell us, ash is somewhat difficult to conquer. So although John may be seeing sparks, they are only coming from the hot lava spewing out of the mouth of the volcano. Not Susan.

Scenerio 2: Suppose two people are just crazy enough that they can live with the ash and insane heat. One morning Joan and Harry wake up, lift the crust of ash that has formed over them during the night, look up and feel the before mentioned spark. However, what they don't know is that the pressure in the earth has just increased causing the gas in the magma to expand, forcing the flow of lava out of the mouth. This is unfortunate because suddenly a gigantic glob of searing hot lava spews onto Harry, burning a hole through the bed, floor, and half way through the concrete. That burning puddle of Harry really dampers the mood.

Scenerio 3: A couple decides to reenact the scene from "Joe vs. the Volcano." However things go horribly wrong and they both fall in. Enough said, I think.

So sure a volcano in the bedroom is a great conversation piece, and yes maybe you'd be the envy of the neighborhood. But I seriously doubt that it will increase any passion. So I have decided against getting one. What were they thinking?

Had they said, turn your bedroom into a cool, refreshing, depth-less, brimming lake of passion, well that might have been different.